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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.

I.  VIEWING THE CELL

"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.

II.  THE TRAVELERS AND HAMBURGER
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.

III.  THE LAW OF WITNESSES
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.