Sunday, April 2, 2017

Accepting an Offered Covenant

God extends covenants and mortals can either accept or reject them.

The Book of Mormon is a covenant book which was preserved by God to come forth in the last days in order to restore a covenant people.  It came forth by the power of God through Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830.

It may be surprising to LDS Mormons today that the early Mormon converts never accepted the covenant offered by God through the Book of Mormon.  In fact, the early Saints were put under condemnation by 1832 for not taking seriously the things offered to them by God.
President Ezra Taft Benson reiterated that the Mormon Saints were still under this condemnation in the 1980’s. In his LDS General Conference address of April 1986 President Benson quoted from D&C 84:
the Lord has stated in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants that the whole Church is under condemnation: “And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.” (D&C 84:56.) The Lord continues: “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.” (D&C 84:57.)

Raised Mormon during the time of President Benson this talk was a bit shocking and confusing to me.  I had assumed that the LDS Church was founded on the Book of Mormon as that was the book Joseph Smith had translated and which had begun the Church.  As I have learned more about LDS Church History it has been surprising to me to discover that it took Hugh Nibley campaigning in the 1960’s-1970’s before the leadership and membership of the LDS Church began to take the Book of Mormon seriously.

Recently I was speaking with a man named Paul Durham whose father was a leader in the Church Education Department (CES) in the 1960’s.  This man’s father was told by an Apostle of the LDS Church that because he believed in, loved and promoted the reading of the Book of Mormon he would never rise up in the CES department. He then went on to say that Hugh Nibley was tasked by the Lord to write Sunday School lessons based on the Book of Mormon, until that time there had never been any lessons based on this book.  Hugh would finish a lesson and send it in for approval and the lesson would be denied.  This happened over and over again.  Hugh became very frustrated and took his frustrations to the Lord. The Lord assured him that he needed to keep writing the lessons and that it would all be taken care of in time.  A short while later the apostle who was rejecting the lessons died and the apostle who took over chairing the lesson committee went on to approve them.

I grew up reading, studying and loving the Book of Mormon.  I am grateful for it and for the truths it has taught me.  Yet, I had no idea that it is a covenant book until just recently.  In March 2017, I attended the Doctrine of Christ Conference held in St. George, Utah.  During this conference it was put forth that the Lord was again ready to extend a covenant to a repentant people as long as they re-established His word through the scriptures.  Thus, a scripture project is underway to recover that which was lost through corruption and outright disregard for God’s revealed word in order that the Lord might once again offer a covenant to a repentant people.
We are obligated to repent and return. We may not have created the problem, but we cannot expect God to accomplish the work of what He commanded for man to be do before. Others may have neglected it, but we cannot.
The first step in repenting is to gather the original covenant we were offered in the precise terms in which they were offered. That is a very difficult task that many people have been working to accomplish for over a year. There are lively efforts underway to research and find the right language.
Repentance requires us to first learn the actual language in the terms God provided when His restoration began. Our condemnation in 1832 was provoked by the failure to both “say” and to “do” what was expected of us when He spoke again and commenced the restoration.” Denver Snuffer Jr “Inquiry and Response” March 30, 2017

Today, the LDS Church promotes the Book of Mormon as “another Testament of Jesus Christ”.  While this is true (Jesus Christ is throughout the book), the Church does not teach that the book is a covenant book.  Even President Benson, when he said the church was still under condemnation, did not understand the exact nature of the condemnation.  The LDS Church is under condemnation because they have not remembered the new covenant, they have not even accepted the covenant nor do they even know about it.

In Isaiah’s day he stated, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)  The LDS Church today has transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance and broken the everlasting covenant.

Let’s look at just a few of the laws and ordinances contained in the Book of Mormon which the LDS Church has broken:

1.   Baptism: Christ clearly sets out the words which are to be used for the baptismal prayer: “And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” (3 Nephi 11:24-25) In the 1830’s Oliver Cowdery changed the wording to “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ…” (D&C 20:73)
a.    In 3 Nephi 11:22-23 Christ sets out his Doctrine clearly, “And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.” Christ requires repentance and a desire to be baptized. That’s it!  Nothing more and nothing less. In the LDS Church today in order to receive baptism  one must agree to a list of demands such as committing to paying tithes, bearing “testimony” of the current President of the Church, etc. 
b.    Baptism by immersion is always the fruit of repentance.[1] Whenever a person desires to repent and turn to face God again baptism by immersion is a part of that process. This practice was done often in the early days of the Church.  Today it is taught that taking the Sacrament each week renews your baptismal covenant.  The only way you can be rebaptized by immersion is if you have been excommunicated from the Church and qualify yourself for baptism back into the Church. In fact, if you desire to be rebaptized while still a member of the Church after the manner practiced by early saints and as taught in the Book of Mormon you can be excommunicated. 

2.   Sacrament: Christ clearly sets out the emblems that should be used for the Sacrament in 3 Nephi 18: bread and wine.  Bread in remembrance of His body; Wine in remembrance of His blood.  As if to reinforce the correct emblems, in 3 Nephi 20 Christ again performs the sacrament for the people, this time providing the bread and wine miraculously.  Christ instructs the people that doing the sacrament with these emblems is a commandment from the Father.  In the LDS Church today wine has been replaced with water and if a person desires to partake of the sacrament in the way commanded by the Father they lose their temple recommend at best, membership at worst.  Not only has the Church changed the emblems of the sacrament they have also changed the words of the sacrament prayer from the word “wine” to the word “water”.

3.   Tithing: Tithing is supposed to go to the poor and the needy, not for the building of fine sanctuaries. (2 Nephi 28:13, 2 Nephi 13:14-15, 2 Nephi 20:2,30; 2 Nephi 26:20; Alma 1:27; Alma 5:55; 3 Nephi 13:1; Helaman 6:39; Helaman 4:12; Mormon 8:37)  Tithing was not obligatory but rather voluntary, it was based on how much money you had and the poor were exempt from paying it: “And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given. And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.” (Mosiah 18:27-28 as well as Mosiah 4:24,26; and Alma 1:27)
Today in the LDS Church tithing is mandatory for a temple recommend and is 10% of your income, no matter how much or how little money you earn, even if you cannot provide the basic necessities for your family.

4.    Marriage: Jacob 2 clearly teaches that polygamy is an abomination in the eyes of God and that no man should have more than one wife and that no woman should have more than one husband. Yet in the LDS Church, polygamy began being practiced secretly by Brigham Young and other members of the 12 and the Church.  Joseph Smith was not a polygamous nor did he teach the practice, however, as soon as Joseph died those secretly practicing it began doing so openly and then spread false rumors and lies about learning it from Joseph Smith Jr. The LDS Church has since abandoned the practice of polygamy, however, they continue to besmirch the character of Joseph Smith and many people in the Church believe that the practice of polygamy will be reinstated one day because Brigham Young taught that it was necessary for salvation in the highest degree of glory (Celestial Kingdom).

5.   Priestcraft: The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that there shall be no priesthcraft: “He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.” (2 Nephi 26:29) “But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.” (Helaman 13:27-28)
Those who labored to preach repentance to the people as priests unto them were to also labor for their substance: “And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.” Alma 1:26
King Benjamin said, “And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day” (Mosiah 2:14)
In the LDS Church today all of the general leadership, as well as mission presidents, receive financial benefits in addition to other “club” perks. It was recently reported that an LDS apostle received a yearly salary of $120,000.[2] These men are seen as a light to the world and they do not seek the welfare of Zion.  By the Book of Mormon’s own definition priestcraft is rampant in the LDS Church today.

These are just a few of the ways that the LDS Church, which claims to have the fullness of the gospel, to believe in and follow the teachings in the Book of Mormon, has corrupted the laws and ordinances in that sacred book of scripture.

I believe in the Book of Mormon.  I believe it means what it says.  I desire to be considered by God a repentant gentile and to enter into and strive to keep any covenants offered by Him including the covenant of the Book of Mormon.

Denver Snuffer Jr stated: “But if even a tiny few gentiles are willing to accept the covenant, God will receive them and accomplish His work through them. It was always the Lord’s expectation that “few” would receive it and walk in a straight and narrow path. Almost all others will reject it and walk in a broad enough path to accommodate every other false religious idea, false promise, incomplete and damning path that competes with the Lord’s invitation to come to Him. But if even a few will accept it, those who do will become at that time part of the covenant people of God, numbered with the remnant, and entitled to inherit this as their land. In turn, God will protect them. If they abide the covenant, He will establish a New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge. His glory and terror will be there, and the wicked will not come unto it.”[3]

[1] 2 Nephi 31:13, 14, 17; 3 Nephi 7:24, 26; 3 Nephi 11:32-40;Moroni 6:1, 4; Moroni 8:10, 25
[3] Teaching, Denver Snuffer, Jr March 24, 2017