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Sunday, December 19, 2010

LDS Temples and their Priesthood Assembly Rooms

There are 8 temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that have Assembly Rooms, and 7 temples whose Assembly Room is used at least once a year.  Temples with Assembly Rooms of some kind are located, in order of construction: Kirtland, Ohio; Nauvoo, Illinois; St. George, Utah; Logan, Utah; Manti, Utah; Salt Lake City, Utah; Los Angeles, California; and Washington D.C.

KIRTLAND TEMPLE: Kirland, Ohio (1833-1836)

The Kirtland Temple was constructed from the Summer of 1833 to Spring 1836.  It is the first temple to have Assembly Halls of any kind in this dispensation.  One was on the bottom floor, used for worship services.  The second was on the top floor, used for educational classes.  The lower court is pictured above.

The west pulpits are for the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the east for the Aaronic Priesthood.  This is the same in all other LDS Temples.  The lettering* on the west pulpits is as follows, reading from the top pulpits to the bottom:

M.P.C. (Melchizedek Presiding Council) – First Presidency of the Church or Stake Presidency
P.M.H. (Presiding Melchizedek High Priesthood) – Quorum of Twelve Apostles or Stake High Council
M.H.P. (Melchizedek High Priesthood) – High Priests Quorum
P.E.M. (Presiding or Presidency Elders Melchizedek) – Elders Quorum Presidency

The lettering* on the east side is thus, also from the top pulpits to the bottom:

B.P.A. (Bishop Presiding over Aaronic Priesthood) – Presiding Bishopric or local Bishopric
P.A.P. (Presiding or Presidency Aaronic Priests) – Priest’s Quorum Reps
P.T.A. (Presiding or Presidency Teachers Aaronic Priesthood) – Teachers Quorum Presidency
P.D.A. (Presiding or Presidency Deacons Aaronic Priesthood) – Deacons Quorum Presidency

*The information on the lettering were found here:  Backman Jr., Milton Vaughn, The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983, 160; Black, Harry, Kirtland Temple, Independence, Mo.: Herald House, 1958, 17–18; Cowan, Richard O., Temples to Dot the Earth, Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort Incorporated, 1997, 21–35; and Fields, Clarence L., “History of the Kirtland Temple,” master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1963, 28.

NAUVOO ILLINOIS TEMPLE: Nauvoo, Illinois (1999-2002)
The second temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lies in a town on the banks of the Mississippi River in Western Illinois.

The Nauvoo Temple originally had two large assembly halls, one above another.  General Conference was held in the Assembly Hall on the first floor in October 1845.  This is the first of only three occurrences in which a General Conference was held in a temple.  This temple was gutted by an arson fire in 1848, and then the remaining walls were destroyed by a tornado in 1850.  The temple has since been rebuilt (2002), and the first floor has an assembly hall, albeit on a smaller scale as that found in the original.  The new Assembly Room holds500 people, including in the pulpits.  

Many have wondered what the lettering on the original pulpits stated.  We have two completely different sources giving the answer.  One is J. H. Buckingham, who apparently was a non-Mormon.  He lists the following letters and meanings when he toured the Nauvoo Temple in the late 1840s (Buckingham, Papers in Illinois History and Transactions, 1937; "Illinois as Lincoln Knew It", Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, Illinois, p. 172).  On the east end of the hall stood the Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits, which had, set in gilded letters, written (from the highest pulpit to the lowest):

P.H.P. - President of the High Priesthood (First Presidency of the Church)
P.S.Z. - President of the Seventies in Zion
P.H.Q. - President of the High Priests Quorum (Stake Presidency)
P.E.Q. - President of the Elders Quorum.  

The second source for the meanings of the gilded lettering of the original Nauvoo Temple pulpits comes from a Latter-day Saint who happened to be in the Temple on 1 May 1846, when it was publicly dedicated.  His testimony agrees with Mr. Buckingham.  The Mormon spoken of was James A. Scott.  He wrote in his journal the meaning of the letters (Journal of James A. Scott, p. 4, LDS Church Archives). 

Above these pulpits, in gilded letters, were the words, The Lord Has Seen Our Sacrifice - Come After Us.

The pulpits on the west were for the Aaronic Priesthood.  The lettering thereon was, according to

P.A.P - President of the Aaronic Priesthood (President Bishopric)
P.P.Q - President of the Priest's Quorum (local Bishopric)
P.T.Q - President of the Teacher's Quorum
P.D.Q - President of the Deacon's Quorum

These initial do not appear in the current Assembly Room's pulpits, unfortunately.  When the temple was dedicated on 27 June 2002 Presidents Hinckley and Monson sat on the brown bench at the lowest West (Aaronic) pulpits, which are the pulpits closest to the reader in the below picture. (Lisle Brown, "Dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple",

ST. GEORGE UTAH TEMPLE: St. George, Utah (1871-1877)
This temple was built from 1871 to 1877.  It was here in 1877 that a second General Conference of the Church was held in a temple, where on 6 April 1877 it was dedicated by President Daniel H. Wells of the First Presidency.
Aaronic Priesthood Pulpits

LOGAN UTAH TEMPLE: Logan, Utah (1877-1884)

This temple was constructed from 1877 to 1884.  There have been numerous Solemn Assemblies held in this Assembly Room.  In one such Assembly, President David O. McKay developed "Every Member a Missionary!", his trademark phrase.  The Solemn Assembly was given on 21 September 1953.  Also present at this Solemn Assembly were: 1,500 Melchizedek Priesthood holders, Presidents Stephen L. Richards, and Clark; and Elders Joseph Fielding Smith, Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Petersen, Cowley, Moyle, Stapley, Romney, LeGrand Richards, Bennion, Morris, Evans, and McConkie (The Logan Temple: The First 100 Years, p. 196-197).

Two more Solemn Assemblies of note took place in this House of the Lord.  On 4 May 1967 all Returned Missionaries attending Utah State University and then-Weber State College met in the Assembly Room and were instructed by then-Elder Thomas S. Monson and Elder Hugh B. Brown (Ibid.).

The final Solemn Assembly held in the Logan Temple was on 6 December 1975, wherein 1,340 Priesthood leaders in the Logan Temple District heard sermons from Presidents Kimball, Tanner, and Romney, as well as from Elders Benson and Petersen (Ibid.).

I also have a friend who served in the Utah Ogden Mission in the early 2000s.  He told me that he had the opportunity of having two Zone Conferences in the Assembly Room of the Logan Temple, during which all the missionaries sang "The Spirit of God".

MANTI UTAH TEMPLE: Manti, Utah (1877-1888)
The House of the Lord at Manti was announced in 1875.  I went through this temple for the first time in the summer of 2008.  While there, I asked a temple worker how often they use the Assembly Room.  She told me that the Assembly Room is used at least once a year for a devotional with all the temple workers.

SALT LAKE TEMPLE: Salt Lake City, Utah (1853-1893)
The flagship temple in the LDS Church, the Salt Lake Temple was built between 1853 to 1893, being dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff on 6 April 1893.  From, we read, "July 2 [1899] — A solemn assembly was held in the Salt Lake Temple, attended by the Church's 26 General Authorities, presidencies of the 40 stakes, and bishops of the 478 wards of the Church. The assembly accepted the resolution that tithing is the 'word and will of the Lord unto us.'"  During the April General Conference of 1942, "Conference sessions were held in . . . the assembly room of the Salt Lake Temple."  Also, when my father was in the Mission Home in Salt Lake City in 1973, he was instructed by President Spencer W. Kimball in this Assembly Room.  Also, semi-annually, a devotional occurs in this room for all the temple workers.  All General Authorities meet in this room monthly.

LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA TEMPLE: Los Angeles, California (1951-1956)
Built from 1951 to 1956, the Los Angeles California Temple was the first temple in California, and the tenth in the Church.  Originally it was the largest temple in the Church, but the Salt Lake Temple has had additions that make the LA Temple now number two in size.

WASHINGTON D.C. TEMPLE: Washington D.C (1968-1974)
The temple in which I was endowed, this massive temple is the tallest in the Church, standing 306 feet tall to the top of the Angel Moroni, which Angel Moroni is 18 feet tall.  It is one of five Angel Moroni statues holding the Gold Plates.  It is the last temple in the Church to have an Assembly Room.

Proof of God

For those who want physical proof that God exists, I will give it them.

Above is a picture of firemen inside the Provo Tabernacle, which burned down on 17 December 2010.  They are holding a painting by Harry Anderson titled "The Second Comiing".  The only thing remaining is Jesus Christ.  This picture hung in the Tabernacle for 14 hours straight whilst the Tabernacle burned, the roof collapsed (taking with it the balcony section), and the building continued to burn.  It is a statistical impossibility that anything would remain intact after 14 hours in flames, except God protect it, as He did this image of His Son.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The "Myth" Un-"Mythed"

In an article by Lauren Green (see article here), mention is made of an ad campaign by American Atheists.  One of the ads state, "You know it’s a myth.  This season, celebrate reason."  The American Atheists major question is whether or not Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God or whether Jesus is a myth.  In this article, we will examine the Messiahship of Jesus.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught,  

How do you prove the resurrection?  As we are going to see, you prove it by testimony. . . . How do you prove spiritual truths? . . . The way Peter and the ancients proved that Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore that the gospel which he taught was the plan of salvation, was to establish that he rose from the dead.  And the way you prove that a man rises from the dead, because it’s in the spiritual realm, is to bear witness by the power of the Spirit of knowledge that is personal and real and literal to you. (Ensign, Dec. 1980, p. 11)

It all centers on witnesses.  In our courts of law, witnesses testify to the guit or innocence of a man.  So in the Gospel of Jesus Christ do witnesses testiry to the validity of the resurrected Son of Deity.

 Mary is the first of all mortals to see her Risen Lord.  The event is heralded in the Gospel of John in these words:

"But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcure, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.  And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?  She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.  And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?  She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.  Jesus saith unto her, Mary.  She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master (John 20:11-16)."

Before the close of the New Testament, it is marked down that the Savior appears to Paul, Stephen, the Eleven Apostles, and lastly to 500 bretheren.  John, on the Isle of Patmos, gives a moving description of the Redeemer of the world.  He said,  

"The Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. . . . His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (Rev. 1:13-16)."  

So far, that is 514 people who still know that Jesus is not a myth.  

We turn now to the pages of the Book of Mormon, and let it establish a witness of the Son of God.  In that holy Book we learn that 2,500 people saw, conversed with, learned from, and felt the wounds of the Messiah risen again from the dead.  This included the Twelve whom Messiah called on the American continent who were also there.  We also have knowledge of both Mormon and Moroni seeing the Risen Lord.  Of these two special witnesses, the words of Mormon reverberate through the sidereal heavens.  Saith he, "And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus (Moroni 1:15)."  What a powerful but precise testimony!  Included with the 514 people in the New Testament, we now have 3,016 people who knew Jesus is not a myth!

In modern times the witnesses who have left us accounts either by their own hand or spoke these accounts to their children and were thereby recorded, we have at least the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and Lorenzo Snow.  The risen Lord appeared in the Kirtland Temple to accept of the edifice.  It is written,  

"The veil was taken from our minds, and the eye of our understanding were opened.  We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.  His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah (D&C 110:1-3) . . ."  

We also have an account of President Lorenzo Snow seeing Jesus after praying in the Salt Lake Temple for revelation on when to reorganize the First Presidency after the death of President Woodruff on 2 September 1898.  The account reads thus,  

"I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff. . . . He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold. . . . [I] actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face (Improvement Era, Sep. 1933. p. 677)."
The hallway in which this event occured is pictured below:

Presidents Smith and Snow knew Jesus was not a myth!  I also know that Jesus Christ is not a myth.  

Thus let it be known that I know that there is no myth of Jesus - He is a reality.  He is the Son of God and all people's Savior, even if they say there is not a God in heaven and that they can pove it.  I know God lives and restored His Church through Joseph Smith.  I know the scriptures testify of Jesus as a reality and that He is real.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mormon Theology no. 16 - The Holy Ghost

After one receives the essential ordinance of baptism by immersion, one has the privilege of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The importance of receiving this gift was explained by the Apostle Peter when he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38)."

Whilst I was a missionary in California, I talked to many people about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but I had to explain to all of them the importance of receive this great gift.  The Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun. explains it best.  Said he,  

"You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost.  Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost (HC, 5:499)".

He also explained the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost in these words:  

"There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this … ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him (HC 4:555)."

We see explained here that one must receive the Holy Ghost after baptism as a permanent guide.  Cornelius was guided by the Holy Ghost temperarily to know of the truth of Peter's words, but in order for that guidance to stay with him, he needed the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The gift of the Holy Ghost, when once received properly, acts as a guide and a protector to the recipient.  The Book of Mormon explains it this way:

"For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.  And now I say, is there not a type in this thing?  For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise (Alma 37:44-45)."

The Holy Ghost guides and prompts us in different ways.  President Joseph Smith, Jun. explained,

"A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; … those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus (TPJS, p. 151)."

 President Boyd K. Packer stated that the Spirit of the Lord "speaks gently, prompting you what to do or what to say, or it may caution or warn you (Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 59)."

I have felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost in my life since I was baptized by my father.  I have read the Bible and Book of Mormon concerning the doctrine of Christ.  I have prayed about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, about the Prophet Joseph's mission, about the reality of the Son of God, and of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that Jesus lives through the teachings of the Holy Ghost, and that what else I have said is true!  I implore those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ to find the Elders and learn the teachings of the Restored Gospel, for therein is peace found.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mormon Theology no. 15 - Baptism Essential For Salvation

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the essential need of baptism to open the door to salvation.  In previous articles, I have shown how the LDS Church is the only Church on earth recognized by God.  In this essay, I will now show why baptism is essential for salvation, both through scripture and words of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

President Joseph Smith once defined the meaning of baptism by saying,

"[Baptism] is a sign and a commandment which God has set for man to enter into His kingdom. Those who seek to enter in any other way will seek in vain; for God will not receive them, neither will the angels acknowledge their works as accepted, for they have not obeyed the ordinances, nor attended to the signs which God ordained for the salvation of man, to prepare him for, and give him a title to, a celestial glory (HC 4:554)."

This is a bold statement.  The President says that the ordinance is a sign set by God for enterance into the Kingdom of God.  Our Savior said to Nicodemus,  

"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 (John 3:3-5)."

The sectarian will say that he has been born again and accepted Christ into his heart, but one must do more than just lip-service; one must be baptised.  Joseph Smith says that "Being born again comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances (HC 3:392)." 

This precisely why President Smith said,  

"In the former ages of the world, before the Savior came in the flesh, 'the saints' were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to come, because there never was any other name whereby men could be saved; and after he came in the flesh and was crucified, then the saints were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, that they might be buried in baptism like him, and be raised in glory like him, that as there was but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and father of us all, even so there was but one door to the mansions of bliss (Times and Seasons, Sept. 1, 1842, p. 9)."

This is ratified by both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  In the Bible, we see John the Baptist baptising even before Jesus has wraught His Atonement.  600 years before Christ, Nephi said this,

"And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!  And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?  Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments (2 Nephi 31:5-7)."

So here we learn that baptism is not only a sign of enterance into the Kingdom of God leading to salvation, but it is also a covenant with God that we will keep His commandments.  I know baptism is essential for salvation, and that it is only valid in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mormon Theology no. 14 - Are Mormons Christian?

An article appeared from the Associated Press which states,

"A Presbyterian church was happy to have Jeremy and Jodi Stokes as Cub Scout leaders, at least until officials there found out they are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and told them they would have to step down because the church does not consider them real Christians."

Most Evangelical churches teach that Mormons are not Christians.  They are wrong, and I will say why.

First off, the Mormon Church's official name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as received through revelation (D&C 115:4).  What more evidence do you need than that?

Second, I will cite scripture which states our position.  From the Book of Mormon we read, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 Nephi 25:26)"  Also from the Book of Mormon we have the words of the prophet Amulek: "And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Alma 34:8)"

The Bible teaches us, "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)"  From the pen of Isaiah the prophet we read, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)"  He also writes in chapter 9 verse 6, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Councellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

In modern times the Prophet Joseph Smith said,  

"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. (HC 3:30)"

The world's current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has said,

"I lift up my voice in testimony as a special witness and declare that . . . Jesus is . . . the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Redeemer; He is our Mediator with the Father. He it was who died on the cross to atone for our sins. (Ensign, May 2007, 22–25)"

I, Clark LeRay Herlin, also know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does indeed teach and preach of Him, and those that say He does not need look again!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LDS Church Responds to Human Rights Campaign Petition

From the Herald Extra website came this article:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement through a spokesman following the delivery of a petition by the Human Rights Campaign.
My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men.  We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society.

This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help.  Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment - to love one another.

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel.  His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgment of our shared human dignity.  We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.

We hope and firmly believe that within this community, and in others, kindness, persuasion and goodwill can prevail." 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Evidence . . . or Lack Thereof

I have often read of people saying that God doesn't exist because our five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight) cannot identify Him.  This is not evidence that there is no God.  It is actually evidence that God DOES exist.  Let me explain through historical fact and other means.


"1675 – Anton van Leeuwenhoek uses a simple microscope with only one lens to look at blood, insects and many other objects. He was first to describe cells and bacteria, seen through his very small microscopes with, for his time, extremely good lenses."

Now, is this to say that cells did not exist up to this point in time?  No, but rather that man did not comprehend them, or even know of their existence until 1675, because they could not yet be comprehended.  This also means that just because something abstract can't be seen and understood until aided by another thing, doesn't mean it doesn't yet or beforehand exist.  So it is with God.  One man may say, "I have never seen God or experienced Him with my five senses, therefore, he doesn't exist."  Or one may say, "I cannot at this point in time see, hear, taste smell, or touch God, therefore, He doesn't exist."  God exists, regardless of how many people have not yet experienced Him; they haven't looked hard enough.

A man living in Tonga who has never experienced a hamburger cannot say hamburgers do not exist, for if two travelers come from the United States to Tonga and say they have experienced hamburgers, and thoroughly explains the experience, the Tongan cannot refute it, especially because there are more witnesses than one.  Therefore, God exists, just like the hamburger, because there is more than one witness.

Deuteronomy 17:6 reads, "At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death, but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death."  In ancient Israel, it required more than one witness to condemn a man to death, so as to verify to the people the man's evil deeds, and justice served.  If the witnesses were false, the man was set free.  So it is with God and proof of Him.  Alma states,

"ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?  The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator (Alma 30:44)." 

Alma lists eight things proving the existence of God.  Doctrine and Covenants 88:45-47 states,  
"The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.  Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?  Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power." 

The order of planet Earth, the tides moving with the phases of the moon, the artistic beauty of a sunrise and sunset, and the soothing sound of waves upon the seashore give proof of God, because all things are in order.  Chaos cannot create chaos.  But God, who is a God of order, can turn chaotic matter into order, as in the creation of the earth.  It is explained by the Prophet Joseph Smith in these words:   

"The word create . . . does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos –chaotic matter (HC 6:308-311)." 

Only God can turn chaos into order and be as beautiful as this earth.

In conclusion, Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve Apostles said, "He who makes no effort to learn of the existence of Deity will, in this life, likely not learn there is a Deity. But his ignorance does not warrant him in declaring there is no God (The Truth-Seeker and Mormonism, Deseret Book Co., pp. 76–77)."  If I have not sufficiently proven, through many instances, the existence of God, the reader must search for God, as Elder Merrill said, or they will never find Him.  One cannot say something does not exist until there is substantial proof that it does not exist, and this from witnesses.  

I myself know God exists.  I use the term "know" the same way one "knows" the Sun shines because I have experienced God.  The Sun still shines regardless if people say it does not; that fact is a reality.  God still exists regardless if people say He does not; that fact is a reality.  In the Name of Jesus Christ His Son, Amen!

Friday, June 18, 2010

LDS Church and the "Blood Atonement" Doctrine

According to an article on the Salt Lake Tribune's website,

"After convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner announced last month his intention to be executed by firing squad, national and international reporters suggested it was a throwback to the wild, wild West.  Some Utahns, though, had a different explanation for why such an anachronistic execution technique remained an option in the 21st century: blood atonement.  The term refers to an arcane LDS belief that a murderer must shed his own blood -- literally -- to be forgiven by God."

In this post, we shall discuss where this doctrine came from, and what the LDS Church says about it today, in order to set the record straight.

President Brigham Young said on 8 February 1857,  

"Suppose [one] is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of his blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin, and be saved and exalted with the Gods, is there a man or woman in this house tbut what would say, 'shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods? (JD 4:219)'" 

This so-called doctrine was basically the Theocratic equivalent of the death penalty.  This was voted upon numerous times by the then-State of Deseret.  What does LDS scripture have to say on the topic?  Let's find out.  We shall highlight scripture from the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.  My personal opinion will be bolded.

Genesis 9:6 reads, "Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed."  Numbers 35:16 says that "the murderer shall surely be put to death."  2 Nephi 9:35 reads, "Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die."  Within the Nephite government, which was essentially a republic run by popular vote, laws were established that made murder illegal.  Here are the words of Mormon on the subject of murder and capital punishment: "he that murdered was punished unto death (Alma 1:18)."  Amulek says in Alma 34:12 that "the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered."  Capital punishment was approved of the Lord, of the Israelites, of the Nephites, and is approved of by the laws of the United States of America.

I believe that those convicted of murder should be put to death, especially where copious evidence is shown to merit the conviction.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Virtual Tour of the Salt Lake Temple

The Salt Lake Temple is the flagship temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Within this post we will examine pictures of the interior of the House of the Lord and, from Scripture, find where in the Bible our doctrine is found, as well as explain the nature of the Endowment ceremony.  We will begin from the ground up, literally.  We proceed posthaste!

Above we have the Baptistry of the Salt Lake Temple.  From 1st Kings 7:23-25 we read,

And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.  And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.  It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.

Although there is no reference in the Old Testament to the ordinance of baptism, it is clear from the early chapters in the New Testament that baptism was indeed practiced by the Jews before the coming of Christ, as evident by John the Baptist (who was Jewish) baptizing Jesus Christ (who was also Jewish).  After the Atonement, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is clearly evident from writings of Paul and Peter, the chief Apostle, that baptism for the dead was indeed practiced by the 1st century Christians (see 1 Cor. 15:29 and 1 Peter 3:19-21 respectively), thus granting salvation to as many as possible at that time.

Above we have the Creation Room of the Salt Lake Temple.  Herein Latter-day Saints learn about the purpose behind the creation of the earth, and the nature of Adam and Eve before they were formally introduced into the Garden of Eden.  From scripture we read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen 1:1).

Here we have the Garden Room of the Salt Lake Temple.  From scripture we read, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Gen 2:8).  In the 15th verse of the same chapter we read, "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."  During instruction in this room, temple patrons learn this important truth taught by father Lehi in the Book of Mormon,  

And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden.  And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.  And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.  But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.  Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (2 Nephi2:22-25).

From this room one proceeds to the World Room, seen below:
The above room represents the corrupt, wicked, degenerate, and fallen world in which we now live and must toil in all the days of our lives.  The Holy Bible speaks of the time immediately after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden because of their eating the forbidden fruit.  The Bible states,

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:  Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24).

We learn from modern revelation that Adam and his wife were then taught of the coming of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.  In the World Room, Church members make covenants with God of sacrifice and chastity to one's spouse.

Above next is the Terrestrial Room, spoken of by Paul to the Corinthians.  "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory" (1 Cor 15:40-42).  Within these walls covenants are made to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to concecrate one's all to the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth, which Kingdom is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Christ as King.  At the end of the presentation, patrons go through the veil, or curtain, that separates one symbolically from the presence of God.  I will not give a recitation of scripture here, but just say that before the Atonement of Jesus Christ, only the High Priest could enter through the veil, and this only once a year.  At the death of Jesus Christ, the veil of the Jerusalem Temple was rent in twain, symbolizing the rending assunder of the Mosaic Law with its fulfillment through Jesus the Christ (Mark 15:38).  The temple Endowment ceremony up to this point is instructive in motivating and encouraging one ever upward towards God's presence.  After a short test at the veil, the Celestial Room is entered, seen below.

The 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians, verses 40-42, was mentioned before, with Paul speaking of glories of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.  The Celestial Room, as seen above, is symbolic of the glory of the Sun and God's presence.  No instruction is given herein, but rather is a place of contemplation as one ponders upon the covenants one has made with the Lord.  Looking at the picture above again, the open room to the far right is what is known as a Sealing Room. 

Above is a Sealing Room, so aptly named because it is here that a man and a woman can be married (or "sealed") for not only this life, but for all eternity.  This is the highest and holiest ordinance that patrons of the temple go through.  This is the main purpose for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - to unite families both here and in the hereafter for eternity.  Let Matt 16:19 explain.  The Savior said to Peter and the rest of the Twelve Apostles, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  No other church the world over can legitimately claim this authority.  The only church  which can do so, and do so legitimately, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Taken from the Aaronic (West) pulpits of the Salt Lake Temple Assembly Room, looking to the Melchizedek (West) pulpits.  (Found in Hinckley, Gordon B., "Why These Temples?" Ensign, August 1974, 44).
The above picture is of the Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits in the fourth-floor Assembly Room of the Salt Lake Temple.  The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy meet in this room monthly.  Of these monthly meetings, President N. Eldon Tanner wrote of what goes on there.  Wrote he,

On the first Thursday of every month the First Presidency meets with all the General Authorities—the members of the Twelve, the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric. In this meeting all are advised of any changes in programs or procedures and instructed in their duties or responsibilities. The President calls on members to bear their testimonies, after which we all dress in our temple clothes, partake of the sacrament, and have a prayer circle with all members present participating. At the conclusion of the prayer all, other than the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, are dismissed, and those remaining change to their street clothes and carry on with the regular business of the Thursday meetings ("The Administration of the Church", Ensign, November 1979).

The above room is the Council Room of the Presidency of the Seventy, which Council consists of seven men who preside over the current eight Quorums of the Seventy now extant.  The Presidency meet here weekly on Thursdays.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet in the above Council Room every Thursday morning to deliberate together with the Lord as to the workings of His Kingdom on Earth.

The Twelve also meet in this room, pictured above, on Thursday mornings with the Council of the First Presidency.  President N. Eldon Tanner wrote of what occurs here.  Said he,

It is in this room that the leadership of the Church has been directed by the Lord since the temple was completed. Here one experiences a special spiritual feeling, and at times senses the presence of some of these great leaders who have gone on before. Portraits of the twelve Presidents of the Church, and also of Hyrum, the Patriarch, hang on the walls. There are also paintings of the Savior at the Sea of Galilee where he called some of his apostles, and others portraying his crucifixion and his ascension. Here we are reminded of the many great leaders who have sat in this council room, and under the direction of the Lord great decisions were made.

As the First Presidency enters this room at ten o’clock on Thursday mornings, we shake hands with all members of the Twelve, then change to our temple robes. We sing, kneel in prayer, and then join in a prayer circle at the altar, after which we change to our street clothes ("The Administration of the Church", Ensign, November 1979).

It was in this room where the ban on blacks and the Priesthood was lifted, occurring on 1 June 1978

I hope this explains the purpose of temple more clearly, both through the use of scripture and logic.