O Remember, Remember!–Personal Musings

Every once in a while, I will read something in the scriptures that almost startles or shocks me. Usually it’s because it is something I need to hear. I recently had that experience again. The context of the scripture is the miraculous deliverance of the believers from the wicked in 3 Nephi at the time of Christ’s birth.

About 5 years before the birth of Christ, a Lamanite prophet named Samuel came among the people and prophesied that Christ would come in 5 years. He then predicted the sign that would be shown the day Christ was born, namely, a day and a night and a day where there would be no darkness. The account of what happened in the coming years is as follows:

“…behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people. But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite. And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain…

“But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain. Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which has been given by Samuel the prophet” (3 Nephi 1:4-9).

When the day arrived for the believers to be put to death, the sign came. “And there were many who had not believed the words of the prophets who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believe in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand” (3 Nephi 1:16).

This lead, of course, to universal belief for a while. Can you imagine such a sign? How could anyone dismiss it? And yet, within just a few short years, it was dismissed. This is the scripture that startled me–

“And it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen— Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing” (3 Nephi 2:1-2).

It seems incredible that such wonderful signs could be so easily dismissed, and yet it is true. I have since read over this passage again and again and pondered it’s meaning. I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. Am I like this? Aren’t we all like this? How many miracles have I seen and yet “begin to forget” and to be “less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven” or even to some extent “begin to disbelieve all which [I] have heard and seen.” This, to me, is frightening. It’s frightening because of how true it is.

For example, I have witnessed priesthood blessings given that have resulted in miraculous healings. And yet, I have at times been quick to give the credit to a good doctor or medicine or just luck–“that it was wrought by the power of men.” I could multiply my own personal experiences over and over to demonstrate that I am a lot like the people described in this scripture. And it scares me.

Stories like this in the Book of Mormon, for me, help reaffirm my faith that it is divinely inspired and true. The Book of Mormon contains so many “plain and precious” insights that it becomes self-evident to the sincere seeker after truth that it is true.  It also encourages me to try and live my life better and to remember what the Lord has done and is doing for me.

Does God Have a Body?

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit” (Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)

This teaching, namely that God is embodied, is perhaps one of the most criticized points of LDS doctrine. I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is, though.

What’s so bad about believing God really did create us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27)?  

Is it any different to think that Jesus can be fully God and yet have a resurrected body than to think that the Father could be fully God and yet have a resurrected body?

Isn’t Jesus the express image of his Father?

Is there anything either in scripture or in reason that would demand that the Father be spirit only and not possess a body also?

 

The Grandin Press, The Book of Mormon, Abner Cole and the Internet

In 1829,  24-year old Joseph Smith walked into the red brick print shop of E. B. Grandin in Palmyra, New York with a manuscript copy of The Book of Mormon. That tiny press would print the first edition of a volume of holy scripture that has been revered by millions as the sacred word of God.

At the same time, in the same print shop on the same printing press,  one Abner Cole was printing the first anti-Mormon newspaper articles. He even stole copyrighted material (namely the Book of Mormon) and printed it without permission. He did this in an attempt to spoil the anticipation for the Book of Mormon and to try and ruin the market for the book before it was even printed. Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, and Joseph Smith each confronted him about his violation of copyright and Abner Cole stopped.

Thinking about this little known story, I decided that although times have changed a lot since then many things remain the same.

We have the Internet which, like Grandin’s Press, can be used to publish sacred scripture and truth or be used to publish anti-Mormon vitriol and hate. Anti-Mormons have even gone so far as to publish copyrighted and sacred material online  (such as the temple ordinances)  in order to deter people from further investigating the truth.

Of course, I think Joseph, Hryum, and Oliver were right to confront Abner Cole. So, shouldn’t we also confront those who are using the Internet to tear down the kingdom of God? I think we should. The trick is how do we do it? A lot has been said about that. Let me just say that truth is its own best advocate. The best thing we can do is “speak the truth in love.” That is, we speak up to be heard, but do it in a way that is not contentious or that puts others down. But above all, let’s speak up!