Wednesday, November 25, 2015

From the Foundation of the World

I grew up believing that the sacrament was instituted by Christ among his apostles just prior to His death.  It was similarly instituted among the Nephites after his resurrection, as described in 3rd Nephi.  Indeed, the web site makes the following statement:

On the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ met with His Apostles and instituted the sacrament (see Luke 22:19–20).

Imagine, then, my surprise as I read from the Inspired Version of Genesis 14:17-18:

And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he break bread and blest it; and he blest the wine, he being the priest of the most high God,  And he gave to Abram, and he blessed him, and said, Blessed Abram, thou art a man of the most high God, possessor of heaven and of earth;

I find this information to be very interesting.  For me, several questions arise.  Why is this concept not taught in LDS study manuals?  If the sacrament existed prior to Christ administering it to the apostles, where did it originate?  Why is there no other specific mention of it in the scriptures?  When did the practice die out, that it had to be restored?

Based on this discovery, I believe the sacrament is something that would have been practiced beginning with Adam.  Although current LDS leaders now deny it is true, early LDS leaders believed that Melchizedek and Shem are the same person (  I find the argument that Melchizedek and Shem are one and the same to be persuasive, and therefore I will assume that they are indeed the same person.  If that is the case, then based on the chronology outlined Lectures on Faith and in the Old Testament, there was an uninterrupted line of high priests (those who actually saw into heaven) going back from Shem to Adam, and that is the likely source of Shem's knowledge of the ordinance.  Further, if Adam engaged in this practice, it was probably revealed to him by an angel.  In other words, it is pretty important.  I suppose you could say that the sacrament is one of the ordinances that has existed from the foundation of the world.

This calls to mind the quote by Joseph Smith - "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed."  If that is true, what should we make of the changes to the ordinances?  What changes, you ask?  How about:
     *  Water instead of wine (3rd Nephi 18:19)
     *  Blessed by young boys instead of the presiding authority (D&C 20:50)
     *  Kneeling is forbidden (Moroni 4:2, D&C 20:76)
     *  Tiny amounts of bread and wine/water (3rd Nephi 18:4)

When we read historical accounts of the administration of the sacrament in Joseph Smith's time, they look markedly different than what we do today.  It has only been 171 years since Joseph died and we have seen many changes.  Small wonder, then, that the ordinance was corrupted from the time of Abraham to the time of Christ.  Or from the time of Christ to the time of Joseph Smith.  It makes you wonder, at what point does the Lord look at our changes and say, this is no longer valid and I no longer recognize what you are doing.  Fortunately, that can never happen today because we live in the last dispensation where we can never be led astray.  Aren't we lucky!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Real Problem

Facebook, bloggers, and the rest of the internet have been abuzz lately with talk of the recent changes to the LDS church's policy on same sex marriage and the children of such parents.  In a nutshell, the church's Handbook of Instructions has been updated to define same sex marriage as apostasy, and also disallows children under 18 who live in same sex households from receiving any church ordinances.

Here is a link to a discussion about the changes --

This whole debate illustrates several problems that need to be addressed.

First, the church has long since lost sight of the fact that baptism and church membership are not co-equal.  Baptism is not done to join a church.  Baptism is done to fulfill the commandment of God that we repent and then witness before heaven and earth that we have repented.  The method of the witness is baptism by water.  Joining a church is completely separate. John the Baptist wasn't out baptizing people into the New Testament version of the Mormon church.  He was baptizing for the remission of sins.  If the LDS church were to separate baptism from church membership, many of the problems they claim to be solving could be avoided altogether.

Second, policies are a tool of compulsion used by corporations to force employees to behave in a certain way.  The Lord does not deal in policies.  He deals in commandments and agency, and men are always free to obey or not, and to receive or not.  Policies inherently restrict agency and the Holy Spirit and are not of God.  They are just another form of idolatry because they supplant God as a source of truth and direction.  No policy is needed.  Just empower people to act according to what they believe the Holy Spirit is telling them.

Third, in his "interview" (I use quotes because it is staged, this is not a disinterested third party interviewing Elder Christofferson), Elder Christofferson gives a number of reasons for the new policy.  These reasons include:
     -- Same sex marriage is sinful and participants need to be disciplined.
     -- The new policy comes because of changes to the laws of the US and other countries.
     -- The policy leaves no room for questions or doubt.
     -- The new policy is family friendly because it frees children from learning one thing at home and another at church.
     -- The new policy for same sex marriage is consistent with the church's approach to polygamy.

Conspicuously absent from the list of reasons given by Elder Christofferson is REVELATION.  There is no claim that church leaders saw a problem and asked God what they should do.  Instead, a list of practical reasons is given.  Personally, if I saw a difficulty in my life that was caused by an outside factor, I would ask God what He would have me do to resolve it.  This is yet another example of how the LDS church is led by corporate leaders and not by revelation.

Finally, the church is acting in a schizophrenic manner.  They state that the primary reason for the policy is to free children from having to learn one thing at home and another at church, and yet if this logic were applied consistently, any situation other than a two-parent, fully active family should result in denial of ordinances.  This is intellectual dishonesty.  If the church is going to make an intellectual case for their position, then they should be consistent in its application

This policy change only serves to distract people from Jesus Christ and His atonement.  The Lord came to this earth to redeem all those who would be redeemed.  He came to offer salvation to those who would receive it.  Policies, procedures, and unsanctioned requirements for baptism interfere with the ability of people to connect with God to receive His salvation.

The bottom line is that I believe the church's new policy to be a step away from Christ and toward chaos, confusion, and darkness.  Baptism should be offered to all who desire it, not just those wanting membership in an institution.  This policy is an affront to the Holy Spirit.  We should compare the behavior of the church and its leaders to the standard of the scriptures.  Where we find a divergence, we should ask ourselves who is out of the way, the scriptures or the church?  You may be surprised at the answer.


For those who desire baptism according to the doctrine of Christ (2nd Nephi 31), without man-made restrictions and without judgment, I encourage you to find someone with authority from God to perform the baptism.  You can find someone here: