Should the Old Testament be treated like the Apocrapha?


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I started reading the Old Testament at about the beginning of the year, and had to stop for a while about a month ago half way through Leviticus because I hadn't felt the spirit with anything I was reading for weeks. I just picked it back up again and feel the same way.

I have read several Apocraphal books or parts of books, some of which I feel the spirit strongly about and some that I either don't feel anything at all or a bad feeling that the text has been manipulated or inspired by false spirits. The sad thing is that I don't feel any different about many of the parts of the Old Testament than I do about the apocrapha. Some parts feel right, some wrong, and some I feel nothing on which makes me feel like I'm wasting my time reading them.

“Speaking of the Apocrypha the Lord says: ‘There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated. Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated.’ (D. & C. 91.) . . .

I basically feel the same way about many parts of the Old Testament.

Am I off base? Reading the OT makes me question if I even know/understand God at all, because he's so vastly different in the OT than in the New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. I have several different ways of rationalizing God treating people differently in parts of the OT than he does now, but I don't know if that's a correct way to look at it, or if its more correct to say that much of what's contained in the the OT (cultural practices, punishments, incredibally detailed rituals, etc...) is the philosophies of men mingled with divine inspiration.

Some books are full of inspiration and wisdom, and some seem to be filled with almost the opposite. I really hate feeling that way about some of the books and I'm just trying to get some insights into what I'm missing.

Thoughts?

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there is a ton of symbolism in the OT that if you read with an open heart and maybe some commentary to help, then you will get more out of it.

I'd say yes and no. Yes in that what it says in that verse that you have to have the Spirit to understand. Some parts have more immediate meaning than others. Leviticus at first will seem worthless but, if i recall, it enhances some of the meaning in stories and parables in the new testament such as the woman with the issue of the blood. However you won't learn how to live your life or change it for the better. why? well we dont offer sacrifice obviously.

No because Joseph Smith only felt impressed to reveal that Songs of Solomon is the only uninspired scripture in the Bible. That's prophets teaching. From me, I have a testimony that the Old Testament is inspired. It just requires effort, and usually much more effort than is put into understanding the Book of Mormon. Just like anything in life, anything of worth requires a price to be paid.

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Reading the OT makes me question if I even know/understand God at all, because he's so vastly different in the OT than in the New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

Thoughts?

God in the OT is Jehovah (pre-mortal, unembodied spirit)

God in the NT is the Mortal Jesus Christ (mostly, in the Gospels)

God in the BoM & D&C are written from the viewpoint of a Resurrected perfect Jesus Chist. (Nephi writes as if He realizes that the success of Jesus's life/atonement is foreordained.)

It is a vast difference in the perspective in the mind of God.

Mortal life and the Atonement had a significant effect upon the personality of our Savior.

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Survivorman, I feel similar to you about the O.T. For 2000 years Christians have tried to integrate Jewish scripture (the O.T.) with their view of God from the New Testament. Unfortunately we LDS have followed the mainstream Christians in this.

Its hard to do for most people, nearly impossible for anyone who understands the language it was written in without taking great leaps of interpretaional license. I personally do not believe the O.T. was meant to be in Christian Scripture, nor do I believe all of its stories are actually true.

Nevertheless, there are some good lessons we can learn through LDS interpretation. Can God use almost anything to teach his lessons? I feel sure of it. I try to learn what lessons I can and (except on a message board like this) keep my mouth shut for the most part about how I really feel. Its not my place in Church to direct and I ask for prophetic abilities only over what I have stewardship for. Gods: plans, reasons, and vision are so much bigger than my limited view, and who knows; perhaps something will happen to make me change my mind at some point.

Edited by mnn727
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I read the OT straight through about a year and a half ago. I was blown away by how rich and powerful the stories were and how much I learned about how God worked among His people. The key to understanding the OT is to use the Book of Mormon to unlock it. The Old Testament is a story of a covenant people who did *not* generally live up to their covenants; the Book of Mormon is a story of a covenant people who *did* often live up to their covenants. They form two crucial sides of the same coin, and you cannot truly understand the mind and manner and mode of God without understanding both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.

The paradox you're describing is part of learning to understand the Word of God and His attributes. I personally believe some parts of the Old Testament are more inspired than others, and some parts of the stories may have been somewhat distorted over the years, but if you get the Spirit when you read you'll reap great rewards.

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God in the OT is Jehovah (pre-mortal, unembodied spirit)

God in the NT is the Mortal Jesus Christ (mostly, in the Gospels)

God in the BoM & D&C are written from the viewpoint of a Resurrected perfect Jesus Chist. (Nephi writes as if He realizes that the success of Jesus's life/atonement is foreordained.)

You were doing great right up until this point:

It is a vast difference in the perspective in the mind of God.

Mortal life and the Atonement had a significant effect upon the personality of our Savior.

These statements imply that God is changeable, and somehow still learning: that the Lord's perception, wisdom and compassion were somehow expanded by his mortal ministry.

Both notions are not only false (as specified in Scripture), but also border on heretical (as per the teachings of the Church).

You would have been on solid ground to say, "It is a vast difference in our perspective of the mind of God." and "Mortal life and the Atonement had a significant effect on our perception of the personality of our Savior."

Christ in his mortal form was already God- perfect before the Law, infinitely merciful to the penitent, and unchangeable.

It is our perception and understanding that was altered by Christ's mortal ministry, not his.

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You were doing great right up until this point:

These statements imply that God is changeable, and somehow still learning: that the Lord's perception, wisdom and compassion were somehow expanded by his mortal ministry.

Both notions are not only false (as specified in Scripture), but also border on heretical (as per the teachings of the Church).

You would have been on solid ground to say, "It is a vast difference in our perspective of the mind of God." and "Mortal life and the Atonement had a significant effect on our perception of the personality of our Savior."

Christ in his mortal form was already God- perfect before the Law, infinitely merciful to the penitent, and unchangeable.

It is our perception and understanding that was altered by Christ's mortal ministry, not his.

I respectfully disagree.

When talking about God, one has to differentiate between God the Father, Jehovah / Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Jehovah did learn and grow during his mortal ministry. The atonement changed him.

If you are arguing that Elohim is Perfect and un-changeable I could agree with you.

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I respectfully disagree.

Jehovah did learn and grow during his mortal ministry. The atonement changed him.

I appreciate your tone and restraint (and will try to mirror it).

Rather than simply restating opinions, perhaps it might be best to provide specific evidence in support of the claim.

Scriptural citations would be best, but I will also happily take the words of the Lord's prophets and apostles as evidence for the changes you ascribe.

Here is my problem with your statement:

Impicit in your claims is the notion that Christ's premortal ideas of justice and mercy were harsher than his post mortal judgements specifically because his views were "softened" by his experiences in mortality.

That in itself is a heresy, because it contradicts what we are told is the very nature of God. One cannot be god (pre- or post-mortal) without perfect adherence to the law. To do so would be to contradict the very nature of God.

Whether as the pre-mortal Jehovah or the post-mortal Christ, our Savior was and is God- perfect in his righteousness, infinite in his mercy.

If his views were "softened" and altered by compassion (as is your claim), then necessarily, his previous views were NOT perfect- again, a heresy.

Moreover, God is omniscient; all knowing. If Christ had to "learn" compassion, to have his views "softened" by his mortal sufferings, then by definition, he was not omniscient, which means he was not fully God.

You are (essentially) arguing that the Jehovah of the Old Testamant was (quite basically) Christ-on-training-wheels, and that he learned to ride a two-wheeler only upon completing his mortal ministry.

That contradicts nearly everything that has been revealed about Christ (and about Heavenly Father's methodology).

I do not deny that Christ's mortal form changed and grew (Christ was apparently subject to the veil, as are we all), but that only means that he had to re-learn that which was kept from him by the Veil.

But respectfully, I do not believe that the notion that Christ's eternal perspective and eternal wisdom were altered by his mortal mission can be supported either from Scriptures or from the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles.

Edited by selek
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I do not wish to get into a contentious argument with you. I respect your beliefs.

I agree with you that Jehovah (pre-mortal Christ) was full of mercy, truth, and knowledge.

Yet his atonement changed him in a way that we may never understand. His love for us increased significantly. The act in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross likely not only left physical scars upon his body but also significant spiritual changes.

I know that these doctrines are not commonly discussed, nor easily found within scripture. But Joseph Smith in my mind believes as much.

He loves you more than you can know.

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Since I opened the floor to a Call for References, it seems only fair that I supply at least one.

The notion under discussion is accounted for as the first of what Bruce McConkie called "The Seven Deadly Heresies".

To quote the Apostle:

There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths.

This is false—utterly, totally, and completely. There is not one sliver of truth in it.

God progresses in the sense that his kingdoms increase and his dominions multiply—not in the sense that he learns new truths and discovers new laws. God is not a student. He is not a laboratory technician. He is not postulating new theories on the basis of past experiences. He has indeed graduated to that state of exaltation that consists of knowing all things and having all power.

Why anyone should suppose that an infinite and eternal being who has presided in our universe for almost 2,555,000,000 years, who made the sidereal heavens, whose creations are more numerous than the particles of the earth, and who is aware of the fall of every sparrow—why anyone would suppose that such a being has more to learn and new truths to discover in the laboratories of eternity is totally beyond my comprehension.

Will he one day learn something that will destroy the plan of salvation and turn man and the universe into an uncreated nothingness? Will he discover a better plan of salvation than the one he has already given to men in worlds without number?

The saving truth, as revealed to and taught, formally and officially, by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Lectures on Faith is that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He knows all things, he has all power, and he is everywhere present by the power of his Spirit. And unless we know and believe this doctrine we cannot gain faith unto life and salvation.

Emphasis mine.

Some may be inclined to argue that McConkie here makes no differentiation between Heavenly Father and the Savior.

My response is, "Why should he make such a distinction?"

According to the teachings of the Church, Christ (in his premortal form) was fully God.

The Savior himself said that he could do nothing which he had not seen the Father do. Both statements imply a full and perfect knowledge of what God-the-Father was capable of.

Moreover, it was Christ who was the creator of the Heaven and the Earth (admittedly, at his Father's direction and command), and it was Christ who was the lawgiver.

It was Christ who covenanted first with Israel and later with those who would be the Children of God (through obedience and adoption).

To quote the Prophet Joseph Smith:

Without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him." [As quoted by Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), p.264]

Back to McConkie:

The attributes of God are given as knowledge, faith or power, justice, judgment, mercy, and truth. The perfections of God are named as "the perfections which belong to all of the attributes of his nature," which is to say that God possesses and has all knowledge, all faith or power, all justice, all judgment, all mercy, and all truth. He is indeed the very embodiment and personification and source of all these attributes.

Does anyone suppose that God can be more honest than he already is? Neither need any suppose there are truths he does not know or knowledge he does not possess.

To suppose that Christ needed to "learn" wisdom or compassion during his mortal ministry is, in my not-so-humble opinion, to deny his pre-mortal Godhood.

And that denial contradicts all that has been revealed and all that is taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Edited by selek
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I do not wish to get into a contentious argument with you. I respect your beliefs.

Nor I with you- I simply wish to explore your argument, and to reveal either its truths or its errors.

To (once again) quote one of Christ's apostles:

—There is no salvation in believing a false doctrine.

—Truth, diamond truth, truth unmixed with error, truth alone leads to salvation.—What we believe determines what we do.

I want to find the truth- not only for my own sake, but for the sake of others who will be swayed by what they read here.

Yet his atonement changed him in a way that we may never understand. His love for us increased significantly. The act in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross likely not only left physical scars upon his body but also significant spiritual changes.

Simply reasserting the same point over does not make it more true simply for the repetition.

Please provide some sort of scriptural or doctrinal evidence for your claim.

But Joseph Smith in my mind believes as much.

The key words there are, unfortunately, "in my mind".

I understand that this is your belief and opinion, but objective evidence is lacking.

I have already provided at least one quote which contradicts that supposition.

He loves you more than you can know.

Of that I have no doubt.

Where I have issues is in the notion that he loves me more than he did before his mortal ministry.

Edited by selek
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Is the Holy Ghost as perfect as the Father?

Sermon delivered at Nauvoo temple grounds on Sunday August 27, 1843 Franklin D. Richards "Scriptural Items"

Holy Ghost in Probationary State

Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.

Joseph Smith, June 16 1844, as recorded in the George Laub Journal

But the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies for the Saviour Says the work that my father did do i also & those are the works he took himself a body & then laid down his life that he might take it up again.

Revelations 3:21

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Let's address each of these in turn:

D&C 122:7-8

Here is D&C 122:7-8

7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the apit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the bdeep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to chedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of dhell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee eexperience, and shall be for thy good.

8 The aSon of Man hath bdescended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

It does not say anything about Christ "learning" compassion or having his judgements softened.

It does not say anything which supports the notion that Christ left mortality knowing more than when he entered it.

Lorenzo Snow's Couplet

Here is the actual couplet:

"As man is God once was, as God is man may be."

Again, there is nothing here which suggests that Christ spent his mortal ministry learning to become God.

John 5:19

19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he aseeth the bFather do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Again- there is nothing here to support your supposition about Christ's knowledge changing or "evolving" (to use a currently popular meme) because of his mortal experience.

Unfortunately, none of your citations thus far provide evidence for your claims.

Joseph Smith's multiple sermons in 1844

WHICH sermons? WHICH statements within those sermons?

You have offered not a citation, but an assertion.

I cannot address evidence you refuse to present.

The temple narrative

As we are forbidden both by site rules and by sacred covenant from discussing specifics about the Temple narrative, this too fails to qualify as a citation.

I am quite familiar with the Temple narrative, and can state confidently that it does not say what you wish it to.

There is in fact, no notion in the Temple narrative that Christ is less than fully God: infinite in knowledge, wisdom, mercy, and justice.

Each of the actual citations offered above supports the notion that WE are progressing, learning, and growing to become like God.

They say nothing about Christ doing so.

Respectfully, you have provided no evidence in support of your claims.

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We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple and first principles of the gospel, to know for a certainty the character of God, that we may converse with him as one man with another, and that God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible. I wish I had the trump of a arch angel, I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever; what did Jesus say? (mark it elder Rigdon; ) Jesus said, as the Father hat power in himself, even so hath the Son power; to do what? why what the Father did, that answer is obvious; in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again.---- If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible; the scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom, all the combined powers of earth and hell together, to refute it. Here then is eternal life, to know the only wise and true God. April 7, 1844 - "The King Follett Discourse", Joseph Smith Jr. as recorded in the Times and Seasons Minutes

The argument here made by the Prophet is very much strengthened by the following passage: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (St. John 5:19) - Note by Elder B. H. Roberts, Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, p.346

See Also John 10: 17-18

I saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father, so that he obtains kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt his glory, so that Jesus treads in his tracks to inherit what God did before; it is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said. When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave. I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of any thing that is not contained in the Bible, and I think there are so many wise men here, who would put me to death for treason; so I shall turn commentator to-day. April 7, 1844 - "King Follett Discourse", Joseph Smith Jr. as recorded in Times and Seasons Minutes

Edited by mikbone
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D&C 122

7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

You can hit the option from the LDS.org website to remove footnotes. Took me a while to figure this out.

The above council that the Savior gave to Joseph Smith is significant for a few reasons.

1) The Savior explains that these painful experiences will give Joseph experience and be for his Good.

2) The Savior refers to his own atonement in explaining to Joseph that He understands the difficulties that Joseph was experiencing.

3) To me Christ is explaining that He personally gained experience from the Atonement.

Prior to the atonement Christ could not have made this statement.

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Is the Holy Ghost as perfect as the Father?

Sermon delivered at Nauvoo temple grounds on Sunday August 27, 1843 Franklin D. Richards "Scriptural Items"

Holy Ghost in Probationary State

Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.

Joseph Smith, June 16 1844, as recorded in the George Laub Journal

But the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies for the Saviour Says the work that my father did do i also & those are the works he took himself a body & then laid down his life that he might take it up again.

Revelations 3:21
I would be very cautious in taking this site at face value as I can find no statement identifying the actual author nor his or her affiliation with the Church.

That having been said, the following come from the very source you cite:

4. The statement evidently refers to the fact that the Holy Ghost has yet to receive a mortal body. The word "probationary" referring to all who have not received the resurrection.

In other words, "probationary" does not refer to perfect knowledge, wisdom, or mercy, but only to whether or not one has yet taken a physical form.

You are using a third hand reference: a website citing a journal which claims to quote the Prophet Joseph- with know independent corroboration.

Even conceding your point (which I do not), this statement does not advance your cause.

I refer you to the following:

Ask the Apologist: What About the Holy Ghost? « FAIR

What we do not know about the Holy Ghost does not contradict what we DO know about Christ.

Edited by selek
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I would be very cautious in taking this site at face value as I can find no statement identifying the actual author nor his or her affiliation with the Church.

That having been said, the following come from the very source you cite:

In other words, "probationary" does not refer to perfect knowledge, wisdom, or mercy, but only to whether or not one has yet taken a physical form.

You are using a third hand reference: a website citing a journal which claims to quote the Prophet Joseph- with know independent corroboration.

Even conceding your point (which I do not), this statement does not advance your cause.

I refer you to the following:

Ask the Apologist: What About the Holy Ghost? « FAIR

What we do not know about the Holy Ghost does not contradict what we DO know about Christ.

The website is a legit site. It is very well documented. And is the simplest manner to view Joseph Smiths Sermons.

It is of note that these recording were done by separate people on lectures separated by almost a year.

Do you think the Holy Ghost will be an un-embodied spirit eternally?

D&C 93:33-34

Edited by mikbone
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We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple and first principles of the gospel, to know for a certainty the character of God, that we may converse with him as one man with another, and that God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible. I wish I had the trump of a arch angel, I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever; what did Jesus say? (mark it elder Rigdon; ) Jesus said, as the Father hat power in himself, even so hath the Son power; to do what? why what the Father did, that answer is obvious; in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again.---- If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible; the scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom, all the combined powers of earth and hell together, to refute it. Here then is eternal life, to know the only wise and true God. April 7, 1844 - "The King Follett Discourse", Joseph Smith Jr. as recorded in the Times and Seasons Minutes

The argument here made by the Prophet is very much strengthened by the following passage: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (St. John 5:19) - Note by Elder B. H. Roberts, Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, p.346

See Also John 10: 17-18

None of which supports your assertion that Jesus left this mortality wiser or more compassionate than when he entered it.

Nothing you have cited so far suggests that mortality was a "learning period" for Christ.

I saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father, so that he obtains kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt his glory, so that Jesus treads in his tracks to inherit what God did before; it is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said. When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave. I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of any thing that is not contained in the Bible, and I think there are so many wise men here, who would put me to death for treason; so I shall turn commentator to-day. April 7, 1844 - "King Follett Discourse", Joseph Smith Jr. as recorded in Times and Seasons Minutes

There are two problems with this citation:

First, the King Follet discourse is yet another second-hand retelling, recorded well after the fact. The extant copies of which are mutually contradictory.

Second, this citation speaks to OUR progression to Godhood.

It says nothing about Christ progressing to Godhood in mortality.

On the contrary, the Scriptures and teachings of the Church are quite explicit: Jesus was god BEFORE mortality.

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