Personal Online Journal

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Because We See Through a Glass Darkly...

What is truth, and how can we know it? President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained: “The ‘truths’ we cling to shape the quality of our societies as well as our individual characters. All too often these ‘truths’ are based on incomplete and inaccurate evidence. … The thing about truth is that it exists beyond belief. It is true even if nobody believes it” (“What Is Truth?” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 13, 2013],

It is good to accept the fact that we simply don’t know all things. We can’t see everything, but our Heavenly Father can. We have been given the promise that if we will search for the truth, study it out in our minds, and ask with a sincere heart, it will be confirmed to us (see D&C 9:8; Moroni 10:3–5).

Heavenly Father is pleased with us when we seek to discover truths. He loves teaching us line upon line, precept on precept. As we strive to learn and have faith in Him, He will bless us to see things as they really are.
Sometimes untrue claims or information are presented in such a way that they appear quite credible. However, when you are confronted with information that is in conflict with the revealed word of God, remember that the blind men in the parable of the elephant would never be able to accurately describe the full truth.
We simply don’t know all things—we can’t see everything. What may seem contradictory now may be perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information. Because we see through a glass darkly, we have to trust the Lord, who sees all things clearly. 
Yes, our world is full of confusion. But eventually all of our questions will be answered. All of our doubts will be replaced by certainty. And that is because there is one source of truth that is complete, correct, and incorruptible. That source is our infinitely wise and all-knowing Heavenly Father. He knows truth as it was, as it is, and as it yet will be. “He comprehendeth all things, … and he is above all things, … and all things are by him, and of him.” (“What Is Truth?” [Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 13, 2013],

Friday, January 26, 2018

Why is it necessary for us to suffer on the way to repentance for serious transgressions?

Why is it necessary for us to suffer on the way to repentance for serious transgressions? We often think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin. But that is an incomplete view of the matter. A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. On a windy and rainy day the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin. If we only focus on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Merely cleaning the leaves does not strengthen the tree. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind. The susceptibility to repetition continues until the tree has been strengthened. 
When a person has gone through the process that results in what the scriptures call a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that person is not only eligible to be cleansed from sin. He is also strengthened, and that strengthening is essential for us to realize the purpose of the cleansing, which is to return to our Heavenly Father. To be admitted to his presence we must be more than clean. We must also be changed from a weak person who once transgressed into a strong person with the spiritual stature that qualifies one to dwell in the presence of God. We must, as the scripture says, become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19; also see Hafen, The Broken Heart, p. 149). This is what is meant by the scriptural explanation that a person who has repented of his sins will “confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43). Forsaking sins is more than resolving not to repeat them. It involves a fundamental change in the individual. (“Sin and Suffering”, Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign Jul 1992. From a fireside address given at Brigham Young University, 5 August 1990. YouTube 24:52)
The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change (The Lord’s Way. Dallin H. Oaks. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991], 223; emphasis in original).
Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written,
The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must ‘repay’ him in exchange for his paying our debt to justice, but because repentance initiates a developmental process that, with the Savior’s help, leads us along the path to a saintly character (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 149; emphasis in original; Quoted by Brad Wilcox in "His Grace is Sufficient" BYU Devotional 12 Jul 2011).

Sunday, January 21, 2018

World Wide Wed: Beyond 'Till Death Do Us Part"

A Facebook show highlighted a Mormon Wedding

"An old adage says to marry your best friend, and Sergio and Melissa lucked out. After years of saying that the two should just date, Sergio finally asked Melissa to marry him — and the rest is history. But marriage between two members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does come with some caveats. To get married in The Temple, the couple and their loved ones must follow a certain set of rules. Find out how Sergio and Melissa navigated this conundrum and witness what it takes to build a family that lasts beyond death."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Russell M. Nelson and the new First Presidency

Here are videos of the broadcast announcing the new First Presidency and the new Q & A that followed a video of an unprecedented live broadcast announcing the new First Presidency.

Here are some notes I took as I listened to the media questions.

The medium is the message
President Nelson is the father of 9 daughters who are all grandmothers.
Answering questions from international news organizations.

Repeated answers:
We are children of God.

How do we engage millennials?
Eyring: "There were 3 or 4 powerful missionaries in each mission where there are now 50"
Eyring: "How do we hold on to them and not be left behind?"

Oaks: Millennials are more powerful when they are married.

Nelson: One plus one is more than two

Some young people have a hard time relating to an old prophet. What message can you give them?
Nelson: "A well educated person never stops learning"

Question from Dan Rascone of KUTV 2 (Starting at 37:58 of the news conference):
In your opening remarks, you made a plea to those who had left the church to come back. There are those out there that are leaving the church. There's apostasy that is arising in the church. Some of it has to do with early church leadership, and people finding out about. They feel that the church isn't as transparent as it should be. That's hurt growth in the church. What do you plan to do or what message to you have to those that are leaving the church or have problems with the church leadership or principles that have been taught. You have an army of missionaries that are out there. Church growth is not where you want it.

Nelson: "The difference of what is doctrine and what is human"
"Give your leaders a little leeway to make mistakes just as you hope your leaders would give you"

It's a great comfort to me to know that I don't have to take the statement or actions of one particular leader as expressive of the doctrine and expectations of the church. We don't believe in infallibility of our leaders. What we believe in is the organization the church has set in place with multiple prophets, seers and revelators and with a council system. 
Here sit the quorum of the twelve. We'll be working closely with them in the course of our responsibilities and in council, we all in an independent spirit, individually praying for guidance from the Lord. We sit as the Lord's servants to define the doctrine of the church and the expectations of the church. Under the leadership of the President of the Church, we meet in council to determine the direction of the church and the (what are called in the world) the policies of the church. Some of those things called policies are doctrine. Some of them are practices. Some of them are temporary directions like the age of missionary service. But they come out of a council.  
In addition, I would remind those who worry about the things you ask about very appropriately, when it comes to transparency, by the action of this council, we have published the Joseph Smith Papers. On the desk in my office, are those published thus far, and they occupy a space approximately a yard and still increasing. If we weren't interested in transparency, we wouldn't be publishing all the papers of the prophet Joseph Smith and the documents that came out of the founding of this restored church. 
I believe in the system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have confidence that their flaws are smoothed by their interactions with each other and with those they serve. Over time, the branches of the tree that produce the most bitter fruit are being pruned. We are becoming more perfect as a church. We will continue to do so until we are fully acceptable to God. Those of us who will, will join into a fellowship with God. We will live as he lives and experience the joy of doing the work he does.


I believe that no policy change is accepted among the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve unless they all agree to it. "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine" (D&C 38:27).

D&C 102:3 mentions a unanimous decisions of 12 and/or the First Presidency:
"Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were acknowledged presidents by the voice of the council; and Joseph Smith, Sen., John Smith, Joseph Coe, John Johnson, Martin Harris, John S. Carter, Jared Carter, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel H. Smith, Orson Hyde, Sylvester Smith, and Luke Johnson, high priests, were chosen to be a standing council for the church, by the unanimous voice of the council."

D&C 107:27 explicitly says that "every decision made by" the quorum of the twelve apostles or the first quorum of the seventy "must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other—"

I am not aware that the First Presidency must by unanimous. I cannot imagine that, for large policy changes, they would not ensure that they were unanimous. It seems that there is a principle in unanimity that preserves the will of the Lord. We are taught that the Godhead are in perfect harmony. I believe that is the standard by which the FP and Qo12 aspire to emulate.


President Nelson and with his family in 1982

President Spencer W. Kimball conversing with Elder Nelson, who performed his open-heart surgery. Image from Deseret News.

President Nelson (center) skiing with his family. Image from Deseret News.

President Nelson with his first wife, Dantzel. Image from Deseret News.

See more at

Friday, January 12, 2018

Faith, Family, and Discipleship as a Gay Mormon

This is an interesting podcast "Faith, Family, and Discipleship as a Gay Mormon | An Interview With Tom Christofferson" (Terryl Givens  link to podcast)

One part that struck me from Terryl.
we have apostles saying, “Well, we don’t fully understand all of these things,” with the kind of blithe, faithful acceptance of that statement when it was issued by President Wilford Woodruff in 1894 when he said, “We’ve been doing sealing wrong for 51 years. We’ve been doing it dynastically, but today the Lord said that no, we need to be doing it father to son, son to father, and there’s a lot more to be revealed that we still don’t have.” From the records that I read of that period, there were many grateful, happy members that said, “Yeah, I thought it wasn’t quite right the way we were doing this sealing dynastically, polygamously.” So now that’s been straightened out, but we still haven’t seen the finished product of what it’s going to look like. It seems like we’d all be better off if we could just be a little more chill and say, “This is a work in process,” right? The restoration is still unfolding. We don’t understand fully the nature of familial organization in the world to come, but the most important thing — the thing that hasn’t changed from Joseph’s original vision to the present — is that there will be eternal bonds of affection that will be honored, preserved, and magnified. I think that’s a beautiful way to look at it.
I like this part from Tom.
I get so uncomfortable when I hear a little four-year- old or five-year- old say, “I know the Church is true.” I love their feeling, but I wish they were saying, “I know that Jesus loves me,” because they do. I know they do. I think they’re born with it. I wish we started there — really focused on the Savior; that every one of us has that individual connection and that’s what we build on. Then, the Savior created or restored a vehicle to help us as a people help all around us come to Him It’s not that we lose our faith in the Church and therefore, there is no Christ — it’s that we always know that there is Christ, and the Church and our understanding and testimony of it builds on that.
Terryl Givens: What changes would you like to see in your lifetime in our culture — not officially, not doctrinally. Where can we do better? 
Tom Christofferson: I think about it as if we would acknowledge that there is a temple standard of worthiness and a chapel standard of worthiness, and that they exist side-by-side in the Church. There are some who are able and desirous of being able to make covenants and exist in a temple standard of worthiness, and others who are not there at any point in time.
To me, the chapel standard of worthiness is if you walk through the chapel doors — if you’re willing to walk through the door — and you want to have some kind of a connection to Christ, you’re worthy. That’s where I wish we would make our biggest change. 
Terryl Givens: What a beautiful idea. 
Tom Christofferson: We have that sign on the door that says, “Visitors Welcome” — it should say “All are welcome.” This is the home for anybody and everybody who wants to be a follower of Jesus Christ. They don’t need to show us their repentance; they don’t need to show us progress in their lives. Our job is just to open our hearts, our minds, and our arms, and be there to be support. They’ll help us know what would be useful that we can do. In my mind, it’s all there. It’s just acting on what we already know and freeing ourselves of the fear: the fear of the unknown, the fear that if the Lord is really as generous and as forgiving and as full of grace as we think, does that mean that our performances didn’t matter after all?