Foreword

It occurred to me one night, as I lay unable to sleep, as it had many times before, that I should write and organize the thoughts that were racing through my head. I got out of bed and started writing. I have suppressed many of the thoughts I have had over the years because they are taboo. I needed a release.

I thought I would only write a few paragraphs, but to my surprise I filled page after page. I had no idea I had curbed so much. Writing allowed myself to discover what I think and believe. With each assertion, I took another step to self-actualization.1 The organization of my thoughts altered my subscription to many ideas and concepts.

Temet Nosce2

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.3

I offer these thoughts to you only if you are interested. I do it in the spirit of vulnerability and sincerity. Continuing to read will require a level of mutual respect and unconditional love. These thoughts represent a long, difficult journey.

I hope to preempt questions that may come in response to a change in my beliefs or behavior. I fear that I usually fail at spoken communication. I hope that what I write can do a better job of exposing my thoughts than a hasty summary could. I would like to avoid second-guessing what I might have said on-the-fly for the rest of my life. In spoken conversation, a single, short answer is usually sought for each question. In reality there is rarely a short answer to any question, and sometimes a question solves more than an answer.

As you read, please keep in mind the following quotes:

The unexamined life is not worth living.4

The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.5

When the dust settles and the pages of history are written, it will not be the angry defenders of intolerance who have made the difference. The reward will go to those who dared to step outside the safety of their privacy in order to expose and rout the prevailing prejudices.6

Disclaimer

I am only a humble seeker of truth. This paper primarily serves to organize my thoughts, and only secondarily serves to share my thoughts. I doubt that sharing will open any eyes. Because of human nature, those who already empathize will care to read on, but those who cannot sympathize will apathetically disregard everything I have to say.

I am sharing because of my own commitment to integrity, honesty, morality,7 and because I love and trust you. Sharing innermost thoughts is a very difficult thing to do. It takes great courage to stand up against the crowd. I have discovered that conformity is the easy, wide and broad way. Few there be8 who are valiant enough to seek for truth beyond that which was spoon-fed to them by their native social group.

I do not want to let my life expire without having said something about my personal experience of reality, even if it may oppose the prevailing belief of my family, friends, and society. I will express independent thought, but none of it is because I am too weak to abide by the strict tenets of my inculcated religion, nor is it because I want to take the easy way. This has not been easy. My observations come because of prayerful and intense study of the scriptures and a constant, honest introspection about what I have personally observed both in the world around me and deep within me.

It is not my intent to hurt or offend anyone. If you do feel threatened by anything I say here, then you need some serious contemplation and introspection into what you truly believe. I advise that if you are only open to ideas that come from sources condoned by an authority, that your faith9 is so frail that you fear losing it by encountering new information, then what you think is faith may not actually be faith.

This is not a call for help, nor is it an invitation for an argument. I will probably acquiesce to any disputatious replies in silent disagreement. Your answers may fit your own repertoire of questions, but they may not answer mine. Despite my best efforts, I cannot assert that my answers are ultimate. My perspective will ever continue to advance in my search for truth, because I will ever find new questions that expand my understanding. My questions are more important than my answers. An answer can change, but a question does not. Everything I say here is uncertain. Uncertainty qualifies my faith as belief. Uncertainty keeps me open minded. It is my right to live authentically who I am in the moment, to actively let go of folly in my past, and try to avoid any worry for the future.

If you have new thoughts which enlighten, please share. I have no problem with adjusting any misconceptions to new-found truth. However, if you provide a myopic Sunday School eisegeses of the scriptures, you will not help. Please resist the temptation to tell me that I should read the scriptures and pray, because it is prayerful, in-depth study of the scriptures which has made me arrive at most of the ideas that I present here.

Intellectual Honesty

I use the word innermost in the title because these thoughts have ever been private. I fear expressing them for many reasons. Throughout my life I was taught:

These are only a a few of many pompous ideas that were imprinted on my psyche as virtues since childhood. I find myself reaching higher for real intellectual virtue. I want to have the courage to be vulnerable. It should be enough to be myself, unbound from the need to seek labels to define who I am. I yearn to openly think critically and to pursue truth without bias. I want to do my best to be empathetic, sincere, open-minded, humble, independent, curious, courageous, and imaginative; to have integrity, confidence in reason, love and perseverance for truth. I need to be true to what I sincerely believe. I long to value intellectual honesty above all.

Introduction

For any of you who encounter this paper and do not know me, I would like to introduce myself.

In the Beginning

I am in the fourth generation of my family to be born in the covenant.17 I was promptly baptized at age eight as a member of the church18 to devout parents who lived in a Mexican Mormon colony named Colonia Dublán. Dublán is a small town where English-speaking people of European descent live, some for many generations since their ancestors arrived in the latter part of the 19th century.

As I grew up, most of my friends and neighbors spoke English as a first language, and all were active members of the church. Those outside of the church were usually Hispanic, though there were many Hispanic members, too. I learned Spanish in school. Speaking Spanish as a second language kept me from associating with Spanish speakers on a deeper level. My peers who had outgoing personalities would associate with them more, but I wasn’t outgoing.

In that little town, church membership was ubiquitous for those of my ethnicity. Church meetings and activities united the community as if all of us were part of a larger family. I remember issues of the small town being discussed in town hall style during priesthood meeting. The possibility of life without the involvement of the church never crossed my mind. The church was such an integral part of everyone’s life.

My parents taught me to do what is right, to value truth above all, and to use truth as best I could to seek wisdom for my decisions. For most of my life, activity in the church and strict obedience to its commandments was the only way I knew how to fulfill that quest. I was taught that our prophets and scriptures were the exclusive source of light from God, and that they are the origin of all virtue in the world. Since the church was the only source of good I had ever known, I had no inclination to believe that any good could emerge outside of it.

I remember getting up in Sacrament Meeting to share my testimony as a child. I did as I was taught. I said what I knew was true. The knowledge wasn’t based on anything empirical, but it was knowledge because it was what I had been taught. Saying “I know” made perfect sense at the time. It was much later that I realized the real purpose of what a testimony should be, at least as it pertains to a court of law, whose only purpose is the search for unbiased truth. A testimony should be that of a witness, not of a belief. Saying “I know” was inappropriate at that time of my life. Now I venture to say that saying “I know” has never been appropriate for anyone who only holds a belief based on anecdotes and hasn’t seen demonstrable evidence of the truth first-hand.

As I look back on my view of reality in those years, I confess that I had a level of prejudice that now gives me a sense of disgust. There were others who weren’t members of the church where I lived, but I didn’t associate with them much in my early life because they spoke a different language and because they were of a different race, religion, and culture. As I grew up and started learning Spanish as a second language and as they began to learn my language, that awkwardness that existed early on because of our cultural differences diminished but never seemed to go away completely. I don’t feel like I was racist because I viewed those Mexicans which were members of the church as somehow being part of my culture; we had beliefs in common regardless of their heritage or ethnicity. On the other hand, I had great difficulty relating to those that weren’t members. I couldn’t understand how they could live without the meaning that the church brought to the life of each person of my community. Of course, I knew little of their lives, nor of their church and what it taught. Race is to racism as religion is to intolerance, bigotry, and zealotry.

It was a novel occurrence whenever any people of my own ethnicity but differing religion would come to town. I remember that one such family did move in, and I often found myself wondering why they would not attend church when they were so much like my own family. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wondered that. Families such as these rarely stayed in town long. Now, as I look back at the situation, I don’t blame them. They probably felt like social outcasts despite the many pretentious acts to befriend them by those who had the ulterior to get them to join the tribe, how ever well-meaning those in the community may have been.

I think that many people would agree that as Latter-Day Saints, we feel awkward around people who aren’t exactly like us. I think this might have to do with the doctrines of the church which do not directly teach, but they do imply, that everyone outside the church, or even outside of the upper-echelons of the church, is a second-class person. Whether it is openly admitted or not, it is understood that anyone who is found lacking any rites, rituals, and ordinances, or who is otherwise unworthy of Eternal Life in any way, is inferior to the righteous elite.

I dutifully served a mission because it is a commandment and because I wanted to do what I thought is right: to legitimize as many of God’s children as I could to be worthy of the Celestial Kingdom. I have a highly introverted personality, yet I sought with all my “heart, might, mind, and strength” to do all that I could, so that I could “stand blameless before God at the last day.”19 This was incessantly drummed into every neuron in my head. Daily, hourly, every second, in the name of obedience, I consciously fought the current of the river, treading up-stream in a constant battle against my quiet nature. Every day was so extremely tiring for me because social interactions seem to drain away all of my energy. Even rest was not rest, because for someone who naturally finds peace in solitude, losing the ability to be alone is ever stressful.

I have heard many people say that their mission was the best two years of their life. Good for them. I’m not going to lie to meet their precedent: my mission was one of the most difficult times of my life. Everything about it stood against my nature. It did have its ups and downs though. When people did heed our message, there was great satisfaction that the difficult work and sacrifice had paid off. Eating, living, and breathing the repetitive lessons cemented the idea of one true gospel, one true church, one true priesthood, and the idea of the necessity for everyone to become a member of the one true restored church. I believed it with all of my heart. After all, it had to be right or I was wasting my time. I genuinely believed I was doing the right thing.

I remember having a vivid dream one night on my mission. I dreamed that Jesus had come to spend the night with me and talk to me about anything I wanted to talk with him about. I asked him question after question to which he gave the most concise and perfectly truthful, forthright and direct answers. I don’t remember the questions or the answers. But I do remember that his clothes were plain and homely, that my mother would call him a slouch if she saw the relaxed way he sat, and I remember how I felt: that he was more honest, friendly and genuinely kind than anyone I had ever known in my life. I did not get any impression that he was anything like king, a lord, or a monarch. He was in fact quite the opposite; he was modest, meek, quiet, and unassuming. He did not place himself or his faculties above me in any way, nor did he pull rank to command. Instead, it felt like he humbly placed his own importance below me and was only there to sincerely help me as best he could. I felt like he was my deepest and truest friend, and ever would be. As I woke up, that scene gradually slipped away from my mind and I realized that I was lying in my uncomfortable cot in that same unfamiliar ransacked shack. I mused to myself about what I had dreamed, whether it was real or whether it was only a dream regardless of how vivid it was.

That dream was the inception of independent thought. It affected me in ways that nothing else could. It was a turning point for me because even though it was only a dream, it seemed as though I had new, personal insight into who Jesus could be. After that dream, I felt uneasy every time I would teach that his purpose on earth is to sacrifice himself as Atonement to pay for sin, or that he is our lord and king who obeyed unquestioningly and whose obedience we must emulate, or that we must covenant to obey his and all of his commands. I felt as though I was teaching a lie. It was as if, deep down inside, I knew better than what I was charged to teach as a missionary from my own talk with Jesus, even if it was just a dream. It was as if Jesus had answered a question that had been on the top of my mind, and then went beyond to provide answers to many more. Even though I couldn’t remember the words or the details, I do remember that he did have better answers. But it was only a feeling of uneasiness with what I was charged to teach, and it came from only a dream, so I would push it aside and continue robotically with my memorized discussion. As time went on, the titles given to him, like The Lord, or The Lamb of God, continued to quietly nag at me from deep inside. He did not act like a Lord. In fact, a tyrannical dictator would be the complete opposite of who he was. Neither did he act like his purpose in mortality was to be slaughtered by his own father for the rest of his children to learn that they can gain mercy.

Soon after my mission, I found someone who I admired, who miraculously liked me back, and who had the same goals for eternity. We were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. I was fulfilling my only view of righteousness. I had fulfilled all of the ordinances I needed. There was no other obligatory ordinance to look forward to that I knew of, except for the age-scheduled ones for my children. It was time to endure to the end.

Over the years of married life, my mind never ceased to ponder. I couldn’t help it. It is an attribute of my personality to constantly work on my mind’s model of reality in order to understand reality. I find myself naturally reflecting on my knowledge, double checking things, analyzing ideas, and making sure things work properly. My belief systems only mostly worked. They worked, except for the ideas that were off-limits.

I had ideas come to my mind that often pushed the limits or level of that which we were told had been revealed, while hearing often in church that it was unwise to speculate beyond what we have, because we already have all that we need, a fullness of the gospel, that all that is needed is the simple faith of a little child and much obedience. It may well have been the spirit of truth, the comforter, that Jesus left with me in that unforgettable night long ago, which continued to entice my thoughts to the barriers, to constantly arouse my curiosity that there has to be more, and to teach me beyond the barrier.

I have had many sincere questions about the Atonement for a long time. The need for a sacrifice by the shedding of blood to pay the price for sin never made sense to me, especially after having that dream. I have writings in my mission journal that debate my sincere belief in the unconditional love of God versus the conditional love that is apparent in the doctrines of the church. I wrangled with the ideas of the supremacy of God versus his apparent subjection to some kind of ethereal law of vengeance. It did not make sense to me that God, who should be the singular entity who through love created all that is, including all of the laws and order of the universe, would require any innocent blood to pay for anything. If God is the righteous, loving father that I think he is, I could not come to grips with him doing something so completely unjust and irrational as to require an innocent person to suffer the penalty for a criminal.

Even should I concede that Jesus should suffer and be voluntarily euthanized as a wrongfully convicted felon, it is said that he performed an “infinite Atonement.” How could that be if he only suffered for a short time, died, now he is done and has full exaltation as a god? How could hours of suffering, no matter how intense, pay the price for the eternal suffering of an infinite number of beings? If “the wages of sin is death,”20 how could Jesus have paid the price if he now lives? How could any work which is temporal pay a price that is infinite in both quality and quantity? We are all descendants of God, just as he. We all have immortal spirits, just as he. We all die, just as he. If his temporal death counted for eternity, then so should the temporal death of everyone. If death pays the price for sin, then everyone’s death would pay their own price, not just his. Maybe the prophet Brigham Young’s Blood Atonement concept, something that correlation has since condemned, came from this idea. What sort of precedence is set when the revelations of a dead prophet can be recanted?

I tried to come up with ideas to make the Atonement work. I thought that maybe part of his infinite Atonement might be that he must continuously endure the full omniscience of our sins, saving the Father from that torture, and that knowledge would cause an anguish in him that would never go away. But that was just a feeble attempt to make it work in my mind, and I abandoned the idea when I was bluntly and harshly told by a stake priesthood authority that it was wrong, who afterwards rattled off a memorized banality that he learned in Primary. He seemed to resent that I would dare to seek for knowledge outside of the stale correlated curriculum.

For me, the incoherence for Atonement still continues beyond those concerns. How could dying on a cross at the hands of ignorant men have ever been the decree of a God of freedom of choice? The soldiers who killed Jesus certainly were not instruments of God in fulfilling God’s purposes, neither were the Jewish leaders who conspired and brought about the execution of Jesus. For those who have found a level of understanding to soberly discount the cross as a payment for sin but somehow moved the payment to suffering at Gethsemane, the problem still remains. How could a temporal, sincere and nervous prayer as Jesus faced the end of his mortal life count as an infinite payment for sin?

Who did Jesus pay, anyway? Surely the ransom did not go to a fallen angel who holds us all hostage, and the ransom couldn’t possibly have paid a debt to God, whose infinity cannot perceive any blip of temporal debt. Time is, by its own definition, intrinsically temporal. Everything that happens in time, no matter how large the quantity, still has a beginning and an end. An infinite being who has infinite resources is not going to quibble about any finite payment. What are a few pennies or a solid-gold planet to someone who owns the entirety of infinite space and time?

I noticed more and more that whenever anyone arrives at any impasse in understanding the Atonement, they thought-stop the idea and disregard the incongruities by saying, “the Atonement is incomprehensible,” or “Our mortal minds are incapable of comprehending God’s mysterious ways.” With these platitudes, they essentially say that the Atonement only makes sense if you do not think about it. But I cannot accept that answer. It is silly to me to think that God gives me an intellect which can reason but then denies my use of it because my way to salvation is impossible to understand. If I am required to do something that goes against my conscience or believe something that I cannot understand, on the premise that I will understand in the next life, then I have failed this life. If I am to believe in anything, I need to understand the belief first. It is presumptuous to believe that which you cannot understand. If no one can truly understand the Atonement, then they all superstitiously believe in the enigmatic, instead. They only call the enigmatic the Atonement.21

I also had many questions about the consistency of my own being that the Gospel does not answer. The “spirit and body” explanation was not enough for me. Which parts of me will truly live on after death beyond just my spirit? The word spirit seemed to me to be as broad a description of my own inner universe as the word universe glosses over a definition of everything that is outside of me.

It was clear to me that there is so much more to my composition. Body, mind, self, personality, soul, divine spirit, memory/identity, emotion, intellect. Which of these are based on my physical, temporal, electrochemical brain, and which are eternal? What part of me gives me volition? Where are each of these facets and how do they work together? What part of me is peering and perceiving through my eyes besides the generalized idea of the proverbial soul?

Surely memory can be mechanistic, but where is it stored? Is it in my brain or in my spirit? If it is in my physical brain, how could I permanently retain my identity after my death? If it is spirit matter, then why is it so imperfect; why did my mother have to suffer with acute memory loss and dementia?

Joseph Smith revealed that spirit is a more fine matter.22 Spirit matter is supposedly godly, pure, incorruptible, perfect and not subject to entropy, but my gut tells me there is so much more beyond the “matter” level of spirit. Could spirit matter bestow mind and the virtue of being a person? Surely those two things are higher than any kind of mechanism based on matter. If spirit does refer to higher level of physical matter, it is still matter, much like the matter that comprises our current bodies, and there should be yet an even higher level beyond that which defines my personhood.

What is the core of my being? Where exactly does physical being as a function of organized intelligent pattern stop and where is the ultimacy of being achieved? Surely there is a (yet unnamed) higher power of organization which binds many different kinds of energies into what we call a being; the whole becoming more than the sum of its parts. No matter how pure or fine the matter is, the entirety of my being can’t simply come from a higher level of physical matter.

Aside from the questions that come from the two areas of thought above, I had many more questions about inconsistencies of the gospel and the scriptures, like why we believe the Bible and Book of Mormon to be the word of God23 when God himself hadn’t dictated much of it at all, and why there are so many inconsistencies and even major corrections in the Book of Mormon when it was said to be the most correct book on earth24 before the corrections were made. The cognitive dissonance I experienced grew daily between that which I knew is true and that which I had been taught is true. I was inspired with new thoughts every day which enabled me to look at things differently and resolve certain issues, but they were often contrary with that which I was supposed to believe, so I would often disregard them.

There has to be more! – this was a daily thought as I’d wake up every morning. More thoughts came that were related to that. If we have living prophets, why can’t something be revealed that is plain and concise? Why do we have to trudge through thousands of years of myth and human frailty in scriptures to find the plain, precious truths? Why do we have to sift out misconceptions and human error even from the teachings of modern prophets? Why do we have to trudge through hundreds of pages of purposefully incoherent poetry and extravagant metaphor in search for real answers? Why does modern scripture translation have to pretentiously try to mimic sixteenth century Elizabethan English? Why can’t we have simple, official, unadulterated, straight, frank answers from God? Why aren’t modern prophets clarifying things today nor helping us to gain a clear, concise understanding? When they are faced with a difficult question, why do they continue to resort to subterfuge, speak in poems, pretentiously obfuscate their meaning, command us to obey, tell us it is too sacred to discuss, or inform us it cannot be understood by the mortal mind? What have they got to lose by giving out the simple truth?

Whenever I would ask such questions, the answer would always come in a subtle, short, wordless thought in my mind: “If you seek, you will find.”25 To sincerely seek, with the intent to find, would make me arrive an impasse caused by another dichotomy of inculcated ideologies which I could not reconcile in my mind. It was either one or the other, much like Neo faced in the movie The Matrix as Morpheus said to him:

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth – nothing more.

Here are the two pills as I see them – the disparate ideologies from which there is no return:

  1. The fullness of all spiritual truths can only be found in the one true church on earth, and all new spiritual enlightenment can only be revealed by the prophet. Anything that comes from the outside of the office of prophet or apostle of the priesthood of God is not from God, is questionable, and should be disregarded. Since “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same,”26 God will never allow the prophet to lead his church astray,27 and he would never circumvent the channel he has established,28 questioning the prophet means heresy and rebellion to God. If you are not careful, questioning could lead to your eternal destruction.

  2. Everyone has access to the fountain of spiritual truth by virtue of being a spiritual being at their core: a child of God. We all have been given truth-seeking talents. We have minds, reason, intelligence, wisdom, a hunger for knowledge, and a spark of divinity which entices us to reach ever higher, if we permit the inspiration to enter. All light emanates from God. Truth speaks for itself, by its own authority, and stands on its own merit. If truth and error grapple, truth will triumph. Truth is the ultimate arbiter of all conflict. Questioning is a necessary natural step in verifying truth. Doubts cannot harm truth, nor can inquiry offend God. All light and truth comes from God, no matter who or what reflects it. Sincere truth seeking ever draws you closer to God.

It is easy to see which pill matches which ideology. With the blue pill, you give up the battle for truth in your own mind and take the path of least effort, letting your will conform with what culture or authority defines as real, regardless of true reality.

With the red pill, you commit to the consequences of finding reality, to “do what is right and let the consequence follow.”29 There is no way to sincerely turn back to ignorance. To go back would mean to sacrifice your integrity after having found the truth.

The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.30

But, to pick the red pill takes courage to supersede your inculcation.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.31

When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.32

I knew deep down inside which ideology I should choose, but I could not abandon my upbringing. Here is one verse of scripture that seemed to give me the concession I needed to take that step into the unknown:

“...yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”33

Seek and Ye Shall Find

I know why you’re here, Neo. I know what you’ve been doing, why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here.34

I decided that if I truly desired to dedicate myself to truth, I should take the blinders off my eyes, and open my mind to every thought I could find, by new ideas that seem to come directly to my mind, as well as any ideas that may come from the outside. I decided to put the spirit of truth to the test: rely on it and all abilities and talents given to my mind to identify truth in everything I could find. Admittedly, I had not found answers before because I had never sincerely sought them before, at least not at the level that the spirit would be put to the test beyond the question whether “these things [The Book of Mormon] are not true.”35

With that new mindset, I began to earnestly seek. I could never find answers if I didn’t. I believed that it was a good spirit that was inspiring me to desire more.

I knew the questions I wanted answers to could not be found in established LDS canon, because I had searched them and never found them there. I decided to search for the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha and read many of the books, trying to find glimpses of truth from them. Just because the uninspired men who voted on what should be included in the Bible in Nicaea did not think they were canonical, doesn’t mean it is wrong for someone who searches for truth to go through them.

I learned many things from them, but just like the Bible and the Book of Mormon, they were tainted by fantasy, myth, and time. There were some good ideas I had never heard of about Lucifer’s rebellion there, and lots of detail about the lives of Adam and Eve that I had never heard before. They presented the Lucifer rebellion in an entirely different light, which made me wonder where the doctrine of Lucifer coming up with a plan to force us into righteousness came from.36 Even though it is found in the LDS canon, a plan of force seems so illogical and stupid to me, even in my finite mortal mind, because it not only defeats the reality of our existence as volitional beings, it defeats the creator of free will. The thought occurred to me that the “plan of force” preexistence situation is a mockery of the intelligence of any creator of volition.

I read many near-death experiences, trying to get more glimpses of truth about this life, and the life beyond. Many of them were in harmony with what I felt is true. Almost all of them said that there was no way to describe the experience in a human language, that their attempt at a description using human words could never fully explain their experience. Some concepts went so far beyond that they had no need to harmonize with canon. Many near-death experiences were tarnished by human perception and preexisting belief systems. Sometimes an idea would pique my interest considerably.

My sister found a member of the church who had spiritual gifts and spoke highly of her. That person had helped another sister considerably. I had to meet her. Finally, someone who has a gift of the spirit, particularly the discerning of spirits!37 Much of what she said confirmed much from my research of near-death experiences.

She taught me about the importance forgiveness. She taught me some techniques to discern truth from error. She taught me to not fear the search for truth. She also gave me interesting information about the things she saw and messages from a guardian angel she said was my guide. She also inadvertently showed me some ideas about God that challenged what I had believed from LDS doctrine all my life. At first I was shocked by them, but later I could see how they fit in a greater level of understanding.

I slowly gained more confidence in my ability to identify truth from error. I read many things that made me feel anxious and offended. For the most part of two decades I disregarded all of the purported anti-Mormon literature which is freely found on the Internet because I thought it was all lies, that it was only there to be contrary to truth. I did not consider what they had to say because all I could feel when reading their assertions was their hatred for the church. With time, I became more and more confident that, come what may, I could discern and sift the chaff from the wheat. I remained firm.

For a time it seemed I could find no more new information. I relented that maybe the answers I sought really were in canon, but I had somehow missed them. I began listening to the Book of Mormon to and from work every day. In this way, I got about 40 minutes of the Book of Mormon daily. It was my goal to glean the hidden truths that so often get missed as you are entertained by the story. I wanted to extract everything I could from that book. I went through the whole book so many times I lost count. I started to be able to recite the few parts that actually deal with doctrine, like Alma 42.

Of all the concepts presented in the Book of Mormon, the one thing kept standing out to me was how often “Ask and ye shall receive,” “knock and it shall be opened unto you,” and “seek and ye shall find” is mentioned.38 Every time I heard those passages, I felt like it was talking directly to me.

Asking and receiving an answer seems cliché among members of the church because of the Joseph Smith story, how he was moved by James 1:5, which basically says the same thing. Usually a recounting of that story is followed by a faithless commentary like, “but if you ask, you likely won’t get an answer like that.” Contrarily, I felt that this is repeated in the scriptures for a reason, not only for the prophet of the restoration. Why would Jesus say it more than once if only a single person on earth, the prophet, was allowed to have this privilege? It must be important, and it must be for everyone. Yet for example, the following two quotes seem to be quite contrary to all of those scriptures which urge you to honestly seek, promising that you will find:

When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, he will give it to his prophet not to some Tom, Dick, or Harry Do you suppose that when the Lord has his prophet on the earth, that he is going to take some round-about means of revealing things to his children? That is what he has a prophet for.39

When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures40

I grew tired of hearing blue-pill declarations. I had been taught throughout my life that I didn’t have the right to ask for new knowledge beyond what we already have, that the Prophet was the source of all new knowledge. I had even heard it said that “when the prophet speaks ... the debate is over,”41 and in conjunction with that, “It is foolish to suppose that men can be left to their own devices and accomplish what God intended for them,”42 as well as “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done.”43 It would be presumptuous to go against his authority and seek knowledge directly from God behind the prophet’s back, so to speak.

Because of that, I had never sincerely asked for new knowledge and wisdom. I didn’t know anyone else who did either. Besides the fear of circumventing the mouthpiece of God, maybe most people aren’t interested in any real questions. Maybe most of them only concern themselves with the humdrum of their daily lives, and questions never occur to them. Knowing whether the church is true is all they ever seem to want, because that makes answers come easily. They’d rather not waste their mental faculties in challenging their culture. They are content with the established status quo. It is easier that way. The rest either fear actually getting an answer, fear getting an answer that goes against their family and friends, or more likely fear getting no answer at all, so they don’t even try.

All of those deterrents were not going to stop me. I had questions that the scriptures didn’t answer. I wanted answers that were not watered down to be palatable with the existing traditions of men. I wanted the real truth to answer my questions, no matter the consequences.

Didn’t someone say that if any man preaches anything contrary to the scriptures, to set him down as an impostor?44 Harold B. Lee’s modus operandi is not consistent with the scriptures. He contradicts Moses, who said that we should all be prophets, even when Moses’ office of prophet was threatened:

And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!45

I started asking in my personal prayers, “Father, please enlighten my mind with answers to my questions and give me a fuller understanding of the workings of the Universe; and with that, my place and purpose in it. Please expand my understanding. I am knocking. Please open thy door to me.” Then, again, later, usually the next morning, the same answer would come to my mind: “If you seek, you will find.” Each time that thought would come, I would marvel at it for a few minutes, and then wonder where I could possibly find my answers. I struggled to supersede the mindset that answers could not be valid unless they come from authority.

My confidence in asking and receiving was fortified by other scriptures which clearly show that anyone can know the mysteries of God:

And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.46

It is given to many to know the mysteries of God. This gave me courage to find answers. I have found many answers in my ongoing quest for truth. The part about being under a strict command that they shall not impart except what humanity already has, gave me license to keep the new ideas I received through inspiration under wraps for years.

Authenticity

I was taught to fear sharing thoughts that did not align with the groupthink of my social circle. In many ways, much of the fear programming47 I have received throughout my life came from my upbringing in the church, and it has had a negative effect on my self-esteem and the ability to assert what I think, regardless of whether my thoughts may be considered in harmony, or whether they may be considered dissonant. This is one of the many reasons why I am quiet; I would rather keep social peace instead of causing drama with others by voicing my ideas.

I have rarely been able to share my sincerest ideas with anyone, let alone those who might allow their prejudice and emotions to lash out at me. I have never desired arguments and contention. For me, it has ever been best to approach any discussion as the humble learner, not the teacher. On the other hand, the Pharisees often were angry at Jesus for sharing his ideas. Jesus is exemplary to me for standing up for what he knew was right.

I have repressed who I really am through fear. When you repress your inner self, you damage your integrity and self-esteem and become a hypocrite. For most of my life I have squelched many of the ideas I have had, inspired or not, in the name of loyalty and obedience to those who I was taught were the mouthpieces of God.

Image

Freedom of speech is imperative in the constitution of our free country, but freedom of speech is an excommunicable offense in the church. That fact has been reiterated more and more as those who publicly voice nothing but their genuine thoughts have been excommunicated. It is not so much about truth, it is about loyalty. If we have the truth, then how could one dissenting voice in the ranks pose such a threat that it would need to be squelched? If it were true, belief in it wouldn’t be so delicate. As much as excommunication is spun as love, we cannot deny that in the area of freedom of speech, there is an obvious ulterior motive for a threat of social rejection to maintain despotic control.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.48

If that saying of Jesus is true, then why am I not free enough to openly seek more truth as Jesus taught? I must not be subject to truth if I am taught that I should repress all thoughts that may go beyond established barriers of doctrine.

If we live truly, we shall see truly.49

I believe that the repression of sincere thought expression is evil, especially if other men are demanding you to do so. Repressing thoughts has many damaging effects on your psychological well-being. I have found that openly expressing thought and associating with others that are sympathetic to a sincere experience of reality is a healing therapy. That is one of the reasons I write this paper. How ever cold this computer is, it listens to me. Sadly, my closest associate, my wife, is apathetic. I need a release.

I think it is insane that the open expression of one’s genuine thoughts is an offense worthy of excommunication from an organization which is supposed to be led by someone who consistently challenged the views of his culture, and who said he was quite like the one who sent him,50 the creator of volitional beings. One of the essential teachings of Jesus is that it is more noble to be imperfect yet sincere than it is to exude a facade of perfection. No matter whether I am right or wrong, in writing what I write I only hope that I get caught on the side of sincerity.

Excommunication for lack of worthiness to an institution is only the surface of a deeper sociological problem. Though many may not openly admit, most of the pressure to live up to the requirements of the establishment comes from the norms of family, friends, and culture. A social identity based on a shaming and a judgmental society is a bad environment for anyone’s mental health. Their mores stand as the very definition of conditional love. Excommunication is a sure-fire way to become the subject of gossip of what horrible sin could have been committed. The quidnuncs come up with demeaning reasons for anyone who chooses to stand on their own, because there couldn’t possibly be any other reason for lack of adherence to the established societal rules that they deem as the infallible truth.

I have never found family members, and only rarely have I found friends, that allow full authentic thought expression without the threat of contempt, who allow me to be myself without any filter or shutting down into silence.

Those of my culture wear masks that cover their thought expressions of disdain and disapproval, shielding their contempt with a facade. If their judgment does not eventually come through the grapevine, the tension is still perceivable by those on the receiving end who are sensitive to disingenuity

Many secretly express their disfavor for the acts of others to those who they know are equally devoted to culture and worthiness above all original thought, who are fully devoted to their commitment of maintaining their cultural station. Many deny that they are being disingenuous because they have been conditioned from childhood to repress all discord and original thought as if it were a poison, and their confidence is bolstered in that their righteousness makes them pious in comparison to the weak who succumb to sin. They know without a shadow of a doubt that their thoughts fully align with their culture and its requirements for worthiness. They revel in certainty as they testify of their devotion in the name of knowledge and truth.

Few arrive at their certainty through reason and critical thought, because truth-seeking tools cannot apply to devotion. I know this because devotion has been a deep part of my psyche for most of my life. I felt like I was strengthened by the certainty and fellowship that it provides. Devotion is purely social. It does not bow to reason, nor wisdom, nor truth. The tragedy is that many people confuse devotion to tradition and social conformity with devotion to truth. It is a tragedy that many fellowship belief systems set themselves up as the authority for a sacred science.51

To “be true, be true”52 spins loyalty as standing for truth, but to be true has nothing to do with truth, evidence, and fact, nor does “faithfulness.” To be faithful is not the same as having faith. It is all about loyalty. To “stand together and never doubt”53 is not about the doubts that pertain to truth at all, it is about loyalty. To be true, to be faithful, and to stand together and never doubt, all have to do with allegiance, adherence, devotion, steadfastness, stauchness, duty, and commitment. All of those have nothing to do with actual truth. They have to do with willful obedience and subservience to the despot.

A testimony of devotion to the traditions, ideals, bylaws, and the authoritarian declaration of truth by an institution, is not a testimony of the reality of truth. Both tradition and authority should have no right to herald themselves as truth, just as much as the authority of truth should never proclaim a right to control tradition. Customs and tradition are usually celebrations, occasions, and rituals. Problems arise when the two are confused as equals. When tradition clashes with truth, the sincere truth seeker must choose: social peace at the expense of cognitive dissonance, or social discord at the expense of cognitive harmony.

Until only recently, I have never allowed myself to perceive my difficulty in associating with people who judge prematurely, who are unwilling to put forth the effort to have empathy or even sympathy before they pass judgment. I have been only subconsciously aware of the great amount of energy that a filter requires. I naturally retreated to silence, because reticence takes vastly less energy. I naturally held back the energy required for relationships that judge prematurely or that expect me to live up to their expectations of what I should be instead of who I am.

In every family there seems to be a few that have the courage and confidence to stand on their own against the threat of disdain. In my past, I thought I was sure that I was benevolent with these loved ones when I called them to repentance, but I had no clue how insensitive and self-righteous I was. What many do not realize is that everyone has good intentions. There are few people in the world that are genuinely malicious. Everyone wishes to be happy and to live as best they can for their views of reality. Many of them are genuinely happy, especially because their lives are fuller when they are far away from grievous psychological burdens of a judgmental society. Those who stand up to the status quo and live authentically show more valor than those who drudge daily to maintain their status as a puffed-up saint in a conceited society.

Before you read on, let me reiterate that I make no assertion that anything I say in this entire paper is the ultimate truth. I am completely uncertain of everything I believe. I also believe that it is a virtue to let every belief remain in the realm of uncertainty, or it ceases to be belief. Everything I say here is only what I perceive to be true at the time I wrote it. I have no problem changing what I believe is true as my perspective changes due to the discovery of new facts and truths. My view of reality is a living, breathing, growing, changing specimen which must adapt to all new facts that may be found in order to stay alive. As I have said, these thoughts are mine, and I do not apologize that I have them. If you think that I am wrong, please do not confront me unless you have something more enlightening and positive to say. I have no desire to listen to anyone rattle off a string of thought-stopping platitudes in response to my ideas. I have not only already heard, but I myself have used enough of those nasty clichés to last a lifetime.

All of what follows was driven by the sincere desire to gain a full understanding of the gospel – the true message of Jesus – unencumbered by impropriety, charlatans, society and myth. As I have said, my purpose never was to sin, oppose doctrine, hurt the church, or even leave the church, because the church has ever been the only source of good that I have ever known. After all, as I had been trained, I withstood with fortitude, ignoring the ideas that the anti-Mormon publications presented. For what it is worth, the core of my thoughts have little to do with anti-Mormon literature. These thoughts originated from what I would consider enlightenment through the real message that Jesus himself gave, not from adversarial influences.

Doctrine

The Inscrutable Mystery

The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.54

As Joseph Smith says above, it has often been said that the Atonement is the singular most important principle of the gospel, that without the Atonement, there is no gospel. It is imperative because it is the core principle that allows us to hope for our salvation from sin and death. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, how the Atonement is accomplished is mysterious and it makes little sense.

I have heard the prophets and apostles admit repeatedly that the Atonement is not understandable by our mortal minds, for example:

I realize that no mortal mind can adequately conceive, nor can human tongue appropriately express, the full significance of all that Jesus Christ has done for our Heavenly Father’s children through His Atonement.55

We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.56

In the same article, Bruce R. McConkie repeats the word incomprehensible several times in reference to the Atonement. Even though it is incomprehensible, even though it makes little sense at all, we are still repeatedly invited to rely on the inscrutable mystery of the Atonement as a vehicle for eternal salvation.

Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.57

Even though we are often taught that the Atonement is incomprehensible to the human mind, some still attempt to understand it and explain it. One of those attempts compares the Atonement to the payment of monetary debt, where a mediator steps between the debtor and the creditor, pays the difference to the creditor, and then the mediator through mercy forgives the debtor.58

That explanation falls short in many ways, however. While that explanation provides a good understanding about how mercy can work, the mercy of that situation is irrelevant to the necessity for a mediator to intercede between the creditor and debtor. There are serious problems with the assumption of the nature of whom the creditor is and what his credit agreement is, and there is still a problem with how the payment to the creditor transacted, what that payment was, and why a mediator is even needed.

The mercy part of the Atonement is clear and easy to understand, but God is shameless in his need for innocent blood to be shed, need for innocent suffering, and need for innocent life to be given up and sacrificed in order to pay the “price” for sin. Sin should never be compared to monetary debt because they are incommensurable – they are so disparate that they are incomparable, like apples and oranges. Sin has more in common with crime than it does with monetary debt. All pecuniary crime can be paid by someone else, but all other crimes cannot, and Jesus did not pay money to God.

If you allow yourself to believe that the consequence for crime can be paid by the innocent, you take the first step to fooling yourself that an incomprehensible paradox of immorality can somehow cause change in an anthropomorphic,59 angry god to become a merciful, loving god. If you allow yourself to take that step, you put yourself in a place to accept that money can either pay the price for sin or be a requirement for your worthiness. If you accept that a payment can be required for the attainment of righteousness or for the payment for your sins, you are not far away from accepting subservience and fleecing by the age-old connivance of charlatans.

The more you believe that an incomprehensible immoral act is the method of your salvation, the more you will be inclined to subject your will to be manipulated; to stop trusting your own god-given faculties of mind because it is impossible for your own sincere reasoning to serve you in making sense of the mystery, and because of that you close off from the light of your mind and blindly obey the charlatan’s bidding. This corruption of your mind will happen through that chain reaction that began with your willingness to allow your mind to indulge in their promise of an incomprehensible immoral mystery and that mercy can come from a blatantly immoral payment for crime.

...the human mind has degenerated by believing [tales]. Man in a state of grovelling superstition, from which he has not courage to rise, loses the energy of his mental powers.60

Savage Morality

The penalty for crime indicted upon the innocent instead of the guilty, no matter how willing the innocent may be to accept punishment and euthanasia, is an injustice which laughs in the face of morality. It could not be an act of mercy because it better reflects an act of revenge. That kind of vengeance is like someone killing an innocent son because his father died before they could avenge his having murdered their own son. This is the same immoral ideology which “visits the sins of a father upon his children to the third and fourth generation.”61 This kind of revenge lives in the hatred that drives warring families, tribes, or nations to kill each other for centuries.

The belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.62

To say that it is just for God to murder his own son in the name of justice is a double standard. Both revenge and ritual murder is primitive and feudal. Revenge indicates absence of jurisprudence. It is preposterous to think that God is so fallible that he would commit this kind of inequitable atrocity himself. To require recompense for crime through revenge before granting absolution has nothing to do with mercy or forgiveness; it is instead iniquity63 in the finest sense of the word.

What sort of savage is the insane man that christianity calls God? That god is too small, too limited, too human, too angry. We often claim that he is merciful and loving, but his actions speak louder than words. He is so moody and angry that he needs someone to intercede between his prosecution and the accused, his own children, to mitigate his wrath. The only way he thinks he can appease his wrath is by avenging and killing the innocent.

He seems too much like an ancient tribal god that shamans contrived to scare the people into subordination. That is the kind of god that defended the tribe against the god of the other tribes and incited them to go to war. It is sad that this same god is used today to incite fear and to guilt people into obedience. Don’t you dare incite the retribution of God, who can curse you and your family for generations! I cannot believe in such a god as this. The God I believe in is above all of that.

I have been pondering the conundrum of the immorality of the Atonement since my childhood, and in many ways I can personally relate to what Thomas Paine wrote:

I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee of the Church, upon the subject of what is called redemption by the death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man, that killed his son when he could not revenge himself in any other way, and as I was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. This was not one of that kind of thoughts that had anything in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of doing it. I believe in the same manner at this moment; and I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.

But the Christian story of God the Father putting his son to death, or employing people to do it (for that is the plain language of the story) cannot be told by a parent to a child; and to tell him that it was done to make mankind happier and better is making the story still worse — as if mankind could be improved by the example of murder; and to tell him that all this is a mystery is only making an excuse for the incredibility of it.64

There are many moral problems that come with the idea that innocent blood can pay the price for sin. One of the core problems is imposition that God is something he isn’t. The word for that is idolatry. If we wish to avoid idolatry, we should seek to understand God’s true attributes, and discard the ones we discover should be unbefitting of an infinite being.

What you believe about God says more about you than it does about God. I cannot believe in a god that has a lesser morality than my own. I cannot worship a god that is a sadistic sociopath whose justice can only be appeased by avenging his wrath through the ritual murder of his own son.

We are taught that the atonement saves us from damnation and hell, but the decree of damnation comes from the wrath of God. If God inflicts and infinite judgment for choices made in a temporal state, be it eternal torture by fire or eternally stopping progress, God is not a loving, merciful god, he is a devil. Saying that God moves in a mysterious way does not exonerate him from being despicable. If it is salvation to live eternally with a narcissist who punishes the innocent for the guilty, then frankly, I do not want it. That would be hell, for me.

Please try to temporarily lift away any preconceptions of what the Atonement should be, or how you may think it works, and allow me to give you an alternate point of view. You will not comprehend what I have to say if your understanding remains encumbered by the preconceptions, platitudes, mystery, fables, or hum-drum memorization you might hold dear from songs and lessons in your past. If you do allow your mind to be opened, I am confident that I can resolve of the problems with the Atonement that I have presented above.

My Belief in God

To find resolution for the incomprehensibility and immorality of the Atonement, and to understand how our redemption is effected, we must first understand the true attributes of the one who can redeem us: Almighty God.

God is an immutable, infinite being. He does not change because changes can not occur within infinite permanence. Any change in infinite will proves imperfect judgment. If any change would occur, the infinite constancy would stop and God would no longer be eternal.

Any ritualistic practice you perform cannot change his opinion, nor will it ever gain more of his favor, nor will it ever increase his mercy toward you or any of his children. I daresay that all practices of ritual are lies. Those who promote them as indispensable for your sanctification are pretentious in their authority to stand between you and God, even though they, themselves, may not perceive that their own participation furthers the deception.

God is the master of all creation. God is the source of everything in existence. God’s core and essence is love. The infinite love of God is secondary to no other attribute in his divine nature. All of creation is a manifestation of his love. Because God is infinite, his love is infinite, his mercy is infinite, his favor is infinite. You cannot add anything to infinity, and you can only subtract infinity from infinity. All of the attributes of God as well as all of the laws of the universe which God established are immutable and changeless.

There cannot be one law now, and another hereafter; but the same eternal immutable law comprehends all nations, at all times, under one common master and governor of all: God.65

The answer to the quest for the true nature of God gives us an understanding of the true method of our salvation from sin and death! Any idea or act which purports to change, to have changed, or to manifest any semblance of change in the attributes or will of the personalization of infinity, supplants the infinite God with something he isn’t, and we must conclude that the idea or act is imposition.

Mercy is justice which has been tempered by love and empathy. The most high God is the one person from whom all eternal law comes. He answers to no one else. Letting a repentant person receive full mercy and full forgiveness for any finite event through his infinite core, which is love, costs nothing for an infinite being.

The more you know a person, the more you love them. The more you love them, the more likely it will be that you forgive them when they offend you. Now take that idea ad infinitum: your Eternal Father has infinite love for you and he also has perfect empathy through his omniscience.

He created you for imperfection. He has been living your life along with you and deeply understands your every intimate thought. It is preposterous that he should expect perfection from someone he created to be imperfect; that he would infinitely indict you for a nearsighted decision in a temporal situation which he placed you.

The more we see, the more we understand. The more we understand, the easier it is for us to have compassion and love. Understanding is the source of love. Understanding is love itself. Understanding is another name for love; love is another name for understanding.66

Since Jesus taught that family life is symbolic of our relationship with God, let me try to put this in the perspective of my law with my children. I do not need any of my children to suffer, nor do I need any other person or animal to suffer before I show mercy to my own child. It happens quite often: I show mercy to my children without any sacrifice or payment on the part of anyone. If an imperfect being such as I can show such love and mercy, how much more would God, being perfect and whose core is love?

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?67

While in this scripture Jesus is expanding upon his ask and ye shall receive teaching, it illustrates what I said: how much more would a being who has a perfect love, forgive? Letting perfect love and empathy cause justice to blossom into mercy does not call for any change in God’s changeless mind at all.

Jesus not only taught about the love of our father, he showed love and mercy readily and freely. Since Jesus, a son of God, inherited all of his attributes from his father, how much more will his father show love and mercy? Jesus is in no way more loving and more merciful than his father. Jesus cannot supersede his father in godly attributes. You can not augment a perfect, infinite being.

The true mission of Jesus, as he said himself, was to come to earth to reveal the true nature of his father, who is also our father, to all humankind. With that in mind, don’t the following scriptures make more sense:

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?68

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.69

This is the message and mission of Jesus: to raise mankind’s mistaken perception of God from a ruthless, bloodthirsty, vengeful, dominant king into a loving and merciful father. That true knowledge of God is the realization of one’s own life eternal.

Unconditional Love

I am confident that we are not here to be tested. We are perfect in our imperfections as humans. Even in my less than perfect parental love, I would never test my children whether they should be worthy of my love and acceptance. I’d certainly never put a veil over their eyes and expect them to pass through an obstacle course70 or they can never live with me or even come to my house. With all due respect to those who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, it seems that God shares the same mental illness. If even a hair of your head is not fully submerged in baptism, your sins were not washed away, so there is no salvation for you! As I think about all of the silly outward requirements that we must do to “live with him again,” I shudder at how nonsensical it is.

God’s love is unconditional. I cannot believe that he would inflict judgment on anyone for failing to obey or for making mistakes in mortality, which is a state of imperfection by his design. Conditional love is a tool used by those who wish to subjugate and control. Their load is grievous to be borne. They make their subordinates earn their worthiness for God’s love. They use the fear of retribution and damnation from an angry God as a threat to those who dare to disobey their command. They restrain the creativity that comes from free will. God’s command is their justification for their vain prejudice and xenophobia. When their prejudice falls out of favor, they either vainly blame it on God, or when that is impractical, they blame it upon the human frailties of their predecessors.

Every time we have a lesson, we list what it takes for worthiness and what is required for levels of achievement and glory. Because of that, we look down with contempt on those who are not as worthy as we are. All of the friends and relatives we love, who are not as worthy as we are, will not be permitted at our elite level of glory, even though they’re great people, even though they live beautiful lives, even though they genuinely care and show their love for other people.

Salvation from imperfection makes no sense. It is a defeatist philosophy that we should live life in constant fear that we are inherently not good enough. Conditional love demands constant work and achievement to attain proof of worth. The fear of not measuring up to every command keeps us immature. A laundry list of requirements for worthiness impedes authentic inner growth of self. We are subjects to the will of those who commandeer our right to chose. We can never grow up and live and love autonomously without an overseer condoning our actions. When love is controlled by requisite, it is not love at all. When we are unable to meet the conditions of those who love us conditionally, we suffer from dishonor, exhaustion, fear, and shame. Love by achievement requires a sacrifice of joy to attain it because it makes joy contingent upon obedience. Life becomes something that must be endured instead of finding the joy of exploration in the journey.

Most of all, we cannot love one another if we are taught that God only considers us worthy if we strictly adhere to his command. As we learn from God’s example, we prejudge entire races and other groups, minorities, and all second-class people who are not worthy for our elite caste. We only love our children if they live up to our expectations. Our children live in fear of our self-righteous indignation. Many of them naturally resist, rebel, disconnect, and distance themselves from our domination. They learn to put up barriers to shield their vulnerability. They only display a facade that we would approve of when they are in our company. We shame all under our dominion that cannot live up to our ideals. Our disapproval causes us to use passive aggression, nag, or even abuse our spouse because they are incapable of living up to what we expect of them. All of our relationships become shallow because they all depend on the prerequisites for worthiness.

It is well known, and will be acknowledged by every candid person, that the human heart is capable of becoming soft, or hard; kind, or unkind; merciful or unmerciful, by education and habit. On this principle we contend, that the infernal torments, which false religion has placed in the future world, and which ministers have, with an overflowing zeal, so constantly held up to the people, and urged with all their learning and eloquence, have tended so to harden the hearts of the professors of this religion, that they have exercised, toward their fellow creatures, a spirit of enmity, which but too well corresponds with the relentless cruelty of their doctrine, and the wrath which they have imagined to exist in our heavenly Father. By having such an example constantly before their eyes, they have become so transformed into its image, that, whenever they have had the power, they have actually executed a vengeance on men and women, which evinced that the cruelty of their doctrine had overcome the native kindness and compassion of the human heart.71

Mercy, not Sacrifice

God has not changed. It is the perception of God that has changed throughout history. God is not nor has he ever been the wrathful, vengeful, jealous, dictatorial tribal god who needs to be appeased by barbarism. God never changes. He is the same from everlasting to everlasting. It was not God, but the people of antiquity who instituted their limited, erroneous understanding of God in their sacred writ.

The error in the doctrine of suffering for or paying for sin with blood lies in the false concept of God in both the Bible and heathen mythology. It is pointless to think that we need to reconcile idolatry in ancient mythology with truth.

God is not anthropomorphic. He is not like Zeus, who has many fallible human attributes and who changes his mind on a whim. Nor is he like Jupiter, who creatively evades his wife and seeks to impregnate every mortal woman he fancies. Nor is his love or understanding swayed by anything we or anyone else can do.

God bows to no law. He is the most high sovereign of all. There is no statutory law that prescribes that he should be changed from the vengeful god of antiquity with a sacrificial idol. He should ever be our loving merciful father, without any such thing. Jesus repeated:

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice72

But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.73

It is evident to me that Jesus was trying to lift their minds above the sacrifice doctrine and the Pharisee laws by teaching that the law of the kingdom of heaven is love, and inherent to love is mercy. Jesus asked the pharisees to go and learn what that means, but it is a clear charge for us, the pharisees of our day, too. Searching for that phrase in those two scriptures above, I found the same phrase in the Old Testament, which makes those quotes more clear, and is likely exactly what Jesus was quoting:

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.74

It seems like we either misunderstand many teachings in the Old Testament, or Hosea was ahead of his time in his understanding. It is the knowledge of God and his mercy that gives you the assurance of your salvation, not sacrifice or burnt offerings. It is knowledge which is the redeeming factor for the brother of Jared:

Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.75

I find difficulty in recalling anything Jesus ever said in the New Testament, that he should be the sacrifice for sin. That came after him from other people. Contrarily, Jesus clearly said, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” As I ponder what he was saying, I realize that our loving father already has more mercy in store for us than we will ever need without requiring any outward rituals, animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, or Jesus sacrifice. God’s mercy is still fully attainable through repentance, whether Jesus was tortured and murdered or not. Even a humble, contrite, penitent attitude is no sacrifice for anyone who sincerely seeks God.

Look at this interesting exchange which happened right after Jesus answered a scribe’s question about which was the first of all the commandments:

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:

And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.76

Jesus commended this scribe’s understanding because the scribe understood that ritual burnt offerings and sacrifices are nothing compared to the true religion of Jesus. His true religion entails sincerely seeking and loving God, and when you do, you naturally love your neighbor, and all ritual and sacrifices are meaningless compared to that.

Scapegoats or shedding blood for propitiation comes from man-made religion, not from the teachings of Jesus himself. This particularly stubborn doctrine of blood redemption has ever sneaked its way into belief systems, corrupting them and thwarting the truth. Except for the pure teachings of Jesus, the Old Testament, New Testament, and even the Book of Mormon have never found deliverance from the old pagan idea that Gods could not be appeased except by blood. Moses did make an advancement in his era when he forbade human sacrifices77 but he still acquiesced to the ceremonial sacrifice of animals. However, animal sacrifice was not a commandment, it was an allowance because of the hardness of the hearts of the people, much like how he gave in to allowing divorce:

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.78

Even human sacrifice took a long time to die out.79 Consider one example of many in the Old Testament: Jephthah vainly swore a vow to God and sacrificed his daughter Mizpah.80 Surely it was not our loving eternal father who made him do this. It was his swearing an oath based on his erring religion and false understanding of the nature of God that did.

How many horrible things have happened in the history of this world because ignorant people made oaths to their false understanding of who God is? Why should any old, false view of God be held up for a standard which must be reconciled before we can accept any new truth?

Some people revel and sing to the idea that Jesus is a mediator between ourselves and God’s retribution. I riposte that nothing needs to intercede between God and his children to stop him from inflicting retribution, because retribution never was a loving, merciful father’s way. There is no need for a mediator between a debtor and his creditor when the creditor is already full of mercy and loving empathy, and has already forgiven the debt. Father is already more loving and more merciful than Jesus is. You may ask about this scripture:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.81

While John 14:6 is often memorized and quoted, in order to understand it you must put it into its context with the next verse, which says:

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.82

These verses are not referring to Jesus mediating between estranged parties, it is referring to the revelation brought forth by Jesus that God is a loving father, while giving some clue about the identity of Jesus. I reiterate, this is life eternal: knowing the only true God, whose true merciful, loving nature was revealed by Jesus.

I mentioned Boyd Packer’s parable previously, the one about the debtor, creditor, and mediator. Let us contrast his parable with the parable of the two debtors that Jesus himself taught:

There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.83

Did you notice? When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. It is clear that the parable that Jesus told had no need for a mediator. Why would Jesus ever skip the opportunity to teach about mediators if mediators are supposed to be an indispensable part of his gospel?

This parable is talking about which of the debtors would love the creditor most, illustrating the idea that those who have sinned most but who have been frankly forgiven will love God most. The concept is beautiful because it makes sin less detrimental, and turns it into a cause for love.

I surmise that another intent of this parable might have been to look at it from the opposite perspective: the creditor showed more love to the one that owed five hundred pence than he did to the one who owed fifty.

If your love does not push you to action by causing your judgment to flower into empathy, mercy, and forgiveness, then your love is stagnant and is not love at all. Love that does not move you to compassion is dead.

There was never a genuine need to offer your firstborn child, or offer the first fruits of your flocks to somehow appeal to a mythological god. Neither was there a need for God to make his own offering to appease himself. If my son offends me, why should I require him to kick the dog to satisfy my revenge? Even more, how could I ever be justified if I myself kick the dog to gratify my own wrath? There is absolutely no need for our father in heaven to make an offering of his own son, which is no sacrifice of ours, to appease his own law, or that would make him just as idolatrous and immoral as the people of antiquity.

You may ask, “but Jesus suffered and was truly alone, wasn’t he? His father withdrew and let him suffer in agony, because he said, ‘My god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?’” As with all myths, not all of the truth is told here and the lack of truth feeds the sacrifice myth. Jesus knew many psalms by heart, after all, the psalms were the hymns of his culture and ethnicity. As he was hanging there, he was likely running over in his mind and reciting many psalms, including what is now Psalms 20-22 today. Some of his mumbling may have been understood by the people standing nearby as Jesus quoted Psalm 22. If you read Psalm 22, it makes sense why it may have been on his mind and that he may have found comfort in reciting it.

The view that Jesus was left alone on the cross is the ignorant view of the people who observed the situation, much like the nearsighted observations of Job’s situation by his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who claimed God left Job alone. But to that God said:

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.84

God never left Job alone. The story of Job is a jewel in the Old Testament because in the end Job rises above the false Old Testament ideas of God that his friends kept pointing out, and its conclusion speaks the truth against the doctrine of divine providence for the righteous, and divine cursing for sin. Just as God never left Job, I boldly declare that Father never left Jesus alone. Father never leaves anyone alone. It is only we who think we have distanced ourselves from Father.

Wise, loving parents are understanding and have sympathy for their immature and sometimes erring child. It is usually rarely necessary to forgive children, but when it is necessary, parents’ love prevents the alienation of their child, and rarely requires a readjustment of repentance by the wayward child in order to regain goodwill. The child, being immature and lacking in the fuller understanding of the child-parent relationship, frequently feels abandonment through a sense of guilty separation from a parents’ full approval. Regardless of the child’s feelings, truly loving parents never consider that situation to represent any such separation.

The measure of one’s inability to forgive is directly proportional to one’s lack of attaining sympathy, understanding, and love. People hold grudges and seek vengeance because of their ignorance to the inner nature and true desires of those who have offended them. How could God have ever been vengeful if vengeance is a sign of a lack of understanding, sympathy, love and wisdom? How could an infinite, changeless god have been immature and then need some kind of heart-wrenching event mature him into a loving God?

Loving parents are able to perceive the immaturity of the child with the wisdom which comes from their experience of having lived through many similar circumstances only decades earlier. Our Heavenly Father possesses infinite, divine capacity for sympathy and loving understanding.

Binding a choice made in finite mortality for infinity, makes as little sense as would binding a play marriage of two little children who are playing house, for the rest of their lives. Let us consider the intelligence of other life on Earth, like tiny ants for example. The scale of the intelligence between ant and human is immense. The ant cannot begin to comprehend our level of thought. It would be silly for me to be angry at the ant for not understanding something that I understand. It would be even more laughable that the ant should pretend to know my will even though it cannot understand my will, and that it would require strict obedience for other ants to enter its sacred hill, and revere a sacrifice of a singular genetically-engineered ant appease my indignation about its shortfalls.

Since the difference of intelligence between humans and ants is finite and measurable, the intelligence of both ants and humans are practically the same when compared to infinite intelligence. We are no different from ants in our anticipation of what could come in infinity. It is silly to think that God would bind ants for a choice they may make when their intellects are so finite and immature. Who are we to pretend to dictate how an infinite being should punish us in infinity for our dealings in mortality? We cannot begin to compare our extremely limited view of eternity to the knowledge of eternity that the master of the Universe should possess. No human can pretend to know the will of an infinite being for others to obey. Those that do are impostors who have something to gain by doing it.

The inability to comprehend an infinite mind is not the same as the inability to comprehend the Atonement. The Atonement is an inscrutable concept, not an infinite mind. An enigmatic incongruence does not deserve worship just because it is impossible to understand. Just because it is mysterious does not mean it comes from God. On the contrary, that which comes from God is unabashed, concrete reality, free form the obscurity of mystery. It makes more sense that perfect infinity would love and accept us exactly as it created us, flaws and all.

Do we look upon a tree to find the imperfection in its bark, the scrapes on its side, and branches that are broken? No, we look at the tree and see the beauty and grandeur of the tree for what it is, as it is created. Imperfections add variety and beauty unique to each tree. We do not look upon a flower to judge any lack of perfect symmetry, we look at the beauty of the flower even with its beautifully unique imperfect identity. I have seen no evidence that God punishes the tree or the flower for being imperfect. If anything, he revels in that which he intentionally created. Sin is a construct of tribal religion which stems from the avoidance of offending their god, and for performing all ritual observances that their selfish god requires in order to gain his blessing in war and prosperity. I cannot believe in such a self-important god that would require any of that.

Divine forgiveness is inevitable. It is inherent and inseparable to God’s complete knowledge and understanding. Divine justice is so infinitely fair that it inescapably entails empathetic mercy.

How can we miss this same teaching of Jesus when so many of his parables illustrate the idea so clearly? The good shepherd did not have to shed any blood of any of the ninety-nine sheep to seek out and rescue the one that wandered away. The parable of the prodigal son illustrates this clearly. Did the father of the prodigal son need any reconciliation with the wayward son before the father could accept him back? Did the father need the perfect older son to be sacrificed before the father could accept the younger son back? Did the older son have to mediate between any righteous indignation of the father and the younger son? The parable instead frowns upon the sanctimonious older son, illustrating the disdain Jesus harbored for the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. Besides the wayward son’s sincere humility which was brought on by becoming aware of the reality of his situation, did he need to sacrifice anything, perform any dutiful act, or prove anything at all to regain the father’s love and acceptance? Did the wayward son ever lose the father’s love, mercy, and acceptance? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding no. Paul’s doctrine of reconciliation85 is Paul’s own pagan insertion which stands in opposition to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus did not teach that doctrine at all.

It was the fallibility of elitist mortal men, not God, who sentenced Jesus to die on the cross. While it was the will of God to not intervene with human events as he usually does, and while Jesus readily accepted that will, it was not God’s decree nor was it his judgment in any way that Jesus should die on the cross. That verdict was made by unjust mortal men, not God. Had Jesus died in any other way, God’s mercy towards us would still be the same. Jesus would eventually have had to die sooner or later, but that could have been done in many different and more peaceful ways other than the tragic scene of a teacher of liberating thought dying on a cross.

You may ask, what about Gethsemane? In Mormonism, even though most of our sacrament hymns continue to extol the crucifixion, there has been a shift of the “sacrifice” from the cross to Gethsemane because there are obvious blatant holes in logic that support the cross as being something God did to his son. If death on the cross as a decree of God makes no sense, where can we focus the doctrine of propitiation? His prayer in Gethsemane was really intense and Luke mentioned the idea of blood dripping, so that is where God must have inflicted his revenge upon Jesus, right? Don’t be silly, the same problem exists with this idea as does the idea that God mandated Jesus be murdered. The true God doesn’t do indignation just as much as the father in the parable of the prodigal son didn’t do indignation. If a human father can be that loving and merciful, how much more should God be?

The idea of the real suffering for sin happening in Gethsemane comes from the idea of the literal sweating of blood from every pore. It is a myth of Mormonism, built upon the description “sweat was as it were great drops of blood” which was said solely by Luke. I don’t think taking his words literally makes any sense.

The prayer in Gethsemane had nothing to do with payment of any sin price. You have to remember that Jesus was just as much human as any of us. All humans have it programmed in their DNA to avoid death and stay alive. It was also great strain on Jesus’ human heart to have to leave his apostles; there was still so much to teach them, and they were not ready. Here is the purpose of his prayer: Just as prayer serves to help us to align our will with our God, each time he prayed in the garden, his humanity was more and more subdued, and his will more and more became one with the divine will of our father. Jesus had to experience death as part of his earthly mission as we all do. God could have easily translated him, but it is God’s will that free agency be completely unfettered and that the consequences of free agency on this planet be played out to completion. The garden of Gethsemane was about facing that death and overcoming the flesh.

Father in heaven loved his children on earth just as much before the life and death of Jesus as he did after. The life and death of Jesus in no way changed any attributes of the infinite and eternal father. In fact, for all of the countless worlds which existed far beyond billions of years before this world, and for all of the countless worlds which may exist far beyond trillions of years after this world, the changeless, infinite love and mercy of God has always been and always will be the same. The relationship of God as a loving father to his created children and our relationship as spirit siblings, on this world and on all other worlds throughout all of creation has existed from eternity. That timeless relationship is in no way dependent upon a singular temporal event of the death or temporal suffering of an incarnate demigod. Our world is in no way at the center of space, nor is our time at the center of time. If time is infinite, there is no meridian. Our salvation would have been just as certain if Jesus had not been put to death by ignorant men. If Jesus had lived a full life and died by natural means, the fact of the love of God and the mercy of the Son would not have been affected in any way.

The death of Jesus was indeed unfortunate. Had he lived to a ripe old age, his teachings of God’s nature and morality would have become so much more cemented in the minds of his followers and the world would have only ended up much better because of that. I often muse to myself how different Paul’s teachings would have been had he truly been taught at the feet of Jesus. Alas, Jesus was murdered early and in cold blood not by a loving God, but by ignorant, hateful people who feared that he threatened the tyranny of their Jewish priesthood establishment.

The good news from Jesus is that God loves you with a fatherly love and will preserve your personhood beyond death, and he will resurrect you, and he will mercifully forgive you when, as you sincerely seek truth, you find it necessary to repent to align with your newly found ideals. You already have and have always had his mercy available to you for salvation from any wrong you may do. You already have and have always had his willingness to resurrect you. All of this is available because of his infinite love and mercy. It needs to be no more complicated than that. It is that simple.

Who is this man, Paul, who knew nothing of Jesus during his ministry, and from whom comes the vast majority of the Christian religion? Paul’s doctrine, which invites you to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”86 was never a teaching of Jesus. That is a selfish doctrine which invites fear and selfishness to drive you to seek salvation for yourself. Conversely, fear is the opposite of love.87 Where there is no love, there is fear. Jesus taught the complete opposite of what Paul taught. He taught that he who loves God and loves his neighbor forgets himself and his own liability and simply trusts in God’s love as a little child trusts his own loving father for their own well-being. Those who are born of the spirit take salvation for granted because they know the true loving nature of their Father in Heaven, and they can forget themselves and dedicate their lives to loving others as God loves them.

If we already have all of the fruits of the Atonement without the need for the pagan blood sacrifice part, then why do we continue to maintain that blood, suffering, and the murderous revengeful sacrifice of an innocent human being has anything to do with it? Can we please stop the reliance on blood paying for anything? Let us stop complicating the situation and simply earnestly seek for the loving Father in Heaven that we all truly aspire for deep inside as his children. Let us rise from the ashes and wash the idolatrous pagan soot from our ideas once and for all.

If we already have all of the fruits of the Atonement without the need for the pagan blood sacrifice part, then why do we continue to maintain that blood, suffering, and the murderous revengeful sacrifice of an innocent human being has anything to do with it? Can’t we just stop the reliance on blood paying for anything? Let us stop complicating the situation and simply earnestly seek for the loving Father in Heaven that we all truly aspire for deep inside as his children. Let us rise from the ashes and wash the idolatrous pagan soot from our ideas once and for all.

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.88

The truth isn’t hard to find, just hard to look at. Throughout history, people have not been unable to understand Jesus; they have been afraid to understand him because they feared losing their inculcated traditions and social group. Let us stop fearing what he truly taught and instead start to live it.

Bettie Eadie, who claims to have had a near-death experience, seems to be one who understands:

I asked Jesus, “But what about Hell?”

Jesus said, “If you, as a good mother, wouldn’t cast any of your children into a lake of fire for something that they did that you disapproved of, how much greater is God’s love than yours?”

I thought, “wow, that’s a no-brainer.”

God’s love is infinite, it is divine, eternal, everlasting. He loves us more than we can even imagine. ... There couldn’t be a hell, because there is nothing but love. A God of love would not destroy any one of us.89

When you believe Jesus that our father in heaven is kind, merciful, empathetic and loving, then it is superfluous to need anyone else to sacrifice anything, especially by bleeding or suffering, in order to bring out the mercy of a being who is already perfectly willing to grant you his already infinite mercy through his already infinite love. It is pointless to practice rituals that are supposed to change God’s mind about your worthiness, or that are supposed to bring you closer to God.

The quote from Joseph Smith at the beginning of this section about the “fundamental principles of our religion” shows that he was not versed in the teachings of Jesus. Whoever he talked to in vision is not the same person because he completely ignored what Jesus himself believed and taught. Instead, he only regurgitates the same garbage that was fed to him by all of the other false prophets who came after Jesus, and who used Jesus to promote their own pagan theology.

Jesus resorted to teaching parables because the people who were genuine truth seekers would understand them, and those that did not desire truth could be dealt with mercifully:

That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?90

The core of the message of Jesus was his revelation of the love of God. This new perspective of his message, along with his teachings of sincere truth seeking, causes many of his other teachings and parables to suddenly make sense.

Throughout this paper, I hope to continue to illustrate the many repercussions that come from understanding the message of Jesus, of God and his love and mercy. I perceive what true religion should be, emancipated from crystallized creeds, dogmas, and systems. I am free from having to juggle contradictions in my mind because they are all supposed to be true. I am free to advance in my perception of reality, no longer held back by the fables of ancient bards. I no longer have to do battle for primeval ideologies with a shield and sword of the dark ages. I have become free to trust my own God-given talents of mind, free from dependence on others, especially those who vainly speak in God’s name, and who impose their ungodliness as his character and their tyranny as his will. I am free to explore all new knowledge and understanding, against their constraint, because I no longer fear the loss of exaltation for lack of obedience to the laws and ordinances of men. I have become aware of how to identify the charlatans who prey on the weak, who grow their dominion by fencing in and fleecing them, and whose ascendancy goes against the very teachings and practices of the man they revere.

For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.91

Celestial Condemnation

The eternal family seems to be the pinnacle of happiness and the loftiest goal of modern Mormonism. Practically every lesson or talk that I heard at church throughout my life led to one conclusion: to live with God and family again. Even the teaching of an atonement is only a means to that end. I tire of hearing that same thing every Sunday.

Mormonism teaches that everyone will receive some level of glory except only a handful of people. This is usually explained after the declaration that we do not believe in eternal Hell. We proclaim that our gospel is more benevolent than the rest of Christianity.

That teaching only seems to take away the sting of being condemned to endless torment. To be banished to exile is to be rejected by society. That is still a form of hell. God himself expels his inferior children. To be limited in progress can be compared to being forever held back in first grade. No one wants a lower glory because that would not be heaven at all. In that stunted state, immortality would be a form of subjection to eternal vengeance for temporal misdeeds. It goes unsaid, but it is implied, that the only true salvation is the highest glory.

There is still a deeper problem. Because of eternal judgment of their temporal choices in mortality, your children will be banished from your eternal home. No matter how righteous you were, no matter how much you deserve the highest glory, their absence will be a form of sadness. That sadness will last for all eternity. That sadness will be inflicted upon not only you, but also upon God himself. If the child you love is not with you, then that is not exaltation. That is damnation.

Think about Heavenly Father. He granted the gift of choice to all of his children. Though that gift is the highest gift, second only to life itself, he has not been granted the same power to freely choose. He is the creator and source of all that is, but he is impeded by some kind of law that supersedes his sovereignty. That law eternally condemns God himself to a type of hell because it impedes his own children from living with him if they dare to fully employ the gift of choice that he, himself gave. It impedes God the Supreme from exercising perfect love, empathy, fairness, and mercy. It also inflicts that same condemnation and hell upon you for the choices your own children made.

That higher law grants God’s own authority, but not his autonomy. He is bound by a law that requires his child to be symbolically bathed by a representative that has been legally authorized by the same law. Without the performance of that symbol, their eternal life is forfeit. The requirement for that authorization is also above him. That law also impedes the access of his children to his home without having been given the secret password. God himself does not have the power to waive those requirements. The law does not allow him see the heart. He is only authorized to see the outward appearance.92 Those petty outward rites are required even if a life has been lived in love and service of others, the requirement for salvation declared by Jesus himself.93

This seems so contrived, so utterly preposterous to me. God is supposed to be the Most High, above the entire universe. God should not be beholden to some sort of arcane law that is beyond his control. I am an imperfect being and I do not require a password for my children to enter my house. I do not require my children to jump through any statutory hoop to gain a passport and citizenship to my home. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, my children will always be welcome regardless of what they might choose, just as Jesus aptly taught in that parable.94 If I can do that, then how much more should God?

In countless stories and movies, I have observed that the main character always gains the support and enthusiasm of the audience, regardless of their morality. For example, they could be more murderous than the villain, who usually restrains himself from murdering them. I surmise that the deeper empathy for the protagonist is the key to getting the audience to root for him.

Forgiveness does not require repentance of the offender, it requires empathy on the part of the one who was offended. Absolute empathy grants limitless absolution. God’s infinite empathy combined with his infinite mercy should transcend any choice made, by anyone who has been granted that gift. If God loves and is merciful, then he should be able to exercise his mercy towards those who he granted free will, regardless of anything they might choose. If he is not able to supersede and repair all fault in his creation, then he cannot be the creator.

Either God is forgiving and we are saved by his mercy and grace as the New Testament prescribes, or he is bound by some external power. He can do absolutely nothing to overcome that law without his subjects performing silly rituals to fulfill whatever law limits his power. If God cannot do what a god should be able to do without depending on some kind of shamanistic or legalistic ritual, then what makes him so godly? Is he just another man who happened to find himself on mount Olympus? Is he just another man who happened to have been righteous on a different planet and was promoted to his station for his obedience? If he is, then who is the most high God from his perspective? Who is the actual source? Who is the infinite? Why is that ultimate being not able to stand above a law he created and exercise infinitely perfect love, feeling, and benevolence?

Dogma cannot have its cake and eat it too, or better expressed, both eat and save its cake at the same time. Either Almighty God is infinitely merciful and forgiving, or he is restricted by external laws of justice and he can do absolutely nothing to overcome it without rituals which include human blood sacrifice, authorized baths, special clothing, and secret passwords. The Mormon doctrine of justice standing superior to mercy is so legalistic and absurd. It contradicts and invalidates teachings of Jesus presented in the New Testament. It proves that both the lawyers and businessmen at the head of the church cannot be sincere, and the doctrines of the scribes of correlation are not true. Their requirements of obedience to the law, and their placement of statute as superior to God, make them no different from the enemies of Jesus, the Pharisees.

The Mormon god is not godly at all. He does not deserve my veneration. When the stringently righteous and obedient arrive at what they revered as the Celestial Kingdom, my mind’s eye can imagine what he might say:

Oh, I’m sorry. I am not the omnipotent, that is someone else. I don’t know who it is, but I don’t really care, because I revel in the power and authority that I earned through my righteousness.

By your strict obedience to the command that I have passed on from my superiors, you have effectively chosen to give up your will to me. By your reliance on human blood sacrifice for payment of your shortcomings, you have proven your brutality to me. I committed that murder to satisfy my anger against the those who did not obey me. I got my revenge for their insubordination by the shedding of blood. I tortured the Almighty’s son to death for your good, and I liked it. You liked it too. Sometimes the thought of it brings you to tears of joy. By your ritual observance of my gruesome symbolism in partaking his human blood and flesh, you proved your compliance to my perverted satanic requirements.

Yes, I was the adversary all along. You did not allow yourself to perceive it, in the name of obedience. You believed my teaching, that obedience is a virtue. You proved that obedience was more important to you than having the courage to heed your own inherent morality.

Somehow, those that did not obey my command escaped. It might have been because they stood for what they thought was right, even though all of their friends and relatives rightfully obeyed me. The Almighty must have taken them away. I don’t know where they went. I hope he destroyed them, or at least curbed their advancement. If I were him, I would consign those insolent transgressors to the abyss, because they committed the unpardonable sin of denying me.

I possess great power over my servants. My dominion is an everlasting dominion. All shall love me and despair. That is, my subjects have a love-fear relationship with me. The power in my priesthoods are upon you. You are irrevocably subject to them. I do not have free will, and now you have been stripped of yours. You will now bow to my power. It’s okay. You like bowing to me. You did it at least three times a day. Sometimes you starved yourself for me, and I liked it. You liked it too, because it only made you more willing and able to obey me. You now have no choice but to strictly obey all of the laws, rites, ordinances, statutes, and commands that I will pass from the ranks, as pertaining to your oath to me, through all generations of time, and throughout all eternity. You will now give all of your time, talents, and even the entirety of your infinite immortal life, to me. You promised to do that under oath, after all.

Oh and by the way, you have no choice but to live with your divorced wife for all eternity. She hates you, she hates your second wife, and most of all, she hates plural marriage. But no matter, she will subordinate because of my power. Because of her oaths to me, she has lost her freedom to choose, too. You and your wives can never divorce. They are bound and sealed by my priesthood, and you all did this by your own free will and choice. Never fear, all of you will be happy by because of your joy in my supremacy. Because of your obedience, you will someday be granted a dominion, just as I have been granted mine. Then you will have joy and rejoicing in the subjection of those under your dominion.

Well done, faithful servant. You are finished. Welcome to Hell.

Levantine Religion

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Tribal Gods and Sacrifice

The Mormon perspective of the Old Testament attempts to rewrite history to fit its narrative. It prescribes that true religion has ever been static from the beginning of time. It does this provide consistency, allowing credence for its claims to ultimate truth, regardless of contrary evidence. The historic record as well as prehistoric archeology indicates otherwise. In reality, religion has ever evolved.

Let us step back and consider the state of the world before Jesus arrived on the scene. Abraham’s descendants were not a pure-bred people. They mixed with many other tribes of Cannan. Sometimes they mixed with tribes they conquered. Sometimes they mixed with tribes that defeated them.

The people of the land of Canaan worshiped a pantheon95 of gods. Anat, Athirat, Athtart, Attar, Baalat, Baal Hadad, Baal Hammon, Dagon, El Elyon, Eshmun, Ishat, Kotharat, Kothar-wa-Khasis, Lotan, Marqod, Melqart, Molech, Mot, Nikkal-wa-lb, Qadeshtu, Resheph, Sachar and Shalim, Shamayim, Shapash, Yaw, Sydyk, Yahweh, and Yarikh.

You may ask, why is Jehovah is not listed in the pantheon? Even though the name “Jehovah” is used in our English Old Testament, that name did not exist in Old Testament times. This is evidence that the scriptures have illegitimate historical revisionism. The name Jehovah comes from the mixture of the two words YW (Yahweh) and Adonai, which created the name “Jehovah.” It didn’t exist until possibly as late as the year 1520 AD when it was introduced by Galatinus.96

I mentioned Jephthah and his child sacrifice earlier. You will find “Molech” in that list of gods, and if you read the Old Testament, you will discover that Molech is one of the idolatrous gods for whom people would sacrifice children. There may be others you may recognize from the Old Testament.

After I found out that it was a common practice in Abraham’s time for Canaanites to sacrifice children, my perspective was broadened, and new meaning was added to the story where a confused Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his son, but in the end is told not to.97 It seems like this might have been a drama between what Melchizedek may have taught him and the traditions and rites of the society in which he lived. In his youth, he may have been taught to practice human sacrifice, until he met Melchizedek.

It would be unheard of for anyone to sacrifice their child to God today! Because of the immorality and abhorrence of child sacrifice in our culture, anyone who has the thought enter their mind which prompts them to sacrifice their child would immediately dismiss it as insanity! Anyone who would follow through with such an idea would be diagnosed as psychotic would be locked away!

Human sacrifice existed among all ancient civilizations. Both human and animal sacrifice is found throughout the Old Testament, despite the efforts of many prophets who tried stop it.98 It could be that Jewish priests, who likely wrote the books of Moses centuries later, fabricated this tale about Abraham to discourage the human sacrifice among their people, and tried to migrate the sacrifice superstition to animals.

Because of the prevalence of sacrifice in the Old Testament, the doctrines of Mormonism impose a revisionist consistency that sacrifice offering for sin in Old Testament times was a required ordinance of the priesthood; a symbolic foreshadowing the future sacrifice of Jesus, which would end the sacrifice practices of Israel. Other biblical history is omitted that sacrifice had already stopped centuries before Jesus was born and that Israel did not always depend upon the primitive practice of sacrifice for Atonement.

The first temple was destroyed and Judah was carried captive into Babylon. Mosaic laws only allowed sacrifice on the altar of the temple. Without a temple, they did not sacrifice. They started sacrificing again when they rebuilt the temple after their captivity, but most of Israel was still in Babylon, and they continued without reliance on sacrifice for Atonement of their sins. There are many scriptures that illustrate that sacrifice was not needed for forgiveness.

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?99

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. He declares that burnt offerings, thousands of rams, rivers of oil, and even his firstborn all miss the point. He clearly shows what is really required: do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. Even the teaching that the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit did not originate in the new Christian message:

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.100

Here is another psalm that holds to the idea that burnt offering for sin wasn’t required. It does not reflect something coming in the future. It uses present and past tenses. Remember that psalms were hymns sung at the temple.

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.101

It seems that because of revisionism, we’ve completely missed the teachings of the Old Testament. I have found more verses such as these, where again, forgiveness is given to the penitent without a mentioning any requirement for the shedding of innocent blood:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.102

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.103

He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;

He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.

Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,

To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.104

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.105

It is clear that even in the Old Testament, it is true repentance that God wants from us, not sacrifice, and he is merciful:

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.

In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.106

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.107

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.108

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.109

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.110

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.111

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.112

Clearly this is not the same wrathful god who must be appeased by the shedding of innocent blood. What god was the one that did, then? Blood sacrifice for sin remission was always an idolatrous pagan ritual. Sacrifice only continued because it is difficult to stop the ignorant people from performing their old rituals regardless of how enlightened the sages of their time become.

Monotheism of Melchizedek

There is not much in the Bible itself which says that Abraham was a prophet, except for the dream of Abimelech,113 but the context of the use of the word in that instance makes him more of a shaman than a prophet. If there was a prophet of that dispensation, it would have been Melchizedek, not Abraham. When angels visited Abraham, they were most likely human messengers from Melchizedek.

Melchizedek’s name for God was El Elyon, which means “God Most High.”114 I propose that Melchizedek sought to teach monotheism and the attributes of god, using the concept of the most high god to start the idea of monotheism, subjugating all the other gods as being lesser to the most high god. Abraham followed Melchizedek’s teachings and believed in the Most High God.115

I used to think that monotheism versus polytheism meant that there is one true god that is synonymous with an infinite number of a patriarchal chain of true gods. Certainly Mormon doctrine has some concepts of many true gods, considering how the book of Abraham presents the “gods” and Elohim means “gods” or “powers” as it is a plural of El or Eloah.116 However, we need to remember that in the times of the Old Testament and even before that (before the captivity of Judah), each tribe or group or settlement of people had their own god. The concepts of all of these idolatrous gods were constantly changing, and new gods would surface while others would go away. As differing tribes were conquered or amalgamated, their gods also had to do the same.

If you study the Old Testament from a Jewish perspective, many ideas show how badly it has been misinterpreted by both Christianity and Mormonism alike. It seems as though all of Christianity either does not genuinely study that book from an unprejudiced perspective, or it is not aware of its contents. They do not read it, probably because of how painfully dull and difficult it is to read, so they only extract verses from their context that strengthen their narrow minded belief.

There have been various stages of Jewish belief from ancient Judaism to today. Ancient Judaism had no concept of the devil as a personage. It never uses satan as a proper name. The serpent in Eden is never identified as “Satan,” “Belzebub,” or “Devil” anywhere in the Old Testament, only as a clever mythical animal that could speak. There was no belief in an afterlife, no belief in the resurrection, neither was there any belief in heaven and hell. As I have said, ancient Canaanites and the earliest Israelites were polytheistic, not in the sense of an eternal chain of a patriarchy of Gods, but in the sense that one tribal God could rival another, and devotion could be given to any number of them depending on circumstance. After I discovered the lack of Satan, heaven, hell, and resurrection in the Old Testament, suddenly these concepts in the Book of Mormon placed an annoying splinter in my mind that nagged at my belief. Before the coming of Jesus, the Book of Mormon has very little parallel to the Old Testament and Mosaic law. It suspiciously uses the very same phrases of Paul, with absolutely no parallel concepts in the same era of the Old Testament.

The word Elohim in the Hebrew Bible was translated to God in the English. Yet, because it is plural, its occurrence likely originally had reference to the pantheon of Canaanite gods. This also raises a question about who the Mormon version of Elohim is, because, for example, if translated literally from Hebrew, Exodus 6:2 says, “And Elohim spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am YHWH,” but we are taught that YHWH (Jehovah) is Jesus.

Melchizedek’s most high monotheism attempted to get everyone, no matter their tribe, race, nationality, whatever, to worship the same god of all. I imagine that he hoped he could reduce the elitism, separatism, and even hatred that comes between people who say that only their tribal god is true, and the other is false. Unity of the human family is what is most needed and yet we continue to this day with elitism and hatred between groups who believe that only their god is true.

The way to unify is to do as Jesus did: teach that all humanity is of the same family, to love everyone even if they are an enemy, and that institutionalized religion is superfluous and even rivals that goal of unification. Once we all unite in the reverence of the same loving source, then what the name for that god is, whether he has one name or many names, or whether he is represented by several personages or one personage, or whether that god has many levels of existence or if he’s not existential at all is less important. The entirety of humanity have claim to the same father in heaven and should have fraternal love without castes or segregation.

I find it interesting that even though El Elyon, Most High God, was the teaching of Melchizedek, somehow under Moses YW, YHWH, or Yahweh, a Canaanite god, won out being Adonai, Lord of Israel. There also appears that there may be more background for the “golden calf” at Sinai in the Bible, as a calf117 or bull may have been the idol for Yahweh. The worship of the calves or bulls could have been influenced by the bull god Apis of Egypt, where the children might have recently resided. This also sheds light on why calf/bull sacrifice was difficult to stop.

As they first entered the historic scene the Jews were nomad Bedouins who feared the djinns of the air, and worshipped rocks, cattle, sheep, and the spirits of caves and hills. The cult of the bull, the sheep, and the lamb was not neglected; Moses could never quite win his flock from the adoration of the Golden Calf, for the Egyptian worship of the bull was still fresh in their memories, and Yahweh was for a long time symbolized in that ferocious vegetarian.118

even in the central temple at Jerusalem grew up the worship of Yahweh under the likeness of bulls, such as Jeroboam set up at Dan and Bethel. The story of Aaron and the golden calf in all probability was written in this later age to help understand the polluting identification of Yahweh’s worship with the adoration of bulls.119

I think Moses compromised quite a bit as he tried to teach these idolatrous people about the one true God. He tried to convert Yahweh, the idolatrous god that the people were already worshiping, into the Most High God, by teaching the people about the attributes that a real god would have. After all, “what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”120 After receiving commandments at Mount Sinai, he took their bull or calf Yahweh and started teaching that he wasn’t a calf, and gave the commandment to “have no other gods before me” which told these mixed Canaanite peoples to quit it with the idolatry and plurality of gods and to stick with one god.

The point I’m trying to make is that the origins of the people of Israel aren’t as rosy as you may think, and that religion and concepts of God have evolved over time. Some of the idolatrous gods that were worshiped demanded human sacrifice, while many others, including Yahweh, were satisfied with animal sacrifice, and all of them were idolatrous except maybe the one that Melchizedek originally introduced.

It was a difficult task indeed for Moses to teach truths about God, and he made many compromises. Although it is hard for us to imagine a world without the printing press, it was indeed quite difficult to perpetuate truth from generation to generation in those times. Any truthful doctrines would so easily become absorbed into the prevalent erroneous traditions. The doctrine of blood sacrifice did not come from God. The connection of Jehovah (Yahweh) and blood sacrifice has always existed from when Jehovah was an idolatrous God, and the same idolatry continues today.

The Church of Paul: Christianity

How does the same idolatry continue today? As I have said, I have noticed a big disconnect between what Jesus taught, and what was taught by others in his name after his resurrection and ascension. Especially with the arrival of Paul, the doctrine of the Kingdom went from plain and simple truths of God’s love and sincerity in seeking God through truth and spirit, to Jesus becoming a sacrifice for sin and our need for being purified in his blood. The teachings of Paul were in many ways the polar opposite to the teachings of Jesus. Paul’s writings are as if he didn’t know even a single teaching of Jesus – his message was entirely his own. Are they really batting for the same team?

Thomas Jefferson understood this dichotomy between Paul and Jesus when he wrote this in reference to Jesus:

Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore him to the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus.121

I am no historian, but it is apparent even to me, that when Paul joined the apostles as an apostle, there was a great shift and a rather deep compromise happened between the message of Jesus and what prominent pagan religions of the time taught, including the Syrian, Persian, and Hellenic mystery cults and even the philosophies of Plato. Forever did this shift thwart the original teachings of Jesus. I would even dare to say that Paul’s post-Damascus road efforts still attempt to overthrow the pure teachings of Jesus. After all, he was originally one of the most outspoken people against Jesus. It is not a far stretch to view Paul instead as a crafty deceiver who decided to overthrow the teachings of Jesus by infecting his apostles and thwarting the gospel like a virus or disease from within. There is no better way to depose of anti-establishment teachings than to create an establishment in the name of its teacher.

This must be understood about Paul. He was never personally taught by Jesus, nor was he taught much by the apostles. His claim to apostleship came from his assertion that he had seen and was appointed to be an apostle by the resurrected Jesus while on the road to Damascus. This is one of the many things he did that shows his unfamiliarity with the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus specifically warned of false prophets who might say they found him in the desert, and he tells us to not believe them:

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.122

Jesus says specifically how he will return. Everyone will know. This means he hasn’t returned yet. This means, not only Paul’s claim for seeing him in the desert road to Damascus invalidates his claim, but it also applies to Joseph Smith claiming he saw Jesus in the forest (like the desert) and applies to Joseph and Oliver Cowdery claiming to see Jesus in a secret chamber in the temple. All of these are specifically fulfilling the instruction Jesus gave for ways to recognize a false prophet.

In Paul’s writings he tries to prove his right to be an apostle, as if the other apostles were rejecting his claim to it.123 Paul said that the resurrected Jesus used the phrase “kick against the pricks”124 in his vision, implying that God drives people like an ox by jabbing and poking, and Paul was guilty of kicking against those jabs. Even the use of this small phrase shows me that it was not Jesus who said that, because Jesus taught that God is a loving father and does not compel you to obey him by poking, jabbing, and stabbing like a man drives and ox. God only seeks true, genuine desire which is born out of love. Paul, even late in his ministry, claims to be a Pharisee.125 If Jesus told us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,126 shouldn’t I believe Jesus and reject Paul?

Mithraic Salvation

Paul’s birthplace was Tarsus, which was a thriving intellectual hub and a melting pot of religions in the first century BC. Encyclopedia Britannica says that “local aristocrats in the western part of the former Persian Empire (the region around Tarsus) retained their devotion to Mithra. The kings and nobles of the border region between Greco-Roman and the Iranian world still worshiped him.”

In a Mithraic temple in Rome, an inscription reads, “et nos servasti... sanguine fuso,” meaning: “and who saved us with the shed blood.” That is the doctrine of Paul, too:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.127

In saying that, Paul shows a level of ignorance of Israelite teachings. I already quoted many scriptures that God’s forgiveness isn’t about sacrifice. Paul errs, it was never only about the blood. Here we see that flour can atone, too:

But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.

Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: it is a sin offering.

And the priest shall make an Atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest’s, as a meat offering.128

And here, incense atones:

And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an Atonement for the people.129

And jewelry atones:

We have therefore brought an oblation for the Lord, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an Atonement for our souls before the Lord.130

And a live coal atones:

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.131

It was never exclusively about the blood as Paul prescribes. As I have said before, saving by the shedding of blood always has been a pagan doctrine which has seemingly always infested truths which were revealed by enlightened progressives. Moses and many other prophets after him had a hard time keeping the people from worshiping Baal and his groves of fertility as well as many other pagan gods. I say again: God does not change. God has never required the shedding of any blood, ever. Like I said before, Moses and many prophets after him tried to rid his people of sacrifice, but only got as far as stopping human sacrifice.

I soberly reject the idea that any kind of sacrifice, animals or humans, was ever truly a commandment of God. It was only ever allowed because the prophet at the time was unable to stop it. Jesus taught that the old law is over and to stop it. He taught that the old laws were commandments of men, not God.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.132

The only time that we have record of Jesus getting angry about anything was at the temple, where he drove out the merchants who were selling sacrificial animals. John 2:13-16, Matthew 21:12-13, as well as the account from Mark, all say Jesus used the same phrase, “den of robbers.” Let’s take a look at the account in Mark:

And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.133

He says “Is it not written,” and I believe he was referring directly to Jeremiah’s definition of “den of robbers” in regards to the temple:

Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit.

Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not;

And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?

Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.134

When Jeremiah said God’s house had been turned into a “den of robbers” it didn’t necessarily have to do with robbers of money, but also with the shedding innocent blood, idolatry, murder, and all manner of abominations.

This episode shows the attitude of Jesus towards religion having any practices where profit can be gained. It also shows his disdain for leaders who gain political, financial, and religious power. It also demonstrates his willingness to use force against an oppressive few who take advantage of a large group of the weak. Most of all, it showed his disapproval of idolatrous religious practices in the temple.

Mark 11:16 is enlightening: “And would not suffer that any should carry any vessel through the temple.” It was not only about selling things outside on the temple grounds, it was not just about the religious leaders getting rich, it was not just about the fat treasury of the temple, it was not just about oppression. It was also about what they did with the animals in the vessels after they were purchased: the ritualistic and idolatrous murder of animals in the name of God. The real meaning of his reference to the writings about making the temple a “den of thieves” rings true now, referring directly to the murder and all other evil doings in the Temple. In verse 18, Mark directly correlates the attempt of Jesus to dismantle that sacrificial system with the plot to kill him by the chief priests and scribes.

It is ridiculous to claim that the religious leaders of Christ’s time would have plotted his death because he undermined the function of the moneychangers. Nor would the crowd have been “amazed at his teachings” if Jesus was simply telling them to make sure they were not short-changed when they purchased Temple coins. What the people were amazed at was his condemnation of animal sacrifice; it had been hundreds of years since that kind of condemnation had been heard in Jerusalem. And it would not be tolerated. A few days after he attacked the cult of animal sacrifice, Jesus was crucified. The religious leaders of his time were determined to preserve the belief that it had been ordained by God, who demanded its continuance.135

Paul turned the pure teachings of Jesus on their head as he created his cult of the mystery of human sacrifice. Except for the Nazarenes and other original followers of Jesus that only existed for a few centuries, every religion in Christianity that I know of is tarnished by the errant pagan doctrines of Paul. Paul did it not because of anything Jesus taught, but because of his own ulterior motives.

Christianity is not a religion that repudiates human sacrifice, it is a religion that celebrates a single effective human sacrifice. Paul’s human sacrifice doctrine ties the New Testament together with pagan doctrines of ritualized murder. The sacrament is a pagan cannibal ritual. Human sacrifice has never been God’s will.

As with many questionable concepts in the Book of Abraham, I soberly reject Joseph Smith’s questionable additions about Adam being commanded by God to build an altar and offer sacrifice. It re-writes history. It cripples our ability to transcend the old idolatry. Adam and his children might have offered sacrifices, who knows, but I think that priests and scribes may have had a hand in making Adam do what they wanted him to do, much like they may have with Abraham’s sacrifice of animals. Whether they may or may not have offered sacrifices, I cannot believe that it was ever a commandment of a changeless god. The fact that Joseph Smith perpetuated Paul’s human sacrifice myth instead of abolishing it is a blatant testimony against him on whether he restored the true gospel of Jesus.

Pagan Doctrines

Consider what the Encyclopedia Britannica says further about Mithraism:

The doctrine of a necessity of a mediator between man and God, miraculous birth, demigod Atonement for sin, baptism initiation, ceremony, sacrament, and other rituals did not have origin in the religion of Jesus. Jesus did not like ritual, and he never taught of ritual, he taught against it. He was even hesitant to teach prayer by giving an example, because people would make it ritualistic. From my perspective, all ritual was imported by Paul.

While Peter may have wrongly desired to convert the gentiles to Judaism as part of becoming disciples of Jesus, but Paul wrongly deemed it necessary to give and take with pagan ideas in his new christian religion in order to make it appeal to the Gentile masses. Don’t believe me? Paul himself said that he changed for the people he taught, and it’s even written by himself in the New Testament:

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.136

In addition to the idea that he changed teachings for the people he taught, I also notice in that passage that he differentiates the law of God and the law of Christ, as if they are different things. He didn’t even understand the teaching of Jesus that God is like Jesus.137

The message of Jesus was decidedly anti-establishment, but Paul calls himself a wise “masterbuilder” of an establishment: the church.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.138

Paul says that he laid the foundation and proudly calls himself “a wise masterbuilder,” and he says he laid the foundation on Jesus Christ: thus declaring himself that he created the gospel about Christ. Christianity is Paul’s creation: it is the Church of Paul. If Jesus had intended to establish a church or cult as Paul later created, he would have. But he purposefully didn’t, which I will illustrate later.

Truth, honesty, and integrity are attributes of Jesus, but not of Paul. Paul believed his fraud was justified because it was faith promoting, a pious fraud, of which Jesus would never have approved.

A pious fraud139 is used to describe fraud in religion or medicine. A pious fraud can be counterfeiting a miracle or falsely attributing a sacred text to a biblical figure due to the belief that the “end justifies the means,” in this case the end of increasing belief by whatever means available.

there have been men in the world who persuaded themselves that what is called a pious fraud might, at least under particular circumstances, be productive of some good. But, the fraud being once established, could not afterwards be explained ; for it is with a pious fraud as with a bad action, it begets a calamitous necessity of going on. From the first preachers the fraud went to the second, and to the third, till the idea of its being a pious fraud became lost in the belief of its being true; and that belief became again encouraged by the interest of those who made a livelihood by preaching it.140

A religionist may be an enthusiast and imagine he sees what has no reality; he may know his narrative to be false and yet persevere in it with the best of intentions in the world, for the sake of promoting so holy a cause.141

Paul was so sure that lying to help people believe is right, he even admitted to lying in order to further his so-called truth:

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?142

But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.143

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.144

Paul taught little, if any, of the teachings of Jesus. Arguably, he authored the theology of Atonement through the sacrifice of Jesus instead of the sacrifice of animals. He probably did it because he thought it might make his mythology palatable to the Jews, who were used to the idea of sacrifices being used for Atonement, but in the end his attempt profited nothing and the Jews still rejected it. Now, two thousand years later, we are stuck with the doctrines of sacrifice propitiation for an angry god which are incompatible with the original teachings of Jesus.

The Jews did not reject Paul’s Christianity because they were thick-skulled or wicked. They rejected it because they could recognize the pagan ideas in it. They also rejected it because neither the factual Jesus nor Paul’s mythological Jesus fulfills the requisites for their Messiah.

They should know what is required for their own Messiah. Jews believe that the Messiah will be a normal human being, just as human as you and I are, born of mortal human parents, that he will be the undisputed scion of David and the uncontested ruler over the land and people of Israel, and that he will be very righteous, so much so that he will end all war and bring peace to all nations. To them, Christianity represents many of the same ideas presented by heathen mythology.  Who is to blame them, with the miraculous conception, drinking of blood, human sacrifice, expiation-redemption from sins, and for some of them: resurrection.145

The idea that God should debauch a maiden and have an illegitimate half-god child is repugnant to the Jews. They do not believe it is necessary for a savior to make it possible to return to heaven because they already have what they need to gain access to heaven. They do not believe that the Messiah would be crucified, because his being crucified proves that he didn’t bring peace to the world.

If we could ask Jesus, who was a Jew himself, we would probably discover that he clearly knew what the Messiah was supposed to do. Yet, he said he would not bring peace, but the sword.146 He avoided opportunities where he could become any kind of king.147 He knowingly said and did things that exempted himself from fulfilling the prophecy, much to the chagrin of his family, friends, and disciples who would often fight over who would be greatest in the new kingdom.148 Even if Jesus may have performed miracles and was resurrected, that still doesn’t change anything because, even by his own admission, he didn’t intend to end all war and bring peace to the world.

Jews believe that the Messiah will live to a ripe old age and die of peaceful means in the world of peace he catalyzed. The don’t believe that he would be a half-god, that he would need to be raised from the dead on earth, that he would need to perform any miracles, or that he would need to ever have a second-coming. I admire the Jews for not having fallen for just another flavor of heathen mythology.

The problem with finding lots of veritable details about mystery cults, including Mithraism, is that the mystery cults maintained oaths of secrecy on pain of death about their teachings and practices, and revealed them only to initiates. Because mystery cults were secret societies and we don’t know much about them, and of course the idea is arguable that the mystery cults inspired Paul. The fact of the matter is, the rituals and doctrines that were taught by other men after Jesus was gone have serious parallels to mystery cults of the time, like Mithraism.

One of the most evident remnants of Mithraism is the Eucharist, which involves eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of a sacrifice which represents eating and drinking from deity for remission of sins. This couldn’t have come from Judaism; drinking the blood of a sacrifice was prohibited because they believed that blood is life:

Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.149

Since drinking of blood is an abomination in Judaism as I quoted above, it is much more logical to attribute this ritual of blood drinking to Paul’s pagan upbringing in Tarsus than to Jesus or any of his Jewish followers.

What about the last supper? Didn’t Jesus say to symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood? You seem to be forgetting that the New Testament was not written as things were happening. It was written many decades or even centuries after Jesus was gone by religionists at the time when Paul’s religion of pagan ideas had already overshadowed the teachings of Jesus. It was Paul who authored the communion as a religious ritual and he explicitly tied it directly back to the old sacrifice doctrine. According to biblical scholars, Paul’s epistles predate all of the other books in the New Testament, having been written while he was in Ephesus between 53 to 57 AD.150 151 That includes the following writings of Paul regarding the communion, which predates all of the descriptions of the last supper in the synoptic gospels:

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?152

Those verses sound like he is trying to coordinate and connect the Eucharist of the mystery cults, which the people he was teaching were already familiar with, to how the priests of Israel eat the meat of their sacrifices. It was Paul who turned the Last Supper into the Eucharist.

As with all myth, there is some truth to the Last Supper – there was a last supper, yes. They did drink wine and eat bread dipped in oil and herbs, yes. However, the Last Supper wasn’t a sacrament, it was actually their Passover feast.153 You also need to remember that this was an early Passover feast, because Jesus knew he wasn’t going to be there for the actual Passover feast the next day. They didn’t eat sacrificial lamb as is traditional on the Passover, because Jesus did not really like the lamb sacrifice thing. Please consider the following verses and the fact that they were all composed by Paul long before the synoptic gospels were written:

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.154

Paul’s version of what he called the “Lord’s Supper,” above, is the earliest record of that kind of description, and it is his opinion of what happened there. Paul was not present at the Last Supper, so how did he learn what Jesus had said there?  He may have heard of a story from the apostles, but he never claimed that he heard it from them, rather he explicitly said this was his version which he said he “received of the Lord.” Since he never taught any of the teachings of Jesus, how could this be the one thing that he did get from him? Since he has no other fruits of actually knowing the teachings of Jesus, I think that means he quite made this up. Since he was not an eyewitness, his view of what actually happened there was only hearsay. Could this be an instance for Paul to “lie unto his glory?” It certainly was his embellished tale. It was definitely his own scandalous misrepresentation.

The order of the books in the New Testament leads people to believe that the gospels were written first, and the epistles last. If that were true, Paul would have had the gospel writers or the gospels themselves to reference and even quote from, but he never did. No one even knows for sure who the gospel writers were.

In the year 66 AD, the Jews revolted against Roman rule. The city was captured and destroyed in 70 AD. Paul’s writings evidence that they were written before the revolt, because in them Jerusalem was still a thriving city. Few realize that Paul never taught nor did he ever quote any teaching of Jesus. Because Paul shows no awareness of the gospels in his writings, and since he quotes none of them, the gospels had to have been written after the revolt and after Paul’s letters. Because of this, we must all be wary about the witnesses and quotes of the sayings of Jesus.

As I mentioned, the letters to the Corinthians were written by Paul in Ephesus between 53 and 57 AD,155 while the Gospel of Mark, which was used as a source for much of the other synoptic gospels (Matthew and Luke) was written in Greek at least a decade or more after.156 Matthew and Luke, which have three-quarters of Mark’s words, were written even later. The writing of the gospel of John was originally started nearly the same time Luke was written, however it had many more insertions over at least the next 50 years.157

The most reliable details in history come from the witnesses themselves who lived at the time of the actual events,158 and the same is true for the Bible: the more time has passed between the actual events and when they supposedly occurred, and the more people who relay the tale, the more embellished, fabulous, and mythical the story gets. The gospel of Mark treats Jesus as a man. In Matthew and Luke, he is half man, half God. By the time John was written, he was God himself. Mark knows nothing of virgin birth. Matthew and Luke say conception was through the Holy Spirit, and John is silent about virgin birth, but he does say Jesus was the son of Joseph twice. At the Council of Nicaea, the most embellished man-made myths and philosophies of Jesus and God became dogma.

The accounts of the Last Supper in the other synoptic gospels are eerily similar to Paul’s version, which I remind you, was written first. I am certain Paul’s version was superimposed later on by scribes of the synoptic gospels in order to make that Passover dinner become what Paul wanted it to be: a ritual of communion. The Book of Mormon does not clarify this issue, instead it simply repeats and even plagiarizes the same ideas of Paul, even that by participating in the ritual unworthily, you are “drinking damnation.”159 First, the spirit of the real message of Jesus abhors ritual. Second, Jesus would scoff at the idea that anything drink could damn you.160

The gospel of John does not include Paul’s description of their feast of the Passover,161 but I do find something about eating of his body and drinking of his blood which the naïve mind would think it is Jesus preaching the idea of the Eucharist:

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.162

Myths are usually based on truth, but as more and more time passes between the actual event and when it is finally written, the tales become taller and the truth becomes minimized. It is clear to me that Paul had much influence on the above verses. All except the last verse seems dark and void of the entirety of truth to me. As I read them, it feels as though someone tried to make a Jesus contradict his own previous teachings by teaching the doctrine of Paul. Silly ritual-minded idolatrous Paul, Jesus didn’t mean literal chewing and swallowing of bread when he said he was the bread of life. How about this instead:

One of the visiting Pharisees, mounting a lampstand, shouted out this question: “You tell us that you are the bread of life. How can you give us your flesh to eat or your blood to drink? What avail is your teaching if it cannot be carried out?” And Jesus answered this question, saying: “I did not teach you that my flesh is the bread of life nor that my blood is the water thereof. But I did say that my life in the flesh is a bestowal of the bread of heaven. The fact of the Word of God bestowed in the flesh and the phenomenon of the Son of Man subject to the will of God, constitute a reality of experience which is equivalent to the divine sustenance. You cannot eat my flesh nor can you drink my blood, but you can become one in spirit with me even as I am one in spirit with the Father. You can be nourished by the eternal word of God, which is indeed the bread of life, and which has been bestowed in the likeness of mortal flesh; and you can be watered in soul by the divine spirit, which is truly the water of life. The Father has sent me into the world to show how he desires to indwell and direct all men; and I have so lived this life in the flesh as to inspire all men likewise ever to seek to know and do the will of the indwelling heavenly Father.”163

Even though the above quote may simply be an expansion by poetic license, I invite you to think about what you just read for a moment and decide: which version of that episode do you think the Spirit of Truth testifies is the truth? In my view, the above quote is more in harmony with John 8:12 and is more in harmony with his Spirit of Truth.

As I mentioned before, Thomas Jefferson observed, “we must separate the gold from the dross; restore him to the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples.” I agree with Thomas Jefferson.

I rebuke the roguery of Paul that we must physically partake of a cannibalistic representation of Jesus’ flesh and blood in order to gain forgiveness through his blood. At the Last Supper, as with many things, Jesus added meaning like he did with parables, but it wasn’t Paul’s mystery-cult ritual. It was more of a toast. He was eminding them of things that he taught them as he bid farewell, like this:

Take this cup and divide it among yourselves and, when you partake of it, realize that I shall not again drink with you the fruit of the vine since this is our last supper. When we sit down again in this manner, it will be in the kingdom to come.

Take this cup, all of you, and drink of it. This shall be the cup of my remembrance. This is the cup of the blessing of a new dispensation of grace and truth. This shall be to you the emblem of the bestowal and ministry of the divine Spirit of Truth. And I will not again drink this cup with you until I drink in new form with you in the Father’s eternal kingdom.

Take this bread of remembrance and eat it. I have told you that I am the bread of life. And this bread of life is the united life of the Father and the Son in one gift. The word of the Father, as revealed in the Son, is indeed the bread of life.164

Another thing Jesus did that day, which was much more ceremonial, was wash the feet of his disciples. Why didn’t Paul’s ritualistic mind catch onto that for their ritual instead? Because he was already used to the idea of both eating idolatrous godly flesh and drinking idolatrous godly blood at the communion of mystery cults.

As a sincere follower of Jesus, I hold the teachings of Jesus above anything anyone else ever said. The incompatibility between the Kingdom of Heaven teachings of Jesus and the redemption from sin by divine blood that Paul taught well after Jesus was gone is the fall of the first domino that made me begin to doubt the validity of the restoration, because the Pauline doctrines of Atonement and Mithraic rituals were restored instead of more pristine and simple teachings of Jesus. Paul was the true founder and “masterbuilder” of the Catholic church. If Catholicism is truly in apostasy, then Paul is the author of the apostasy. If the ideas of the author of the apostasy are restored instead of the teachings of Jesus, then it can’t possibly be a restoration of the teachings of Jesus. Let me say it again: a true restoration of the message of Jesus could not include, depend upon, or use any contradicting Pauline doctrines or rituals.

Paul turned the religion of Jesus into a religion about Christ by introducing these things which worship the body, blood, and death of Jesus as a means for salvation instead of worshiping God with the enlightened good news from Jesus. It seems that if you would take Mithraism and supplant Mithras with Jesus, you would have Paul’s Christianity.

One thing that many may not realize is that Jesus did not want us to worship him. He taught that we should worship God, not him. For example:

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.165

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.166

He was careful to leave nothing physical that we could turn into an idol. He didn’t write on anything permanent so we couldn’t turn it into an idol or sacred text, too. He told those who he healed to go and tell no one about it (of course they’d never follow that advice). Worshiping by drinking symbols of a sacrifice of his blood of any kind simply turns his pure teachings upside down – it changes it into an idolatrous religion. Yes, worshiping and partaking representations of godly blood and flesh as a means for salvation is idolatry, and I declare that Jesus did not ever want that.

What about this oft-quoted scripture?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.167

It is evident that much has been thwarted through time as this wording is all so biased toward the Pauline doctrine. To be truly in harmony and not contradictory with the other teachings of Jesus, what I think should have been written and attributed to John is this instead: (these are my words)

For God so loved the world that he sent his son to show us God’s true nature and to teach us that God actually loves us with a fatherly love. And whoever believes what he taught should not fear perishing but instead will live with confidence in the promise everlasting life. God didn’t send his son to show how inept, frail, and sinful his children are, but instead so his son could show how God truly is, especially how he truly is full of love and mercy for all of his children. With that knowledge all may look forward to the future with hope that death is not the end and neither is sin.

Again, let me reiterate that before Jesus came, the Jews held that God was anthropomorphic, with all the distasteful human whims of ruthlessness, wrath, jealousy, hate, anger, and who would destroy all of his children if it weren’t for their sacrifices to appease his selfish desires. Paul continued that ugly tradition of God. Jesus’ main message was that we are all children of a loving eternal father, and that message alone makes all fear dissipate. That idea alone is enough to obviate the need for any and all ritualistic reconciliation with God. It is liberating because it obviates the necessity of fearing an angry god and appeasing him with any superstitious rite, ritual, blood, or anything along those lines. It is the true good news of Jesus. If while earnestly seeking God’s will you are inspired with a desire to repent and you sincerely repent, you already have all of his forgiveness and mercy to advance with that repentance without any need for anything pompous. Sincere repentance within is more effective than any outward display of any intention to repent.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?168

The above scripture is also misunderstood when you come from the perspective of the Pauline doctrine: you think that “he that believeth in me” means actually believing in the personage of Christ and the shedding of his blood as an object of worship, an idol. I assert that is not what Jesus was saying. In the dictionary, the phrase “believe in” means “to have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence, etc., of: I can only help you if you believe in me.” It means to trust in the help or guidance of someone. It does not mean to idolize them.

He also said whosoever believes the teachings of Jesus shall never die. Wait a moment, “shall never die” is indeed a bold statement. For it is true that everyone dies. What do you think Jesus could possibly mean that we shall never die? The answer comes when you understand the reality of your being with the same clarity that Jesus understood his own reality of being. When we take Jesus’ good news and believe in it as he did, then death means absolutely nothing and is no obstacle and is no end. Death is not really death, it is merely falling asleep for our immaterial mind, for if you truly trust in his good news, you can look forward with hope that after falling asleep in death, you will simply awaken (without any sense of time passing) in the resurrection halls of the mansion worlds. Jesus’ demonstration that he had the power to resurrect Lazarus’ four-day-old rotting flesh was partly to illustrate what he was teaching before, that he indeed has the power of resurrection and life. However, we will all be resurrected into a new and more glorious form, not Paul’s idea that it should be a reconstruction of the same rotten body in our graves. Lazarus surely died again and has probably been resurrected in the proper order.

One of the things that proves to me that the Pauline doctrine of Atonement for sins through blood sacrifice is false is the fact that it is an enigma: something that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand. The fact that modern-day apostles preach that it cannot be understood proves that it is an enigma. The fact that it is an enigma proves its source: a mystery cult. Paul even calls his message “the mystery of Christ,” and his church “the fellowship of the mystery,” which is what his church truly was:

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery169

That scripture makes it clear to me that Paul was highly influenced by the mystery cults of his time. Paul talks about his “mystery” many times in his letters, while Jesus had taught the complete opposite: Jesus said nothing of mysteries except that you can understand the mysteries of heaven if you sincerely seek, knock, and ask, and that those who do those things will understand his parables.170

How ironic that our own Book of Mormon includes this observation about enigmatic mystery cults:

And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives.171

I know that I am taking that verse out of context, but I think what is said in this verse stands on its own merit. Incidentally, the context is extolling miracle seeking. Miracle and sign seeking is something Jesus frowned upon, because it is idolatrous and detracts from genuine seeking of the true god. Why is sign or miracle seeking in contempt in some places of the Book of Mormon, and yet in other places, it is lauded? But I digress. That verse in Helaman aptly illustrates how shamanism, charlatanism, witch doctors and priesthoods with their mysterious conundrums have bound humankind down into ignorance and subjection to their tyrannical establishments for eons. In contrast, the message of Jesus frees us from being dependent upon those frauds! He taught that we all have the capacity to seek out and find the will of God ourselves, with no need for any human intermediaries!

Sinners

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.172

In that verse, Paul teaches something Jesus never taught. Paul promoted the doctrine of Original Sin. Jesus was never preoccupied with sin or with evil. Instead, Jesus taught overcoming evil with good. The context of these verses is about that:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.173

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.174

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.175

Back to the topic of what Paul thought of sinners:

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.176

In that verse, Paul reveals his true bigotry of his upbringing as a Pharisee as well as his unfamiliarity with who Jesus was. Jesus taught the opposite:

But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.177

Here is a thought for you: if God can have no unclean thing in his presence, and if Jesus is our God, then how could he have routinely fraternized with sinners? Is the “no unclean thing” doctrine truly of Jesus or is its true source the idolatry of Pharisees and other self-righteous men who desire to have power and control over others by demanding strict obedience to their petty rules?

As Jesus clearly said in the above scripture and in accordance with his many parables, he purposefully sought out and did all he could to uplift, cheer, enlighten, rehabilitate, and love the sinners. His charge to “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful”178 should be cited at least as often as his charge aspire for perfection.179 The fact that he said “be ye merciful” emphasizes that perfection cannot be attained without it, and forfeits any level of vanity, elitism, self-righteousness, and pride which comes from strictly obeying the commandments of men. Stressing strict obedience to a long list of outwardly-observable rules is not what Jesus was talking about when he talked of perfection.180 Doing that leads to suppression of natural emotions and creates masks and facades. These facades act as a barrier that keeps you from authentically experiencing the world and relationships with others.

I reiterate what I said earlier: you have heard it said that faith without works is dead, and I’ll add that love without works is dead. Love in action flowers into mercy. It is deceitful to say you love someone while withholding mercy for them. You have heard it said that God loves the sinner but hates the sin,181 but I say that he loves both the sinner and his sin. God’s core is love. There is no hate in him. A god that hates is a jealous, vindictive, idolatrous pagan god. God is not concerned with sin, nor is he threatened by it. He knows it is temporal. To an infinite being, that which is not eternal is not real. He does not have to hate sin because his love obliterates sin. If you are merciful as he is, “ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”182

God knows what situation we’re in and what we’re up against in this life. He also knows how a fully volitional being benefits from a temporary experience of choosing both good and evil. It is not about being eternally condemned for choosing evil, it is about gaining experience and growing from having the chance to choose evil. Having chosen evil and experienced the outcome, a sincere volitional being will ultimately become more strong in their determination to be righteous than a being that was created perfectly but who has no experience with evil.

I used to be afraid of the dark until I learned that I am light and the dark is afraid of me.183

The reality of good versus evil in eternity is not like a star on a backdrop of the darkness of space. Instead, it is like a tiny speck of darkness on a backdrop of eternal light. A blip of temporal darkness is irrelevant in an eternity of light.

The goodness, mercy, and love of God does not reject sin, it swallows it up. Imagine light cast onto a dark surface. The light swallows up the darkness and the surface becomes full of light. Any imperfections in the surface which once caused shadow are now filled with light. In the light, imperfections become beauty because they are unique. All that is true is celebrated as it is fully embraced by the light.

Sin is an unreality in the eyes of God because it is temporal. Living an unreality is the base cause for sin. The essence of sin is not transgression or disobedience. The essence of sin is to lie, not only to others, but also to self. Sin is the choice made from a perspective of unreality, like unreal history, unreal principles, and unreal myth. Sin follows the lie even the conscience opposes it or when the light of evidence invalidates it.

Jesus taught that we should return light for darkness and good for evil because that is the way to swallow it up. The cleanliness of the dwelling place of God is not because of a silly law which must be mindlessly obeyed. The cleanliness is inherent in his divine, infinite nature. If we were to be in his presence, any darkness would be simply out-shined with light and all that would be left would be that which is eternal, spiritual, beautiful, lovely, and real.

Little Children

Jesus taught:

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.184

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.185

And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.186

But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.187

And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.188

And Paul taught a contradictory message about children:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.189

Idolatry

I have mentioned something several times which may have agitated and maybe even irritated you. I said that when you believe in Jesus as something to adore because of salvation through the shedding of his blood, you are making him and the fact of his crucifixion and resurrection into an untrue object of worship: an idol. It would be more advantageous to seek to believe and live the teachings of Jesus instead.

What does it mean to be idolatrous? To be idolatrous is to accept an imposition from others that God should be something which he actually is not. You may think of an idol as the archetypal golden calf or some other man-made physical form which people pray to for forgiveness of their sins, seek blessings, or offer it sacrifices. Indeed it has been in the past, but as you have heard many times before, an idol does not necessarily have to be a physical graven image or a painting to become an idol.

Let me clarify that I am not talking about the conclusion that is often given at church that vices, passions, success, money-making, or hobbies are idols and constitute idolatry. The definition of idolatry should deal with true concepts of God versus false or man-made concepts of God. To define idolatry as something that distracts your attention from the adoration of a institutionalized crystallization of God is subterfuge by the institution which does not want you to understand the true concept of idolatry. Though vices and passions can consume time or divert goals or priorities, I do not think that they have ever been understood to be God. Following passion can also be very rewarding, too, because your passions are often in line with your genuine desires for happiness. Equating idolatry with enthusiasm for any rewarding life pursuit is incommensurable; like comparing apples and oranges. Ironically, one of the definitions of idolatry includes blind devotion to a man-made god. If a religious institution wants you to stop thinking and believe that their construct of God trumps your own God-given conscience while stressing strict obedience to its bylaws as proof of devotion to their contrivance of God, that is idolatry more than ambition ever could be.

Tis mad idolatry to make the service greater than the god.190

It has been said that humans were created in the image of God. In saying that, humanity is ennobled. But to go the opposite direction and create God in the image of humans is idolatrous because it degrades and limits God.

Man was created in the image of God. I do not think that means we share same height and the same number of noses, earlobes, fingers and toes. I believe it means that a mortal beast has been given the virtue of becoming a person along with three God-like attributes that make that person more than their physical makeup.

  1. The capacity for self-awareness, but it is not only that, the ability to be self-aware of self-awareness – it is a self-consciousness that makes a person feel separate and above the physical construct, as if mind extends beyond the physical.

  2. The capacity for wisdom: the ability to not only see, but to perceive; the ability to not only memorize, but to understand. To bridle emotions, instincts, and passions; to apply careful thought and deliberate choice using knowledge, experience, understanding, sense, and insight.

  3. The third builds upon the awareness of self-awareness and wisdom: it makes this mortal recognize their own imperfection and aspire for ideals that exceed innate physical capacity.

Those attributes contrast humans with the rest of the animal kingdom, where even the highest animals do not appear to be wise, nor do they appear to be self-aware of any self-awareness. If any of the animals had these attributes, they would be able to use symbolic sounds as we do for language, and use those abstract sounds to discuss abstract concepts. I believe that the gift of being such a living entity is granted by God, the source of all personhood. This is an immaterial unification of many different kinds of energies beyond the base constructs of matter, soul, spirit, energy, and light. A person is more than the sum of the parts. To say that man was created in the image of God is to identify his divine spark, that man is indeed a child of God, and is to validate the innate sense deep within most humans that at their core is found something that is not limited to space or time.

However, to go the opposite direction, to create God in the image of man, creates a vain idol of God. It is an idol because any finite concept, fallible image, or limited box in which we place God limits the reality of his infinite existence. To limit God by cramping him into any image of a human characteristics is to engrave an idol of him. Idolatry vainly gives God human frailties. Idolatry vainly gives God a changeable mind. Idolatry vainly gives God human weaknesses, wrath, anger, jealousy, fallibility, insanity, shortsightedness, or any of the innumerable frailties that humans can have. Idolatry vainly makes God command the most trivial things and makes him seem so manipulative that the idea that he created free will is defeated.

Crystallizing a concept of God into the image of an exalted human who had once been a fallible man is idolatrous, because an endless changeless perfect being could not have ever had any need to progress. In many ways, the Latter-Day Saint concept of God chisels him into the stone of mortal mind as a human. It robs God of his infinite attributes and places him under subjection to laws of nature. As if God could be lesser than the nature, physics, space, and time that he is supposed to have created. When an idolatrous concept of God is institutionalized, it is petrified into the minds of all those in the institution, and since it is not a living experience of God, it actually impedes the ability of those who genuinely seek God to find a greater understanding of God. I assert that the true most high God stands above time, above matter, above spirit, above the existence of many levels of the reality we physical beings think we comprehend through our five senses.

The worship of symbols is just as limiting to God as icons and statues are. Worshiping a cross is idolatrous. In like manner, worshiping a single act or fact is idolatrous. Worshiping a woman or her womb which bore a demigod is idolatrous. Worshiping the blood shed by a demigod as an offering for sin is idolatrous. Worshiping the fact of the cross is idolatrous. We should stop worshiping symbols, acts or facts and instead seek saving truth.

With idolatry usually comes ritual. Ritualistic practices are idolatrous acts, or act-idols. A sacrifice of an animal on an altar is idolatrous. The sacrifice of anything on an altar is idolatrous. While it is not a graven image, it is an offering in worship to something that is not God, or it is the attempt to appease something that is not God. The sacrament, the cannibalistic consumption of symbols of the flesh and blood of Jesus as a means to cleanse from sin is idolatrous worship of the Pauline version of Jesus Christ for the same purpose. Making Jesus become a bloody human sacrifice for sin in order to appease something that is not God is idolatrous. Baptism is an idolatrous empty form which can be done completely pretentiously. Washing that doesn’t really cleanse, anointing that only pretends to confer an office, and the veneration of ceremonies which extol tokens, signs, repetitive phrases, actions, and special clothing as actual keys for entry into the Celestial Kingdom are all empty and idolatrous. All of them are empty forms which have no true eternal meaning, just as much as a golden calf has no eternal meaning.

Fasting is idolatrous self-mortification. While it may be good to go without food sometimes to make us appreciate it, while it may help us practice self-restraint, and while we may naturally fast when we are in mourning or discouragement, I cannot believe in a God who requires some form of masochism before he is moved to compassion. Self-mortification by fasting only differs by the intensity of self-torture, like hitting yourself with a few lashes, scarring yourself with cuts, piercing yourself with red-hot iron, and so on. Why stop there, how about cutting off parts of your body? Wouldn’t more pain and self-sacrifice gain the attention of God more?

It is not a perfect god with infinite foresight who will change his will when his children ask him repeatedly and begin to hurt themselves. It is a spoiled child that is so bold as to believe he is wiser than his parents. What sort of child of God dares to think that God will not take notice, and will not show his favor unless pain and repetition are involved? If God does need us to express our desires to him before he will bless us, then why wouldn’t a single prayer be enough? Just as I know what good things would benefit my children before they ask, God already has knowledge before he is asked. Such a patronizing parent would God be, if he did not give before he is asked, as I have done with my children; and this is the one we should adore as more loving beyond comprehension!

Flagellation and constant pleading are all things that would be done to gain the attention of a tribal idol, not a loving father. We can thank Paul for teaching idolatrous self-mortification:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.191

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake192

In those verses, Paul purposefully hurt himself, but fasting and self-mortification has no place in Jesus’ true gospel:

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.193

He said that fasting is of the old, and cannot go with the new. In order to truly understand the teachings of Jesus, you need to start with entirely new cloth to make new clothes, not patch the old one, and you need to put the new wine in new bottles, not in old bottles. It is the same with fasting and the new message of Jesus. You must dispose all of the old in order to fully embrace the new.

We have Paul to thank for bringing many of these idolatrous practices back into Jesus’ pure message. In reality they have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus in any way, from the idolization and ritualization of the blood of Jesus as a cleansing, saving power to the return of the Jewish Sabbath day, fasting, and self-mortification of your own flesh.

All of the things I mention above are idolatrous because they do not understand the true nature of God, thus they are trying to appeal to something that is not God. You cannot change God’s mind. Anything you do will not make him love you more, because infinity cannot be increased, and no amount of sacrifice, self deprecation, repetition of “Hail Mary”, sacraments, baptisms, swearing, oaths, washings, anointings, tokens, signs, omens, talismans, fetishes, charms, icons, rituals, slogans, spells, phrases, passwords, idols, icons, or altars will ever change his infinite mind, no matter who performs it or what authority he claims to have. God will have the same mercy for you whether you do any or all of those things or not.

How could we all have missed the moral of the story of the Old Testament so badly? How could we have missed the teachings of the God Most High from Melchizedek so horribly? How could we all have missed Jesus’ teachings so ineptly and allowed Paul’s teachings to overshadow them so readily? Time and time again the prophets tried to stop the old idolatrous practices and to only worship the one true God, with no need for fetishes, charms, relics, sacred land, shrines, charms, idols, rituals, peep stones, divination rods and so on. Even Jesus taught us that we should only worship our Heavenly Father, not him. While, yes, Jesus is the creator and sovereign of this universe, and we will in no way ascend to the Father except by him, as it is his bar that we will have to pass to move on beyond his universe, Jesus is the creator of our universe and yet he acknowledges that all worship should be for the Father, who is the ultimate source of all that is.

If all of these rites, rituals, and practices are idolatrous, then what could we possibly do to swear our intention by covenants, oaths, or promises to keep the commandments? My answer is, why not just do it? Why not simply and actually love as Jesus suggests? What matters most is what you do and what you genuinely are, not what you promise to do or what you pretend to be.

Obeying negative “thou shalt not” rules are not at the level Jesus taught. You can’t aspire to not do something, but you can aspire to do good. Do good for the sake of goodness. Return good for evil. Go beyond the Old Testament charge to love your neighbor as yourself,194 and love your neighbor with a fatherly love, as if they were your own child. Don’t stop there, also love your enemy with a fatherly love. Love those who are different from you in any way. Sincerely seek out the will of God and do it for the sake of good because you love good and without expectation for any reward now or in the hereafter. That speaks more than any outward oath or covenant ever could.

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.195

In the scripture above, James was saying we should never oath. James wasn’t talking about crude or taboo swear words, he was talking about oaths. Using the name of God or anything he has created to make oaths is to use his name in vain and it is idolatrous. There is a more common yet more evil and grievous way to use the name of God in vain other than using his name in casual conversation: it is to have the vanity to name-drop God to compel other people to do things that are not God’s will.

Another form of idolatry is making something sacred or holy which is not sacred or holy. Placing trust in other men to stand in for God himself is a form of idolatry, especially if we honor, revere, and worship them as being any more chosen or better than ourselves. The hero-worship that I’ve observed many have for general church leaders is idolatry, it breaks the first of the ten commandments, it puts our trust in the arm of the flesh196, and it denies us the right Jesus gave us to seek God directly.197

There are many things that have been made sacred which are not actually sacred. A sacred omen, mark, rune, fetish, icon, symbol, painting, sculpture, sign, token, cloth, rock, pile of rocks, altar, building, land, meeting, recited prayer, moment, day, week, month, year, bread, oil, wine, water, plant, animal, cloth, clothes, underwear, and the list can go on. Anything we make sacred, which is actually not, is idolatry; and is blasphemous to that which actually is holy and sacred. There is only one who is sacred: It is God.

 You cannot separate one day to be more sacred than another without it becoming idolatrous. If you must call one day sacred, then so must all the other days be sacred, as all the other days are gifts to us by he who is sacred and holy. Observing one day as sacred would make that day into an idol, just as much as making a golden trinket sacred above some other piece of gold is making it into an idol. Jesus knew this, and it is evident in his teachings. Jesus did many great works on the Sabbath day, much to the chagrin of the priesthood, and he often taught that it wasn’t as important as we thought to observe the Sabbath day:

Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?198

And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.199

It was customary in their culture and lawful for passers by to pluck the crop of a field and eat it if they were hungry.200 The Pharisees weren’t complaining about stealing, they were talking about working on the Sabbath day.

We profess that Jesus was a perfect man, correct? Disregarding the Sabbath day rules did not make him imperfect. Why do we still cling to all of the petty Old Testament laws like our salvation depends on them? Jesus did not observe other idolatrous commandments, and fasting and the Sabbath were not the only things. Here is another example, he did not observe the idolatrous practice of washing hands before every course in a meal as was the Jewish law and was obeyed as if salvation depended upon it.201

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?202

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.203

Why is it so hard for us all to get the spirit of the teachings of Jesus? Why do we not study the teachings of Jesus more? We dwell so much on the idolatrous Pauline doctrine that we have no time for the plain, simple gospel of Jesus. We preach that we must follow the example of Jesus at least every Sunday, yet the only thing that we do that actually follows his example is being baptized. Even then, the story behind why he was baptized and what that baptism meant is never fully explored, especially that Jesus taught that outward ritual is immaterial compared to true inward change. “Fulfil all righteousness” is only mentioned by Matthew.204 Is that outward ordinance of baptism more important than the real baptism that Jesus provides: baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost? John promised that Jesus would replace his baptism with something higher:

I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.205

But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?206

Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.207

The fact that John forbad him acknowledges that John knew the baptism that Jesus provides supersedes what John was doing. Jesus did receive baptism from John, effectively accepting John’s preparation for him, and he allowed his disciples to continue John’s legacy of baptism, but Jesus himself didn’t baptize anybody.208 Nor did he teach anyone that baptism is indispensable in any of the gospel accounts. On the other hand, he did teach repeatedly about faith.209 We are not disciples of John, we are disciples of Jesus. You may ask about John 3:5:

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.210

Again, that verse is routinely ripped from its context. Yes, he mentions water and Spirit. Was he truly referring to baptism in that verse? Look again, while considering the next verse (as well as the entire conversation with Nicodemus):

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.211

Jesus referred to both births only after Nicodemus started talking about wombs. Nicodemus talked about entering into his mother a second time, and to that Jesus replied, differentiating the physical birth that Nicodemus talked about with the spiritual birth. Jesus clarified what he said by saying that flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit. Flesh giving birth to flesh directly refers to physical birth and that parallels his mention of born from the water, meaning the water of the womb. He only began talking of the physical birth because Nicodemus started talking about it. The first is the physical birth on Earth, which Nicodemus understood. The second birth, which Nicodemus did not understand, is the spiritual rebirth that Jesus was originally trying to teach Nicodemus. He specified the water and Spirit to differentiate what Nicodemus was getting confused about. Baptism is an outward expression of what should already have occurred within. Jesus never needed to see any outward expression of spiritual rebirth, since he could already see everyone’s thoughts and intents.

What is being born of the Spirit? It is transcending the animal and becoming a child of God by coming to the realization that God is your loving father. It starts as you honestly and sincerely seek his true attributes and eventually desire good just as he desires good. If you find that you are sincerely seeking God, you have already found him, God has already found you, and you have already been born of the Spirit. That is all there is to it. It is simple, honest, and easy.

If you feel that baptism will help you make that change of starting a new life seeking God, then by all means do it. If you do, consider that outward rite done in insincerity or hypocrisy has no meaning whatsoever, while sincerity in seeking God does have meaning. Also if baptism means becoming subject to idolatrous rules and bylaws of an earthly organization of men rather than genuinely seeking God, then it might not be all that good after all. The only thing of eternal value, being born of the Spirit, is between you and God no one else, and it cannot be faked.

The concept Jesus presented in the last verse212 is amazing to me, and he illustrates exactly how being born of the Spirit comes about. The event of being born of the Spirit is silent and subtle. There is no pompous outward formality that comes with being born of the Spirit. Being born of the Spirit is a private, intimate event, and you may not even have noticed when or where it happened. Seeking a private, intimate relationship with God is true religion:

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.213

Jesus reproves the exhibitionist, while Paul demands outspoken prayer:

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.214

So who is right, is it Jesus or Paul? I will side with Jesus. If it is as Jesus says, that it is about our intimate, private, internal, secret relationship with our Heavenly Father, then why is baptism preached as such an indispensable rite of passage into the Celestial Kingdom? Why is it preached that baptism is required for everyone, even those who did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel and be baptized in their life? Even the Book of Mormon preaches the concept that the ignorant are as little children and need no baptism:

Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the Atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.

For the Atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.215

According to that scripture, baptism for the dead is moot. The following scripture says that the ignorant who never had the opportunity to have salvation declared unto them will rise in the first resurrection with the righteous to eternal life:

And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.

They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.

And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.

And little children also have eternal life.216

Most of all, they that are without the law are alive in Christ, and unto such baptism avails nothing but is a mockery which denies the mercies of Christ, and puts trust in dead works:

For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—

But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.217

Furthermore, the Book of Mormon teaches that changing your mind can’t happen after death:

Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.218

The Book of Mormon’s doctrine obviates the necessity of baptism for the dead and yet we are taught that it contains the “fullness of the gospel” and we are taught to abide by completely contradicting doctrine which advocates outward ordinances, which in the words of the Book of Mormon are a dead work, a mockery before God, and deny the mercies of Christ. Joseph Smith confirms the superfluity of baptism for the dead when he marvels in one of his revelations that his brother Alvin had already attained an inheritance in the celestial kingdom, without ever having been baptized, even by proxy.219

I find it hard to believe in a God that would be so vindictive as to block someone from entering his presence, block them from celebrating an eternal existence or impede them from associating with their family because they never had a pretentious, for-show, outward proxy baptism performed for them. Jesus said we should let the dead handle the dead and that we should instead follow him and to minister to the living:

But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.220

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.221

It is a tragedy that so much life wasted in pursuit of something that helps no living person on earth. Millions and millions of hours wasted in temples serving the dead. Can you imagine what could be accomplished if all of that time were focused upon the living? Billions of dollars wasted on idol buildings, monuments to a demigod that requires silly in outward ritualistic observances for validation. Can you imagine what such a fortune could be provide for the poor and helpless, instead of building fine sanctuaries222 and buying vast tracks of land and other large real estate investments?

I think that this contradicts Jesus on at least four accounts: to not worry about the dead, to love neighbors who we can see, versus a god we can’t see,223 that God looks upon the heart and not the outward pharisaical ritual, dress, and strict obedience, and his requirement that to follow him, we must cast away fortune by selling all that we have and give it to the poor.224

Oft quoted is 1 Corinthians 15:29 as proof that baptism for the dead was practiced by those in the New Testament times. However, if you actually read the context, Paul is not establishing the doctrine of baptism for the dead, he is instead stating reason after reason for believing in the resurrection. Once again, our leaders use a verse out of context to fulfill an entirely different purpose. Besides the context, the pronouns in that verse are suspect. He does not say you meaning his followers, nor did he say we or I, that he or anyone he associates with had the practice. He said they, referring to those who are not part of anyone in the group he was talking to – most likely the other pagan mystery cults, just like when he was trying to justify the Eucharist. He did not elaborate at all in advocating the practice in any way. He just used it as another reason to believe in the resurrection, because even they believe in the resurrection.

He spoke of them because he was writing to the Corinthians. Near Corinth is Eleusis (Elefsina today), which was a holy city for the Eleusinian mystery cult. The road from Athens to Eleusis was Iera Odos, or The Sacred Way, the only highway that Greece had paved before the arrival of the Romans, and it was there because it was the route taken by the procession which practiced the Eleusinian Mysteries.225 The Eleusinian mystery cult was revered by Homer226 as well as Cicero.227 Plato, who was an initiate himself (as was Socrates before him), mentions the mysteries in his dialogue on the immortality of the soul: “our mysteries had a very real meaning: he that has been purified and initiated shall dwell with the gods.”228 That mystery cult, much like Mithraism and other mystery cults, practiced ablutions or baptisms as their initiation ceremony. To show that baptism was a pagan practice, Tertullian declared:

At the Eleusinian mysteries men are baptized and they assume that the effect of this is their regeneration and the remission of the penalties due to their perjuries.229

Waverly Fitzgerald says of the initiates:

It was said of those who were initiated at Eleusis that they no longer feared death and it seems that this myth confirms the cyclical view of life central to pagan spirituality: that death is part of the cycle of life and is always followed by rebirth.230

Vicarious participation in some mystery cults was acceptable.231 In Greek, the word mysteria in itself means initiation. The practice of rites of initiation (including baptism) was an important part of all mystery cults, and those rites promised eternal life.

These transformed cults were known as “mysteries,” i.e., initiation ceremonies through which individuals were granted admission into fellowship with the divine. With their purification rites, their enthusiasm and ecstasy, and their rewards of immortality through personal identification with deity, the cults satisfied some spiritual need of the individual, either for salvation, revelation, peace of mind, or inner illumination.232

There were many mystery cults with diverse rites and religious concepts of the mysteries. Nonetheless, three essential characteristics are common to all the mystery cults of the time: (1) a purification rite by which the initiate is granted admission and participation in the activity of the cult; (2) a sense of personal relationship or communion with the deity or deities of the cult; and (3) the hope or promise of a life of blessedness after death.233

It is evident to me that:

  1. Baptism was a practice of cleansing initiation by mystery cults.

  2. These mystery cults practiced secretive, mysterious initiation rites, with oaths of penalty of death if they ever revealed the secret. The Greek word mysteria in itself meaning a secret rite, and mystes meaning one who has been initiated.234

  3. It was the mystery cults which provided the doctrine that one could not enter into eternal life without their initiation rite, which Paul liberally imported into his own “fellowship of the mystery.”

  4. Initiation for the dead was allowed by some mystery cults.

What does this make of the “restored church?” It only makes it more evident that it does not follow the true teachings of Jesus, but instead is quite pagan, depending heavily on pagan mystery and ritual for salvation. It illustrates that secret initiation rites with their oaths of secrecy did not originate with Jesus, nor did it come from God. In contrast, the religion of Jesus himself was highly spiritual and had no secrets at all. Any mystery is a red flag for truth seekers, because mystery has no place with truth. Mystery is the work of truth’s antagonist:

the word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than obscurity can be applied to light. The God in whom we believe is a God of moral truth, and not a God of mystery or obscurity. Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.235

You may ask about the following passage, which commands baptism among other things:

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.236

I am pretty convinced that the scribe who wrote that paragraph was not faithful to whatever Jesus actually said at that time, if he said anything at all, because the teachings of his life call its validity into question. It seems that the paragraph was added later,237 having been influenced by Paul’s ministry, because it contradicts Jesus as it talks favorably of outward rites and idolatrous sign-seeking. Jesus could not have said those things, because the entire thing is written in the bias of a sign-seeker. If Jesus in life had demonstrated a more noble morality by showing a contempt for sign-seeking, then why would he change and advocate for those idolatrous signs after his resurrection? Please recall with me, when Jesus visited the Samaritans, they needed no miracle to believe:

And many more believed because of his own word;238

Just a few verses later, Jesus rebukes the Galileans for needing signs and wonders in order to believe:

Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.239

Indeed Jesus rebuked sign seeking or any other insincere reason for seeking truth:

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it.240

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.241

And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.242

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.243

And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.244

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.245

Sign-seeking or miracle-seeking never had much of anything to do with the real intent of the message or life of Jesus. While there were some miracles which happened simply because of his divine identity, he did not perform those things in order to prove anything to anyone. Jesus couldn’t have contradicted himself as Mark 16:14-18 does. As I have quoted before, Thomas Jefferson said, “it is impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.” Thomas Paine was also enlightened when he said:

In every point of view in which those things called miracles can be placed and considered, the reality of them is improbable and their existence unnecessary. They would not, as before observed, answer any useful purpose, even if they were true; for it is more difficult to obtain belief to a miracle, than to a principle evidently moral without any miracle. Moral principle speaks universally for itself. Miracle could be but a thing of the moment, and seen but by a few; after this it requires a transfer of faith from God to man to believe a miracle upon man’s report. Instead, therefore, of admitting the recitals of miracles as evidence of any system of religion being true, they ought to be considered as symptoms of its being fabulous. It is necessary to the full and upright character of truth that it rejects the crutch, and it is consistent with the character of fable to seek the aid that truth rejects.246

I assert that while baptism is a rite of passage into the social organization of the church as the apostles practiced, Jesus taught instead that the real saving baptism is being born of the Spirit which cannot be brought about hypocritically in any way. Leo Tolstoy sums this section up perfectly:

People who believe in a wicked and senseless God – who has cursed the human race and devoted his own Son to sacrifice, and a part of mankind to eternal torment – cannot believe in the God of love. The man who believes in a God, in a Christ coming again in glory to judge and to punish the quick and the dead, cannot believe in the Christ who bade us turn the left cheek, judge not, forgive these that wrong us, and love our enemies. The man who believes in the inspiration of the Old Testament and the sacred character of David, who commanded on his deathbed the murder of an old man who had cursed him, and whom he could not kill himself because he was bound by an oath to him, and the similar atrocities of which the Old Testament is full, cannot believe in the holy love of Christ. The man who believes in the Church’s doctrine of the compatibility of warfare and capital punishment with Christianity cannot believe in the brotherhood of all men.

And what is most important of all – the man who believes in salvation through faith in the redemption or the sacraments, cannot devote all his powers to realizing Christ’s moral teaching in his life.

The man who has been instructed by the Church in the profane doctrine that a man cannot be saved by his own powers, but that there is another means of salvation, will infallibly rely upon this means and not on his own powers, which, they assure him, it is sinful to trust in.

The teaching of every Church, with its redemption and sacraments, excludes the teaching of Christ; most of all the teaching of the Orthodox Church with its idolatrous observances.247

Oh the irony; how that last paragraph applies to every church. Though Tolstoy was relatively unfamiliar with the restored church, its restoration does not make it immune to what he observes. The restored church of Jesus is not so in deed, but in name only, because it relies on Pauline idolatrous middle-man observances as much as Catholicism does.

Works

Here is what Paul taught:

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.248

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.249

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.250

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.251

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,252

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;253

James taught:

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only254

The following is the deciding factor in the final judgement, as Jesus said:

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.255

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven256

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.257

Paul was clearly the polar opposite to Jesus. James was in harmony with Jesus, and no wonder: he sat at the feet of Jesus and was taught of him. Who are we to believe? Paul or Jesus? Paul stressed that faith and performing rituals of propitiation like the sacrament as the only means for salvation. Jesus taught neither of those, but that salvation comes when you show love and care for your fellow men.

As I explained before, faith is a belief that is true. When faith is supported by a scaffolding of truth, its influence is so powerful that it influences your choices and actions. It has so much to bear on your perspective of reality that it causes you to make decisions through the hope it provides. Faith without action is dead because without action it is not really a belief, it is only an interesting concept. Faith in God spurs you to action to seek his will and it is that same faith which causes you to do it when you have found it.

Lectures on Faith, an essay which was part of the Church’s canon for almost a century, it maintains that faith is more important than works, and that works should only serve to increase faith.

Still, I believe works are misunderstood in the Church, and this is why there is such a disagreement between many churches. The Church’s definition of “works” seems to include the requirement of actions that are not necessarily Father-will-seeking faith actions. Works often refers to rituals, ordinances, repetitive practices, outward rites, or other empty forms. This kind of faith action can be done in complete hypocrisy and no one would be the wiser except for the two people that really matter: you and your Eternal Father. Since all that really matters is the genuine, sincere relationship between you and your Eternal Father, then why all this outward farce?

God’s “hand is stretched out still”258 through his grace and mercy. You cannot take advantage of God’s grace and mercy without exercising faith in him enough to look forward to trusting in his goodness for your eternal survival. It is when you have true faith in who God is that you begin to desire to become like him and choose what he would choose. In choosing and doing right, your faith is engendering action in your life, fulfilling Jesus’ admonition (again):

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven.259

It is that simple. Those who sincerely seek the Eternal Father will increase line upon line260 until the perfect day.261 Those who do not sincerely seek the Eternal Father will likely not want to survive in his universe and will instead want to cease to exist. All of this has to do with sincerity, not with outward rites, rituals, or ordinances.

Yes, faith without works is dead, works being the action that faith causes you to do. However when works refer to empty forms, oaths, saying “Lord, Lord”, doing hypocritical empty actions, then it really profits you nothing.

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.262

It is clear to me that Paul’s doctrines are not based on the teachings of Jesus. His doctrines may come from an amalgamation of his Pagan-Pharisee upbringing in the city of Tarsus, keeping much of the mystery cult pomp. Paul was a pharisee with a pagan upbringing who exploited the name of Jesus in hypocrisy to further his own agenda of mystery cult beliefs mixed with Judaism. Nothing of what he taught came from the true message of Jesus. Paul was against the teachings of Jesus before being struck by lightning on the Damascus road, and it is evident to me that he was still against the teachings of Jesus after his experience on Damascus road.

The Restored Character of Jesus

After studying the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels of the New Testament, I have encountered a conundrum: The character of Jesus in the Gospels does not reconcile with the character of Jesus prescribed by the restored church. Instead of augmenting and clarifying his character as it should, the restoration seems to have set itself in opposition the Gospels. They do not seem to be the same person. The restored character resolves very little of the problems that face Christianity at large, and in many cases it makes him into something more disgraceful. I want to follow Jesus, but in order to do so, I need to find which of the many contradictions is his true character. In trying to find the true character of Jesus, my observations have come to align with the views of Thomas Jefferson. His observations about heathen mythology applies just as much to the restored character of Jesus as it applies to all of Christianity.

I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials [the gospels], which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature.263

In Psychology, the struggle to reconcile opposing ideas has been named Cognitive Dissonance. I want to list some of the dissonant characteristics I have noticed. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to call the restored Latter-day Saint Jesus, “Jesus Mormon.” I’m going to call the Gospels Jesus, “Jesus Genuine.” If you notice that some of these dualities appear to be similar to others, it is because I am illustrating a subtle nuance in the same vein or in a different context. The Jesus Genuine side may seem to repeat. That is because his message is simpler.

Before you read this list, I disclaim that it seems like believers of Jesus Mormon cannot seem to perceive Jesus Genuine until they give up Jesus Mormon and allow themselves to open their eyes, ears and mind to perceive the distinction with Jesus Genuine.

Conditional or Unconditional Love

Obedience

Overcontrol

Obedience Elitism

Blessings and Cursings

Despot

Priesthood Authority

Priesthood Presumptuousness

Priesthood Treasure

Priesthood Heroes

Physical Kingdom

Noteworthy Commands

Hypocrisy

Image

Priesthood Hypocrisy

Tangent: Many leaders of the church don’t seem to believe it themselves.

Idols

Jesus as an Idol

Character and Identity

Truthful Character

Teachings

Conclusion

I remember showing my smartphone to my dad, how it could be used for scripture study in church meetings, and and how it relieved the burden of having to lug around a stack of books. My phone displayed a passage where Jesus was condemning the pharisees for their hypocrisy in stressing outward obedience to every petty law. My dad seemed to push back. He treated those verses as if they were forbidden to read, as if the eisegeses he had been fed all of his life had ever excluded those verses for a reason, and as if he subconsciously knew that. I felt much the same as I did when the priesthood leader did not like my attempt to probe and reason for an understanding of the Atonement. The stress on squelching independent thought is wrong. Truth should be truth when examined from all angles, and it cannot be hurt by questions or more evidence.

Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me, I will side with Jesus and his true character. (I wish those in my house would too.) I cannot side with nor promote the cause of those who do not follow Jesus Genuine, but only do by name, as he predicted would happen. Choosing to side with Jesus Genuine solves most of the problems of the modern Mormon Church.

Seers

Before you read this section, I will ask that you would please keep in mind the following quote. It is one of many teachings that give me license for what I’m about to say.

I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation.266

Legitimacy

To start, let us consider the meaning of the word prophet. Although the scriptures often condemn soothsayers, in trying to find the etymology for prophet, I was surprised to find that soothsayer was often synonymous to prophet and the word was used in other translations for prophet. I ever thought that it was soothesayer – someone who gives comforting sayings, like a fortune teller. But the e is not present, and the word is sooth-sayer, with sooth being old English for truth, a word which meant something entirely different. In that case, a truth-sayer seems to make more sense than prophet, which comes from Greek pro (pro)-, meaning in front, and f’hthc (fitis), to speak, a public speaker or spokesperson or advocate. In fact, the Greek word used in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, came from the Hebrew “navi,” which means “from the lips,” or spokesperson. The Greek prof’hthc (profitis) was translated to Latin vates, which means poet or bard, but that was later avoided because of pagan associations with vates. I descend into etymology because I think Thomas Paine was onto something when he said:

There is not, throughout the whole book called the Bible, any word that describes to us what we call a poet, nor any word that describes what we call poetry. The case is, that the word prophet, to which latter times have affixed a new idea, was the Bible word for poet, and the word prophesying meant the art of making poetry. It also meant the art of playing poetry to a tune upon any instrument of music.

We read of prophesying with pipes, tabrets, and horns — of prophesying with harps, with psalteries, with cymbals, and with every other instrument of music then in fashion. Were we now to speak of prophesying with a fiddle, or with a pipe and tabor, the expression would have no meaning or would appear ridiculous, and to some people contemptuous, because we have changed the meaning of the word. 267

Regardless of what the original meaning of word for Prophet may be, let us consider our canonical definition for the words prophet, seer, and revelator.

And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet.

And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.

But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.268

Jesus himself describes how to identify illegitimate prophets. You identify them by their fruits.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.269

Considering those verses, it should be apparent that:

While the act of revelation could be construed into the act of getting answers for administrivia, and the act of prophesying could be construed into simply preaching the gospel, seership is in its own league. Regardless, both prophecy and seership should produce results that are easily identified. If a car does not roll, is it a car? If an aircraft doesn’t fly, is it an aircraft? If a seer does not make hidden things known, as the Book of Mormon prescribes, is he a seer?

I truly believed that the modern prophet spoke with God, face to face as Jacob and Moses did.270 I believed he had regular meetings with Jesus. I believed that Jesus himself truly was personally leading the church and teaching his apostles. I believed that their regular talks with him gave them insight to the gospel and universe that no one else on earth has.

Because the fruits I outlined above have ever been difficult for me detect in modern seers, I have always wanted to ask the Prophet some direct questions pertaining to this belief – to turn it into knowledge. After all, it is his calling to be an approachable human being. Isn’t that the purpose for the existence of a living prophet? It seems there might be a good reason that the prophet made himself inaccessible for direct questions in casual encounters with anyone. Even though they hide, a few living prophets have been interviewed and have been asked exactly what I want to ask. Here is an interview of President Hinckley:

Q: You are the president, prophet, seer and revelator of the Mormon Church?

A: I am so sustained, yes. (Laughter)

Q: Now, how would that compare to the Catholic Church? Do you see yourself as Catholics would see the pope?

A: Oh, I think in that we’re both seen as the head officer of the church, yes.

Q: And this belief in contemporary revelation and prophecy? As the prophet, tell us how that works. How do you receive divine revelation? What does it feel like?

A: Let me say first that we have a great body of revelation, the vast majority of which came from the prophet Joseph Smith. We don’t need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we’ve already received.

Now, if a problem should arise on which we don’t have an answer, we pray about it, we may fast about it, and it comes. Quietly. Usually no voice of any kind, but just a perception in the mind. I liken it to Elijah’s experience. When he sought the Lord, there was a great wind, and the Lord was not in the wind. And there was an earthquake, and the Lord was not in the earthquake. And a fire, and the Lord was not in the fire. But in a still, small voice. Now that’s the way it works.271

Here is another interview:

RB: As the world leader of the Church, how are you in touch with God? Can you explain that for me?

GBH: I pray. I pray to Him. Night and morning. I speak with Him. I think He hears my prayers. As He hears the prayers of others. I think He answers them.

RB: But more than that, because you’re leader of the Church. Do you have a special connection?

GBH: I have a special relationship in terms of the Church as an institution. Yes.

RB: And you receive........

GBH: For the entire Church.

RB: You receive?

GBH: Now we don’t need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation. But if a problem arises, as it does occasionally, a vexatious thing with which we have to deal, we go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss it as a First Presidency and as a Council of the Twelve Apostles. We pray about it and then comes the whisperings of a still small voice. And we know the direction we should take and we proceed accordingly.

RB: And this is a Revelation?

GBH: This is a Revelation.

RB: How often have you received such revelations?

GBH: Oh, I don’t know. I feel satisfied that in some circumstances we’ve had such revelation. It’s a very sacred thing that we don’t like to talk about a lot. A very sacred thing.272

In both of the above interviews, President Hinckley could not bring himself to answer in the sure affirmative that he is indeed a prophet, seer, and revelator in practice, and he gives no indication of any spiritual gift of seership, revelation, or prophecy by virtue of his calling and priesthood keys. Instead, he says he only prays and gets answers like any of us would. He implies that any special relationship he has with God is not because of a spiritual gift, but it is because of his position in the church as an institution.

I was taken aback when he said, “We have a great body of revelation we don’t need much revelation.” Did the prophet-president of a church whose core tenet is continuing revelation, really say that? Nephi would meet what he said with contempt.273 Leo Tolstoy seems to have predicted that he would say that. It is ironic that so much of what Tolstoy wrote also applies to the restored church, even though he was talking about catholicism.

”We teach the people nothing new, nothing but what they believe, only in a more perfect form,” say the Churchmen. This is just what the man did who tied up the full-grown chicken and thrust it back into the shell it had come out of.274

Another interesting interview is that of Joseph F. Smith in the Reed Smoot hearings, where he testified before Congress that he was no different from anyone else, and testified that he had never received a revelation in the sense that a seer would receive as the Book of Mormon defines:

Senator Dubois. Have you received any revelation from God, which has been submitted by you and the apostles to the body of the church in their semi-annual conference, which revelation has been sustained by that conference through the word “revelation” is used very vaguely upholding of their hands?

Mr. Smith. Since when?

Senator Dubois. Since you became president of the church.

Mr. Smith. No, sir; none whatever.

Senator Dubois. Individual members of the church can receive individual revelations, can they not?

Mr. Smith. If I may be permitted, the here all the time. No man can get revelations at his will. If a man Is prayerful and earnest In his desire and lives a righteous life and he desires information and intelligence, he will inquire of the Lord, and the Lord will manifest to him, through the presence and influence of his Spirit, his mind, and his will. That would be a revelation to that individual.275

…[courtroom babble skipped]…

Senator Dubois. Have you received any individual revelations yourself, since you became president of the church under your own definition, even, of a revelation?

Mr. Smith. I can not say that I have.

Senator Dubois. Can you say that you have not?

Mr. Smith. No; I can not say that I have not.

Senator Dubois. Then you do not know whether you have received any such revelation as you have described, or whether you have not?

Mr. Smith. Well, I can say this: That if I live as I should in the line of my duties, I am susceptible, I think, of the impressions of the Spirit of the Lord upon my mind at any time, just as any good Methodist or any other good church member might be. And so far as that is concerned, I say yes; I have had impressions of the Spirit upon my mind very frequently, but they are not in the sense revelations.276

The definition of revelation, according to Joseph F. Smith, is indeterminate when compared to our canonical doctrine. He said that any good Methodist can receive revelation just as well as he does!

These interviews were pretty bad news to me. It almost makes me gag for having been so naive. At least they were honest when they were asked direct questions. Some other answers surprised me, like, why does President Hinckley reject both Joseph Smith and Lorenzo Snow’s revelations in the following interview?

Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don’t Mormons believe that God was once a man?

A: I wouldn’t say that. There was a little couplet coined, “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about.

Q: So you’re saying the church is still struggling to understand this?

A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We’re trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can. 277

President Hinckley has betrayed both Joseph Smith’s and Lorenzo Snow’s prophetic teachings. He has diminished this doctrine to a couplet, a phrase, an alliteration, a cliché, without any real doctrinal importance. Now that the doctrine might have become controversial, president Hinckley backpedals that the doctrine is too deep, and it is something we don’t know very much about. So much linking with the chain of previous revelators’ so-called eternal truths.

When I asked him to characterize God’s connubial relationship, he replied, “We don’t speculate on that a lot. Brigham Young said if you went to Heaven and saw God it would be Adam and Eve. I don’t know what he meant by that.” Pointing to a grim-faced portrait of the Lion of the Lord, as Young was called, he said, “There he is, right there. I’m not going to worry about what he said about those things.” I asked whether Mormon theology was a form of polytheism. “I don’t have the remotest idea what you mean,” he said impatiently.278

These are things that are coming from the mouth of someone who is upheld and sustained as a living prophet, seer, and revelator, with the same regard as the prophets of old, with Nephi, with the brother of Jared, who were shown the history and future of the world in great detail, who knew God personally as a close friend.

Can you imagine Abinadi saying, “I’m not going to worry about what previous prophets have said.” Or, when asked about what God is, “I don’t have the remotest idea what you mean.” Those are poor excuses for someone who is supposed to meet with Jesus personally. How could he pretend to say “I don’t know what he meant by that.” HE is our living prophet! He should know what the question meant! Playing dumb is not acceptable for someone who should know. So much for upholding the relationship we all are supposed to believe he has with God. It seems as though the charge to never speak evil of the Lord’s anointed has granted those at the head a lack of accountability to their subjects.

Jennifer Willis wrote a letter to Dallin H. Oaks which quoted scripture after scripture279 about her search for the second comforter.280 Elder Oaks replied to her letter, and said what I think might be the most ignorant thing he could have said:

You also speak of the “special apostolic witness of Christ.” Where do you find that kind of “witness” defined or even mentioned in the scriptures?281

Is Elder Oaks really that unfamiliar with the scriptures to not know where an apostolic witness of Christ is “defined or even mentioned?” Maybe he has been shirking his responsibility for daily scripture study. I would reveal to this revelator’s ignorance:

After the betrayal and apostasy of Judas Iscariot, they needed to fill his slot. What was the requisite? It was “to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”282 What does it mean to be a witness of the resurrection of Jesus? A witness would have to not just had a vision in their mind of the resurrected Jesus, but also personally seen with their physical eyes and interacted with the reality of his existence somehow. Here’s what those witnesses did, they’d testify that “This Jesus hath God raised up, we all are witnesses.”283 It seems that the word witness has somehow been dumbed down to being willing to testify about something without having actually observed anything. Wouldn’t that actually be perjury?

Paul wasn’t directly called to apostleship by the other apostles, but he claimed he was an apostle and fought to become an apostle, and the other apostles didn’t like that. What was his reason for his claim to be an apostle? It was that he asserted that he had seen the resurrected Jesus:

Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?284

To me, Oaks proves he is ignorant of the scriptures confirming Thomas Paine’s claim that “Those who believe them most, are those who know least about [the scriptures].”285 He is also saying that he isn’t really an apostle because he is admitting that he has never seen Jesus. If he had seen Jesus, he would have taken any and every chance to witness that he had. After all, that is what he is supposed to do – that is his calling, to testify of having witnessed the resurrected Jesus, isn’t it?

As part of the Second Anointing, a ritual by which one’s calling and election is made sure, the second comforter is received, and that second comforter is Jesus Christ himself. In that instance, Jesus himself should appear and the visions of eternity will be opened:

When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter.” To receive the other Comforter is to have Christ appear to him and to see the visions of eternity.286

If this is true, then all of those who have had their Second Anointing would have had that experience, including all of the apostles. As one of many who have had this Second Anointing, Tom Phillips spoke of his confusion with not having seen Jesus as part of it. The more interesting part was what he was told to say to those who would ask him about seeing Christ: (a transcript)

Some time later, a couple of years later I think it was, I did ask one of the general authorities. I said, “well, hang on, Christ never appeared to me, is this going to be some future event or am I actually lacking in something or what?”

What he said to me was, “Tom, what we’re advised by the prophet to say, if anyone ever asks us that question, whether we’ve seen Christ or not, we just look at them in the eyes, and we say, we have been counseled by the prophet not to discuss such sacred experiences.”

Now when he said that to me, I thought, “but that means saying I have.” And he kind of just looked at me. I said, “I’m not prepared to say that. Because, if I say that to people I know, if they were to ask me that question and I said that, they would go out and say Tom Phillips has seen Christ. That’s not true! I would have to say to them: no. Now, I was instructed not to say no.” I would assume that applies to the apostles and president Monson as well. Because if it is true that they’ve seen him – I don’t know, the whole Bible and especially the New Testament is based on the testimony of apostles that declare Christ. Even Paul, who came after this thing, still testified of his “vision” of Christ. We don’t hear that anymore, but they do allude to it. They won’t come out honestly and say no, we haven’t seen.287

Apparently when you hear a General Authority say, “We don’t like to discuss such sacred experiences,” it means that they are pretentiously withholding the answer of “no." They are lying by withholding the whole truth. They lie by allowing the assumption. They lie by leading people to believe things about them that they are not.

After noticing the phenomenon of avoiding discussion, I sought out others who may have talked about this, and found the following, which complements the experience of Tom Phillips:

My grandfather told me the same thing when I directly asked him what went on, experientially speaking, in the Salt Lake temple in June 1978, when it was supposedly “revealed” to Spencer W. Kimball (and shared with members of the Quorum of the 12 there at that time) that a change in Mormon Church doctrine and policy on priesthood and Blacks was now necessary.

My grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, replied that it was one of the most spiritual experiences of his life and was too sacred to talk about.

End of story.288

I challenge you to start noticing thought-stopping platitude, “too sacred to talk about.” I have seen it repeatedly after I became aware of ts existence. President Hinckley said it in one of the interviews I included above. Elder Ballard says it in the “Special Witnesses of Christ” video.289 An apostle is supposed to be a witness. What good is a witness who refuses to talk about what he’s witnessed? Why wouldn’t a witness want to talk about their prophetic experiences in any detail?

I can only come up with one reason why anyone wouldn’t want to talk about an experience they had. It is because they can’t truthfully testify of its veracity. What happened to the kind of prophets that stand up in a court of law and testify, “And the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thy hand and prophesy, saying: Thus saith the Lord...”290 in a court of law like Abinadi did? Abinadi didn’t tread lightly or tiptoe around the truth by implying it, he didn’t hide it because it was sacred, he said it outright, without compromise. I’m inclined to think that works of fiction have the only occurrence of such integrity and courage. If they are so willing to lie by withholding the truth, then who is their master?291

Why is it that sacred things should not be talked about? Why weren’t the ancient prophets timid about prophesying that which is sacred? Do we fear that the expression of truth will cause lightning bolts strike us down from an idolatrous god? Surely that can’t be it. The word “sacred” is all too often used as an excuse to omit falsity, to omit incriminating truth, to cause conformity, to delay thinking, and I dare say, even as an excuse to uphold secret oaths to secret societies.

Jesus taught that the truth does not fear exposure as lies do.292 God is truth,293 and truth never fears full expression. It is dishonesty which is silenced by fear. Only a sacred lie fears open expression, discussion, and dissection.

Here is the actual answer they mutter under their breath when they use the “too sacred” hullabaloo: “I can’t bring myself to lie and say I have seen Jesus, and I can’t bring myself to tell the truth and say I haven’t seen him, so I need to use subterfuge to justify my silence.” Yet, that silence speaks louder than they would like it to. In so many words, their actual answer is, “my secret oath of fraud is too sacred to talk about.”

I found the following two comments in comment boards of a Deseret News article, Mormons navigate faith and doubt in a digital age:

Calling the family proclamation less than a revelation is a political expediency, but if it is not from God to his prophets, seers and revelators (my poster bears the signature of all 15) it becomes easy to dismiss just about every message from the Brethren with few exceptions. Our faith is indeed shifting these days.294

For me the result was realizing that LDS leaders can be wrong. Now its sorting out what they got right and what was wrong. To this day I ask myself if what is being said in Conference is right or wrong. Its between me and God I guess.

The idea that we are all imperfect is both comforting and scary. The result of atn imperfect man being called of God and making a bunch of mistakes along the way is scary to me.295

If we must constantly filter for ourselves whether they got it right and whether they got it wrong, then where does that leave us? What is their purpose if they don’t reliably fulfill their calling as channels of revelation from God?

One special top apostle, and fourteen other twelve apostles are called by God, ordained, anointed, and given full priesthood authority and the keys to act for him, to be his mouthpiece to not only the church, but the entire world, but they don’t actually reveal anything. They quote poets. They quote other theologians. They even quote themselves, as if that gives them more legitimacy. They restate the things they like about their predecessors, and omit the things they don’t like. If it is a virtue for such men to play dumb and avoid doctrines of their predecessors (let alone the deep ones, where they fear to venture these days), then I honestly feel like I am better off searching for truth from God on my own. I don’t want to have to sift through their mistakes as well. I don’t want to have to follow people who can’t tell the truth. Of this Jesus said,

And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.296

As I have previously observed, the first chapter of Acts specifies the requirement for apostleship: to be a witness with us of his resurrection. That means apostles should have a concrete, physical witness of the risen Jesus in order to be worthy of the title of apostle.

If an apostle cannot testify that he has seen the risen Jesus, then is he truly an apostle? If they say that their experience is too sacred to talk about, is that really a testimony of what they have seen? Is such folly beholden to the veracity and validity of a church that claims to be the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth?297 How can anything be true if an infestation of lies has cracked its foundation?

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! 298

Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them. 299

What a cardinal principle, to gain a testimony by bearing it! How could this principle be ethical in any way? Could bearing false witness ever be an acceptable method for gaining a true witness? Could repeating a lie ever strengthen conviction to truth? How can these men be so bold as to teach lying as a virtue? How can lying ever be held up as a standard for discovering the truth? How reliable is the testimony of the apostles if they dare to teach this method? Elder Oaks can’t bring himself to attribute the idea to Elder Packer, as if he is embarrassed to admit that he is quoting another apostle for such an immoral idea. Here is the true principle:

If you tell a big lie enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.300

This shows the level of integrity these men employ for their calling: they charge their followers to bear false witness in order to gain witness. Here is the crux: as they teach this principle, they let slip that they themselves are bearing testimony of something for which that they have no witness. They are repeating the lie to convince themselves, too. This actually makes more and more sense as I consider the other fruits of their works.

I have heard some people exclaim, “but they’re so nice!” I have heard some say that when they witness president Hinckley or president Monson speak, they’ve been overwhelmed with how amiable, good-natured, and pleasant they are, and they are overcome with the feeling that that these are truly prophets of God. Besides, someone so warmhearted couldn’t possibly be nefarious. How could people who are so nice, be corrupt? As I was watching Into The Woods with my children, I discovered a morsel of wisdom in a couple of the songs.

And take extra care with strangers,
Even flowers have their dangers.
And though scary is exciting,
Nice is different than good.301

You’re so nice.
You’re not good,
You’re not bad,
You’re just nice!302

Nice does not mean good. It does not mean strength and honor nor integrity and honesty. If anything, that which is nice and pretty on the outside has the greatest disguise. It is a whited sepulcher, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It is the proverbial poisoned apple. Charisma is a crucial lure for confidence artists (con men), Ponzis, charlatans, or wolves in sheep’s clothing. None of those impostors would gain credence if they weren’t nice. This is probably what is meant in the ironic teaching that an angel of light can be Satan himself,303 or that sin is most often presented in a charming and attractive way. I guess they should very well know about this double standard because they seem to use this doublespeak as a shroud.

What is the character of a man accepts leadership of a religious organization, with the titles of apostle, prophet, seer, and revelator, who uses subversive language or fools himself as he repeatedly testifies of something he has no witness? I will tell you the reality of his character: it is that of a hypocrite, a charlatan, and more simply just a theologian. In the case of being unwilling or unable to delve into deep doctrine, he’s a pretty bad theologian. It is amazing how this perspective demystifies the teachings of Jesus.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.304

Members of the church fervently believe that their prophets are prophets, in the most plain sense of the word, not apologetic redefinition. I know, because I believed. I surely believed that that they speak with Jesus in the very literal sense, not allegorically at all! I devoutly preached such ideas on my mission. I have vivid memories of pointing to their pictures in the Ensign, and proclaiming that these men share the same plane with Moses, and talk face to face with God.305 I taught this to every prospective member.

When I discovered the secret Second Anointing ordinance, my perception of these men changed. That anointing prescribes that salvation is guaranteed. All impropriety, like Lying for the Lord,306 becomes permissible because it grants and preserves their status and their institution.

Boy, was I hoodwinked. These are seers who do not see, prophets who do not prophesy, revelators who do not reveal. They lie as they accept adulation for something they are not, because they are “so sustained.” They lie by leading people to believe that they speak with Jesus himself regularly and are directly led by him. They keep up a ruse for things that they themselves may not even believe, because when they arrived at their station, they realized that they did not gain any gift to speak face to face with Jesus; that they did not gain the gifts of the prophets in the canonical scriptures.

They bear false witness as a testimony for things they have not seen. They charge their followers to do as they do, and bear an unfounded testimony in something that they may not entirely believe themselves. They place the livelihood of their institution above all else, even their own decency. Real truth seekers suffer as the fifteen twelve apostles and sycophants sit in those cushy red conference seats and enjoy their rock-star status, while not producing anything seers should produce. They excommunicate to slander, defame, and disrepute those who dare to say anything that could bring their lofty ostentatious reputation back to reality. These hypocrites are the lawyers, scribes and pharisees of our day.

Red flags have raised in my mind as I have noticed the strategy religious confidence men use to gain validity with their followers. They lead their credulous sheep along as they make provisions that make it impossible for them to fail. Whatever they say is accepted without sincere consideration of the opposing view because their followers believe their prophet is sent from God himself. Those charismatic leaders plan their escape from accountability by employing plausible deniability, subjective validation, confirmation bias, and many other techniques that have been given names only recently. Those who do not believe are irrelevant because they are labeled as heathen. Critical thought is dismissed as persecution. If anyone calls out inconsistencies, the believers tell them to be quiet and to leave the the church alone.

This applies to all religious fraud. Mormonism is not immune. For example, “Faith precedes the miracle” is a catch-phrase used specifically in Mormonism. If the belief is there, the confidence man cannot lose. If good comes of it, the bias for belief is confirmed. Any misfortune should be rationalized to align with the belief, especially the original premise, that not enough faith was there, or someone did something wrong. I used that reason countless times for justification, that I must not have had enough faith or that I must have failed to obey a petty commandment.

Confirmation bias works in their favor, even for miracles. The latin word miracle would be better translated as wonder. It is a surprise, something strange, something unexpected. If faith precedes it, then it is expected, so a miracle would not be wondrous. As people subconsciously realize this, because of their confirmation bias, they seem to purposefully try to identify banal coincidences as miracles and they quickly forget occurrences that do not align with their belief. In many cases, as time passes, those banalities become embellished as have ancient hero stories. This bias for belief is a proven psychological condition that applies to all believers, not just Mormonism.

Joseph Smith employed this technique for his miracles. People like Lucy Harris and Isaac Hale called out the fraud, but that made no difference in the eyes of the believers. In one such instance, Joseph Smith was presented with a Greek psalter.

Pointing to the capital letters at the commencement of each verse, he said: “Them figures is Egyptian hieroglyphics; and them which follows, is the interpretation of the hieroglyphics, written in the reformed Egyptian. Them characters is like the letters that was engraven on the golden plates.”307

After reading that quote, I was reminded of the Joseph’s Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, which does exactly as he said.308 That serves as proof, to me. It also seems like the grammar used in his response more closely matches the original grammar of the book of Mormon.

Sometimes Mr. Smith speaks as a prophet, and sometimes as a mere man. If he gave a wrong opinion respecting the book, he spoke as a mere man.309

Do you see the escape? If he gets it right, it is of God, but if he gets it wrong, it is his human frailty. He cannot fail. Thomas Paine gives many examples of this in his books. Here is one that shows the doublespeak that the book of Jeremiah uses to escape responsibility.

Everything relating to Jeremiah shows him to have been a man of an equivocal character; in his metaphor of the potter and the clay, chap. xviii., he guards his prognostications in such a crafty manner as always to leave himself a door to escape by, in case the event should be contrary to what he had predicted.

In the 7th and 8th verses of that chapter he makes the Almighty to say, “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and destroy it. If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” Here was a proviso against one side of the case; now for the other side.

Verses 9 and 10, “And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice; then I shall repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them.” Here is a proviso against the other side; and, according to this plan of prophesying, a prophet could never be wrong, however mistaken the Almighty might be. This sort of absurd subterfuge, and this manner of speaking of the Almighty, as one would speak of a man, is consistent with nothing but the stupidity of the Bible.310

There is a prerequisite for receiving a blessing or other spiritual manifestation like finding out for one’s self if that it is true. Finding out for yourself is only spun as something you can do through emotion. Moroni’s Promise311 is another example of this infallible doublespeak. If you feel some kind of positive emotion, then it is a manifestation from God. If you do not experience an emotional confirmation, then you need to try harder. You did not pray with real intent! You did not sincerely believe that an answer could come from God! Any chance of falsity is always laid upon your own fallibility, never upon the possibility of untruth.

Some believers dismiss Henry Caswall’s quote of Willard Richards as an anti-mormon lie, but it aptly describes a technique that continues today. I have noticed that there are provisions for escape in both commandments and doctrine. In the cases where doctrine must be changed for impropriety, the blame is placed squarely upon God himself, because it was what God said we needed at the time, but now things have changed. Indispensable doctrine becomes policy. Infallible truth becomes the theories of men. If the change is too blatant to blame God, then the fault is placed upon the “theories” of the prophets who, by virtue of their divine call, should be incapable of leading church astray. Consider the Race and the Priesthood essay.

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.312

This contradicts the doctrine in the Book of Mormon canon itself, which specifically identifies dark skin as a curse for iniquity. It is not a theory. It is not an accident. It happens again and again in the Book of Mormon.313 Modern changes to the Book of Mormon try to reduce its harshness, but the doctrine of a curse still remains. I will talk more about those issues later on. Consider the apologetics for the Book of Abraham.

The supposed prophet was the supposed historian of times to come; and if he happened, in shooting with a long bow of a thousand years, to strike within a thousand miles of a mark, the ingenuity of posterity could make it point-blank; and if he happened to be directly wrong, it was only to suppose, as in the case of Jonah and Nineveh, that God had repented himself and changed his mind. What a fool do fabulous systems make of man!314

What Thomas Paine said is practically prophetic. One apologist, Kerry Muhlestein, even used the phrases “Joseph Smith nailed it” as he described the translation of the four corners of the earth in the Book of Abraham, while ignoring the other 99 percent that is in error. One or two “nailed” coincidences do not grant credibility when mountains of evidence to the contrary exists. A broken clock is right twice a day. Muhlestein subtly misdirects the listener away because he is an academic authority while they are not.

I remember many techniques that I was taught at the mission training center. I was trained to label feelings and emotions as manifestations of the Spirit. I was trained to notice when people were feeling an emotion, and then catch them in the moment, and inform them that it was the Spirit of God that was making them feel that way, that the Spirit was testifying to them of the truth. I was supposed to teach them to remember the feeling they had, that come what may, they will ever know of a surety of the truth. When doubt, reason, fact, sensibility would ever come, they would not need to pay attention to it, because they already know. My own love and sincerity that I showed helped to engrain the idea, because I believed it too.

Emotion is not a spiritual experience at all. It is primal. If someone rushed into my house and exclaimed that my child had been hit by a car, a race of feelings and emotions would hit me. If they then said, “Just kidding!” then all of those feelings would have been for naught. The Christmas Spirit proved to me that Santa Claus was real. It was really just love, warmth, peace, bounty, and connection with family. Emotion proved to me that something false was true. Strong feelings and emotions are not reliable for identifying truth.

Fullness of The Gospel

It disgusts me whenever I hear someone say that we live in the dispensation of the fullness of times and that all that should be revealed has already been revealed in its fullness and we don’t need much more revelation. It is ironic that the Book of Mormon prophesied of this.

Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.315

The Book of Mormon says that the brother of Jared was one of the greatest seers in history, and he saw the entire history and future of the earth in great detail, wrote it down, and Mormon transcribed it.

And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.316

Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.317

Now consider the many things beyond the revelation of the brother of Jared which are yet to be revealed:

God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;

Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;

A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.

All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—

All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times—

According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.

How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.318

I’ll reiterate, the last verse said that nothing was to stop the “pouring down of knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” Then why did the “pouring” stop? Where are all of the revelations that were promised? A puny arm stopping the Missouri river is a strong metaphor indeed. It clearly says that it was all coming down the pipe whether Joseph fulfilled his calling or not:

And I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph; and in weakness have I blessed him;

And I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed, even things which were from the foundation of the world, and the things which shall come from this time until the time of my coming, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.319

Clearly, Joseph was given all of the keys of revealing everything, including that which has been sealed. That includes everything about how the heavens work. That includes the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, which has a full history of our world. That includes 99% more of Jesus’ doings and teachings (as shown below). If Joseph wouldn’t do it, someone else would be “planted in his stead.” Do you sense the impending urgency of 121:33 and 35:18? These things were to be revealed by Joseph, in his lifetime. Yet he did not reveal them. There is a greater portion that still needs to be revealed.

And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people;

But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people.

And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken.

And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.

And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.

Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.320

Reiterating verse 10: “then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.” The church must be condemned, because the greater things have been withheld and Joseph Smith never fulfilled that calling. Here we are, almost two hundred years later, and all of the ordained prophets, seers, and revelators which have come after Joseph Smith have done nothing at all to fulfill this great need, nor do they even intend to. In fact, they say we have a fullness! Are they truly worthy to be his successors if they have done nothing and intend to do nothing to further the coming forth of truth and “yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God”?321

But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.

And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth.322

A day comes when that sealed book, revealing all things from the foundation of the world to the end, will be read upon the housetops! Do we have that fullness as part of the Church’s canon today? No, we do not.

What if God was unable to get the priesthood oligarchy, made up of those few who have no desire for a continued metamorphosis of the status quo, to reveal this great and awesome revelation? What if God has utilized other means to bring forth the needed revelation? What if, not only did he “plant another in [the] stead” of Joseph, but all of the successive administrators of his organization which were supposed to be prophets, seers, and revelators failed to fulfill this mission? What if God had to use an entirely separate channel to bring it forth because of the iniquity of the leaders? If that revelation existed today, would you accept it or reject it? Would you have the courage to “acknowledge every good thing?”323

Revelation and Priesthood Authority

It is our canonical doctrine, as Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-22 unquestionably states, that priesthood ordination is required to gain access to the mysteries of the kingdom, have knowledge of God, and see the face of God. Yet, time and time again, prophets were called outside of the established priesthood. Almost every time there is some radical change that needs to be done, it rarely comes from within any priesthood.

Jesus himself observed324 that story of the Bible is: a prophet arises, teaches truth, and the priesthood kills or exiles him. If the prophet’s teachings somehow get saved, it is altered by the priesthood to be in harmony with what the priesthood thinks it should have been hundreds of years later.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.325

As I ponder the scripture above, I find that Jesus himself said he didn’t care whether someone had the priesthood to represent him, he cared that they were doing good works. The apostles were worried about authority, as would a temple priest or pharisee, but Jesus taught them otherwise. Jesus himself was never ordained as a rabbi in the Jewish priesthood. Most of his life was probably spent building boats,326 not pursuing a career in the priesthood. His followers called him “rabbi” but that was because they honored him as a teacher, not because of any ordination he had. The fact that he wasn’t a rabbi (and formally trained and ordained to conform to Jewish law and priesthood) was a huge problem for the priesthood. The priesthood leaders on the Sanhedrin were the ones who kept pushing for his death, and they eventually succeeded, as they always did. It is Pharisaical that anything originating outside of priesthood authority is deception:

Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?

The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?

Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?

But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.327

It is said in our church that John the Baptist had the authority to baptize, but did he, really? Other than assuming that he had it because he was baptizing, and besides Doctrine and Covenants 84, there’s nothing else that shows he really had the authority he needed. How am I supposed to believe what is said in Doctrine and Covenants 84 when I can see things are different in reality? How am I expected to believe much of anything presented in Doctrine and Covenants when there are clearly man-made fallacies in it? For example, there is the assertion that the earth’s age is only a few thousand years,328 or there is the horribly merciless and pretentious “law of Sarah.”329 Joseph Smith told David Whitmer “Some Revelations are of God; some revelations are of man, and some revelations are of the devil.”330 The idea that revelations could come from any other sources besides God throws a monkey wrench into the in the reliability of everything Joseph ever said was a revelation, and we are absolved from believing a word Joseph ever said unless it can be verified empirically. If there are any falsities in the Doctrine and Covenants, then we know for a surety that the source of the Doctrine and Covenants could not have been God.

On the issue of priesthood authority, let us look at the time when the chief priests, scribes, and elders asked Jesus about his authority, and where the issue of John the Baptist’s authority is also addressed:

And they come again to Jerusalem: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,

And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?

But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.

And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.331

While this was an obvious attempt to trap Jesus devised by the leaders of the Jewish religion to discredit him on the basis of priesthood authority, it is clear that Jesus stumped them and they could not answer positively or negatively regarding John the Baptist’s authority. Because of the hardness of their hearts, Jesus refused to tell them by what authority he did what he did. They wouldn’t have accepted it even if he did.

Over and over again in the Bible the prophets stirred up trouble because they rarely were given authority by the establishment and that is why they were so often stoned and killed. Who stoned and killed them? The priesthood did. How is this any different from today, where any establishment claims a monopoly on prophets and revelation and then produces none?

Joseph Smith had no claim to authority, and the history of his First Vision is another direct contradiction to the requirement in Section 84. He was a prophet, seer, and revelator long before his ordination. He did not officially receive the priesthood for at least a decade after the First Vision, if he actually received it at all, since there are no contemporary reports of his having received it. The report of his having received it came years after, and sections of Doctrine and Covenants were revised, much to the chagrin of some of his followers who were surprised by the changes he made.332 Even if it is all true, his ordination was more for the organization of the church, not for any gift of seership. Regardless of the situation or what was going on, the fact is: he came from a position of having no authority.

There were several prophets in the Book of Mormon that came from outside. Lehi’s life was in danger and the priesthood sought to kill him because of what he preached even though Jeremiah was the prophet. Samuel the Lamanite wasn’t part of the priesthood. He was called to prophesy at a time when the Nephite priesthood would not do it.

Isaiah was murdered by being sawed in half. Jeremiah was put to death by stoning. Ezekiel, Micah, Amos, Habakkuk, Zechariah, and many more untold prophets were all murdered by the priesthood because they dared to call the priesthood out on their idolatry.

All that I’ve said above is not against the teachings of Jesus. Please consider the parable of the two sons,333 The parable of the absent landlord,334 and the parable of the marriage feast.335 That triad of parables were in response to the question of priesthood authority, and all have to do with the kingdom of heaven circumventing the establishment.

You may remember the following two quotes from earlier. I didn’t comment on them because it was part of my narrative. I was using them when I was contrasting their teachings with the “seek and ye shall find” teachings of Jesus. I would like to comment on them now.

When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, he will give it to his prophet not to some Tom, Dick, or Harry Do you suppose that when the Lord has his prophet on the earth, that he is going to take some round-about means of revealing things to his children? That is what he has a prophet for.336

How can President Lee misunderstand the teachings of Jesus so grossly if Jesus is supposed to be leading the church through him? My question for President Lee is: what if there is to be anything in perfect concordance with what the Lord has taught, yet it still rises above the old laws which you and your fellows have maintained as infallible and doctrine indispensable for salvation that must be preserved from the Old Testament? What if a new level of truth comes to light which didn’t originate from the head of the priesthood as happened time and time again in the scriptures? Just like the Pharisees and priests, scribes and elders, would President Lee be too proud to accept it? How is his statement any different from the view of the Sanhedrin at the time of Jesus? Why does he fear truth that he himself hasn’t revealed? President Lee and his peers do not seem to understand that truth is truth, no matter where it comes from. From my perspective, that quote makes him sound like a conceited Pharisee, not a true disciple of Jesus.

It is more apparent to me, contrary to what Harold B. Lee said, for any big change that needs to happen, apparently the more common way God does it is to call someone outside of the priesthood of pride who is humble enough to be able to accept the change. I can imagine Jesus saying to president Lee’s face:

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?337

Here is the other quote I mentioned earlier but didn’t comment on:

“When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures.”338

At the time I heard the above quote in conference, I didn’t know why, but something within me squirmed. This “apostle of Jesus” misunderstands the teachings of Jesus and has yet to know what it means to be born of the Spirit. The scriptures may be a decent tool to serve as a springboard to begin your search for God, but Jesus would never limit you like that. May I show you what I think Jesus would say? (which is in perfect harmony with his “seek and ye shall find” teaching):

You must cease to seek for the word of God only on the pages of the olden records of theologic authority. Those who are born of the spirit of God shall henceforth discern the word of God regardless of whence it appears to take origin. Divine truth must not be discounted because the channel of its bestowal is apparently human. Many of your brethren have minds which accept the theory of God while they spiritually fail to realize the presence of God. And that is just the reason why I have so often taught you that the kingdom of heaven can best be realized by acquiring the spiritual attitude of a sincere child. It is not the mental immaturity of the child that I commend to you but rather the spiritual simplicity of such an easy-believing and fully-trusting little one. It is not so important that you should know about the fact of God as that you should increasingly grow in the ability to feel the presence of God.339

Those who sincerely seek truth can find truth no matter whence it may come. To say that truth can only come from the priesthood goes against the teachings of Jesus and sounds more like the ideals of the Pharisees. I remind you that the Pharisees, many who were in the Jewish priesthood, routinely said that Jesus was a deceiver:

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.340

And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.341

Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?342

We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.343

How is that different from these leaders calling the heralds of truth on the Internet deceivers? The dissemination of truth is admirable by Internet sites like mormonthink.com or cesletter.com. What do the creators of sites like that stand to gain by spreading lies? All they stand to gain is the satisfaction of dispersing the truth, much like Jesus, who did it with no desire for a reward. On the other hand, what does the church stand to loose if any lies it harbors are unveiled? It stands to lose ten percent of your income.

Knowledge Precedes Obedience

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.344

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.345

“Obedience is the first law of heaven.”346

There is a blatant contradiction between the last quote of many leaders of the church, and the preceding quotes of Jesus himself. Which is the first commandment? Is it Love or is it Obedience? As a follower of Jesus, I choose to take the side of Jesus.

Love supersedes obedience, because when you truly love God and your neighbor, all of the laws that require blind obedience become irrelevant, no effort needs to be made to do right: it comes naturally because of love. The priority for obedience is repression, but the priority for love is freedom.

The Kingdom of Heaven was a major teaching of Jesus.347 I can safely say that the commandment of the Kingdom of Heaven is this:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.348

His commandment is singular. How can anything else be placed above the sole commandment of Jesus? If Joseph F. Smith and everyone after him have preached anything that is in contrary to the teachings of Jesus, whose side does that put them on?

Pharisees were sticklers for every little law. If you would have asked a scribe or Pharisee the question of which is the first of all commandments before Jesus had answered, I bet that most of them would have answered “obedience.” Our leaders are more like the scribes and Pharisees of old.

Jesus:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.349

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.350

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.351

President Monson:

“There is no need for you or for me, in this enlightened age when the fulness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth. A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide—even obedience. A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.352

This is another blatant contradiction between the last quote of many leaders of the church, and the preceding quotes of Jesus himself. President Monson says that we have a fullness, contradicting what the Book of Mormon teaches. I am still aghast and sickened by that statement by President Monson. This prophet, seer, and revelator said in General Conference that there is no need to seek out new truth because we already have a fullness of the gospel! It shocked me so much to hear that I remember exactly where I was when I heard him say it. I remember that President Hinckley said in the interview “we don’t need much revelation.” Both said these things when we most definitely have a paucity of clarity in the scriptures and canonized promises for more. Practically every passage in the scriptures lacks clarity and can be misconstrued – even the newer scriptures, but these “living seers” say we have a fullness!

Which side of this conceptual divide is the truth? Is it that we should seek and ask, and we will find and receive? Or is it that we should obey instead of seeking truth on our own? The requirement of seeking truth by obedience shows a fear of what might be found. The invitation to ask questions is fearless and it welcomes anything that might be found Just as I did with the first commandment, I am taking the side of Jesus again. As followers of Jesus, we should rely on his teachings, not those who contradict him.

These contradictions cause me to lose trust in the modern prophets, seers and revelators. What nonsense! They see nothing! They reveal nothing! They fear revealing anything! If President Monson does not have an appetite for truth-seeking, then he also has no love for truth. If he had a love for truth, he would be honest about everything he knows. The president and prophet is dishonest if he withholds the truth, especially the truth that is embarrassing to him. It is a shame that he and his companions have the fruits dominators and liars. I can envision Jesus saying this to President Monson’s face in response to the quote above:

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.353

Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.354

The fact that he teaches that we have no need to seek new truth proves that he does not have a living relationship with Jesus, because the spirit of Jesus, which he sent after his resurrection, is the Spirit of Truth.355 If he hinders others from seeking truth, he stifles their growth. He does not seek the kingdom of heaven himself. He shuts it up and impedes his followers from seeking it. If others who have had his priesthood office of prophet-president had that same attitude then what good is that priesthood office? If he does not have what I hold dear about what makes a prophet a prophet, then what good is he? If salt should lose its savor, what good is it?356

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.357

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.358

I have “let it alone this year also” for most of my life. But the tree has never born fruit. And now, there is no wonder that no new truth is ever revealed: he says he has no intention of even seeking it. With what President Hinckley and Joseph F. Smith said, maybe they’re all just too lazy to seek it, because seeking truth and gaining inspiration through the Spirit as we all have to do it takes effort. It’s so much easier for them to say, “All is well in Zion! We have a fullness!”359

President Monson prescribed, “A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient.” I fulfilled his prescription throughout my childhood, on my mission, and for decades thereafter. I obeyed as perfectly as my fallible self could; which is no small feat with stringent mission rules. No new answers came. As I studied, pondered, and prayed, even in full obedience, only more questions came. I know from first-hand experience that obedience does not grant new truth. All obedience did was to teach me to divert the God-given sovereignty of my own volition to an authority that made the rules. I learned through this experience that it is sincerity, open-mindedness, and disobedience to authority which helps find truth. I learned that the command of authority does not grant truth, it is the other way around; Truth has intrinsic authority.

They must find it hard to take Truth for authority who have so long mistaken Authority for Truth.360

Why does the leadership need to stress obedience as a means for finding truth instead of inviting us to sincerely seek knowledge as Jesus did? If they are so engrossed with their idea that obedience brings about knowledge, why do they seek to ignore or omit the teachings of Jesus? Wouldn’t it be disobedience to the counsel of Jesus if they do not heed the teachings of Jesus about sincere truth-seeking? Wouldn’t it be hypocrisy if they stress obedience above all, yet in doing so they honor Jesus only by name361 and do not abide by his teachings? In like manner, the Pharisees were never enlightened by their strict obedience, it only caused them to be closed-minded to the new ideas Jesus freely provided. It only made them want to get rid of him.

Truth speaks for itself. Those that have truth have no reason to fear anyone finding more truth. Maybe they stress obedience because if people sincerely search for truth, they just might find it! The only reason why I can see anyone telling anyone else to not seek truth and to just obey would be because they have something to hide and they don’t want anyone to know the things that they are hiding. I can imagine Jesus repeating what he said before to them:

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.362

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.363

Surely those oppressive ideas from the “prophets seers and revelators” are not coming from Jesus. Jesus was against oppression and the occult, as a great portion of what he taught freedom from oppression through truth.364 They are asking us to blindly obey, just like the scribes and Pharisees of old, who “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”365, putting above all the obedience of the relatively unimportant things while ignoring that which truly matters.

Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Obedience is doing what you are told no matter what is right.366

Morality and Obedience are not related. In the above quote, they are posed as complete opposites. Doing what you are told, no matter what is right means you relinquish your integrity and responsibility and are submissive to oppressive domination by an authority. That kind of obedience to an authority has never been a virtue and “just following orders” has never been a valid excuse. On the other hand, a loving god does not go against his creation of free will to oppress anyone. It is only man-made religion or man-made establishments that oppress. I can imagine Jesus repeating more to them:

Woe unto you, Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.367

Why put so much stress on obedience as a source of knowledge when one of the many scriptures of “ask and ye shall receive” is the thing that inspired Joseph Smith to ask in the first place? If obedience were Joseph’s priority for gaining knowledge, he would have never sought, nor would he have asked. In a way, what President Monson said was not only a direct contradiction to Jesus, but likewise directly contradicts the values of Joseph Smith, founder of the church he leads.

Contrary to the “obedience begets knowledge” doctrine, I would like to put forth my understanding of how knowledge works with obedience. Once you have encountered real truth, you naturally and willingly use it to guide your decisions because you know it is true. On the other hand, when you force yourself to obey without a full understanding, it is extremely difficult: you falter and fail because it is not part of your core understanding. When you have knowledge of the truth, following it is not difficult to let it influence your decisions. In fact, it is quite natural. That is why Christ said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”368 This is what it means to become led by the Spirit of Truth. Following its promptings is not hard at all, it is just the natural course of being led by truth and wisdom. The Spirit should always be in compliance with truth and wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong, obedience has its place in many occasions, but never as a precursor to knowledge. Obeying the law “do not kill” must be preceded by a knowledge of what life is and a respect for life which that knowledge gives. Once a person learns to have a respect, honor, and even reverence for human life, obedience of that law is natural and takes no effort.

Let us avoid paradoxes, shall we? It is the work of deceivers who wield authoritarian power to tell people that obedience is the most important law. Obedience in itself can’t be a law without other laws to obey, so how can it come before other laws? Obedience must come after knowledge and wisdom and after there are other laws to obey.

President Monson claims, as many other have, that we have a fulness of the gospel and that we need no more revelation. Does he truly believe that we have a fullness of the gospel?

I would have to say that President Monson is too complacent in his station. He is saying “all is well in Zion”.

And others will he [the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.372

Commandments

Neither Be Ye Called Master

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.373

There is no need for a command in all things. Those who need to be compelled to good living are slothful and not wise. Adherence to outwardly observable commands give an appearance of righteousness, and that is its only reward.374

For some reason the “obedience is the first law of heaven” is taught by those who claim to prophets. Such a platitude is a blatant contradiction to the teachings of Jesus. In fact, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees who stressed obedience to every trivial thing.

When I meet Jesus at the end of this life, and he asks me, “so what did you choose to do in your life?” I don’t want to answer that I did everything that I was commanded to do, only to have him to answer something like this:

You did all that you were told to do? Why did you bury your talent in the earth?375 I created you as a volitional, creative being for a reason. It is godlike to be creative: to make your own decisions. God is a volitional, creative being, and you threw that gift away when you chose not to choose by electing to be subject to the domination of others. There is no reward in doing what you’re told except appeasing the authority. I need you to be creative! If I wanted to create a machine, I would create a machine! You could have created so much more good with your free agency.376

Here is another platitude that I have seen on many refrigerators with a picture of Jesus:

I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.

Oh the irony! Jesus never said any such thing. What a horrible imposition for anyone to say that as a teaching of Jesus. That silly pseudo-quote is also a blatant contradiction to his teachings.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.377

Jesus never said it would be hard, he said he would give you rest. That is because, as I have said, when you are truly born of the Spirit, it is no longer difficult to do what is right. Those who are born of the Spirit do not need rules and bylaws in order to do Father’s will. They are self-governing. Those who are born of the Spirit naturally do his will, because their will aligns with him. Their will aligns not because they are forcing or sacrificing their will to align, but because through love they actually genuinely desire the same thing which God desires.

I do not believe that we need to be commanded in everything. In fact, in relation to spiritual things, I do not believe that we need to be commanded at all. The only commands worth anything are secular laws which protect the rights and property of others. I wish to make my own righteous decisions by my own free will and choice. I do not need some shameless authority tell me what I should and should not do. I want to choose because my will as a son of God is naturally good. I do not want to choose because I’m afraid of the threats that authority claims will befall me if I do not obey.

True religion is not to become a machine which takes commands and outputs results. True religion is becoming one with God by your own free will, because you will naturally aspire to do good as his child.

The true value of choice emerges when you choose by your own free will, without encumbrance by any other authority, power, or duty. You gain the true intrinsic award fro your choice, because it came from within. When you choose to enslave your will and chose because you are commanded or through duty, you reap the reward of subjugation, enslavement, and throw away the most precious talent that God gave you: your sovereign mind.

A red flag raises in my mind when those who should know the will of God proclaim that all must devoutly follow their every command. That is a gross contradiction because, if God is the creator of free will, he would not work to thwart his own creation. If God wanted to create mindless obedient robots, then that is what he would have created. But he didn’t; he created fully volitional beings. There is empirical evidence that he created all of us as volitional beings, yet there are those who say that he is The Lord, a ruler on high that issues commands for his minions to follow. In doing so, they contradict that evidence and they vainly use his name to become the master of others. Jesus understood this when he issued the charge to neither be any master, nor to follow any master.378

Word of Wisdom

I can’t help drawing parallels that, just like Pharisees of long ago, today there seems to be a command for practically everything, even for things which are inherently not a command in their name, like The Word of Wisdom. Even when it specifically stipulates:

not by commandment or constraint…379

The Word of Wisdom is essentially good, don’t get me wrong. However, its requirement as a commandment and a law turns those who require it into the same kind of people as the Pharisees, “which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel,” stressing about the most trivial laws as being imperative to salvation.380

The hallmark of the Pharisees was that they prided themselves on their perfect strict obedience to all of the Levitical laws as dictated by the scribes, including the food regulations and ritual washing of hands and dishes between the courses of a meal. To the Pharisees, strict obedience to all of the petty rules was religious rituall381 To them, obedience to those rules were imperative to salvation. They gawked and gasped at Jesus’ rebellion to their rules, and he even did it even while he was a guest in their houses.

The Pharisees’ stress upon indispensable outward petty rules is not unlike Heber J. Grant’s redefinition of the Word of Wisdom into the trendy laws of prohibition ideas of his time. The Word of Wisdom in canonical scripture declares that it is not a commandment, nor a constraint. Despite that declaration, it was Heber J. Grant who required strict obedience of the Word of Wisdom as a standard of worthiness for a temple recommend. A recommend has become a required benchmark for worthiness to enter into the Celestial Kingdom. We can thank Heber J. Grant for helping make the bylaws of the church of Jesus more Pharisaical.

Let us talk about wine. How do we purport to enforce the Word of Wisdom as we do, when Jesus himself openly rebelled against those kinds of rules? If Jesus lived today, I can easily envision him ignoring the Word of Wisdom. Jesus is upheld as the earth’s singular perfect man, but he drank wine regularly and routinely disobeyed the Pharisaic law. You cannot augment perfection. I see irony in that Jesus, who was a perfect man, would not qualify for a temple recommend. He would not be allowed to enter in what is supposed to be his house.

You cannot use the argument that the wine Jesus drank was fresh grape juice. He did not like fresh grape juice. In one of his parables, he specifically said the older wine is better:

No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.382

What he drank was real, fermented wine. Unfermented grape juice is an anachronism because before Pasteur lived, it could not have been preserved more than a day or two. The juice from pressed grapes starts fermenting as soon as the skin has been broken. The outside of the grape’s own skin has symbiotic bacteria that protects the grapes while on the vine.

Jesus turned water into wine as his first miracle. It was no trivial amount of wine, nor was it cheap wine. It was a great amount of the very best wine for a party, better than the good wine they had at first:

And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.383

It wasn’t only that Jesus drank wine only occasionally, he drank it a lot. He admitted that people called him a gluttonous winebibber:

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!384

Wine may have been one of the world’s first medicines. Ancient Egyptian Papyri and Sumerian tablets dating back to 2200 BC detail the medicinal role of wine, making it the world’s oldest documented human-made medicine.385 Paul advised that wine should be used for its medicinal properties:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.386

If wine were so evil as to impede the highest exaltation, then why did Jesus often use wine, wine bottles, vines, vineyards, and wine presses to illustrate spiritual ideas in his parables? Of eating practices being trivial to salvation, Jesus said:

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.387

There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.388

And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.389

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.390

The law of Moses commanded to not eat leaven bread during the passover,391 but Jesus said to no longer beware of leaven bread because what you eat doesn’t really matter. He said to instead beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees – the guys who required adherence to strict health code standards and controlled all other aspects of life in great detail. He also had a deeper meaning with that: to beware of all of the doctrines of the pharisees.

There is more of an inherent reward in swearing off wine by your own discretion and not by obedience to the stringent command of someone else.

Sacrifice and Consecration

There is a law of sacrifice and a connecting law of consecration which we all receive by swearing an oath to sacrifice all, even our own lives, and in connection with that, sacrifice all of our time, talents, and everything which we have or will have to the church for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Consider this inspired quote about being asked to sacrifice your life:

A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue.392

That quote is true, and in my view it does not contradict the following quote, which is also true, and which I will try to differentiate below.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.393

While the law of sacrifice seems to intend to be higher than the meaningless, murderous, idolatrous blood sacrifice of the Old Testament, it is still not in harmony with the teachings of Jesus on two points:

The Doctrine of Fear

Sacrifice is still a primitive law, born of fear, which belongs in the man-made religion of the Old Testament. The motivation to sacrifice is not born of love, it is born of duty. Acting in compliance with duty implies that you are compelled and are thus missing the thrill of choosing to give and serve as a friend.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.394

The subject in that parable serves because it is his friend, even when it is inconvenient. Jesus teaches to love and serve as a friend. In the context of the “greater love” quote above, he gave his disciples his new commandment of loving one another:

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.395

To mindlessly give because of submission to commands, traditions, or social requirements is to be a slothful servant. Conformity is the reward for those things. Sometimes the reward is atrocity. The higher ideal of Jesus transcends all convictions of duty and invites you to let friendship and love inspire you to help others. Loving service for a friend is not a sacrifice. Jesus didn’t teach the lesser law of motivation by duty, fear, or reluctant sacrifice. He instead rebuked those who let duty blind themselves from seeing new truth. Doing good things for your neighbors through love is the essence of the gospel of Jesus. If you choose to obey the will of others out of duty, even if they vainly do it in the name of God, you have not fully exercised your freedom to choose. God does not want you to do his will out of oaths and obligation, he wants you to do it out of sincerity and love. He does not want you to mindlessly obey, he wants you to do it because you genuinely choose.

Ayn Rand and Jesus do not contradict because they’re talking about entirely different things. If you read what Jesus in said in context, he called his disciples his “friends.” It is the love-born service to friends and even enemies which is the highest ideal.

That is the ideal that inspires terrorists to hijack planes and crash them into buildings. That is the ideal of those who terrorize, murder, and go to war for their religion. A law of sacrifice facilitates that villainy and savage brutality.

Contrarily, someone who out of love gives up his life so that his friend may live is not being murdered by his friend. I think Jesus was actually referring to his impending fate at the hands of the Sanhedrin, rather than giving a charge for suicide for his friends.

The Law of the Gospel

There is a relatively undefined “Law of the Gospel as contained in the Holy Scriptures,” which we also receive by oath.

First of all, the word “gospel” means good message, it does not mean law, and “law of the good message” makes little sense. How has a message of hope and peace become construed into law? The word “law” implies compulsion by penalties imparted by authority. In that context, it seems the penalties that were in the temple for over 150 years make more sense.

Second, where is the definition of the Law of the Gospel found in the Holy Scriptures, anyway? The only reference to the phrase Law of the Gospel is found in Doctrine and Covenants,396 but its context has nothing to do with what is presented in the temple. I know of no entry in the canonical scriptures that lays out any stipulations of any such a law.

The words of the ceremony add to this non-existent law, “a charge to avoid all light-mindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed, the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other unholy and impure practice.”

What a silly and frivolous law, to avoid all light mindedness. Some say that this is reference to only sacred things, but that is not what it says. It says all light mindedness. Some people I know are incapable of anything but light mindedness. Along with that comes loud laughter. Everyone is guilty of breaking these absolutely silly oaths. To call these unholy and impure practices makes no sense at all.

“Taking the name of God in vain” is another of my pet-peeves. It not the use of taboo words or simple prayers in speech, it is using the name of God for vain purposes, which indicts every establishment of religion. It seems only Jesus and other sages like Lao-Tse, Confucius, Siddhartha Gautama, and Mahatma Gandhi, did not use their teachings for their livelihood and are not guilty of this crime.

“Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” is anti-Jesus because it goes against his teaching and example.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.397

If the church produces laws which are contrary to the morality of Jesus, how can it be the church of Jesus? Dallin H. Oaks said, “It is wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true.”398 I wonder if he realizes that Jesus disagrees with him. If an apostle of Jesus stands for principles that Jesus abhorred, how could he be a genuine apostle?

Jesus was often cheerful and spent time with children telling them stories. Jesus constantly rebuked the anointed priesthood. Jesus was regularly accused of blasphemy. It sounds like Jesus, who was a perfect man, did not adhere to any of those rules.

If we are to follow the example of Jesus, we too should be cheerful and get a good laugh every so often. If we follow the example of Jesus, we should call the anointed out on their bigotry or hypocrisy regularly. If we are to follow the example of Jesus, we too should proclaim the truth that all humankind are the children of God and the middle-man is no longer necessary.

The Kingdom of God is Within You

Many say that Jesus built his church. But the reality of the matter was quite the contrary. Jesus was a carpenter who may have even been able to physically built a church, but he never did. He did not build a church physically, nor socially, neither did he write any tenets nor creeds. Instead, Jesus declared, “My kingdom is not of this world.” If Jesus had intended to fulfill the Jewish prophecy, then his kingdom would be of this world. He would have sat on the throne of David, seized the reins of the theocratic government, expelled the oppressing foreign government, and brought peace to the entire world. He would have had to make his followers swear an oath of allegiance and be willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary in order to defend an earthly kingdom.

Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.399

The above shows that Jesus never sold the sacrifice of one’s life as an act of virtue. “General Joseph Smith” vainly used the name of Jesus to take up the sword to lead armies! Not only that, he committed treason against the United States. Newly uncovered minutes of the meetings of the Council of Fifty is an atrocity that Jesus would condemn.

How is it that we purport to require sacrificing everything, even our own lives if necessary, to an earthly establishment with the excuse of building up a Kingdom of God on earth when Jesus never had any intention of doing that, and never required it of his followers? Remember his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well?

Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.400

The Samaritan woman said that salvation was a racial inheritance of the Jews and their land, mountain (temple), and priesthood. Jesus countered that the hour was coming when all of that would be no longer necessary. Jesus said that those who truly worship God do it in spirit (within you) and truth (not myth), not as the Jews were doing. Jesus never intended to establish any outward kingdom of God on earth. Jesus said “The kingdom of God is within you:”

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.

And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.

For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.401

“The kingdom of God is within you” is probably one of the most profound teachings of Jesus, besides his teaching of the loving fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of every human, regardless of all classification. He said not to follow nor to go after anyone who says “The kingdom is there!” or “The kingdom is here!” He said , “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.” That means it isn’t a physical kingdom, nor is it social – you can’t see it, you can’t find it, because it is entirely spiritual. Jesus never established a physical kingdom of any kind on earth, nor did he ever intend to. There is absolutely no way that he wanted an earthly kingdom to be ruled by fear through a tyrannical priesthood oligarchy of men. There is no way any tyrannical, secretive priesthood could ever represent his “kingdom of God is within you.”

Had it been the object or the intention of Jesus Christ to establish a new religion, he would undoubtedly have written the system himself, or procured it to be written in his life-time. But there is no publication extant authenticated with his name. All the books called the New Testament were written after his death.402

The scriptures above destroy the premise of any possibility for an established church, right from Jesus’ mouth. To say that Jesus is at the head of any earthly establishment which represents his kingdom directly contradicts his teachings. To require dutiful sacrifice to drive the building up of any establishment on earth is doubly offensive to the teachings of Jesus. The message of Jesus was one of spiritual emancipation from the overcontrol of a religion of fear.

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.403

When Jesus told rich men to sell all they have, give to the poor, and come follow me, he was not telling them to give all they have to him nor to any establishment for the building up of his kingdom. Selling all you have and giving it to the poor is not consecration to a kingdom. Jesus was showing an aversion to economic materialism and the selfish search for riches, not condoning a social order of communism. Consecration entails having all in common in a society.

The kingdom of God is not social, it is spiritual. The yoke of Jesus is easy, and his burden is light. The laws of sacrifice and consecration are heavy, burdensome, and oppressive. The gospel or “good news” of Jesus was that mankind could be free of the oppression of the old sacrificial law, and yet here we are, bringing it back.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.404

Those in the upper echelons of the church do not lift a finger. They live upon the backs of widows and millions who are less fortunate than they. Many of those who live on the funds of the church are charged to not pay tithing. The rest of us have to work for a living. I’ll talk more about this later.

The requirement for strict obedience to command is a burden grievous to bear. It takes no intelligence nor sovereignty of will to obey. Even dumb animals of burden can learn to strictly obey. Requiring obedience to prove virtuous living indicates that those who seek to dominate are oppressors, and those who mindlessly follow are choosing to not think for themselves. Jesus observed that humans have the gift of critical thinking and can be fully autonomous to do good from their core and by their own free will. It is a tragedy to throw away the very thing that makes us human to beastly subservience.

Those who enjoy autocratic dominance routinely reiterate their self-imposed authority from the pulpit. They elect themselves behind closed doors. They establish every policy and doctrine in secret. Their domination is against the the tenets prescribed in scripture. Much like our free country, obedience should be in the reverse.

Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question – Does a man’s being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A man may be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the president of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the president of the Church, as long as he lived: the people chose to have it so. He always filled that responsible station by the voice of the people. Can you find any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of the Priesthood were committed to Joseph, to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth, and were not to be taken from him in time or in eternity; but when he was called to preside over the Church, it was by the voice of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice.405

As Brigham Young says, there should be no revelation that appoints presidents of the church. The comical votes held in the church are more of a show of devotion than they are a vote. If someone dares to vote against the decrees of the tyrants, they are told to talk to their leaders. If they do not conform, they threaten their membership in the church.

Scriptures and bylaws of Doctrine and Covenants prescribe that the leaders of the church should obey the common consent of the body of Christ.406

When they make decisions for anything without the consent of the body, they exercise unrighteous dominion.407

The Pharisees strictly observed and fulfilled all outward ordinances as dictated by the scribes. They were not driven by good works that come from the heart: things like mercy, sincerity, honest vulnerability, love. They defined goodness as obedience.

These ought you to have done, and not leave the other undone.408

Jesus was speaking directly against their outward observances saying that commands of the scribes burdensome on the people.

According to Christ’s teaching the good are those who are meek and long-suffering, do not resist evil by force, forgive injuries, and love their enemies; those are wicked who exalt themselves, oppress, strive, and use force. The wicked will always dominate the good, and will always oppress them.409

The Pharisees abuse the honest in heart. They abuse those that live up to their promises. They establish rituals that require their followers to commit themselves to give all that they have to an earthly kingdom rule over them and oppress them.

They are pharisites, pharisee parasites. They latch on and feed on the innocent, naive, and those who need the comfort of an authoritative figure in their lives. They sell them apparent goodness in the name of obedience to an oppressive father, who they say had an exemplary son who perfectly obeyed.

These pharasitical men do not make the church great. People have inherent love and goodness without them. In stressing strict obedience as the will of God, those men subject his innocent children to their dominance. They devour the very living of vulnerable souls.

The law of sacrifice, the constant stress for obedience, and the law of consecration are institutionalized oppression. These conjoint laws should be called the internalized laws of subjugation to other men. These laws are not teachings of Jesus. It is suspicious that we must consecrate everything to an organization with the leadership of men, instead of God. They equate their volatile leadership as the will of God They only admit mistakes when it is the fallibility of a dead predecessor.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.410

Truth

Emotion

For all of my life, I was taught that feelings and emotional responses were forms of revelation. This has been difficult for me because I am a thinker more than I am a feeler. Feelings have ever eluded my understanding. I think that I am only now beginning to understand my feelings.

When I was a child, my mother taught that a burning sensation in my heart meant that I was feeling the Spirit. I remember her telling me that if I should feel that during testimony meeting, it is the Spirit telling me that I should go up to the stand and bear my testimony.

Every fast day, the thought would come of the possibility of going up in front of everybody to speak. Every time, I would feel a burning inside. I did as I was told and got up to regurgitate the things that I had been taught. I did that every month for about a year.

I soon realized that I could avoid the burning sensation. I only had to avoid the thought of going up to the stand to speak. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to avoid the thought, the burn would come, and I would go. As I aged, I learned to avoid the thought entirely.

I have since discovered much about my quiet personality. I now understand what that burning in my bosom was. I have had the same burning feeling in many other situations. I know that it was not the Spirit of God commanding me to bear my testimony, it was fear and adrenaline instead. When I think about talking in front of any group, my heart begins to race and I feel the burning sensation of fear and nervousness. This is a natural response for my personality. That deep and powerful burning was indeed unmistakable and undeniable, but it wasn’t when I was presented with truth.

I remember praying fervently, for as long as I could stand to be on my knees, to acquire a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I did this many times throughout my youth, and many more times on my mission. I longed, with all my heart, to have the Spirit manifest the truth of it unto me.411 I had heard so many people testifying that burning or warmth they felt was so undeniable, so unforgettable, that nothing could ever change their mind to the contrary. I was confused that the feeling that would come sometimes was shame and guilt, probably because I feared that by having to ask the question at all, I would become a doubter; that by doubting I would not fit in because I would be unable to genuinely say that “I know” when called upon to bear my testimony.

I hate to say it, but no undeniable manifestation that would vanquish all doubt came for me. I figured that maybe it was because others are more sensitive to feelings and emotions than I am. It was difficult for me to understand why feelings could ever be an evidence for a witness to truth. I rationalized that I had always known that it is true, so the Spirit didn’t need to give me confirmation, and that the inspiration of that thought was the answer from the Spirit. I relied on the challenge to gain a testimony by bearing it.412 Sometimes that seemed to work, but deep inside I felt uneasy that lying could ever be a method for becoming witness and gaining a testimony. I could not admit that I didn’t know for sure because I feared the indignity of doubting. I subconsciously felt hypocritical on my mission because I was teaching everyone to use a method that had never worked for me.

Sometimes a feeling of awe, amazement, and wonder are said to be a confirmation of truth by the Spirit. A feeling of awe is unmistakable. I remember the awe I felt while I read the Book of Mormon. Although it did not come in prayer when I followed Moroni’s promise, for many years I depended upon the idea that maybe the feeling of awe was my spiritual confirmation that it is true.

I have since come to the realization that feelings of awe and wonder can come from a great many other sources that are not true. Many fairy tales and fantasy stories bring me the same euphoria as does the Book of Mormon. The elves in the Lord of the Rings are particularly captivating and marvelous to me. Many concepts presented in science fiction are also particularly awesome. I remember the wonder and amazement that came from hearing “That’s no moon; it’s a space station.” Awe is the same sublime feeling that comes from looking up at the stars and wondering at the immensity of the universe. That concept is explicitly used in the song, How Great Thou Art. I think rapture is mislabeled as the peaceful warmth of the Spirit. It is an imposition that awe has to do with encountering or proving truth.

If I ever had a strong feeling about my belief, it was when I contemplated losing it, especially when I would encounter someone who took an offensive stance against it. That feeling was a strong sense of uneasiness. It was the same feeling I have experienced when I have participated in any heated argument. It was an anticipatory grief that would come with the threat of losing my belief. It was a fear that all of my devotion could have any possibility of being in vain.

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.413

I very rarely cry. I have never responded with that emotion to testimony meeting, hymns, baptisms, blessings, or anything like that. I remember my mother and many other people crying in response to those things. With a cracky voice, they usually declared that the Spirit was testifying of truthfulness.

I remember watching the movie Legacy at the lavish Joseph Smith Memorial building. There were times in that movie that made me cry. Since I was feeling emotion, that was a big occasion for me. I thought that I was finally experiencing the Holy Ghost testifying of truthfulness. I later discovered that the story is fiction.

I rationalized that the Holy Ghost was testifying of the movie’s good message. There is a deep problem with that conclusion, though. If the Holy Ghost can testify of only the concepts presented in stories through emotions, then that could mean that the Book of Mormon might not be historical.

The story and concepts presented in many other fictional stories have given me strong emotions. The Hunger Games might be an unexpected example, because that story is quite disturbing. The indecencies in that story are not unlike the wars, devastation, and depravity in the Book of Mormon. In some ways The Hunger Games is less obscene. For example, it lacks cannibalism and rape.414 Good still prevails despite great difficulty, while the Book of Mormon is a tragedy.

Lies make you feel good inside. It seems that people who are obstinately ignorant, who cling to their belief even though it has been objectively and factually disproved, show the same signs as those who have a drug addiction. They are addicted to the euphoric feeling of believing comfortable things.

As I have tried to teach myself how to discern truth from error, it did not help that I had been deceived into taking comfort from my belief in lies, that the comfort proved them to be true. In the same vein, I mistook the feelings of pain and anxiety that come from cognitive dissonance as proof that Satan was influencing me.

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This example may be overused, but I have to bring it up. I firmly believed in Santa Claus as a child. People testified to me that Santa is real. I had reliable evidence that Santa is real. The gifts and half-eaten cookies are real. The feelings of joy were so strong when I thought about him. I could see, touch, and even smell Santa because I sat on Santa’s lap when he would visit. He was really nice. Someone so nice couldn’t possibly be an impostor. My brothers often said they had just seen his elf emissary, Ichabod, who was ever watching, and who would report to Santa whether I was naughty.

I relied on canonical scriptures about Santa that reveal many details about the loving old man, like The Night Before Christmas. There are many movies that persuaded me to never doubt that Santa is real. I enjoyed singing the hymns about Santa. I knew that the jolly old man could descend a chimney, because we sang about it. I knew the reasons why I had better not pout or cry. I loved the truly admirable concept of being good for goodness sake. How could there be so much literature and song be if it were all a lie?

As my ability to reason advanced, so did the apologetics. There are answers for everything that seems unreasonable. Santa actually had two days to deliver presents, because of the international date line. Santa’s magical nose can not only make him fit in a chimney, it can also bend time. Later on, I was told that all I had to do was believe, because belief makes Santa real.

As wonderful and fulfilling as myths are, they are still only myths. I’d love to return to those comforting beliefs of my childhood, but I can’t unsee truth.

If I were asked to identify any feeling that should be extended by the spirit of God, I would call it peace. Peace coincides with truth, but not in the way you might think.415 Peace can come from truth, but truth cannot come from peace. Encountering truth eventually brings peace, but truth usually hurts or makes you angry at first. In opposition to what the church teaches, truth is not comfortable; nor does it feel warm and fuzzy. It is a lie that is comfortable.

Though I held the idea for decades, I now know that there is no direct connection between truth and warm, happy feelings. My feelings, both good and bad, have betrayed me more instances than I can count.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.416

The word concrete is the best word that I can use describe how it feels to encounter the truth. If you are stumbling around in the dark, and if you bump your head on a concrete wall, it hurts. The pain proves that it is absolutely true that the wall is there. You cannot walk through the truth. If you try to fight truth, it only hurts more, because the wall will not move. Peace comes from the acceptance that the wall is truly there.

Truth is more painful than it is euphoric, especially when you discover truth is the opposite to your cherished beliefs. If you remain obstinate when truth contradicts your belief, you as those who “taketh the truth to be hard, because it cuts them to the very center.”417 Many people avoid truth simply because it hurts.

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Finding truth but refusing its right to govern your wisdom invites delusion. You either become a hypocrite or retain your integrity.

When an honest man discovers he is mistaken he will either cease to be mistaken or he will cease to be honest.418

I still like to believe, as it says in the scriptures, that after Jesus left this earth after his resurrection, his spirit was poured out on all men. The scriptures say that was the Spirit of Truth.419 But instead of believing that only those who are righteous or religious can feel it, I believe it influences everyone on earth – even those who are not conscious of it. So many advancements have been made by honest seekers of truth, and the vast majority were not defenders of tradition or religion. The fact that the search for truth has expanded, and that so much advancement has been made after the life of Jesus, could be subtle evidence for that divine enticement for finding truth. The rate of truth finding seems to be following an exponential curve as more and more people become receptive to that divine gift.

I think that we are mistaken in thinking that the Spirit’s mission is to manifest the truth through emotions. I think that in reality, spiritual influences are not emotional responses, but rather more of an enticement to reach for an divine ideal, while never in the least infringing upon our right to complete volition. I don’t think there is anything divine about our emotions. Emotions are base physical responses of our animal instincts. If anyone feels any desire to seek out a greater understanding of reality, the Spirit of Truth is already doing its job.

Mission Dedication

My testimony on my mission is an elephant in the room that needs some attention. I was resolute as I testified on my mission, but my state of mind was different. Even though it was an essential precept in the missionary discussions, truth by proof of emotion was irrelevant to my own testimony and dedication on my mission.

Throughout my time there, I wholeheartedly believed I was in the right and all else was wrong. I was completely loyal and and faithful to the work I was called to do. I lived in denial. Any dissident thoughts to the work I was doing were almost compulsively suppressed.

The ideas I expressed above were there, but they were only subconscious. There are many reasons for this.

I stringently obeyed every rule to the best of my ability. I worked as hard as I could – with all of my heart, might, mind and strength, that I could stand blameless.420 The cultural pressure to return with honor is immense. I genuinely served, and the pursuit of honor contributed to my zeal. My job was to be a door-to-door salesman for God. As difficult as it was for me, I was fully invested in my job. I tried hard to meet quotas. I believed the doublespeak that statistics didn’t matter, but then they did matter because they had to be reported. Salesmen are often extremely persuasive as they attest to a product that they do not necessarily buy themselves. I was so inured that I was quite unaware that I had quelled practically every facet of my personality and individuality for two years. When I came home, at Stake Conference, I literally pounded the pulpit in conviction. In my blind certainty, I pridefully vowed to the Stake that I would never become one of the returned missionaries that fall away.

I realize now that my will was broken in the Missionary Training Center. I was taught to lose myself in the work,421 I was taught that an obedient missionary is a happy and successful missionary. I was trained in many manipulative sales techniques. I repressed my reactions that the sly techniques could be immoral to do in the name of God. My strict obedience suppressed all independent thought and self. Because of obedience, my duty became my identity.

I am not an emotional person at all, but in the first two days at the Mission Training Center, I found myself crying at night as I sensed my individuality and identity slipping away. That was one of the singular times in my adulthood that I have shed tears. I quickly forgot about those selfish nights as I lost myself in the work. The indoctrination of my mission had lasting effects. This suppression of my individual thoughts to subconsciousness continued for a couple decades after my mission. I have since discovered that I was victim to practically every brainwashing and mind control technique known to man during my mission. When you are brainwashed, you do not know that you are brainwashed. You fully believe that you are choosing by your own free will. Every single bullet point of Steven Hassan’s BITE model applied to my mission. BITE is an acronym for undue influence through Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotion. I will list each bullet point and how it applied to me later, in the Undue Influence section.

Faith and Delusion

In this section, and in practically all of the rest of my writings, when I use the words faith, truth, and doubt, I am using the words in respect to their relationship with concrete reality. I am not referring to their alternate meanings of devotion, faithfulness, being true, dissension, or anything to do with allegiance to a culture or tribe. In my mind, the validity of cultural devotion will never gain the level of trust that I have in the reality of truth.

As a child I was taught from scripture that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.422 Paul’s words were confusing, as they often are. Faith is an abstract concept and cannot be the substance of another abstract concept. The evidence of things not seen is not faith, it is science. I was taught that faith is not a perfect knowledge, but a hope for things not seen which are true.423 Alma’s words seemed to qualify as a better definition of faith, but that definition has implications. This section explores those implications.

Treating faith as a class of belief is the key. A dog is a mammal, but a mammal is not necessarily a dog. A cat is also a mammal, but a cat is certainly not a dog. In the same way, faith is a belief, but belief is not necessarily faith. Faith is a kind of belief. There are other kinds of belief which certainly are not faith.

By Alma’s definition, faith is a belief which is on the side of truth; because it is a belief which is true. Since faith is on the side of truth, we can detect the kind of belief which is the polar opposite to faith: it is a belief in something which is false. A belief in falsity is delusion. A belief becomes delusion when evidence exists which contradicts it, but the believer covers their eyes and ears424 and continues to believe in falsity; their belief is more important to them than reality.

Faith and delusion are dire enemies, even though both are a kind of belief. Since to possess either is to hold a belief, both are the opposite to unbelief. However, faith is in less opposition with unbelief than is delusion. Unbelief does not set itself up as an antagonist or even an enemy to faith, but unbelief may be very contrary to delusion. An unbeliever usually shows indifference or an apathy to faith – they don’t care about it. Unbelief is simply an understanding of reality that lacks any presumption or conjecture. An unbeliever does not care about faith because faith is incapable of contradicting with truth, facts, and reality. However, an unbeliever usually cares deeply about delusion, and sometimes goes to war against it.

It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error. But nature has not given to every one a talent for the purpose; and among those to whom such talent is given, there is often a want of disposition or of courage to do it.425

The deluded rarely, if ever, admit that their belief could be delusion. In fact, the deluded most often use the word faith to describe their deluded belief. They often think that their belief is true simply because they believe it and that truth is subjective; that truth can be different for different people. Some of the signs of delusion are found by the attributes of its consorts. Delusion is usually accompanied by certainty and ignorance. The more ignorant a person might be, the higher risk they have of being deluded, and the more they will be certain in their delusion.

The enemies of delusion are the allies of faith. Since faith is on the side of truth, its closest allies are uncertainty and doubt. You might ask, how could this possibly make sense? Don’t doubts threaten faith? I once thought that faith was simply a more certain belief, but it is not. Let me explain.

The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.426

Truth, that fairest gem,427 needs no defense. Truth is ever to be discovered, never invented. Truth needs no qualification from any despot or any established authority, nor should any authority ever define truth. Truth stands independently, on its own, by its own authority. Truth does not fear investigation or questioning, because they find more truth. Truth fears no lie. If truth and error grapple, truth will ever triumph in the end. Truth fears no doubt because doubts never pose any threat to truth. Truth needs no apology to justify its existence. Truth doesn’t take sides. Truth has no agenda. Truth has no need to sway opinion with propaganda. Truth ever wins without any spin.

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.428

Truth is not only fearless of doubt, it enslaves doubt as its servant. Doubt is the refining fire for truth. If truth is a sword, then that sword is wielded by doubt. Doubt is truth’s indomitable knight, seeking out and cutting down the belief in any lies which threaten the throne of truth. Doubt awakens and hastens when there is a discovery of any falsity in something that was previously believed to be true. Doubt vets falsity expeditiously. Doubt refines both truth and faith.

Uncertainty is also an ally of faith because it promotes humility and retains faith as a belief. Once faith becomes certain, it is no longer faith. Faith is never certain, yet a house of faith must be constructed upon a bedrock of truth,429 or it ceases to be faith. Faith only becomes certain in its metamorphosis into knowledge. If faith becomes certain without attaining knowledge, it cannot be faith any longer, so it becomes delusion. Faith is any belief based on truth. For example, it was faith, based on scientific knowledge, which was the driving factor behind John F. Kennedy’s declaration:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.430

If truth is light, then darkness must be mystery. Doubt in a belief comes as the result of the light of truth dispelling the darkness of mystery. Mystery seeks to enshroud everything it can in obscurity. Conversely, truth has no secrets, it hides nothing.431 Truth brightly shines, exposing what it finds upon the rooftops for all to see.432 When light shines into a dark, mysterious room and the truth of what was believed to be in that room is revealed to be false, doubt consoles the believer in their transition to truth.

Delusion would have the light be covered because light could reveal a contradiction to its belief. Delusion reveres, extols, and thrives in mystery. If falsity is ever discovered in belief, or if belief has any reason to doubt, then that belief loses its claim to faith. If the believer clings to that belief regardless of having been proven false, then that belief slides to the side of delusion.

A house of delusion is constructed upon the shifty sands of lies and ignorance.433 Delusion is willfully blind. Delusion has eyes, but it cannot see; ears, but it cannot hear.434 If facts come to light which disprove its belief, delusion will dodge them as if they were an infectious disease. If delusion fails to avoid and becomes infected by a disproving fact, it will cling to any apology it can find for its belief.435 The word apology comes from greek >apolog’ia, “speaking in defense.” Apology provides justification for a lie. It is often said that every lie needs ten more lies in its defense. But truth does not need any such defense. Truth only needs to be set free from any totalitarian despots who place their authority above truth, often employing mystery as their cloak.

They must find it hard to take Truth for authority who have so long mistaken Authority for Truth.436

The need for apology to explain away evidence is in itself is an evidence for delusion. Apology for evidence often shows a level of insanity to those who stand outside of the deluded bubble. It is delusion, not faith, which indicts doubt as criminal! Doubt’s sincerity sees truth and lies for what they are. Doubt is rarely insincere.

When it is asserted that certain facts should be hidden because they are not faith promoting, it actually means that they’re not delusion promoting. Facts promote faith, because not only can faith not contradict any fact, facts are the bedrock upon which faith can be built. It is delusion which creates propaganda to highlight only some truth to its advantage, as it subversively hides the truths which would damage what it vainly calls faith. It is delusion which clings to uncontested lies437 and misinformation which pose as alternative facts438 to support its interests. When any fact is hidden by anyone to promote what they wish others to believe, it is a tell-tale sign of delusion, and its purveyor seeks unrighteous dominion by highlighting only their half-truths.

Both faith and truth are not strengthened by any vain repetitions of their followers. Both stand on their own. Faith requires no community to strengthen it. Truth requires no one to believe in it. Truth will live on if everyone forgets it or if no one ever discovers it. On the other hand, delusion seeks society with those who share the same delusion to strengthen each other in their certainty.

Scientists do not meet every Sunday to testify, “I am firm in my faith that gravity is true! Gravity is my salvation, for without it, I would float into space! I know without a shadow of a doubt that goes up, must come down! We are all responsible to teach the theory of gravity to all, that by and through their faith in Lord Newton they might be saved, lest they perish from the chaos and even destruction by a universe without gravity! In the name of the Lord and Sir Isaac Newton, the author and finisher of our faith, Amen!” The idea that belief is required for salvation through the love of an infinite god is as nonsensical as having to believe that one must believe in gravity to be subject to it.

Recently, I was surprised to discover that there are still a great many people who believe that the earth is flat and that it does not orbit the sun. The apologetics that explain why the earth is flat are vast, regardless of the scientific evidence to the contrary. Some rely on the same scriptures which condemned Galileo for teaching the ideas of Copernicus, saying that round-earth theory is a conspiracy to discredit God’s word. They say NASA is a vast conspiracy. Pictures of the earth from space use camera tricks. Gravity is an illusion. The stars are placed statically in a rotating dome – the firmament. The Sun is a spotlight hanging from the same firmament. Yet, there are no apologetics to explain the fact that the earth is round. Hymns that strengthen round-earth belief are not needed. Neither is there any need for a community to strengthen the belief that the earth is round. There is only evidence which speaks for itself. The earth has ever been an oblate spheroid whether anyone believed it or not.

If someone stands and declares that they have a knowledge that something subjective or indefinite is true, then in that very declaration they have no claim to faith, because faith is a belief and not a knowledge. Since they declare that they know instead of believe, then their declaration is a lie. Their display of certainty shows evidence of delusion. The same evidence stands for someone who seeks to strengthen others by repeating any thoughtless groupthink439 that can be disproved by fact.

A friend of mine compared certainty to mental junk food. She said that it is comforting and convenient in a pinch, and it is tempting to reach for it all the time, but it shouldn’t be what we eat every day. People who don’t have our best interests at heart will sometimes tempt us by offering certainty. In politics, in weight loss plans, in investment through multi-level marketing and Ponzi schemes: all those who offer simple answers and explanations seem to win.440

Some of you may draw comfort through your Balm of Gilead: your certainty, from the following verse, as you read whatever I have to say in this entire paper. Believe me, I know, because for a long time it bolstered my certainty, too.

When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.441

That verse comforted me at times, but at other times, it troubled me. As I look back I can see that it actually scared me away from questioning and seeking knowledge. It taught me that knowledge and wisdom can be dangerous. Now I can see a false dichotomy, a non-sequitur, in its declaration that knowledge and wisdom can be foolishness.

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By my own experience with life, reality is the complete opposite. The greater crime is to claim wisdom without knowledge, wisdom without understanding, wisdom without experience, or even wisdom from anything that is demonstrably false. The reality is, when “they” are ignorant, they are obstinate, proud, and probably deluded. They defame wisdom for the haughtiness of their blind certainty and their condemnation of those who dare to question. They slander knowledge for any subversive ulterior motive imaginable.

On the contrary, it is actually wisdom that engenders humility. There is irony in how opposite reality is: if there is one thing I’ve noticed, it is that the more I wisdom I gain, the more I realize how little I know. This principle is known as one of the Socratic Paradoxes, which is summarized as this:

I know one thing: that I know nothing.442

The actual translation of Plato’s quote of Socrates is this:

I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.443

Socrates was no dumb bunny, a phrase my mother would say. In fact, he is lauded as having one of the greatest minds of all time, and the founder of Western philosophy. I marvel to think he predated Jesus by almost 500 years. While the Jews were fascinated with writing the egotistical mythology of their people which became the Old Testament, Socrates was establishing practices for critical thinking,444 solving problems of self-conscious existence and establishing the intrinsic value of virtuous living. Wisdom did not stifle Socrates in the least.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.445

The next verse raises another false dichotomy. How can being learned ever possibly be a contradiction to hearkening to the counsels of God? The god that I revere is omniscient. He is one and the same with knowledge, wisdom, and “being learned.” Could the wise, just and true counsels of God ever be incongruent with a knowledge of reality? It is almost as if they are trying to vainly use the name of God to dominate the wise. Ironically, the wise are effectively more godly than the vain impostors who work to dominate through subversion.

There are two sides to this dichotomy, and either one side or the other of this argument is delusion. Either the author thinks being learned is delusion, or the opposite is true, the counsels of God he presents are vain delusion. Either way, he loses because he cannot have both.

Truth is truth. Wisdom is wisdom. Knowledge is knowledge.  To say that truth is different for different people is delusion. To say that wisdom is foolishness is delusion. To say that knowledge is ignorance illustrates the senseless foolishness of whoever the author truly was.

War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!446

If someone is born ignorant, to parents that are ignorant, in a society that is ignorant, then ignorance is the norm. They live in ignorance and eventually die in ignorance. To this ignorant society, indoctrination is education, hypnotism is inspiration, criminals are leaders, and lies are truth, because their mind was never truly their own.447

It pains me to think that this sad scripture has caused anyone to become willfully ignorant: to close their eyes, to avoid learning, to subscribe to mystery, and to blindly obey. It is as if the very intent is to ensnare the deluded by keeping them in ignorance. It is a truly sad thing to witness those who are confidently ensnared in ignorance audaciously deriding and berating those who are sincerely seeking truth through their god-given faculties of mind.

After all is said and done, if anything, I have discovered:

Science

Science is a pursuit of truth by empirical evidence. Truth is truth, whether it is revealed or proven by evidence. The scriptures present an ancient understanding of the physical universe. Church leaders are making a big mistake when they rally their followers to do spiritual battle with swords and shields of the middle ages. New revelation that reveals nothing more than new ways of saying those same old medieval ideas is not new revelation at all.

If the prophets, seers, and revelators are who they say they are, they are supposed to fulfill the precedent set by their forebears to augment simple myths with new, in-depth, truthful ideas of God and reality, pushing the envelope with a deepened understanding of the physical universe. Instead, they evade reality while sincere truth seekers embrace it.

Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.

Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: “I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.”448

The quote above was originally coined by Stephen L. Richards, but President Monson has used it repeatedly, and has augmented the quote with the sassy word “so-called,” which expresses his view that the word science is not appropriate for what it actually is. This seems to have become a motto for President Monson, since he has repeated it in many of his talks.

I find myself unable to be inspired by this quote by President Monson. Those words have the horrid aftertaste of darkness, not light. They are not the words of a truth seeker, nor are they the words of a person who loves truth, nor are they the words of someone who has any desire to further the cause of truth, nor are they words of someone who will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. Those are the words of someone who is willfully blind to new truth – who even willfully desires error, if it aligns with the beliefs of his people.

Though Pharisees would say that sin is to transgress social mores and rules which they vainly claim are God’s rules, I do not think that is the essential definition of sin. The root of sin is not transgression: the simple outward disobedience of laws. I mentioned earlier that I believe that the essence of sin is to deliberately choose unreality. Error is not as bad as sin; a sincere person errs because of a lack of understanding, naïveté, gullibility, or ignorance of the truth; but when they are enlightened, they will adjust their mistake.449 Sin is to do exactly what President Monson wants us to do: overlook the light of truth in favor for what you want to be true instead. That reminds me of what the philosopher René Descartes, who dedicated his life to the pursuit of wisdom, said. He said that the cause of error lies in the will, not in the intellect. It is ironic to me that such a fine rebuttal predates what Monson said by about four centuries:

Whence, then, spring my errors? They arise from this cause alone, that I do not restrain the will, which is of much wider range than the understanding, within the same limits, but extend it even to things I do not understand, and as the will is of itself indifferent to such, it readily falls into error and sin by choosing the false in room of the true, and evil instead of good.450

Descartes said that the will causes error easily, especially in realms where you do not have a full understanding. Letting the will choose something to be true when the reality is yet unknown to you is dangerous. Willing something to be true while choosing to be blind to ample evidence against its truthfulness is the greater sin.

President Monson took the blue pill and wants us all to do the same. He would rather put on blinders and continue believing myths instead of knowing truths which have been proven by empirical evidence – facts – using “so-called science.”

Sure, science prescribes that theories come first, and theories vary widely, but it is impossible to search for truth if an idea has never been formulated in anyone’s mind. Theory is never accepted as ultimate knowledge until the evidence is verifiable by everyone, not just the hearsay, anecdotes, and platitudes that are the only evidences for belief. He is selling deliberate blindness as a virtue.451 This is the hallmark of unrighteous dominion.

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.452

He is urging everyone to live in a bubble where explanations of the physical universe are made through ancient fairy tales of men than seek true reality outside. He is saying that he has no desire to understand the processes of creation, and this lack of understanding them doesn’t matter to him, nor will it ever. He seems to be admitting that he is living with cognitive dissonance, but says he will never permit that dissonance to incite him to look beyond his belief in myths for a higher level of truth. Here I the thing that disgusts me most of all, because it makes him into a whited sepulcher: he is saying he doesn’t believe in a God which can and will reveal new truth to him, even in his position as a prophet! Again, he is shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men: he doesn’t go in himself, and he stands at the door keeping the sincere from entering also.453 In doing this, his sin is much more grave than mere transgression or error. What he is doing is sinning in the most essential sense. Because of his status – the highest position of influence of the church – his blatant disregard for truth-seeking by impeding others is more grievous, it is iniquity, depravity, and corruption.

Since he has such disregard for “sailing uncharted seas in search of truth,” I am willing to bet he hasn’t even asked God for answers. He says he has faith, but I fear he has never exercised faith enough to practice the following precept:

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.454

President Monson is unwittingly fulfilling Paul’s prophecy:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.455

President Monson asserts that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time. However, he forgets that you cannot have faith in something that is not true.456 Faith is not faith when it is based on untruth or when there are facts which disprove it. You can believe in falsity, but believing in falsity is not faith, it is delusion.

I am speaking of facts: for wherever the thing called a fact is a falsehood, the faith founded upon it is delusion.457

I talked earlier about faith versus delusion. Delusion and doubt can’t cooperate. Because faith is a belief which is true, and because doubt is the refining fire of truth, faith and doubt actually should exist in the same mind at the same time for the doubt to refine the beliefs into faith. If truth or fact gnaws at your beliefs, it’s time to seek a higher plane of beliefs.

Do not try to arrogantly fool yourself. If anyone cannot be intellectually honest and tries to fool themselves about truth, they lack integrity. They are deceitful, corrupt, and hypocritical. It saddens me that so many people would rather choose to believe a lie for “happiness and contentment.”

The things President Monson said in that quote derides every sincere truth-seeker in the church. What a mockery to the office of prophet, seer, and revelator. To do what President Monson suggests would be to abandon reason for madness.458 I cannot, I will not go on believing in tales akin to Santa Claus because there is comfort in the tale or because my people perpetuate his myth. If my creator gave me the ability to reason, why would he command me to give it up? A god of confusion is not worth worshiping, neither is a god of deception.

My faith may not have come to me through science, but my faith depends on a scaffolding of truth. I cannot have faith which relies on falsities! If something is verifiable and provable, it must comply with my faith, not contradict it! My faith doesn’t come from myth, and I will not permit so-called “faith” which is based on myth, legend, lore or tradition to destroy it.

Science and Religion

Some have asked me: “Is there any conflict between science and religion?” There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men. Through the eternities, we are going to get close and closer to understanding the mind of God, then the conflicts will disappear.459

Henry Eyring (Senior) was a truth seeker. He encouraged parents and teachers to distinguish between “what they know to be true and what they think may be true,” to avoid clumping them together and “throwing the baby out with the bath,”460 which I fear President Monson appears to be doing. Ideally, there should never be conflict between true science and true faith, because they both share the common goal of the search for “the evidence of things not seen.”461

Science has clearly proven that the earth is much, much older than what was previously believed. The fairytale story of creation and the beginning of the history of the earth as contained in scripture and the temple is outdated and does not sate the appetite of truth seekers who want the true story. A prophet, seer, and revelator could easily fulfill this need. With every second that ticks without enlightenment from above, science will win this battle because it has truth, while revealed religion languishes in its simplistic bedtime story.

The true message of Jesus is found when it is disencumbered from the overshadowing modifications made by those who came after him which turned him into an icon of Atonement. One of the beauties of his true message is that it does not contradict any science nor is it dogmatic. It frees you to seek living truth and invites you to actually experience the reality of God as an approachable person, and not just understand God as a theological concept or as a set of specific commands to obey or rituals to perform to gain God’s favor in a crystallized creed.

I use the phrase “living truth” because that is the kind of truth that continues to expand the understanding as new facts of reality are found, instead of dying when new light is shed on the previously unknown. The same goes for living faith. If President Monson’s faith will die when he sincerely considers new truth that comes to light, or if he must sweep the new truth under the rug to protect his belief system and stay in congruence with his social group, then he does not possess living faith. A church which establishes unquestioned creeds and dogmas which cannot expand to embrace new truth when new facts come to light is not a living church. That church is especially not a living church if it resorts to lying to protect those tenets.462

True religion cannot pick a fight with science. The scientific method was designed to prove truth about physical reality empirically, and because of that, it can’t prove spiritual reality because spiritual things are a personal, subjective experience. What science does for humankind in material reality, religion should do for humankind spiritually. True religion and true science have the same goal of finding truth, but because they live in different universes they cannot contradict each other. But when empirical evidence contradicts the tenets of religion, it trumps that religion’s claims to truth.

Science should be the religion of the physical, objective, outward universe. Religion should be the science of the spiritual, subjective, inward universe. Science cannot weigh love, nor can it measure moral values. Religion cannot provide empirical evidence. Religion is ascertained by the method of experience, while science is pursued by the technique of experiment. Science attempts to prove the conservation of matter. Religion attempts to prove the conservation of the soul.

An unquestioning belief which is held in the name of religion which extends beyond the borders of spiritual reality and attempts to provide explanations of the physical but which contradicts the laws of science is not faith, nor is it true religion; it is probably dogma.

A theory which is held in the name of science which extends beyond the borders of physical reality and attempts to provide explanations of the subjective experience of sentient being, cannot be proven empirically, thus it cannot be science; and may be merely philosophy instead.

Doubt Your Doubts

First doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.463

The quote above is a thought-terminating cliché which shamelessly commands you to stop your thoughts. It is as if they are done with attempting to discretely coin thought-stopping phrases; now they just say outright to stop them. It is absurd that a church which claims to have all the answers urges you to not have any questions.

It is clear to me that the phrase is manipulative. Regardless of the obvious underhandedness of this cliché, it seems to have become popular in just the last few months. This phrase was coined464 by evangelical F. F. Bosworth, not by any prophet of ours. Elder Uchtdorf seems to have broken the rules by seeking for prophetic counsel outside church.

What does the phrase even mean? It is a logical fallacy in two fronts. To doubt your doubts in itself is a doubt which you should doubt, which is also a doubt which you should doubt, ad nauseam. It is also a circular logical fallacy:

  1. Stay firm in the things you believe.

  2. If concerns arise, then doubt your doubts; return to 1.

It flat-out means to stop thinking. If this logic were presented by missionaries, the people they teach would never leave the religion the already have. Circular logical fallacies are found all over in the church.

For example, how do we know the prophet won’t lead us astray? Because the prophet has told us that he can’t lead us astray. How do we know he is not lying? Because the prophets can’t lead us astray.

Another example, God is the source of truth: seek him, and he will tell you that ours is the only truth; and if you receive any other answer, it does not come from God.

When somebody tries to sell me something, and their strategy is to stop me from thinking, normally they don’t have my best interests at heart.465

In contrast, Joseph Smith’s quest was instigated by doubts. If he had doubted his doubts and stopped his thoughts, he would have never sought new truth. When did the message that the heavens have been opened and God is raining new knowledge become drowned out with the charge to stop thinking and instead mindlessly stay in compliance with questionable doublethink of an Orwellian466 establishment? Besides, how can the use of logic in illustrating truth even apply to an establishment which tells you to stop relying on logic to find truth?

For me, what I write here has little to do with expressing doubts for the purpose of doubting. It is instead about seeking and finding truth. Seeking truth is not doubting for the sake of finding fault. It is instead an act of sincerity in wanting to be subject to wisdom, and that entails seeking to find the highest truths a mind can grasp and using those truths in the highest way possible, by so doing one consciously or unconsciously seeks the will of God.

Doubts are usually caused by finding new facts, not by unbelief. If a fact exposes a chink in your armor of faith, then that armor needs to be adjusted for its weakness. You cannot simply ignore the gap and hope the armor’s integrity will continue regardless. As it raises consciousness of reality, the discovery of new truth eventually dispels doubt, it doesn’t produce it. Doubt is caused by the discovery of the existence of falsity, not truth. While it is often the act of uncovering new evidence or fact which sheds light on falsity, doubt is the realization that what you originally was certain is true might actually be false. Doubt in itself is not bad, nor is it evil, because doubt is a catalyst for the desire for more truth! If you love truth, you must accept your doubt in order to find more truth. To ignore doubt is to surrender to error. The wisdom to embrace doubt in search of truth is not new:

The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.467

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.468

I will not attack your doctrines nor your creeds if they accord liberty to me. If they hold thought to be dangerous – if they aver that doubt is a crime, then I attack them one and all, because they enslave the minds of men.469

We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds. The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions, and we become smug like the Pharisee who listed all his considerable virtues, and thanked God that he was not like other men.470

True wisdom is less presuming than folly. The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubts not; he knows all things but his own ignorance.471

The Fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a Fool.472

Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.473

Doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door.474

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.475

To those searching for truth - not the truth of dogma and darkness but the truth brought by reason, search, examination, and inquiry, discipline is required. For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction - faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.476

If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.477

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.478

No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.479

For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error.480

It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.481

The ability to recognize error is an indispensable tool in finding truth. There is no reason to fear doubt except for the fear of truth coming to light. When you find that you have doubts, that is a good sign. Allowing yourself to doubt when you discover falsity shows that you are willing to think critically and that you’re not blindly accepting an understanding of reality as it was spoon-fed to you by others.

The end of truth seeking is truth finding, not doubt finding. Doubt is a means to incite a person to seek truth. It is not the end. As you find more truth, you become more free482 from the bondage of fear, shame, and the overcontrol of others. Doubt naturally evaporates when truth is found.

All belief, even faith, is lesser to reason in finding authenticity. The value of reason ranks higher than any belief in the search for truth. The charge to doubt your doubts comes from those who fear truth and wish you to remain subject to their lies. They know that doubt will lead you away from their domination. They know about the intrinsic power that reason possesses, and they wish to hold it captive.

The redefinition of word doubt483 as something to be avoided is a tactic of subterfuge, misdirection, or sleight of hand. When they stress obedience to the most petty things as the method for finding truth, little time is left to contemplate weightier matters.484 They trick you into thinking that you are satisfying your hunger for truth by obeying them. When you subject yourself to their charge to doubt your doubts, you close your mind to all enlightening information that they do not want you to know.485 Doubting doubts means stop thinking.486 When you doubt your doubts, your conception of reality is subordinated to a sacred science that may not match evidence.487 Avoiding evidence is restricting yourself from relying on your own experience of reality.488 It keeps you from the truth because you don’t allow yourself to search for it. All of these are mind control techniques.489 Mind control is the subtle craftiness of men. They use it to keep their sheep fenced in their corral. There is irony in that our own scriptures declare:

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it–490

If you find a jar which contains a nut which is desirable, you may commit to yourself that you should reach into the jar to retrieve it. If you reach into the jar to retrieve the nut but find that the nut has caused your fist to be too large to exit the opening, you must abandon your original goal of retrieving the nut, and permit yourself to let go in order to regain your hand’s freedom.

The advice to doubt your doubts is inviting you to be stubborn in your desire to keep hold of that nut, and to ignore that your fist keeps you firmly entrapped by the creator of the trap. Being trapped that way is not that your hand is too large, it is instead because your skull is too thick. An open mind is the only way to free your hand again. It is better to keep your hand and your freedom than cling to the nut, how ever desirable the nut may be. I think Jesus was talking of letting go of the nut when he said:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.491

While the context of that scripture is talking about avoidance of lust or of despising innocents, I think the vivid imagery of cutting off body parts in his metaphor applies to more than just that situation. I think he uses that strong imagery to show that the things which we must cut off may have become an integrated part of us and may be difficult to extract. I think he spoke from experience, because not only did he not live the law of Moses as he had been inculcated, but also for the entirety of his living ministry his family had stopped associating with him, and he had stopped associating with them.

There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.

And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.492

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.493

His family was bewildered with him because he had such radical ideas, and many of them were disenchanted that he refused to live up to what they thought was his potential of fulfilling the Jewish messiah prophecy of sitting on the throne of David and subduing all other nations. (His brother James, not to be confused with the apostles James Zebedee or James Alphaeus, had a change of heart and became a disciple only after Jesus was gone.) It is extremely painful for anyone to sever imbued ideas or friends and family that you have held dear for many decades of your life. His observation was that in the end it is better to enter into life without the things that hold you back than to stay forever stuck where you are.

I know what it is like to doubt my doubts. I had doubted my doubts for decades. I had held tight to the questionable and often even offensive ideas as much as I could to remain in good harmony with my social circle. Living with cognitive dissonance is not easy, especially when you discover more and more and you feel like a beast of burden as they weigh upon your back. Thankfully, the Spirit of Truth gently entices your thoughts to look beyond the borders and find new light.

Being told to doubt our doubts can be likened to a last-ditch effort by a dishonest captain to keep his sinking ship afloat by impeding is crew from abandoning ship, telling them to doubt the ship is in distress. While the captain’s responsibility should be to save everyone on his ship, his true allegiance lies in preserving the ship and he cannot abandon his ship in distress.

Asking me to doubt my doubts is the same as asking me to become a hypocrite. I cannot sincerely doubt my doubts in order to continue to accept ideas which are inconsistent with facts and out of harmony with my highest conceptions of truth, beauty, and goodness.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.494

Doubting your doubts in opposition to truth-revealing fact can never provide resolution for doubt. Those facts will continue to gnaw at you. Finding new truth is the only way to truly provide relief from the burden of doubt. Someday everyone who has tried to bury their doubts will have to come to terms with them if they want to keep moving forward.

You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.495

Freedom of thought is intimately tied to freedom of speech. If you find yourself curtailing thought or even being subject to laws which curtail your speech, consider this, (the first part is written on the wall of the United States Capitol):

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer and the only bounds it ought to know.... Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech, a thing terrible to traitors.496

Freedom of speech is intimately tied to freedom of the Press. If you find yourself limiting what you are allowed to write or publish, consider this:

Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose.497

With what we are being taught these days, we no longer have freedom of thought in the church. We definitely do not have freedom of speech in the church. I hate to say it, but that is anti-American and is a mockery to our inspired Founding Fathers. It is the antithesis of what they stood for. Thomas Jefferson observed many years before Joseph Smith organized the church, and two centuries before what I observe it has become today with its doubt your doubts rhetoric:

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.498

I am sure that if B. H. Roberts, Hugh B. Brown, and Henry Eyring were living today, they would all be excommunicated for publishing their honest thoughts. It is no surprise to me that B. H. Roberts’ book about the Book of Mormon was never published during his lifetime, nor am I surprised that over 50 years passed after his death before it was published.

Prophets and Doubt

I have noticed that in many ways, the church of today is not the same as it once was. It seems as though its leaders have all gained an aversion to doubt, as if they have come to fear science, fact, and all other verifiable sources of truth. It is as if truth lost its own authority and dogma reigns supreme, much like Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. It has not always been this way. In contrast to the present-day fearmongers of doubt, as the two examples I have illustrated above, I bring to your attention some contrasting ideas presented by other revered prophets.

If faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.499

Tolerance and truth demand that all be heard and that competing ideas be tested against each other so that the best, which might not always be our own, can prevail. Knowledge is the most complete and dependable when all points of view are heard.500

The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding. And it has been wisely said that the man who knows only half of any question is worse off than the man who knows nothing of it. He is not only one-sided but his partisanship soon turns him into an intolerant and a fanatic. In general it is true that nothing which cannot stand up under discussion or criticism is worth defending.501

I think full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret, not underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation.502

The Book of Mormon can and should be tested. It invites criticism.503

The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead. Truth is often found in the most unexpected places. He must, with fearless and open mind ‘insist that facts are far more important than any cherished, mistaken beliefs.504

Some say that the open-minded leave room for doubt. But I believe we should doubt some of the things we hear. Doubt has a place if it can stir in one an interest to go out and find the truth for one’s self. I should like to awaken in everyone a desire to investigate, to make an independent study of religion, and to know for themselves whether or not the teachings of the Mormon church are true.505

The essential thought must ever be that a man does not, except in his spiritual infancy, accept a statement merely because the Church or someone in authority declares it correct, but because, under mature examination, it is found to be true and right and worthwhile.506

Freedom is based on truth, and no man is completely free as long as any part of his belief is based on error, for the chains of error bind his mind. This is why it is so important for us to learn all the truth we can from all the sources we can.507

We are open to truth of every kind, no matter whence it comes, where it originates, or who believes in it. Truth, when preceded by the little word ‘all,’ comprises everything that has ever existed or that ever will exist and be known by and among men in time and through the endless ages of eternity; and it is the duty of all intelligent beings who are responsible and amenable to God for their acts, to search after truth, and to permit it to influence them and their acts and general course in life, independent of all bias or preconceived notions, however specious and plausible they may be.508

I admire men and women who have developed the questioning spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas and stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression. This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence nor any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.509

Truth and Honesty versus Dogma and Lies

Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.510

Joseph Fielding Smith boldly declares that there is no middle ground. If there is no middle ground, then any disproving evidence would, by his own words, make Joseph Smith one of the biggest frauds the world has ever seen. For a black and white dichotomy, any shade that is not purely white is black in comparison.

The Titanic claimed to be unsinkable, but only a single hole in its hull could sink it. If there are many holes in its hull, it only sinks more quickly and surely. It only takes one disproving fact to collapse Joseph Fielding Smith’s ship of dogma. It is almost as if he was relieving his conscience by ambiguously conceding his fraud.

At the time he issued this challenge, he was hiding imperative disproving evidence in his own safe. He had cut pages from the composition notebook journal of Joseph Smith himself, which contained the first account of the First Vision of 1832 in Joseph’s own handwriting. That first account calls to attention several contradicting discrepancies when compared to the 1838 version. Since he hid it, he knew it would be controversial if it were to come to light. Today, thanks Joseph Smith Papers, we can see what those cut pages say.

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for I become convicted of my sins and by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament511

If you look carefully, you can see the gap in the page, which has since been rejoined by a professional archivist. Follow the link in the footnote to see for yourself.

It is clear that it was not Jesus who revealed to Joseph that all other churches were in wrong, but that Joseph Smith had already come to his own conclusion that all societies and denominations had apostatized before he even prayed about it. In the account which has been canonized, his primary purpose was to find out who was right and which sect he should join, but that is not important in his first account.

This was shocking to me because I remember countless Sunday school lessons which taught that the answer to Joseph’s question whether all of the sects were wrong was of utmost importance, because it served as an impetus for his call as a prophet.

After I discovered this inconsistency, with my new suspicious perspective, as I re-read the canonical account, I discovered that even the canonical account contradicts itself – in the very same text! Many could quote this passage from their memorization of the missionary discussions:

I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong;512

Though it says that it had never entered into his heart that they were all wrong, in only a few verses earlier, he said he often thought they could all be wrong:

I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?513

This kind of inconsistency in the telling of history is troubling to me. In a court of law, when the opposing attorney cross-examines a witness, they often do it for the express purpose of encountering contradiction. A witness is discredited if they contradict themselves. The rules of evidence bar their reliability and they are impeached because their unsafe character.

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therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in the attitude of calling upon the Lord in the 16th year of my age a piller[sic] of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed[sic] for the world514

We find above that he did not to ask which denomination was right, because he had previously said he already knew that. Instead, he says that he cried for mercy. There were not two personages, nor is there any mention of a dark force seizing him and binding his tongue. He says he was in his sixteenth year of age, or fifteen, not fourteen.515

This visitation should have been an unforgettable, powerful experience. When I first heard the news of airliners crashing into the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001, I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, how I felt. I would venture that almost everyone who lived that day has this recollection.

Not only should this kind of experience be perfectly recollected, the earliest account of such a spectacular event should contain more indispensable details, not omit or or even contradict them. The most reliable retelling of and experience would be when memory is fresh and vivid.

And yet, this earliest account and several other accounts were hidden for years and were supplanted by the singular most embellished version that Joseph himself had not even written, and which establishes our elitism and our dogmatic creed about the godhead. Those basic objectives of our creed are too important to have been omitted or contradicted by his first account.

I am reminded of what Thomas Paine wrote about omissions between the four gospels:

Now, if it had been true that those things had happened, and if the writers of those books had lived at the time they did happen, and had been the persons they are said to be, namely, the four men called apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, it was not possible for them, as true historians, even without the aid of inspiration, not to have recorded them. The things, supposing them to have been facts, were of too much notoriety not to have been known, and of too much importance not to have been told.516

It’s funny because Thomas Paine gives good reason that different witnesses who speak truth of the same event would not omit such huge facts. We find, in the case of Joseph Smith, that it is the same person who contradicts himself. Thus the principle of the matter exposes itself:

It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told.517

Hiding, omitting, and not telling the whole truth is inherently a lie. Much of official church history seems to have many mysterious memory holes and revisionist history as would be found in the dystopia of an Orwellian novel. Choosing to rewrite history to embellish or ignore errors and contradictions does not make them cease to exist. Even if they are hidden for a time, those changes make the church more incredulous for its dishonesty than the actual unfavorable history they hide.

If evolution is true, the Church is false. If life began on the earth, as advocated by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel (who has been caught openhanded perpetrating a fraud), and others of this school, whether by chance or by some designing hand, then the doctrines of the Church are false. Then there was no Garden of Eden, no Adam and Eve, and no fall. If there was no fall; if death did not come into the world as the scriptures declared that it did – and to be consistent, if you are an evolutionist, this view you must assume – then there was no need for a redemption, and Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, and he did not die for the transgression of Adam, nor for the sins of the world. Then there has been no resurrection from the dead! Consistently, logically, there is no other view, no alternative that can be taken. Now my brethren and sisters, are you prepared to take this view?518

Above, we find another black and white ultimatum from Joseph Fielding Smith. His prophecy could not have more concisely indicted the church and its narratives, because factual evidence is not on its side.

The geological record proves the age of the earth, and its story spans billions of years. The earth itself is at least 4,000,000,000 years old. The fossil record proves that death has been a part of life for hundreds of millions of years. The fossil record shows that trilobites were dying 520,000,000 years ago.

Death did not wait for humans to arrive, nor did it wait for humans to eat of the forbidden fruit. Death could not have come into the world 6,000 years ago, and Earth’s temporal existence is in no way 7,000 years.519 The time scale in the scriptures are off by a huge margin, at least six orders of magnitude!

He blots out the idea that evolution by “some designing hand” is not an acceptable rationalization because it is incompatible with the Gospel. By his own words, Adam and Eve could not have existed because “logically, there is no other view, no alternative can be taken.” Either the earth is young and the Gospel is true, or it is old and the Gospel is not true.

Again, as the dichotomy he declares is black and white, I can’t help sense that he is expressing a level of ambivalence. It is almost as if he is saying something about the cognitive dissonance he is dealing with, even as the prophet. It is interesting because he taunts the brethren and sisters on whether they are prepared to take the alternate view. He pushes the envelope so far, and then in the end his argument seems to rest on the fear of uncertainty.

For what it’s worth, His ad hominem attack on Haeckel cannot carry weight if we are also expected to dismiss Joseph Smith of his frauds.520

There are those who discount the teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie as theories and that they were not prophetic. Their teachings are thrown under the bus along with the teachings of Brigham Young and practically all of the other dead prophets. If this is what we do with the teachings of dead prophets, then I should not pay attention to the prophets of today. If they have been wrong in the past, then they are probably wrong in the present, and they will continue to be wrong in the future. I would rather navigate the truth on my own.

If there is any reasonable doubt about whether something is true, we should not feel obligated to accept it as truth. Criminal law requires truth “beyond a reasonable doubt” before a conviction can be made. That is because it is insane to sentence anyone without being completely sure. A doubt, founded upon the discovery of falsity, makes reason and understanding cancel the corresponding claims to truth.

And thus, truth can’t fear doubt because it is true. Truth can’t be discovered to be false. Instead, doubt comes from finding lies. It is deception which fears being discovered as false. If anyone vilifies doubt, they only prove they fear being caught and their lie being discovered. If you dare to go against their counsel to never explore for truth outside of their dogma, you may discover that they’ve just been that pathetic little man behind the curtain the whole time.

For real truth seekers, doubt is an essential tool for vetting lies. Regardless of what the liars may want you to think, truth is always useful. To say some truths aren’t useful is misdirection, a sleight of hand, deception, pretense, fraud, and hypocrisy.

We have the obligation to find out what is truth, and then we have the obligation to walk in the light and to apply the truths that we have learned to ourselves and to influence others to do likewise.521

Physical God

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all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity…522

I spoke of the contradictions between the versions of the First Vision, but there are more contradictions in other materials. I remember Gordon Hinckley acting as if contradicting accounts never existed, as he relied entirely on the most embellished version of the First Vision for firm doctrine:

How deeply grateful I am that we of this Church do not rely on any man-made statement concerning the nature of Deity. Our knowledge comes directly from the personal experience of Joseph Smith, who, while yet a boy, spoke with God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Risen Lord. He knelt in Their presence; he heard Their voices; and he responded. Each was a distinct personality. Small wonder that he told his mother that he had learned that her church was not true. And so, one of the great over-arching doctrines of this Church is our belief in God the Eternal Father. He is a being, real and individual. He is the great Governor of the universe, yet He is our Father, and we are His children.523

Additionally, Gordon Hinckley was so adamant in this teaching that he hung his reputation and the validity of the church itself upon this black or white dichotomy:

We declare without equivocation that God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared in person to the boy Joseph Smith.

When I was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he asked me if I actually believed that. I replied, “Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.”

That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.524

“That’s the miracle of it,” and that miracle is, as he says, that he believes it. It seems suspicious to me that so many prophet-presidents specifically use the word “fraud” when they present their black and white thinking. It is as if they are trying to subtly say something. It is as if they are planning for an escape if worse comes to worse.

Let me remind you what Jesus said upon the subject of the embodiment of God.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.525

Let us find another “easy to detect” contradiction for Joseph Fielding Smith. Joseph Smith taught the God is a Spirit doctrine until 1835. His 1832 version of the First Vision confirms this, as well as several other things, some which I’ll include below. After 1835, Joseph Smith went in direct contradiction to this teaching of Jesus. We are taught that the 1838 version of the First Vision Joseph Smith’s First Vision provided our knowledge that God has a material Body.

Apparently either Joseph himself doesn’t know what he is talking about or he suffered from some kind of psychosis because of his lectures on Faith. These were included in the 1835 version of the Doctrine and Covenants. The lectures were presented to the School of the Prophets in 1834 and 1835. In Lecture 5, paragraph 2,526 it says

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— They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto a man, or being in the form and likeness of a man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;

Joseph makes it clear that the Father is a personage of spirit, glory, and power, while the Son is a personage of tabernacle (which means body) shaped like a man, and he is called the Son because of the flesh. The Spirit is not portrayed as a separate personage, but as a shared mind of the one god which make up father and son:

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and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all – the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father – possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father – a Mediator for man – being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or in other words, the Spirit of the Father...527

Possessing the same mind and spirit means they are one person, complying with the trinity concept of the Nicene creed, which we are taught is a fabrication of men. My question is: why would someone who already met both God and Jesus and saw for himself that they were separate beings teach such nonsense?

The First Vision accounts through 1835528 don’t say anything about God the Father being there, but the 1838 version of the First Vision contradicts this, and the doctrine in 1843 was finalized as this:

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s;529

Joseph Smith reportedly had his first vision in 1820, where he met both the Father and the Son personally, face to face, didn’t he? If he had such an unforgettable experience, then how could he have gone for 15 years without testifying about the Father properly? How could he have had such a major inconsistency in what he not only testified in first vision accounts but also taught to his school of the prophets 15 years later, and also edited and revised and decidedly included in his own book of scripture, Doctrine and Covenants?

Later on in the same Lecture on Faith, there is no question as the ideas are confirmed:

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Q. What is the Son?
A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

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Q. Why was he called the Son?
A. Because of the flesh. Luke 1:33

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Q. Do the father and the Son possess the same mind?
A. They do. John 5:30

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Q. What is this mind?
A. The Holy Spirit. John 15:26

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Q. Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?
A. It does.530 531 532

The Q&A reiterates that the Son is the tabernacle, the Father is the spirit in that tabernacle, and the Holy Spirit is the mind of that being. These principles are no mistake, they are intentionally reiterated as a sure foundation for faith in God.

Those aren’t the only two pre-1835 documents which have changed or been thrown away. There have been fundamental edits to the Book of Mormon between the 1830 and 1837 editions which added words, changing the way this doctrine is presented.

m1inm2inm2in   & 1830 Edition & 1837 Edition
1 Nephi 11:18 & And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh & And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
1 Nephi 11:21 & And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!... & And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!...
1 Nephi 11:32 & ...And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world... & ...And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world...
1 Nephi 13:40 & ...and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world... & ...and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the World...
> I wish to mention here, that the title page of the Book of Mormon is a > literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand > side of the collection or book of plates which contained the record > which has been translated said title page is not by any means a > modern composition either of mine or of any other man’s who has lived > or does live in this generation. [it] is a genuine and literal > translation of the title page of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on > the plates. 533

To edit words in an ancient text makes it into a modern composition, contradicting its translator. To edit imperative concepts from a translation of an ancient text is worse, because it rewrites what the original author was trying to say. If the changes introduce contradictions, it is more condemning of those who made them. It is evidence that they do not read the text itself, showing a lack awareness of the contradictions they inadvertently cause.

For example, they have changed words in the very title page itself, as if they knew better than Mormon did. It has become a modern composition. It is no longer a genuine nor literal translation. Recent concessions have been made, probably because of DNA evidence, that semitic ancestry has little to do with the Asian ancestry of native Americans. The canonized words of the title page have been changed to reflect that. New essays declare that the genes of Lehi have been lost because another race in America overran the land.534 But these men are so unfamiliar with their own canon that they contradict it.

... that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves.535

In the title page, Mormon disclaims that “if there are faults they are the mistakes of men.” Yes, they keep making more faults, too. His declaration was written in the present tense, from his own perspective. He was talking about his own mistakes and those of his predecessors in his own time, not someone who would come sesquimillenium later. Because of his declaration, revisions to the Book of Mormon should not correct the mistakes of ancient prophets. Even if he had used a future tense, his declaration could not apply, because of the oft-quoted declaration by the prophet himself, that the book is the most correct on earth536 and that the translation came through the gift and power of God.537

Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light. And in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe. And when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man. The characters I speak of are the engravings on the golden plates from which the book was translated.538

The gift of translation granted Joseph the ability to see the exact words that should be used on the Urim and Thummim. Clearly errors in spelling and punctuation cannot apply, but an exact word-for-word godly translation on the Urim and Thummim still has other implications. Issues with core doctrinal principles are especially disgraceful. Doctrinal concepts are imperative for veracity. Such changes should never have been required, nor should there have been a need to change vital words, neither should there have been conjugation errors.

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The error I speak of, is the definition of the word “Mormon.” It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word Mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon.539

It is often rationalized that the existence of Greek in the Book of Mormon reflects that it is a modern translation, or that Greek words existed at the time of Lehi. That makes sense to me, but the issue lies in that the translator himself said that there were not any greek words on the plates and provided the example of mormo. He is not only talking about the nonexistence of Greek on the plates themselves, but in his example he implies that he did not translate using greek words.

“Irreantum, being interpreted, is many waters.”540 It is hard to imagine how “irreantum,” or “rameumptom” appeared in the text on the plates, since it gives the translation afterwards. Giving the translation like that makes it read more like a novel. I find it hard to imagine what the plates should have had written. Maybe it was, “Irreantum, being interpreted, is irreantum.”541

So illiterate was Joseph at the time, that he didn’t even know that Jerusalem was a walled city, and he was utterly unable to pronounce many of the names which the magic power of the Urim and Thummim revealed and therefore spelled them out in syllables, and the more erudite scribe put them together.542

That quote seems to reflect that he did not translate names. Mormo was an example of a name. It is suspicious that he claimed that there were no latin words on the plates, and then uses the -um suffix for raw names that are not yet translated. The -um latin suffix means that the word is a neuter gender. Since he implies that the names he used were the Reformed Egyptian words, it is anachronistic that many names should be used at all, including the Greek name Jesus Christ.

There is a contradicting anachronism within the text itself that was later corrected. In First Nephi 12:18, Jesus Christ was revised to Messiah, probably because the name Jesus Christ is introduced to Jacob later on, in Second Nephi 10:3. If it was that important to modify after the fact, it should have been just as important to translate the name correctly in the first place.

Something like this should have never happened if the translation was by the gift and power of God. A gift and power granted by the infinite almighty god that I believe in would not make those kinds of mistakes. Still, if this is the kind of mistake that applies to Mormon’s disclaimer, then it shouldn’t have been corrected.

Punctuation and grammar corrections are greater than a hundred thousand in number. As I said, I concede punctuation errors, but I cannot concede verb conjugation errors. For example, the word has is a conjugation of the verb have modern English. That conjugation does not occur anywhere in the King James Bible. Hath is the proper conjugation in Elizabethan English. The Book of Mormon does not graduate from the older hath to has chronologically. Those mistakes often happen in the very same verse. And yet this is only one example of the conjugation of just one verb.

I have never understood why the Book of Mormon tries to use King James English, but the fact that there are silly grammar mistakes only confirms that its attempt to use that kind of language is anachronistic and pretentious. It is as if someone thought that the language of the King James translation should be evidence for scriptural validity. That validity becomes bogus if the translator can’t speak the language he tries to use. As a truth seeker, this only raises another red flag for a book which claims to be historical.

Still, the fundamental doctrinal edits that do not concern grammar are unpardonable. Their existence effectively contradicts that the book was translated by the gift and power of God, because the fulness of the Gospel543 should never need correction.

Of the huge doctrinal changes, why were the changes only made in First Nephi? There are verses later on in the Book of Mormon that talk of the same doctrine but they were not modified. If they wanted to correct the theology of the Book of Mormon, were they really that unfamiliar with the book to overlook the other instances of the same teaching? I particularly remember the episode with Abinadi. He is quite clear about his Trinitarian ideas. He teaches that God as a spirit, and the Son as the flesh. It even uses the same wording as are found in the Lectures on Faith.

And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—

The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—

And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.544

The ideas that the Son has his identity “because of the flesh”, and that both Father and Son are “subject to the Spirit,” means that they shared the same mind. Verse 4 says the same thing that 1 Nephi 11:21 originally said. Abinadi says many times that it is “God himself.”545 Alma the younger also talked about this being “God himself.”546 Amulek also teaches these same things.547 Even the introduction to the Book of Mormon, which is said to be written by Moroni, says its purpose was this:

And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations –548

In the New Testament, Jesus never allowed anyone to worship him. He said worship should only be for the Father. Yet, in the Book of Mormon, he allowed the people to pray to him. That is a trinitarian concept.

And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.549

It is interesting that LDS doctrine still prescribes that we should not pray to Jesus, but that we should only pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. This teaching and is practiced pervasively. But in the Book of Mormon, we find people praying to Jesus. It is almost as if some of Evangelical Christianity seeped into the Book of Mormon, somehow.

I think it is silly to suppose that simply because he had a better physical body that he suddenly became worthy of being prayed to; that a glorified body somehow gives people the right for worship by lesser beings. In jest, is it our also our doctrine that we should worship supermodels? The infinite portion of Jesus would have been the exactly the same in his mortal life as it was after. If Jesus is the Eternal God, his permanence would not have ever changed in this way. There is no question that the Book of Mormon presents the idea that Jesus is the same person as God is, both possessing the same mind, different only in that he was a representation of the same person in the flesh.

I had ever rationalized that the reason why Jesus is often called the Eternal Father, or the Eternal God, might be because he is the god of this world, so all of those scriptures should be interpreted that Jesus is our ultimate God, but that is moot because it would also apply to the scriptures in 1 Nephi before they were changed. Why is it that “Winston”550 edited the Book of Mormon and forgot about what Abinadi and Amulek taught? Why did he forget about the title page? Isn’t it ironic that we must admit that the most correct book on earth has had human editors who have attempted to fix its theology?

Joseph Smith’s translation of (or his corrections to) the bible was mostly complete in 1833, except for a few edits through the years before it was published. His modification of Luke 10:22 is another escaped relic of his pre-1835 trinitarian theology.

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.551

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.552

Why do the doctrines Joseph Smith produced before1835 in the original Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Lectures on Faith betray his later teachings of the Godhead? I surmise that either Joseph’s own theology changed around 1835, or he was borrowing theology belonging to someone else before 1835 and later decided to assert his own ideas after 1835. The Book of Mormon was written before that, as well as the Lectures on Faith. Yet it wasn’t until almost a hundred years later that the Lectures on Faith that someone in the higher echelons of church leadership noticed the discrepancies and it was removed from the doctrine and covenants, despite the fact that Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration himself, had considered them important enough to include. All of this exists despite his post-1835 claim that he had seen both the Father and the Son in vision fifteen years before.

If the Lectures on Faith were scripture for that long, but had to have since been deleted, and the Book of Mormon as it was translated originally had to be modified, then what guarantee do we have today that our “fullness” of true doctrine won’t be changed, refuted, disavowed, unequivocally condemned, or deleted tomorrow? Ironically, it seems to me that our contemporary prophets, seers, and revelators delete and invalidate past revelation and scripture more often than they reveal new enlightening scripture. I imagine that the Book of Abraham could easily be next on the chopping block.

The church keeps moving the line back as its doctrines prove false, gaslighting that the problematic doctrine was originally never true, or moving the goalposts that the purpose of the doctrine was different than it was originally believed. For example, if prophecy or doctrine fails, those in authority duck from their liability and declare that it was because the prophet was speaking as a man, and it is because they were human and make mistakes. The thought has come many times that my life would eventually expire while dedicating to prophecies that may never come in my life, and doctrines I faithfully adhere to would be dismissed.

Over the last couple decades, there has been a steady push to make the church more mainstream. In doing so, several originally crucial doctrines have been conceded, with the excuse that they never were doctrines and are now only policies. I don’t think doctrines which originally had direct influence on the quality of the afterlife for those involved can be dismissed as policies. Maybe Leo Tolstoy was right:

Power selects and attracts the worst elements of society, transforms them, improves and softens them, and returns them to society.553

Unsure Foundation

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.554

The above verses comprise the parable of the wise and foolish builders, which comes just after a warning of false prophets and that they could be known them by their fruits. Jesus said that many fruits, including prophesying in his name, casting out devils, and many other apparently wonderful works can all be done in iniquity. When their fruits unmask any trace of fraud, we should all be wary. When there is any possibility that a prophet may be false, we should not doubt our doubts, but we should follow the advice of Jesus and earnestly take notice.

His “sayings of mine” are referring to what he said in earlier verses of seeking out the will of the Father in Heaven and doing it. “These sayings” also refer to the other things he previously said, like his talk of fruits, identifying ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing, asking and receiving, not casting pearls before swine, and not judging. He never implied that we should rely on the arm of the flesh (other humans) to find the will of the Father. Instead, he explicitly said earlier that we should beware that there may be wolves in sheep’s clothing, predators whose ulterior intent is to deceive and fleece whoever they can. Jesus lived and taught first-hand religion, a true religious experience which is found when you seek real truth and gain an authentic personal relationship with your Father in Heaven. That intimate connection is afforded to every sincere human being.

Jesus teaches that the foolish man builds his house of belief upon myth or other unreality. Traditions do not make legends valid. Repeating a fantasy does not make the it true. In order for belief to become faith, we must wisely build our house of belief upon the steady bedrock of truth, and truth cannot stand without relying on fact. Those whose belief depends on myth, lore, tradition, and who are intentionally blind to fact and truth will find that their house falls when the rain, floods, and winds beat upon it.

To those searching for truth – not the truth of dogma and darkness but the truth brought by reason, search, examination, and inquiry, discipline is required. For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction – faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.555

Belief can take many forms, but on the spectrum of belief, at one end you will find faith, and at the other end you will find delusion. Both faith and delusion qualify as a belief, but they are polar opposites. Delusion is the belief that is not just ignorant or uninformed, it is willfully blind, credulous, fearful, and its professors cling to it regardless of reality. Faith is the belief that is built on scaffolding of fact and truth, it is devoid of grandiosity, and it is fearless because faith sides with truth.

If you discover that what you thought was faith is actually on a sandy foundation that washes away when the rain beats on it, then it wasn’t really faith after all, and that house of belief crashes down if one doesn’t frantically try to prop it up by shoveling more delusional sand under it. But you can’t shovel bedrock; that kind of foundation just is. The house built on the bedrock of truth and fact can take the beating of inquiry and doubt. If what you think is faith proves unable to emerge triumphant with constant scrutiny or reevaluation, then it is not faith.

It is foolish to naively sleep in your house of beliefs even if you have unintentionally based its foundation on falsities and myths, because it can easily wash away by the floods of ideas from which rain from the fountain of truth, and great will be the fall of your house when the elements of truth beat upon your sandy foundation.

After the parable, they talk of the authority Jesus. It was not the authority of the scribes and theologians because he taught by the authority of the reality of truth. Fact, truth, and reality need no priesthood or establishment to qualify them because they are absolute. The fact that a priesthood authority must exist at all to attempt to provide veracity to belief is a mark against its credibility. The sky is blue, but there is no reason for an institution to be established which authoritatively declares that the sky is blue. The sky is blue because it is blue. Just as truth stands on its own without priesthood authority, the truth of the reality of the love of God is the surety of salvation, not priesthood authority.

Elder Uchtdorf goes against the authority by which Jesus spoke, the authority of truth and wisdom itself, when he tells you that you should doubt your doubts. President Monson does the same when he tells you that happiness and contentment come from throwing away your ability to process information by using your divinely-given intelligence, reasoning and understanding; and to instead stick with the traditions of your people regardless of how foolish they may be. Both of them do not understand the parable because it is speaking to sincere seekers of truth. They probably think it has to do with rigorous Pharisaical obedience to every law and ritual of man, or that it has something to do with redemption through the sacrifice for sin somehow, even though they cannot fully explain how that works.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.556

Worshiping God in spirit and truth means to let the Spirit of truth entice you to the action of sincerely seeking and finding truth. Jesus was quite clear about the difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is not the same thing as unbelief. The possession of doubt reflects humility and sincerity to find truth, while the possession of delusion reflects pride in belief, and unbelief is simply the state of not believing and is usually on the opposite side of whether belief is founded in reality. In the instance where the belief is deluded, unbelief is on the side of faith, while in the instance where belief is built upon the rock of truth, unbelief is on the side of delusion. It is ironic that if unbelief is obstinately ignorant and refuses to admit to truth, those who say they have faith buy are in actuality deluded are effectively unbelievers in reality. Doubt comes from wishing to rid one’s self from any discovered darkness, so it sides with light and faith. Certainty shields one’s eyes and ears from any information which might dissuade, so it is content with remaining in darkness and delusion.

It takes pride and vanity to stubbornly cling to tradition, rejecting the enticement of the Spirit of Truth to find and be subject to truth. This teaching of Jesus illustrates the vanity of those who profess to be his modern apostles, and nullifies the vain ideas of staying with traditions of President Monson and doubting your doubts of Elder Uchtdorf.

Every new truth, by which the order of human life is changed and humanity is advanced, is at first accepted by only a very small number of men who understand it through inner spiritual intuition. The remainder of mankind who accepted on trust the preceding truth on which the existing order is based, are always opposed to the diffusion of the new truth.557

These so-called prophets are not leading the dissemination of truth, but instead are lagging behind in “the remainder of mankind” as they oppose new truth coming to light. Consider what Elder Boyd K. Packer has said about full disclosure:

There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.558

I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting. 559

The quotes above are from two different occasions. The first is a direct quote from one of his talks. The other is anecdotal, imputed by an honorable historian, who dealt directly with president Packer when he was employed by the church as a historian. I do not find the second any less plausible than the first, because it says practically the same thing. Besides, a historian has much to lose – everything – if he ever shows even any intent for deception. It is also plausible because Mike Quinn was called in for not tactically omitting the truths he was finding..

 I find the implication much more detrimental that any such thoughts could have ever entered into president Packer’s mind. To think that these ideas could ever come from prophet, seer, and revelator, whose commission is “making known hidden things which otherwise could not be known,” and whose obligatory virtues should be honesty and integrity. Can anyone be trusted to be the source of revelation who has any indication of lacking the virtues of honesty and integrity?

In saying that some things that are true are not very useful, he inadvertently admits to lying because the inverse implication of that assertion is that lies of omission are useful. He unwittingly admits that he is withholding useful truths that could cause a rational person to change their mind.

In saying that he has a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth, he puzzles all sincere truth seekers. He implies that he does not value truth, because he says there are times that truth is not ideal. He says that sometimes truth should not apply. As if reverence for truth could ever be excessive. As if there are times when lies, even those of omission, are better than truth. As if there are times that the veneration of virtue is too much, and vice should have a chance. As if devotion to purity is idolatrous, and filth is more desired. This all comes from a man who talked of chastity in practically every speech he gave.

In saying that only that which is faith-promoting deserves to be told, and that truth is not uplifting; it destroys, he negligently implies that lies are faith promoting and they repair and build. He unintentionally concedes that the truth he omits will turn faith into delusion.560 If he knows of truths that can do that, then not only is he deluded himself, but he is also corrupt.

His example of withholding the truth because it is rude is a poor excuse to withhold vital information. He compares a harmless, white lie to Orwellian institutional propaganda, as his employees busily throw institution-defaming evidence of corruption down their fiery memory holes. His justification for offensive institutional lies is coming from a man who repeatedly gave hateful speeches against entire groups of people who he could not understand.

Elder Packer shows his true colors as a hypocrite, a liar, and a fraud in both statements above. He shows that he is using his power for unrighteous dominion.

When you have power you don’t have to tell the truth. That’s a rule that’s been working in this world for generations. And there are a great many people who don’t tell the truth when they are in power in administrative positions.561

This reminds me of a recent stir in current events as the counselor562 to president Trump asserted that she relied upon alternate facts. This was widely mocked and criticized by the media. The phrase was described as Orwellian, and sales of George Orwell’s book 1984 increased 9,500 percent. Both of the phrases, alternate facts, and some truth is not very useful, are a well-known form of lying called propaganda.

I am also reminded of a Star Trek The Next Generation episode, The First Duty, where Wesley Crusher said that he had told the truth and did not lie. Captain Picard replied:

You told the truth up to a point, but a lie of omission is still a lie. If you can’t find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don’t deserve to wear that uniform!563

Dilbert illustrates this principle as well:564

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I hate to say it, but despite Elder Packer’s fervor for what he thinks is morality for many outward and visible things, withholding any information which could change someone’s mind is dissimulation, hypocrisy, and deception! He cannot claim honesty or integrity as his virtues, because that would require full disclosure. Caveat Emptor:565 he told the employees of the church education system to intentionally stop disclosing everything, especially anything that could jeopardize his power over the members of the church. The well being of his empire and his own status in that empire is more important to him than honesty. He is no different from Paul, as it is obvious that he feels completely justified by his pious fraud.

Can his charge to omit revealing the whole truth, because it may be shocking or rude, possibly relate to the teachings of Jesus in any way? Jesus showed no restraint in telling the whole truth, even the truth that hurt. In fact, most of what Jesus said was quite austere and candid, and it ended up getting him killed. The dishonest hypocrites, not the adulterers, falter most in the doctrine of Jesus. Jesus couldn’t possibly have any part in the dishonest practices of the church, because this was his firm rebuke to those who are deceitful:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.566

Jesus spent time loving and showing kindness so-called sinners, but he exercised no restraint in condemning the frauds. It is the vain deception in the name of God which disgusted Jesus most about the Pharisees and Sadducees. If Elder Packer really did talk to Jesus, Jesus would scold him for being a fraud and a hypocrite, who tries to make clean his outward appearance, but deep down inside is a pretentious charlatan. I can imagine Jesus replying to Packer’s talk entitled The Mantle is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect much like Captain Picard said to Wesley Crusher: Truth is your first duty. If you can’t tell the truth, you do not deserve that sanctimonious mantle which you have so pridefully placed above truth.

Thus we see the reality of foolish prophets whose fruits reveal that they have built their house of belief upon a foundation of sand.

Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion,
Instead of Truth they use Equivocation,
And eke it out with mental Reservation,
Which to good Men is an Abomination.567

Extreme Deception

I have quoted Leo Tolstoy a few times because I like many of his ideas. Susa Young Gates, a daughter of Brigham Young, wrote the following to Leo Tolstoy:

When I read your remarks in relation to the present efforts of the U.S. Gov. to crush out polygamy among the peculiar sect called Mormons. My surprise was unbounded that extensive as your reading and knowledge is, it should still reach so far, and compass so seemingly small a factor in the world’s present history. I should like if I were only able, to give you a “Mormon’s” view of the Mormon question. . . . You have doubtless heard “our story” all from the one side. Would you care for the “other side” to speak also?568

She sent Tolstoy a copy of The Book of Mormon, and George Q. Cannon’s Life of Joseph Smith. On Jan 23, 1889 Tolstoy recorded in his diary his private reaction to those books:

I wrote down a few things. I read both the Mormon Bible and the life of Smith and I was horrified. Yes, religion, religion proper, is the product of deception, lies for a good purpose. An illustration of this is obvious, extreme in the deception: The Life of Smith; but also other religions, religions proper, only in differing degrees.569

Leo Tolstoy was astute. He saw it immediately. I admire him. He is one of the few people who truly understands the teachings of Jesus. He wrote an entire book titled, The Kingdom of God Is Within You, a concept that is one of the most revolutionary and profound things Jesus taught.

Seers and Morality

Someone who has the gift of prophecy, of revelation and of seership should be able to anticipate the natural advances of humankind years, decades, centuries, even millenniums before they happen. They should push for the right thing from the beginning of their ministry whether it is socially acceptable or not. They should at least be prepared enough to be a part of instigating the moral change for the better.

For example, the civil rights movement should not have surpassed the outlook of a seer. That is, if his calling is indeed to uphold morality. His policies should at least anticipate advances in morality. He should have not only seen it coming, but the true understanding of all humankind’s equality under God should have already been established from the beginning of the dispensation, way before the world changed. That foresight should have always been, not only starting with Joseph, but the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham should not have idealized racist elements. A prophet, seer, and revelator should already know that the rights of all genders and all races under the sun should be fully equal, as the scriptures clearly state that God is not a respecter of persons. Jesus clearly taught that not only the Jews are children of God, but all of humankind are children of God, even those who are most despised by a society, like the Samaritans were despised by the Jews at the time of Jesus.

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

That simple sentence comprises the Equal Rights Amendment. It was a complete surprise to me to find out that The Equal Rights Amendment has never been ratified. Not only that, Utah and the church pushed hard for it to never be ratified. I am baffled that prophets of God would vehemently oppose such a beautiful declaration of equal rights under the law. Yet, they did. They rallied the ranks to oppose it. How could the spokesman for God impose the subjugation of women to patriarchy, but then over the next fifty years slowly back away from that stance, as it became more and more socially acceptable for women to work outside the home? How could he have not had the foresight that things would eventually not go his way? These are the fruits of the leadership of men, not of God.

In the case of race, this is all more than treating all of them equally by allowing all of them to hold the priesthood, it is about the condemnation of an entire race. According to Mormon doctrine, being denied of priesthood ordination also means that temple marriage is denied, which in turn means that the highest level of exaltation is denied to even the most faithful of the black race.570 571 572

The church recently released a press release from their newsroom about the issue of race in temple access and priesthood, and there are a few horribly disconcerting statements in it which I cannot overlook:

It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended.

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.

The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. 573

How horribly gross it is for an official statement by church leaders to lie that it is not known why, how, or when any of this came about. How could the church itself not know the history of its own doctrines and policies, why they were made, how, by whom, and when?574 575 576 577

If anyone knows the history, it is them; this tactic of playing dumb is bearing false witness about the situation, and this blatant lie should be considered perjury. If this isn’t an example of Jesus’ analogy of “whited sepulchers,” I don’t know what is.

The true intent of that statement is the implication that they are unwilling to admit why, how, or when. They even say it impersonally, “it is not known” instead of “we do not know,” as if to even try to shed the fault of not knowing. They are unwilling to admit why, how, or when, because if they did, provable historical doctrine and events would invalidate their claim to three things:

  1. livelihood: validity of the doctrines of their predecessors

  2. infallibility: the prophet cannot lead the church astray

Yet, as they play dumb, they do not keep both of those from happening, and they additionally invalidate a third thing:

  1. integrity: they are willing to lie to maintain their status

The fact that they unequivocally condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the church by connection they unequivocally condemn all of the prophets, seers, and revelators who came before them. This is interesting, because:

The Lord would never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.578

It seems that the thought-stopping phrase the prophet cannot lead the church astray worked for a century but has now backfired. Could it be possible that Wilford Woodruff was leading the church astray when he said that God would never allow him to lead the church astray? And yet, even with many obvious caveats in history, Elder Russell Ballard reiterated recently in October 2014 by vainly quoting what he himself had said earlier:

Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. We will not and cannot lead [you] astray.

Those ellipses in that quote are placed there by him, not me. As if quoting what he had previously said grants more credibility. Later, he goes on:

when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time579

To me, that is a gross imposture. He is effectively saying that the “voice of the Lord” is established by the vote of 15 in the oligarchy. I am reminded what Thomas Paine said of how the New Testament became scripture:

We know from history that one of the principal leaders of this church, Athanasius, lived at the time the New Testament was formed; and we know also, from the absurd jargon he left us under the name of a creed, the character of the men who formed the New Testament; and we know also from the same history that the authenticity of the books of which it is composed was denied at the time. It was upon the vote of such as Athanasius, that the Testament was decreed to be the word of God; and nothing can present to us a more strange idea than that of decreeing the word of God by vote. Those who rest their faith upon such authority put man in the place of God, and have no foundation for future happiness; credulity, however, is not a crime, but it becomes criminal by resisting conviction.580

There was a precedent set by Joseph Smith, that all revelations should be written and documented for every faithful member to have access to every word that was dictated directly by God. For an oligarchy of men to define the will of God by vote is blatant imposition that opposes the origins and principle tenets of the church they lead. Those who rest their faith upon such authority place man in the place of God.

The reversal of the priesthood ban was not a prophetic revelation that came from speaking with Jesus directly. Not a single word of Jesus to Spencer W. Kimball was published. That they prayed, along with their pretense that the experience was too sacred to talk about is the only word that exists. Misdirection is a form of deception; it is an evidence for a lie. As Ballard declares, when all of them finally agreed, will of God was made manifest. They overturned direct revelation and canonical scripture by their vote.

I can think of many times when the fifteen twelve apostles called out the error of their forebears, including this case of flat-out racism. If they might be wrong, they attribute it to the will of God; they throw their predecessors under the bus. They, themselves, can never be wrong.

according to this plan of prophesying, a prophet could never be wrong, however mistaken the Almighty might be. This sort of absurd subterfuge, and this manner of speaking of the Almighty, as one would speak of a man, is consistent with nothing but the stupidity of the Bible.581

It is particularly ironic that they state that explanations were made in the absence of direct revelation, and the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past. This is nonsense. It is as if the prophets themselves advanced the theories of men, mingled with scripture — something that Lucifer was supposed to do. On the other hand, those statements be any more true? They may not realize it, but they are effectively condemning themselves with that statement because it is the prophet, seer, and revelator who led the church astray with that absence of revelation.

It is ironic that they forget their own canonical scripture, which was supposed to have been translated by the gift and power of God:

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;582

How could they say that the origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. when it says exactly why in those canonical verses above?

To me, even the revelation which lifts the ban is questionable. Here are a few excerpts of the Official Declaration 2, which was read by N. Eldon Tanner in 1978 which also caught me off guard:

“...we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood...”583

So, revelation of our prophets is akin to good-cop, bad-cop? The prophet, the “good cop,” pleads long and earnestly in prayer, and supplicates to the selfish monarch, the “bad cop,” to relent in his bigotry and come to the realization that he created each of his children equally? God’s infallible will and infinite love is thrown under the bus, just because another revelation said that God would never allow their predecessors to lead the church astray. They would rather place God at fault before admitting their own frailties.

And thus the true meaning of using the name of God in vain ekes out. It is far worse for men to lie that they speak for God than for honest messengers of the Devil to truthfully proselytize depravity. Taking his name in vain has nothing to do with taboo words and nothing to do with using his name in casual conversation. It has everything to do with using his name for your own vain purposes, like saying that God commands you to take multiple wives or throwing God under the bus for every contrivance you come up with for your own selfish interests. The Official Declaration 2 takes the name of God in vain because it blames the failures of men on God, and blames the delay in the correction of those failures on God.

It is easy for even me to find a letter from just a few years earlier in 1969, signed by the first presidency to the leaders of the church, which said this:

From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents, Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.

Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, “The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God...

“Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.”584

Once again, an anointed one throws God under the bus. How could any prophet who truly knows God say such things? Isn’t it ironic that it specifically says that “revelation assures” the doctrine? Not only do they lie by saying it is “not known precisely why” because of the scripture above, but they lie to the face of President David O. McKay.

I’m sorry, ravening prophets, seers and revelators in sheep’s clothing, but God never condoned racism. Neither did Jesus ever condone racism. The doctrine that an entire race should be denied exaltation should have never happened under the guidance of a true prophet of God. There is no excuse or explanation except that those who we sustain to be prophets, seers, and revelators are charlatans, and the saving rites and rituals they administer are creations of men.

Always keep your eye on the President of the church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, even if it is wrong, and you do it, the lord will bless you for it, but you don’t need to worry. The lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.585

Obey even when it is wrong and you will be blessed. But the Millennial Star would disagree:

We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them – even if they knew it was wrong. But such obedience as this is worse than folly to us. It is slavery in the extreme. The man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly. A man of God, who seeks for the redemption of hi fellows, would despise this idea of seeking another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favor of God; he would rather see him stand by his side, an sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority, have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions.

When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it with.586

This is why doctrines and policies change, and change often: they are the doctrines and policies of men, not of God. Only a church of man could produce such trickery and lies. Only a church of man would have to plead with its God to get him to change his will. Only an idolatrous god would ever need his mind to be changed to align with a society that had already advanced beyond the standards of his prophets.

The fact that such specific dogmatic doctrines exist at all, which later become “unequivocally condemned,” as if over a century of revealed doctrine and scripture were a huge mistake, demonstrates that they a creation of humans.

Contrarily, the message of Jesus had no need for such doctrines. His message was simple: the Kingdom of Heaven is comprised by the loving fatherhood of God, and the fraternal love of his children. It is in that beautiful simple truth where salvation and eternal happiness lies.

I find irony in that so much of what Leo Tolstoy said about Christianity, which according to our doctrine is supposed to be in apostasy, can be attributed to what our church even though it sells itself the restored church.

The servants of the churches of all denominations, especially of later times, try to show themselves champions of progress in Christianity. They make concessions, wish to correct the abuses that have slipped into the Church, and maintain that one cannot, on account of these abuses, deny the principle itself of a Christian church, which alone can bind all men together in unity and be a mediator between men and God. But this is all a mistake. Not only have churches never bound men together in unity; they have always been one of the principal causes of division between men, of their hatred of one another, of wars, battles, inquisitions, massacres of St. Bartholomew, and so on. And the churches have never served as mediators between men and God. Such mediation is not wanted, and was directly forbidden by Christ, who has revealed his teaching directly and immediately to each man. But the churches set up dead forms in the place of God, and far from revealing God, they obscure him from men’s sight. The churches, which originated from misunderstanding of Christ’s teaching and have maintained this misunderstanding by their immovability, cannot but persecute and refuse to recognize all true understanding of Christ’s words. They try to conceal this, but in vain; for every step forward along the path pointed out for us by Christ is a step toward their destruction.

To hear and to read the sermons and articles in which Church writers of later times of all denominations speak of Christian truths and virtues; to hear or read these skillful arguments that have been elaborated during centuries, and exhortations and professions, which sometimes seem like sincere professions, one is ready to doubt whether the churches can be antagonistic to Christianity. “It cannot be,” one says, “that these people who can point to such men as Chrysostom, Fénelon, Butler, and others professing the Christian faith, were antagonistic to Christianity.” One is tempted to say, “The churches may have strayed away from Christianity, they may be in error, but they cannot be hostile to it.” But we must look to the fruit to judge the tree, as Christ taught us. And if we see that their fruits were evil, that the results of their activity were antagonistic to Christianity, we cannot but admit that however good the men were– the work of the Church in which these men took part was not Christian. The goodness and worth of these men who served the churches was the goodness and worth of the men, and not of the institution they served. All the good men, such as Francis of Assisi, and Francis of Sales, our Tihon Zadonsky, Thomas à Kempis, and others, were good men in spite of their serving an institution hostile to Christianity, and they would have been still better if they had not been under the influence of the error which they were serving.587

Religion and Morality

As with the morality of civil rights, much more needs to be said about morality and religion. To provide contrast for understanding, let us consider atheism. There are two levels in the word atheist. The first is more benign in that it one has a lack of belief in any god. The second is more operative in that one actively believes there cannot be a god.

Regardless of their level, most atheists I have dealt with have a deep sense of morality. Most theists seem to not be able to understand how that could be.  Ask any atheists if murdering an innocent person is morally right, and most will say it is not right. Ask any atheists if one man married to more than one wife is morally right, and most will say it is not right. Ask any atheists if active discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or religion is right, and they will say it is not right.

How can they have those morals without religion? I assert that it is because morality is not based on religion. My eyes were opened in philosophy class in college. The atheists in the class seemed to have the deepest understanding of morality, while my morality came from simple obedience to commands. I had not thought morality through at all compared to them. The fact of the matter is, I had no morality. True religion is an individual’s personal, sincere search for God. Morality is an ethical system of judgments which evolves with the mores of society.

It has been my observation that atheists often possess a heightened moral compass along with an innate ability to identify nonsense which more often than not surpasses most people who subscribe to an institutionalized religion. On the other hand, I have observed that most people who are subscribers of a crystallized religion have a twisted sense of morality along with being more credulous and at ease with imposition. I believe that this is because of their reliance upon a delusion that an incomprehensible mystery of immorality provides their redemption from their crimes.

Joseph Smith used the name of God to go against the moral status quo of his time when he reinstated polygamy. Polygamy was an ancient practice that originally existed in a time when humankind had not progressed to the level of morality that exists now. He did it in a time when the morals of his society had already advanced beyond that ancient view. Polygamy isn’t the worst of it. Joseph smith believed concubines before he believed in polygamy. A concubine is an unmarried, sexually subservient mistress. It is an ancient legally agreed upon sexual relationship. He taught that since God was okay with that before, he’s okay with it now, and he practiced it in secret.

I can’t help wondering why he did this. My mind will not permit me to believe that Jesus would command such a thing. I can’t believe that Jesus would push anyone to regress morality to a place where an entire group of people, namely women, are manipulated and even subjugated into polygamous and even polyandrous marriages (polyandrous because he married the wives of other living men).588 One thought I have had is that Joseph knew that morality and true religion are separate, yet he noticed that he had the power to bend morality at his own whim in his new establishment. Blinded by his new power, he was led by his own carnal desires into justifying an infatuous affair he had with a teenage maid who was living in his home as a domestic help for his wife by vainly purporting that it was given to him in revelation. After that revelation was made, he had given himself full license to have all of the affairs he desired with any number of women.

His affairs weren’t affairs as you would imagine anyone having, where two people genuinely fall in love despite an existing marriage. The journals of these women state that he went below that and even coerced several women to secretly marry behind the back of his legal wife Emma, threatening that their eternal salvation as well as the salvation of their families was at stake if they didn’t. Many of those women were still married to living husbands! His patterns of manipulation and his defaming of his victims in public when they refused him is that of an sex abuser, not a person with a sense of decency and morality. Some apologists say that he did not consummate most of his plural marriages, but that goes against reason, because if there was going to be no sex, there was no reason to hide it from Emma. Not only did he keep it secret from her, he kept it secret from the world. Without consummation, they would have been play marriages, because the women he married were not supported domestically.

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What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago and I can prove them all perjurers.589

Joseph committed perjury in the courtroom590 about his secret polyamorous life. He slandered those who crossed him. Many of his closest confidants also secretly practiced polygamy and lied about it in public. All of the events leading up to Joseph’s death had to do with his secret practice of polygamy and his illegal attempts to forcibly keep it from becoming exposed. The secrecy of this practice is a red flag to me that he knew dang well it was not morally right to do what he was doing. If Joseph lied so blatantly, even under oath, how can we trust that other things he said weren’t lies?

The church openly practiced polygamy as long as they could when they lived outside of the jurisdiction of the United States, where it was illegal. Eventually, Utah wanted to join the United States, many federal laws were passed which threatened church property among other things. The halting of the practice of polygamy was not a revelation, but only the result of its leader yielding to a political expediency, as is abundantly clear in the Official Declaration 1.591 The morals of the people outside of the church, were better than those within. Ironically Utah Mormons considered all on the outside to be heathen. Why does it take a law by the republic of the United States before a prophet, seer, and revelator can see that a certain practice is morally wrong and to expedite its cessation?

Regardless of the true source and justification for the reinstitution of polygamy, the fact is that the morals of the people who were living in the United States at the time of Joseph Smith had already gone beyond polygamy to the more moral one man, one wife state. Polygamy was morally wrong then, and just as it remains morally wrong now.

I must say this is one of the greatest blows to the integrity of Joseph Smith. While he actually might have been originally called by God to be a prophet, this was certainly his pitfall. This isn’t the first time that a prophet of God fell because of carnal desires. What about David, who planned the murder of Bathsheba’s husband in order to obtain her as another wife? While polygamy was socially acceptable then, murder was not. The record shows David fell from grace because of it. Why does the record not show that Joseph Smith fell from grace? His motives were the same as David’s motives when, for example, he sent Orson Hyde on a mission and secretly married Orson’s wife Marinda. I think maybe he actually did fall and maybe the record actually should show that. The idea that Joseph is a fallen prophet is not new, David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, wrote extensively on the subject in his pamphlet.592 David also brings up many teachings of Jesus which are in opposition to many things Joseph did in establishing the church the way he did. But to quote it here would consume many pages. I invite you to read it.

Consider what Joseph Smith said in May 26, 1844 in a public sermon:

Come on, ye persecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! For I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.593

In my view, this proves Joseph’s ignorance about the teachings of Jesus. He was just as ignorant as “masterbuilder” Paul was. Both of them boasted that they built a church better than Jesus did. Both of them were fools. Jesus had no intention of building any outward organization at all,594 let alone any organization which places anyone to be master of others.595

Almost exactly one month after vain boast, on June 27, 1844, he was killed by his enemies in a gun battle at Carthage Jail, thus fulfilling his own prophecy:

For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.

Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.596

It is clear that “following after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires” refers to his secret practice of polygamy, ultimately having married up to 40 women, including mothers and their own daughters, as well as wives of other living men. Many who knew of these secret marriages accused him of changing the doctrine of the church597 to satisfy his own carnal desires. It is clear it was because of his own carnal desires because section 132 specifies that plural marriages must only be with virgins, which he did not do, and for the purpose of raising seed, which he did not do. He destroyed a printing press which exposed his philandering, and he was arrested for the destruction of property which wasn’t his. Aside from destroying property, destroying a printing press is particularly offensive to all citizens of the United States. And yet, another of his own revelations says:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen598

That scripture speaks truth about organizations where men act in any position of power, and is the reason why the Kingdom of God should never be an earthly establishment which usurps any amount of power over others. It speaks against Joseph Smith, as well as all of his successors who have all exercised a level of unrighteous dominion over their followers. Some more than others, but all nonetheless.

Clearly, this “living church” has faltered several times regarding morality. From an entire race being denied the exaltation due to racial bigotry, to already accepted morals being broken by the prophet and many of his followers, is clear to me that morality is more of a function of social mores and community ethics than guidance from above. And in the case of the church, its morality is crystallized mores from a bygone era which does its utmost to resist any social advancement. I would agree with Einstein, who said:

I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.599

A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death. It is therefore easy to see why the churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees.600

Both of these ugly parts of Mormon history that I mention above are fruits of the unrighteous dominion of men. It is ironic how the views of the church have changed from what it was before. Polygamy used to be an indispensable doctrine, for example:

I heard the revelation on polygamy, and I believed it with all my heart, and I know it is from God - I know that he revealed it from heaven; I know that it is true, and understand the bearings of it and why it is. “Do you think that we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principle of polygamy?” If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted.601

that one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality ; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.602

And yet, president Hinckley lied in an interview with Larry King, “[polygamy] is not doctrinal.”603 How could he be a president of the church and yet be unfamiliar with section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants? Is he familiar with the temple marriage ceremony in which the husband still does not give himself to the wife, leaving himself open for receiving other wives? Even the new Gospel Topics essays about polygamy most definitely confirm that it is doctrinal. President Hinckley also said in the same interview: “thou shalt not bear false witness,” after saying that plural marriage is not doctrinal. I can hear Jesus saying to that: “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”604

If his [Joseph Smith’s] claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.605

Remember my mention of the above quote from Joseph Fielding Smith? Aside from the other contradictions we’ve already talked about, how easily can you detect a contradiction in the following two canonical verses?

David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power.606

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.607

Additionally, the verses before Doctrine and Covenants 132:39 specifically says that Abraham, David, and Solomon were righteous in having many wives and concubines. Yet, the Book of Mormon directly contradicts the modern revelation, and condemns David and Solomon, calling their many wives a whoredom and abomination. The context of that quote from Jacob specifically contradicts:

For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.608

Isn’t that the very same excuse that Doctrine and Covenants 132 cites for the justification of the practice of polygamy? How could an whoredom or abomination ever be counted as righteousness? The word abomination in English as defined in the dictionary is a vile, shameful, detestable action, and its secondary definition is and atrocious, disgraceful, obscene, repugnant, abhorrent, evil crime. The word whoredom in English is defined as prostitution, and its secondary meaning is idolatry. Jacob said this about whoredoms:

Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell.609

Are we supposed to throw God under the bus again and blame this all upon the “ever changing will of the Lord?” What kind of a God are we being asked to believe in if he is supposed to be so inconsistent and moody? Certainly not the God that Jesus taught about, and certainly not the God that I believe in. It is only an idolatrous god who changes his mind like that. It is only an idolatrous god who declares whoredoms, idolatrous practices, to be righteous.

If this is such a blatant contradiction, wouldn’t Joseph Fielding Smith’s words apply: “our canon is built upon fraud and deceit.” The Book of Mormon even contradicts itself within the same chapter. It seems to me that the following two verses are completely out of place and they disturb the literary flow of the entire chapter.

Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.610

Why do they disturb the flow? Because the context around the verses is talking about the abuse of women involved in polygamy. Because these verses contradict everything that is said both before and after those verses in the chapter. It is as if Joseph did not entirely approve of what was being written, and inserted his own “prophetic” (read: narcissistic) loophole. There are a few reasons why his loophole makes no sense to me beyond the obvious contradiction.

  1. Polygamy does not raise more seed. If you have 50 men and 50 women on an island, what is the fastest way to raise the most children? It is to give each woman a man. It is proven that Brigham Young’s wives and many other polygamist wives were much less productive than they would have been had they not been polygamous.

  2. With that said, “The Lord of Hosts” said that Polygamy is used to “raise up seed.” Is “The Lord of Hosts” so unintelligent that he actually thinks that polygamy increases the seed when it really doesn’t?

  3. If the purpose (or excuse) was to “raise up seed,” then where is “the seed” from Joseph Smith’s 40 wives?

  4. The blurb about commandments and the land being cursed if they don’t obey goes contrary to what Jesus taught and seems to instead be an appeal to authority for obedience of the commandments of men than appeal to follow Jesus.

It is clear to me that polygamy was never a principle of God and both racism as well as polygamy should not only have been changed way before it was apparent that the church was forced by evolving social morality to change, but both of them should have never been instigated in the first place if there was true prophetic insight and real communication with Jesus himself.

The answer is no. Morality and ethics are social, not spiritual or authoritarian. While true religion might provide some higher destiny in eternity for the purposes for morality, it is clear that morality in and of itself is not religious. Organized religion has instead most often stifled moral progress, and the institution of Mormonism is not exempt from stifling moral progress just the same as any other organized religion has.

You find as you look around the world that every single bit of human progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is, the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.611

Pharisee

In the following word definitions, I show series of discoveries which led me to understand what Pharisee truly means.

It is ironic that a church which bears the name of Jesus is vehemently separatist as it asserts that it has his only true apostles is most exact in declaring, heeding and carrying out his doctrines, yet in this it goes against the things which Jesus tirelessly campaigned against and for which he ultimately lost his life because it was the sanctimonious elitists which conspired against Jesus and got him killed.

The irony is intensified by the paradox that the church views the religious freedom, as prescribed in the United States constitution, as insufficient for it to practice its tenets. Consequently, it vainly calls upon the government of the free country, which gave it the freedom to institutionalize in the first place, to allow it more fully practice its doctrines of elitism, separatism, prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry. Those core beliefs inherently require an intrusion upon the rights of people which it considers unworthy because they ignore its bylaws.

Myth

For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.612

As I mentioned earlier, one of the holes which could be filled by true revelation and seership is the rectification of the myth contained in that which is supposed to be true: the scriptures. Yes, it is clear to me now that there is a lot of myth in the scriptures. Those who seek to understand our world as it is, with empirical evidence and sincere truth seeking, find the myth in the scriptures repulsive. It is easy to see that myths have caused thinking, scientific minds to be driven away from scripture!

As a person grows to adulthood, at sometime during their growth they learn that the fairy tales they once believed in are not true. While they all have a great story and often have morals in that story, the characters and story is fiction. Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Frog-prince, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, Thumbelina are all not true, even though they may have good morals and make you feel good inside at the end.

Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.613

There comes a point where something has to give in regards to scriptural myth. The longer you live here on earth, the more you realize that either this world does not work in the ways that the olden world did as described in the scriptures, or the stories in the scriptures are fables. Either something changed and trumpets bringing walls down, seas parting, food falling from heaven, and fruits giving knowledge no longer happen, or something never changed and those things never happened. Recent movies like Big Fish and Life of Pi illustrate the fact that people would rather hear an embellished and fantastic story instead of the truth. It is no different with much of the “history” contained in the scriptures. As humankind finds and proves more and more truth through empirical evidence, it becomes more and more difficult to trust the old stories written by humans in scripture – especially if the humans had savage practices, like the sacrificial infanticide of children to place them in cornerstones so their spirit could ward evil spirits from an edifice.614

Most of the fantasy in the Old Testament was written while Israel was in captivity. Israel as a nation had taken a huge blow to their ego. Scripture wasn’t as it is today with millions of copies. There were few copies and those copies were controlled by elite scribes. The scribes tried to compensate for their captivity by embellishing stories of their nation’s inception, trying to make it known that Israel truly was a chosen people and their God cared for them and provided many miracles in their history. While the embellishment may have helped racial morale, the truth was thwarted, and myth was created. A myth is a traditional story, usually based (however lightly) on a known fact. There is a tiny bit of truth to most myths in the scriptures, but the truthful root is small.

The Old Testament isn’t the only thing that contains myth, though. What Christianity believes is Christianity is not the religion that Jesus practiced. Jesus was intent to not leave anything behind that could be worshiped. He left no children, writings, or property of any kind. Many things were added after he was gone. Instead of teaching and living Jesus’ religion, a religion was created about Jesus. The changes that were made to the simple message of Jesus were not made by him. They were made by men who came after him, and who could not give up their old traditions and ideas.

The Situation in Eden

Of the huge list of myths in scripture, let us consider the first story in the Bible. The story of the garden of Eden may have some truth in it. There may have been a garden of Eden where people named Adam and Eve lived, and it may have been a beautiful place. There may have been a tree of life. They did not live there forever. The truth stops there. The drama of being naked, the complete innocence, the perfect immortal but neutered state of their bodies, Satan as a snake, the temptation of Eve, a pristine world, a fruit that gives knowledge, fig leaves, skins, God searching for Adam and Adam being able to hide himself, Eve being subjugated to Adam because of her disobedience, Adam and Eve being subject to death because of the fruit of knowledge... In Mormonism, all of this is concrete truth, even though it is better suited as myth.

In the story of Eden, it seems to me that mythical god portrayed in the story attempts to thwart his own creation of free will by controlling the choices of his children because of his own selfish jealousy towards them. There seems to be a bias that an obstinate, authoritarian, organized religion should ideally control every detail of the life of free-will creatures.

It was not anyone who opposed God who provided the adversity for the situation in Eden, but instead it was a fallible god who provided it by making the ground produce the tree of knowledge of good and evil.615 The tree in itself wasn’t evil, but he made it become evil by telling his children not to not eat of it, threatened them with same-day death if per chance he transgressed his command.616 Then, the same fallible god deliberately lied by omitting key factual details about the tree and the rest of the situation where he placed his children. Adam and Eve, whose pristine minds were not only oblivious to the dichotomy of good and evil, but according to the story they were yet incapable of grasping the idea of good and evil, could not have understood all of the implications of anything which granted knowledge of good and evil, and that fallible god failed to provide the knowledge for them to properly understand their situation.

That is where a new entity comes in: a serpent. In the Bible, is not explicitly said that the serpent is Lucifer, only that the serpent was subtle.617 One of the dictionary definitions of subtle is “capable of making fine distinctions” and that definition has synonyms of keen, wise, and intelligent. Eve reviewed with the serpent all that she had learned about the situation, which wasn’t much.618 It is clear that she knew little more than the explicit command of this other relatively new entity she called God – everything was new to her. How could she, as a new being, have even known what death truly means, especially if she and every animal around her was living in immortality and if she was “in a state of innocence, having no joy, for [she] knew no misery; doing no good for [she] knew no sin?”619

Verses 4 and 5 of Genesis 3 have many implications. The serpent pointed out that there was nothing innate about the fruit that would cause her to die. The serpent was actually truthful, because there really isn’t anything natural about gaining knowledge that would do that, aside from some other entity killing them for disobeying. The story seems to be reiterating that God is supposed to be a wrathful, jealous, retributive god.

The serpent implied that her trust in God had been broken, because God didn’t tell them the entire truth. He said, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof,”620 as he pointed out a truth that had been deliberately withheld by God: “then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” In a way, the serpent pointed out that the anthropomorphic, fearful, wrathful, idolatrous tribal god was trying to keep them oppressed and was trying to impede them from becoming like him. The serpent inspired eve to go beyond her limitations and to use her power of choice to gain a virtue which would make her more godlike. Besides the authoritarian command of a jealous god, there is no reason why this would be evil.

It is problematic that God is portrayed as a selfish god, whose motive was to remain in his role of superiority over the free-will entities he had created by keeping them ignorant and in the dark. He seemed to be fearful and jealous that they could become his equal if they simply chose to be. He lied to and manipulated his own children, who he ironically created with an autonomous freedom of choice, but he belittled and attempted to reduce that freedom of choice by giving them additional consequences beyond the naturally good consequences of seeking to become more like him by choosing to gain knowledge of good and evil.

Their sin is insubordination to authoritarian control and nothing else: they chose to seek wisdom for themselves instead of depending on the oppressive command of someone who controls and withholds information and, in their view so far, only pretends to be their superior. Remember, they are newly born beings and have little understanding of who this person is who pretends to command them. In reality there is technically no implicit evil in a genuine desire to gain more knowledge of anything, including of good and evil. And ironically, the dichotomy between free will and the control of tyranny is set up to fail as if an omniscient God could not foresee what would happen, but instead seems so deluded that he is doing no wrong even while lying to them. God punishes them severely for disobeying, loading on all kinds of sanctions which again would be unnatural for what they truly did: they were disobedient because they allowed themselves to be enticed by only the possibility of having more knowledge. Knowledge is imperative for any autonomous free-will being to make informed choices. Knowledge grants sovereignty or self-government to the free-will being.

The knowledge of the serpent621 was proved reliable because “in they day [they ate] thereof” they did begin to become more like God and know more good and evil – and it did happen that day. On the other hand, God became a liar again by not doing what he originally threatened to do and not killing them “in the day [they eat],” but instead did all in his power to make their lives as uncomfortable as he possibly could, and then, like a selfish spoiled child, he ran away and never talked to them personally again.

Why would an omniscient god not have foreseen that killing them off in the day they ate it would have thwarted his purpose for creating them in the first place? Why would an all-knowing god have to resort to a threat or ultimatum to enforce his word by lying about what he would do when he should have already known what would happen? Why would an all-knowing god not understand the paradox of creating new beings of free will, and gave them the gifts of mind, capacity for knowledge, reasoning, thinking and understanding, but then expect them to suppress those gifts and mindlessly follow tyrannical commands? Why would a creator of free agents make rules which unnaturally go against the measure of their creation to be agents unto themselves? Why would an omniscient god need someone else to go down, observe what his kids have been doing, and then return and report?

It baffles me that we should suppose that the god portrayed in this myth should be the same loving, merciful, empathetic, omniscient “father in heaven” that Jesus talked about. That lying, controlling, conniving, evil god is not the god I could ever believe in. It is clear to me that the concept of that kind of god as well as this tale was created by charlatans who wish to dictate draconian laws over their subjects and who require blind obedience. The god in this story acts more like a mythological God at Olympus would act, where human frailties and drama with other superhuman beings thwart his ability to understand his own creation. That god is just a conceited human in the sky, who knows nothing of his creation unless his servants report it to him.

It is clear to me that the entire contrivance is a myth which “makes reason stare.” It raises more questions than it provides answers. There are several more mythical inconsistencies and even paradoxes and that I can think of, especially if you take into account the drama encountered in The Temple. Whoever wrote the temple drama made the situation all the more irrational than it was before.

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We suffer many other consequences of Adam’s transgression. To say we are not punished for his sin makes little sense. Consequences are the true punishment for transgression, or bad choices. If the children have to deal with the consequences of their parents’ choices, they are being punished for their parents’ sins. If the government goes deep into debt, then the coming generations must pay the price. The children of Hiroshima are probably still paying the price for the atrocity of war. To reap the consequences of Adam’s choice without having made the choice means that we are punished for his misconduct.

All of these are because of Adam’s transgression. It seems to me that all of these represent giving all of our personal sovereignty to idolatry.

It seems to me that everything about both the Bible story and the drama in the temple would be exactly what the adversary would produce if he were given the chance. It is something that subversively portrays God as having attributes that Lucifer should have, and portrays Lucifer as an innocent pest, and in the end places the necessity for a pagan demigod sacrifice as the only means to escape the wrath of an evil, fallible god.

The situation that is presented to us to believe happened in Eden is so preposterous to me that I find it demeans and insults the god I believe in, whose intellect, logic, reason, and wisdom should be beyond us all. Instead it seems to be a pretentious, manipulative contrivance of men.

I like to believe that there is a true story of a man named Adam, his wife Eve, a Garden of Eden, the default of their divine mission, and their expulsion from Eden which is not a contrived fairy tale, but we do not teach such a history. To think President Monson says we have a fullness, yet in that myth alone we are completely deceived about the origin of the human race.

In recent years, I’ve enjoyed watching movies like Megamind, or Despicable Me, where the villain is brought down to a personal level and we can enjoy seeing the villain as a more complex character. We end up feeling sympathetic with the villain, while the good guys are shallow, arrogant, and self-important. With that in mind, more thoughts have come to me about Lucifer, and whether he is the true villain.

With the great pre-existence plan to experience opposition in all things and to be tested, God knew beforehand that we would need a savior, and he knew that Jesus should fill that role, because he is omniscient. Likewise, God should have also known that Lucifer would have to fill the role of Satan. Jesus accepted that role when he offered to be sent to be sacrificed for redemption from the fall, and only Jesus could self-sacrifice to fulfill the requirement of the fall. Lucifer would have had to know he would never get a body and could never live with God again. But Lucifer, that bright morning star, also knew that without a satan, no one could ever return if they never left, and the entire plan would be thwarted if he simply didn’t do anything.

In the temple, Lucifer declares, I am doing that which has been done in other worlds. He demonstrates that he knew that the role had to be played by someone or there could not be an opposition in all things, the very thing that makes the plan work.

Questions come which seem to answer more than any answers could. Could Lucifer have sacrificed himself for us to play the opposition, so the plan could work at all? Did God unwittingly sacrifice his other son? Did God sacrifice this other son so the plan could work at all, and in the end, Lucifer’s offer to be sent was actually fulfilled?

Who made the greater sacrifice? Jesus is has a glorified body and is exalted as a God for his temporary suffering, but Lucifer has to suffer for eternity in outer darkness for fulfilling the duty of opposition that no one else would fulfill.

There are other players who seem to have been commanded to fill the opposing role. Judas fulfilled the request of Jesus to turn him in, and for doing that, he lost his place as an apostle. Peter fulfilled the request of Jesus to deny him.

It seems as though, in the grand scheme of things, fulfilling the request to play for the other team, for the offense to meet a defense, is not something an omniscient God would do to some of his children so that all of the others could get off scot free, including the one who was supposed to make the real sacrifice.

I have heard it said that Lucifer couldn’t help himself, because he was blinded by his pride and resentment. But this is not his fault if God knew this had to happen for the plan, and if God was willing to let Lucifer do it. It seems to me, again, that God in LDS theology needs to be less omnipotent, less omniscient, and quite obstinate in his contempt. It seems like that God has finite resources available, because the number of children can be divided into groups of thirds, and only a certain number could return. It’s almost as if he is beholden to the laws, of some other force, or some greater god that is superior to himself.

I assert that the following are all myths, though I won’t go into detail like I did the Garden of Eden. (this is not a comprehensive list, it is only off the top of my head – I’ve done no research to find more).

Virgin Birth

I included virgin birth and physical fatherhood of God as myths! How could that not be true? After all, Matthew quotes prophetic proof that Jesus would be born of a virgin, doesn’t he?630

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.631

The fact that Matthew quotes this scripture makes me suspicious that he might be pretentious because he takes that scripture out of context to support the virgin birth idea. Before the printing press was invented, it was easy to employ subversive tactics, like taking Old Testament text out of context as prophecy. If we read the verses before and after the source in Isaiah, we can see for ourselves what the prophecy was really about.

I should probably first reiterate that there was a prophet from both Judah and Israel. Each were true prophets at least from the perspective of their respective kingdoms, but they often opposed each other.632 Isaiah was the prophet for Judah, while Hosea and Amos were prophets for the northern kingdom.

The context of Matthew’s prophecy is as follows. Isaiah told king Ahaz that God would destroy the enemies of Judah.633 After Isaiah delivered his prophetic message to Ahaz, Isaiah told Ahaz that he should ask God for a sign to confirm that Isaiah’s prophecy was true. Ahaz refused, saying he would not test God. That is where that verse above comes into context. Isaiah told Ahaz that the sign would still be given to him by God, and that sign would be that a virgin should bear a son, and he should have a symbolic name, “God is with us.” In the verses afterwards, he promised that by the time the infant was old enough to know right from wrong, he would be eating butter and honey, a sign of prosperity, and their enemies, Ephraim and Syria, would be destroyed.

The context has everything to do with that moment with King Ahaz and Judah’s enemies at that time, because the timeframe was given by Isaiah that it should be enough time for a baby to be conceived, born, and for that baby to gain knowledge of good and evil. It has nothing to do with the mission of Jesus, who would come half of a millennium later after everyone involved in this story were dead.

In support of this view of the context, the word virgin is badly translated. The Hebrew word almah has no equivalent in English. Matthew was written in Greek. The word was translated to Greek as parthenos, or virgin. That word would have been more rightly translated from Hebrew as a maiden of child-bearing age. There is no lack of maidens bearing children at the time: Ahaz’s wife Abijah bearing Hezekiah,634 or Isaiah’s prophetess wife bearing Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means “hurry to the spoils,” having a direct relationship to Isaiah’s “God is with us” prophecy that Judah would conquer its enemies.635 Later on in the same chapter Isaiah says that he and his own children are the signs and wonders to Israel for his prophecy.636

This is all ironic because what Isaiah prophesied did not come true. Judah was vexed by their enemies. Neither did Jesus fulfill the prophecy because he also did not cause Judah to overcome Israel and Syria. If we take the false prophecy of Isaiah and add it to the pretense of Matthew in using a badly translated word as evidence for the veracity of his myth, we end up with nothing but obvious subterfuge by those who would wish us to believe something unreasonable by perverting historical writings into myth and prophecy. This is only one example of the imposition of falsity as prophecy. All of the Old Testament prophecies which the New Testament uses for the birth of Jesus are evidently all contrivances which also take the Old Testament passages out of context.637

I assert that virgin birth has absolutely nothing to do with who Jesus was, his mission, and everything he did. Jesus was who he was because of the personality, mind, spirit, and soul which possessed his body, not because of any physical endowment. After all, if you do believe Isaiah was talking about Jesus all along, then how could this describe a half-god?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.638

If he was physically half god, shouldn’t his body have been a bit more perfect in form and beauty? I like to think that all of the miracles which followed him should have nothing to do with what he was, but rather is spiritual identity: the creator of our universe. By the simple reason of his spiritual identity, there should have been millions of angels watching his every move and waiting for his will to be shown to hurriedly execute. That should have nothing to do with whether he was physically half-god.

The story fits in with all of the other contemporary demigod origins. This is nothing new. In plain language, an anthropormorphic god comes down, mates with a human female in what should be called the modern cliche, “one-night stand.” Then their bastard child is raised in secrecy as a half-god, until he reaches adulthood and discovers his power.

The romanticization of origins was given to practically every ancient hero ex post facto. If anyone gained enough renown, fables of their miraculous life were spread hundreds of years after their death. They were given a divine heritage, super powers, and a supernatural origin story. Just as the story of Jesus, some even redeemed everyone else from the wrath of their father. As we continue to extol the same old story about a demigod, we are no different from those Greeks or Romans in antiquity who genuinely believed their mythology. Ancient Jewish mythology seems to be better because their god was less anthropomorphic. We seem to be resuscitating a pagan myth that a god that needs to be appeased by the sacrifice of his own demigod son.

The belief in those half-gods or demigods was quite popular in the pagan religions of the same age. Think of the many other legends at the time about virgin-birth demigods: Augustus, Agdistis, Attis, Adonis, Dionysus, Mithras, Horus, Osirus, Perseus, Romulus/Remus. It is evident to me that the pagan idea of a half-god crept into the teachings of Paul. He and other pagans that were converted to Christianity brought their baggage with them.

The earliest Jewish-Christian gospels make no mention of a supernatural birth, and it was the First Council of Nicaea which crystallized the dogmatic doctrine of the Trinity, which identifies Jesus as the same essence as the Father. It is the same Creed of Nicæa which established that Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.

Yet, even though both Matthew and Luke seem to teach virgin birth, they are also both intent to trace his lineage back to King David through Joseph the carpenter in their genealogies of Jesus.639 The lineages are inconsistent, so which one is true? If Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus, how could he claim lineage from Joseph? There are theories which claim that the lineage was actually Mary’s, but that seems like grasping at straws to me, especially in a patriarchal society. Regardless, since they are inconsistent, those lineages are probably just inventions: an attempt to conform with Jewish literary convention, as well to show that Jesus was the Messiah, who was promised to sit on the throne of David and subdue all the enemies of Israel even though Jesus never had any intention of doing any of that.

It seems that the Paul and his pagan friends romanticized the Son of God idea. Contrarily, Jesus called himself “the Son of man,” which means: the son of a human being. No, “man” is never capitalized and never meant God as Bruce McConkie apologetically contrives.640 Jesus was familiar with the scriptures, and he was aware of the real use and meaning of the phrase. Jesus deliberately self-describes himself using the Old Testament phrase “son of man” 81 times in the four gospels. Why would he repeatedly call himself that? Because he knew both who he was and what he was. He may have known his divine spiritual identity as the sovereign of the universe, and this shows that he also knew his mission on Earth was to be a real human being, just like all of the rest of humankind. Jesus constantly called himself “the son of man” because wanted to make sure we knew that he knew he was no different from us and he knew that we couldn’t follow him if he were a different breed.

If Jesus were physically superior to the rest of humankind, then that would be problematic: we could not truly follow him because he would be substantially different from us. Following someone who was created in perfection is impossible for beings created in imperfection. We have fallen into the trap of trying to perfect the natural man as a requisite for entry to the Celestial Kingdom. Following Jesus does not mean purposefully believing the right things and forcibly keeping a long list of commandments in constant defiance of the so-called natural man.641

If there is anything about the natural man that could best be put off, it is his affinity for tribal loyalty and the disgrace of all those who are not part of his tribe. The natural man is the principal factor in keeping people loyal to the church, because it has become their tribe. It is this tribalism that causes contempt for those who are not in the tribe or who dare leave the tribe, and it is this tribalism that engenders honor and admiration for those who join. This is the same tribalism that engendered ancient endemic warfare all the way up to today’s terrorism and warring nations on the basis of religion. The LDS church is not exempt from this base tribalism.

Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.

Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.642

Jesus did not focus on putting off human nature by strict external performances, he focused on inner rebirth. When Jesus talked about the final judgment, it had nothing to do with belief, religion, ordinances, or strict command-keeping.643 The religion of Jesus has nothing to do with perfecting fallen man, it is instead experiencing the kingdom of heaven now, in this life, by recognizing that everyone has a portion of the divine in them, and everyone has divine potential. God does not favor anyone more than anyone else. Everyone has divine potential, not just those of your tribe who have performed your tribe’s idolatrous outward rituals. We become aware of this through spiritual rebirth. That inner rebirth is more powerful and transforming than continuously attempting to perfectly obey a long laundry-list of outwardly visible performances which only hypocritically proves your appearance of worthiness to your tribe.

The religion of Jesus has to do with recognizing the face of God in the least of these. When you recognize God in every person, especially those your tribe brands as the least worthy, you realize that you can no longer be prejudiced against anyone. Everyone is an expression of God. Tribalism is a prejudice to everyone who is not part of your tribe. Prejudice diminishes your ability to recognize the face of God in others. To truly follow Jesus, you must believe that God is the source of love. To worship the God that Jesus talked about, would be to become all that you are capable of being as you have been created, and that everybody else has the capacity to become everything that they can be, as they are created. It is not that you are overcoming a fall from perfection, but that humankind has ever been ascending since the beginning of the existence of the first self-conscious being on this planet.

To return to the virgin birth topic, I like to imagine that Joseph and Mary were married somewhere around March of 8 BC, before he was conceived, and then that Jesus was likely born in or before August of 7 BC. There are a few historical reasons why the date of August of 7 BC could make sense.

Herod the Great died in 4 BC, yet he was alive at the birth of Jesus. So Jesus had to be born before 4 BC. Herod died of chronic kidney disease.644 I doubt that he was massacring innocent babies as he was ailing in health, so it had to be at least a year or more before his death. Because Herod ordered that all children under the age of 2 be killed,645 he knew Jesus was born and was uncertain of his age; he thought Jesus had to be between 0 and 2 years old at the time.

The KJV of Luke 2:1-7 translates what should be the words “censored,” “registered,” or “enrolled” incorrectly to “taxed.” Joseph went to the city of David because he was of the lineage of David; because it was a census. Aside from the mistranslation, it also makes no sense that he would have to go to the place of his lineage to simply pay taxes, and it makes more sense that he had to go for a census. Besides, this was one of the three historical censuses instigated by Caesar Augustus. The historical empire-wide censuses were in 28 BC, 8 BC and 14 AD.646 Luke 2:2 says it happened while Quirinius was governor of Syria, but Quirinius/Cyrenius was made governor at 6 AD,647 and the Census of Quirinius was done in 6-7 AD,648 so something has to be wrong, because Herod was dead in 6 AD. Tertullian argued that Jesus was born while Saturninus was the governor of Syria.649 I am willing to assert along with many scholars that Luke was wrong about Quirinius, and it goes to show that anything in the gospels could be inaccurate. There was Jewish opposition to “being numbered” so it may have taken Herod while for it to actually happen, making 7 BC reasonable.650

The ancient world viewed the sky as a dome or ceiling, called the firmament, on which the stars and moon affixed. Angels could have dragged a star across the firmament immediately ahead of the wise men. This makes sense mythologically. How ever implausible it would be to interpret their experience of how they may have seen a star in the heaven with our modern knowledge of space and the orbit of the planets, here is one such attempt:

In 7 BC there was a Greatest Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, were they are close together and lit brightly by the Sun from the perspective on Earth. That event in 7 BC is al

Our modern calendar is based on the calculations of Dionysus Exiguus, a Roman abbot who lived over five hundred years after the time of Jesus. He came up with the Anno Dommini, but how exactly he arrived at the number of 525 years from his time is unknown. It is understood that they believed that Jesus was born in the year Anno Mundi (age of the earth) 5,500, and they believed that the end of the world would be in the year 6,000. It was this same Dionysius who established how to calculate the date of Easter. We have him to thank for the error of the birth of Jesus which our calendar continues with to this day.651 It may very well be that he got the year wrong.

Why are we so hypocritical to point the finger of scorn at mythological gods who have a demigod child, when our own theology appears to have mimicked what they created? Jesus was conceived just as every other child is conceived in this world and was just as human as you and I are. He really was Joseph’s son. Joseph really was his earthly father. All the drama about Mary conceiving before marriage is a sensational drama to tell, and as any good story telling, it is a myth.

The mission of Jesus could have been many things other than to be an offering for sin. None of these require demigod status:

Priesthood

It is empirically evident to me that the prophet-president of the church gains no spiritual gift of prophecy or seership by virtue of the keys of his priesthood office and neither do the apostles. They do not ever talk face to face with Jesus, nor do they see as we are taught prophets like Moses, Ether, and Nephi saw. I know this because there are no fruits. If they did talk and did see, they would be overflowing with new revelation, and what they would reveal would be in compliance with what Jesus of Nazareth would say. I also know this because some of them have confessed. Since that is true, then is the priesthood truly something that bestows the gifts and power of God? Are patriarchs and their patriarchal blessings truly prophetic, or are they instead the result of training they received at church headquarters when they received the call to be patriarch? The latter makes sense, since so many, if not all, patriarchal blessings seem like cookie-cutter blessings. While this realization sickens me because I have been so deceived, it also liberates me because I know the truth now.

Priesthoods exist for this purpose: to provide command hierarchy for the administration of the ordinances, rites, and rituals of an established religion. Somehow in the restored gospel, priesthood became thwarted into having a magical power of heaven at ones fingertips and to have rightful access to spiritual gifts. I have had a really hard time seeing that “power” actually work. And maybe that’s because it was never intended to be a power:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;654

In fact the true power is faith, not priesthood:

For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;655

Enoch (as well as Melchizedek in the context) were ordained because they already possessed great faith power. This says that faith, the true source of divine power, is a prerequisite to be part of that order.

Priesthood in The Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus taught much about the kingdom of heaven. I think he only called it a kingdom because that was the only word which could be used as a unification of people at the time. The word kingdom could probably be replaced with something else now, as society has progressed to be able to envision people unified in heart without the idea of a king as a ruler. Jesus often talked about a kingdom of heaven, but he never talked about God being a king or acting like a king. Instead, he taught that God is a loving father.

He said that his kingdom is not of this world. If he had intended to establish a physical kingdom in this world, then he would have become the king and written its creeds and enforced its laws. He did not take the opportunity to become a king when it was offered to him, either. There were many who wanted to crown him king and have him become what the Jews thought the messiah should be, elevating the nation of Israel above all other nations, but he never intended to establish any such institution, nor did he even relent to such a proposition. You may well remember that he fed five thousand, but once again, the story is ripped from its context, because it does not support the church’s narrative. After he fed the five thousand, they rallied to crown him king, but Jesus ran away!

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.656

Jesus taught that his kingdom resides within our hearts. He taught that we have direct access to truth through the spirit of God. He taught that we can ask and receive, that we didn’t need a priest, shaman, or any other intercessory to do that for us, nor would we need them to do any rituals which are supposed to bring salvation. He taught that people no longer needed the priests to intercede between the people and God, and that’s what riled the Jewish priesthood leaders to crucify him. Consider part of Pilate’s interrogation (italics and [:] added for clarity):

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world[:] that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.657

It is a tragedy that quotes and dramatizations of the above scripture omit the context in the very same verse! The omission of context when it does not fit an institution’s agenda is a form of lying, called propaganda. Jesus said it was Pilate who said he was King, not him. That changes the meaning entirely. He interjected that his true mission was to help genuine truth seekers find truth. The contextual verse before also clarifies what I am saying.

Please think for a minute about the implication that Jesus did not take a perfect opportunity to confirm his lordship. It is difficult to deny that Jesus clearly said that his objective and cause for coming to this world was to bear witness to the truth. The meaning of most of his parables becomes quite obvious when you can see that he was usually talking about sincere truth seeking.

You have heard it said or even memorized that “wickedness never was happiness.”658 But I say, error never was happiness. Disappointment and sorrow are inevitable when we rely on error because it is not reality. Truth is happiness because it continues on and can be relied upon and lived forever.

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.659

We should not be as preoccupied with what wickedness is as much as we should be with finding what truth is. As I have already said, those who tell you to doubt your doubts and ignore fact and cease to reason in order to continue delusional mythical beliefs which uphold a powerful establishment of men because happiness and contentment are there, are in opposition to Jesus’ Spirit of Truth, are in error, and will someday be met with disappointment and sorrow as they come to terms with the truth.

The building up of the kingdom of God on earth, as an earthly kingdom, to which there is a king or president or whatever you call the man at the head, and where there is much power to be wielded by men, and by which there is much ritual and pomp, goes completely against the anti-Pharisaical teachings of Jesus. Jesus did not like priesthood, because men become corrupt with it more often than not.

Paul said that Jesus called apostles, prophets, pastors teachers, and evangelists.660 To call those a priesthood makes light of everything else Jesus taught. The roots of the word apostle mean sent forth or messenger, as the related word epistle means written message sent forth. Apostle does not mean priest. A priest is an ordained minister with the authority to perform rites and administer sacraments on behalf of people who cannot commune with God on their own. Jesus deprecated the requirement for priests when he taught that we all have direct access to the spirit of our loving father and that we should seek his will directly. Even though they continued John the Baptist’s practices, the apostles weren’t called to represent God himself in performing saving rites for people. The apostles did not collect tithes or live on tithes as do those who call themselves apostles today. The apostles were simply “higher disciples” who forsook all to follow Jesus, to learn from him, and to be sent throughout the world to spread his teachings.

To say that the priesthood has been restored contradicts the teachings of Jesus. The priesthood is the thing that he constantly ridiculed. Priesthood more often causes religion to petrify into dogma, and in so doing it impedes man’s understanding of an infinite God from advancing. The real gospel of Jesus finally divested religion from the bondage of dogmatism, superstitions, magic, mythology, and a stagnant uninspired priesthood. Many of his parables had to do with how those who were part of all ranks of the priesthood weren’t any better than anyone else, and in fact were often haughty and proud and oppressive, while those who were humble and sincere, like the publicans and sinners, were more deserving of entering into the kingdom of God. Most of all, it was the Sanhedrin, the high council of priesthood leaders, which plotted for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Do you think the Jews did not have the priesthood? According to Mormon Doctrine there was never any “apostasy” or loss of priesthood authority between Moses and the times of Jesus. Also, as I’ve said before, Jesus never became an ordained priest. His followers called him rabbi only out of respect, but the fact that he wasn’t a priest perturbed and threatened the priesthood authority of the Sanhedrin, and was a central reason why the priesthood leaders plotted for his demise.

You may ask about “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.”661 My question to you is, who wrote Ephesians? Paul did. Paul was a Pharisee and was in favor priesthoods. May I remind you that Paul was not there – how could he have witnessed what he said transpired? Are those truly offices of a priesthood, or just calls to help establish Paul’s mystery cult? Do you believe Paul’s word or the words of Jesus? Here is what Jesus actually said about established leadership or authority hierarchy:

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.662

The restoration of the power of God given to man is a gimmick. It was Joseph Smith’s claim to ecclesiastical authority, while the way he gained that authority is just as questionable as how Paul gained his authority. While in reality the priesthood shows no fruits of actually having the power of God besides that which is questionably upheld by cognitive bias, and the fruits of obtaining all of the keys to the priesthood does not bestow any gift of prophecy, seership, or of revelation.

Here is one of the many parables Jesus taught to those of the priesthood, The parable of the supper. (This is a simpler parable which is comparable to the parable of the wedding feast663)

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant,  Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.664

Truly, if the ones he calls do not follow him, not because they aren’t unable to understand him, but because they are unwilling to understand him, then all of those who are more humble than they will be called and received. Be wary of the priesthood, as it is possible that “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of [his] supper.”

Priesthood Judgment

I find it disconcerting how the church treats sinners by imposing social punishments. It takes away recommends, callings, priesthood, membership, spouses, children, salvation, and even something as rudimentary as underwear. It does things which incur a level of social flogging, or public chastisement. Though it may officially deny this, the implications of many of its doctrines encourage shunning the people who have disobeyed what it has prescribed as the laws of God, even though those who faltered may actually be sincere seekers of God. I say to that: how can this be the church of Jesus when we can’t understand the teachings of Jesus on this matter?

There are three parables which Jesus taught together. All have to do with how the kingdom of heaven deals with those who have been lost and what happens until they have been found. They are:

Jesus taught all of these parables at the same time for a reason: he reiterates the same truth with different parables. Because he used three parables, he makes it easier for us to find the moral of the story. Because the coin is not a being and cannot have intention, it relates to anyone who is lost by circumstance, who are confused, confounded, or blinded by living in a material world. The lost sheep also unwittingly loses its way from the path. But the prodigal son premeditated and deliberately chose to go astray and even squandered his inheritance. The prodigal son desiring a payout of his inheritance was tantamount to wishing his father was dead.

Because all of these go together, Jesus illustrates that in any situation, regardless of the circumstances, our Father is not only mindful of those that are lost, he and all of those who serve him will only seek more earnestly for those which are lost, and will not stop until that which was lost has been found and restored. The loving grace the father shows to his son is a cry against the ideals of the Pharisees which stress law, merit, reward, and punishment.

To me, those parables teach that mercy is only the beginning of the after-effects of the love of our father!  Not only will he put forth all of the powers of heaven in finding you, and not only will he mercifully forgive, but he will also rescue you from humiliation, rehabilitate and nurture you back to full health – if you would only allow him. This helps illustrate what I meant when I said that of the effects of darkness and evil are obliterated and swallowed up by his love.

These parables are a loud cry against the idea that God abandons the sinner. They teach the complete opposite: the farther away you go, the more intensely God’s search for you will be, and the more resources God will dedicate to restoring you to everything you should be as his precious son or daughter. And he has always had this love for you regardless of any animal, human, or demigod sacrifice.

I have heard it said over and over, love the sinner, hate the sin668 as if it were a teaching of Jesus. He did not teach that. In fact, it is contrary to his teachings to love as he loves, which includes the love he gave to sinners. It was coined by Saint Augustine of Hippo around 424 AD, and then was subject to paraphrasing over time to become what it is today. Contrarily, Jesus taught that if you love someone, then that love will have the power to morph your judgment into mercy.

It is a contradiction to say that both hate and love should be applied to the same situation, especially when God’s core attribute is love. If a man were to tell his wife that he loves her, but that he hates all of her mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and faults — that would not go very well at all. When you love someone, you love all of them, including their quirkiness and blemishes.

It is silly to think that a creator would intentionally create an imperfect being and then hate the imperfection. If God intended you to be imperfect, your imperfections, shortcomings, and even sins would only make him love you more.

While it’s great if my children might perform flawlessly, I often catch myself loving my children more and showing more compassion towards those that falter, or show imperfections and vulnerabilities. I have difficulty envisioning God as incapable of doing what I can do. I can only see God showering more love upon those who are sincere in their plight. Love the sinner, hate the sin contradicts the teachings of Jesus in the parables I mentioned above, as well as this metaphor of his:

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.669

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.670

Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.671

What do those really mean? They mean that your actions and your core identity are the same thing. They mean that a person’s thoughts, feelings, words and actions are the result of who they really are deep down inside. To love the sinner and hate their sin contradicts that. Love the vine but hate the grapes? Love the tree but hate the apple? Both of those cannot make sense because the vine and the grapes are one, and the Tree and the apple are one. Hating the sin does not help because it only causes separation and holier-than-thou snobbery. I say, love the sinner, including their sin. It is part of the human experience to sin. Without it, we are not human. It is only by loving both the tree and its fruit that the tree’s mind can heal. When you love the sinner and the sin, something happens: you become more empathetic, compassionate, gracious, approachable, vulnerable, authentic, affable, and peaceful.

It would be silly if global positioning systems stopped working if the driver strayed from the path. What good is a GPS which only works when you obey it perfectly? Its job is to guide you from anywhere, even if you might stray. In the same way, I reject the Pharisaical teaching that the Spirit withdraws because of sin! On the contrary, it is the opposite; because that is when it is needed the most! Just like Jesus taught in those parables, the Spirit seeks out the sinner and does its utmost to entice them to a higher plane, to heal them, and to rehabilitate them.

These teachings of Jesus clearly go against the false doctrine that God abandons the sinner, leaves them alone, or needs additional authoritarian punishment through retribution and indignation to enforce his will. The teaching in these parables also goes against the idea that Jesus was left alone while on the cross to supposedly taste what the isolation of sin feels like. Jesus didn’t need to feel alone because none of us are ever truly alone. Again, God never leaves you or any of his children alone. He is always with you, patiently and lovingly prompting you towards your divine potential. It is your immaturity and blindness which causes you to perceive yourself as distanced from God.

How do we purport to follow Jesus, and yet disregard most all of what he taught, and not understand the teachings in his parables? How do these parables relate to how the church establishment punishes sinners? Are church courts, disfellowship, and excommunication truly acts of sincere followers of the teachings of Jesus? Do we truly follow Jesus when we have feelings of prideful disdain, superiority, or shun anyone who chooses a different path from ours? Jesus never excommunicated a single follower he had, nor did he discipline or foist any retributive penalty on any of his followers.

The priesthood of our church mimics the Jewish priesthood more than anything Jesus ever established. In fact, I find it quite ironic that Jesus himself received the ultimate excommunication at the hands of the priesthood of his time: death by execution. There was a high court of the priesthood which was called the Sanhedrin. The position of High Priest was the singular highest office of the priesthood, much like our president. It was the Sanhedrin, led by Caiaphas the high priest, who were the most vocal at the forefront of the mob who succeeded in getting their Roman overlords to exact the punishment in the most shameful way they could.672 It was that same priesthood which Jesus accused of beating, stoning, and murdering prophets of the old testament.673 If there is anything consistent about priesthoods, it is that at their head you will rarely find humble seers, but instead power-hungry men who will fight to preserve their station by unrighteous dominion. There has never been a precedent for prophets, seers, and revelators to be called to lofty perches at the head of institutions by succession as we are imposed to accept as is done today. That succession is evidence of an institution of men.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” better reflects the ideals of the enemies of Jesus, the Pharisees. If you hate the sin, you will condemn the sinner for their sins, and you will hypocritically do it out of love. You will lovingly cast the first stone, believing you are doing it for their good. You will condemn Jesus himself to death because of his sin of blasphemy.

Blasphemy: A fake crime invented by leaders of religious establishments to help protect their dominance from criticism and to allow them to persecute anyone who refuses to either follow them or remain silent.

It is ironic to me that a church that bears his name dares to judge and impose punishment upon those who courageously discuss their sincere thoughts out in the open as Jesus did. The high priest and his Sanhedrin judged Jesus to be guilty of openly speaking his mind:

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Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.674

The greek word blasfhm’ia (blasfimía) is a greek portmanteau word, combining bl’aptw (blápto - hurt, harm, damage, or injure) and f’hmh (fími - fame, name, reputation, speak, rumor, gossip). In that light, “evil speaking of the lord’s anointed” could be better worded, “blaspheme the lord’s anointed.” It was open and frank speech about the anointed priesthood which Jesus dared to do, even if such open discussion was harmful to the established priesthood. He repeatedly called them hypocrites and was direct in his speech against their teachings. Dallin H. Oaks, just like Caiaphas, would probably agitate his council to vote for the excommunication of the same man of whom he professes be a witness on the grounds of blasphemy.675

It is ironic to me that a stake president and his high council think that they act as Jesus would if he were in their place. If Jesus lived today, in every disciplinary court of the church, he would not stand on the side of the accusers. Jesus would side with the accused, especially in the case of those who, in their search for truth, openly discuss issues that are possibly harmful to the established hierarchy, just as he did.

As part of the Pauline Mormon gospel, they teach that the perfection of Jesus is one of the requirements for his ability to atone for our sins, but they also teach that blasphemy is a sin. So which one is it, modern scribes and Pharisees? If Jesus sinned, then he isn’t perfect and the premise of your gospel falls, but if Jesus is perfect, then calling you out on any evidence of iniquity or impropriety is the work of the Lord!

Jesus routinely spent time with sinners, comforting and teaching them, proving his parables by his example that God indeed does seek out that which is lost. He did not pass judgment on any of his followers who genuinely sought the truth his message provided, and even taught that we should never judge others, but forgive them instead:

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.676

Judge not, that ye be not judged.677

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.678

He often told the Pharisees directly that their self-righteousness was worse than the disobedience of their petty rules. He also taught parables which reflected that the sinners had more of a chance for salvation than those priesthood leaders who were vainly self-righteous about their outward morality and obedience. In addition to the parable of the supper and the parable of the wedding feast, here is the third of the triad, the parable of the two sons:

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.679

The church seems to self-proclaim itself as the ultimate moral authority just as the Jewish religion did at the time of Jesus. If priesthood leaders hypocritically preach that their brand of morality is the perfect will of God, and dutiful obedience to their laws is salvation, and their laws incite people to look upon others who do not obey as they strictly obey with contempt, they are like the son who said he would but didn’t in hypocrisy. They outwardly obey through duty, but inwardly are not genuinely seeking the guidance of God and the Spirit of Truth. They seek dead, dogmatic belief, not living, truthful faith. They seek to know about God as a concept in their minds, but they don’t seek to know God as a living person. Their faithfulness is not offered out of love, but out of a joyless sense of duty. On the other hand, those who may be immoral in the eyes of those dutiful sticklers, and yet who are genuine: who inevitably will repent when their genuine search for true reality is satisfied: they are the ones who genuinely seek truth and will eventually personally know their father.

The parable of the prodigal son teaches that the resentment held by the older son because of his self-righteous adherence to duty was no better than the outward genuine faltering of the younger son. The kind and loving father pleads with the older son to not respond with anger, but with love. Though the “good son” appears to be good outwardly, in reality he is no nearer to his father in his heart than the wayward prodigal.

In case I haven’t been clear, let me say it again. The leaders’ treatment of those who falter in obeying their strict rules is more a reflection of the doctrines of the Old Testament, how the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees on the Sanhedrin would react, than it is a reflection of the teachings of Jesus. It is more a reflection of the Inquisition680 than it is a reflection of the of the teachings of Jesus. Do you not remember how Jesus treated the adulteress?

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.681

While the leaders of our day aren’t casting physical stones, they are passing self-righteous judgment on sinners, as sinners. That goes against his teaching: “He that is without sin among you,” let him pass the judgment. The only people who can judge between righteousness and sin are those who do not have any dust in their own eye, and as far as I know, there are none on this earth. With a knowledge of the teachings of Jesus, excommunication of anyone from being a follower of Jesus makes reason stare, especially because the accused are usually at the point of their lives when they could use the love of their social group the most. Any church that has used murder, excommunication, any level of shunning, or any sanction or punishment to discipline, chastise, denounce or destroy anyone who questioned them cannot truly be of God. To say that disciplinary courts are done out of love is rank hypocrisy. Do you see how there can’t be a social establishment with judges and penalties in the teachings of Jesus, which is based on love and mercy? Surely after making this observation, we can understand what Jesus meant here:

For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.682

He said that because in his view the Pharisees committed the greater sin of self-righteousness, which in reality is not righteousness at all. I would venture to say that self-righteousness is the greater sin, even greater than sins like adultery, and certainly greater than disobedience of the trivial commandments of men, because those who proudly obey every trivial, outwardly observable commandment look through their noses at those who falter with disdain. Because of the contempt they hold for those who may not live up to what they perceive to be their standard of righteousness, they effectively block themselves from being able to love the people who need their love the most. This sanctimonious attitude promotes the tribal us versus them mentality; that those who do not observe the petty rules should be avoided at all costs to keep from polluting an ideal of cleanliness. In the name of God and Pharisaical righteousness, they disassociate from other children of God and disregard that the singular command that Jesus gave was to love everyone.

Some people are sensible and have a delicate conscience, and they get punished because they confess, while others who are not sensitive and do not confess their sins are rewarded with leadership positions.

Even worse is the church’s treatment of those who are attracted to their own sex. My own brother was abused by the unrighteous dominion and disciplinarian practices of the church in this matter and had a difficult life because of it.

What is worse beyond that is the church’s attempts to wield its political power to try to establish laws which enforce its crystallized view of morality outside of itself in by coercing others who do not share its beliefs in by promoting the establishment of physically enforceable laws in a free country. This is abominable because what it has done is against the tenets of its own scripture:

We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

we do not believe that any religious society has authority to ... inflict any physical punishment upon them.683

Ironically, in seeking the office of president of the United States, Joseph Smith went precisely against the scripture above. In connection with that, the fact that he placed himself as a General of an army to physically enforce his way of life was abominable in comparison to true religion. I cannot believe that God raises prophets to proselytize through political schemes, intrigue, or the sword. Jesus did not seek after a crown, nor did he accept one from his followers. He explicitly said he would never use the sword to enforce his teachings.

To establish laws in secular government which have physical punishment or any other forceful legal implications can not possibly be an effect of following the teachings of Jesus. Nor would Jesus lead any church to do any such thing. Jesus never sought nor instigated any such political power of any earthly kingdom or government. To do so would contradict his Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.

If the leaders are spending time and money to campaign that their ideas of morality should become laws in a secular free country, then what would stop them from using their dominion to thwart other freedoms which they would like to control, like our freedom of speech? What would stop them from ordering the destruction books and printing presses in order to keep the truth about their hypocrisy from being revealed? Oh wait, that has already happened in the history of the church: when Joseph Smith ordered the destruction of the printing press which was printing the truth about his sexual improprieties. If you actually read the Nauvoo Expositor,684 you will see that not only does it accept the doctrines of the Book of Mormon, it also contains no lies about the practice of polygamy. It was Joseph’s own second counselor in the First Presidency who was involved in producing it, William Law, who was an honorable man, whose conscience did not permit him to participate in the immorality of polygamy.

The push to silence the voice of truth continues in the church today. Why would the God of truth punish and reject people who point out historical facts, who are honest about them, and who dare to free their mind and think outside the box? The fact that the church excommunicates anyone who is open and honest in trying to hash out the truth proves that the church is hiding behind lies and hypocrisy.

When John Dehlin faced excommunication, he said the following in an interview:

How in the world in the 21st century is a church asking people not to talk openly about things?

And I want to be really clear about something. People say that I’m talking openly about my doubts and disbelief and giving voice to doubters because I’m trying to tear people away from the church. That is so wrong.

I’m a mental health professional. I’m a few months away from getting my PhD in clinical and counseling psychology. I counsel Mormons everyday.

And what I can tell you is that, by far, probably one of the most damaging aspects of Mormon culture is the fact that they need to keep things hidden, they keep things secret, and they can’t openly discuss what they think and what they feel. I think this leads to depression, I think it leads to anxiety, I think it leads ostracization and marginalization, and I think it can even lead to suicide and things more serious.

And so it is totally unacceptable for a church leader to say to me “you can support same-sex marriage but you can’t speak openly about your support”, “you can support Ordain Women but don’t ever tell anybody”, “you can have doubts, but you can’t speak openly about those doubts.” I think that’s a recipe for mental illness and sadness, and frankly, it doesn’t engender a community that’s meaningful where people are able to share their heart and their soul with each other. It’s not going to be a backbone for the church culturally that’s going to lead to vibrance and vitality.

When an organization like the church starts to use sort of Stalinist techniques or Maoist techniques to clamp down on information, to prevent people from talking, to punish people if they speak openly, that leads to the death of community, to conscience, to people’s mental health and well-being, and I would much rather be disciplined than violate my conscience.685

When John Dehlin did get the ax, the Church Newsroom was sure to make it clear that the grounds of his excommunication were these three points:

Those bullet points were published in pretense, however, because John was originally given other reasons by his Stake President.687 Regardless, the grounds that anyone can be excommunicated simply for being open and sincere in their search for truth shows to me that the church is not a purveyor of truth. Instead of letting truth stand, because truth qualifies itself, the Church acts as though its only retort is to be a bully and pull rank by indicting apostasy and inflicting punishment as a warning to any others who dare ask questions.

This is much like Galileo, who the church required him to “abjure, curse, and detest” his heliocentrism, and when he wouldn’t, was committed to prison for the rest of his life and his Dialogue was banned. Despite their efforts, the Earth truly orbits the Sun. Galileo said:

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

There are many others who spoke truth but were disciplined by an institution which feared truth. John Wycliffe faced excommunication for translating the Bible into English. William Tyndale was burned at the stake for heresy because he dared to use a printing press to publish the Bible in English. Martin Luther was excommunicated because he dared to publish his theses after gaining access to read the Bible. Thank goodness those defectors did what they did. Bullying through authoritarian punishments for the expression of doubt is not the work of an organization which possesses the truth.

Thomas Jefferson was inspired when he penned his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was the foundation upon which the First Amendment688 was later based. Here is an excerpt:

And finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.689

As he said, to prohibit free argument and debate is to disarm the truth of its sword, impeding truth’s ability to assert itself. When an institution disarms truth by imposing penalties for freely speaking, it acts against the God of truth and free will, and it demonstrates to the world that it does not have truth, because truth itself never fears open discussion.

Apologists attempt to rationalize the claims of an institution by accenting impositions, subverting key facts, and strategically dancing around the truth using logical fallacies to emphasize a spin which supports their agenda. The fact that apologetics is necessary at all should displease truth seekers. Apologetics insult truth because it tries to establish an apology for dogma, especially in a venue where the freedom to speak is stifled. It is sad that voices such as Hugh B. Brown’s have not triumphed against the power hunger of other men who are now in his position:

Neither fear of consequence nor any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it.690

Dogmas are principles held by an authority as incontrovertibly true. Dogmas require apologetics when facts threaten them, and both thrive where freedom of speech is restricted. Truth does not need apology, it stands on its own, unless it is suffocated by human interference, like threats of penalties dealt out by an institution. The fact that apologetics exist at all for any institution which excommunicates those who freely debate the issues proves the organization’s attempts to impose false contrivances as truths. The enforcement of dogma stands in opposition to the proclamation of Jesus to his disciples:

If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.691

Jesus was talking about spiritual emancipation. Freedom from dogma and the oppression of mind and speech. Freedom from subservience to ritual and petty commands of other men. Your mind was created for freedom. Here is another excerpt from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness...692

To comply with institutional rules which curb the freedom of mind and the freedom of speech requires hypocrisy. To think freely but not be allowed to speak freely is hypocrisy. The church is requiring its members to be hypocrites in order to remain in good standing. With the God-given freedom of mind comes the freedom of thought, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of religion. Freedom of speech is not a privilege, it is a right. I vividly remember reading the most prominent words at the Jefferson Memorial which are inscribed in a frieze below the dome:

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.693

Thomas Jefferson was right that we should build government upon the explicit point that the laws it establishes should never be based upon any religious establishment’s interpretations of God’s will, nor should any religious institution have any dominion over government, rather it should be the will of the people as a whole. Because everyone is a child of God, and thus God is a part of all of his children, there is no need for some kind of priesthood authority to outline that will. Though each person’s will is not always in line with God’s will, God’s divine plans will prevail in the destiny of a world of his creation.694 Thomas Jefferson knew that true religion is first-hand.

Religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god.”695

It is evident to me that Jesus understood and never refuted that governments of the world, being material, should find it necessary to employ physical force in the execution of their laws for the maintenance of social order. Jesus also taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world and will not wield that power, and by his example, he never did wield it, nor did he ever require it of his followers. He taught that the Kingdom of Heaven, being a spiritual brotherhood of spirit-born sons of God, may be promulgated only by the power of the Spirit. Doctrine and Covenants 121:41 seems to glimpse this truth, that in the Kingdom of Heaven, no power or influence can be maintained over others by any rank. Yet, the fact that the church claims to stand in a position of authority between a person and their God contradicts that scripture. It supposes that religion is not a matter which lies solely between a man and his god, but an institution and priesthood which lies between man and his god; that humans are incapable of establishing a relationship with God on their own. That ideology coincides with the separatist doctrines of the Pharisees, and contradicts the message that Jesus himself gave. It is not only that any priesthood exerts unrighteous dominion over its own, it is also that any institutional church has attempted at all to exert any power or influence in the physical government of men to enact laws which, being physical, would oblige courts, police force and other government resources to enforce their execution. The existence of those attempts proves that Jesus did not instigate those endeavors and thus could not possibly be leading that church.

Priestcraft

The Book of Mormon is vehemently against priestcraft. It says that priestcraft is the selling of the gospel to get gain (money) and honor. I have to agree with that. When money enters the picture in any way, it becomes a business. When a man’s livelihood and social status depends on his priesthood office in a religious institution, he has a conflict of interest because his priority becomes biased to maintaining his station as well as the institution’s longevity, instead of standing for truth.

If it is a priestcraft to sell doctrine for riches and honor, then why do the prophets, seers, and revelators write and sell books at full retail price, through their own for-profit auxiliary, Deseret Book?

The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.696

How is selling a full retail book any different from charging for any other kind of religious service? This is the information age. Duplicating and distributing writing electronically costs nothing. They should give it all out for free. While paper-based publication may have been necessary a century ago, the need for profit-gaining books from the leaders of the church in the present is a questionable practice to me, and makes me suspect that the reality of the intent of the church is business and money, not uplifting humankind.

Along those lines, why is the church in any for-profit business at all? Building of any for-profit shopping centers is not the business of Jesus Christ. In fact his business is quite the opposite. The leaders of the church would do well to follow this teaching of Jesus:

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.697

But they don’t. Why don’t they? Because their greed is too fat to fit through the needle’s eye.

The Widow’s Mite

Many have not realized that the story of the Widow’s Mite applies more to the condemnation of priestcraft more than it justifies tithing. Please consider the following passage in the gospel of Mark:

And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.698

All of my life I was taught at church an eisegesis of the scripture above that Jesus exemplified the faith of the poor widow for all of us to follow. She was always set up as the model by paying much more than those who cast in of their abundance. She was exemplified to show that even the poorest people should pay tithing in order to gain the promised blessings of abundance. In my opinion, that is a myopic view of what was actually going on. As I read the pretext, verses 38-40 of Mark 12, while attempting an unbiased exegesis, an entirely new light is cast on that situation. Jesus wasn’t commending the widow at all, he said instead that the scribes and chief seats at churches will receive greater damnation for their oppression of the widow!

As I attempt to objectively look closer at the situation, it occurs to me that Jesus said nothing to commend the widow. Words of praise are absent. Jesus simply observed that she gave more than all because she was so poor; had she not been compelled to offer her farthing to the treasury, it would have most definitely been used for her food. Jesus said nothing about how the widow felt about what she gave. There are no adverbs to cast a descriptive view of her action. If this were a lesson on dutifully giving offerings in poverty, Jesus could have just as easily chosen any poor person in his example, but he was specific to refer to “a poor widow” to tie it back to what he said previously about those who devour widows’ houses. It makes no sense that Jesus, who was in the middle of a warning to his disciples about the scribes and the chief seats in synagogues (who were the priesthood leaders of his day) devouring widows’ houses, would suddenly interrupt this lesson with an exemplary commendation of the offering of the poor to the treasury of the haughty men he had barely condemned. I believe that his warning ties directly with this one:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.699

Rameumptom

Why is this alternate understanding of the widow’s mite relevant today? It is relevant because of the apparent business-like, corporate nature of a church which still oppresses the poor despite the teachings of Jesus. It is relevant because the leadership of that church is acting just like these scribes and chief seats in synagogues did. It is relevant because, for example, it built a lavish, great and spacious buildings like the Conference Center. It is relevant because the church makes opaque its finances and invests in vast real-estate without the consent of its members. It is relevant because it is immoral when a prosperous institution, that arrogantly proclaims that it represents God on earth, uses the faith and blind obedience of gullible people to get scant grocery money out of them. I remember countless talks about how the poor cannot afford not to pay tithing.

The lavish Conference Center, which cost half of a billion dollars to build, was built on the oppression of poor widows who in poverty gave of their very living, and who were scrimping and saving to get by. I would venture to surmise that the church did not need that opulent conference hall, again, especially in these times where modern technology obviates the need for such great gathering places. The tabernacle would have served just as well for the foreseeable future. Even when you attend an event there, you are in no way near to those who are speaking on the rameumptom and you watch them instead on great movie screens on the walls anyway. It is difficult for me to believe that Jesus, who rebuked leaders for oppressing widows and who warned of ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing who would devour the innocent, guides these leaders to spend money which poor widows gave on such an extravagant thing! To think that children of single parents ate food sparingly or went another year without a new pair of shoes to finance it makes me feel a bit sick inside.

I cannot come up with any valid reason for the church to spend the widow’s mite in such a way. Why was it built then? It has to be: to show off. To show the world that we can gather great numbers of people. To show the world the grandeur of the church. To have a larger rameumptom on which to perch themselves as they speak! “Rameumptom” is a fine name for it, because the words spoken at that pulpit are much like what was spoken at a certain rameumptom of old:

Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou has made it known to us that [all others are in error and are lost] and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief [which has fallen to apostasy], which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.700

Those prideful musings of the Zoramites come so close to our prideful typical testimony at our pulpits today:

I know this is the only true and living church on earth, I know that we have a true and living prophet on the earth today, who is guiding us on what we should do in these modern times. I know that all others are fallen and are lost, and unless they repent and be baptized by the authority that God has given to only us, they will be cast down to hell. I pray for our foolish brethren, that their hearts will be softened that they will have a desire to seek this holy sacred church and not be counted among thy lost children. I am so thankful for this church and its gospel, for I would be truly lost without it. I am thankful to be a part of the house of Israel, God’s singular chosen people on earth.

Not much of a difference, is it?

This rameumptom conference center is only an obvious spending of the widow’s mite. The leaders of the church are not open with the church’s finances. All we get is a gloss-over that everything was handled appropriately by a biased auditor. How could they not be entirely open about it? I quoted this before, but I’ll quote it again, to this Jesus says:

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.701

Follow the money – if they are not transparent, there has to be a reason. Other charitable organizations are free and open with their financial records to prove their integrity as a charity. I’m afraid that if the church did open its finances for all to see, we would all see proof of corruption. Clearly there is something to hide or they would not hide it. The fact that they hide it at all is proof that they make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. The fact that they hide it and put out the appearance that they do, proves that they are outwardly beautiful whited sepulchers, but inward are full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness.702 The fact that they hide it proves they have ulterior motives, and that they transgress the law in the Doctrine and Covenants, which says:

And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order.703

By hiding the finances, there is no way that they are complying with the voice and common consent of the members of the church. In fact, that blatant disregard was written into the incorporation of the church by Heber J. Grant:

...and this corporation shall have power, without any authority or authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property.704

What I have mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg, and I know little of the dealings of the church with its “sacred” money. Some information I could find was in the US Senate Committee case regarding Senator Reed Smoot in 1905, president Joseph F. Smith was the chairman of so many for-profit businesses, he could not recall them all.705 The list was quite long, but that was over a hundred years ago. Who knows of all of the enterprise it has entered into since then. It seems that there are many more invisible profiteering operations by the church that its members haven’t the least inkling about. Some claim that all of these enterprises did not come from tithing, but I cannot believe that. You can’t just establish enterprises from nothing. Businesses such as those require great capital investment. So what if the money came from invested tithing 150 years ago or even 50 years ago? It was still tithing. It had to come from somewhere. How ever they justify it: whether tithing was laundered in some way, if they provided minimal-interest loans using tithing funds, or if they skimmed investment dividends off tithing, is still tithing ultimately being used for profit.

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Of the few things that I have been able to see, there are a few that make me shudder to think about. I have seen pictures of the grand opening of City Creek Mall, where a bow was cut. All three of the First Presidency were there. They can clearly be seen in photographs and videos. Elder Eyring gave a talk.

There is no doubt that the church has a vested interest. City Creek mall is part of a $5 Billion706 “revitalization” which includes condos and other real estate ventures. After that revitalization, the nearby new mall became a ghost town. That mall, The Gateway, failed because of competition from the supposed apostles of Jesus Christ.

The following contradicting quotes come from the same prophet, seer, revelator, and president of the church of Jesus Christ.

There are large parts of [the world] where religion is a thing of the past and there is no counter-voice to the culture of buy it, spend it, wear it, flaunt it.707

Let’s go shopping!708

There are many other real estate ventures. The church is building a 32-story tower containing 258 apartments in Philadelphia.709 The church has become the largest single land-owner in Florida.710 The stories of these investments in current events never seem to stop. A chunk of the Florida investment will become a development of practically an entire city, Deseret Ranch, built by the church.711

My innards squirm inside me at the thought that Jesus could possibly have any part in these kinds of transactions. Can you imagine Jesus having a part in such ventures? Can you seriously envision Jesus building a retail shopping mall by the temple? “Come back merchants! I’m so sorry I offended you when I drove you out. My house is a house of merchandise after all!” How much will they profane the teachings of Jesus before we finally take notice? If Jesus were actually leading the church, here is another thing he would say to these silly greedy men:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.712

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The word “mammon” is a transliteration into English of the Aramaic word “mamona” which means “money” or “riches.” You cannot serve both God and money.

Ironically, it seems the church has no problem becoming part of what it would call Babylon to make a buck. The ads I’ve seen for their mall do not adhere to church standards. None of the women wear dresses that could cover garments, all are provocative, and advertise a night life of luxury, including wine. I’m not saying that those standards are essential – I honestly don’t care if shoulders or backs are visible, and I already talked about Jesus and wine. However, I am pointing out how hypocritical it is, and that hypocrisy illustrates where their true allegiance lies: mammon.

They invest huge sums in money-making enterprises and real-estate, while ward budgets are only about 1% of the tithing they take in, they are unwilling to pay the meager wage to employ a janitor at chapels, and there are many members in who are starving (especially in third-world countries) and are sacrificing dearly to pay tithing.

They tout that they’ve spent great amounts of money in humanitarian aid, but in reality, they spent 1.4 billion from 1985-2011.713 Businessweek’s analysis places that at about 0.7% of the church’s annual income to charity.714 Let us do the math again.

The numbers are more bleak from Elder Oaks. Elder Oaks said715 that the church spends about 40 million a year. Let’s do the math, shall we? 40 million divided by 7 billion is 0.0057, just over half a percent. And that is only in relation to tithing, not the other humanitarian donations.

I mentioned earlier that that Joseph F. Smith was the chairman of so many for-profit businesses, he could not recall them all while on trial. It is almost as if he was embarrassed at his vast for-profit empire. They did list many in court, as they asked multiple time whether he was the chairman.

If you research how much profitable companies as large or larger than the church give to charity, you may be surprised to find out that they give at least two or three times that percentage. What does that say about an institution that is supposed to be led by Jesus?

It seems to me that the fruits of the leaders of the church these days are quite clear: money is more important than the message of Jesus. These men, who are supposed to be prophets, seers, and revelators, and who are supposed to be led by will of Jesus himself, have verily demonstrated who it is they truly serve.

When we care about people, we care less about money, and when we care about money, we care less about people.716

The lawyers, scribes, pharisees, “chief priests in the synagogues and the uppermost rooms at feasts” of our day have proven to me that they are even more haughty than those of old. They are not only the chief priests of a single synagogue, they are running a lucrative, global enterprise. They use the name of Jesus to devour widows’ houses, in complete vanity and hypocrisy, to expand their empire. If Jesus were actually leading, he would remind them:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.717

The top leaders of the church are much like those chief seats which love the salutations in the streets – the fame, fortune, and power that their position brings. They revel in the hero worship they receive. They surely do not follow the call of Jesus to abandon all riches, vainglory, and popularity to be in his service:

Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.718

I find it ironic that the upper leaders of my church secretly draw rather lucrative “stipends”719 In addition to that, they are reimbursed, under the table, for practically every life expense. Those reimbursements include allowances for vacation homes, remodeling, gardeners, let alone practically every practical living expense. The salaries are just spending money. Living expenses are reimbursed from the rank of Mission President on up through Seventies to the president himself.

They have a conflict of interest because their livelihood and status depends on their position. The apologetic response is that they were already rich and pay their own way. But that cannot be true for each of them that have been in upper church leadership for the vast majority of their life. This is extortion when compared to the average income of the vast majority of tithe payers, and especially lucrative when compared to those who pay tithing from third-world countries.

Through their lying cant phrase “too sacred to talk about,” they purposefully mislead their followers by pretending that they meet personally with Jesus every Thursday. This makes their living on church funds all the more immoral. Most of us have to actually work for a living.

Joseph smith, Brigham Young, and every prophet-president have ever lived on church funds. Brigham Young’s finances were one and the same as the church’s finances. All of this is done in complete secrecy, misleading everyone in hypocrisy and doublespeak, since the scriptures say one thing, but the opposite is practiced. We have a lay ministry! No, not really. The lay ministry are the ones in the ranks, who give all of their free time for the building up of a corporate empire owned by their overseers. The Book of Mormon condemns even the tiniest stipend. Alma would be disgusted with all of them.

And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.720

A senine was the worth of a measure of barley.721 Who knows how much a “measure” is. But just for fun, lets use the price for a pound of barley, which is 12.5 as I write this. If the upper echelons of the church receive as much as even 12.5 for their labors, they practice priestcraft. Nephi would be disgusted with them, too:

Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.

They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.722

As would Moroni be disgusted with them:

For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?

Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?

Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.723

For an institution that claims to profess to follow Jesus Christ, I find it laughable that it lays up so much treasure on earth, in direct contradiction to his teaching. It is horrible that they rob the poor to construct and adorn fine sanctuaries, to invest in real estate, and the poor pay for their fine clothing. I guess this is yet another of the many teachings of Jesus that the church chooses to ignore, take out of context, or misinterpret – the riches they have should go to the poor, not to money-making enterprises. If Jesus were truly leading the church, its leaders would follow his counsel:

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.724

Tithing

Tithing was a civil tax of a theocratic government. In the Old Testament times that tithing was required, the government of the country was the religious hierarchy, which mainly consisted of the tribe of Levi. Tithing was never money, but was mainly in the form of food, which fed the Levites, who could not legally own land to produce their own food725 because they were supposed to dedicate their lives to their ministry. The Levites had both religious and political responsibilities.

Tithing was required in Israel, but Jesus never tithed his followers.726 727 If he did, it would be a gross contradiction to what he taught about the widows mite, it would have been a gross contradiction to all of his rebuking of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees!

In our day, we have a separation of Church and State, where the government is completely secular and it has its own methods for assessing the tax for its expenses, the church no longer needs to spend that money for government as it did when the country was a theocracy. So what does that make tithing if it is not being used for as it was in Old Testament times? This sheds light on it differently now. It has to be a method of extortion, or a method for furthering priestcraft!

What about the Malachi scripture of tithing? Every lesson or talk I’ve heard at church about Malachi 3:8-10 is taken out of context and is severely misunderstood. If you read the pretext, you will discover that Malachi talking to the priests who were actually stealing tithes, not the people! “Ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” means that priests had robbed the people, not the people robbed God. Robbing the poor is akin to robbing God, as Jesus observed, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”728 The people had already given their tithes. Israel had several tithes, two of them were much like we have tithing and fast offering. “That there may be food in my house” is literally talking about the poor-food tithe,729 which was meant specifically for feeding the poor, “open for you the windows of heaven and pouring out a blessing” is literally talking about pouring rain: the thing that grows the food, and “that there shall not be room enough to receive it” refers directly to the limited room in their granaries to hold the harvest from the abundant rain. To put it in our dialect, Malachi was accusing the priesthood leaders were keeping the fast offerings for themselves instead of feeding the poor with it.

This is Old Testament law anyway. All of the old Jewish law doesn’t apply to people who follow Jesus. Tithing was never a doctrine that Jesus taught. Being “cursed with a curse” for not obeying is anti-Jesus, because he taught that God doesn’t curse, blesses both evil and good children.730 There are countless laws in the Old Testament that we do not observe as followers of Jesus. If you want to depend on Old Testament tithing laws for these post-Jesus times today, you’d have to consider all of the old tithing laws. For example, this interesting tidbit: Deuteronomy 14:22-26. As soon as tithing is converted to money, it’s yours to do with as you please. Since we deal in money today, we’re all exempt!

What about Abraham and his tithing to Melchizedek? Yes, Abraham gave ten percent of his spoils of war to Melchizedek, but go read the context in Genesis 14 again: he gave the rest, 90% of the spoils to the king of Sodom! First, the spoils of war are not honest increase, and second, he didn’t keep anything for himself. The world “tithe” is only used here to represent the numeric percentage of the spoils. The historical ideas presented about this same subject in Alma 13 which contradict the Bible on this matter are not reliable. The Book of Mormon can no longer be considered as a historical document because it is so fallible on everything else historical.

What about God proving himself with blessings from the opened windows of heaven? You’d think that if he was proven, there would be evidence of countless poor people who pay their tithing faithfully and who superseded their poverty, yet they still remain in poverty. If it worked as promised, everybody would clearly want to be tithed and there would be no poor. The fact is, there are many nonmembers and atheists who are blessed financially and there are many poor, faithful LDS people who pay tithes and never get any more ahead. The only physical blessings that have come from tithing are self-fulfilling prophecies or result of superstition.

Every scripture they use to justify tithing is taken out of context in order to bend its meaning for monetary gain, all while one of the fruits of a false prophet is this:

And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.”731

Tithing as it is currently required in the church is extortion by priestcraft, carefully exercised by feigned words of crafty charlatans.

the church has set up a system or religion very contradictory to the character of the person whose name it bears. It has set up a religion of pomp and revenue, in pretended imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty.732

Tithing is legally spun as a voluntary charitable donation, but it is not really voluntary. It is an entrance fee. It is a requirement for entrance to the temple. It is a form of extortion. The definition of the word “extortion” is to threaten harm or abuse for yourself or those you love if you do not give what is demanded. It is a ransom. Those who require it act like terrorists as they hold our eternal families as a ransom for our money. The temple is the only way we can be fully exalted. Without constant access to the temple, we risk losing the highest glory for lack of obedience. We risk losing our eternal family. Without access to the temple, we risk shame and rejection by family and friends when we are unable to attend their elitist temple rituals for life milestones like temple marriage.

The God that I believe in could not possibly require a monetary entrance fee, let alone any blindly obedient sacrifice or ritual. The God that I believe in is the other way around – he does all he can to restore me to truth, light, and his presence. I need only to choose to allow him. The God that I believe in encourages my full freedom of choice at my level of intellectual capacity. If I didn’t use these talents, I would be throwing away his gifts. The God I believe in would never require paying a fee to other men in order to get a ticket to enter the pearly gates.

The teachings of Jesus superseded all Old Testament laws. His higher message elevates the old to a new level. The old list of hundreds of rules, regulations and bylaws find fulfillment and abatement in the new simple, enlightened message of Jesus. Tithing was never part of the new message of Jesus. Jesus did not teach tithing, nor did he require it of his followers. Instead, Jesus taught that we should abandon our obsession with materialism. A restored church of Jesus Christ couldn’t possibly claim “restoration” of something that never originally existed.

The teachings of Jesus are not half truths. They are fully logical truths that work in many ways. Even as he resorted to parables to teach, the truths are only evident to truth seekers. That said, consider this teaching of Jesus which is found in all three,733 Matthew, Mark and Luke:

And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, or not?

Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.

And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Cæsar’s.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.734

The charge to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s implies that you need not render to Caesar that which is God’s, and likewise, you need not render to God that which is Caesars! So how is it that any money in any shape or form which is representative of the power of governments and organizations of this world be required by the Kingdom of Heaven? If you want to give directly to the Lord, this is what Jesus said to do:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. ... Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.735

Divine Providence

The myth of the opening of the windows of heaven in response to paying tithing is in accordance with the doctrine of divine providence, which is taught extensively in our church today. This is undoubtedly is the core theme of the Book of Mormon: If they keep the commandments, they prosper in the land. If not, they are cursed; to stir them into remembrance and obedience to God’s command.

There is some truth to divine providence in that everything in existence came from God, and he advances his creation over time, but this is not the same as providence. You cannot consider the doctrine of divine providence for the righteous without also considering the other side, divine cursing for sin.

To say that God prospers and curses is doublespeak because it is also said that God is no respecter of persons.736 Consider what Jesus taught:

For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.737

God shows no favoritism by prospering the righteous or condemning the wicked. The thought that he might prosper for righteousness and curse for sin comes from that idolatrous and sacrifice-bound religion of old in which God was a moody, jealous lord and king.

If divine providence were true, then professional basketball players should be insanely righteous, because they are prosperous. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, and the Waltons should all be heralded as the standard for righteousness. In fact, all of the insanely rich must be the most righteous people on earth, because they have been blessed. If it is true, then those who get cancer, those who are blind, those who have a car accident, those who have depression, and the poor are all sinners. If it is true, then all of the suffering in the world is attributable to God as a punishment for sin. To think in this way is to fail to reason honestly, fail to understand God, and fail to care sufficiently for the suffering of other children of God.

As I mentioned before, the story of Job teaches that the Jewish doctrine of divine providence is false while also teaching that one can have faith in God during a mortal life while subject to accidents of nature. Nature is not God. Surely mishaps, accidents, earthquakes and tsunamis are not acts of a loving God.

One of the curses in the Book of Mormon is the inability to speak, or the more crude name, dumbness. It was inflicted by a prophet of God for heresy. As the story goes, this curse of dumbness went beyond the inability to utter words, because it made its subject lose everything and become a beggar. After being cursed, he still had the ability for coherent thought and was able to write his thoughts. Besides the paranormal hex of a servant of God causing damage and deprivation, in the real world, someone such as this could still teach and help others as their conscience dictates. Hellen Keller was born both deaf and blind. Her dumbness would have been called a curse in the Book of Mormon or in the Bible, but she became one of the greater minds in modern history despite what would be called a curse of God. Her thoughts are treasured and quoted by many people.

The greatest testimony against providence and cursing is that Jesus healed the sick. I particularly remember the time he healed a blind man who did not even ask to be healed. Jesus did it only to teach the Pharisees (and everyone else) that they were wrong in their belief that sinners are cursed. I invite you to read all of John 9 where this little episode happens. While I won’t quote the whole thing, I think the best part is when the Pharisees summon the healed man to testify for the second time, and he teaches the Pharisees that their belief is wrong:

Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.

We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.738

Jesus went against the Jewish teachings of providence and cursing of God, and boldly taught that the catastrophes of nature, accidents of time, diseases, calamities of mortality, as well as high state of the rich and proud are not visitations of divine judgment nor favor.

In this matter, despite its claims, the Book of Mormon does not restore the fulness of the gospel of Jesus. The Book of Mormon perpetuates the same Old Testament doctrines not only before the coming of Jesus, but it blatantly does so at his coming and continues well after his coming. I cannot believe that a loving god nor Jesus could act like an abusive parent. The same ideas are perpetuated today in what is supposed to be the restored gospel of Jesus, as the modern prophets incite fear that prosperity will be lost and misfortune afflicted because of the sin or a lack of obedience.

Priesthood Blessings

I have struggled with the idea of the “power in the priesthood” all of my life, especially when I have been called upon to use it in order to invoke the “power of God” in priesthood blessings.

If the priesthood is truly wielding the power of God given to man then there should not be so many contingencies on that power actually producing results. If the results are affirmative, then it is attributed to the priesthood, and if the results are negative, it is attributed to God not willing it or people lacking the necessary faith. The thought that the priesthood is not reliable is never allowed to be expressed. If a blessing is performed and it is dependent upon the faith of the person giving the blessing as well as the person receiving it, then how was faith not involved if the blessing is both given and received? If anything that is said in a blessing is contingent upon the will of God in fulfilling that blessing, then that would make a priesthood blessing only a prayer to ask God for help. If a blessing depends upon the will of God in order to be fulfilled anyway, then I have nothing to say. The prayer can only ask God to heal or comfort the person, and yet, even that is pretentious. Why should I dare to pull rank on God and assert that he doesn’t know as well as I do, and to tell him to act in a different way than he already has? Do I dare to pretend that God is not aware of the situation? Do I dare to presume that some power I pretend to possess can change the will of God? To do so is to appeal to an idol. Infinite wisdom is infinite: it does not change with the passing ignorant mortal fool who dares to know better than an infinite mind. No, there can be no human will or pretentious priesthood that could ever change the infinite wisdom of God!

If words of God that are meant for the individual being blessed are supposed to come to the person giving the blessing then why is it that every time I have ever given a blessing, even just after the sacrament when I should be completely worthy, my mind goes completely blank and the only words that come seem to be my own? I will tell you: I’m an introvert. My dad is an introvert too and it was obvious to me that it was stressful for him to give a blessing for that same reason. Extraverted people are usually experts in using words and can talk easily. They enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice. Extraverts seem to give the most beautiful and wonderful blessings. Yet why does it become ascribed to God when they can’t remember what they said? I will tell you: they can’t remember what they said because they didn’t write it down. If you ask an extravert to give an impromptu five-minute talk on any subject and then ask them weeks later to remember what they said, they probably can’t remember what they said there either. It wasn’t because they were a “mouthpiece.”

I was raised to not believe in magic, to be skeptical of supernatural powers, and to view magic as an old pagan tradition. This is doublespeak because, if it is the Priesthood, then belief in magic is not only okay, it is required for a full testimony. Mormonism encourages a profound belief in the supernatural: the magical visions, the magical garments, the magical prayers, the magical blessings, the magical stones, and so on. I was taught that the garment of the Holy Priesthood is a physical object that should be worn to ward off evil and harm, and should be treated with such respect that it cannot touch the ground; another description of this sort of thing would be a talisman and idol. I was raised to believe that blessed olive oil from a keyring, combined with a prayer while holding hands over a head, can cure cancer; another description of this would be a witch doctor using a magical spell combined with the help of a fetish. I have witnessed the greatest amount of faith shown by loved ones who fully believe that faith and priesthood can cure a cancer victim, but every time it has not worked. We seem to have a need for the power of God to heal, and yet medical science has made more inroads in reliably curing disease and degeneration than priesthood blessings ever have. If the power to heal is truly a right or rite of the priesthood then why is it that medical science is even needed? Why don’t we just have priests instead of doctors? If the will of God is intertwined with whether blessings of healing work, then the will of God should reign supreme anyway. If a healing blessing is given and it proves to not be beneficial, but if after a considerable amount of time medical science finds a cure for the same disease, was it against God’s will that the person should be healed? Shouldn’t the person be killed because it was against God’s will? Should we deteriorate into old idolatrous ideas?

I don’t like giving blessings because I can’t get over the overwhelming feeling of hypocrisy while I’m doing it. I feel a sense of futility. As an introvert I have always needed time to premeditate and plan any words that I say, including the words of a blessing. Whether those are indeed my words or if they are inspired through meditation is arguable. If I don’t premeditate what I will say, I second-guess what I said afterward, proving that I had no gift through the priesthood. I can’t promise anything. It feels hypocritical to me to presume to not only tempt God, but to command him, and to pretend to be his mouthpiece.

I mentioned my father above. He was as devoted to the church and dedicated to the priesthood as any man could ever be. I would like to share a last memory I have of him, which occurred a few days before his death, as my brother, who is equally as dedicated, was about to give him a final blessing, just hours before he fell into that last comatose state. He confessed that he had never felt comfortable giving blessings and that for some reason or another he rarely felt like the Spirit had prompted him. He probably rationalized this with his oft-expressed feelings of imperfection, but feelings of empathy came to me as thoughts rolled through my mind that I really needed to hear that from my dad, because I have ever felt the same way. It only served to prove my theory that Extraverts, who love to hear themselves talk, love giving blessings – it feeds their ego; while introverts have an internal battle with their own integrity. It saddens me to think that at the end of a life completely dedicated to obeying all of the commandments to the letter, fulfilling every calling, and ever being engaged in every good cause, my dad died thinking he was still inadequate. The poison that fueled his feelings of inadequacy was not the message of a loving God that Jesus gave, it was the overcontrol of nit-picky Pharisaical men. It was that night when I gave him a last hug from behind as he sat in his chair, because he could not stand, and as I pressed my face against his, I whispered into his ear that I love him. I still love him. I sincerely hope, if his mind has yet been reassembled, that he has been relieved of this ugly burden which he bore for the entirety of his life.

Temple Rites and Rituals

Speech restriction is a technique abusers employ to subdue their victims. Critical thought is squelched. The most insane things can be taught and accepted. An abuser can gaslight their victims to their heart’s content. When something can’t be talked about, an abuser can inflict anything they want on their victim.

I have kept what I’m about to say inside all of these years, because an honest dialogue of the temple is not only taboo, it is prohibited because of oaths of secrecy. I no longer feel any obligation to refrain from sharing my honest thoughts about the temple. To some, an honest dialog about the temple might be refreshing. If you still feel obligated to refrain from talking about the temple while not in it, then I invite you to take what I write with you to the temple and read it there.

Uneasiness

My first visit to the temple to receive my own endowment happened on August 22, 1992 about a month before my mission. I looked forward to going to the temple with great anticipation. Finally, I would enter into The House of the Lord and gain further light and knowledge! Finally, I would gain access to gospel teachings that are so sacred that the wicked world cannot have access to them! Finally I would go to a place that is near heaven and where pure knowledge would precipitate in my mind from the fountains of life!

Do you remember when you first went through the House of the Lord? I do. And I went out disappointed. Just a young man, out of college, anticipating great things when I went to the Temple. I was disappointed and grieved, and I have met hundreds of young men and young women since who had that experience.739

The temple was a sheer disappointment for me, just as much as David O. McKay admitted. It was the first time my aversion to ritual really gnawed at me. The church teaches that prayer and all proceedings should come from within. It teaches that they should not be static, repetitive, or memorized. My own mother took pride in that praiseworthy teaching as she taught that the only static prayer should be the sacrament.

All of my life I was proud to be part of a church that had a disdain for secret combinations. Everything that was done in the temple was the extreme opposite to many principles I had loved and cherished about the church. I caught myself wondering if this was still the same church.

Watching the movie for the first time was fun because I had never seen anything like that before, but I was disgusted when it came time to do such ritualistic things having to do with tokens, signs, putting on clothes in a certain way, lifting my hands high above my head and lowering them while repeating a phrase. I was even alarmed by the use of the words token and sign, as if they were good. Those were supposed to be words we used to describe idolatrous practices.

I was deeply disturbed by the robotic “bow your head and say yes,” as if volition and honest contemplation about decisions was no longer an option. The pressure of the environment seemed so nefarious to me. I had to have an escort. Many members of my family were there, all with the expectation that this was the most wonderful experience God could offer. I was sickened by the violation and desecration of my god-given will. I later learned about Asch’s conformity experiment.740 Conformity is a powerful motivator. It makes you doubt your own senses. It was as if I were a rat in a maze.

When they give an opportunity to withdraw, I felt myself wondering why they would ask that so early, and why the decision to withdraw needed to be uninformed. It was like requiring a signature on an eternally binding contract before it is allowed to be read. It seemed manipulative to me that no foreknowledge of such binding oaths was allowed. This is not something that the God I believe in would require. The only way to advance through the endowment is to say yes to every request, and so I did.

Throughout the ceremony, I anticipated the further light and knowledge that never seemed to come. The more I participated, the more I wanted to leave. I kept looking at my dad, who was my escort, to see the expression on his face. I wanted to make sure that he was truly okay with it all. It did not seem to bother him at all. I wondered if he had become immune to it all over the years. I looked over to my mom several times, and she beamed at me with a smile that showed how proud she was that her last son was in the temple. I wondered to myself whether they were even aware of what was going on. Stopping would devastate them. I resolved to continue halfheartedly, as anyone can with any outward ordinance.

I couldn’t believe that people had no issue with what goes on in there. I couldn’t believe that it was supposed to be the best God has to offer his children. I couldn’t believe that it represents heaven when it felt so wrong and strange. I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in the kind of heaven the temple represents. As I’ve said, the temple disconnects from many doctrinal principles. I understand why garments should be a reminder of commitment, but their other purposes as a representative of righteousness seemed pretentious. God should not need something more than simply knowing my heart.

Honestly, the temple and its ceremonies never gave me the peace of the spirit. The only good feelings I had were the fairy-tale-awe feeling and a sense of community and conformity with others who are doing the same thing. In opposition to all of the uneasiness, the feelings of the unity of family and friends after passing through the veil and entering the celestial room is quite rewarding. It feels as though you’ve all passed a test, that you’re part of a higher society now, and you all love each other and give each other hugs. But all of that should happen in family relationships even without the temple involved.

I did appreciate the reverence in the temple. As an introvert, finally having all the overly-talkative people silenced is a great thing! At the end, I thought that maybe it isn’t all that bad. I decided to just go with the flow.

I went as often as I could, because I had been taught that the more I would attend, the more I would understand. I tried really hard to gain new insight. I delved deep into symbolism that didn’t actually augment my understanding. I had my own repertoire of apologetics for inconsistencies. I’d read into the subtleties of sentence structure trying to glean more meaning than was actually there.

As time went on, I got more desensitized to what goes on in the temple. I kept returning because I thought I knew that it should be what God wanted me to do. Sometimes I fooled myself that the spirit was there. Sometimes I wondered how the spirit could ever be there. Eventually I avoided going as much as I could because I begrudged enduring another two hours of a movie and presentation that is exactly the same every time. Had I not believed that the temple should be the acme of what worship should be, I would have never allowed myself watch any movie that many times.

I have thought back to that first experience over and over through the years. Had I known what was coming, had I been in a room alone without the peer pressure, had I the perspective I now have twenty years later, I would have taken the opportunity to leave. I was not ready for that, at all. I don’t think I’ve ever been ready. I don’t think anyone has ever been ready.

Questionable Ideas

There are many reasons which call into question whether the temple ceremonies were truly inspired and revealed of God. I would like to address a few of them.

The rites which occurred in the temple of Solomon (which was destroyed in 70 AD) had little to do with what happens in the temple today.741 Those rites were animal sacrifices for sin offerings or thanksgiving. Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and that happened only once a year, on the Day of Atonement.

Many people seem to be aware of the connections with the temple and Freemasonry. The temple is most definitely more related to that than it is to ancient Jewish temple rites.

Freemasonry and Jewish history aside, secret rites are nothing new. You may remember my mention of the Eleusinian mystery cult.

Thus the mystae were prepared for the climactic feature of the celebration which took place in the telesterion, or Hall of Initiation. This sacred place was closed to all save the initiated, and the events which occurred there were strictly private and shrouded in the densest mystery. The initiates were under pledge of secrecy not to divulge the revelation there given. Apparently, Public opinion enforced this pledge in a very remarkable manner. Once when Aeschylus was acting in one of his own tragedies the audience became suspicious that he was betraying certain secrets of the Eleusinian mysteries. They arose in real fury and attacked the author-actor, who saved his life only by fleeing to the altar of Dionysus, a refuge that the Athenian mob respected. Later, however, Aeschylus was brought to trial before the Areopagus for revealing forbidden secrets and was acquitted quite as much because of his bravery at Marathon as because of his plea of ignorance. Alcibiades, on the eve of his departure for the Sicilian expedition, was charged with “impious mockery of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone” because he had “profanely acted the sacred mysteries at a drunken meeting.” Even such a garrulous historian as Herodotus, though he was “accurately acquainted with the sacred rites of Demeter” yet felt that he “must observe a discreet silence” concerning them. The secret of Eleusis was guarded all too well and as a result we know almost nil concerning the central rites of the mysteries of Demeter.

One of the incidents just mentioned, however, makes it clear that the heart of the Eleusinian ritual was in the nature of a religious drama. The accusation against Alcibiades very definitely specified actors in a mock pageant which he staged at his drunken revel. “Theodorus represented the herald, Polytion the torch-bearer, and Alcibiades the chief priest, while the rest of the party appeared is candidates for initiation and received the title of initiates.” This describes the situation in the telesterion at Eleusis on the night of initiation; the priests took the part of actors in a religious drama or pageant of which the initiates were the spectators. The archaeological remains of the Hall of Initiation at Eleusis bear out this theory. It was a great square hall around the four sides of which ran stone seats eight steps high, one above the other. Here the initiates sat and watched the spectacle staged in their midst.742

The stories of Aeschylus and Alcibiades talk about accidental divulgence of the sacred secret of Eleusis, giving us some insight to the seriousness that these people held their sacred secret oaths, dramas, and ceremonies. The initiation ceremony is a drama in which the initiates participate. The temple ceremony with its drama and sacred secrets seems to be more of a mystery cult initiation rite than anything the Jews ever did at their temple, let alone Jesus ever did.

The true order of prayer, as Jesus taught, was never a dictated, aloud-repeated, community groupthink. The true order of prayer should elevate your god-given creativity and individuality, not suppress it. The true order of prayer is an intimate, genuine expression between a person and the source of their personhood.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.743

Clearly the temple’s true order of prayer ignores that entire passage above. How could the true order of prayer be something that so blatantly contradicts the teachings of Jesus?

Having learned later in life that much of the endowment has changed soured the deal. There used to be even more symbols, including penalties for revealing secrets. The “sacred, not secret” cliché cannot apply, because for over a hundred and fifty years, “obligations of secrecy” were required by that explicit phrase. These made it more similar to the masonic rite or initiation of a secret society.

There used to be a law of vengeance against our own United States.744 This is treason. Brigham Young’s view of the constitution is treason. General Joseph Smith and his council of fifty is treason. Vengeance goes against everything Jesus stood for. The fact that an oath of vengeance was ever part of anything in the temple is a loud cry against the validity of it being revealed by Jesus. The fact that there have been many other changes, additions, or removals to the temple ceremony is embarrassing.

I wonder why the Temple asserts that Michael became Adam, because Joseph originally saw Adam and Michael as separate persons in his original revelation in the original of Doctrine and Covenants 137. It almost seems as though Joseph hadn’t decided that Michael should be Adam, yet.

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— I saw father Adam, and Abraham and Michael and my father and mother, my brother Alvin745

As time passes and I contemplate the goings on in the temple, it feels as though I can see through it more. It all seems so empty and void to me now. It seems just as pretentious a rite as any other charlatans have produced. The secrecy, silence, and many other manipulation tactics to keep people subservient. The temple seems too much like a secret VIP club with expensive entrance fees.

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To think that a revealed ceremony that is supposed to be inspired by God from the foundation of the world to represent our trek through eternity could have such huge mistakes and so many major changes. Consider that Joseph Smith taught:

The order of the House of God has been and ever will be the same, even after Christ comes, and after the termination of the thousand years it will be the same.746

...the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed; otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing.747

Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered and changed.748

If what Joseph Smith said is true, then either the ordinances in the temple were not instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, or they were not instituted by the true priesthood, or they are not saving ordinances, or the subsequent leaders of the church have apostatized from the Joseph’s restoration and we are all being led by the blind,749 and the priesthood has proved to be a cursing instead of a blessing.

What makes the church any better than the Catholic church in changing of temple ordinances so greatly and so often? The Catholic church changed baptism and The Church has no qualms in calling them out on it. Temple ordinances have indubitably gone through more changes, more often. What makes the repetitive rites of the temple any better than the repetitive rites of Catholicism? I as a child I was taught that we didn’t worship using repetitive rituals, and yet that is exactly what we do in the temple.

If the order of the House of God has ever been the same and will ever be the same, then not only could there not ever be any changes, but there should also not be any anachronisms in it. The next time you go, try to count the anachronisms in the presentation. The anachronisms work both ways, much in the temple ceremonies couldn’t have been applied to any other time and much from any other time couldn’t be applied to the ceremony. Not only that, the narrative itself is anachronistic: many things which happen couldn’t even apply to the time of Adam and Eve, the setting for most of the drama. Let me try to identify a few anachronisms.

It is stressed to not sell some things for money, and then asserts that anything in the world can be purchased with money. Money, or currency, is an anachronism. While bartering and trade may have happened for thousands of years, currency or coins did not exist until about 700 BC. Who were Adam and Eve supposed to sell to, anyway?

Someone to sell tokens to is an anachronism. Both the philosophies of men and scripture are anachronisms, there was no scripture, and there were no other men, nor was there any philosophy.

In pre-1990 presentations, the protestant minister is an anachronism.

Satan observing the teachings of these people is an anachronism.

Even the name Jehovah as well as the name Jesus Christ are anachronisms.

Peter, James and John were instructed to go down to the man Adam to make him consecrate everything he and his posterity will ever have to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is an anachronism.

Peter, James and John being able to touch Adam to communicate their identifying handshake is an anachronism: they hadn’t been born yet, so they could not have had tangible, resurrected bodies.

The temple ceremonies couldn’t have existed from before the foundation of the world. Instead, they seem to be a modern hodgepodge of myths, oaths, and drama. I remember being so disgusted by so many illogical premises and fallacies, that for me, the Temple felt like an insult to my intelligence.

Over the years, I couldn’t help contemplating what must be memorized by the patrons as part of the veil ceremony. For what it’s worth, this silly little spell is easily found outside of the temple. I am going to repeat parts of it here, so if you think it is too sacred to be uttered outside the temple, you might as well skip this section.

Why would the scar from my umbilical cord need to be healthy? Is this poetry or are they serious? Why would I not have marrow in my bones? I might better chant to have a brain in my head.

Those seem silly, but “strength in the loins” gets serious. Loin strength can only represent one thing in my mind: fertility or potency. Why are we honoring fertility and potency as part of the crowning chant in the temple? If there’s any one thing that is common to pagan worship, it is fertility and potency! We might as well be worshiping Baal Hammon, a Canaanite pagan god of fertility, or Ishtar, an Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, or Aphrodite, a greek goddess of fertility, or the European fertility goddesses Freyja or Ēostre, who are probably the namesakes for Friday and Easter.750 Maybe we’re just worshiping polygamy.

Another part of the chant which confused me was “power in the priesthood be upon me and upon my posterity through all generations of time and throughout all eternity.” Why do they use the word in and not of? Power of refers to a right you can wield, for example, “power of attorney”, but “power in ___ be upon me” appears to command one’s self and posterity to be subordinate to something. That phrase is in no way empowering. It is almost as if this little dictated spell were a way to coerce every most faithful member of the church into repeating a phrase that would spell their subjection to the priesthood.

Eternal Marriage

The concept of Eternal Marriage is a bit silly if you take the time to actually ponder the implications. No ritual observance can ever be more important than true sincerity. How could outward, for-show rituals or ordinances be required to be sealed by God? If “God will not be mocked” then why are people pretending to be sealed through his power? This is different from “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”751 The context from Mark 10:6-8 clearly says that male and female were created for each other – they are physically compatible.

The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, once asked Jesus about a woman who married many men in life and the complication of who she would be married to in the resurrection. His reply is not something a latter-day saint would expect:

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.752

With my Mormon upbringing, I would have thought that Jesus should have answered, “Who was she first sealed to?” or “Who was she first married to?” or “Was her sealing canceled?” or the platitude I’ve been hearing a lot lately, “All of that will be sorted out in the life to come.” If eternal marriage were real, he had the perfect chance to expound upon it here, but he didn’t. I have heard this passage construed into needing the rite of eternal marriage while in mortality, but Jesus said nothing of eternal marriage. The idea of eternal marriage goes contrary to his simile of the angels of God. The angels of God in heaven are not married, and Jesus said those who are resurrected would be like them. Do we also, in the words of Jesus, “err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” as we add other meaning to his own words? Once again, who is right, Joseph Smith, or Jesus? If we were to look for an answer to the same question from our Prophet Newsroom753 about how things will work out in the next life, we can find their answer here:

The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to trust in our wise Heavenly Father, who loves His children and does all things for their growth and salvation.754

Their answer not only goes against what Jesus said, it begs another question: If it is futile to resolve that all non-ideal family relationships require resorting to an excuse that they will be sorted out in the world to come anyway, then why do we presume to sort them out here? If family relationships will be ultimately sorted out by God anyway, then why do we snobbishly ostracize family members who choose not to blindly obey pretentious, outwardly observable bylaws of men to be able to qualify for temple marriage?

It seems that the idea of Eternal Marriage is easily bewildered by many situations. For example: a childless widow, who was originally sealed before the death of her husband, marries another man but cannot be sealed to him, and then they have a child. Even though the child is physically and actually the new husband’s child, and even though the child will be raised and loved by his real father, the bylaws of Mormonism dictate that the child will belong to the original husband in Eternity. This convolution could be solved naturally if we would simply accept what Jesus actually said. Why can’t family relationships be what they are for what they intrinsically are? There is no need for any authority or anyone else to try to prescribe valid family relationships, and all others to be “sorted out” in the world to come. If anything will be sorted out in the life to come, then it should all be sorted out in the life to come, without the pretense of power-hungry men.

God is not sealing couples for eternity, because if he were, the will of each bound person would not be able to change his decree. Do we have no concept of the ultimacy of God and his word? Do we dare to vainly pretend that we have his authority to bind two people together in his name? If God joins any two things or persons together, they will remain joined until he decrees their separation. No lesser being can separate anything which the ultimate God has joined together. Or can you possibly believe that what God binds can end for any frivolous reason? The fact that temple marriages often whimsically dissolve indicates that there was no external sealing agent, let alone that God had anything to do with binding them together.

I assert that marriage is foremost a free-will commitment of exclusivity between the two getting married, and it is only secondarily the recognition of the validity of that commitment by everyone they may associate with. The government recognizes that partnership for consideration in many of its laws, so it must define what constitutes a marriage for those laws. There are over a thousand755 statutory provisions for people who are married in the United States. But of all the laws and regulations that depend on marriage, none of them are intended to enforce marriage, to permanently bind two free people into that commitment. That is not to say that divorce isn’t fraught with many considerations; it is the breakup of a partnership after all. The binding agent in the recipe for marriage is not any law, it is instead the will of the two being married. There is no other higher power which binds them to that commitment or forces them to remain faithful.

The laws for marriage are there to aid and assist the partnership, not to enforce their union. If the laws for marriage are the societal acknowledgment of the open, free will commitment of partnership by two people, and not the enforcement of marriage, then what point is it to consider that the laws of heaven should somehow enforce marriage? What laws of heaven should be adjusted because of a marriage partnership? Are there taxes, property laws, and estate inheritance laws heaven, too? After all, it is often said that property possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Whether the commitment of marriage lasts for eternity depends on the mutual will of the partners, and nothing else. The potential for the commitment to last for eternity must at least be as possible as the commitment to last for life. Just as that commitment isn’t bound by earthly law, it can’t be bound by laws of heaven. To say that it does mocks the creator of free will.

It is indecent to believe that God, as a loving father, the creator and upholder of freewill, would use force to separate in the afterlife those of his children who genuinely love and have committed fidelity with each other in this life just because another man had not yet approved of their union, whether that man genuinely had the authority or not. That man cannot impede their love and free-will commitment just as much as God will not impede their love and commitment. It is outrageous to think that the creator of free will would uphold unions which may not even genuinely love because a pretentious man who claims his authority pronounced their sealing, while forcefully separating the unity that inherently forms from genuine love.

I cannot believe that God would punish me eternally for being wrong about anything in mortality or for any of my imperfections. Would any wise parent bind a play marriage of little children for the rest of their life, even if they both deeply wanted it? What a mockery to dare to say that God, the creator of free will, pretends to enforce the marital vows of any of his immature children for eternity.

How can any infinitely lasting vow be made in this life? By virtue of our temporal, ignorant state, we are all immature, ignorant beings for the entirety of our mortal lives. We have absolutely no idea what the next life is like, nor whether our choice would even apply to the situation there, let alone an infinite amount of time. Neither can the the prophets pretend to know what infinity might bring. What a presumptuous proposition our doctrines prescribe.

If indeed you want your family love to continue after death, then let it. Love your spouse. Make it work together. Love needs no other higher power to bind any person into subjection to it in order to continue in life, let alone after death.

We aren’t the only religion that believes that family love and relationships can continue after death, in fact most people who believe in an afterlife also believe that loving family relationships are intrinsically lasting. We are ordinary for believing it is possible for families to be together forever, but we are unique in believing it is possible for families to not be together forever, and we are unique in believing in the necessity for some other power or influence beyond the love and will of the spouses to be added to the equation in order for loving relationships to remain intact after death. The reality of the message of Jesus is that it is love which overcomes evil, not priesthood authority.

The First Presidency has asked me to inform you that as of the date of this letter they have canceled the temple sealing performed in the Salt Lake Temple on August 21, 1992, between your son, Stephen Laurens Bowman, who is deceased, and his former spouse, Amy Michelle Trent McGee.756

And thus, the “eternal” marriage of my dead brother is expunged, without consulting him, in one scribble of a pen by the bureaucracy of a conceited man who pretends to possess the authority of God to eternally separate family relationships.

Even worse, those who don’t “walk up to every covenant” and strictly obey all of the outward bylaws of the despot, including paying the fee of tithing or consecrating absolutely everything to a worldly establishment – any sin of commission or omission, really – then the sealing is forfeit. God’s retribution will keep you from your loved ones because you did not obey. Because of that, people live in fear throughout their life that they could be separated from those they love. This is the same kind of control tactic that kidnappers use when they hold a gun to their victim’s head and demand that if the victim does not do what they say, they may never see their family again, except that the threat of not seeing family again is in the next life.

On the subject of tithing, I see irony in that the temple ceremony condemns selling tokens and signs for money, but if you think about it, the requirement of tithing to gain access to the temple is essentially doing just that: selling tokens and signs for money. It is as glorious as an arcade token machine: insert coins here, tokens come out there. Since the temple presents those tokens and signs as that which is necessary to pass into the celestial kingdom, it seems the words of Moroni convict the same church which purports to believe in his words:

Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.

O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?757

I cannot believe that a loving God would separate any family bond of love just because some fallible man who claims priesthood authority didn’t perform some meaningless ritual to ratify it. I think I would rather rely on the raw love of God than on any third party who purports to possess the authority of God. These are those same men which Jesus warned would be as wolves in sheep’s clothing and would do many works in his name, and to whom he would tell that he never knew them. More ironic still is that the elitist teachings of the church have caused its leaders and members to break apart the family and ostracize family members if they are not faithful to the idolatry. That is not pro-family, that is anti-family. That is not love, it is hate.

The best part of the endowment ceremony is Adam’s honest quest for further light and knowledge. His integrity is admirable and is an example for all of us. The worst part is the attitude of elitism and pride that temple rites foster through implication that the people who make the covenants in the temple are God’s elect and are set apart from all other people of the human race, and those that don’t are under the power of the devil and will be banished by God. Motivating by inflating bigotry and conceit is not a doctrine of Jesus. Here are the teachings of Jesus:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?758

All of the people in your life are visible, tangible, and real; they should be primarily loved by virtue of the reality of their existence without any reservation. Beliefs could be delusional. Beliefs should not overshadow what Jesus taught: to love those persons who you have seen, which are real. If allowing love to produce mercy for your family members who have gone astray is difficult for you, even if you as much as mutter gossip or other disgust about them behind their back, then you can’t possibly sincerely love God and you misunderstand the teachings of Jesus. If the beliefs of your ascribed church establishment cause anyone to be prejudiced or bigoted at any level towards anyone who doesn’t hold to their tenets, then that church has also completely missed the teachings of Jesus. Even if you have any level of pride, elitism, or separatism from the other sects in Christianity, other religions, or even those without religion, you are going against his teachings, because it is your elitist group which is separating the human family instead of uniting it:

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.759

In the quote above, Jesus was talking to the pharisees. The name of Pharisee literally means “set apart” or “separatist.” It means that the Pharisees viewed themselves as so much more righteous than the other people of Israel that they had to separate themselves from the unrighteous scum. The elitism and separatism fostered by the outward requirements for a temple recommend, as well as the elitism which the temple ritual engenders, parallels the elitism of the Pharisees. Jesus condemned that separatism and taught that their bigotry should be done away with.

The teachings of Jesus unite all of humankind, they do not divide. The fact that the church continues to show a level of elitism above any other people proves that it does not follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught that all people are children of God, and even taught that those despised Samaritans, sinners and even adulterers had just as much if not more of a chance to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than the perfect obedient Pharisees.760 Jesus readily forgave the sins of people who hadn’t even thought of being baptized yet.

The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism... the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.761

Jesus taught that temple worship, the worship of God at temples through the rites of the priesthood, and even the priesthood itself should be replaced by worshiping the father in spirit and truth. You may remember me quoting John 4:21-24 earlier, where Jesus deprecates the idea that “salvation is of the Jews” and in so doing he obviates the idea that one must be a member of the family of Israel to be saved. He says that holy lands and mountains (temples) would be deprecated. He then says that God is a spirit and can only be worshiped in spirit and truth.

After singing primary songs which extol the temple as the pinnacle of religious worship for most of my life, I hate to say it, but in truth there is nothing sacred about the temple. If the epitome of eternity will be doing things exactly the same way, dressing the exact same way, saying the right thing verbatim, hum-drum memorization, watching the same presentation time and time again, how could this be God’s idea? Is this truly the best we have? It was difficult for me to repeatedly endure. I stayed away. I tried to like it, I really did. But I couldn’t bring myself to go to the temple often.

I have ever struggled to find myself uplifted by the temple. The temple is a blatant testimony against the truthfulness of the church, its priesthood, and its revelations. I think it mocks Jesus because it seems he would be quite disgusted with it. Every aspect of it goes against his life and teachings. No wonder he never visits the temple. I am also disgusted by it and I don’t think anything good would be amiss in my life if I never returned there again. The temple is a whited sepulcher and a monument to modern idolatry. It is repugnant that the building itself is such beautiful architecture, that so much expense is taken to make sure it is beautiful while it is filled with such idolatry inside, while human beings starve outside. It is awful to think of the level of vanity required to spend the modern widow’s mite, while making the poor more hungry, on such extravagance in the name of Jesus, who despised such hypocrisy.

Secret Combinations

Secrecy is the freedom zealots dream of: no watchman to check the door, no accountant to check the books, no judge to check the law. The secret government has no constitution. The rules it follows are the rules it makes up.762

The Book of Mormon talks much about the secret oaths of old, “kept up by the power of the devil”763 through the ages, and yet never reveals exactly what they were. It denounces secret combinations as “most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God.”764 We are allowed to learn what the original ancient oath between Cain and Satan was in the Pearl of Great Price:

And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.765

Is it just me, or does the following quote not describe exactly what Joseph Smith was doing near the end of his life?

The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times. They have secret signs and code words. They participate in secret rites and initiation ceremonies. Among their purposes are to “murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God.”766

Joseph Smith did have secret signs and code words. He did have secret rites and initiation ceremonies. He did plunder (destroyed printing press). He did steal (priestcraft). He did commit whoredoms (both polygyny and polyandry). Arguably, he even killed a few people by sending hit-men as well as with his own smuggled pistol at Carthage. How can a person who goes down while fighting and even killing others to preserve his life be called a martyr? I dare add another thing to Elder Ballard’s list: Joseph Smith organized a secret society with the purpose to commit fraud.

The word covenant is a euphemism for oath in the church. This is a big deal because Jesus himself gave the charge to never swear an oath for anything, by anything. Consider what is requested: “You and each of you do solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels and these witnesses...” Before means in front of. None of the temple oaths actually covenant with God directly, they’re just covenanting in front767 of him. If you’re only covenanting in front of him, then who is the other side of the covenant? It is not specified because there is no other side. If there is no other side, it is not a covenant. Then there’s the phrase covenant and promise. Clearly a promise is an inherent part of a covenant, so “and promise” could not possibly add to the meaning, but it instead clarifies the meaning of what is meant by covenant. It is a promise, swearing an oath, but by all means is not a covenant. There are other suspect phrases which make me wonder, like “you are about to be put under covenant to obey...” What exactly does “to be put under covenant” mean? A covenant is a mutual agreement between two parties, and it is not something “to be put under.” The phrase “to be put under” means to be come subject to, like, “to be put under a spell” or “to be put under anesthesia.” Ironically, Jesus used the phrase “to be put under” as something you do to light to keep it from shining.768 To be put under means to oppressively stifle and restrain your god-given will. “To be put under” has nothing to do with covenants. It is an oath of subjection and obedience. If you still think the covenant really is a trade between you and God, I remind you that the only things that are ever given in return are idolatrous tokens, signs, and clothing, which are only valued by idolatrous gods and in reality have zero value to the God I believe in.

How ironic it is that the pinnacle of worship in Mormonism is to learn secret code words and signs and make secret oaths! Even worse, those temple oaths were patterned after Satan’s oath with Cain: to “swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die.” The endowment before 1990 required patrons to pantomime slitting their throats with their thumb as the punishment for revealing the oaths. What a farce to be imposed upon that God should work in this way.

Why has the gospel changed from an omniscient, loving god mercifully and fairly judging us by his full empathy of the thoughts and intents of our hearts, into angels that stand as sentinels who require special memorized passwords? That sounds more like Norse mythology, where an armed god guards the entrance to Asgard, not an omniscient, loving god.

For almost a century the temple oaths included oaths of vengeance, though it is ironic that the oath of vengeance was removed after Joseph F. Smith was confronted about it in the Reed Smoot hearings. For even more time those oaths included oaths with graphic death penalties if they broke the promise to keep them secret. Yes, secret. Promising to never reveal something is a secret. How are these oaths any different from the oath between Cain and Satan, really? To think we believe in Paul’s admonition:

Abstain from all appearance of evil.769

Why do we need to make oaths with God at all, let alone oaths which resemble the oath of Cain, anyway? Doesn’t God know our hearts and intentions intimately? Isn’t the true purpose for oaths and covenants: a means to control people? Covenants, contracts, oaths, and swearing are only necessary for those who distrust each other. Do you distrust God? Does God, who knows your every thought, distrust you? Secret covenants are used by secret societies to advance their illegitimate, covert agenda and to ensure that their organized crime does not come to light. What business does God, who is truth and love, have in advancing any illegitimate or covert agenda?

I can think of some business Joseph Smith had which covertly advanced an illegitimate agenda. He and those closest to him were secretly practicing polygamy. He knew that what they were doing was immoral, so he had to swear people to secrecy, requiring them to never talk about the goings on of the temple while outside of the temple. Women like to talk. The only way they could get them to stop talking was to swear them to secrecy and to obey the law of their husbands, and if not, “suffer my life to be taken.”

Ironically, that phrase is the toned-down version which was used after the 1920s. Before then, the penalties were more graphic. For example, “my throat ... be cut from ear to ear, and my tongue torn out by its roots.” It is ironic that the remnants of penalties still exist in the ceremony. The lack of penalties make the tokens signs hang as if something is missing. The extended thumb and cupping hands make little sense without the penalties. Those who swore these secret oaths blatantly lied, even perjured in court. Now that I have allowed myself to independently think, I gasp at the thought that I was ever part of this obscene religion.

Celestial marriages, plural marriages, are held behind closed doors and only attended by those who have been through the endowment because originally the rite was for initiation into the secret polygamy cult. The secrecy continues today as an echo of the sullen darkness of the older ceremony, even though polygamy is no longer outwardly practiced.770

As I’ve said many times, oaths go against the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught doing instead, and specifically taught that we should never swear oaths:

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.771

There you have it, from the mouth of Jesus himself: “swear not at all!” If you didn’t fully understand, that means Jesus does not condone any swearing, foreswearing772, “covenants,” or oaths, at all, ever, even unto the Lord. Does his church truly follow his counsel? It clearly does not. The temple ceremonies trample the teachings of Jesus under its feet.773 In his own words, all oaths, inside and outside of the temple “cometh of evil” and all oaths of secrecy directly contradict his teachings that truth fears no light.774

Secret Band of Fraud

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil–that takes religion.775

After going down the rabbit hole with doctrinal issues, I allowed myself to look to other sources for historical evidence of the veracity of the claims of the church. I was astonished by what I found. I had no idea of how broad and deep the evidence is against them. Ironically, much of the evidence can be found in the History of the Church and the Joseph Smith Papers, both productions of the church itself. The quotes and ideas I present here are only the tip of the iceberg.

Even from my nascent research of history, I find it easy to conjecture that the entire production of the church was the work of Joseph Smith alone. There was a secret combination whose members were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Parley Pratt, Sidney Rigdon and possibly even Emma Hale. Each swearing the loss of their own lives as a penalty for revealing the secret of their fraud, especially for their forged documents. All believing wholeheartedly in the nobility of their pious fraud. If they were not part of the secret band, characters like Martin Harris and the Whitmers were probably conned because of their gullibility, though David Whitmer ultimately called Joseph out on many things.776

It seems like many who were involved in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon were part of the band. They all had an interest in its success. They were benefactors, investors, cohorts, employees, family, and landlords. Oliver Cowdery, Hiram Page, and the five Whitmers in-laws. It is eerily suspicious that the eleven witnesses of the gold plates that had a direct or indirect financial interest in the publishing of the Book of Mormon.

I could not feel more satisfied and at rest if the entire Whitmer family had testified.777

It is taught in practically every Sunday School lesson about the Three Witnesses that the they never recounted their testimony of having seen the golden plates, even after leaving the church. But the rest of the story is suspiciously omitted. First, they had their reputation to protect. If they would deny their testimony, their credibility would suffer. But the thing that boils the noodle is that all of them also confessed that they did not see them with their physical eyes. They literally imagined it. For example:

I have reflected long and deliberately upon the history of this church & have weighed the evidence for & against it – loth [sic] to give it up – but when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundations was sapped & the entire superstructure fell a heap of ruins, [Harris] said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of [h]im but should have let it pass as it was 778

I giggle to myself that this was written in 1838, yet he says that he reflected long and deliberately about the history of the church. To this man, many issues that came later, like polygamy, wasn’t a factor. Joseph Smith had only begun to dabble in polygamy at that point. The Nauvoo Expositor was published six years later. For him, it was the deceit in the anecdotal evidence of questionable witnesses that threatened the credibility of the church. By his testimony, Martin Harris said that all of the witnesses never saw them with their natural eyes. He is not the only one to write this. Here is one of many others:

Martin Harris, one of the subscribing witnesses, has come out at last, and says he never saw the plates, from which the book purports to have been translated, except in a vision and he further states that any man who says he has seen them in any other way is a liar, Joseph (Smith Jr.) not excepted. 779

Not only were the plates imagined, Joseph was not original in his supernatural visions. These visions claimed to have practically the same divine visitations before he did. All of the contemporary visions suspiciously use phrases and concepts that can be found in Joseph’s account. For example, there was Ellen G. White, who established the Seventh Day Adventists. Her original vision is called The First Vision, too. She had hundreds of visions. Consider one of the visions of Norris Stearns, which predated Joseph’s vision by many years.

Image

I attempted to plead for mercy, sin clouded all hope. – At length, as I lay apparently upon the brink of eternal woe, seeing nothing but death before me, suddenly there came a sweet flow of the love of God to my soul, which gradually increased. At the same time, there appeared a small gleam of light in the room, above the brightness of the sun, then at his meridian, which grew brighter and brighter: As this light and love increased, my sings began to separate, and the Mountain remove towards the east. At length, being in ecstacy of joy, I turned to the other side of the bed, (whether in the bod or out I cannot tell, God knoweth) there I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were, a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man–His face was not a blaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father’s will appeared to be his ! All was condescention, peace, and love!! 780

Striking similarities to several other visions at the time makes the vision of Joseph Smith become ordinary. Many other visions predated his. The lack of originality casts an light of disrepute upon Joseph Smith’s visions. It seems like plagiarism played a role, much like the suspicious anachronistic word-for-word plagiarism of the King James translation of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.

It is reasonable to me to think that Joseph Smith didn’t write the Book of Mormon, not because he didn’t have the capability, but because very little of it resembles anything else he himself wrote. On the other hand, it is reasonable to conjecture that it was the collaborative work of fraud by many other people in his band. This theory is backed up by the evidence of computer analyses of the linguistic structure and phrases in the Book of Mormon which has found phrase signatures of not just Joseph Smith, but also Sydney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, Parley Pratt, and some unrelated person named Solomon Spalding throughout the book.781

Solomon Spalding was not a cohort to the secret combination, but rather a victim of plagiarism, having had the only copy of his manuscript of a novel (which eight witnesses familiar with it signed affidavits testified talked of a group of Israelite people which included the names Lehi and Nephi who journeyed to America)782 stolen outright by one of this secret band and then modified and edited extensively by Cowdery and Rigdon to introduce religious themes.

...for a pious lie, you know, has a great deal more influence with an ignorant people than a profane one.783

A different Spalding manuscript of an entirely different story which also was unpublished has been used as evidence by the church that Spalding couldn’t have been the source of the Book of Mormon, because that manuscript contains an entirely different story. That is a bait-and-switch scheme by the church. Can’t an author have any other unpublished works? It seems like a plagiarist’s dream to steal the work of a dead author that hasn’t been published.

In February, 1852, I was snowbound in a hotel in Mentor, Ohio, all day. Martin Harris was there, and in conversation told me he saw Jo Smith translate the “Book of Mormon,” with his peep-stone in his hat. Oliver Cowdery, who had been a school-teacher, wrote it down. Sidney Rigdon, a renegade preacher, was let in during the translation. Rigdon had stolen a manuscript from a printing office in Pittsburgh, Pa., which Spaulding, who had written it in the early part of the century, had left there to be printed, but the printers refused to publish it, but Jo and Rigdon did, as the “Book of Mormon.” Martin said he furnished the means, and Jo promised him a place next to him in the church. When they had got all my property they set me out. He said Jo ought to have been killed before he was; that the Mormon[s] committed all sorts of depredations in the towns about Kirtland. They called themselves latter-day Saints, but he called them Latter-day Devils. 784

The stolen Spalding manuscript was never found and was probably destroyed because Sidney Rigdon ordered in his will that all documents and manuscripts in his possession should be destroyed after he died. That order was dutifully carried out by his wife, who burned them all. The printer didn’t print it because he probably did not want to invest the time for something he thought might fail. Spalding wasn’t all that original. He was probably the source of such a brain-dead prose with many over-repeated phrases like “and it came to pass.” No wonders Mark Twain said of the Book of Mormon that it was...

...such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle—keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate.785

Even if the Spalding manuscript my not be a major contributor to the Book of Mormon, it is not the only source that they could have drawn upon. Joseph and his band were probably familiar with a book called The Late War by Gilbert J. Hunt which gave an account of the war of 1812, “written in the ancient historical style” just like the Book of Mormon has, though The Late War was published first, in 1816. After computer analysis of the phraseology in the Book of Mormon, there is considerable evidence that the phraseology, including things like Chiasmus and Hebraic linguistic translation artifacts, have a precedent in The Late War. Many battle scenes in the Book of Mormon have a precedent in The Late War. And these few things I just mentioned only scratch the surface of the analysis of Chris and Duane Johnson.786

Not only do those two contemporary works of literature shine a light on the possible sources that Joseph’s band drew upon, but it is evident there are many other sources, too, much like Tolkien drew from many resources which were available in his time to create his masterpiece, the Lord of the Rings. There have been more studies of the Book of Mormon which place it rightfully as a work of its time, having been influenced greatly by many works of American revolution and liberty as well as Protestant champions of the 18th century. Countless idioms, phrases, and concepts in the Book of Mormon were previously coined by Mercy Otis Warren, David Ramsay, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Isaac Backus, Jonas Phillips, Samuel McClintock, Abraham Keteltas, Samuel Sherwood, Timothy Dwight, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards Jr.787 Our own church historian and general authority, B. H. Roberts, made validates these observations.

It is clearly established now that these scenes of religious frenzy were common in the vicinage where Joseph Smith resided in his youth and early manhood. The writings of Jonathan Edwards were commonly accessible throughout New England in those days; and Joseph Smith himself came in contact with these emotional phenomena in his own experience after their rebirth in the early decades of the 19th century. The question is, did his knowledge of these things lead to their introduction into the book of Mormon narrative? I think it cannot be questioned but where there is sufficient resemblance between the Book of Mormon instances of religious emotionalism and those cited in the foregoing quotations from the works of Edwards et al. to justify the thought that the latter might well have suggested and indeed become the source of the former.

There can be no doubt but what the style of preaching, exhortation, warning, praying, admonition together with the things emphasized and the ends aimed at in such work of the Christian ministry as came to the attention of Joseph Smith were all largely and deeply influenced by those first and greatest evangelical popular preachers of Protestant Christianity, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and Dr. Thomas Coke et al. In saying this I am not unmindful of the fact that these great lights of the Protestant Churches wrought their work in the generation preceding the one in which Joseph Smith lived, and that he never came in contact with them - Wesley, Whitefield, and Dr. Coke on their several visits to America, or with Dr. Edwards in New England. Still that revival of religion which marked the early decades of the 19th century, with which Joseph Smith was familiar, took on pretty much all of its coloring from the spirit and manner in which these above named evangelists conducted their work. The generation of men following them - the men with whom Joseph Smith came in contact, during his boyhood and early manhood, and through whom he heard of these “giants” of ultra-Protestantism of the former generation were but imitators of these in spirit, in matter, and in manner.788

Not only are those other contemporary influences readily evident in the Book of Mormon, but it is also evident that Sydney Rigdon also injected some of his own version of Campbellite theology, which Joseph later even vainly ignored, contradicted, and completely departed from. Rigdon’s writings are evident in a large portion. Some historians show evidence that Rigdon might be the real mastermind behind the Mormon movement, even playing the part of the voice of God in many of Joseph’s revelations. Some say that it is extremely plausible that they could have drawn ideas from other contemporary resources for the Book of Mormon, including the View of the Hebrews, the author of which was friends with Oliver Cowdery. The sermons in the Book of Mormon eerily resemble prominent speeches of protestant preachers at the time. The speed in which the Book of Mormon was translated only really shows how easy it was to read the work that Rigdon, Cowdery, and Pratt may have already worked on for years before, to transcribe it to the final manuscript for printing.

The Book of Abraham is as close to a smoking gun as it can get. The possibility of the Book of Mormon being a work of many men is plausible when one considers the irrefutable evidence for the fraud of the “translation” of the Book of Abraham from the papyrus scrolls found on mummies, which Joseph Smith said were written by Abraham’s own hand upon the same papyrus he translated.789

My own naive exposure to the surprising truth of the book of Abraham began when I read on Facsimile 2, “Ought not to be revealed at the present time. If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.”790 I thought that maybe the “world” has found out these “numbers.” So I looked for a scholarly translation of the numbers. I found that not only had the “numbers” already been translated; everything else on the facsimiles had also been translated791 more than a century ago, and they had also translated the actual papyrus which was the source for the book of Abraham as evidenced by Joseph’s Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language, which illustrates each Egyptian hieratic character, and to its side is the translation792 just as the characters are found in order (right to left) on the papyrus itself.793 There is an undeniable, direct relationship between the hieratic characters on the papyrus which was immediately adjacent to, (left of) Facsimile 1.794 Ironically, according to the Book of Abraham manuscript, these are the same characters which comprise Abraham 1:12-19, which includes the part that refers to Facsimile 1 illustrating the text at the beginning of the papyrus:

That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics.795  

Interestingly, the real translation of those first seven characters of the line does not yield many paragraphs, but instead is translated as “[the] great [la]ke of Khonsu.”796

Joseph and his band were perfectly safe, at the time, to make those scrolls become what he wanted them to become. Today, because of the Rosetta Stone, which was barely discovered and only beginning to be deciphered in Joseph Smith’s day, Egyptologists can reliably read Egyptian now. I doubt that more than a handful of people in America were even aware of it. Those original scrolls which Joseph Smith said were written by the hand of Abraham have since been translated and are in reality Egyptian “breathings” burial prayer scrolls. They could not have been written by Abraham’s own hand, because they are some 2,000 years too young.

I was taken aback by the evidence I discovered. The translation of that book was not brought about by the gift and power of God, it was brought about by the gift and power of fraud. After I realized this, my eyes have been opened and now I can see so many falsifying facts about the Book of Abraham.

I was surprised to find that the real translation of everything in all of the facsimiles has absolutely nothing to do with anything in the book of Abraham. There is no way around that. Apologists cannot say that it was on a lost bit of parchment, because there it is in canon, along with its translation. Facsimile 3 is horribly obvious even for me, and I am less than an amateur in Egyptian theology. Even I can easily see that the person Joseph identified as Pharaoh is actually female, and she wears the sun disk and horns headdress, representing the goddess Isis or Hathor. The headdress upon the enthroned person is the atef crown of Ra, whose curly ostrich feathers should adorn the head of Osiris. The symbol in front of Osiris does not represent Abraham in Egypt as Joseph says, but is instead a libation table, which places the scene in the afterlife. Since this is a scene of the afterlife, the enthroned person could not be a living mortal like Abraham, as Joseph says it should be.

The person standing before Osiris is not a male prince as Joseph said, but she has a female form, and she wears a feather headdress. To an Egyptian, the feather on her head would symbolize their goddess of justice, truth, order, balance, and freedom – Ma’at. Joseph’s imposture is as if a future Egyptian fraud would proclaim the American female statue with her blindfold, sword, and scale, as America’s prince (yes, the opposite gender), instead of Lady Justice.

The person to the side of Ma’at is not a waiter as Joseph says. Ma’at is guiding the hand of the deceased, whose name is Hor. And the person helping Hor is not a slave as Joseph’s ignorance would prescribe for a black person, but it is instead the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Anubis, which somehow lost his jackal head, possibly because the papyrus was fragmented, but he still retains one of the jackal ears atop his head.

Even I can see that the hieratic characters are phonetic, and there is no possibility that entire paragraphs could come out of single characters. Even I can see that there are problems in the text itself, like its fable that Egypt is a Chaldean name and was named after the grand-daughter of Noah who discovered the land, Egyptus, which is supposed to mean “that which is forbidden.”

Strabo797 attributed the Greek Aígyptos (A>’iguptoc) to an etymology of having evolved as a compound from Aigaiou huptiōs (A>iga’iou <upt’iwc), meaning “below the Aegean.”

The ancient Egyptian name of that country was Kemet (anglicized) which means black ground or black soil, referring to the fertile black soils of the Nile flood plains.798

Abraham could not be using some kind of prophetic foreknowledge by using a name that we would recognize in the future, because the text spends extra time giving a back-story and etymology of the name of the woman who found it. But “Egypt” is a Greek name, and it has more to do with the location of Egypt in relation to Greece and the Aegean Sea than it has to do with “that which is forbidden” in Chaldean. The word Egypt is an anachronism because it was coined long after Abraham, let alone at the time of Noah. Abraham would have used the name Kemet in his day.

Another anachronism is that Chaldean nation first arrived on the historic scene in the 9th century BC, about a thousand years after Abraham. The birthplace of Abraham in the Bible was not the anachronistic Chaldea, but the Bible says it was Ur of the Chaldees, which refers to an entirely different place.799 Even the name Ur of the Chaldees in the Bible is an anachronism, because Ur was not ruled by the Chaldeans until after 700 B.C.800 I would surmise the anachronism in the bible exists because most of the Old Testament was written by scribes during the captivity of Judah, at the time Ur was inhabited and ruled by Chaldeans. In Abraham’s time, it was just Ur, and was settled by Ubaidian inhabitants of Sumer.801

The Chaldean language was Semitic, or what we would call Aramaic now. Crazy “Chaldean” words like “rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics” are blatant fabrications. The closest thing to semitic for hieroglyphics today is the hebrew word for “illegible handwriting” and that is not even remotely close, neither phonetically nor meaning, to “rahleenos.” Another anachronism is the title of Pharaoh wasn’t used until 1504 BC, 500 years after Abraham, during the reign of Thutmosis III.802 “Pharaoh” was never a proper name as this fable uses it.

Why would Abraham say that the canopic jars which hold the mummy’s guts are idols? They did not adore and pray to canopic jars. He is making this up. Egyptian human sacrifice803 is preposterous, as is an attempt to sacrifice Abraham.804 There is no evidence of Egyptian human sacrifice for at least 800 years before Abraham’s time, nor any time thereafter.805 Any Egyptian in his day would not have even entertained the thought of sacrificing a human being. Oh the irony in the doublethink that on the one hand sacrifice is idolatrous, but on the other hand, Abraham was quite willing to sacrifice his own child for his god. All of these anachronisms and impositions are just a handful of observations from only the first chapter of Abraham. It is insane to assert that a document which errs in almost every verse could even remotely be true.

I remember hearing someone relate a well-known Disney film, The Little Mermaid, as an analogy. Scuttle, a seagull, has contact with the world above the sea, so he is the authority to reveal land truths to Ariel. Ariel would find artifacts from the world above, and she would bring them to Scuttle for an explanation. He called the fork a “dinglehopper,” and that its use is for use in combing hair. He called the tobacco pipe a “Banded Bulbus Snarfblat,” and that it would be used as a musical instrument. He called the foot, “the extremity attached to the human body by the ankle. Its primary use is for detecting a pulse or breath sounds.” All of his assessments of such common things are so absurd that they are funny.

That analogy relates to Joseph Smith because he seems to claim to be as authoritative on the historical world just as Scuttle was for the human world. Oh, that’s Chaldean “rahleenos” for hieroglyphics. Her name was Egyptus, because she discovered Egypt. The black person in the facsimile was a slave. Of course that guy on the throne is Abraham. Those little objects with heads on them, they’re idols, and they’re named Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, Korash, and that one, uh, is the God of Pharaoh. Of the hundreds of Egyptian gods, none of those names are even remotely close. To egyptologists and historians, these are absurdities. Some are so comical that they can’t help smiling as they call it out. The lion and couch scene and the hypocephalus are as common to egyptologists as a fork is to all of us.

There seems to be a pattern in Joseph Smith’s Scuttle-like behavior. This mound? Oh yes, that was Zelph, the white laminate. That pile of rocks? Oh yes, that is the altar that Adam himself built. This place? Oh yes, this is where the Garden of Eden was. That papyrus? Oh yes, that was written by Abraham, by his own hand. Those plates from Kinder Hook? Oh yes, those contain a history of a descendent of Ham, through Pharaoh, king of Egypt. There seems to have never been an instance when he didn’t know.

And he said unto me: This is Shinehah, which is the sun.806

One of the most comical of Joseph’s Scuttle words is Shinehah. The suffix ** is used many times in the Book of Mormon. It apparently means son of, much like ** for Scandinavian names. Nephi-hah, Moroni-hah, Cumeni-hah, Ammoni-hah, Mathoni-hah, were named after their father, just like Niel-sen, Hans-sen, Peder-sen, Lars-sen, Soren-sen, Ole-sen, and so on. But what about Shinehah? Joseph has got to be kidding. Shine-son? Son-shine? Sunshine! Seriously!

Anachronisms prove falsity in texts which claim to be historical. If a U.S. History book would claim that President Washington was an avid user of an Apple iPad807 tablet, its claims to truth would be thwarted because it is an anachronism. If any text contains anachronisms but claims to be historical, one is justified in not believing the text to be authentic.

For if Joseph Smith’s translation of the Egyptian parchment could be proven discredited, and proven false, then doubt would be thrown also upon the genuineness of his translation of the Book of Mormon, and thus all his pretensions as a translator would be exposed and come to naught.808

Absurdities do not score favor for credibility. The words of Elder B. H. Roberts begin to carry a great amount of weight. As B. H. Roberts observed, if Joseph’s translation of the Book of Abraham is discredited, then doubt would also be thrown upon the Book of Mormon. Anachronisms are not only plentiful in the Book of Abraham, but they’re also plentiful in the Book of Mormon.

The first Isaiah text used809 was actually written many decades after the beginning of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, which hypes their deliverance from captivity in Babylon. That was well after Lehi and his family had gone. The presequent contextual chapters of Isaiah810 extol Cyrus the Great by name – a Gentile – as the anointed,811 the messiah,812 the shepherd, to liberate the Jews and allow them to rebuild Jerusalem.813 Since he is mentioned by name (as the anointed one, read: Christ or Messiah), he could not have become a promise of freedom to the authors of Isaiah at least until he was enthroned in 559 BC.

The chapters which extol Cyrus are dated around 550 and 539 BC, the years leading up to when Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.814 Considering the contextual chapters of Isaiah, it is quite clear who Isaiah 48:14 and consequently 1 Nephi 20:14 is talking about: it is Cyrus. It is a blatant anachronism that the Book of Mormon contains text from Isaiah which talks about liberation from captivity in Babylon from the Chaldeans815 because Lehi had purportedly left before Judah was captive.

I have noticed more relating to this anachronism in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. It speaks as if Jerusalem was a sovereign kingdom and was about to be destroyed and its people carried captive into Babylon816 after Zedekiah817 began his reign. But in reality, if you actually read the Old Testament, you will find that Jerusalem had already been besieged818 and thousands had already been taken captive into Babylon819 in 598 BC820 by Nebuchadnezzar. You might think that what I just said coordinates with the Book of Mormon, but it doesn’t, because Zedekiah was not king yet. It was in that siege in 598 BC when King Jehoiakim,821 the king of Judah, died.822 His son Jehoiachin/Jeconiah was only eight years old and reigned only 3 months as the same siege continued.823 Ultimately, Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive,824 and it was Nebuchadnezzar who placed Zedekiah in power as a viceroy in 597 BC at age 21.825 It was Jeremiah who had prophesied about the first destruction of Jerusalem826 and was cast into prison after it happened because it seemed that he sided with Babylon.827

I catch myself wondering, how could our doctrine assert that there should only be one designated prophet on the earth at a time, and also profess that Lehi had any right to prophesy when it was Jeremiah who had that calling? Regardless, the fact is that Jerusalem had already been destroyed and was already in bondage to Babylon before the reign of Zedekiah. It was about a decade later that Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, which brought the second destruction of Jerusalem, where Zedekiah’s sons were killed in front of him before his eyes were gouged out.828 Since Zedekiah wasn’t very old, his sons couldn’t have been very old either. His sons were all probably under ten years of age.

It is silly to think about the opening premise for the Book of Mormon, that of Lehi escaping Jerusalem before it was destroyed during the reign of Zedekiah, when at 600 BC Jehoiakim was the monarch. Jerusalem had already been besieged, had already become captive to Babylon, and Zedekiah was put in place as a puppet-king to Nebuchadnezzar. It is silly to think of the veneration of a purported son of Zedekiah, Mulek, in the Book of Mormon, when Zedekiah was quite young and his sons likely hadn’t even reached puberty and one of his sons would not have had the capacity to escape, let alone sail to America.

The Jews did not consider Zedekiah to be the true line of authority, because he was put in power by the oppression of their enemy, Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel was taken into Babylon as part of the first siege, and Ezekiel maintained that Jeconiah/Jehoiachin was still the rightful heir as he counts his time from the beginning of Jeconiah’s captivity,829 not the captivity of Zedekiah. Even Matthew places Jesus as having descended through Jeconiah, not Zedekiah.830

Another gotcha is that Manasseh, from whom Lehi is said to have descended,831 was part of the kingdom of Israel which was an enemy to Judah and Zedekiah, as the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyrian Empire at about 720 BC. Even the book of Mormon admits this832 because it includes text from Isaiah.833

With the understanding of what was going on at the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah, suddenly all those extremely confusing Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon begin to make sense. They are so confusing because they are ripped out of context and assigned a new mythologically prophetic meaning. When viewed in context, the subject becomes obvious: it is the welfare of the kingdom of Judah, their wars, and the poetry of bards who pretended to soothsay the promises and treachery of their tribal God. It is easy to see in context that none of the included chapters are prophesying about the coming of a messiah six or seven hundred years afterward, nor are they prophesying about the last days. They are all talking about the current events of their time. Babylon is literally Babylon, it isn’t figurative for “the world.” The Gentiles literally Gentiles, they aren’t figurative for Euro-Americans.

The word-for-word King James translation of the Isaiah text that is peppered throughout the Book of Mormon mocks the discipline of Philology. When a written language is translated to another language, alternate words have to be used. Much like the subtle differences that confused parthenos for almah, the translation of Isaiah from Aramaic to Reformed Egyptian, and then abridged by an editor after a thousand years of transcription and linguistic evolution, should not have produced the word-for-word King James version of Isaiah including every mistake in translation. The problem is not only the fishy smell of that plagiarism, but the inclusion of anachronistic text not written before its inclusion is in flagrante delicto. The glare of reason pierces through such a dark storm of imposition.

When we see the studied craft of the Scripture-makers, in making every part of this romantic book of schoolboy’s eloquence bend to the monstrous idea of a Son of God begotten by a ghost on the body of a virgin, there is no imposition we are not justified in suspecting them of. Every phrase and circumstance is marked with the barbarous hand of superstitious torture, and forced into meanings it was impossible they could have. The head of every chapter and the top of every page are blazoned with the names of Christ and the Church, that the unwary reader might suck in the error before he began to read.834

Revisionist history is the quintessential form of propaganda. The flagrantly misleading eisegesis at the head every chapter heading disgusts me. The headings lie about the text and alter history to the advantage of the institution that prints and sells the books. This not only happens in the LDS scriptures, but in practically every edition of the Bible. If one does not critically study the text for themselves, they will never see the discrepancies.

A divine message must be received with implicit uncertainty regarding its truth. This ambiguity is an irrationality; it is a sort of madness that is inflicted upon the receiver of the message. Only one who possesses a rational method of interpretation (i.e., a hermeneutic) could determine the truth or falsity of the message835

Other impositions that contradict both biblical and secular world history are just the beginning of a long list of things which are not archaeologically factual for the time and place of the Book of Mormon. There are many others: horses, elephants, cattle, goats, swine, barley, wheat, silk, wheels, windows, scimitars, and high-temperature smelting to make alloys like steel, to name a few things, all of which are indigenous to the old world, not the new. There is already a wealth of information about these anachronisms, so I will not delve into their details here. But I must ask where in the Book of Mormon are the true American animals, like alpacas, anteaters, armadillos, bison, condors, cougars, coyotes, jaguars, llamas, macaws, moose, opossums, polar bears, pumas, quetzals, raccoons, rattlesnakes, sloths, tapirs, toucans, and turkeys? Where are the American foods, like avocados, cacao (chocolate), cashews, chewing gum, chili peppers, guavas, jicama, maize, papayas, peanuts, pecans, pineapples, piranhas, potatoes, pumpkins, quinoa, squash, tapioca, tobacco, tomatoes, and vanilla? All of these exclusively American things have no mention in what is supposed to be a historical American book, though European animals and foods are often mentioned, as if a a European who was ignorant of American reality wrote it. Hundreds of native American languages exist,836 yet none of them are even remotely related to Hebrew or anything remotely Aramaic.

When inconsistencies and anachronisms abound, it becomes easier and easier to discount the veracity of text which purports to be historical scripture. It also makes me wonder whether Mormonism was designed to not only attract and ensnare the ignorant, but to keep them entrapped in ignorance.

Returning to the subject of Secret Combinations, one does not have to reach far in their thoughts to be able to deduce that this was all an organized crime, since there is so much about secret combinations in the scriptures they produced, and the concept was fresh in their consciences. One does not have to reach far to comprehend the source of so many oaths of secrecy in the temple as well as the source of the oaths of vengeance and oaths of death for not keeping the secrets which were a part of the rituals for most of Mormon history. The fact that the scriptures they produced so often denounce secret societies provides circular logic in refuting the existence of their own secret society: “How could they be a secret society, their own scriptures denounce it!” This silly logic makes me giggle as it reminds me what Vizzini said in The Princess Bride as he explained how easy it was to determine which glass held the poisoned wine. In the end, he summarized:

You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!837

As I have already mentioned, Jesus himself charges us to avoid swearing oaths of any kind. He also says this of the occult:

...Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.

Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.838

Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.839

For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.840

I think those scriptures illustrate that Jesus was quite clear about secrets being a form of hypocrisy, and I think his charge that everything he teaches, whether he whispered it or not, should be openly revealed upon the housetops is also quite clear. Jesus was open to the world, including what he taught at the temple. This scripture seems to single-handedly forfeit temple secrecy:

Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.841

Even Paul would be abhorred by the secrecy of the Temple:

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.842

It is so ironic to me that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses843 both vehemently speak against secret combinations, but swearing vengeance and secrecy with the penalty of death is the thing that was implemented as the temple endowment. The Book of Mormon says of secret oaths:

And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.844

As it says, the purpose of secret oaths is to keep people in darkness, to lie, and to gain power. The history of Mormonism is rife with all of the things it lists, including the closed doors of today’s oligarchy. I can’t help wondering if the outcome of the Mountain Meadows massacre would have been entirely different if temple ceremony didn’t have a secret oath to “avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation” along with its other oaths and other cult-like practices that were stressed during the Mormon Reformation.845

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.846

I am sure the temple’s constant drumming of disgusting “bow your head and say yes” blind obedience surely had something to do with it. If the members had followed the true teachings of Jesus and had thought for themselves, I doubt there would have been such a horrible scene. The Book of Mormon says it outright:

For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations.847

This is not all that is contradictory between the Book of Mormon many of our indispensable doctrines. Though we call it the most correct book on earth, it is not, and though we declare that it contains a fullness of the Gospel, it does not. In fact, it even contradicts many indispensable Mormon doctrines.

There is irony in the doublespeak about the Book of Mormon. Consider an article named Recognizing Satan’s Counterfeits.848 The subtitle says, “When we are faced with spiritual counterfeits, the Book of Mormon can help us determine what’s true and what’s not.” The article says, “The more we train our eye to identify the differences, the better prepared we will be to expose the counterfeiters of today and resist their lies.” Alright, let us train our eye to identify the differences, or contradictions, to determine what institution has counterfeit teachings. Here are some differences that come to mind:

As I say, this “restored church of Jesus” ignores the true nature and teachings of Jesus and turns the person who healed the ear that Peter cut off just hours earlier 881 back into the old man-made idolatrous, wrathful, vengeful God. This “restored church of Jesus” ignores the message of Jesus and only seems to pay attention to Paul’s idolatrous doctrine of Atonement and propitiation through the blood of Jesus. 882

You may remember my list of many other differences in The Restored Character of Jesus in the Doctrine section above. This “restored church of Jesus” lets the teachings of Jesus which are not advantageous for it as an establishment fall by the wayside to contradict him in stressing thoughtless Pharisaical obedience to strict, measurable rules. President Monson is anti-Jesus in his intent for us to return to Pharisaical law. His ideas are illustrated when he often said things like this:

A cardinal principle of industrial management teaches: “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”883

I have seen another version of his quote, which I can’t seem to find in church materials, prepends this: “When we deal in generalities, we shall never succeed. When we deal in specifics, we shall rarely have a failure.” Truth is, he wants to run the church using principles of industrial management, because that is what the church really is at its core: a corporation. He wants measurable outward obedience. I can’t envision Jesus approving of this at all; he scoffed at the Pharisees’ stringent, outwardly observable, measurable rules. What ever happened to “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves?”884 It seems that by stressing outward, observable, measurable performance in rites, rituals, visits, clothes, underwear, tokens, signs, and a great many more outward commandments, the church proves that it is not led by God, but by men:

For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.885

And Jesus would agree:

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.886

Everything about temple worthiness and all the goings on inside and outside of the temple contradicts those scriptures. As I said before, the temple changes the message of Jesus – which invites us to have an intimate, living relationship with God now, being part of the Kingdom of Heaven now – to the necessity for outward, measurable keys, tokens, signs, clothes, and other many other idolatrous things to get by pagan sentinels who stand guard at the gates of Heaven to be used later. Here is what Jesus would say to in response to President Monson:

And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.887

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Joseph and Carrie Nelson to their family, which illustrates my point further:

The church spends more time preaching against things that won’t actually affect a person’s real worth than it does actually trying to teach its members to be Christ-like. This is just our opinion and we don’t intend to present it as fact, but how many hours are wasted convincing the youth not to watch R-rated movies, not to use profanity, to dress in clothes that meet strict standards of modesty, not to get tattoos, not to drink caffeinated drinks, to avoid violent video games, and to not listen to profane music?

The church lays down so many laws and then focuses on hammering a need to obey the laws into people’s brains that it misses an opportunity to help the members, especially youth, learn what it truly means to be Christian. It replaces what should be a quest for truth and learning how to become truly altruistic and loving people, with a dogmatic need to follow rules. Part of the reason so many Mormons fail to be more like Jesus is because they have replaced the need to understand Christ and emulate His actions with the need to follow rules. Comprehension of good and bad has been abandoned in favor of a robotic application of policy. Growing up, they tell you to prepare for an eternal marriage and then they tell you that you do that by following rules – date in groups, wait until you’re 16 to date, obey the law of chastity, read the scriptures, pray, and go to church, and you’ll be a good spouse. While these things can lead to a good marriage, they are meaningless unless people understand how to use them to help them understand how, and how to use those things to make a good marriage is not taught.

In putting this focus on rules, and making people think that by following the clear cut rules, they are good people, the church is encouraging them to stop growing to be better because they focus on the commandments that have a very obvious achievability. It is obvious whether or not a person pays tithing, whether or not a person smokes, chews, drinks alcohol, drinks tea and coffee, whether or not a person goes to church, and whether or not a person reads the scriptures. But none of these really makes a person Christ-like. Being forgiving, being humble, helping those in need, practicing patience, avoiding angry or vengeful thoughts, etc are the things that make a person truly Christ-like. And yet those things are subjective and since the emphasis is put on the non subjective rules, many people get up in fast and testimony meeting to boast about their achievements, where if they were truly Christ like, their modesty would prevent such an action. The bottom line is that following Christ in the LDS faith is just another subjective commandment, so just as long as you are following God’s laws for which your complicity is measurable, you’re obviously following Jesus despite the fact that you’re doing all of the things that he didn’t actually command be done.888

Undue Influence

Undue Influence is a legal phrase defined as “influence by which a person is induced to act otherwise than by their own free will or without adequate attention to the consequences.” Another definition includes “a loss of free agency.” Other words or phrases for undue influence are “mind control,” “thought reform,” and “brainwashing,” though those are more harsh terms.

Robert Lifton

Dr. Robert Lifton was a military intelligence psychiatrist in the 50s, who studied Chinese communist brainwashing techniques. Lifton published a book in 1961 titled “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.” In this book he outlined eight criteria that any environment could be assessed for brainwashing or thought reform.

  1. Milieu control: Tactics that control environment and human communication through the use of social pressure and group language; such tactics may include dogma, protocols, innuendo, slang, and pronunciation, which enables group members to identify other members, or to promote cognitive changes in individuals. Milieu control involves the control of communication within a group environment, that also may (or may not) result in a significant degree of isolation from surrounding society. When non-group members, or outsiders, are considered or potentially labeled as less valuable without basis for stated group-supported and group-reinforced prejudice, group members may have a tendency to then consider themselves as intellectually superior, which can limit alternate points of view, thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy in which group members automatically begin to devalue others and the intellect of others that are separate from their group, without logical rationale for doing so. Additionally, Milieu control “includes other techniques to restrict members’ contact with the outside world and to be able to make critical, rational, judgments about information.”

  2. Mystical Manipulation: The manipulation of experiences that appears spontaneous but is, in fact, planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority, spiritual advancement, or some exceptional talent or insight that sets the leader and/or group apart from humanity, and that allows reinterpretation of historical events, scripture, and other experiences. Coincidences and happenstance oddities are interpreted as omens or prophecies.

  3. Demand for Purity: The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

  4. Confession: Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

  5. Sacred Science: The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

  6. Loading the Language: The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking. “The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis.”

  7. Doctrine over person: Members’ personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

  8. Dispensing of existence: The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also.

After reading through those eight points, I noticed that they all apply to the church in some way. This only proves to me more that the church is a creation of men, which uses undue influence to bind people under their control. Here is a diagram which does a good job of organizing and presenting what I just said, which I found on Twitter:889

Loading the Language

I have noticed many words or phrases in Mormonism which have a euphemistic meaning are not the same to the rest of society. Here are some of the examples I can think of:

Adversary

Apostasy

Calling

Covenant

Modesty

Morality

Obedience

Pharisee

Proclamations/Declarations/Articles of Faith

Swearing

Stipend

Use of the Lord’s Name in Vain

Thought Termination

One of the points includes thought-stopping clichés or platitudes. Here is a list of some of the ones I can think of (in no particular order):

Steven Hassan

Steven Hassan was once a member of the Unification Church, nicknamed “Moonies,” earlier in his life and later came to his senses. He dedicated the rest of his life to the study of cults and the freedom of mind. Part of his realization that he was in a cult was influenced by the eight points in Dr. Lifton’s book. Steven analyzed and extended the eight points into what he calls the B.I.T.E. Model of Cult Mind Control. B.I.T.E. stands for the mind control of four areas: Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional. Let me quote from his web page:893

Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any behavior.

Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.

As employed by the most destructive cults, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the cult leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model can help you understand how cults suppress individual member’s uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult’s control of an individual’s Behavior, Intellect, Thoughts, and Emotions.

It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mind controlled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.

Missions are particularly mind-controlling. They seem to illustrate to what extents the church will go to control its members if necessary. The environment of a mission is the epitome of brainwashing. Here are some bullet points of the BITE model as applied to the brainwashing of my own mission:

Behavior Control

Information Control

Thought Control

Emotional Control

How can a church that uses mind control techniques have anything to do with what Jesus taught about the Kingdom of Heaven? We are taught in the church that it was not the plan to control choice and behavior. For being a church which teaches that Lucifer’s plan was a plan of controlling free will, it seems ironic that the church is using just about every method known to man to brainwash and control its members, especially missionaries, robbing them of their free agency.

There is no place for cultist mind control and suppression of free agency in the gospel of Jesus. The gospel of Jesus does not manipulate and control your mind, it instead frees it. Jesus teaches that the Universe is governed by love, and you can join in with that love if you want to. When you love, all other things fall into place.

One Ring Parallels

The Lord of the Rings contains a mythology can apply to our time just like the Book of Mormon can, even though both may be fiction. This is the inscription on the One Ring, which is also the spell Sauron chanted as he poured his power into it:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

I can’t help thinking about the parallels that spell to the evil power of secretive totalitarian oligarchies, one of which I have first-hand experience. At the time the One Ring was forged, Sauron was known as Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and in appearance he had a fair elvish beauty. He lured the leaders of the elves with his rings of power, but ulteriorly sought to control them by the using the rings to corrupt their wills. While the evil wizards or priests like Sauron which exist in our present world no longer seem to attempt to have outwardly obvious magical powers, they do seem to have found rather wizardly tricks to play on the mind in order to bend it to their will. I realize that One Ring is the proper name of the ring, but I can relate the spell like this:

One priest to rule them all, one mission to find them,
one baptism to bring them all, and in his temple bind them.

Another phrase which has a parallel is “in the darkness bind them.” To me, the temple is darkness, because there is hardly any light of truth in there at all. The repetition of myth and ritual does not make something true. The power in the priesthood, just like the power in the One Ring, corrupts the will of those who bear it and turns them into the Dark Lord’s pawn, while they think they still retain their full control and think that they are serving a righteous cause. The covenants (a euphemism for oaths) bind you to the subjection and overcontrol of the power in the priesthood. As I have explained, I understand the words power of (something) means something you can wield, like the power of attorney, but to me, power in (something) be upon me is a spell of subjection.

I think Jesus knew that all men are corruptible by power and he deprecated the middle-man (priesthood) in favor of a new true religion, one which could not be outwardly faked: a genuine worship of the father in spirit and truth, deep down inside. When I say the word worship, I do not refer to ritual, but I refer to our capacity to aspire for perfection even though we are presently physically incapable of it, and our capacity to desire to know God personally despite our inherent physical blindness to his existence.

Conclusion

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.894

This paper is by no means comprehensive. It contains only some of the thoughts that I remember having occurred to me over the years. I have had many more which have come and gone, and there are so many more facts to consider that they could fill an abyss. Those I list above are only the ones that I have remembered, or those that were prompted by current events. Even though this is in no way complete, I hope I have given you a good sample of my innermost thoughts.

The first dominoes to fall in my journey were: realizing who Jesus truly was, and recognizing my belief in God and his nature. Stemming from that was whether God has a necessity for a human sacrifice to allow him to extend his mercy. As I came to trust him entirely for my salvation and no longer had any need for any arm of the flesh to intercede, my mind was freed to explore what I believe about everything. From there, I descended into a rabbit hole where I freely resolved hundreds of inconsistencies. Since then, I have achieved more freedom as the cognitive dissonance I have experienced throughout my life has been resolved.

Because of the many reasons I list throughout this work, as well as many others, I can’t deny my integrity its right to join with wisdom and knowledge to have influence upon my actions. I wish to allow truth and wisdom to rule supreme in my mind, because they come from the Father, and doing the will of the Father is the essence of the religion of Jesus. I am having a difficult time maintaining my inculcated beliefs which for most of my life I so naively, unquestioningly, and almost robotically accepted.

As you may have observed, I seem to have arrived at a level of apathy and maybe even disgust towards the church. I can’t take it seriously anymore. I can no longer devote my life to it as I did before. I understand that men make mistakes, and many of the problems with the church are the mistakes of men, however I can also see that many of those so-called mistakes were vainly done in the name of God, and can be easily applied to this saying of Jesus:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.895

When you read the above quote from the new perspective of a truth seeker who has found falsity and lies where there should have been truth, it seems that the table turns.

My new apathy towards the church and the thing that broke my shelf, as I’ve explained as clearly as I can, comes from a fundamental problem with the way the message of Jesus is taught in the church. Key teachings of Jesus are routinely omitted, ripped out of context, and blatantly misinterpreted, because they know that if they taught his real teachings, their establishment would be undermined. The church has proved to be an enemy to the core message of Jesus and is his ally in name only. The church better aligns with separatist, elitist, hypercritical ideals of the enemies of Jesus, who lobbied for his execution.

It has become apparent to me through the teachings of Jesus that membership in any church does not necessarily mean participation in the kingdom of heaven. The church is social and separatist, while Jesus’ kingdom of heaven is spiritual and inclusive. I must choose: the teachings of Jesus, or the creeds and dogmas of men. They contradict each other. I cannot subscribe to both at the same time. To me, the church represents the latter.

I do not need the pretense of an organized religion to have to have faith in God, nor do I need it to have morality, nor to have spirituality. Religion as an establishment gives hypocritical men a chance to play god. It is doublespeak that the priesthood should never wield power or influence, because it does give men dominion over others. If priesthood is farce, then it is all a sham. The god I believe in does not do arm-of-the-flesh priesthood, nor does he need magical shamanstic blessings to allow his will to emerge.

The church has attempted to address some of the seemingly countless issues by publishing essays.896 They have been quietly released on its website in attempt to address doctrinal and historical issues. They seem to have inadvertently confirmed many facts that were previously vehemently declared as anti-Mormon falsities. There is so much contradiction, imposition, apology, and obvious lying in them that instead of resolving issues, they add more fuel to an already burning fire. The improprieties of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young do not help their credibility as mouthpieces of God, nor their right to act in behalf of Jesus as if he were here.

The vast majority of the membership do not think about the issues addressed by the essays. Because of the abuse of gaslighting, they have no awareness that they even exist! I know this, because this was me. I never knew that the scrolls that pertain to the book of Abraham were discovered and that their translation has no correspondence. I’m sure many haven’t heard of the recent policy that contradicts a core tenet897 that bars children from baptism because of the sins of their parents.

Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird.898

Though the line and sinker were swallowed with the hook, it will eventually come out the other end, and the oblivious person will be none the wiser. Being unaware is blissful abandon of reason. Oblivion is a drug that finesses its victims into unconsciousness. It seems this is where the church bureaucracy wishes to lull away its members, hypnotizing them with the boredom of whitewashed correlation, because any other information might enlighten and awaken the thralls.

Man in a state of grovelling superstition, from which he has not courage to rise, loses the energy of his mental powers. 899

When a claim is made for the only true church upon the face of the earth, it should never have any hint of impropriety. It should not be shrouded in secrecy and lies. It should not have to censor speech. When a book is declared as the most correct book on earth, not only should there be overwhelming evidence to support its claims, it should not impose any incriminating anachronisms nor absurdities. As much as I want it to be otherwise, I can’t unsee the falsity.

It is evident to me that the church claims to be something it is not. I cannot in good conscience put my trust in any organization led by man, the arm of the flesh, which is in practice dishonest, deceitful, an enemy to truth, and hungry for power and money. The church requires its members to lie to others and themselves by censoring their genuine thoughts which do not align with its dogma. It proclaims that thoughts and feelings that contradict dogma are okay if they are never voiced, and that any human nature that contradicts its teachings are suppressed. It requires cowardly upholding its sacred lies in appearance: it requires its members to be hypocrites.

I remember the Smiles Primary song. As a child I was captivated by its visual aid, which is a silly drawing of a face that is all frowns, but when you turn it upside-down, it becomes all smiles. Only now, decades later, I realize that it teaches children hypocrisy from their tender age in the name of happiness.

Image

No one likes a frowning face.
Change it for a smile.
Make the world a better place
By smiling all the while.900

That song instilled that no one cares to listen to my true thoughts and feelings. It taught me that all feelings other than smiley feelings are not socially acceptable they are even evil and sinful. It taught me that being a hypocrite and putting on a mask would make the world a better place, instead of healthily dealing with my sorrow in sincerity, vulnerability, and genuineness.

...Make the world a better place
By living in denial.

I have learned by my own experience that masking sorrow absolutely does not make you happy. No, it makes it worse. I am fed up with the doctrine of hypocrisy. I cannot live that way any more. The church is not now what it was intended to be when it was established. It no longer follows the spirit of truth like it once did:

I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation.”901

I like to think that there is an eternal nature to the true teachings of Jesus, and someday they will be fruitful in the hearts of thinking people. It seems that the kingdom of heaven, as Jesus envisioned, has failed on the earth for the time being, and a church of outward ritual and Pharisaical rules, the opposite, has taken its place. I look forward to the day when the true spiritual kingdom of heaven will arise. A church which considers itself elite and singular in truth does not understand the teachings of Jesus. It only causes more division in those that follow Jesus. The true Kingdom of Heaven unites all people. It does not divide, segregate or distinguish anyone’s worthiness for glory over anyone else.902

The Church has been a huge part of my life, not only because of my involvement with it for the last four decades, but also because of my parents’ teachings and the culture of my youth. Even so, participation in church meetings was ever because of the teachings, not because of the social aspect. Throughout my life, I relied heavily on the doctrines of the church as the basis for my devotion and for my understanding of the universe.

People are different. I am more introverted than most other introverts. Those who are not close to me come across as disingenuous if they ask me personal questions when they are compelled to be in my presence. This happens even with my own relatives, when those who are not my immediate family that I associate with every day, suddenly become interested in personal details of my life at gatherings, but otherwise never make that connection in any other way.

I do not, nor have I ever fit in. I just don’t fit the mold. I like to think and question, against the status quo. I do not thrive with hundreds of friends and acquaintances. The socialization of the church does not fill any of my needs. I do better with less relationships than more. For me, community is only my closest friends and family, and I only ever have one or two friends. I have never thrived with classroom learning, nor do I teach that way. I study best as an apprentice to a master, and teach best as a master to an apprentice. There is nothing about church society that helps me. Instead, church meetings have ever been a drain on my energy, and I have always come home exhausted. I have ever valued independence over reliance, truth over conformity, integrity over social facade, silent dissent over thought stopping.

One day, several years ago, I was trying to reconcile the gulf of contradictions between Paul and Jesus. I tried to understand why Paul’s doctrines were restored instead of the quite disparate doctrines of Jesus. It suddenly hit me: The Church, even as it is in its restored form today, is the same thing Jesus fought during his ministry. The church is a meticulously crafted sham controlled by a secret, organized band of hypocritical, power-hungry men – a mafia of sorts.

I realized, as did Tolstoy and many others even before Joseph Smith lived, that it is the iniquitous who have always sought to control and place burdens upon the innocent. At that moment, all of the other contradictions I had been trying to levitate and spin in my mind fell with one large crash, and for the first time in my life, I felt a thought come to my mind, and for the first time I did not stop it, but I allowed myself whisper, “The church is not true.”

As I let that thought express itself, it was as though a great burden had been instantly lifted from me. I no longer had to expend so much effort trying to juggle countless inconsistencies in my mind. All of the contradictions resolve when the possibility of falsity is allowed admittance. I was suddenly completely free to find God’s will through my own spiritual connection to him, without having to depend on the dictatorial arm of the flesh.903 I was no longer obligated to obey any of the commandments of men.904

I felt a rush of peace and freedom come over me. I realized that the true doctrine of Jesus had given me spiritual emancipation, but I also had a profound sense of loss for all that I had wasted in my blind dedication for the last 40 years of my life. I also dreaded the prejudice and shame which would be heaped upon me by relatives and so-called friends, because none of them could ever understand me until they themselves were also enlightened, just as I would have never understood before my great paradigm shift.

Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.905

President Hinckley reiterated what have I earlier quoted Joseph Fielding Smith saying, “There is no middle ground.” By their challenge, it is either entirely true, or it is a sham. That means it cannot be partly true, nor can it only be mostly true. By their own instruction, that means that if there is anything at all, anything, in its doctrines that is contradictory or fabulous, it becomes only partly true, and the entire structure falls. When contradiction is found, one side must be false, and the other true. Both cannot be true. It is impossible to have a cafeteria style belief in this church. If there is falsity or contradiction which inspires any doubt, all of the pillars all fall like a house of cards. This black or white all-or-nothing ideology makes the reality of this situation painfully clear.

I have never had any intention of leaving the church. Instead, when the church abandoned both reason and truth, it abandoned me. I would not dissent if it had not. I cannot maintain integrity and live a truly genuine and honest life while actively dedicating time, talents, and everything I will ever possess to the church, the guidance of its leaders, or its doctrines in its current state. I cannot trust the church anymore because it does not follow the teachings of Jesus and it no longer unapologetically waves the banner of truth.

I would like to bury my testimony, because I know the church isn’t true. Until the so-called prophets, seers, and revelators actually do what their title prescribes, until they harmonize their doctrines with the teachings of Jesus, until they stop lying and tell the truth without clever omission, apology and subterfuge, my involvement in the Church cannot be wholehearted. I can no longer believe that the church is true, nor can I even hope it is true, either, because I cannot maintain any hope in an organization which oppressively enforces obedience through dead, medieval ideals, or oppresses the poor to build enterprises. I feel that I can seek and find God on my own better than the so-called prophets, seers, and revelators are, and so I am. I must stop myself from relying on the arm of the flesh,906 and seek the truth from the Spirit directly.907

My faith in Jesus and his identity as the creator of this universe, who once lived a honorable life on Earth, as well as my faith in his teachings and my quest to live his religion (and not the religion that others later created about him) has never been stronger. My current understanding of the universe, my place in it, and my future possibilities beyond this life have never been clearer to me. My perspective of eternity is only becoming more clear with each passing day. My happiness and salvation is no longer dependent upon fulfilling strict commands or repeating rituals, but rather genuinely and sincerely trying to find and do the will of the Father, just as Jesus suggested.

How do I find the will of the Father? It is that spark of divinity within which I seek. God is not outward in the sky. Rather, he is found inward and within. It is that spark that has sent me on this journey, and it is the same spark that enticed me to finding answers. God is in me and part of me, while I am in God and part of God. Jesus’ teachings have never been more clear to me before as they are to me now. It was years after I had already realized this truth when I found this in the lost Gospel of Thomas:908

Jesus says: “If those who lead you say to you: ‘Look, the kingdom is in the sky!’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you: ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fishes will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you.

“When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father. But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty, and you are poverty.”

Thomas Carlyle glimpsed this truth when he wrote:

The outer passes away; the innermost is the same yesterday, today, and forever.909

I know you might be shocked and worried, and I can understand. I, too, have felt the same thing as I have watched other loved ones become inactive or even resign. At that time, I could not understand them. I truly thought they were choosing eternal damnation. After being inculcated with an elitist point of view, how could I not worry if they were leaving the chosen people? How could they give up such a noble birthright? How could they reclassify themselves as part of the outside world? I have been bigoted and prejudiced in my past, and for that I sincerely apologize.

We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.910

I claim full right to that privilege. I believe that I am following more than just my conscience’s dictations here, but regardless, I reserve that right to seek God as I believe is best.

Please do not worry about me. My religion is now between me and our God with the greatest sincerity I can muster. In my experience with the makeup of my inner being, God is concrete in my inner reality, and as his child he is part of me and I do not need any outside representative of God to administer anything for God.

You may say, “You must have sinned, because there is no other way that you could fall away.” Please do not discredit me in that way because it completely mischaracterizes my journey. I see it as climbing out, not falling away. In contrary to the fear propaganda you are parroting, this is in not the wide, easy way. This is the narrow, difficult path. It takes great courage to stand against your friends and family as a pioneer for truth.

And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.911

There is great irony in that the above can apply the other way around. I have often observed the finger of scorn pointed from the rameumptom of the great and spacious conference center at all of those who dare to partake of the fruit of the tree. The fruit of the tree is the love of God. God’s love does not shun, not shame, prejudge, nor does it require worthiness for his love. God is the reality of truth, and truth can only be found by honest questions. Love and truth is sweet above all that is sweet, white above all that is white, and pure above all that is pure.912 The only thing that can sate the hunger and thirst for truth, especially after discovering falsity is to allow that falsity to induce doubt and questions, and then to resolve to find the truth and rely on truth. This is when you no longer hunger and thirst for that resolution.913 This entire work represents my pilgrimage in grappling with some of the ingrained fear and guilt that comes from daring to stand against my culture and upbringing with the courage to stand for truth and intellectual integrity. I cannot doubt my own mind and what I know I true.

You may ask, “But, haven’t you prayed about this? You have been deceived by the adversary and he is leading you astray. He knows you’re intelligent and he is appealing to your intelligence by providing propaganda that is leading you away from the truth!”

I have followed all of the suggestions in Section 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

You may ask, “If there are so many scholars that still believe and remain loyal to the the church, then it must be true. Why don’t you?” There are parallels that can explain this in the movie The Matrix, where Morpheus says:

The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.914

They are inured. They will fight to protect it. In most cases, it is their livelihood. There are many other reasons in the other cases. For some, the interests of their family and friends outweigh their dedication to truth. For others, it is a personality trait to cherish stability and to close off from radical ideas that challenge a world view of their entire life. There are many more cases to consider.

I know very well that it is hard to accept new ideas, especially in the realm of religion, because I lived that way for most of my life. Blending in with a group of people which unquestioningly follows authority is the easiest path to take. Of many reasons why it is easy, for one, you never have to take the responsibility for your own choices – they are already laid out in great detail. This is like a soldier’s lack of responsibility for the atrocities committed by the Third Reich.915

When your priority is to blend in, you curb your perception of reality. Living in a bubble may make you happy in an ignorance is bliss sort of way, but someday you will need to confront the real truth that exists outside your bubble. And the longer it takes for you to do that, the more the truth will cut your center and hurt you when you find it. In the end, it is better to be hurt by the truth than to be comforted by a lie. Ignorance may be bliss for the ignorant, but it is an annoying imposition for everyone else.

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.916

Someone wrote this as a comment on the Deseret News website in a response to the “LDS Church posts article about history of plural marriage in early Utah on its website” on December 16, 2013.

We’re taught young that we can discern absolute truth with certainty via emotional experiences and then all those experiences validate an “us vs the world” view where we are a minority of God’s chosen among billions of spiritually lost. The certainty skews our reasoning. The lost manuscript becomes a faith promoting event rather than a head-scratcher. Joseph Smith’s death becomes a dying testimony of truth rather than the consequences of hiding polygamy and destroying a press. Blacks getting priesthood/temple access in 1978 is a great revelation, rather than an overdue correction to racist policies. Staying abroad after a death in the family to continue missionary service is a badge of honor, rather than neglect of family-first principles. Millions in unison sustaining leaders selected by an inner-circle becomes common consensus rather than automated allegiance. Our reasoning becomes so skewed that anyone who learns about Mormonism and doesn’t convert or leaves Mormonism is thought to deliberately be choosing an unfortunate and less fulfilling life of sin (of commission and omission) that results in eternal separation from God and family. Openly teaching the suspect aspects of church history is bound to skew our reasoning even further.917

In many ways, those who have been faithful to false prophets have been led astray much farther than their own intellects would have allowed otherwise, had they been more sincere in their search for truth.

You may ask, “Why have you become anti-Mormon?” Here is an allegory:

If a peddler came into town selling snake oil, and everyone in town bought the snake oil and testified that the snake oil cured their ailments, then by their testimony the snake oil must be a true medicine which heals. However, if I rely on logic and reason to objectively test the snake oil, and conclude by factual evidence that its only active ingredient is placebo, does that make me anti-snake-oil? No, I’m not anti-snake-oil, I have only found that it is not effective and I don’t think it will do any good to keep taking it. If you want to keep drinking your snake oil daily, that is entirely up to you. Only you can realize that the snake oil is not doing you any good by your own accord and intellect, not by someone pointing out the error of your ways, because that will only offend you. When you desire truth, you will find it on your own, hence the admonition of Jesus to seek and find in harmony with your own desire for truth. Ironically, Essential Oils may make this allegory come alive for some of you.

I am not anti-Mormon, I am pro-truth. I have been taught since I was a wee lad that truth is desirable above all, to stand and defend truth at any cost. I am following truth where it leads. It is your prerogative if you want to be blind to truth. To have eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear.

Most of what I write here was not instigated by anti-Mormon literature. It is because of my own deep study of the scriptures. It is because of my own journey for making sense of the Gospel, especially the contrast between the practices of the church in relation to the morality taught by Jesus, the idolatrous practices of Paul, and the irony of the stress on strict Pharisaical obedience.

If anything appears to be anti-Mormon, it either originated from my own mind, or it is found in church-published materials. I realize only now that it is silly to limit the search for truth to only one source of information. For example, it is often said that if you lose your faith, it is because you aren’t studying the scriptures or you have exposed yourself to ex-Mormon material. In contrast, if you lose your faith in the Flat Earth, it is because you no longer read Flat Earth books every day, and you’ve exposed yourself to ex-Flat-Earthers.

Either way, with the release of the Gospel Essays on the church’s website, what was considered anti-Mormon lies before 2013 have now become acknowledged by the church. When I encountered them, my mind was blown and my beliefs were shaken more. It is interesting to consider that the anti-Mormons of yesterday have gained credibility as the scholars of today. I am not having a faith crisis; the church is having a truth crisis. Here are some concessions to truth that forced the leaders of the church to confess their impropriety:

Let me reiterate that I am not doing any of this because of a desire to sin, nor was I unable to live by the commandments of our religion, although I don’t really care anymore, about the pharisee-like obedience-for-obedience-sake commandments. I only have a desire to be ruled by truth and wisdom. I only have a desire to follow Jesus more exactly. I only have the desire to seek the will of the Father more ultimately. I only have a desire to genuinely love all of my fellows equally, including those who are not members of the church, and to do it with more authenticity, and no longer look upon them as aliens to the kingdom of heaven because they might not have performed any ordinances. They’re not aliens at all, most of them are already citizens, just like you and me. God is no respecter of persons!

Leaving a religion because of enlightenment and expanded understanding is an act of great courage and faith. It is a leap from a zone of former safety and acceptance to a space of isolation and discovery. Each step is weighted with the question as to whether this is the way to go, or whether some other way would be more in line with the seeker’s desire for alignment with truth. And where formerly, every attitude and action has been clearly outlined, the seeker is now on his/her own to find the path most suited to his quest. This is a totally different experience than leaving a religion because one is unable to live by the tenets of that religion. That exit is weighted down with guilt and the belief “if only I could get my life together I could go back.” The enlightened exit is surrounded by relief, a sense of freedom from oppression, and an inner knowing that one is now more closely aligned with truth than in the past.918

You may ask, “Why don’t you just leave it alone? Why can’t you leave me alone? Why can’t you just get over it and move on?’

This is not something I can “get over” and “leave alone.” I’ve courageously superseded my inculcated identity and original concept of the requirements for eternal life. I can’t stop contemplating my conception of reality, and I can’t just stop trying to heal from post traumatic stress of discovering falsity and dishonesty in people I trusted, who I have observed lying by omission.

When you treasure the values of standing for truth and daring to do right, you can’t suddenly leave falsity alone, especially when you discover that you and all of your loved ones have been unwittingly serving a lie. The truth should be unabashedly trumpeted from the rooftops! Lies are threatened by truth, but truth is not threatened by lies!

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This is a huge loss, and such a loss causes grief that must be navigated. I’ve lost who I originally thought I was, what I thought was real, and I’ve even lost the God I was taught to believe in. I’ve taken the red pill. I’ve descended down the rabbit hole. There is no return. I have risked losing everything and being consigned to eternal misery and endless torment.919 Be patient with me and my grieving process. It takes time for a heart and mind to cleanse the poison of lies, to be able to breathe in the light of truth. For whatever it’s worth, I do believe that I have replaced a religion of dogma and darkness with new concepts that are more enlightening.

You may ask, “But if it is good, even though it might be wrong, it is still good. If it is indeed true, you win eternal life. If it is not true, you lose nothing, but you have lived a good life.”

That is much like Pascal’s wager, although he was talking about belief in God. Here is the problem I see. Pascal’s wager applies to any religion. I might as well be a Muslim, a Jew, a Jehovah’s Witness, and still benefit from living a good life. I can live a good life in any religious discipline. The problem is that the church isn’t what it claims to be. This is an institution that claims to be the one true church on the face of the earth, but its ideals are unsound, and lies are found within. I cannot follow lesser ideals than what I have arrived at on my own. I can be better without an institution telling me what is true, and demanding adherence for worthiness. True morality comes when morality is born within, not because of a threat of the loss of exaltation if you fail to obey.

You may ask, “But why do you not want to stand on an established firm foundation?”

When my own thought processes proceeded beyond my inculcation and when I found incongruities and lies, I felt as though the ground underneath me was crumbling. The more incongruities I found, the more uneasy I felt. If I’m wrong about one thing, I could be wrong about everything. Before that, I never thought I could be wrong about anything pertaining to the Gospel.

Uncertainty makes you become more sensitive to being misled or deceived. It is as though a new sensor or meter sprouts in your mind, and with practice reading it, you become more and more sensitive to nonsense. It helps you be able to call out anything that is misleading or deceptive.

Uncertainty can be painful for anyone who has depended upon certainty for most of their life. It makes you want to study more. Eventually you come to accept uncertainty as a beautiful thing, and you come to value questions more than you do answers. Absolute answers crystallize ideas, making growth impossible. Questions let the perspective of the Universe grow forever.

You may ask, “But what about your family? What about your children?” I’ll say this to you:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.920

Maybe Leo Tolstoy can help you understand what Jesus is saying:

The chief and most pernicious work of the Church is that which is directed to the deception of children – these very children of whom Christ said: “Woe to him that offendeth one of these little ones.” From the very first awakening of the consciousness of the child they begin to deceive him, to instill into him with the utmost solemnity what they do not themselves believe in, and they continue to instill it into him till the deception has by habit grown into the child’s nature. They studiously deceive the child on the most important subject in life, and when the deception has so grown into his life that it would be difficult to uproot it, then they reveal to him the whole world of science and reality, which cannot by any means be reconciled with the beliefs that have been instilled into him, leaving it to him to find his way as best he can out of these contradictions.921

You may be put off by what he says about the parents teaching something that they themselves do not believe. Santa Claus is a blatant example of this. My unwillingness to lie to my own children about Santa Claus was met with gasps of disapproval by my relatives. I have discovered that there are many in the church that do not believe, but they remain because of family tradition and social acceptance. Many do not believe to a lesser extent as they keep a long list of shelved inconsistencies. For them, the deception of their children applies.

Related to the offense of little ones, this always bothered me about what Jesus said about what I did on my mission, and how I was instructed to always teach one-on-one, and never to large groups:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.922

If the church were as good as it claims to be, it would need missionaries to screen prospective members instead of trolling for the disadvantaged and susceptible one by one.

I invite you to take the blinders off, pop your bubble, and really, truly pray for, ask, knock, and seek truth for yourself. You may surprise yourself: God is more liberal in giving what you ask for than you have thought. After all, he blessed your mind with the tools that are needed for truth seeking and truth verification.

When your own religion looks down upon gaining true revelation from God directly to your mind beyond the restrictive yes or no cognitive-biased answer whether “the church is true”, something is wrong. When an institution that stakes its claim on ultimate truth, censors speech, something is dreadfully wrong. Don’t look to a wolf in sheep’s clothing for your enlightenment, because it will never come. The wolf will just devour you. The Church is a taker. It will take everything you can give.

If you think that I have been lost and that I must be saved by virtue of a tunnel vision of truth which may be obtained exclusively through the despotism of an oligarchy of men, please don’t waste your breath on me. No amount of praying, reading the scriptures, or going to church can change my mind because it is praying, reading the scriptures, and going to church which led me along in my journey to the place I find myself today. Only something new would need to happen or come to light for me to reconsider.

“An eye single to the glory of God”923 has no reference to purposefully being blind to all light that may come from places you do not expect it to. I remind you that all light comes from God.924 I invite you to sincerely and intensely study the teachings of Jesus. You have probably not understood him, and you likely rarely genuinely consider his teachings, and instead rely more on Paul’s teachings of idolatrous propitiation of sin through blood. If you want Jesus to call you “friend,”925 you must understand his true message and sincerely follow him.

If you end up looking upon me with a jaundiced eye, despise me, shun my presence, or secretly harbor any feelings926 of disrespect or maybe even malice towards me for any of my thoughts and decisions, please know that it is easy for me to see whether you are a true follower of Jesus and what kind of tree you are by the fruit you produce.

If you proudly think you are righteous because you are paying your tithing,927 making and fulfilling all your oaths and covenants,928 performing all of your ordinances,929, fulfilling all your callings, and saying long prayers,930 think again. Your haughty feelings of self-righteousness931 which come from following the laws of men will someday be abased.932 I remind you of the parable of the Pharisee and the publican:

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.933

Jesus clearly said that the justified are not the ones who take pride in their righteousness because of their outward acts: who fast and give tithes and who take pleasure and satisfaction in their show of obedience to every petty Pharisaical command, especially if they think others who may not obey as they do are lesser than they are. Instead, the one who went away justified was the one who was humble and sought God for mercy.

Think twice about what spirit you subscribe to. “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see. Who am I to judge another?”934 Don’t you dare prejudge me, ye who have a beam in your own eye935 or ye who choose to be blind to all light that does not come from an establishment of men.936 You will not understand me until you open your mind and sincerely seek truth as I have. If you become my enemy, it will only prove that you were never my friend. I want to retain my relationships with all the people I have come to love in my life. If you begin avoiding me, it is you who are distancing yourself, not me.

Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.937

The true religion of Jesus is a first-hand religion, and as such is a highly personal and deeply meaningful religion. Religions with priesthoods, shamans or other God representatives are second-hand, arm of the flesh religions, and it seems second-hand religions suffer from authority, tradition, and dogma.

The fact that we must be spoon-fed the experience of God second-hand through idolatrous rites and rituals performed by priesthood representatives of God in itself proves that the religion is not the religion of Jesus. The fact that those saving rituals and ordinances which are performed by middle-men are easily canceled with click of the mouse or a dash of the pen, if you happen to cancel a sealing or leave the institution itself, does not prove that it is the religion of Jesus; it proves that it is a bureaucracy.

There is no possibility for wolves in sheep’s clothing in the religion of Jesus because in his religion there is no middle-man between you and God. The world needs more first-hand religion. True religion isn’t just understanding a concept of God in your mind or a faith in God through that understanding; true religion is the consciousness of a living relationship with God, whose spirit, that spark of divinity, ever entices you to reach for your divine potential.

The true religion of Jesus is a religion of love, and it does not alienate anyone. In the true gospel of Jesus, I can love everyone honestly, truly and completely, without judging them for any rituals, ordinances, pacts, oaths, or adherence to Pharisaical laws they may lack to do. Nor is their salvation dependent on any ritual or ordinance. The true religion of Jesus does not consider unbaptized people as anyone less in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus illustrated that fact time and time again by the way he treated, ministered to, and forgave the sins of people who were considered by priests and Pharisees to be lost causes, as well as by many of his parables about and dealings with the racially impure Samaritans, who were the lowest of the low in the eyes of the Pharisees, or the publicans, the most despised class of the society because they dared to serve the Roman empire.

As John taught, the baptism which John could not provide, and which would arrive with the coming of Jesus,938 is a baptism of the Holy Ghost. This “baptism” of the Holy Ghost is only metaphorical, as it is not an outward ablution or any outward act. It happens when a human transcends the animal and becomes conscious of the spark of divinity within them and deliberately begins to desire, seek, and accept God’s will in their choices. When that happens, God has found them, and they have found God, because his spirit is working in their heart. Even those who have not yet become conscious of the spirit working in them still may have just as much potential as those that have.

Being born of the spirit is marked by no outward ordinance and cannot be done in hypocrisy.939 The LDS Melchizedek priesthood does not and can not even attempt to provide the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and instead can only invite you to receive it. At least that one thing about the priesthood is not a fraud, because it is the teaching of Jesus that the reception of the comforter cannot be done outwardly, nor does the priesthood have any authority give it to anyone by way of ordination. The Father alone can give that gift, and it is only the sincere child of God that will become conscious of it. All other rites of a priesthood are superfluous compared to that pivotal concrete moment when one becomes aware of the enticements of the spirit and begins consciously to seek God’s will – to desire good. True religion is your private, personal relationship with God, or your sincere desire for good, and no other person can have anything to bear on it, by virtue of any power given to them by anyone. Anyone that purports take it away with a dash of a pen is likely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, laying in wait to devour you.

You may ask, “You’re going against your upbringing and the traditions of our family! What about your mission and other sacrifices you have made? What about the sacrifices of your ancestors?

I acknowledge that there have been many of my forebears, including my dear father and mother, who were meek and sincere in their dedication and service to the church. They upheld and served what they genuinely believed was the highest truth and morality. There have been many in my family who have dedicated their entire lives to the humble service of the church. This anchor of family history has slowed my journey as it has dragged behind my ship. I now perceive that they were naive victims of a blunder that has lasted for almost two centuries before truth could catch up to it. I’m reminded of a quote that traces all the way back to Jonathan Swift, who observed:

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Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect : Like a Man who has thought of a good Repartee, when the Discourse is chang’d, or the Company parted : Or, like a Physician who has found out an infallibile Medicine, after the Patient is dead.

Considering the natural Disposition in many Men to Lie, and Multitudes to Believe, I have been perplex’d what to do with that Maxim, so frequent in every Bodies Mouth, That Truth will at last prevail. 940

Indeed, falsehood flew far, far ahead while truth limped behind for centuries. The Patient has indeed died before the Physician found the infallible medicine. The dedication of my ancestors does not legitimize the church, nor does it legitimize the abuse that was inflicted upon them by conceited men who used the name of God in vain. To continue the legacy of my ancestors because of the countless years of service and millions in tithing would be to indulge in the sunk-cost fallacy.941 I don’t have to go to the show, even though they already paid the price for the tickets.

My ancestors brought their virtue to the church, not the other way around. The church devours the innate goodness of people like a parasite, while they’re none the wiser in their innocence. The church teaches them that they couldn’t be virtuous on their own. The church sells back their virtue and takes those profits and invests in vast lucrative real-estate against the very teachings of the godly man they revere. They run a corporation, the president942 is the corporation sole. They act entirely as a corporation would, with the primary goal of preserving their livelihood. They do this while they impede the body of the church from having any share, nor common consent943 in their ventures. Their spend for housing and feeding the poor is only enough to purvey a facade of goodness. Most of the price for benevolence is paid through the surplus of smaller donations outside of tithing.944 To do all of this in the name of God is vanity! It is not a new thing for the meek to be willingly dominated by vain, pretentious men who seek power; this is the vulgar reality of the majority of human history.

With all due respect to my ancestors, I am actually quite embarrassed about some aspects of my heritage. I am not at all proud of the fact that my very recent ancestors trusted in the imposition that God commanded plural marriage, nor that they were immoral enough to accept it. It is not as much that polyamorous households are evil when all parties consent. The greater crime is the imposition God commanded it, to say nothing of the abuse of women by the dominance of patriarchy. This is the very definition of using the name of God in vain. Careless use of his name in speech, like a casual prayer, or using taboo words that are considered profanity is nothing in comparison. This proves the reality of the vanity, illegitimacy, and even hypocrisy of the so-called priesthood of the men who caused inequities to happen in God’s name. If Joseph Smith or Brigham Young lived today, they undoubtedly be on the sex offenders registry.

It is only now in our time, after countless millennia of inequity, that all humans are finally gaining equal rights regardless of their race, religion, or gender. We should honor our founding fathers, who were courageous free-thinking men, for establishing a country where this could take place; yet they did not finish the work, they only started it. We must also honor Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and countless courageous women as far back as Abigail Adams, who dared to follow the teachings of Jesus by employing peaceful, non-violent means for the cause of equal rights for all humans. In my view, those people were more emergent prophets than any Latter-Day Saint priesthood leader has ever been.

The contrast between them makes the Mormon prophets, seers, and revelators appear like elitist bigots as they vainly use God’s name and every mind-control tactic known to man to maintain their archaic, medieval, draconian caste systems. They employ the same control tactics as did the Roman Catholic Church in the middle-ages, condemning truth-seekers for daring to think out of the box of dogma into isolation or excommunication. They fight to enforce their dominion by making the call to its rank and file to raise money and campaign for the passing of laws that impose physical enforcement of its own laws upon the citizens of the entire United States, regardless of of their beliefs.

I do not need to outsource my morality, especially when it not only very expensive, but when the morality is beneath me. The church has stood in opposition to every ethical advancement in society, from limiting women’s rights and fighting the equal rights amendment, to promoting segregation and fighting the the emancipation of an entire race. Today it seeks theocratic control as it fights equal rights for people on the basis of sexual orientation, even if they don’t hold the beliefs of the church. The church has been anything but Christlike in the way they have treated these people, from shock therapy to the contradiction of their own Second Article of Faith. Its fruits make it appear as though Jesus isn’t at the helm at all, and these blind men are fumbling around in the dark.945

The church seems oblivious to the constitution, which prescribes that no religion should have power over government. The constitution safeguards against the despot of any religion. Since the church fought all three of those advancements in society, the church has shown that if it could, the it would tear down the constitution to usurp power and dominion as a theocracy and would enforce its religious laws upon all. I hate to say it, but to do that is anti-American. But I digress.

To continue to be spineless, compliant, and docile in furthering the traditions of my ancestors against my better judgment is a foolish consistency.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ’Ah, so you shall be sure to be