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  1. I forgot to hold up my "big meany" sign dang it! Oh well. Haha it really was a good conversation though.
  2. Alright sounds good. I think both of us have learned something from each other, so thanks for going back and forth with me for a while!
  3. I already did earlier, it's "the wicked." Maybe "the wicked" in this case were members of the Catholic Church, but that doesn't mean it's referring to the entire Catholic Church, or the church as an organization. I'll replace "that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots" with "the wicked" to illustrate my point. The interpretation makes perfect sense in this context. This is a very interesting argument, and I agree with you about the nature of “types.” But is this really a “type?” Does it really at different times refer to the wicked, the Catholic Church, and non-LDS religions? Every scripture I have studied which uses the terms “great and abominable church,” “church of the devil,” “mother of harlots,” and “whore of all the earth,” seems to be referring to the same thing, and that is the wicked. Different “types” of wicked people, members of different religions, at different times and in different places, but always wicked people. Hence my definition that all these terms are symbols for the wicked. It is the only interpretation that is a suitable answer (at least in my understanding) for all the scriptures I have found. I've "whittled down" each scripture individually, and come to the same conclusion for all of them. Even the ones in 1 Nephi 13. At least to me, this symbol seems to have the same solid definition each time it is used, and that is: the wicked. Again, different wicked people each time, but always the wicked. Sometimes it's wicked members of one specific church, sometimes it's wicked members of all other churches, but I think it is always referring to the members, not to the churches themselves. The above verse is one of a few that are listed in the Index to the Triple Combination under "Church of the Devil." Notice how God says he will disturb "they who do not fear me," and not the churches they have built up. This verse reinforces my claim that the "church of the devil" refers to people, not to their churches. The only instances that I can find where another interpretation seems as though it might be suitable, are in 1 Nephi 13. Can you identify any other instances where the Catholic Church is potentially a suitable interpretation for the term’s usage? And can you identify any instances where all non-LDS religions (or any one specific non-LDS religion), might be suitable? Perhaps there are certain specific religions which are suitable, but I don't think it's our place to ascertain which ones, even if they do exist. This is why I'm so reluctant to label any specific church (or all non-LDS churches) as the "church of the devil." I think this is why God commanded us to "contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil," and why we shouldn't try to identify the "church of the devil" as one specific church. What if we are wrong? Should we really go around contending against other churches because we think they are the "church of the devil?" My argument hinges on a static definition for the "church of the devil." Solely for the sake of discussion, I will accept your argument that the definition is not static, although I disagree with it. So if you would be so kind as to list all of the specific instances where you think that the “church of the devil” could reasonably be interpreted as one specific church, or all non-LDS churches, we can discuss each of them individually. Thanks.
  4. I'm going to respond to you in two separate posts, because I see two parts to your argument. One is based on the scriptures and the manner of prophecy among the Jews, and the other is based on the supposed infallibility of prophets and apostles. This post will be focused on prophets and apostles. You said you're impossible to offend, so I'm going to be blunt. You are wrong. Prophets and apostles are not all correct. They are not always right. They are not even nearly always right. They are only right when they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Since you won't accept any of my words, I'll quote their own words to prove it. Argue against them if you will, but remember you are arguing against the very people who you think are always right. First, let's read this scripture: What are prophets and apostles? Are they not men? They are men, just like you and me. King Benjamin agrees: "And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust." (Mosiah 2:26) Since prophets are men, the above scripture says we are cursed if we put our trust in their precepts, unless they are given by the power of the Holy Ghost. So unless we want to be cursed, we better make sure their precepts really are inspired by God. Many of them certainly are. But is every word spoken by a prophet or apostle divinely inspired? Harold B. Lee sure doesn't think so: So how then can we tell when General Authorities are move upon by the Spirit? Only by listening to that same Spirit which inspired their words. When we blindly accept anything and everything a General Authority says, we are putting our trust in the arm of flesh. We should love and support them, but our trust must be placed "upon God and upon Him alone." But how do we trust in God alone? Through the Spirit! When the words of the General Authorities are inspired by the Spirit, the Spirit confirms the truthfulness of those words to us. If their words are not inspired, we receive no such confirmation. By the Spirit, we can "understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth." By the Spirit, we can also know when their words were not inspired by the Spirit of truth. Why would God make their imperfections known unto us? "That [we] may learn to be more wise than [they] have been." And when we are made aware of their imperfections, we are commanded not to condemn them for it. We are commanded not to judge them for their mistakes. I do not judge or condemn any prophet or apostle who has spoken imperfectly, but I certainly don't try to justify their words. I don't try to convince myself that their words are true, because the Spirit has already made it plain to me that they aren't. They were wrong, and that's ok because they're just men, and men make mistakes. I still love and support them and believe that they are truly called of God. I think you're making some untrue assumptions about my motives and my character. You assume that I think I'm smarter than the General Authorities. This is untrue. I'm also not trying to undermine their authority, or "stone" them. What I'm trying to do is understand their words through the power of the Holy Ghost. I don't think I'm "a better judge of scriptural accuracy than Elder McConkie," but I do think that the Holy Ghost is. So I'm trying to listen to the Spirit, and trust in God above all else. I trust in the Spirit far more than I trust in Bruce R. McConkie, although I love and support the man in his divine calling. I believe that the Spirit in this rare instance, has made known unto me one of his imperfections, and I cannot deny the Spirit. As I said earlier "above all else, I believe what I believe about the definition of 'the great and abominable church' not because of the statements of church leaders (although my beliefs are based on their statements), but because of the Spirit which confirms and testifies to me that what I believe is true." Allow me to explain the process I follow when I hear something a prophet or apostle has said that doesn't sit right with me. First, I study the history and context of their statement. I try to gain a better understanding of why they said it, and what they meant by it. Often times the process stops here because my initial interpretation of their words was incorrect. It wasn't them that was wrong, it was me. However, if my interpretation was correct, I continue to ponder what was said. I study it out in my mind and judge the statement's compatibility with the rest of the Gospel. Is it in harmony with the scriptures, or the words of other prophets? I study the scriptures related to the statement and seek the words of other prophets and apostles on the subject. I then continue to ponder what I have studied, and I weigh the potentially errant statement against the scriptures and the words of other prophets and apostles. Then I come to a conclusion. And then I pray about it. In general, I follow the process outlined in this scripture: When I pray, there is a very important principle I hearken to in order to get my answer. It is this: I approach the Lord humbly in prayer, and tell him the conclusion I have come to. This conclusion is my own understanding. So that I don't "lean unto" it, I humbly admit to God that I could be completely wrong. Only then am I susceptible to the Spirit. If I pridefully assume that I was right, the Spirit can't get through to me and tell me I was wrong. I have learned so much from doing this. I have been wrong many times. Sometimes I pray, and I get no confirmation that my conclusion was right, and none that it was wrong (such is the case with evolution). Sometimes my answer comes in different ways than I expect. Sometimes it's a burning in my bosom, sometimes it's an inspired thought, or a logical impression that just makes sense. Sometimes my answer comes in further research, or in church. Sometimes God directly answers my question through the words of another person who had no way of knowing my question in the first place. Whatever the case, the answer always comes with peace. My mind is no longer troubled with the subject, because the Spirit has answered me and calmed my mind. This is how I approach the prophets and apostles, the scriptures, everything. This is how I learn through the miracle of personal revelation. The reason I attempted to refute Bruce R. McConkie's statement using only the scriptures, is because I know that they are the precepts of God, and not the precepts of men. In my mind, the scriptures are always right, but the prophets and apostles (at least individually) aren't. In the words of General Authorities there is a sizable margin for error because they are not always "moved upon by the "Holy Ghost," but in the scriptures there is almost no margin for error. (I say almost because of this line from the introduction "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men.") The scriptures I provided in my previous post contradict Bruce R. McConkie's statement, but only if we agree that the definition for "church of the devil" is a static one. You make a good argument as to why the definition could possibly not be static, and I will respond to your argument in my next post. As we continue this discussion, I would ask that we focus mainly on the scriptures themselves. I'm not going to be able to convince you of anything if you can't accept the possibility that Bruce R. McConkie could have been wrong. I would love for you to explain more about your understanding of the manner of prophecy among the Jews, and why the scriptures I cited could mean the Catholic Church in one instance, and something else in another. But if we keep getting held up on the idea that prophets and apostles can't be wrong, we aren't going to get anywhere. Thank you for your time and for your civility. I know you're a good intelligent person, and I know you have good intentions regarding your approach towards prophets and apostles. But I think your priorities are misaligned. To me it seems as though you have elevated prophets and apostles to the level of God, in that you assume they are never wrong. You place more trust in them than should be placed in any man. That level of trust should only be placed in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We must trust in them above all else, and in their servants only as far as they are moved upon by the Spirit. When we trust in God alone, we cannot be led astray. I'll leave you with this:
  5. "The existence of these animals is indisputable, for their remains have been found in rocks all over the earth. What eternal purpose they played in the creation and early history of the earth is unknown. The scriptures do not address the question, and it is not the realm of science to explore the issue of why they were here. We can only conclude, as Elder Talmage did, that 'the whole series of chalk deposits and many of our deep-sea limestones contain the skeletal remains of animals. These lived and died, age after age, while the earth was yet unfit for human habitation.' ('The Earth and Man.')" --Morris S. Petersen, professor of geology, Brigham Young University, "I Have a Question," Ensign (September 1987) “Do not begrudge existence to creatures that looked like men long, long ago, nor deny them a place in God's affection or even a right to exaltation — for our scriptures allow them such. Nor am I overly concerned as to just when they might have lived, for their world is not our world. They have all gone away long before our people ever appeared. God assigned them their proper times and functions, as he has given me mine — a full-time job that admonishes me to remember his words to the overly eager Moses: "For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me." (Moses 1:31.) It is Adam as my own parent who concerns me. When he walks onto the stage, then and only then the play begins.” -- Hugh Nibley "[T]here was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it. I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family, and that through a sequence of choices they transgressed a commandment of God which required that they leave their garden setting but which allowed them to have children before facing physical death." -- Jeffery R. Holland
  6. Take all the time you need, hope you get better soon, and Merry Christmas!
  7. I think you're basing your argument more on the assumption that Bruce R. McConkie was right, and less on the scriptures themselves. If we analyze all the scriptures where the terms "great and abominable church" and "the church of the devil" are used, his definition cannot logically be accurate. I will attempt to refute his statement using only the scriptures themselves. I want to preface my argument by asserting that the terms "great and abominable church" and "church of the devil" are interchangeable, and that their definitions are static throughout their usage in the scriptures. The "great and abominable church" in one verse or chapter, has the same definition as the "great and abominable church" or the "church of the devil" in another. From here on out I will only use the term "church of the devil," just because it's shorter. Although more specific definitions for the "church of the devil" (such as the Catholic Church, or any non-LDS religion) may appear to make sense for certain specific instances of "the church of the devil's" usage, I believe that there is only one definition that makes sense for every instance of it's usage. You're right that the quote from the second edition of "Mormon Doctrine" is a bit imprecise. But the more precise definition is not the Catholic Church, or non-LDS religions, because neither of them make sense with every instance of the "church of the devil" in the scriptures. The most specific we can get without distorting the meaning of the scriptures, is by defining the "church of the devil" as a symbol for the wicked. Because it is a symbolic title, and not a literal church, when the scriptures understand the "church of the devil" as an organization, one founded by the devil himself, this must be understood symbolically. There is no literal "church of the devil" that all the wicked have membership in, but there is a symbolic one. Bruce R. McConkie's statement that the Catholic Church is the "church of the devil" at first seems pretty reasonable when we read only the verses you cited from 1 Nephi 13, but as I mentioned earlier, we must take into account all the other instances that this term has been used. What about this verse in the next chapter: If there are "two churches only," the "church of the devil" cannot be specifically referring to the Catholic Church. This verse necessitates membership in one church or the other; there is no neutral ground. If we understand the two churches as being the LDS church and the Catholic Church, that would mean that if a person isn't a member of the LDS church, they must be a member of the Catholic Church, and vice versa. This is obviously not the case, so the "church of the devil" cannot be specifically referring to the Catholic Church, or any one church at all. The above verse does lend itself to the argument that the "church of the devil" refers to a specific church, because it says that it "is most abominable above all other churches." But, I don't think the fact that the "church of the devil" was worse than other churches necessarily means that it was a specific church among other churches. It just means that when compared to other churches, the "church of the devil" was "most abominable." This verse is still compatible with the "church of the devil" being a symbol for the wicked, because this symbol is singular. It is "a" church, just as the "church of the Lamb of God" is "a" church. A more likely explanation is that the two churches are the LDS church and all other non-LDS churches, but this is also false. Let's look at this verse in D&C 18, a chapter giving instruction specifically to members of the LDS church: This verse refers to two groups: churches that we're not supposed to contend against, and the "church of the devil" which we are supposed to contend against. If the "church of the devil" is defined as all other religions, then how can there be any churches that we are commanded not to contend against? Defining the "church of the devil" as one specific church would make more sense, but I've already refuted that idea, because there are "save two churches only." So if the "church of the devil" cannot mean all other churches, and it cannot mean the Catholic Church, then what can it mean? Perhaps this: I want to add one more interchangeable term that means the same thing as the "great and abominable church," and the "church of the devil." This term is the "whore of all the earth." The verse from 1 Nephi 14 I cited earlier unifies their meanings: "which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." The "whore of all the earth" is used throughout the scriptures to represent the wicked who will be destroyed by fire in the last days, or just the wicked in general if it's referring to a time before their great and last destruction. This is the one definition that makes sense with every usage of "great and abominable church," "church of the devil," and "whore of all the earth." These terms are all symbols for the wicked. So now let's read one of the verses you cited from 1 Nephi 13 that seems to specifically single out the Catholic Church, and replace "the great and abominable church" with "the wicked." The wicked people who took away many plain and precious things may have been members of the Catholic Church, but this verse cannot be understood to mean the entire Catholic Church. I think the dichotomy of the "church of God" and the "church of the devil" can be understood more literally or more figuratively, and both understandings are correct. In a figurative sense, they refer to all that is good, and all that is evil. In a more literal sense, they refer to the righteous and the wicked in the last days. We know that God's destruction of the wicked and salvation of the righteous will not be split evenly on religious lines. He will save those who are good, and destroy those who are wicked, regardless of their religion. All the wicked, or the "church of the devil" will be destroyed. All the righteous, or "the church of the Lamb of God" will be saved. Neither of these terms refers to any one religion, otherwise their members would perish or be saved regardless of their own personal righteousness. From this verse we learn that the qualifier for those who will perish is that they "fighteth against Zion." This is regardless of their religion (whether they are "Jew or Gentile"). We can infer that the opposite must be true as well, and any "Jew or Gentile" who doesn't fight against Zion will not perish. So in other words, those who fight against Zion (the wicked) will perish, and those who don't (the righteous) won't. Membership in either the "church of the devil," or the "church of the Lamb of God" must then be symbolic, as there is no earthly organization entirely comprised of only the wicked, or only the righteous. The two churches are symbols for the literal people of the devil, and the literal people of God. Thus the entire "church of the devil" (the wicked) will be destroyed, and the entire "church of the Lamb of God" (the righteous) will be saved. So when scriptures say things like "are you a member of God's church or the devil's church?" they really mean "are you wicked or righteous?" In summary, I believe Bruce R. McConkie's statement was replaced not because of the public backlash against it, and not so we could proselytize Catholics (although that was a nice bonus), but because it didn't accurately reflect what is contained in the scriptures.
  8. I like your argument, it's very reasonable and compelling. I'll try to respond tomorrow as well. Thanks!
  9. Interesting take, seems reasonable to me. @DoctorLemon brought up the fact that the biblical date for the fall of Adam coincides with the estimated date for the beginning of human civilization (within 500 years). Or in other words, around the same time that humans started working together and began to live under moral law. A few people have theorized that Adam and Eve were the first of God's spirit children who were placed in the mortal tabernacles that God created through the process of evolution, thus becoming the first parents of what we would call the "human race." Before them, there were no "humans" in the sense that none of God's spirit children had been placed in mortal tabernacles.
  10. I always base my tentative beliefs about God on one basic principle: that he is good.
  11. Reminds me of these verses in Helaman 12: 7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. 8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God. So we are nothing, less than the dust of the earth, because the dust of the earth does as God commands. And as we keep God's commandments, we can rise above that nothingness.
  12. Dang that's too bad you lost your response. And sorry, I thought I was more clear about the quotes I was referring to. I was talking about the quotes I cited in my earlier post, not any of the ones you included. Here's the one from the first edition of "Mormon Doctrine": "It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church which is the most abominable above all other churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization." And here's the one it was replaced with in the second edition: "The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature — whether political, philosophical, educational, economic social, fraternal, civic, or religious — which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God." You're definitely right that we approach the teachings of prophets and apostles very differently. I want to explain my approach more in depth so you can better understand where I'm coming from I believe that prophets have the keys to receive revelation from God on behalf of the entire church. But I don't think every word they speak is from God, or even anything close to that. Even when they're discussing church matters, they are often left to their own devices. It is only when they are moved upon by the Spirit that they are speaking for God, and when they aren't moved upon by the Spirit, they are just speaking for themselves. Their words may be well thought out and well intentioned, but they aren't the Lord's words. And sometimes, when prophets are influenced by the culture of their time, they are very far from the Lord's words. D&C 21 4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; 5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. D&C 42 14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. "At the head of this Church stands a man who is a Prophet . . . we respect and venerate him; but we do not believe that his personal views or utterances are revelations from God." -- Charles W. Penrose "When in the revelations it is said concerning the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator that the Church shall “give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them—for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith”—(Doc & Cov., Sec. 21)—it is understood, of course, that his has reference to the word of God received through revelation, and officially announced to the Church, and not to every chance word spoken." -- B. H. Roberts "Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church." -- Approaching Mormon Doctrine "Revelations from God . . . are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior's sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening, . . . the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit." -- Dallin H. Oaks So it is my understanding that Prophets and Apostles speak for God, but only at times when they are moved upon by the Spirit of Revelation. But how can we tell when they are speaking for God or merely speaking for themselves? Only through that same power by which they receive their revelation, the power of the Holy Ghost. This is a long quote, but it describes very well what I'm trying to express here. “Doctrine and Covenants 68:3-4 sets the narrow instances when scripture can be considered as having been given: And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Note that what comprises 'scripture,' 'the will of the Lord,' 'the mind of the Lord,' 'the word of the Lord,' and 'the voice of the Lord' is whether or not something is spoken 'when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.' This makes it clear that there are instances when things are not said 'when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.' Commenting on this, Elder B. H. Roberts explained: 'Is there anything in the Mormon doctrine that makes it necessary to believe [infallibility] of men, even of high officials in the Church? No, there is not. We know that they do not always speak under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit . . . When you come to think of human weaknesses and imperfections, and how difficult it is for men living under the effects of the Fall, and borne down with inherited tendencies also—when you think how extremely difficult it is for even the best of men to rise above these things and walk in the sunlight of God’s inspiration, in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, I think it is expecting too much to claim that every utterance is a divine inspiration.' He further explained: 'Sometimes, the servants of God stand on planes infinitely lower than the one here described. Sometimes they speak merely from their human knowledge, influenced by passions; influenced by the interests of men, and by anger, and vexation, and all those things that surge in upon the minds of even servants of God. When they so speak, then that is not Scripture, that is not the word of God, nor the power of God unto salvation; but when they speak as moved upon by the Holy Ghost, their voice then becomes the voice of God. So that men, even some of high station in the Church, sometimes speak from merely human wisdom; or from prejudice or passion; and when they do so, that is not likely to be the word of God . . . In any event it must be allowed by us that many unwise things were said in times past, even by prominent elders of the Church; things that were not in harmony with the doctrines of the Church; and that did not possess the value of Scripture, or anything like it; and it was not revelation.' This also means that people cannot simply rely on who made a statement or the setting the statement was made in (like General Conference, for instance) as a way of being reassured that everything said was spoken 'when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.' Since the key to the whole matter is the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, revelation is very individualized. The responsibility for discerning and determining that what was said was said 'when moved upon by the Holy Ghost' is shared by the speaker and the hearer. That the working of the Holy Ghost in revealing truth is a two-way process that requires effort, not a passive one-way transmission from God, is evident from Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-22 'Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.' ” -- McKay V. Jones This is the process I was trying to describe in my previous post, and this is the process I use when considering the validity of statements made by church leaders. I also research the history surrounding those statement so I can fully understand their original context and the intentions of the speaker. It is also through the power of the Holy Ghost that I discovered the truth of the Book of Mormon for myself. I didn't rely on anyone other than God for that confirmation, and it is in this same way that I discover the truth or the error in statements made by church leaders. If by chance I do find a fault in their words, I find it wise to hearken to these principles found in Mormon 9:31: "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." I don't think I'm smarter than the prophets, and I don't regard myself as better than them in any way. But I also don't blindly believe in everything they say. I listen to the Spirit as best I can for confirmation that their words are true, because I trust in the Spirit above all else. I know that this Spirit is God's Spirit, and I am so grateful that he has provided us with a living Prophet on the earth to lead us and guide us towards Christ. Hopefully this gave you a better idea of how I approach the teachings of prophets and apostles. Thanks for reading.
  13. I too would like to thank you for your composure and civility. You've been very respectful, and I've enjoyed our discussion. Though we may disagree, that is no reason for any ill treatment of one another. Thanks again, and I'm going to ask you to bear with me for a while, and have an open mind as you read this post. I want to try something a little different here. For a moment, let's forget about the controversial circumstances surrounding "Mormon Doctrine," and focus only on the quotes themselves (the ones from the first and second editions of "Mormon Doctrine"). They contradict each other. Either one could be more authoritative than the other depending on how you interpret the reasons behind the changes to "Mormon Doctrine." Is the first edition more authoritative because of it's use of the Joseph Smith Translation, or is the second edition more authoritative because it was revised to better reflect church doctrine and approved by the apostles to be reprinted? I can't see how the use of the Joseph Smith Translation even relates to this particular subject of the great and abominable church, but right now, in this post, we don't care about any of that. So here we have two statements, both created in some respect by high ranking leaders of the church, which seem to contradict each other. Which of the church leaders are right? How can we know? Can they really both be right? One of them must be wrong. And for me, that's ok because I am fine with the fact that church leaders make mistakes. But which one made the mistake? Which edition is correct? Let's forget about all that, and just focus on the statements themselves. Let's read both of them side by side. Let's ponder them for a while, and weigh the possibilities that one or the other may or may not be correct. Think only about the logic of the statements themselves, not the situation in which they were given. Analyze them without bias. Which one feels more right? Which one speaks to your understanding of logic? Which one makes more sense? Which one is more harmonious with what you already know about the Gospel? I'm not trying to convert you to my point of view here, I just want you to take a real deep look at your own thoughts and feelings on the matter. I think that as we do this, if we ask God to guide our understanding, if we do it humbly and with real intent, leaning not unto our own understanding, but trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, we can discover the truth for ourselves through the power of the Holy Ghost, for the Spirit of God will speak to our minds and our hearts, and manifest the truth unto us. I have done this, and I have come to my own conclusion, but it shouldn't matter to you which conclusion I came to, because you can come to your own conclusion. This situation here, with two contradictory statements made by church leaders, reminds me of the situation Joseph Smith was in when he first followed the admonition of James 1:5, that "if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Joseph, "in the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions," often said to himself "what is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" Through the power of God, Joseph's question was answered, and he received wisdom directly from the source of all wisdom. It didn't come to him from any mortal man, but straight from God himself. I am of the belief that God's promise in James 1:5 is extended to all, and if we ask of God with real intent, we can receive personal revelation straight from God himself, through the power of the Holy Ghost. All it requires is the humility to ask him, and that we lean not unto our own understanding so that we can accept his answer if it is contrary to our own understanding. I hope you'll forgive me if I've over stepped my bounds here, but I have spoken my heart on the matter. I say these things not to try to convert you to my point of view, but to make light of the wonderful miracle of personal revelation. How amazing it is that God can reveal truth directly to us through the power of the Holy Ghost, without the need for another man to be our intermediary! I know you're an intelligent and good person, and that what I've said here isn't new to you, but I'm tired of debating which church leader said this, and which church leader said that. Above all else, I believe what I believe about the definition of "the great and abominable church" not because of the statements of church leaders (although my beliefs are based on their statements), but because of the Spirit which confirms and testifies to me that what I believe is true. I feel it in my heart and in my mind, and I have truly spoken my heart on this subject, and I hope you'll forgive me if I am out of place, or have seemed presumptuous. Thank you for engaging in this dialogue with me, and I hope that what I've said can be of some worth to you.
  14. President McKay in a phone call to Joesph Fielding Smith regarding the book: " 'Now, Brother Smith, [Brother McConkie] is a General Authority, and we do not want to give him a public rebuke that would be embarrassing to him and lessen his influence with the members of the Church, so we shall speak to the Twelve at our meeting in the temple tomorrow, and tell them that Brother McConkie's book is not approved as an authoritative book, and that it should not be republished, even if the errors... are corrected.' Brother Smith agreed with this suggestion to report to the Twelve, and said, 'That is the best thing to do.' " -- Horne, Dennis B. (2000). Bruce R. McConkie: Highlights From His Life & Teachings. Eborn Books. From President McKay's office notes: "We [the First Presidency of the church] decided that Bruce R. McConkie’s book, 'Mormon Doctrine' recently published by Bookcraft Company, must not be re-published, as it is full of errors and misstatements, and it is most unfortunate that it has received such wide circulation. It is reported to us that Brother McConkie has made corrections to his book, and is now preparing another edition. We decided this morning that we do not want him to publish another edition." -- Paul, Erich Robert (1992). Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology. University of Illinois Press Eventually though, it was revised and republished. "On July 5, 1966, President McKay invited Elder McConkie into his office and gave approval for the book to be reprinted if appropriate changes were made and approved. Elder Spencer W. Kimball [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] was assigned to be Elder McConkie's mentor in making those changes .... My father told me that President McKay had so directed him. In addition to that, I am in possession of handwritten papers by my father affirming that direction." -- McConkie, Joseph Fielding (2003). The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son. One of these changes was the one I cited in my previous post. I was wrong in characterizing the statement that 'Mormon Doctrine' "is not approved as an authoritative book" as a declaration from the First Presidency, but President McKay is still the source of that statement. I will revise my post to reflect that.
  15. I like your answer as well, and I have to say, I'm not too upset about being accused of having "an excessive priority for generosity and kindness" haha. I understand where you're coming from here, and I agree with a few of the points you made, but I disagree with your conclusion and I'll explain why. It has to do with the quotes you cited, but mostly one in particular. I like the one from Spencer W. Kimball, that one I agree with fully. The one from Joseph Smith History I think is mostly referring to whatever churches were prevalent in the area Joseph lived at the time, and specifically those churches. The fruits of those churches were likely no good at all, and that's why they were "an abomination in [God's] sight." They were very influenced by my definition for "the church of the devil" (evil). Your third quote I think understands "Mormons" as those who have been baptized, and in this case it would be correct. If a person is not baptized, they can't be saved, and even if they are baptized, if they don't repent, they can't be saved. But, all will have the opportunity to accept baptism either in this life or the next. Those who accept it and are baptized will become "Mormons." All else will be damned. There are billions of people alive today that will never have the opportunity to accept baptism. Are they damned because they weren't "Mormons?" No, because they will have the opportunity to become "Mormons" in the next life by accepting baptism. I like your fifth quote, and can understand why you have reached your conclusion based on what it says. Although, I think there is a distinction between all churches being "of the devil" or "the church of the devil" and merely being influenced by the devil to a certain degree. I stand by my previous statement that "as far as a church promotes good, it is 'the church of God,' and as far as it promotes evil, it is 'the church of the devil.' " I don't know the history or context of the fourth quote so I'm not going to address it at this time. The quote by Bruce R. McConkie is the reason I disagree with your conclusion. Here's why: Bruce R. McConkie is the author of a book called "Mormon Doctrine." The first edition of this book contained enough errors for President David O. McKay to say that it was "not approved as an authoritative book," and should not be republished. That edition of "Mormon Doctrine" contained this statement: "It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this ‘church which is the most abominable above all other churches’ in vision. He ‘saw the devil that he was the foundation of it’ and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization." Eventually a second edition of "Mormon Doctrine" was released, and the above statement was removed. In it's place was this statement, which subsequent church leaders have closely adhered to as the authoritative definition for "the great and abominable church" or "the church of the devil." It reads: "The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature — whether political, philosophical, educational, economic social, fraternal, civic, or religious — which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God." It is from this definition that I derive my previous explanation. For a church to be "the church of the devil" it has to be "designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God." Are all modern churches and religions except the LDS church designed to lead men away from God? I would argue that no, they are not. I think for the most part, modern churches and religions are designed to lead men towards God, and towards his laws, at least as much as their limited amount of knowledge will allow them to. They are not perfect in this because they don't have the authority of the priesthood or the truth of the restored Gospel, but they are doing the best that they can with what they have. And if an organization doesn't lead to God specifically, many lead towards good works, which are of God. Are there modern churches and religions which are designed to lead men away from God? Sure. And we can know them by their fruits. But to assume that all modern churches and religions (save the LDS church) are specifically designed to lead men away from God and his laws, and into the captivity of the devil, is a gross exaggeration in my opinion.