Mexiko 2006; Mexico City

Proving the church through archaeology

During our lesson today, our elders quorum instructor shared an experience her had before his mission when he was in a university archaeology class.

On the first day of class, his professor asked all the Mormons to identify themselves, then he proceeded to use archaeological evidence to disprove the church.

I believe this is a flawed approach.

The subtitle of the Book of Mormon isn’t Another Testament of the Pyramids in the Americas. It’s Another Testament of Jesus Christ

The point of the Book of Mormon isn’t about the establishment of an ancient American civilization; it’s that Jesus’s gospel is universal.

Mormons have brought it upon themselves, I believe, by trying to project archaeological findings onto the Book of Mormon. That’s a dangerous practice because if that evidence is refuted by additional research, where does it leave the church?

In my opinion, we should be less concerned about trying to prove the church is true and more concerned about proving that the gospel can change lives and make people better.

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New calling: Gospel Doctrine teacher

This past Sunday, I was sustained as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. I’m excited about it.

This is my second time around. Last time was 5 years ago, after I was released as elders quorum president. I was looking forward to the following year, when we would be studying Old Testament. Unfortunately, it was short lived; I was released after only 8 months so I could serve as executive secretary.

Luckily, this year, we’re studying the Old Testament this year, and we still have the majority of the year left, so I can get a pretty good OT fix this year. I’m also looking forward to teaching the Gospels next year.

I love public speaking, but the next best thing is being able to teach. :)

  • elders quorum second counsellor
  • elders quorum president
  • ward mission leader
  • stake mission secretary
  • young men president
  • ward clerk
  • elders quorum president
  • Gospel Doctrine instructor
  • executive secretary
  • seminary teacher
  • stake website editor

 

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3 reasons Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows

I coordinate a sacrament service at a local seniors’ residence. Usually, a member of our ward presents a message, but occasionally, someone doesn’t show, so I need to step in. Such was the case today.

Given that it is Easter Sunday, I decided to use a text discussing the sacrifice of the Saviour. There are several to choose from, but I picked Alma 7.

Alma teaches the people of Gideon about Jesus during this chapter, but verses 11 and 12 were what I referred to specifically, starting with just verse 11:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

After reading this verse, I highlighted the fact that Alma made a point to specify that the Saviour suffered pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it seems like we focus on Jesus suffering for our sins and that atonement is a vehicle for our redemption.

The Atonement—at least according to Alma—seems to be much more. If he suffered not only for our sins, but also for our pains, afflictions, and temptations, it’s no wonder he bled as if from every pore.

Isaiah spoke of this, too, in verse 5 of chapter 53:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

He makes it clear in this verse that Jesus suffered for our sins. However, echoing Alma’s thoughts (or perhaps Alma was echoing his, Isaiah touches in the previous verse about his suffering encompassing more than just our sins:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .

It is a great blessing that not only has he made it possible for us to have our sins taken from us but that our other sufferings can be, as well.

To me, I think there are three reasons why Jesus did this for us.

  1. So he can develop mercy
  2. So he can judge righteously
  3. So he can carry our burdens

1. Developing mercy

In Alma 7:13, Alma teaches that Jesus suffered these things so he can develop mercy.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

In fact, not only did it help him develop mercy, but it filled him with mercy. Because he knows what it feels like to go through what we have to endure, he can plead our case with mercy when he intercedes in our behalf. When we pray for relief and peace, he can confirm that what ails us is difficult and trying.

Likewise, I think this establishes a pattern for us: if we want to develop Christlike mercy, we must be willing to suffer for others.

2. Judging righteously

In Mosiah 3:10, King Benjamin teaches us that all Jesus endured (see verses 5–7 and 9) was so “that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.”

If a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, Jesus will know what was going through the man’s mind and what drove him to do this thing.

When passing judgement on us, he will use his sufferings and trials to judge more than just our actions (see D&C 137:9; Alma 18:32; D&C 6:16).

This is also why it is important that we should not judge others. We can see only their actions; we cannot understand what motivates them, what causes them to do something we would not do.

3. Carry our burdens

In my mind, this concept culminates in the ideas Jesus himself espouses at the end of Matthew 11:

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.

I believe that his having experienced all these pains, sorrows, griefs, afflictions, and temptations is what allows him to make such a remarkable offer.

May we this Easter season remember that Jesus’s suffering was for more than redemption from sin and deliverance from death. He suffered that our lives could be made easier.

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A questioning culture

Several months ago, I found myself in a situation where someone chastised me for something I had written on this blog. Never mind the fact that what I had written had been misinterpreted, but I was hurt that someone doubted my commitment to the church because I asked questions.

I knew I had seen quotes from past leaders embracing questioning from members, so I spent several days combing resources for such quotes and compiled them into one document.

Here is what I came up with:

  • “If [the prophet] writes something . . . out of harmony with [scripture, we are] duty bound to reject it. If [it’s] in perfect harmony with [scripture], [we] accept [it].” —Joseph Fielding Smith
  • “If [the prophet] says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works . . . it is false” —Harold B. Lee
  • “When ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ comes from [the prophet], the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” —Charles W. Penrose
  • “There is no place in the church for blind adherence.” —John A. Widstoe
  • “I am fearful [members trust] their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence” —Brigham Young
  • “Let every[one] know, by the whispering of the Spirit . . . whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates.” —Brigham Young
  • “Every church member is expected to understand the doctrine of the church intelligently.” —John A. Widstoe
  • “God has not established His Church to make of its members irresponsible automatons” —James E. Talmage
  • “[We] . . . are obedient because [we] know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of . . . individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.” —Boyd K. Packer
  • “Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. —Boyd K. Packer
  • “Each member . . . has a right to . . . judge . . . those who . . . act in their interests” —Lorenzo Snow
  • “We can tell when . . . speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we . . . are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ . . . the responsibility [is for] us to determine when they so speak.” —J. Reuben Clark

You can read the quotes in context here.

Do you know of any others? Share them in the comments below.

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What the family proclamation doesn’t say about stay-at-home mothers

You’ve probably seen that The Family: A Proclamation to the World has received a lot of air time in the nearly 20 years it’s been around. In fact, many throughout the church consider it scripture.

I was reading it for the umpteenth time the other day, and I noticed two things:

  • It doesn’t say that mothers should stay at home
  • It doesn’t say that women should do all the housework

There are some parts where one could extrapolate the assumptions that women should stay home. For example:

“. . . fathers . . . are responsible to provide the necessities of life . . . for their families.”

One could assume that because fathers are singled out here that mothers must not have that responsibility. It’s just that, however: an assumption. Here’s another example of an extrapolation point:

“Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

One could assume here that this implies a mother must stay home, especially when combined with the previous sentence. Again, however, this is only implicit and not explicit. Nowhere in the proclamation does it actually say that women must stay at home. Even the responsibility of nurturing the children doesn’t require the parent to be at home 24 hours a day.

Consider the next sentence in the proclamation:

“In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

So, if fathers have an obligation to help mothers as equal partners in nurturing children, and they decide (as cultural tradition dictates) to work out of the home, how can they nurture their children? If fathers can nurture their children without having to be home 24 hours per day, certainly mothers can, too.

On my second point, there is just nothing anywhere that can be reasonably extrapolated to support the idea that women must do all the housework. There isn’t much else to say about that.