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January 14, 2019, Class number 3, Restoration Church History, Winter and Spring of 2019
Lesson 2: 1820. Joseph Smith, Jr., is now 14 and is concerned about the denominational differences among the local Christians. Joseph receives his first vision. A detailed description is not given until 1839.
Handout: Pages 120 – 123 from the book, Fundamentals, Enduring Conviction of the Restoration, by F. Henry Edwards.
The handout describes the revival atmosphere present at the time of Joseph’s first vision. We discussed how there was “a widespread yearning for some great act of God which should set aside the blindness and spiritual inertia of the age and restore the true faith.” We referred to the earlier attempts at reforming the Christian church by such men as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Tyndale, Wesleys, etc.
We also considered the people of the 1800s frontier and where they came from. Most were seeking refuge and desiring hope due to the awful conditions found in Europe and the larger cities of the New World. Edwards comments that they were seeking “a new and better day” which included opportunities, land ownership, prosperity, and a better feeling about themselves. We noted that the factories of the American cities and Europe saw children and adults working 12 to 14 hour shifts for low wages and in pour conditions during the industrial revolution, living in slums and crowded homes causing an outpouring of disease. Even those who were working the farms in New England often found themselves in destitution due to failed farms or failed financial ventures as did the family of Joseph Smith.
We noted that Joseph was born into this world on December 23, 1805, the fourth child to Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, in Sharon, Vermont. In 1811 they move to Lebanon, New Hampshire. In 1813 Joseph Jr. had an operation on his leg due to Typhus. In 1816, the family moves to Palmyra, New York, which is where they are living when the first vision occurs.
There were many churches in the area who were trying to win “souls” to their understandings, a belief in their creed, and/or attendance in their congregations; including the Methodist, Calvinist, Congregationalist, Freewill Baptist and more. Most of them considered that by joining their church you were saved and by going somewhere else, you were not. There were also the teachings of being baptized as the gate to heaven and without it you were doomed.
The revival meetings were often very large and one such event in Tennessee was said to have been for several days and had an attendance of thousands. We don’t know how big the revival in Palmyra were, but we know that even Joseph’s family were split as to which to join. Inez Smith Davis in her book The Story of the Church, comments that the revivals were often done in cleared out areas and the fallen trees became the benches. Sometimes there would have been crude cabins erected and food preparation areas. They often lasted for days. The preachers spoke of the judgements and vengeance of God. They would take on the “arduous task of exacting uncompromising loyalty, not to Christ, but to the system they had evolved into.” It’s no wonder that Joseph Smith was wondering which church to join.
We discussed together what we thought Joseph was expecting when he went to the grove. We didn’t sense that he was expecting to visit with God and his son Jesus Christ, but rather, a spiritual confirmation as to which church was correct perhaps in a thought-based conversation lead by the spirit as to the choices. As the Bible was the main reader-text book of the age, we think Joseph had read through the Bible before and therefore had developed a strong faith that something would or could happen while he was in the grove.
We also noted the strong “dark” spirit that he felt as he began his prayer. Satan understood that this was the start of something that would work against him and was there ready to see if he could disturb the event. But God prevailed and came about instantly to overpower the darkness as though to say, yes, there is the darkness, but the light will prevail. Perhaps this would always linger in Joseph’s mind and give him strength whenever the times seemed gloomy.
Edwards comments that “this vision of Joseph has become one of the landmarks of spiritual history,” and yet the world still does not recognize it or want to believe that it happened. This confirms that God still has the willingness to answer prayer and that there should be no indecision as to his existence or his desire to lead and direct us.
We noted that it was appropriate that Joseph was only 14 years old and had not yet formulated his beliefs. If God had chosen a well-educated theologian, he would have had to filter out the incorrect doctrine of his past and get the person beyond the ego of the “mature” preacher.
We noted that many of the problems that existed then still exist today.
Our next lesson will cover the 1823 events.
January 10, 2019, Class Number 2, Restoration Church History, winter and spring of 2019
The class viewed the video: Joseph Smith: the Prophet of the Restoration, as found on YouTube. The video is 1 hour and 2 minutes long and covers the life of Joseph Smith, Jr., from his birth till his death from his mother's perspective. The class noted some LDS teachings in the video which would be expected because it is their production. It still depics does a fair job of showing us what life in that era would be and some of the struggles he went through. We also noted that there were some events that were not shown due to the shortness of the video.
I passed out pages 121-123 from the book Fundamentals by F. Henry Edwards. It briefly addresses the 1820 vision and what brought it about. We will discuss this during Monday's class.
January 7, 2019, Class Number 1, Restoration Church History, winter and spring of 2019
Today we begin the review of church history in the modern age (1800 to present day). The hope is that it will help prepare the class members for the upcoming historical trip during the summer of 2019, as well as help us grasp a little better the coming forth of the restoration church movement, and then the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One hope is that the students will be better prepared to explain our church and as missionaries, help people understand the restoration of Christ church in the latter days.
I will use several books as a reference for the material such as: The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; A Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, by F. Henry Edwards, The Story of the Church, by Inez Davis, They Were Good People, by Francis Harper, Jr., Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, by Susan Easton Black, and the scriptures.
I have set out the course in 31 lessons to cover the Apostasy to our current day. Some lessons may take a couple of class sessions to cover and for others, a couple may be done in one class. Some of this schedule may depend upon weather related breaks.
The class today covered first the apostasy from the end of the new testament and through our current age. A definition of apostasy was: the abandonment of a religious or political belief system. There is a good chapter on the apostasy in the book by F. Henry Edwards called Fundamentals. I quote from page 107:
“Charting the course of apostasy is like charting the course of a river in flood; the wreckage marks its path…The apostles were terribly in earnest. They looked forward with eagerness to the return of the Son of Man in power and great glory. They wanted to win as many as they could so that his triumphant return would find many good people awaiting Him… page 109… It is impossible to draw a line through history and say that prior to a certain date the gospel was known among men and the church was accepted of God, but subsequent to that date the gospel was not known, and the church was apostate.”
We then noted that there were many people of faith who tried to reform the apostate church and we noted the names of Martin Luther, Zwingli, Tyndale, Calvin, John and Charles Wesley. Many of these men realized that the church of their day needed to be changed and many died trying to “correct” the bad teachings and practices. What was lost was the communion with Divinity because the laws were no longer being followed, the ordinances were changed, and the authority of priesthood was lost.
I asked the question; does the Catholic church believe that there was or is apostasy in the church. The answer is no. However, some authors do admit that there was a great deal of sin and corruption during the dark ages. The Great Apostasy is a term and event that most Protestant churches refer to and use as a basis for their existence. I handed out some of the material found in Wikipedia regarding the Great Apostasy. I also gave the students the chart showing the divisions from the Catholic Church as found in Life Magazine 1947 and shown in our missionary slides.
We then read together: 2 Thes. 2:1-12 and Isaiah 24:1-6 which point to the apostasy coming before Christ returns again. The Catholics just point to a future date when it will come. Other scriptures: IV Genesis 50:26-34, Ezek. 37: 16-17 and Isaiah 29:12.
This leads us to the prophet to come who will (was) named Joseph as was his father. I refer to Joseph Smith, Jr. I handed out a copy of the Joseph Smith’s Family Tree with some additional notes on other family members and some additional dates.
For our next class, we will view a movie found on YouTube called Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. Next Monday, we will look at the vision of 1920.
December 20, 2018, Class number 24, covering early church history (Old Testament)
Reading assignment: The Book of Daniel: 1-3, 6
There are four events in the life of Daniel that we covered in today’s discussion; Daniel and his friends refuse to defile themselves by eating King Nebuchadnezzer’s food, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship the king and get cast into the fiery furnace, King Nebuchadnezzer’s dream and interpretation of the dream, and Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den. There are other very interesting events written in the Book of Daniel, but time does not allow us to cover them at this time.
King Johoiakim of Judah turns over Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzer around 586 BC which helps give us a time frame for the events. We also learn that Daniel was in the courts of Babylon for about 70 years.
Chapter one, verse 3 tells us that Daniel and other children of the Hebrews, children of the king, and princes are all chosen to be trained for court positions due to their ability, wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, wisdom, science, and the Chaldean language. We assume that Daniel makes a very early choice to not defile himself by eating the King’s food and presents a challenge to the head eunuch to compare the health of the four Hebrew boys to the rest of the group when they eat only the “pulse” of their normal diet. At the end of the 10 days, “they appear fairer and fatter in flesh than all the other children.” The continued diet allowed God to give “them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” We discussed the possible same results of us following the word of wisdom. It was also brought up that when we obey the directions of God, how the results might be a testimony of God working in our lives today just as they did for Daniel.
Chapter two discusses Nebuchadnezzer’s dream. We noted that the most challenging part of the test was to know the king’s dream which meant that no details were given to help the men of the court to interpret the dream. It was also noted that they were sentenced to death if they didn’t come up with the interpretation. Daniel’s ability saved all their lives when he was successful. We also commented on the amount of faith Daniel had to have had just to claim that he could help in time with the request. That faith required a relationship with God prior to approaching the king.
The head of the statue was made of Gold and represented Nebuchadnezzar and his current kingdom which was fast and strong. The rest of the body represented kingdoms that were weaker and were yet to come forth. The silver arms and breast were of silver and represented Cyrus the Great in Media and Persia. His belly and thighs were of Brass or Bronze and represented Philip and Alexander the Great of Greece. His legs were of iron and represented the Roman Empire. His feet were of an iron and clay mix which represented a group of 10 kings or nations. Some authors suggest that these 10 nations are European nations and that this may yet be in our future. Verse 34 tells us of a stone “cut out without hands” which we conclude that the stone is made by God and represents his coming kingdom of God.
Chapter three discusses how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego decide to not worship the king’s idol even upon the sentence of death. They make a strong statement declaring that God will protect them. And even if he doesn’t, we will not worship the golden image you have set up. They are sent to the fiery furnace and survive through the protection of an angel who is also seen in the furnace. We noted that our obedience should not be conditioned upon whether we receive an expected blessing but upon our desire to serve him only.
Chapter six sends us forward in Daniels history to a time when he is serving a new king named Darius. Because Daniel is seen as squeaky clean, the other people around the king see him as a threat to their desires and plot to get rid of him by having the king sign a degree that for 30 days all prayers must be only to the king rather than to any other god/God. Daniel was seen three times praying and giving thanks and thusly should be punished. He is tossed into the lion’s den, but an angel of the Lord shut the mouths of the lions and protected him. One Hebrew tradition says that one of those who pulled Daniel out of the pit said that the lion’s must not have been hungry. He was then tossed into the den and devoured. We then noted that the scripture notes that the wives and children of those who plotted to have Daniel killed were tossed into the pit. We concluded that that action was to keep the wives and the children from taking revenge on the king in later years. What a cruel society that must have been.
In all the stories, we see how God used the events to allow people to see his power. We noted that in our lives, we too should see God’s hand in helping us and be strong in our testimony that others might hear of the power of God.
The next class will be January 7, 2019. We will begin our study of the church is modern times – beginning with Joseph Smith’s early years.
December 17, 2018, Class number 23, covering early church history (Old Testament)
Reading assignment: The Book of Ruth, in the Book of Esther: chapters 2-4, 7-8
Discussing: Elimelech and Naomi, their sons: Mahlon and Chilion who marry Ruth and Orpah.
Ruth was born around 1130 BC and lived until about 1050 BC.
The class briefly went through the story. Naomi went with her husband and two sons to Moab some two or three-day journey from Naomi’s home land in the area of Jerusalem due to a drought in that area. They stayed in Moab for 10 years and during that those years the two sons married Moabite women. Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, passes away. And, Naomi’s sons pass away leaving her alone with the two daughters-in-law. Naomi makes the decision to return to her home land now that the drought is over, and the two daughters-in-law start the journey together. At some point in the travel, Naomi advises the daughters-in-law to return to Moab. Ruth makes the choice to continue with her.
We then reviewed the story by watching a 20-minute video called “The Story of Ruth-Movie HD.
I then mentioned how the actions and love of Naomi must have touched Ruth. I also called this a missionary event as Ruth was converted to the Hebrew faith. We also discussed the traditions used in the courtship of Ruth and Boaz, for they were indeed actions that were perceived as a desire for courtship. One of the words used in the video was “redeemed.” Because of the acceptance of Ruth by Boaz, they were redeemed from the destitute condition they found themselves in having no husband, father, or patriarch to be associated with, which at the time, made it impossible for them to provide for themselves on any level above poverty. Christ is our redeemer and without him, we would be destitute to be eternally anything above spiritual poverty.
The marriage of Ruth and Boaz is in the family line that leads to David, and then to Christ. Although Ruth was a Moabite, Boaz was of Judah, and thus she was adopted into the line of Judah.
We then turned to the Story of Queen Esther. The time is now around 479 to 465 BC. The King of Persia, a gentile, makes a request of his wife to perform at a party which she refuses to do. This goes against the king’s decree which was gravely disobedient and seen as a pattern allowing other women of the kingdom to disobey as well. Thus, Queen Vashti was set away and out went a degree that fair young virgins be brought before the King for review. From them, Esther was chosen. Through the events of Haman, who sought revenge on all the Jews, a plot was developed which would allow all the Jews to be put to death. Esther was encouraged by her father to approach the king and plead for the lives of her family. She resisted because she had not been allowed to approach the king for some time and for her to do so would mean her death. Eventually she decides to go ahead and ask her maids and the Israelites in the area to fast and pray for 3 days. The conversation was successful. Satan’s attempt to cut off the linage of Jesus was stopped.
We continued to review the story by watching a video called “For such a time as this, full (the story of Queen Esther), 13:44 minutes long.
Our next lesson will review some of the highlights of King Daniel. Reading assignment: Daniel 1,2,3, and 6.
December 13, 2018, Thursday, Class number 22, covering early church history (Old Testament)
Reading assignment: I Kings 17-19 on Elijah
Persons in the scriptures for today: Elijah, King Ahab, Jezebel, the widow of Zarephath, and her son.
The years while King David and King Solomon ruled Israel were known as good years for the Hebrews even though they did not always obey the Lord. After that came a parade of kings who did wickedly and lead poorly. We started our reading with verse 25 of I Kings, chapter 16; “But Omni wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord and did worse than all that were before him.” Verse 30 tell us that “Ahab…did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.” I think this was telling us that Ahab was even worse that Omni. In any case, these were the conditions that prevailed when Elijah came onto the scene to give Ahab his warning as found in I Kings 17:1.
While considering the family line of David and Solomon it was noted that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. This raise the question about why God allowed multiple wives considering that in our day, we are told that man should have but one wife. We didn’t have an answer. We also considered that during the Old Testament days, God told people to put to death others. Again, in our time, we do not see God telling us to do the same things. We didn’t come to any conclusions.
We then turned to Heleman 3:112-125 to compare the events of Nephi and Elijah. Nephi, the son of Heleman was given a similar power to bring about hard times upon the people.
We continued in I Kings to see how Elijah was able to survive in the wilderness during the drought. We all agreed that the method of receiving food from Raven might not have been most appetizing. Have there been other times when the Lord has provided food for people who were in a time of need? (The Israelites in the desert)
Next comes verses 7-13 telling us the account of Elijah and the widow. We considered that she went without hesitation even though she was destitute and needed every kernel of grain for herself and her son. One author suggested that the sticks mentioned in verse 10 were roots which would be more edible than sticks and that helps explain why in verse 12 it says that she “dressed” them that she may eat. We considered what a faith building experience that might be as one would look in the barrel each day and find more there. Even with that experience, she doesn’t fully grasp or believe that Elijah is a man of God until she sees her son brought back from the dead.
Chapter 18 tells the account of the challenge between the priest of Baal. In the third year of the famine, Elijah goes to “show” (present) himself to Ahab who had blamed Elijah for the famine. The reality is that the iniquity of the people is the blame for the famine, poor Elijah was just the message giver. Verse 18 says that it is because they have followed the teachings of Baal. Baal was a god of fertility and nature to the Canaanites. To proof that Baal is a false god, a duel is set up at the base of Mount Carmel. As Elijah requested, Ahab gathered all of Israel and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the grove (?). Their attempt to prove Baal was real failed. Elijah poured water on the altar and around the altar. We wondered if having that much water wasn’t a miracle as well. Verse 38 says that “the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up all the water that was in the trench.” With this demonstration, the people all believed.
In Chapter 19, we learn that Elijah’s victory over the priest of Baal caused Jezebel to seek out him and to kill him. Thus, he fled into the wilderness and to ask God to take away his life. This tells us that even the prophets may sometimes feel that they are alone and be in despair. Through the spirit, Elijah is told that he has yet more work to do. He learns that there are still many Israelites who had not adopted the worship of Baal. He goes to seek out Elisha to place his mantle upon him.
We then pulled from church history the account of Elijah returning to the modern setting of the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. We are told: “Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse.” (RLDS Church history, volume 2, page 46-47) Reference to Malachi 4:5
Reading assignment: The Book of Ruth and in the Book of Esther, 2-5 and 7-9.
December 10, 2018, Monday, Class number 21, covering early church history
Reading assignment: research Saul, Jonathan, and David; what can you find out about their lives?
We have skipped over about 400 years in our study of the Old Testament partly because of the limited time in class and partly because we don’t have as much specific chronological information covering that time. Some scholars mentioned that they were able to go through Genesis to Deuteronomy in detail, but then had to go to the story of Christ and go backwards to get exact dates. Maybe someday we will have more details. We do have some in the books of Joshua and Judges.
Our assigned topics for today is Saul, Jonathan, and David. But to more fully understand the people in the story, we need to include Hannah, Samuel, and Eli. We then turned to I Samuel 1: 1-18. There we find the story of Hannah, her husband Elkanah, and the other wife Peninnah. We understand that Hannah was not given the opportunity to bear any children which was a great concern of hers. This was a concern for her because providing an heir was important and would have been a point of contention when two wives were present in the home. Fortunately, God opens-up her womb. That child is dedicated to God and given to Eli, a Levite, to raise in the temple. The child’s name is Samuel. He becomes the priest ruling the church at the same time Saul, a from the house of Benjamin, is ruling the people as the King.
Samuel’s name is said to mean “one asked of God.” As a young man, he has a night of experiences when he hears the Lord calling to him three times and at the end of the experience, Samuel is given a message to give to Eli (I Sam. 3:9-21). The result is all of Israel knowing that Samuel is a prophet.
When the Israelites request a king, they are admonished of the consequences of having a king (I Sam. 8). Even with the admonition, they get a king. His name is Saul. He is eventually rejected by God and a new king is sought out by Samuel. He finds David of the house of Jesse. Samuel is told that David is out tending the flocks and is called in, and later anointed to be the king. Once Saul hears the message that God has rejected him, he demands that Samuel tell him who this new king is to be.
To help us visualize the story, we watched a movie clip from a 1960 movie. It can be found at: wwwbing.com/video/search?q=king+saul+of+Israel+movie&&review, 9 minutes long. The movie is called David and Goliath (1960) movie clip. We also viewed one called David kills Goliath, 5 minutes long, also found on a Bing search.
The rest of the class was spent considering what it must have felt like to be David during this Goliath event. How much faith and trust did he have? Could we have a relationship with God that would allow us to do something similar?
We didn’t have time to cover much on Jonathan, nor the relationship he had with David, other than to say that he helped David escape the wrath of Saul.
Our next reading assignment is Elijah, I Kings 17-19.
December 6, 2018, Thursday, Class number 20 on Church History
The main goal of the class today was to review and tour the traveling tabernacle as constructed by the Hebrews per the instructions given to Moses. The tabernacle was built at the base of Mount Sinai after the Israelites had been out of Egypt for two months. It is here that the Lord is now ready to make a covenant with Israel and give them a great blessing if they were obedient. Exodus 19:1. This tabernacle would be a blueprint for the temple that would come later. Every aspect of the tabernacle was given to Moses as well as the activities that would take place in it. All of this was to be a type and shadow of the Christ and the atonement that was yet in their future. The materials were gathered mostly from the spoils brought with them from Egypt and the actual traveling tabernacle built in six months. Then came a one-week instruction period during which the Levites and the people learned what they were to do.
We then watched a 25-minute video tour; The Tabernacle 3D, address: bing.com/video/search?q=touring+the+Hebrew+tabernacle&&review.
We then discussed how it would feel to see and participate in such a structure and to see the visual column of smoke of flames when the Lord was in the Holy of Holies. It must have been noticed from miles around and noticed not only by the multitudes of people camped there but the population for miles around the camp site.
To help grasp just how many people were camped around the area, I put on the board a diagram and head count for each of the tribes. The total came to 612,130 people and their flocks, herds, etc.
We also noted that there were three areas of the Tabernacle which would compare to the three glories God has prepared for all people.
I provided a handout to the class that was written by Bishops Jerry Sherer and W. Kevin Romer. We reviewed a couple of points as found in the 32 page work regarding the meaning of the Tabernacle and how those aspects of it reflect the Christ and our walk with him today.
December 3, 2018, Monday, Class number 19 on church history (Old Testament Church)
Reading assignment: Exodus 20, Deut. 5 covering the The Covenants and the Ten Commandments.
A couple of items to clear up from the last class:
The reference to the first wife of Moses is found in Numbers 12:1 where Aaron and Miriam comment of the Ethiopian wife of Moses. Her name was Tharbis. She was not mentioned in the scriptures but is referred to in the writings of Josephus.
We are told about Moses’s priesthood in D&C 83:2c.
One of the class members wondered about the two names references for Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. I found 3 possible explanations: 1. “Reuel” in Hebrew means “a friend of God – indicating an encounter with God like Moses had. Thus, people would be correct in using either the designation or his real name. 2. In the Yahwist text, Reuel is used and in the Elohist text Jethro is used. The transcriber might have might have borrowed one or the other or both when writing the text. 3. Jethro might have gone through a name change at some point which was common in the Old Testament.
The first scripture we looked up in class today was Exodus 19:5: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed…then ye shall be a peculiar people…” We noted the “if” in the scripture to remind us that they had choices and the opportunity to become truly great if they obeyed. We are given the same choice.
I asked the class where the Israelites are geographically situated in our time line. The answer is at Mt. Sinai, the mount where Moses first encountered God at the burning bush. Two months have passed by since they left Egypt and we considered just how much of a chore that was for that many people to move that far in just a couple of months. At this point, Moses has been instructed to return to the mount and to meet with God again. God has also requested that the people come to the base of the mount, but they were only to venture up to a boundary which he set for them. If they crossed that boundary, the scripture says that they would be put to death. They do try to go higher that instructed and Moses is told to go back down the mountain to reprimand them. While Moses was on the mount, the people hear the voice of God as He shares with them the 10 Commandments. Later these were written down for them. When Moses comes down the mount, the people again hear the Lord and the people flea in terror lest they felt that they would die. When Moses returns to the mount, God dictates to Moses the rest of the Law. This group of laws were referred to as the Laws of Equity and Justice, including instructions on equity and righteousness whereby a world could govern itself – a theocracy – with the Lord at the helm. These are not the Laws of Moses which are added later due to the transgressions of the people and are the types and shadows of the coming of Christ. D&C 83:4 tells us that they were left with the law of carnal commandments. These instructions also included the 10 Commandments. These are the permanent principles of the gospel are were not taken away when the Law of Moses was rescinded. (see Galatians 3:19) Some examples of the laws of equity and justice are repeated in Section 42. It is true that if we keep the two laws expressed in Matthew 22: 36-39, we will be keeping the other laws, but often we as human beings need to have things spelled out for us in detail. The meanings and practices of the Matthew scriptures could be discussed for many an hour.
Moses goes up the mountain again and received the first set of plates upon which God has inscribed on both sides of them all the ordinances, ceremonies, sacraments and laws of conduct needed to build and maintain his church. When Moses comes down the mount with them, he finds the people have become corrupted and he eventually in frustration, throws down the tablets and they shatter. Moses then plead with God to not destroy the people and again return to the mountain to receive the second set of tablets. He then received the carnal commandments as we see them scattered through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Basically the Law of Moses (which is not spelled out in a simple list of order) is composed to two systems; the higher law of the gospel covenant which is still in effect, and the law of carnal commandments given as the school master to the people, and are the symbolic aspects of the law and the types and shadows of the law which pointed to Christ and were thus fulfilled when Christ came. The Law of the Covenant had a genius for achieving justice and equity as did no other ancient codes. These laws revealed a system of fairness and appropriateness that helped both the victim and the attacker reconcile and correct the situation. The laws also include the tabernacle activities which help focus on reconciliation with the other person and reconciliation to God.
It is suggested that the dietary restriction on the Hebrews had three reasons for their existence: 1. To keep the Hebrew people separate from those around them. 2. To keep them from becoming victims of diseases which are known to be prevalent in certain types of animals. 3. To put religious influences behind the domestication of flocks and building of civilization. It might have also been a way of God keeping them so busy that they would not have time to religiously wonder as before.
The permanent part of the Gospel Covenant is the Ten Commandments, and the Policies of Justice, Generosity, Liberty and Equality for All. The temporary part of the laws was the Laws of Purification, the Dietary Laws, and the elaborate system of Sacrifices and Offerings.
We then turned our attention to some translation problems encountered in the 10 commandments and how they change our understandings of them. We considered that the first commandment seems to be more of statement than a commandment: “I am the Lord God who brought you out…” This has caused Hebrew scholars to debate on the statement because a belief cannot be a command. Number six should read that we should not murder instead of kill. Murder is nonpermitted killing, and the Bible does give provisions for taking a life. The third commandment instructs us to not take the Lord’s name in vain. The reason seems to be clear that when a person commits an evil act, he discredits himself. But when a religious person commits an evil act in the name of God, he or she discredits God as well. Finally, we can note in the fourth commandment that we are to make the day a holy day and refrain from labor.
The next class will take up the tabernacle and the activities in it.
November 29, 2018, Thursday, Class number 18 on church history (Old Testament Church)
Reading assignment: Exodus 2, 3, 4, 7, 11; basically, the beginning story of Moses.
Assignment questions: How many times did Moses’ staff change into a serpent? What was the other sign for Moses to use to prove he was sent from God? Who gave Moses his priesthood and when?
Another question for today: How many wives did Moses have?
I chose not to go through the story of Moses in detail because most of us have seen the old Ten Commandments movie and the animated movie on the same story, providing us with some of the details. I did ask the question, how old was Moses when he died? Answer: 120 years old. So, we need to cover those 120 years in one class. If I presented all the details, we couldn’t get through them all. The first major event in Moses’ life was his recue from the Nile and the decree to kill all the Israelite male babies. He was raised in the house of Pharaoh and his mother was his nursemaid. What a blessing. Scriptures also tell us that she told Moses who his people were. About 40 years later, Moses slays and Egyptian for treating an Israelite too cruelly and hides the body. The crime is discovered, and Moses decides to flee the wrath of Pharaoh and goes to his cousins, the Midianites. They are the descendants of Abraham through Keturah, Abraham’s 3rd wife. Midian is their 4th son. That family lives in the desert area on the Arabic peninsula. There, Moses spends 40 years tending his father-in-law’s flock when God calls him to return to Egypt and assist in freeing the Israelites.
There was a question regarding the two names for Moses’ father-in-law, Reuel or Jethro. I looked up the question after class and found that many have wondered about the names. Reuel is a name given to one who is a friend of God. Perhaps Jethro had had such an experience and his name had been changed. Or, Reuel might be a “title” given to Jethro. Or, it was suggested that Reuel was Jethro’s father and thus the daughters “father” or patriarch of the family.
One of the questions I asked of the students was where did Moses receive the priesthood? It was when he was with Jethro. That answer is in section 83:2c. That means that Moses did not have the priesthood while in Egypt as a youth.
As to how many wives did Moses have? The answer is two. But, the first is not mentioned except as a reference in Numbers 12:1 when Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses for having an Ethiopian wife. Her name was Tharbis, the daughter of the Ethiopian King. According to Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews. II: 10:2, Moses, before his incident that causes him to flea Egypt, leads a campaign against the Ethiopians. Before the battle, Tharbis sees Moses and indicates that if he will marry her, they will go home without a battle. Moses agrees and there is no battle. No mention of what happens to the wife or of any children. She evidently goes back with her people and Moses goes back to his Egyptian life.
The other question is how many times did the Rod or Staff of Moses change into a serpent? The answer is three. Exodus 4:3, God ask Moses to put down his rod and adds the sign of the leprous hand. In Exodus 4:28-30, Moses and Aaron did the signs for the church elders, and in Exodus 7:9, the signs were presented to Pharaoh.
It is amazing to consider the many testimonies that were given to the Israelite people and they still chose in most cases to not follow the teachings of God. You would think that after seeing the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and smoke leading them on, the manna for food, water coming out of the rocks, and more, that they would be faithful and have not doubt about God being a part of their lives.
And yet, when Moses came down off the mount the first time, the children of Israel were practicing the rituals found commonly among the heathen nations. Our reading tells us that those rituals included worshiping a golden calf and all manner of sacrifices. Some text indicate that they were dancing around in a fertility ritual and in a wild frenzy of activity. When they finally reach the promised land of Canaan, the people become timid and request that Moses send in one man from each tribe. Deuteronomy 6 says that the men were to “search out the land and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and what cities we shall come.” Numbers 13: 17-20 gave us more of the research that was to be done. Once the reports were given, the people began to murmur, and they cried out that we cannot take these lands. Of the 12 men, Caleb and Joshua were the only two that had faith in the conquest. The other 10 who fought against the movement and started the people crying out to return to Egypt were cursed with a plaque before the Lord and died. The people responded by saying that they would now attack but they presumed to go up without the help of the Lord and were crushed. That forced a 38-year wandering and subsequent battles before the young Israelites could enter Canaan. They had a chance and rejected it.
Another 40 years progress and Moses reaches his final time with the people. He climbs the mountain after some moving sermons and doesn’t return.
I found some very interesting information in my reading for this lesson. It was discovered that there is a persistent tradition among the Jews which has puzzled scholars. There was a profound respect among rabbis for a “Joseph” to come that they called him “Messiah ben Joseph,” and called their Shilo (the great Messiah) “Messiah ben David.” Literally translated, these names meant “the anointed One, son of Joseph,” and “the anointed One, son of David.” (found on page 129 of Skousen’s book). There are five teachings attributed to this Messiah ben Joseph as recorded by Joseph Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, New York: the Macmillan Co., 1955, chapter 9.
1. He will rise up shortly before the coming of Shilo, the great Messiah ben David.
2. He will be a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim.
3. His mission will commence about the time the prophet Elijah comes as promised in Malachi 4:5-6.
4. In preparing mankind for the coming of Shilo, Messiah ben Joseph will enter into a great contest with the anti-Christ forces.
5. In the heat of this contest with the anti-Christ, Messiah ben Joseph will be killed.
I brought up the knowledge that chapter 50 of Genesis presents regarding Moses and in II Nephi 2:1-44. There are 9 items on the list for the knowledge about Moses, and 22 items on the list for Joseph’s descendants. It is comforting to hear these points and to know that they could see us in our time and to know that we are so close to the fulfillment of the information.
Throughout the ages, God has been trying to build up his people. He was trying to make them more righteous and responsive and faithful. He is trying to cleanse the people of the covenant and restore us to him.
Reading assigmnent: Exodus 19 and 20, and Deut. 5. covering the Ten Commandments and The Covenants.
Reading assignment for November 29th: Exodus 2, 3, 4, 7, and 11; some of the story of Moses.
November 19th and 22nd, No classes due to the holiday. November 26th, No class due to the weather (another snow day).
November 15, 2018, Thursday, Class number 17 on church history (Old Testament Church)
Reading assignment: Genesis 37, 39-50, Joseph and his brothers.
I began the class be asking a question: Name the 4 sets of brothers as recorded in Genesis that fight with each other. The answer: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers. These are all recorded during the first 2000 years of biblical history.
It is also interesting that archeology had not found the history of Joseph and his contributions in Egypt until recent years. One theory is that Joseph was in Egypt between the times that the Hyksos people invaded Egypt took over control and the time that the local Egyptians rebelled and regained the control. When that happened, they destroyed the evidence of the time-period in which the invaders controlled their country. Later in the class, we’ll take a look at some recent archeological excavations have found that evidence which helps to validate the Bible.
We spent a few minutes reviewing Joseph’s family, Jacob and his wives: Leah, Zilpath (servant of Leah), Rachal, and Bilhah (servant of Rachal), thus, the twelve tribes were born. Joseph is born when Jacob is 91 years old. He continued to serve Laban (Leah and Rachal’s father) for another 6 years after he completed the agreed years of service in the marriage agreement. At that time, he leaves Haran and goes back to his land to meet Esau hoping that Esau will be willing to reconcile. We remember that Jacob was afraid to return earlier because Esau had threatened kill him when he left.
Another key person in the eventual distribution of Jacob’s blessings is the birth of Dinah. She decides to go to the city of Shecum un-attended or guarded. She then meets a young man by the name of Shecum who “takes” her. He later tries to bargain with Jacob and the family for her marriage, but the family does not want their daughter marrying into the tribe. They finally agree to allow the marriage if the men of Shecum will all be circumcised. They, Simeon and we suppose Levi, still plan on an attack on the city but while the men are still all recovering from the procedure. They kill all of the men of Shecum and bring Dinah back home. Jacob is upset at the attack and fears that the people will find a way to retaliate, thus he makes the decision to flee.
Jacob fleas to Bethel where he builds an altar, fights with an angel, and is given the name of Israel.
The trip continues to Ephrath (now thought to be Bethlehem). Rachal is expecting a child but the trip has become exceedingly difficult and she dies in childbirth. The child survives and is named Benjamin.
After the loss of Rachal, her maid servant Bilhah becomes involved with Rueben, the oldest son, perhaps to try and provide herself a secure future. This relationship ends up losing Rueben his birthright when in later years, Jacob calls the sons together and gives them his final blessings. Thus, the first three sons lose the birthrights which normally would befall to them. Just before the blessings are given, Jacob adopts Manasseh and Ephraim but giving the younger of the two the blessing that makes his descendants the greater nation.
Calculations tell us that Joseph was too young to remember all of the incidences that takes away the oldest three brothers blessings, but he surely heard of them during the later years. At least we can see that Joseph was the favored brother because he was the first son of Jacob’s most beloved wife Rachal. Besides that, scriptures tell us that Joseph observed his brothers doing evil things which lead them to decide to get rid of Joseph. As we know, Joseph is rescued from the well and ends up in Egypt.
Through another set of events, Joseph becomes the servant of Potiphar, the chief of Pharaoh’s guard, where he is recognized as one who makes something good out of everything he does. Potiphar’s wife decides that she would like to have relationship with Joseph. However, he flees from her. The word in Hebrew for the struggle to escape her clutches is va-ye-ma-ain. When it is read during the telling of the story there is a 5 second stress on the last syllable which would be like saying that he re-fu…u…u…u…u…sed her. Joseph is thrown in jail. Normally such as offense would have led to a sentence of death, but it is thought that Potiphar really did not blame Joseph and spared his life.
Joseph is put in jail with Potiphar’s chief butler and the baker. Scripture makes the jail sound like a confinement where some were still allowed to serve in the household. The butler and the baker both have dreams and Joseph interprets them to mean that the butler will be freed to serve again, but the baker will die in three days. The interpretation comes true. However, it still takes 2 years before the incidents are remembered or rewarded. Pharaoh has some dreams and the household remembers that Joseph correctly interpreted the previous dreams. Pharaoh’s dream are about 7 healthy cows coming out of the Nile and 7 ugly cows coming out of the Nile. Also 7 ears of corn that will be swallowed up by 7 scorched ears of corn. Because there are 2 dreams, it confirms that they have come from God. Joseph reveals that there will be 7 years of abundance and 7 years of famine. Because of the faith and actions of Joseph, he is made prime-minister of Egypt which puts him in position to save his family when they come looking to the prime-minister for food to feed the family.
While in Egypt, Joseph has two son’s which, as I mentioned earlier, are adopted by Jacob, now Israel, and receive the greater blessing. Ephraim received the greater blessing due to the crossed arms of Jacob.
This would be a good time to review Genesis 50 and 2 Nephi 2: 1-44. We did not have time to do this in class.
How does this help us understand the church in the Old Testament? We continue to see God at work to bring about his children and create in them a faith and trust in him. We see the priesthood in action and the people responding, even if sometimes in a damaging way.
At the end of class, we watched two short videos on You-Tub regarding archaeological excavations in current years that establish that Joseph indeed did save Egypt and was rewarded for his work. They discuss stone writing which mention him and find the place of his palace and the extremely large and multiple storage pits where just such a distribution spot was.
Archaeological evidence for Joseph in Egypt lasting 7 minutes and 20 seconds, and strong evidence for Joseph’s town and palace lasting 9 minutes and 46 seconds.
A final note: “From the most ancient times, Jewish tradition has proclaimed that a great servant of God from the House of Joseph would come in later days to prepare the way for the coming of the Great Messiah.” “In fact, so profound was the respect of the rabbis for this ‘Joseph’ that they began calling him, ‘Messiah ben Joseph’ and called their Shilo, (Savior) “Messiah ben David.”
The attributes which the Jewish tradition variously ascribed to him include the following:
1. He will rise up shortly before the coming of Shilo, the great Messiah ben David.
2. He will be a descendant of Joseph through Ephraim.
3. His mission will commence about the time the prophet Elijah comes as promised in Malachi 4:5-6.
4. In preparing mankind for the coming of Shilo, Messiah be Joseph will enter into a great contest with the anti-Christ forces.
5. In the heat of this contest with the anti-Christ, Messiah be Joseph will be killed.
These conclusions were presented by Dr. Joseph Klausner, Professor Emeritus of Hebrew literature. See Joseph Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, New York: the Macmillan Co., 1955, where chapter 9 was devoted to this subject. The quotes came from page 128-129 in Skousen’s book, the Third Thousand Years.
November 12, 2018 No class due to the weather (snow day)
November 8, 2018, Thursday, Class number 16 on Church History
Reading assignment – Genesis 21, 22, 24, 27, 29, and 30; covering Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Rachal, Leah, Bilbah, Zilpah, Jacob and Esau.
As we did not get to the discussion on Abram’s instructions and the carry forth of them to sacrifice Isaac, we took it up in today’s class. We noted the 3-day journey to the indicated spot which was thought to be somewhere Jerusalem called Moriah. We discussed how the sacrifice could easily be a type and shadow of the sacrifice of Jesus by his father, even though Abraham was not a heavenly being (God) and Isaac was not a pure sacrifice. We noted that Isaac must have “allowed” the potential sacrifice to proceed just as did Christ. We also noted that the ram was a male sheep.
One of our focuses was on how the people in the biblical story must have felt. Abraham giving up the fulfilment of God’s promises to make him the beginning of many nations, Isaac knowing about the promises that would go to him and through him, the servants wondering where the sacrificial lamb was, and how Sarah must have felt when she was finally told about the experience. We considered that she must have left Abraham or the place where he resided because she couldn’t take the thought of what might have happened. This is considered because she dies in a different land and Abraham must travel to the place to grieve for her. Even though Ismael’s thought is not presented to us, he too must have felt the potential loss of his half-brother.
The next part of our story for today was the search for a wife for Isaac. Here again, it was important for Isaac to obtain a mate from a family that held the proper lineage in order to maintain the priesthood for the generations to come. Scripture tells us that Abraham sends Eliezer, his eldest servant, on the task. He is reluctant and desires that God gives him the proper signs to confirm who the choice is to be. This is provided at the well. An interesting tidbit is that she provides enough water for his 10 camels. I looked up how much water a camel can drink, from 30 to 50 gallons each; therefore, making her task offering a big one. The servant placed on her wrist bracelets worth 10 shekels of gold. According to some sources, a shekel is about $15 or $20 dollars each. We also noted that the servant did not want to wait the requested 10-days to prepare. When Rebecca was presented with the sudden desire to move away from her home and family and to a basically and unknown situation, she agrees for she saw that God was behind the events. Thus, the caravan headed for Isaac’s home. Even the meeting of the two was pleasant and the chapter ends like a love story should when it reads “and he loved her.”
Unfortunately, she is barren for 19 to 20 years, which becomes a matter of concern. The answer to the prayers of the couple results in twins who must have been at odds with each other even in the womb, for Rebecca was concerned and took it to prayer. The reply is that there were two nations in her womb. We thought that it was interesting and unusual that the latter of the twins, Jacob, was hanging on to Esau’s heal during the delivery, which most likely was difficult and painful. She was also aware that the elder would serve the younger. We wondered if this prophecy was shared with Isaac. If it was, he must have forgotten that when Jacob came to Isaac for his blessing and was disguised as his brother due to the planning of Rebekah.
It was indicated in resource books that Esau was “a mighty hunter and a man of the field” meaning that he was working in agriculture. Jacob was indicated to be a herder. Scripture says that Isaac liked the spiced venison brought to him as a result of the hunting. That helped Rebekah pull off the deception and helped Jacob receive Esau’s blessings. That made Esau mad enough that he wanted to kill Jacob. Knowing that if Esau found Jacob alone in the field, he might proceed with his plan, Rebekah sends Jacob off to be with her family. This sounds a little like the saga between Cain and Abel.
During his journey, he has the famous vision of the ladder and the angels descending and ascending. Again, the promise of many generations belonging to Jacob.
Going back to chapter 26, we see another familiar story. Isaac makes the claim to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, that Rebecca is his sister. That works until the king sees them together and puts the pieces together that they are husband and wife. He was upset at the deception, and we are glad that he was forgiving. Again, we note that there was a practice of killing a husband to gain a beautiful woman to be the prize in a haram or as a wife.
I mentioned to the class that these events remind us that God is often merciful to us even when we disobey. Jacob still had many years ahead of him and just because of his actions, he experienced problems. Had he, or we, obeyed, the Lord might have helped his life be smoother. We don’t know.
Taking up the events of Jacob, we see his life change in the land of his mother’s people. He comes across Rachel and wants to marry her. But, a deception is played out on him and he ends up married to her older sister Leah. When he approaches Laban about the deception, he explains that it is a custom that the older daughter marries first. But, if Jacob will wait 7 days, he will give him Rachel as his wife. Jacob must agree that he will serve another 7 years. Thus, Jacob is married to two daughters within the week.
Note that each of the daughters was given a maid-servant. I understand that this was a custom to ensure that an heir was brought forth. If the wife was not able to conceive, she could give her maid-servant to her husband and hopefully they would bring forth the heir. Thus, Rachel presents Bilbah to Jacob and Leah presents Zilpah. Now we have the twelve sons of Jacob:
1. Reuben from Leah meaning: See, a Son!
2. Simeon from Leah meaning: Hearing
3. Levi from Leah meaning: Joined
4. Judah from Leah meaning: Praise
5. Dan from Bilbah meaning: Judging
6. Naphtali from Bilhah meaning: Wrestling
7. Gad from Zilpah meaning: Troop
8. Asher from Zilpah meaning: My Happiness
9. Issachar from Leah meaning: A Reward
10. Zebulun from Leah meaning: Dweling
11. Joseph from Rachel meaning: Adding
12. Benjamin from Rachel meaning: My right hand
Jacob gets tired of the deceptions of his father-in-law and decides that he wants to return to Canaan even if Esau still wants to kill him. We consider that Jacob hopes that Esau has forgiven him. In a test of Jacob’s faith, a servant tells him that Esau is coming to meet him with four hundred men. Jacob remembers the promises and remembers that God has said that he will be with him. Jacob even takes the precautions to divide his men and flocks just in case. Fortunately, Esau says that he has enough and doesn’t covet the gifts, he is just glad to see his brother.
In our next lesson, we will take up the 12 tribes. We will consider the life of Joseph in Egypt and the resulting trek of Jacob and the family to Joseph’s second home.
Reading assignment: Genesis 37, 39-50. Joseph and his brothers. Class number 17.
November 5, 2018, Monday, Class number 15 on Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis 14-16, and 22, the continued story of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.
Because some of the members of the class had the opportunity to attend the Book of Mormon Conference during this last Friday night and Saturday, we discussed a little of what we thought about what was said. All agreed that it was informative and that it strengthened our belief that the Book of Mormon did take place in this area and south of the Great Lakes region. We were also impressed by the experiments done on creating fossils in just a few hours, which help us believe that the 6000-year-old earth is possible. Most of the dating methods of the current science theories are built upon the need for fossils to be created over thousands of years. If the process could be done under the right conditions in just a few hours, then science no longer needs to base its timing for the age of the earth based upon those fossils. A theory was also presented that the core of the earth is not molten rock, but that of a very dense ice/water-based core, which again helps change the way we think about the age of the earth.
Because Rod Meldrum brought up the Book of Moses in some of his comments (he is LDS), I asked the class if we accepted the same scriptures. The answer is yes. We have the same words given to us in our Inspired Version of the Bible. Their Book of Moses is found in the collection of works called the Pearl of Great Price, which also includes the Book of Abraham (the story of Abram before the Genesis account), and the testimony of Joseph Smith.
We got back to our reading assignment by discussing the battle found in chapter 14, which resulted in the capture of Lot and his family, and the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram is told of Lot’s capture by “one who escapes”. That person must have known about the relationship between Abram and Lot. Abram then arms his trained men of 315, and recaptures Lot, and all his goods, and the women, and the people. That must have been a large caravan. When Melchisedek, king of Salem, comes out to great them, we noted the bring forth of the bread and wine which Melchisedek blessed. We thought that this must have been similar to our sacrament ordinance, again indicating that there was a church with ordinances present at the time.
Chapter 15 tells us of Abram’s vision and he again receives a promise that he will have seed in great numbers. He also sees the coming of the Son of Man which delighted him.
Chapter 16 presents the story of Sarai presenting Hagar to Abram because they still don’t quite believe that they will have a literal son. We discussed the tension created in the camp. Sarai and Abram both regret the actions. This results in Hagar being turned out of the camp. It takes an angel to send her back, but the tension still exists.
Chapter 18 continues the story by telling us of the 3 “men” who visit Abraham at his tent and again tell him that he will have a child. When Sarah hears the messengers, she laughs and then rejoices. The messengers then wish to continue to Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot and his family are again living. We then discussed the events at the door, the request of the men of Sodom to bring out the men and Lot’s daughters. It appears that Lot’s pleadings are not working, and the messengers pull Lot back into the house and smote the men with blindness. The messengers then present the bad news that Sodom and Gomorrah will be destroyed, and that Lot needs to get the family away from there. The messengers are forced to lift them out of the city and set them down outside the city where they may continue their trip to safety. After Lot’s daughters become worried that they will not have opportunity to get married and have children, they seduce their father, and both give birth. This is the last that we hear of the family.
We were supposed to discuss the sacrifice of Isaac, but time would not allow. We will pick up that story on Thursday.
Reading assignment: Genesis 22, 21, 24, 27, 29 and 30, the story of Isaac, Rebecca, Sarah, Rachal and Leah, Jacob and Esau.
November 1, 2018, Thursday, Class number 14 on Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis 12 and 13 covering the beginning of Abram’s story.
Abram: (2202 BC – 1847 BC or 1978 years from Adams mortality to 2153 years from Adams mortality), 10th generation since Noah and 20th generation since Adam. Noah is still alive when Abram is born, and he lives 350 years after the flood.
Abram receives his priesthood from Melchisedec, D&C 83:2e, “who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even Noah.” Abram pays tithes to Melchisedec, Alma 10:7-13.
Another note regarding the church of the first born and people being taken to heaven: Gen. 14:26-34.
Abram has two brothers, Horan and Nahor. They live in Ur with their father Terah (or Terakh in the Jewish). Ur is near the Persian Gulf on or near the mouth of the Euphrates River.
I read a short legend from the Jewish traditions (page 30, Jewish Traditions by Telushkin) that has been told to Hebrew children for generations. In it, Terakh owns a shop where he makes idols. One day when Abram’s father is out of the shop, Abram takes an ax to the idols and then puts the ax in the hands of the largest idol. When his father comes home, he is furious and asked Abram why he did that. Abram explains that the large idol became upset and smashed the other idols. “You know these idols can’t move.” Terakh shouts. “If they can’t save themselves,” Abram answered, “then we are superior to them. So why should we worship them?”
According to historians, Abram is where a belief in one God begins (monotheism). We know that Adam was taught monotheism and the gospel because Adams was. And that the gospel was handed down through the 20 generations of patriarchs down to Abram.
The reading for today’s class begins with God telling Abram and the family to get out of “thy country.” It is sad that we don’t have more information regarding Abram’s life prior to this. And, this is another example where in the scriptures, a lot happens in just a few short verses. The family moves to a spot named Horan. We don’t know whether Horan was a community before they moved there, or a place of refuge that Terah names Horan after they get there, named so after Abram’s brother who we understand has already passed on. Because of his passing, Terah has adopted Horan’s two daughters, Sarai and Milcah, and his son Lot. These would be Abram’s nieces and nephew. Legally then, they become Abram’s step sisters and brother. Abram marries Sarai, thus his “sister” becomes his wife.
Verse two of the chapter gives us God’s promise to Abram, “to make thee a great nation.” Skousen, the author, said that in the 1950, Abram was honored by 2 billion Christians, and 1 billion Moslems. A quick search told me that in 2017, the numbers were 2.3 billion Christians and 1.8 billion Moslems. We see here that the Moslems are overtaking us in population during the last 70 or so years.
By verse 8, we learn of a famine in the land which forces the family and all the livestock and servants, etc., to move to Egypt. This is an area attributed to Ham’s descendants who have gone from the gospel taught by Noah and Adam and degenerated to the heathen beliefs, even to the worship of animals and human sacrifice. One author speculated that God brought about the famine, so Abram would have the opportunity to go to Egypt and teach them the gospel, and all of the other understandings that Abram had from God.
In order to protect his life, Abrams decides to deceive, somewhat, Pharaoh, by telling him that Sarai is his sister, which she is, and leave out the part about her also being his wife. According to scripture, she is “very fair” to “look at.” Pharaoh invites her to be a part of his household. I don’t think he married her as verse 14 says that Pharaoh finds out about the deception before he “might have taken her unto me to wife.” Josephus states that after Sarai had been in the palace of the Pharaoh for quite a period of time, Pharaoh was extremely embarrassed by this turn of events and he promptly “excused himself to Abram” and gave him a “large present of money.” To me, this tells me that even in this, Abram was respected and appreciated for the contribution he had given to Egypt. Pharaoh could have had Abram killed and still taken to wife Sarai which was a custom of the day.
Chapter 13 begins the trek north to Bethel and says that Abram was very rich in “cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Lot, his nephew and half-brother is still with the family and the migration and he too has large flocks and herds. This causes some contention which Abram doesn’t want or need, and makes an agreement with Lot to separate giving Lot his choice of where to go and thereby choosing the best place to maintain the livestock and family. As they are both in the land of the Canaanites, they are in hostile territory again, and staying together would have provided the best protection from invasion. The other group of people in the area were called Perizzite, which means that they were dwellers in open country.
Lot’s eyes move toward the lands of Jordan which includes the communities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram is then comforted by God with a reminder to look to all the lands around him, that his seed will be like unto the dust of the earth. Abram moves to the plain of Mamre and builds another altar.
Our reading assignment is Genesis 14-16 and Chapter 22.
October 29, 2018, Monday, Class number 13, Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis 11, The city and tower of Babel
Also covering Nimrod, the founder of the city and heathen religions.
First discussion: The disbursement of the sons of Noah: Japheth, Shem, Ham
1. Japheth spread mostly to Europe (through Gomer and Javan); Gomer – the Cimmerians, Magog – the Scythian, Madai – the Medes, Javan – the Ionians or Greeks, Tubal – the Turks, Meshech – the Slavs, Tiras - the Etruscans. Noted for Intellectual activity.
2. Shem spread mostly to Asia; Elam – the Persians, Asshur – the Assyrians, Arphaxad – the Babylonian, Lud – the Lydians, Aram – the Syrians. Noted for religious zeal.
3. Ham spread mostly to Africa and the Mid-East; Cush – the Ethiopians (father of Nimrod the builder of Babel and later Nineveh), Mizraim – the Egyptians, Phut – the Libyans, Canaan – the Canaanites (loses his lands to the Hebrews in later years)
There was a desire to better understand reason why Ham’s descendants were cursed due to the episode found at the end of chapter 9. Noah was found uncovered in his tent by Ham. Ham’s actions led to the curse. I was curious as to why this was considered such a strong offense that it caused the curse which effected generations to come. I went to Matthew Henry’s Commentary to find an answer.
He comments that Noah probably had appointed a day of feasting with the family to rejoice in the increase of the house and the vineyard, and perhaps had planned a time to bless the sons. Unfortunately, Noah has too much to drink and is found passed out. This is a moment of shame and great sin and Noah was made aware of his nakedness much like Adam did when he was expelled out of the garden. Being drunken men’s infirmities are often exposed and they betray them. It then disgraces them and exposes them to contempt. Ham seemed to be pleased at the sight and chooses to mock Noah in this state which makes jest of the sin and he then publishes the faults of this man to whom Ham is to honor. Shem and Japheth react with dignity as though there is a robe of reverence “to be thrown over the faults of parents.” Through some kind of revelation, either from God or others, Noah learns of the actions and Noah pronounces a curse and places blessings upon the other two sons.
Continuing to the story of the city and tower of Babel, we can find in Wikipedia that they call it “an etiological myth.” The word etiological relates to the causes of origins of something, in this case the origin of the language variations as attributed to God at the tower of Babel is called a myth. Historians would rather attribute the language break up to the more “natural” causes of geography and natural evolution of language.
Gen. 11:3 turns our attention to why the people of Babel wanted the tower: to make a monument and perhaps a way of going high enough to avoid drowning if God were to choose to flood the earth again. I guess they didn’t have faith to believe God’s word when he said and covenanted to never flood the earth again.
The KJs version of the bible read differently than the Inspired Version when describing Nimrod. The King James says that Nimrod was a “mighty hunter before the Lord;” where the IVs says he was “a mighty hunter in the Land.” We find this to be more appropriate because we later see how Nimrod is working against the desires of God by pulling people into the practices found amongst people prior to the flood.
Three interesting points here are that:
1. The Lord told them to spread the population over the earth – not to build a concentrated population as would be needed to build such a tower.
a. Note that a city often causes corruption
b. A city opposes the patriarchal community – a small group with a religious leader who is often elderly and wise
2. Babel was governed by the seed of Ham and the Canaanites. Some authors claim that the tower included thrones to glorify the leader.
3. The tower was to be built nigh unto heaven – to escape the vengeance of a just God – they wanted to do their own thing rather than listen to God’s directions.
We assume that the city was still believing in God, even though they were trying to escape his control in their lives. The spirit of unity must have still been a part of the culture, again, even though the culture was leading them away from God. We noted that verse 5 tells us that God felt that they would have anything that they imagined if they stayed together. I am sure that what they imagined was not what God wanted for them. Thus, God felt that he needed them to scatter and “go forth and multiple.”
I then brought up to the class how scripture tell us that the teachings of God came before the teachings of the heathen religions. Many philosophers and historians teach that the heathen religions came first, and Christianity followed or evolved out of the need for “religion.” The truth is that heathen religions came about as diluted substitutes designed to satisfy people who did not want to follow the teachings of God. This is especially true for those who think that the church was started by Christ when he came to the earth. The gospel was taught to Adam, Noah, Shem and continued down through the ages. It just wasn’t accepted by the masses.
Here are six aspects of those heathen religions. It is interesting to note how many of them are prevalent today.
1. God wasn’t important, the people did what they thought was best.
2. They choose to worship heroes to the point of deifying them.
3. They begin to place animals above humanity and make gods of them.
4. Astrology becomes a controlling factor in people’s lives which takes away agency.
5. We see the destroying of the one true God.
6. Eventually they turn to the exploitation of human passions and degenerate sadism or institutionalized immorality, and to the point of human sacrifice.
The class ended with a quick note that there were a righteous people in Babel who asked God if they could maintain their unity, that of Jared and the Brother of Jared. They were allowed to leave and go to another land to become a civilization contemporary to Babylon, China, Egypt, and Assyria. We can find their story in the Book of Mormon in Ether.
Thursday’s class will take up Genesis 12 and 13, the story of Abram.
October 25, 2018, Thursday, Class number 12, Church History
Reading Assignment: Genesis 9, Noah leaves the Ark.
During the last class, we mentioned the scripture found in Genesis 10: verse 16, which mentioned Peleg and how in his days was the earth divided. This came up because the question was asked during class as to whether the class believed that the continents were at one time all connected. We agreed that we did have that understanding. The term for used for that large land mass is Pangea. I mentioned the scripture and that a common understanding of it is that it refers to the drifting apart of the continents. After class, I did some quick research and found some comments on answersingenesis.org. They presented some arguments suggesting that the scripture refers more to the people being divided into different parts of the region rather than during this time the land masses divided. They suggest that such a land shift would create another world-wide catastrophe equal to the flood Noah endured. They suggest that the land mass shifts took place during the flood of Noah and during the 5 months of turbulent waters mentioned in Genesis 8. Discussing how mountains are created through rocky land masses pushing together and then noting that Mount Ararat is just such a formation. Along with this, we wondered if the last masses prior to the flood might have been flatter which would have lessened the need for as much water to cover the earth. We also considered the thinness of the air and the cold temperatures that currently exist at high altitudes. Would these conditions cause problems for the Ark’s passengers? We have not information on how these were handled. We can only trust that God provided what they needed.
We then considered just how long Noah was on the Ark. The scriptures indicate that it was 1 year and 3 days, going from the 2nd month and the 17th day that Noah was 600 to the 2nd month and the 20th day that Noah was 601 years old. The break down is something like this:
- Noah went onto the Ark and for the next 7 days the animals came forward and were loaded.
- For 40 days and 40 nights it rained until the waters “bare up the ark.” We considered that this means that it took that long for the waters to be deep enough to “float” the ark. (8:39)
- 150 days (5 months) of continued flooding and turbulent waters till God “remembered Noah” and the waters began to decrease (8:47)
- The ark rested on the 7th month and the 17th day. The waters decreased until the 10th month when the tops of the mountains were seen.
- After 40 days, Noah opens up the top of the ark and Noah sent forth a Raven and a Dove.
- Noah waits another 7 days and sends out a Dove again, which returned with the Olive Branch.
- Noah sends out the dove again and it did not return.
- Genesis 8:56 says that “in the second month on the seven and twentieth day of the month, the earth was dried up. Chapter 9 begins with Noah opening the ark and all the inhabitants begin to leave that “they may be fruitful and multiple.”
As the main goal of the class is to reflect upon the people of the church and how they endured and felt during their trials, we turned our attention to how those on the ark felt and what they experienced during their one year on the ark. We were sure that the ride on the ark was a rough one not only due to the rough waters put all of the trials of the 8-people living together and attending to the animal’s needs, and the everyday activities of life. We considered Noah and the families faith, conviction, desire to serve God, perseverance, and the desire to cling to what God was telling them. Being on the ark must have been especially difficult during the first part of the experience as we noted that most of the family and friends of the people on board had left those daughters, cousins, brothers and sisters outside then ark because they did not heed the words of God. This had to have been a memory meditated upon often for the rest of their lives. They might have wondered in the later years after the flood whether it was all worth it because they witnessed the repeat of the same life styles that were seen before the flood. Can we not see the same life styles still in practice in the lives of peoples of today?
How do we keep our faith in these situations? We carry on and place our trust in God just as Noah and the family did. We noted that in Genesis 9:4, Noah build and altar, and gave thanks to the Lord. Our modern-day revelations admonish us to do the same, to build an altar.
Beginning is Genesis 9:8, Noah was given 5 commandments:
1. Be fruitful and multiply
2. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the herbs I give unto you.
3. Don’t eat the blood.
4. The killing of animals is to be only for the preservation of mankind.
5. Preserve the life of man, and whoso sheddeth man’s blood, shall have his blood shed. We noted that killing in self-defense or during wars is considered acceptable. (Numbers 35:11-34)
Reading assignment: Genesis 11, the tower of Babel.
October 22, 2018, Monday, Class number 11, Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis Chapter 8, Noah and the flood.
We began the class by looking at our date line:
- Enoch and the City of Zion translated 1052 years since Adam’s mortality, or 2948 years BC.
- Enoch’s son was Methuselah. His son was Lamech. His son was Noah, born 1056 years since Adam’s mortality, or 2944 BC.Noah is 492 years old when Shem is born.
- The flood is computed to happen 1656 years since Adam’s mortality, or 2344 BC.
- Methuselah was not translated with the City of Zion because it was prophesied that from his loins “should spring all the kingdoms of the earth (through Noah).We also noted that in verse 80 of chapter 7, “he took glory unto himself.” The class felt that this means he took a great deal of pride in this fact and was probably boasting about.I wondered if this caused the great famine to come upon the land which explained why the famine was brought up.
- Verse 85 gives us the sons of Noah.We noticed that Japheth was mentioned first and according to the records, he was the oldest of the three, Japheth, Shem, and Ham. Later in the chapter, Shem is given more importance and is list first (verse 16).
- We noted that in chapter 7, it tells us that many sons and daughters were born unto Methuselah and Lamech.We can assume that that was true of others as well, maybe even that Noah had daughters and they just were not mentioned. He might have had sons other than the three. But, if he did, they didn’t get on the ark. We contemplated just how painful it must have been to all those church leaders who were present just before the flood who knew that they would be drowned by the flood waters.Noah had to have had many close relatives who did not survived because they didn’t repent and didn’t get on the ark.
- The scriptures list several aspects of life that were present at the time of the flood: apostasy, moral decay, violence, murder, war, theft, rapine (seizure of property), fraud, graft (political corruption), luxurious and pleasure-loving extravagance, alcoholic amnesia. Genesis 8:10 says that they were “evil continually.”It appears that Noah had a 120-year mission to preach repentance to the people before God told him to build the Ark.
- One author called verse 8 of chapter 8, an example of “the fallacious (false) philosophy of the pragmatist (lives more by the practical considerations than by ideals).”Basically, saying that anything which succeeds is good and anything which is fails is bad. The people of the day felt they were living out the good and abundant life and thus it must be right. We thought that it sounds much like the philosophy of today.
- Noah is told to build the ark and we wondered if he had any help other than his sons and wives?We don’t know. We can assume that the task was a big one.We can also consider that God gave him the details for the ark as he needed to build it.That can be compared the Nephi receiving his direction found in I NE. 5:168-172.
o Noah’s ark was like a modern ocean liner estimated to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. It should have displaced 50,000 tons. The Titanic displaced 52,310 tons. The ark is estimated to have 101,250 square feet of floor space.
- We noted that the scriptures say that “every kind” was invited on to the ark, and that there were 7 of the clean animals and 2 of the unclean. I thought that the animals were sent there by God and were waiting to board when called upon.
- Noah was 600 years old when the flood started. Noah went in to the ark. Verse 36 tells us that after 7 days the waters started. We thought that this 7 days was a time of loading the ark. After that, the waters started.The waters filled the earth for 40 days and nights. Verse 41 indicates that it covered the mountains to and above 15 cubits above the mountains.
o I looked up the height of Mt. Everest: 29,029 feet. Plus, the 15 cubits (apx. 21” each) or about 26 feet. That’s a total of 29,085 feet. Independence is at an altitude of 1033 foot. That leaves it at a depth of 28,022 feet of water, or over 5 miles. That puts 12,473 pounds per square inch of pressure on the land. No wonder everything was crushed and rearranged.
- After the 40 days and nights of rain and deluge, the ark was floating for 5 months.Once it hit ground again, Noah was still in the ark for another 2 months before they were allowed to open the ark and come out.
Reading assignment: Genesis 9, Noah and his family leave the ark.
October 18, 2018, Thursday, Class number 10, Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis 7; Written assignment: List what you think would be attributes of a zionic community such as people in the Order of Enoch would adhere to.
Because no one had actually made a list of the aspects of the Order of Enoch, we discussed what we thought might be on the list and put that on the board. They were:
a. Talking to each other when we meet with a real concern for the other person, includes listening to them.
b. To be willing to lend common tools and equipment as needed.
c. Allowing others to have the space when needed.
2. Trust each other.
a. Children would be able to play together safely.
b. Safety for all who are in the community.
c. No “drama” between people/ being civil at all times
3. Love towards each other.
a. Good fellowship
c. Praying for each other
4. Sharing vital resources in time of need, food, water, etc.
A list presented to the class:
1. A realization that all things belong to God and we are but the stewards of them. D&C 101:2b-f
2. Citizens would look upon each other (and others as well) as members of God’s family and that we are responsible for one another’s welfare. D&C 101: 2g
3. Resources are shared and are for the members of the community. D&C 42:12b
4. Providing educational opportunities so all may provide for themselves. Gen. 7:23
5. All people’s property is to be their own. D&C 51:1c, 81:4c-f
a. To create surplus. D&C 51:1c, 81:4e, 42:8, 14, 70:3
Other notes for the class:
- Adam dies (3070 BC) at the age of 930.Three years before his death, he gathers many together and gives them a blessing. Gen. 6:11 and D&C 104:28a
- When the citizens of the City of Zion were taken up, there must have been a change in there physical being which we cannot comprehend. III NE. 13: 27 does describe this translation as a quickening to this in-between state of existence.
- Genesis 7, verse one that many have “believed, and become the sons of God”.This is around 3312 BC or 687 years since Adam’s mortality.
- Enoch goes forth to seven different groups of people, except the people of Cainan, due to God’s curse on them. Verse 20 indicates that in all of the wars that took place, “the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness. The Lord shows Enoch that the people of Zion were taken up (will be taken up, as we are still in the vision part. It is not until verse 76 that it is complete) and it is interesting to note that in verse 34 others had the Holy Ghost fall on them and were taken up.
Order of Enoch
Property privately owned except for certain community services like public utilities.
Profits retained by the individual “according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and his needs.” Surplus voluntarily donated to the common treasury of the Order.
Participation is voluntary. Each man owns his individual stewardships and may discontinue his affiliation at any time by withdrawing from the Order.
The Family is the basic social unit.
Competition is encouraged as each man strives to present himself a profitable servant.
Supervision is decentralized.
Morals and religion shows respect for God and his priesthood.
All property is State owned, state operated, and state controlled.
No private profits permitted.
Participation is forced and attempting to leave the system and flee from the country will be subject to a death penalty.
The Communist Manifesto states: “Abolition of the Family!... the bourgeois family will vanish. Marriage relationships were to be outlawed. The goal was to have legalized community of women to have children which would be raised by the state.
Workers are permitted to make suggestions but if the idea is rejected, they cannot attempt to prove that it can be done better and cheaper than the government way.
Each man is frozen to his job and must perform according to the instructions given by the government.
“Religion is the opium of the people.” Communism abolishes eternal truths, religion, and all morality.
Reading assignment for Monday. October 22nd: Genesis 8, Noah and the Flood.
October 15, 2018, Monday, Class number 9, Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis Chapter 6, D&C 104, and 36 (same as Genesis 7: 4-78, IV)
During the beginning of the class, we reviewed the story of Cain and Abel. A few points:
- There existed during this time the secret combinations of men which were used to get gain.Murder was referred to as common.
- The women were not informed about the oaths.
- Satan is using these organizations to cause the downfall of men on earth.
- We can assume that church ordinances were not honored.
- The descendants of Cain are telling many others of the men of Adam and this causes all men to fear for their lives, that someone might decide to murder them.
Verse 32 begins the story of Lamech’s telling his wives that he has murdered Irad, his great grandfather because Irad was telling others about the secret oaths. Lamech’s wives rebelled against him and declared these things abroad and forces Lamech to flee the land.
Returning to the story of Enoch (Jared’s son), we note in verse 29 of Genesis 6, that those who are practicing the abomination have brought upon themselves death. We concluded that this death was a spiritual one, for they are still alive. Verse 30 says; “And an hell I….” noting that it says “an” hell which implies that there is more than one, perhaps there are different levels of hell like there are different levels of heaven (different glories).
The above verses relay to us that God is speaking to Enoch asking him to say unto the people to repent. Enoch responds by bowing down and asking the Lord “Why is it that I have found favour in thy sight, and am I not but a lad.” Note that he is 65 years old as noted in scripture that in his 65th the year that Enoch begins his walk with God for 365 years before he is translated. The scripture also notes that “all the people hate me, for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant.” We discussed briefly what this might mean. Did Enoch have a speech impediment? Or, does this mean that he is reluctant to speak out? In either case, The Lord blesses him, and he is able to speak out. It is interesting also that Enoch is promised protection. I am sure that going out among the people who don’t want to hear what he has to say would be very dangerous. Verse 39 tells us that Enoch; “went forth among the people, standing upon the hills, and high places, and cried with a loud voice.” Note that the people called Enoch a wild man.
We continued to read through chapter six noting the gospel message that is being taught to them and is still pertinent to us today, that of repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit. We discussed some, how we can be considered clean when verses like number 40 say that “no unclean thing can dwell there” except through the blood of Christ. It is interesting to note that in this chapter, we read that Adam was baptized (verse 67) and was born of the Spirit. We wondered if Enoch was reading this from the Book of Remembrance or was he telling them from his memory. For, many years have passed by since the actual event, maybe up to 700 years. The scriptures do not give us any idea as to how many others may have also been baptized. I wondered if all of them had lived out their natural lives before the flood event from which only eight people survived. I think we can assume that Noah and his sons and his son’s wives were baptized for they were appointed to allow mankind to continue.
The next class will take up with the story and the actual vision.
Assignment: List the aspects that the people of the Order of Enoch adhere to.
October 11, 2018, Class number 8, Church History
Reading assignment: Genesis 5 and 6, Cain and Abel, the start of the story of Enoch
Noted: there are two persons with the name Enoch noted in Genesis:
Genesis 5:27 IV; “Knew his wife and bare Enoch” (4:17 KJ)
Genesis 6:21 IV; “Jared begat Enoch and taught all of the ways of God” (5:15 KJ)
We started the class by reviewing the events of chapter 4 where we hear about Adams experiences of building the altar and offering sacrifices and the angels visit. In this we see that Adam and Eve learn of the gospel plan and that through the atonement of Christ they may be redeemed. They are then able to rejoice and respond by saying: “Blessed be the name of God, for, because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life, I shall have joy, and again, in the flesh I shall see God.”
Even though Adam and Eve rejoiced at the gospel announcement, their children did not. Chapter 6 says that all should repent, and those that did, would be saved.
When Cain is born, Adam and Eve have some great hopes for their son, that he will be one who will accept and believe and those be the one to continue teaching the gospel. Verse 4 covers a lot of time, because in part we see the hope of Cain’s parents who train him up in the gospel, and then the response of what we assume is a mature person who chooses to say; “Who is the Lord, that I should know him?”
Verse 5 tells us that Adam and Eve have another hope (Cain has already rejected the message) in the birth of Abel. The verse tells us that Cain is a grower of grain and Abel a shepherd. It is said that animals are of more value that grain, thus, Cain is coveting Abel’s flocks and wealth. Because animals provide meat for the table and hides for material, they were of a higher value, even though grain is needed to feed the flocks. It was also said in the class that the work of tilling the ground to raise crops was more labor intensive than the raising of flocks. Certainly, some of the personality traits of Cain are being revealed, that of a consuming greed and self-centeredness.
I think that we can deduce, that Cain and Abel were both in the priesthood because they were able to present offerings and place them on the altars. That, at least in later years, would only have been done by priesthood. That makes the sin of Cain even more damaging, because Cain was aware of the gospel and had been “called” to serve. He is now rejecting what he previously knew.
One question out of this, is why Cain’s offering was not acceptable. I see two reasons. One, the offering was at the bidding of Satan and not out of a reverence and belief in God. Cain’s faith was in Satan. Two, the sacrifice would need to be a blood sacrifice in order to be a type and shadow of the upcoming blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
In Cain’s despair, he allows his countenance to fall. Even at this low point in his life, the Lord comes to him and reminds him that he can still be accepted by the Lord if he will but repent. He doesn’t. Satan now approaches him and devices a secret covenant where Cain can obtain the desires of his heart and that Satan “would do according to his commands” as long as all in done in secret. The secret plot must not become known to Adam or to anyone else who would desire to take revenge on Cain’s life do to the upcoming act. They even enlist others to join in the secret plot.
Abel is alone with his flock and probably not due back to his family for some time when Cain seeks him out, talks to him in a friendly way, and then attacks and kills his brother. The blood falls on the earth and the earth responds. We see here the first account of a violent, premeditated murder. We also are told about others who know of the plot and are sworn to secrecy. Cain thinks he is in the clear. Hebrew teachings say that Cain hid the body, so no one would find it. Now the scriptures say that the Lord comes to Cain and confronts him. Cain then realizes that others know about the crime and laments that surely, others will know, and I will be marked for murder by those that are angered at Abel death. This causes him to take his family and move to another region, “in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”
We then tried to put ourselves in the place of Adam and Eve, to see just how they must have felt after learning that one son had just killed another son, who they know as a righteous man and one who can help spread the gospel message to their other children.
The scriptures now go into the genealogy of Cain. It goes down to Lamech. This is interesting because Lamech is also a part of the secret combination society. We note in verse 33 that he tells his wives that he has killed Irad, his grandfather, for telling the sons and daughters of Adam about the secret society. We assume that the men did not tell their wives about the secrets they held. Thus, Lamech, not wanting the secrets to get out (how men can kill others to get gain), kills Irad. Noted here that it isn’t just to get gain, but because of the oaths he had taken. He tells his wives that Cain received a promise that he would be avenged 7 times, surely, he would be avenged 70 times.
We noted how much like our world today this might be, where there are secret gangs and societies working together to get gain and to murder as a part of the initiations to get into the gang.
We also noted that these secret combinations of that day were one of the reasons for the flood, noting that Cain’s family were destroyed in the flood after 6 generations. Cain was to be avenged 7 times, once for himself, and then the 6 generations to follow.
Chapter 6 begins with the birth of Seth, a new hope for a man of the gospel, a man of the priesthood. It notes that their children were taught to read and write in a pure language. The kept the Book of Remembrance, and a Book of the generations of Adam. We are promised that when Christ returns, all things will be revealed unto us. (See II NE 13: 97-100) The chapter continues with the genealogy of Adam and a reiteration of the gospel message. We will begin the next class with Enoch’s vision which starts at verse 37.
October 8, 2018, Class number 7, Church History
Genesis 3 and 4, Sections 90:4-6 and 28:10; Book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon 4: 70-72, 2 NE 1:94-120, Alma 9:35-45.
During the previous class, I mentioned that it is notable that Adam and Eve were given the commandment to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” during the spiritual creation (Gen. 1: 30). After that came the physical creation (Gen. 2:6). Adam and Eve were not able to fulfil the commandment while in the garden, but they were aware of it. Some have speculated that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit knowing that they needed to. One writer presented a more plausible explanation by saying that they were aware of the commandment, but they had no idea as to how God would bring the conditions into existence that would allow them to complete the task. In their innocence, they had complete faith that it would happen, they just didn’t realize that they would be the “cause” of the transition. In the garden, they had no guile or secret ambitions to become the first parents of all mankind. Their relationship with God was one of complete trust and faith.
Chapter three begins by telling us about the rebellion of Satan and the better offering that Christ made to the host of heaven. We discussed how the desire of Satan was to obtain the glory for himself and not allow the children of men to have any choice during their earthly sojourn, and thus not be able to fully enjoy the hoped-for final destination of God’s Kingdom.
To help clarify the gospel understandings around these events we looked at other scriptures on the subject as noted in the reading for the class.
- Sec 28:10 discusses the one third who turn away from the plan and the two thirds that accept the plan.It was noted by a class member that men and women must have had the ability to make choices in the pre-existence where originally it was though that we were just beings waiting to come to earth.We then noted how a part of our life experience is to be tempted and to willingly respond to the light Christ brings.
- Book of Mormon 4:70-72 reveals to us how the redemption of man comes by Jesus Christ which allows us to be “awakened by the power of God, when the trump shall sound.”
- 2 Ne. 1: 70-114 is the great opposition passage and discusses what would have happened to Adam and Eve had they eaten of the tree of life after eating of the tree of knowing good and evil.By being cast out of the garden, mankind could act for himself and not have Satan’s plan forced upon us.We discussed what a probational period is. We discussed that death now was a part of their lives and wondered if death for the plants and animals also began at this time. One student considered that death came about because of Cain and Abel’s actions. The scriptures are unclear on the timing of the beginning of death.Verse 113 is especially meaningful as it states that “they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” We wondered why we would choose to come to this life and know misery and death but considered that it will be worth it when we ultimately look back on this time.
- Alma 9: 35-45 tells us much the same.
I asked the class whether Adam and Eve were married? Most said that they didn’t know and suspected that they weren’t. We then looked at Genesis 3: 14 and 11 where the scriptures use the word husband and wife. There is no mention of the wedding ceremony, so we didn’t know if this is just how Moses saw their relationship. It was noted that they seem to have a covenant unbinding relationship and in verse 17 we read that Adam knew that he had to stay with Eve as God had given her to him. He was devoted to her and the relationship. The class thought that this was awesome.
One of the discussion of the day was to consider how Adam and Eve must have felt after they were expelled from Eden. The scriptures mention that they had many children before Cain and Abel, thus several generations had to have passed before we read about the hearing of God’s voice, the building of an altar out of devotion, and then learning that man can and will be redeemed. We thought about just how joyous they must have been when they learned of the plan.
One class member wondered why an animal was chosen as the sacrifice. The class concluded that it must have been the best “token” and type and shadow of the coming sacrifice of Christ as an animal would be able to shed its blood just as Christ would do. A plant does not offer the same example of sacrifice. The only other choice would be to sacrifice people and God would never approve of that.
We did not have time to consider one last question, why did God give a commandment to not eat of the fruit or not prevent they from eating of it. The answer comes in section 70:7v. God must allow us to make the choices and not be able to blame God or say that he forced the issue. Sin must come through our voluntary actions and be independent from God or man cannot be judged “according to their works; and every man shall receive according to his own works, and his own dominion.” We choose to come even considering the risk. God allowed us our agency even considering the risk.
Another note: the priesthood linage of the men of this time is given to us in Section 104: 18-29.
The next class will take up Genesis 5 and 6, Cain and Abel, Enoch.
October 4, 2018, Class number 6, Church History
Lesson to cover: Genesis 1 and 2, D&C 98:5g, Isaiah 14: 12-16
Subject: The Creation and the beginning of Adam and Eve’s story.
Because the “church” is a group of people with like beliefs, I reminded the class that we would be considering what it might be like to be in Adam and Eves situation. So, my questions should reflect that goal. I asked the class to turn to D&C 98:5g where we are told that “In the day that when the Lord shall come he shall reveal all things; things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew; things of the earth by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof…” I also noted that the condition of “no enmity of man, enmity of beast” which is spoken of to be in the future, was also in the beginning.
We noted that the first chapter of Genesis is the creation of all things spiritual and the second chapter the creation of the physical. Section 28:8d affirms that for us.
The first question asked of the class was: What is the purpose of the creation? 1. The earth is a place where we can come to live in a physical body. As the Celestial Kingdom is a physical place, we must be physical to live there. Second, we need a place where we can have the opportunity to use our agency. We must choose of our own accord to accept the atonement done by Jesus Christ and to put aside those attributes of man that would keep us from God’s Kingdom. If we do not make this choice on our own, we cannot experience the fulness of joy spoken of in the Book of Mormon. This place is a place of testing. The third purpose is for us in mortality is to be able to procreate allowing other children of God to come and do as we are doing, along with all that we learn from being a part of being a family unit.
The second question was for us to speculate as to: What was it like to live in the garden of Eden as Adam and Eve did? This is difficult because we are locked into a mortal body and subject to time. We noted that Adam was to “tend” to the garden. We speculated that this tending was always a choice as the garden was perfect, complete, and always present. Adam was also told that he had dominion over the animals, and that the animals were peaceful towards one another. We did note that our word stewardship might be similar to Adam’s task here. He was instructed to name the animals.
Third question: Why male and female? Here we noted the different traits of the two and commented on how those traits help the other to be a better person and help with the raising of children. It is also said that Adam was not good to be alone. Perhaps this causes an inward focus and a lack of someone to serve. As people who need to become more God like, we must be able to focus on other’s needs and allow ourselves to serve rather than be served. Along this discussion, we noted that the commandment to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” comes in the chapter where things are created spiritually. Does this mean that Adam and Eve knew about this commandment prior to their physical earthly life and thusly caused a dilemma? They knew what they needed to do but were unable to accomplish the task while in the garden. Or, due to their “innocence”, they didn’t fully understand until after their departure from the garden.
The last question asked was: What is the difference between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? And what would have happened if they had eaten of the tree of life? Turning to Alma 9:38-45, we see that the plan of redemption would have been frustrated. If Adam had eaten of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death and no probationary state where we can choose that which we must do to live with God.
Next class: Genesis 3 and 4, D&C 28:10; Satan’s rebellion and Adam and Eve’s fall. The offering of sacrifices and new understandings.
October 1, 2018, Class number 5, Church History
As a we prepare to look at the Book of Genesis as found in the Inspired Version, we continue to look at Section 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants. This section is a revelation given to Joseph Smith which explains why there is more to the writings of Moses than found in the King James Bible. We started with verse 3 reading through the section and commenting on the points of interest found there.
- Moses is told that the “workmanship of mine hands” is vast and he desires only to reveal the mysteries of “this earth.”
- That no man can “behold all my glory …and afterwards remain in the flesh, on earth” except by the power of God.
- “there is no God beside me”
- We discussed the vast numbers of people, past present, and future, that were revealed to Moses.We assumed that to Moses, the actions of those people was revealed both good and bad.We also see the revealment to Moses that “man is nothing” meaning that man is nothing without the existence of God or outside the purposes of God.
- The section then discusses the experience of Satan appearing unto Moses and how Moses was able to discern that his powers and glory (or lack there-of) do not match those of God’s.We likened this experience to that of Enoch and Joseph Smith.
- The question came up asking why Moses shown a vision of all of the people of the earth and not just the people that he would later lead out of Egypt.We felt that it was to show that the Hebrew people and the tribes of Israel will have an effect upon all the peoples of the earth and especially those that choose to be a part of God’s kingdom. As stated in verse 18, God desires to deliver “all” my (people of the earth) from bondage (of sin); even Israel my chosen. As noted in verse 23b, God’s purpose is “to bring to pass the immortality, and eternal life of man” and noted that in God’s eyes, eternal life means living in his Celestial Kingdom with him.
- We spent some time considering whether this scripture indicates that there are other “earths” like ours and whether there are men and women upon those earths that need to go through the same experiences as we do which would allow them to be a part of God’s kingdom.That would mean that they would have the need to believe on Jesus Christ and to be baptized by authority as is required for us.We then reminded ourselves that we need only focus on that which is important for this earth and for us and that we shouldn’t get bogged down wondering about the question.
- We thought that verse 24b was interesting because it provides a prophecy regarding what man will do and did, that of removing many words from the book (Genesis) and that there would be one raised up to replace them.
- We then turned to section 83 to look at the succession on priesthood from Moses to Adam and that the priesthood is eternal, even though we didn’t completely understand all of the implications from the statement. One comment was that priesthood therefore, is not a creation of man, but of God.It is also noted that the priesthood and ordinances are necessary in order for us to see God in the Celestial Kingdom.
- This section is an answer to the question as found in Psalms 144, “Lord, what is man that thou takest knowledge of him!” Perhaps by the time David asked this question, the words of Moses had already been changed so he didn’t have the answer.
- We also noted that Moses’s experience might have been like that of Isaiah’s in chapter 6, when he said; “Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of host. Moses was asking, what is man that thou are mindful of him.
The next class will take up Genesis chapters one and two
September 27, 2018; class number 4, Church History
To be sure that the class members understand what they need to do when studying history, especially church history, I wanted to discuss what is history, where it comes from, and how to be sure that the history we are reviewing in accurate.
I asked the students to tell me what history is. History is the study of past events obtained through various means. We noted that sometimes it is bias and commented on how even our current events are presented to us with a bent perspective. We came up with these avenues of obtaining historical events: oral, documents, genealogy, books, archaeology. I sure there may be others as well.
I presented a power point presentation that noted five aspects of historical thinking:
1. Chronology – making sure that we know the proper order of when things happened in relationship to other events.
2. Comprehension – trying to understand the causes and effects, and understanding the sources perspective of the events, then moving to the central question of why it happened.
3. Analysis and interpretation – breaking down the component parts and understanding the relationships based upon the evidence that we have.
4. Research – the historical inquiry using multiple sources
5. Issues – identifying the issues and making a decision from the past information.
I had the class watch a video which also presented five aspects of historical thinking. The video commented that history is not just what we know, but how we know it.
1. Multiple accounts and perspectives
2. Analysis of primary sources
4. Understanding historical context
5. The claim – evidence connection
We are going to start our reading in Section 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants because it gives us an account of how we received our version of Genesis as found in the Inspired Version. So, we briefly reviewed who Moses was and when he lived, as he is the author of the book (or it could be said that God is the author and Moses wrought it down).
The Herald House publication of the RLDS Church History doesn’t give us much to go on as to the events surrounding the coming forth of Section 22. Page 103 discusses a court case that Joseph Smith was involved in and says: “shortly after this a revelation was received.” It is what we now know as Section 22 and a part of the introduction to the Inspired Version.
There is also a reference to the revelation in the Times and Seasons, Volume 4, page 71. Again, it is presented following a court case and talks about the trial and tribulations that Joseph and the church was going through. However, following that, there is a discussion on why the revelation is so important. We read together the first paragraph of those comments reminding us that Genesis provides some valuable eternal information sorely needed for us to become Sons of God.
“The Jews indeed had been taught “that to them belonged the promises, the giving of the law, and the service of God:” that “theirs were the Fathers,” and that from them (according to the flesh) Christ was to come: but of the nature and office of the Messiah, of the kind of glory that should be revealed when he came, and of the dignity, glory, and fulness [fullness] of those blessings that should accrue to the human family, when he made his appearance among the children of men, they seemed to be entirely ignorant, as well as of the union, and relationship to God which it would be placed within the reach of the children of men to obtain through the medium of his atonement, and the redemption wrought out by him. Long accustomed to types and shadows, to sprinklings, washings, sacrifices, and the observance of a law, that could never make the comers thereunto perfect, they understood not, and could not appreciate that more “excellent sacrifice,” and the “better covenant,” when it was revealed. They had long been “under a schoolmaster,” and he had not taught them the glories of a celestial law…”
We will begin reading together the section and then on to Genesis.
September 24, 2018; Class number 3, Church History
To help us with our discussion of what is a church, what are the components of a church, and was there a church in the earliest days of human history, I asked the students to give the class a short report on whether other religions (churches) have ordinances. They prepared short summaries both verbally and written. A synopsis was that the non-Christian churches do not. Kelly reported that the Buddhism is more of an individual’s progression in the attempt to find enlightenment and consist in doing as little harm as possible. Tessa reported that she found very little on the Church of the Jedi other than it is possible to sign up to be a member or a minister. She also noted that she found a church called the church of the flying spaghetti monster (or called Pastafarionism) which does not really have any ordinances. She also reported on Judaism noting that they only have the ordinances of marriage. Other traditions are found in the religion that may be similar to an ordinance. It takes a long time to qualify to be a Rabbi and she couldn’t find a reference to an ordination service taking place for them. Julie and Emma reported on Hinduism and stated that the goal seems to be to reach an individual level of spiritual awareness and the progression through reincarnation. No ordinances as we know them seemed to be noted in their readings. Jack reported on Islam stating that “members” are working in their submission to Allah. Again, there seems to be a lack of ordinances which help the members become closer to “God”, but they do have a system of prayers. Jacob and Katie report on the Lutheran church indicating that they do have some ordinances, mainly the sacrament and marriage. They did not see where the priesthood participated in an ordination service. Most of their comments revolved around the Lutheran thoughts on baptism and confirmation. None of the students reported on the Catholic church, so I shared that they do participate in the Eucharist at nearly all their masses, they have confirmation, sacrament of penance (confession), holy orders for some special purpose like the ordination of a bishop, and the anointing of the sick.
The reason for the research was to help us see why a church needs activities to help the members maintain a focus on the goal (such as ordinances).
To help answer the question, is there evidence that a church existed prior to the New Testament days, I distributed a list of references to the church as found in the Book of Mormon. The sheet is just as a reference. As one of the class goals is to be better prepared to be missionaries, the proof that the Book of Mormon people did see themselves as a church with the components of a church could be presented to the investigator.
September 20, 2018; Class number 2, Church History
Previously discussed: We are looking for the elements of a church in the experiences of the people in the Old and New Testament, Book of Mormon, and modern-day church history. So first, we should determine or at least consider what we think the elements of a church are. Today’s class continued with that discussion.
Looked up the purpose of the church as found in: D&C 22: 23b, III Ne 7:10, Mark 13:13, I Ne 3: 187-188, D&C 17: 6a-e.
Discussed some additional components of a church:
- Personal relationship with a deity (Christ)
- We discussed the sacrament during the last class. What other ordinances (elements) help us to achieve the goal of the church? To become prepared to live with God in His Kingdom?
- Some form of worship
o What is worship? Spending time focusing on _________.
o When do we worship? Music, prayer, contemplation, study, meditation, etc.
o Encounters with deity which change our hearts and others.
- Being a part of a family (church family)/ community.
o Do other religions have the same sense of community that the Saints do?
- Covenants made.
o When do we make covenants in the church?
o Examples: baptism, weddings, priesthood
- Traditions/ patterns. Asked for definitions
o Aspects the church that are not backed up or required by scripture
o Aspects that are specified by scripture
- Having other eternal understandings
- Practices or laws (with structure) which perpetuate the continuation of the church
September 17, 2018, Class number 1. Church History
Because of the upcoming youth trip to the church’s historical sights, the students were interested in learning more about church history and the events that transpired. I felt that “church” history began with Adam and Eve and that we ought to begin there before reviewing the more modern-day events. Because I believe that the “church” is made up of the people of the different eras, we ought to try and bring to “life” the lives of those individuals. We ought to know what they were going through as they wrestled with their understandings of what God was wanting them to know and to do, and to better see what their day-to-day lives was like. Hopefully then, we can better relate to them and see the parallels between the struggles they went through and the struggles we go through as we bring God into our lives and as we respond to His messages.
With that goal in mind, we will need to review briefly the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and modern-day church history books. I say briefly because volumes have been written on those books and those subjects. We don’t have time to review every detail. But hopefully we can review the highlights and see the growth and changes of the “church” over the years. We can see how God is trying to restore His creation to himself and prepare us for His kingdom.
Suggested Class Syllabus:
Monday, September 17th, 2018 and Thursday, September 20th, 2018:
- Define the word “church.”How does the world define what a church is? Why is important to understand what a church is?
- What is the purpose of life? How does “church” activity help or hinder that purpose?
- What are the components of a “church?” Beliefs, doctrines, covenants, leadership, membership, ordinances, faith, traditions, encounters with deity, laws, gifts given to people, authority
- Are we making an assumption when we think that the church needs the proper components to achieve the goal God has in mind for his people?
Today I introduced the purpose of the classes for the year, that of understanding better what the people of the early church went through. We discussed the components of a "church" as mentioned in the above agenda for this week. I asked the members of the class how they felt the components of a church and more specifically our church, helped them to endure to the end.
We agreed that the church is not a building, but people with common beliefs and doctrines, a statement of faith, leadership, authority, structure, and ordinances. We also tried to recall what other churches may have as practises and discussed how those aspects of the church benefit the members.
We will meet again Thursday to continue the discussion.
July 19, 2018.
I have set the starting dates for the second year MIT study course. We will begin on Monday, September 17, 2018, 8:30 AM, in the conference room at the headquarters building.
We are planning to study the history of the church beginning with Adam in the Inspired Version of Genesis. That should lead us into the story of the Hebrew nation as “the church,” then into the New Testament church, and then into the 1830 modern day church. At this time, I do not have a text book written (as I did last year), but we will use the scriptures. I do have a text that presents some interesting information about the Hebrew church written by a Jewish scholar. The book, Light from the Dust, by Winifred M. Milner, has been suggested for the modern-day church history. I also have commentaries on the Doctrine and Covenants and books on the church history. That should be plenty of material.
Please let me know if you are interested.
We are not preparing to live-stream the class, nor record the class for a later broadcast. I didn’t want to disrupt the class by having the mechanics of cameras, etc. We do not have the ability to set up the equipment and just leave it in the class room. It is possible that we could have the phones set up for a conference call. You need to let me know that you would like that.
I will again put the class notes on this page to help me stay on track, for the class members to catch up when a class is missed, and for others to know the points discussed.
I hope you will choose to participate!
May 24, 2018, Class # 57, Thursday
Presentation from team one, Molly Moore, Daisy Hasselman, and Jacob Killpack.
The team presented on the subject of baptism. They broke it down to 3 parts; the authority of Jesus (Jacob), Confirmation (Molly), and the age of accountability (Daisy). The topics were presented in a power-point using many scriptures to validate the subject. Each student provided transitions and explanations as they read the scriptures. Molly brought in some of the beliefs of other denominations on confirmation indicated that some churches do not see the need for the ordinance and some churches see it as a graduation after a set of courses. Daisy included the doctrine of original sin and noted how a person needs to be able to make the decision to be baptized. Jacob presented many great scriptures and thoughts to suggest that Jesus set the example and taught that men must be given the authority just as he was given the authority to baptize.
One interesting bit of information was presented, that James Dobson has agreed that millennials need to wait until they are 30 before they be accountable and thus baptism. The source of the information was babylonbee.com/news/biblical-age-accountability. The reason for the change from age 12 to 30 was because Millennials have “chronic immaturity, lack of rational decision-making skills…” How unfortunate that they would miss out on the blessings of the Holy Spirit as a companion in those early years. By the time that they are 30, most of their life view points and habits have been instilled in them.
A great job was done by both teams.
That was the last class for the semester. We'll now take the summer off. I am looking forward to the classes next year.
May 21, 2018, Class # 56, Monday
Presentation from team two, Isaiah Woods, Jackson Patrick, and Emma Moore.
The team presented on the theme of Truth and Consequences.
Isaiah began as the main facilitator for the presentation. He presented 3 types of truth statements:
1. Correspondence theory of truth: a statement that is true if it corresponds to reality.
a. Example: “It is raining” is true if it is raining outside.
2. Coherence theory of truth: a statement that is true if it is consistent with other things that are considered to be true, if it fits into the system.
3. Pragmatic theory of truth: something is true if it is useful
a. Example: person A believes that making money is most important in one’s life. Person B has a different view and thinks that friends are the most important. This mostly revolves around those things within our realm.
The group then moved to statistics indicating that much of our world’s social problems may come from believing that there is no truth or believing in incorrect truths.
The group had the audience watch a 10-minute video where Frank Turek, one of the authors of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, discussed truth statements often made by people and how to respond to the statements.
1. There is no truth! Is that true?
2. You can’t know the truth! Then how do you know that your truth is true? Basically, a self-defeating statement that claims to be absolute truth.
3. All truth is relative! Is that a relative truth and relative to what?
4. It’s true for you but not for me! Is that true for everybody? They used the example of a bank customer requesting $10,000 dollars from their bank account even though the teller says there is only $43.76 cents in the account. The customer wants his amount because he says that it is true.
5. No one has the truth! How do you have the truth that that is true?
6. You ought not judge! Isn’t that a judgement? Aren’t you judging me for making a judgement statement?
7. There is no truth in religion, only in science! This is a philosophical statement. It can’t be proven in a lab which is how science goes about proving its theories.
8. Everything is meaningless! Hey, what do you mean by that?
9. Doubt everything! Should I doubt that? Most doubts are emotional, facts don’t change.
The next class session will be from team one.
May 17, 2018, Class # 55, Thursday
The material for the last class of the year is found on page 43 of the text. We covered the evangelical look at Mormons. It is important that we understand how evangelicals view the Latter Day Saint movement and to be able to distinguish whether we do or do not agree with what they believe about the LDS church. Most evangelicals do not know that we exist or that there is within the Latter Day Saint movement multiple churches with different beliefs. Many evangelicals also believe that Joseph Smith was responsible for all the LDS beliefs and thus lump us in with them.
I started the class with the beginning of the movie Meet the Mormons because it helps us realize that members of the LDS church are great people and have very normal lives. I would suggest looking at the full movie as we only viewed the introduction. The rest of the movie interviews 6 families and what their lives are like.
The doctrines printed in our text from the web site came from a google search of a comparison between Christian churches and Mormonism. There are some of the statements that do not present the beliefs accurately. Some of the beliefs we in the Remnant Church agree with. We evaluated them individually.
- Mormons believe that men can become Gods. This comes from their belief in a progressive God, God: “As man is, God once was, as God is, man maybe.” This statement came for Lorenzo Snow in 1840, and ties into the theory of exaltation. Remnant Saints disagree with this theology and agree more with the evangelicals.
- Mormons see Jesus as a separate entity from God the Father. This argument has gone on in the protestant movements as well; are God and Jesus “one” or “separate.”We and the LDS agree that Jesus is Deity and that Jesus is separate from God as His Son.
- We both agree that Lehi brought a group of people to the Americas.
- The quote says that “a prophet” created a set of “gold” plates, which Joseph translated. The Book of Mormon was written by several writers. Not all the plates were of gold. And Joseph translated the plates with the help of God, not on his own.
- Yes, Jesus came to the Americas after his crucifixion.
- Yes, we believe that the Lord inspired Joseph to reveal things to us.We call this modern-day revelation. It is puzzling to consider that evangelicals believe God will answer their prayers but they don’t believe in modern-day revelation.
- We believe that the Apostle John is still alive along with the 3 Nephites.
- Polygamy did not come through Joseph Smith.
- We believe in a pre-mortal life.
- We do not practice Baptism for the Dead.
- We have a different definition of endowments than the Mormons have.To us, it is an increase in our spiritual abilities and talents that will enable greater ministry. To the Mormons, it is the ceremony and blessings that come from the work done in their temples. We briefly discussed the endowment sessions in the Mormon temples, the sealings, baptisms, and other ordinances.
- I believe that the Mormons and the Remnant churches believe in hell. They stated that the Mormons do not believe in hell.
Are the Mormons Christian? Are we Christians? According the web page, we do not fit their definition of a Christian. The reality is that evangelicals do not have a full scriptural understanding of what a Christian is. We have not been led astray, they have. We also noted that the church has at least been from the beginning of Man (including Adam). There have been followers of Christ from the beginning. They were just looking forward towards the atonement and we are living after it.
The next class will be one of the presentations from the students.
May 14, 2018, Class # 54, Monday
Subject material: Chapter 11: Can there be a “one true church?” as found on page 40 of the text.
Questions on the board:
1. Define church. The students first mentioned a place, then people, then doctrine. I directed their thoughts towards the idea that it is first people, and then it was mentioned that the people need to meet together at a place.
2. Why is it important to be a part of the “one true church?” By being a part of the one true church and all of its components, you gain the ministry of authoritive priesthood in the ordinances of the church, you gain a better understanding of the fullness of the gospel, and other aspects.
3. How do we know we are there? It was mentioned that each person needs to decide which church is true. But that opens up the door to individual preferences and interpretations. So, we decided that God need to confirm the aspects of the true church. That can come through scripture study and personal revelation.
4. What do we do about our answer when we know which church is true? We need to share the information in a polite way, but not to be afraid to testify. Sharing such a testimony may not be easy for as the text says, when we do share we may seem intolerant of others. No one wants to hear that their church is “less than” or incomplete.
We listed a few components of the true church:
- Authorized priesthood
- Fullness of the gospel
- A serving church/ charity
- Tithing and consecration
- Proper ordinances
- The Inspired Version of the Bible and other scriptures
- Having a prophet
It is interesting to note that people/man have defined what a true church is and are often ready to declare that we are not the true church because we do not comply with their criteria. Yet their criteria doesn’t comply with their own scriptures, only with their interpretation of their scriptures. The text also provides 8 characteristics of cults. Again, the list is of their making.
I took a moment to list other churches which claim to be the one true church, I’m sure it is not all inclusive: Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, LDS, Seven Day Adventist, Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, Church of the Brethren, Churches of Christ (Campbellites), Muslins, Buddhism, Judaism, and more.
One more class: Chapter 12
May 10, 2018, Class #53, Thursday
Because the class is called “Survey of Remnant Church Beliefs,” we discussed how a priesthood call is processed in the Remnant Church.
- Local church leadership (Branch President or General Authority) is led by or prompted by the spirit that the individual has a calling to a specific Priesthood office. That calling is confirmed after prayer.
- The calling is then forwarded to the regional authority or to the general church office for review and prayer.
- The confirmation of the calling is past back to the Branch President who contacts the individual to let him know about the calling and for his acceptance.
- The congregation then sustains the calling during a scheduled meeting.
- The individual is then ordained.
- This process is true for the Aaronic Priesthood and for the Elders. The initial call for General Church Authorities would come from the general church’s leadership.
This is brought up to illustrate that our Priesthood is not “self-called” or “self-appointed.” It is a calling from God through the Spirit’s guidance and confirmed by prayer before the all is presented to the person. Thus, our authority to function is from those and He who called us, not from the individual. We are called to represent God and to function and teach with-in His boundaries, not our own.
In the text book we read that the words holy priesthood can be translated to a pure fraternity of brotherhood (and sisterhood) who all have the opportunity to approach God and Christ without the intervention of a priest (Catholic) or other such church leadership who must be the “go-between” between the person and deity. So, even though a person can approach deity, we believe that the ordinances and the governing of the church must be done by those who have been given the authority to work within the offices they have been called. This helps to protect the body from incorrect doctrine or practices and provides for an accountability when incorrect doctrine is taught. Even in the corporate world, no one could represent a company or sell its products without the authorization of the leadership of the company. The gospel is God’s gospel, not our own.
On Monday, we will take up chapter 11 on Can there be a “one true Church?”
May 7, 2018, Class # 52, Monday
I asked the students to look up who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. As expected, the answers found tell us that we don’t know for sure. That becomes a way for the anti-Christians to discredit the scriptures. But does it? Studies have shown us that it was not uncommon for classical authors to not include their names because anonymity was normal in ancient literature. Perhaps they weren’t trying to sell their books as we do today, and therefore need our name on the page to obtain our royalties.
The answer to the assignment is:
Matthew: the book was authorized or influenced by Levi-Matthew the disciple.
Mark: thought to be John Mark, son of Mary of Jerusalem
Luke: Luke the beloved physician and companion to Paul
John: may have been the apostle John or another known as John the elder
There are many scholars who have spent countless hours trying to figure out the answers and the above has been decided as the best choices. Because these people lived very close to the actual events and because those events were so very important and extraordinary, those around the events would have remembered them.
I also asked the class if all of the persons to whom the 4 gospels were attributed were among the original 12 disciples. Matt. 10:2,3 and Mark 3:14 give us the list and only Matthew and John are included. I suggest that for more details, you read The Case for Christ by Strobel and The Wrong Jesus by Monette.
From there we went on to the section on Agency. I asked the class to tell me what heredity was, and after answering about the color of their eyes and hair, we discussed how the attributes, skills, etc. might affect who we are. Then we discussed how the environment might contribute to who we are with such answers as education, attitudes, opportunities, family contributions, etc. These two aspects of life are often what the educators claim are the only aspects and feel that if those were somehow changed for the better, society would become better. The scriptures tell us that we all have our agency which allows us to make many choices which may or may not lead us down a righteous path.
In the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, he brings up the subject of God giving us our agency and says:
“Of course God knows what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source.”
We then remembered the message that Satan brought up in the pre-existence, mainly, I’ll save them all but I will not give them any choice.
The last topic for the morning was the rapture. Most of the information for the topic was found in our text. We added that the earth will need to be cleansed before it will be ready for the millennial kingdom and the Celestial realm. After all are taken up, the earth cleansed, we will return to the earth. Most of the rapture theories feed on the concept of puff and I’m gone because I’m a believer and you’re not.
I then handed out the article found in the Hastening Times, July/August/September 2011 titled The Rapture Theory, by Ben Madison, who was a member of the Remnant Church and considered to be knowledgeable on much of church history and theology. He suggests in the article that the rapture theory leaves out one very important teaching in the scriptures, that of Zion and because of God’s plan, we have a place to endure the tribulation.
May 3, 2018, Class # 51, Thursday
Two subjects were taken up in class today: Is the Bible all that is necessary for salvation? And, is there real evidence for the Bible or is it taken just on Faith?
Perhaps the real subject for the first topic is what statements due non latter day saints use to disallow the use of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine in Covenants. The text refers to the most commonly used scriptures: Revelation 22:18 and Deuteronomy 4:2. The text also supplies what our answers to the scriptures might be, mainly: God can add to the scriptures and if the reference in Deuteronomy was used in that was, we wouldn’t have any of the Bible after that verse.
The class discussed briefly how scriptures come in to be and then validated or canonized, including our current ones.
I asked the class how the Old Testament came into being. Did the early Hebrews have copies of the Old Testament? Was there a copy in everyone’s home? How about the New Testament? Who wrote it? How and when was it put together?
Assignment: Who wrote the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts?
Another part of the discussion is whether the Bible or Scripture “saves” us. Well, no. It is our response to the scriptures that leads us to believe in the gospel and to respond to the atonement work done by the Christ. Could we obtain or find all of the information we need for salvation outside of scripture? Maybe if someone instructed and guided us through what we need, such as ordinances, priesthood, celestial components of the law, etc., we would obtain the goal. But someone needs to be the one studying the scriptures. So, salvation without the scriptures would be difficult.
When we reviewed 2 Nephi 12:44,45, we all chuckled a little realizing that a prophecy saying that people would say, “a bible, a bible, we have got a bible, and there cannot be any more bible,” and realize that the statement is used so frequently today.
We then looked at the section on the evidence for the Bible or is it just taken on Faith?
I asked the class what evidence we have that the Bible is a valid resource? Archeology and evidence of a world-wide flood were given by the class. I asked them if there were any authors outside the Christian society that wrote about the events of the Bible (especially the New Testament) that were witnesses of the events, places, and people? I handed out pages 270 – 273 of the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist which provided a table listing some of the people in the New Testament, where they were mentioned, and who the non-Christian source was. Josephus was the most cited source, but there are more. Our text gives 10 reasons why the authors of the New Testament wouldn’t have embellished or exaggerate the elements of the story. I also provided printouts of page 23 and 24 from the book The Wrong Jesus which is a book looking at many reasons why the story of Christ and all that was there then is valid. It provides 15 details which the author says “practically every scholar and historian know with virtual certainty about Jesus.
We should be able to give a valid comment regarding these theories at any time when someone presents these objections to believing in the gospel story.
At the end of the class, I challenged the students to read or re-read Moroni 10: 3-5 and apply it to not only the Book of Mormon, but to all scripture. And if they are true, how do we respond to the answer?
April 30, 2018, Class # 50 Monday
The class reviewed Doctrine and Covenants, Section 85. The section is a good companion to Section 76 because of the review of the Kingdoms of God. It was given just after the prophecy given on the Civil War by Joseph Smith thirty years before it began.
- 2b notes that Christ “ascended up on high…and descended below all things” confirming that Christ has visited the prison house.
- We discuss whether the “light” mentioned is the same light as comes from the sun and thought that this “light” is greater than just the chemical/light we receive from our sun or others might receive from their sun, for this “light” will quicken our understandings.
- We discussed the earth’s upcoming transition to a celestial condition.
- We discussed how each of us will be blessed to receive even a portion of the celestial glory.This should give us hope even when we are not as fully vested into a kingdom.
- We discuss 8b noting the statement regarding those who “seeketh to become a law unto itself.” How many people might we see in our population that put themselves before all others and that the population might emulate their actions and philosophies.
- In verse 16 we noted that there seem to be 3 levels of actions that might correspond to the 3 levels:
o Ask as a beggar – humble – wants – as a traveler like the Telestial
o Seek – as for a thing of value – but lost – like the Terrestrial
o Knock – to really want to be a part of the kingdom – like the Celestial
o Currently the door may be locked because of sin – but keep knocking
- Noted then the 7 trumps, and then time shall be no longer
- Verse 38 gives us some insight as to what we need to be doing.
We then turned to page 32 and the section called Doctrine of Original Sin. It was noted that this doctrine could be the cause of misconceptions that bear on our society such as:
- That the sinful nature is passed down through the generations and thus people may not have a chance to come out from under the oppressive situations they are in because of preconceived notions.
- That Adam was never forgiven
- Even though we are in this sinful world, we do not have to use that as an excuse to continue in the sinful nature. We are loved by God and through him, we can be Godly people.True joy comes when we accept the atonement and desire to be Zionic and eventually Celestial people.
The last bit of conversation asked the question: what is the difference between a “state of innocence” and a “state of perfection.” The fall from the garden did not mean that they were thrown out of a perfect place, but rather a relationship with God in a wonderful place. But true joy could not nor cannot be had until we choose to follow his teachings. The choice makes the future a state of perfection.
Thursday, we will take up the next question: Is the Bible all that is necessary for salvation? (or, how protestants try and disclaim anything but the Bible.
April 26, 2018 Class # 49 Thursday
We took the opportunity to look up most of the scriptures found on the Life-After-Death Chart put out by the Remnant Church. The pamphlet uses the King James references on the subject. However, during the class we looked at some additional restoration scriptures on the subject such as found in the 16th and 19th chapters of Alma (Alma 16: 230-239, Alma 19: 42-48), and Moroni 4:73,74.
I made note of the 5 general categories for men and women after their probationary period. The list came from an unknown author, so I located the scriptures to match the category. These are found in our text on page 29
1. Children who died before reaching the age of eight and will be in the celestial kingdom.
a. Moroni 8:10-29
2. All those who die never having had opportunity to know and accept the law and are thus referred to as “they who are without the law.”
a. II Ne 6: 51-55 and Mosiah 1:107
3. Those who accept the gospel, are baptized, received the Holy Ghost and then fall away. For these repentance is impossible because they no longer believe (at the time of their death) that Christ can save them.
a. Heb. 6:4-6 and II Ne 5:56
4. Those who have had the opportunity to accept the fullness of the gospel while living but have rejected it. These cannot be saved in the celestial glory. “who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it…who were honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.”
a. D&C 76: 6c, d, 4a
5. Those who accept the fullness of the gospel, were baptized, while on this earth, and served God with sincerity, real intent, and full purpose of heart
a. D&C 76:5
I also provided pages 19-27 from The Remnant Outreach Program. It follows the scriptures found on the pamphlet and provides some commentary.
We then turned our study to Section 76 of the D&C. This section came to Joseph and Sidney as they were translating the Bible in John 5:29. The LDS church history claims that Joseph Smith commented on the revelation that “it solves questions relative to the Biblical account of heaven. Mus has been taken out touching the salvation of man. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left that if God rewarded everyone according to the deeds done in the body, the term ‘Heaven’ as intended for the Saints eternal home must include more Kingdoms than one.” (taken from the LDS Seminary book on the D&C and said it was in volume 1:245.) I didn’t have a copy to confirm the source.
According to history, the opening of the heaven to the men lasted about 1 hour and that there were others in the room. Joseph would say or ask: what do I see? And Sidney would say that he “sees the same.”
76: 2 list several honors that will be bestowed upon those who “fear me and serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.”
1. A great reward (2b)
2. Eternal Glory
3. Revelation of all mysteries of God’s Kingdom
4. Knowledge of his will concerning all things in the Kingdom
5. Knowledge of the wonders of eternity (2c)
6. Knowledge of many generations
7. Great wisdom
8. Understandings that reach to heaven and which the world cannot equal
9. Enlightenment by the Spirit and power of God. (2d)
I do not comment on this because I seek for gain for myself, but that others might also enjoy the benefits of celestial living. I want to live a life that is worthy of such blessings, but know that only through the atonement of Christ can this celestial life be obtained. This becomes a missionary tool.
The Go Ye and Teach Slides give us a list of what this section indicates as those who will be ready for each of the Kingdoms.
1. They who receive the Testimony of Christ
2. They were baptized, being buried in the water
3. They receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands
4. They overcame all things by faith (endure to the end)
5. They have part in the first resurrection (and thus are living on earth during the millennial reign)
6. They are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant
1. These died without the law
2. The spirits of men kept in prison to whom the Son visited and preached the gospel
3. They received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it
4. They are honorable men of the earth blinded by the craftiness of men
5. They are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus
1. They received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus
2. They deny not the Holy Spirit
3. They are thrust down to hell
4. They are not redeemed until the last resurrection
I wanted to cover section 85 as well but the class was too short. We will take that up on Monday.
April 23, 2018 Class # 48
The class went through the information and scriptures given to us on the Remnant brochure called Life after Death, Heaven of Hell; as well as a chapter from The Remnant Church Evangelism Outreach Program on The Spiritual World. We looked up the scripture references and followed along with the Go Ye And Teach power point slides on Life-After-Death. If anyone reading this entry into the class log wants copies of the material, let me know.
By understanding what we believe and being able to show scripture references in the King James version of the Bible, one should be able to help those outside the restoration beliefs to see that there is more to our eternal life than just Heaven or Hell. I do not see how one could read the Bible and not see for instance the references to the resurrections. One should then question the Heaven or Hell only options. I have had on a couple of occasions, people give me their explanation of what those scriptures mean. Others just don’t open their hearts to accept anything except what their preacher feeds them.
For certain, we all die. Most people hope for an after-life. Many believe that if they are “good enough” Jesus will let them in without following the steps outlined in scripture such as Baptism. Does that baptism need to be performed by an authorized person? We think so. We also realize that God has provided a place for all accord to how they have prepared for eternal life and a means to achieve the eternal life God wants for all people.
Thursday’s class will take up our text material in chapter nine and look at the additional information provided in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, especially sections 76 and 85.
Below are the notes from the class called "Survey of Remnant Church Beliefs."
April 19, 2018 Class # 47 Thursday
Because many people of the world today believe that pople who have a belief in God and have a Biblical perspective regarding the age of the earth (Creationist), cannot be good scientist; and I see people who will argue that due to the over whelming "scientific evidence" regarding the age of the earth that the Bible can't be true, I wanted to have this class on the topic even though there isn't a chapter on the subject in our text book. I decided to pull from a debate that happened in 2014 when Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated the question: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” We viewed only the 5-minute introductions by both participants and the 30-minute presentation by Ken Ham due to the time frame of our class. The full debate is available on You-Tube.
I asked the students to watch for these main points as Mr. Ham goes through his material very quickly:
- Science needs to be broken down or could be better interpreted as two different subjects:
o Experimental science (observational or operational)
o Origins (historical)
- The debate is really between two believe patterns, thus two different “religions.” (Religion is not allowed in the schools)
o Materialistic/Naturalist based beliefs
o God based beliefs
- Christians or Creationist can be good scientist, inventors, researchers, etc.This involves the observation or understandings of repeatable experiments that lead to discoveries and benefits for society.
- When we are looking at the past, (origins) we are looking at the same evidence even though we have different perspectives and may come to different conclusions based upon a bias on the subject. Regarding the creation of the earth, we weren’t there and neither was any other person. So, we don’t have the observational testimony of what happened or when. God and Jesus Christ were the only ones there, and they gave us there testimony in Scripture.
- Non-Christians are borrowing from the Biblical perspective when they use the laws of logic and the laws of nature which had to come from a previous source outside the laws. If the laws came from or along with the maturing of the universe and our earth, they would be inconsistent and created along with the development of what we currently observe.
- Darwin in his book on evolution, states that there are 5 races on the planet and the Caucasians are the most advanced and are more intellectual that the others. And, that current man is more intellectual that those of earlier ages.
After watching the video, I offered some additional insights from the Restoration perspective.
- The Inspired Version says in Genesis 1:1: “…I reveal unto you concerning this heaven and this earth…” suggesting to me that there are more earths in our universe or there have been other earths in our universe in other time-lines, or there will be other earths in the future.Thus, suggesting that we do not yet understand very much about all that is in our universe and the creative mind of the Creator. We are given the information we need to understand our current relationship with God, and not about the rest of God’s creation.
- D&C 22:21c; “And worlds without number have I created…(d) But only an account of this earth, and its inhabitants thereof, give I unto you; for behold there are many worlds which have passed away…(e) and there are many also which now stand, and are numberless are they unto man…(23a) The heavens, they are many and they cannot be numbered unto man…and as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof, even so shall another come;”This also points to the points in Genesis 1:1 IV.
- D&C 90:5e; “The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected…”
o Could it be that when scientist measure the elements to determine the age of the earth, they are measuring these eternal elements which may not testify as to the age of the earth, but rather the age of the elements from which the earth was created.
- R154 b: “For as surely as you understand time, time shall come to an end…” Time is a part of our existence now and has been created for us during this probationary period. Because time will end, it must have had a beginning.Is it possible that the universe we see is part of another “time?”We certainly do not understand how God’s creation could have been made outside our time and we are trying to understand them within our time.
- Light waves and light particles cannot be measured both at the same time. Does this influence what we think or understand about the creation and what we perceive and thus try to “measure.”
If, as the Bible points to, the Earth has 7 dispensations given to it and the last dispensation is the millennial reign, then we are indeed in the last years of the time before Christ comes and ushers in the last 1000 years to be spent with him. Although we may not be able to prove a 6000-year-old earth through observational science, we can say scripturally say that the earth is nearing a great transition.
The commentary on the debate does add some detailed thoughts and theories on the evidence we see around us which makes it more plausible that the Scriptures are correct. Someday, we’ll know more and see the bigger picture.
April 16, 2018 Class # 46, Monday
This was the first class in a couple of weeks due to our General Conference and a break. It’s good to be back on schedule.
The class for today reviewed chapter eight of the text; the doctrine of eternal security. I wrote on the board the following:
Is it possible to be saved, and then lose that salvation?
What does eternal security mean?
Can I separate myself from God after I have been saved?
My first experience with the question came when a plumber was working on a drain problem at my previous employment. I had to be in the room with him so I was just talking to him on general subjects. He then purposed the question to me: “Have you been saved?” I came up with some answers but quickly felt like I was not prepared to give a short answer that would state what I believed. Since then, I have had even more experiences where the principle came up. Those experiences prompted me to write the chapter and to eventually write our text.
Our belief is that one must endure to the end and thus salvation is not just a one-time event, but an on-going relationship with Christ where I attempt to change my life to be as Christ would want it to be. When I made that comment to the plumber, his reply was that the person in that situation had not really claimed a belief in Christ. Much of this discussion problem may be in the use and understanding of terms which need to be clarified as we progress through the conversation.
To help the class understand the subject and help with possible future conversations, I asked Apostle Don Burnett to come speak to us. He was raised in a Baptist church and joined the Restoration way of thinking as a young man.
He started his thoughts for us by saying that many of our Protestant friends will pick and choose certain verses of the Bible to support their claims without studying all of the Bible. Many times, they should just continue to read the next verses or the rest of the chapter to understand what was really being said. He commented that many of the people he has approached with additional scripture on a subject have said to him; “Oh, I see it there but I just don’t care. All I need to know my pastor will tell me.”
It is true that nothing can take me out of the hand of God, or out of His love. But we can do things in our lives that separate us from being the people God wants us to be. Don asked us if we can ever lose our agency? (Agency being the option to choose God or not to choose God.) We always have our agency, at least until our final days.
Don called our attention to Matthew 4:4; “It is written, Man shall not live be bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” That indicates that we should take just one verse and base the entire theology upon one verse, but all that has been taught.
Many of our protestant friends read verses that indicate that all that is needed is a belief in Christ to be saved, when we know that “Faith without works is dead.”
Revelations 12:11 tells us that we can overcome our accuser (Satan) by the “blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and the loved not their (our own selfish desires) lives unto death. This tell us that we must endure to the end and continue to testify of our savior.
Don mentioned that the concept of Zion is to, as a person and as a people, to be constantly moving towards a better life using the principles of Christ, which indicated a constant change in who we are that we might be accepted as citizen’s in the Kingdom of God.
As we have later lessons on our understandings of life-after-death, it was not brought up in today’s class. But that concept does change the understandings of heaven or hell, and salvation.
Our next class will review the question of whether the earth in very old, or only 6000 years old. The reason for the discussion is because evolutionist and anti-Christians tell us that the Bible must be wrong because of all the evidence pointing to a very old earth.
The answers to the questions above: 1. Yes, it is possible to separate ourselves from God through sinful actions and to be unprepared for the Celestial Kingdom. 2. We can be eternally secure in a future if we maintain our relationship with Christ and do those righteous works we called to do. We might not end up in the Kingdom of God. 3. Yes.
Schedule for SRCB (MIT) class for the remainder of 2018
1. Monday – April 16th Chapter 8, Don Burnett on Eternal Security
2. Thursday – April 19th New Earth verses the Old Earth, Video from the Nye/Ham Debate.
3. Monday – April 23rd Chapter 9 – Life-after-death, the restoration perspective.
4. Thursday – April 26th Chapter 9, continued
5. Monday – April 30th Original Sin and is the Bible necessary for Salvation
6. Thursday – May 3rd Real Evidence for the Bible / Freewill (page 34)
7. Monday – May 7th The Rapture/ Tribulation (page 36)
8. Thursday – May 10th Priesthood of All Believers (page 39)
9. Monday – May 14th Chapter 11 – One True Church?
10. Thursday – May 17th Chapter 12: An Evangelical look at Mormonism
11. Monday – May 21st Review – Presentations Team One.
12. Thursday – May 24th Review – Presentations Team Two.
Presentations are to be picked by the teams on a subject or subjects from the years discussions. They will then present their case to the rest of the class and any visitors.
The teams are: 1. Molly, Daisey, Madison, and Jacob
2. Jackson, Isaiah, Emma
March 26, 2018 Class # 45, Monday
The class text briefly mentions what other religions teach about salvation. On that list is Islam. Because they are a growing religion in America and because we will meet people of the Islamic faith, I thought we should look at some points and understandings they present. The statement in the text was taken from a pamphlet that is published by Rose Publishing called Christianity Cults & Religions. It compares 20 groups and a simple explanation about them. Just as the pamphlet is brief, so will any 45-minute class be brief and incomplete.
While doing a web search, I noted these points and brought them to the class:
- Jesus is mentioned in the Koran where it states that Jesus did great miracles including raising people from the dead (Suri 19:25). Jesus was presented as sinless (Suri 19:19), and born of a virgin.
- The Koran (considered equal to Christ) does not record that Muhammad (AD 570-632) performed such miracles and that he had to ask for forgiveness.
- Two things mentioned in the Bible which are not in the Koran which if a Muslin were to believe, he would “join you in heaven.”1. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and 2. He arose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
- When talking to a Muslin about Christ, discuss the need for a mediator.You might bring up the need for a mediator to be between you and a government official. Then also note that the mediator to God would have to be as great as God himself.
- Conflicts with the Koran and the Bible:
o Koran states that Abraham offered up Ishmael. The Bible says that it was Isaac.
o They confuse the sister of Moses – Miriam – with Mary the mother of Jesus.
- A teaching tool might be to refer to the Old Testament prophecies that foretold the coming of Christ.
- Some important questions to ask them:
o Do you expect to go to heaven/paradise? They are constantly striving to please Allah and will not be sure that they have done enough good works to accomplish the goal until they have left this life.
o Do you have an assurance that God will accept you?
o What does the Koran teach about forgiveness? This is a foreign concept to them.
- According to their history, Muhammad was a man to whom the God of creation revealed many things over a 12-year time frame. They were not written down until after his death.
- Why do so many of them hate America?
o The see the way we behave in our country as an example of Christian culture. For them, religion and government are intertwined. The actions of the people should reflect the beliefs of the religion. When they see Hollywood’s portrayal of America, the immoral stuff put on the web, the way we act and dress, etc., they think that is the way Christians are.
o We eat Pork and drink alcohol, they don’t.
o Christians pray with dirty hands. They have a ritual washing prior to each prayer session.
o They see our fallen “Christian” leaders as an example of our faith standards.
o We seem undisciplined and unfaithful.
o We need to get our own house in order and then we can tell them about religion.
o Christians worship a “triune” God (God the Father, God the Christ, and the Holy Spirit). This is a faith statement of some denominations. We do accept that Christ is Deity, they do not. To them he is a prophet that did not raise from the dead.
Web references: JesustoMuslims.org/content/bridge-points-reaching-muslins and moodymedia.org/articles/islam-unveiled/
There will be no class this upcoming Thursday due to conference preparations, no classes during conference, and the office is closed the Monday after conference thus no class. The next class will be April 12th. We will cover chapter eight.
March 22, 2018 Class # 44, Thursday
The text continues looking at the question of salvation by considering what some other religious groups believe on the subject as found on page 24 of our text. The main reason for reviewing these is because there are those around us who follow these teachings and we need to be able to discuss with them the truth as we understand it.
The Christian Science church was founded in 1875 by Mrs. Eddy. In her writings, she states that “God is an impersonal Principle of life…and that matter is an illusion.” She goes on to claim that Jesus was not God (deity) and did not die on the cross.
We then went on to the Unification church and their leader, Sun Myung Moon. He believes that Christ failed in his mission and that Rev. Moon believes that it is his task to complete the salvation task. Rev. Moon believes that he is superior to Jesus.
We continued to consider the other listed groups, all with varying ideas, especially the claims that there is no sin. I especially liked the concept that there is no old age, but I know better because I often feel old.
When we got to Islam, I asked the class who they felt Allah was, the God of Abraham or another lessor God chosen by the faith? That is the assignment for the next class: research the question.
It was noted that many of the Islamic people today are good and law-abiding people and have a sense of community. It was also mentioned in class that one of the class members knew of a case of an Islamic family member trying to convert to Christianity and that action put the convert in danger of death from her family.
Because Islam is becoming such a large presence in the world today, we thought that we should learn a little more about the religion which we will do during our next class.
There will be no class on March 29 nor during conference. On Monday, April 9th, the office is closed and again no class.
March 19, 2018 Class # 43, Monday
After reviewing the “saved by…” scriptures on page 23, the class continued with the topic of what people believe are the saving concepts. We have spent much of our discussion time on the “sinner’s prayer,” so I didn’t feel we need to discuss it today. We also have an upcoming chapter on the doctrine of eternal security. I did comment that we (Remnant and Christians) might be able to refer back to a deciding moment or our realization that we are sinners and in need of the atonement. For some, growing up in the church, we might not have had anything but a continuing growth in our testimony rather than the moment of decision.
That led us to consider the seven points found in the One-Minute Answers book, which consider the path through the moment of decision whether it is a single moment or over our life time of experience.
1. Acknowledge that you are a sinner. We all need to realize that mankind is a sinner due to the fall of man, and that we as a people often wonder down sinful ways rebelling against what God wants us to do.
2. Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. The atonement is real and we should praise God that it did happen.
3. Change direction. Turn away from your sinful way of life. It seems that every time I think I have conquered a sinful aspect of my life, Christ and the Holy Spirit show me another. I am forever in debt and dependent upon the Savior of mankind.
After the prayer (or experience), he suggests that you:
1. Begin reading and obeying the Bible (Scripture)
2. Begin praying. Simply talk to God. We talked a little about our prayer life and the prayer habits we have.
3. Begin going to church that teaches through the Bible. We heard minister stress the idea of belonging to a “bible believing church.” That ignores the additional scriptures we have and we noted that all of the bible believing denomination do not agree. So, which one is correct? We need to consider all of the scriptures and what is being taught.
4. Make friends with other believers… We need our support groups!
March 15, 2018 Class #42, Thursday
Today we had the opportunity to cover the different restoration scriptures found on page 23 of the text. They cover the different ways that we are “Saved.” As noted, the list is from the Doctrinal References by Alvin Knisley and published by Herald House.
Saved by belief Acts 16:31, John 3:15-16
Saved by grace Eph. 2:8, Titus 3: 3-7
Saved by hope Romans 8:24
Saved by baptism I Pet. 3:21
Saved by the gospel I Cor. 15:1,2
Saved with fear Jude 23
Saved by belief and confession Rom. 10:9
Saved by the name of Christ Acts 4:12
Saved by obedience Heb. 5:9
Saved by works Phil. 2:12, James 2:14-25
We took turns reading each one and commenting upon them.
On belief, we saw that believing is a first step to all other steps towards salvation. If you don’t believe, you won’t care or respond. We have covered grace well as we went through the previous 1833 confession. Without hope (related closely to faith) of the promised future. We felt that the scripture might be a little confusion due to the older form of speech, but concluded that “hope that is seen is not hope” because it now knowledge and proved.
We discussed the need for us to be willing to “confess the name of Jesus Christ” as a part of our salvation. If called upon by our peers, we should not deny Christ, and we are commanded to bear a positive testimony to others for the sake of our salvation and theirs.
On the name of Christ, the Old Testament covenant ceremony includes the taking on of the others name. And then considering that when we covenant with Christ, we take on his name and all that that implies. We also close our prayers “in the name of Jesus Christ.”
The concept of being saved by works must always be cleared up as the term may be confusing. It is true that we cannot “do” anything to cause Christ or God to save us. That is his grace and mercy. But, we can respond to the atonement and react with righteous works which change us and others.
We closed the class noting that Saved by Faith was not on the list. We turned to Moroni 7: 24-25 where that is stated that it is among those thinks that will save us.
I feel that we have covered the “sinner’s prayer” in our previous class discussions. So, we will go on from there in our next class to page 24
March 12, 2018 Class #41, Monday
Today’s class went over the scriptures I had asked the class to review. The list can be found at the end of the previous class.
I Peter 4: 6-7, refers to the “gospel being preached also to them that are dead.” We speculated that the dead mentioned in the scripture meant to our evangelical friends, the dead in spirit. We understand that the dead are in the prison house. We took a look at Rev. 20 along with the scripture.
II Peter 3: 3-13 and I Thess. 4: 3-13 gave us a chance to discuss the evangelical perspective on the rapture. It was mentioned that Christ is going to live on the earth for the millennial reign, which would indicate that be “taken up in the rapture to heaven” in an incomplete teaching.
After reading together the other interesting scriptures mentioned in the assignment, I asked the class to go to I Cor. 15: 40-41 which discusses the glories of God and wondered why they are not mentioned by non-restoration saints.
The rest of the class was spent reviewing the differences between Liberal Christianity and Conservative Christianity as shown by the chart on page 22 of the MIT text. We also asked the question for each of the points as to where we are in our believes; such as, we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God but also realize that due to the many translations and due to the understandings of the language over the years, that the Bible may not be as clear on some points in some verses as thought. One needs to look at all of the scriptures on a topic before creating a doctrinal belief. On miracles, if we don’t believe in miracles, how can one accept the resurrection. On humans as being good, we agree that humans are in a fallen state, but consider that there must be some good in people in order for them to respond to the Holy Spirit.
In the liberal column under Jesus, it mentions that Jesus is not God and in the conservative column it says that Jesus is God. We should consider saying that Jesus is Deity and not make the claim that Jesus is God.
We agree with the atonement.
The liberal view that God’s “primary attribute” is love leads us to think that God will save all people due to that love. However, it is because of the love and his holiness (sanctified) that He has provided for us the path to return to him.
As to the heaven of hell alternative, we will leave that until later as there is a chapter in the text that is upcoming.
March 8, 2018, Class #40, Thursday
We continued our trek through the New Hampshire Confession of Faith by discussing point number XVI, “Of the Civil Government.” As the question mentions a civil government, I asked the class to define a civil government. After some discussion, I offered the definition of: the practical implementation of a state business that is other than its military units which creates and enforces the laws prescribed. The other two types suggested were that of a military or religious authority and leadership. I also asked the class to tell me what types of business a government such as a city, state, or federal government might be found doing. And next, to consider that having a government is “of divine appointment.”
The next aspect of confession XVI was to say that governments ought to be led by righteous people, prayed for, honored, and obeyed “except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We began looking at the scriptures suggested to see if they make any statements that council us to follow the leaders of our government. We read Rom. 12:1-7; II Sam. 23:3; Matt. 22:21, I Peter 2:13; Acts 5:29; and Matt. 23-10. We then looked up Isa. 2:1-4 and Isa. 9:6-7. I asked the class if there are any modern-day scriptures with the same council? We then took a brief look at Section 112 of the D&C.
The next point in the confession is called: “Of the Righteous and the Wicked.” We discussed what we thought the “radical and essential difference” was and felt that the point of this confession aligned with the next point on the world to come, and that they only look at a two-fold result of this life, either heaven or hell, righteous or unrighteous depending upon the conscience or verbal acceptance of Jesus Christ. If you believe, you are righteous. If you don’t believe, you’re not. We do believe that all men are sinners in the sight of God. However, we consider that we must continue to respond to the atonement of Christ and to continue to do righteous works until this mortal life is over. Righteousness may be a gradual lifelong moving towards the standards that Christ has set out for us.
Point number XVIII discusses “Of the World to Come.” We agree that the end of the world is approaching, but felt that we should consider that the Kingdom of God is to be upon this earth, thus feeling that what is meant by “the end of the world,” is an end to the world as we currently know it. We agree that in the “last day Christ will descend from heaven, and that there will be a final retribution,” but realize that the final judgement is after other events such as the millennial reign of Christ. I felt that a full study of the “end time” events could not be included in the few minutes of this class and that we have other lessons on salvation understandings yet to come in the text.
I suggested that the class review the following scriptures found on the list for this confession: I Peter 4: 6-7; Matt. 24:35; Matt. 13:39-40; II Peter 3:3-13; Rev. 1:7; I Thess. 4:13-18; Acts 24:15; Matt. 13:49; and Matt. 24:30,31. I also suggested that we look at I Cor. 15:40-41; and Revelations 20.
Our next class will take up more of the salvation beliefs.
March 5, 2018, Class # 39, Monday
We continued our trek through the New Hampshire Confession of Faith by discussing point number XII called “Of Harmony of the Law and the Gospel.” The first question was to consider what the word Law means, especially as it related to the Gospel. To do that, I asked the class to consider some passages from D&C Section 85:3, 11, 9, and 8. They tell us that the “law” is in all things and governs all things. Paragraph 11 discusses the law governing “all things by which they move in their times, and their seasons; and their courses are fixed…” We considered the idea that the times may not all be at the same time suggesting that different earths and planets may exist at different times as per their need in God’s purposes for His creations. We discussed the different kingdoms of this planet, such as that of man, animals, plants, single cell creatures, etc. From there we discussed how we need to obey the laws of God’s Kingdom, more specifically the Celestial Kingdom, in order that we might be able to spend eternity with Him.
Point XII goes on to consider how fallen man seems to love sin, basically saying that man is carnally minded and/or that the natural man is an enemy to God. How difficult it is to break the habits and mental desires so familiar to all of us. And yet we must in order obey the laws of God, relying upon the grace and mercy of God, and depending upon the atonement for us to be worthy of his goal for us.
We read together: Matt. 18:17; Luke 16:17; Rom. 3:20-24; and Rom. 4:15. (KJ)
Point XIII brings out that a congregation is made up of baptized believers, noting that some churches today do not make that claim. We questioned the concept that pertaining to reading and interpreting the scriptures is by “only scriptural officers.” We wondered if this went back to the Catholic idea that only the priest could read and teach from the scriptures? Certainly, we would consider that we all may teach from the word, but that individual interpretations should always agree with all of the scriptures, not just a verse or passage.
We did not read any of the scriptures recommended to support the statement.
Point XIV discusses the method of baptism, notably immersion in water of a believer. We noted that it is to be done “into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost;” which agrees with our prayer used at the time of baptism. When we make the covenant of baptism we gain the privileges of being a part of his church and the opportunity to partake of the ordinances reserved by membership such as the sacrament.
We read together: Acts 8:36-39; Matt. 3:5-6; John 3:22-23; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; and Acts 22:16.
We closed the class by discussing point XV on the Christian Sabbath. We considered how many today ignore any council to keep the day holy. It was hard in some cases to consider some of the activities we do, but thought that we could always ask ourselves the question “is what I’m doing enriching my spirit and allowing my body to rest?”
We did not read any of the scriptures recommended to support the statement.
The next class will take up the last 3 points of the confession of faith.
March 1, 2018, Class # 38, Thursday
We started the class by discussing point VIII, Of Repentance and Faith.
I noted that some of the way the words were used in the statement were less familiar to us as our language has become more “common” than it was in 1833. I brought up the word duties where they say, “repentance and faith are sacred duties.” We thought we might be inclined to use the word “response” in that sentence. We also discussed how repentance and faith are “graces.” It is through the grace of God that we have the opportunity to repent and we repent because we have the faith believing that there is a God and that he forgives our sins. Praise God. We also looked at the word “contrition” and decided that it meant a sense of humility, obedience, and surrender.
We read together: Mark 1:15, Acts 11:18, I John 5:1-5, Acts 2:37-38, Acts 16:30-31.
On statement IX, Of the Purpose of Grace; we felt that the word election needed to be defined as to not confuse it with the action of voting. We looked up the definition and found that “a privilege of making a choice” worked better in the text to help us understand the meaning.
We read together: II Tim. 1:8-9, Eph. 1:3-14, John 15:16, II Thess. 2:13-14, and John 10:16.
We tried to figure out how the last scripture helped to support their statement of belief. We of the Restoration belief use that scripture to verify the Book of Mormon as it mentions the “other sheep” Christ is to minister to.
On statement X, Of Sanctification; we especially liked the description of “a progressive work” in relationship to our lives. And, how the Holy Spirit works with us to constantly change us by our choice and submission to the people God wants us to be, and to be ready for the upcoming Kingdom of God.
We read together the first four scriptures mentioned in the text after the point.
On statement XI, Of Perseverance of the Saints, it was good to read that “We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end. It then says that those who truly follow Christ will have a life that is noticeably not superficial in their professing of Christ.
We read together the first five scriptures noted in the text on that point.
For Monday’s class, we will continue through the points hoping to cover 3 or 4 more with a goal of finishing the confession by the end of next week.
February 26, 2018, Class # 37, Monday
Just a note, there was no class last Thursday due to another ice storm in Independence.
Today we took up point number V called “Of Justification,” as found in the 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith by Newton Brown.
I began the class by defining Justification: the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God. We agreed that this is a theological definition and that the word could be used in other ways. But, since we are studying theology, this one will work. This is especially critical as we considered the work that Christ did for us in the atonement.
The other word used in the scriptures we wanted to look at is Sanctify meaning: “free from sin, purify, absolve, endure, and vindicate.
We all liked the term “great gospel blessing” as used in the sentence on page 19. Again, the term works is emphasized by the text as it reads: “bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done.” It was noted that this statement of works had a possible connection the thought that the Jews of the day had done something righteous to “bring” Christ to them; thus, works of righteousness done by them to make them special in the eyes of God and God’s chosen.
As I looked at the scriptures for confession 5, I noted that many of them say much the same thing. Therefore, I asked the class to look at on their own these scriptures: Acts 13:39, Romans 5, Matt. 9:6, Acts 10:43, and Matt. 6:33.
We read in class together these scriptures on salvation: D&C 17: 6, Helaman 4: 70-73, Ether 5:28, D&C 11;4, Mosiah 3:21, Alma 3:67-72, Alma 9: 49-50, and D&C 162:9. The last two scriptures mention the words “righteous works.” This really helps us understand how we understand the relationship of grace and works.
Point number VI notes to us how “salvation is free to all.” This in showed us that God is no respecter of persons. Once we as humans have received this salvation gospel, our job is to accept the gospel and the blessings that come to us, or we can reject the gospel which leads to condemnation.
We picked out Rom. 1:15-17, John, 5:40 and Luke 10:27, to study at home.
Point VII discusses the regeneration or born-again experience that we all might experience whether that was a onetime event or over our entire lifetime changing towards what God wants us to be. We did not look at the scriptures that goes along with the point.
Thursday we will take up point VIII and more as time allows.
February 19, 2018, Class # 36, Monday
The class is continuing to look at the 1833 New Hampshire Confession of Faith and the scriptures they use to back up their statements. Today’s class worked on number IV, Of the Way of Salvation. The first sentence says; “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace…”
Do we agree?
I found in a book called Restoration Beliefs which was compiled by the San Francisco Bay District in 1963, this statement:
“Saved by Grace?
What of salvation by grace? We most certainly believe that salvation comes by grace. The difference comes in our definition of grace. One of the best definitions expressed in recent years is to the effect that grace is the quality of God that causes him to continue to reach out past the rejection of man seeking to lift him from his fallen state, to challenge him to live in accord with the good that was created in him…It is by this kind favor and limitless outreach of God that salvation is possible.”
So often, evangelicals claim that we do not believe that we are saved by grace. However, they often mean that you are saved by grace alone. We would agree that we are saved by grace, for it is through grace that all else is possible. I understand that much of the grace/works debate comes from the early church’s claim that one could buy indulgences and thus purchase salvation. Or that one could “do things” that would put a “jewel in your crown of heaven.” We cannot purchase our salvation or by doing good deeds quality for heaven. In section 162:9 , we are counseled “through our faith we are saved by grace, remember that it is through our holy works we demonstrate the depth of our faith.”
The rest of the confession statement number IV is such that we could agree with it. We did look up some of the scriptures given with the statement and choose to read a little beyond those given as a reference. For example; we read in Eph. 2, verses 3-5, not just 3.
We also turned the pages of our text to page 23 where some other scriptures are given whereby we may be saved. We read Eph. 2:8 and Titus 3:3-7 on grace. Then moved on to James 2:14-25 and discussed the relationship between faith and works.
Our next class will take up point number V, Of Justification.
February 15, 2018, Class #35, Thursday
The assignment for today was to read II Nephi: 6, and Alma 19: 42-46 and 84-104. We began the class by acknowledging just how grateful we are for the explanation on the fall of man as found in the Book of Mormon. We went around the table and had each one of us read a verse with an occasional question asked about the text, on the grace of God for His plan. It was noted in verse 28 that the mercy of God will even deliver up the captive spirits from hell and that the bodies of men will be restored to the spirit of men. We are indeed dependent upon the atonement of Christ and as long as we keep our minds focused on Christ, even until the end of our mortal life, we will be saved to the eternity God has prepared for us. Verse 74 reads: “Remember, to be carnally minded is death, and to be spiritually minded is life eternal.”
We then turned our attention to Alma 19: 42 -104 noting especially verse 43: “…as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” We discussed that when the concept of just heaven or hell is the only consideration, one thinks that when a “bad” person dies, his or her spirit goes to hell and that there is nothing else for them. Thus, the great push to have people say the “salvation prayer” and keep them from going to hell no matter what actions or behavior they may have after that event. Verse 66 reminds us that “if…the desires of their hearts were good, they should also, at the last day, be restored to that which is good.”
We then turned our attention to the scriptures of confession point three as found in our text, especially the ones referred to in Romans chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8. We noted that Paul was assuming at time that the readers of his texts had some understanding of salvation and the events following our deaths. It is too bad that he didn’t have the Book of Mormon to refer to for we are sure that the teachings of Christ to the early Christians was complete.
Next Monday, we will take up point IV and V, and the scriptures found there. Please feel free to look them up and contemplate what they say, and if they agree with restoration theology.
February 12, 2018, Class #34, Monday
Currently the class is working through The New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833) printed on pages 18-21. We worked on point number 2, Of the True God.
For the most part, we did not disagree with this point of the confession. It was pointed out that they give only one name to God, that of JEHOVAH. We noted that there are many other scriptures stating another name for God as seen in Exodus: I AM THAT I AM.
It was good to note that this confession states that they believe in the Godhead as three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. As we read through the scriptures given to us in the confession, we could see the diversities of the three. I did note the unusual description of the three when they said: “executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work.” We wondered if that was a term more familiar in 1833 and noted how it points to the three entities working within different functions, yet still one.
When we read Rev. 1: 4-5 we were struck by the words “from the seven spirits.” Matthew Henry’s commentary indicated that they refer to the seven cities where churches were established and listed in verse 11. In the Inspired Version we find the word servants substituted for spirits. Corwyn had a different commentary that referred us to Isaiah 11:2 where it listed 7 different aspects or spirits: “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of 1) wisdom and 2) understanding, the spirit of 3) counsel and 4) might, the spirit of 5) knowledge, and of the 6) fear of the Lord.” That’s only 6 unless you say that the first “spirit of the Lord” is number 1. If we see the Matthew Henry thought that the seven spirits are the cities, each one would be a servant of Christ and that would align better with the Inspired version.
We then began to look at the 3rd point which covers salvation and the fall of man. We didn’t have problems with the statement until we considered our belief that infants are not able to sin. I also noted that they state that people are “utterly void of that holiness.” I felt that people have a spark of the Spirit in them which hopefully leads them to righteousness and to realize that God is Love. Isn’t the heart of man basically good, but often ignores it, hardens his/her heart, and goes astray. Romans 3:10 states that God is good and we know that man is made in God’s image.
The assignment for Thursday is to read II NE. 6 and Alma 19:42-46 and 84-104. We will then take up the scriptures found to back up the confession.
February 8, 2018 Class # 33
Due to another activity in the church, there was no class last Monday.
Today’s class began a close look at “The New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833). We have agreed that we would like to read the individual points of the confession and look up the scriptures to determine how we think these scriptures validate their points. And then review what our understanding of them is. A copy of the confession is found on page 18 of our text and on line.
It appears that the confession is saying that the Bible is the only book and of more importance towards salvation that Christ. We discussed that we understand that scripture is divinely inspired, but that when we look at how scripture has come about through many translations and understandings, that it may be hard to say that a given verse may prove a preset belief. Rather, we need to look at the whole book, and in our case multiple books, to better understand what God is revealing to us. We do accept that God has kept his hand in the books and has guarded them throughout the ages.
Corwyn Mercer gave us a good way to help “bible only” believers begin a walk through the “math” as we begin to help them understand the process of scripture coming forth and the possibility of additional scripture, when we read the first suggested scripture of the first point: II Timothy 3: 16-17 and vs. 15. Verse 16 is noted by them to prove that the bible is the only book and that it is without error. Corwyn noted that “scripture” during the time of Paul was only the Old Testament, and then only available in scrolls at the synagogue. So, using this scripture to say that the New Testament is as they say it is, cannot be because Paul didn’t have the New Testament to include as “all scripture.”
We also discussed how the holy spirit is our teacher and has been from our early youth, if we have been listening to it. If we are in tune to the spirit and are open to its teachings, that spirit will confirm the right-ness of a scripture. That becomes a key as we search all scripture, pray about it, and determine what truly is correct doctrine.
Proverbs 30:5 is used as proof of the infallibility of scripture as well. As we looked at that scripture we agreed that “God is pure,” but noted that man is not. Men make mistakes. Men’s understandings may cause certain word patterns to vary. Men’s languages change. Etc.
It was noted in class that Romans 2: 12 was a good reference to say that we are accountable to the law, but we need to know the law before we are subject to its teachings.
The next class will take up the 2nd point in the confession.
February 1, 2018 Class # 32
Thursday’s class compared the statement of faith from the National Associations of Evangelicals to the Epitome of Faith from Joseph Smith.
With that came some brief history of when and why Joseph Smith wrote the Epitome of Faith.
There are some points in the NAE statement that we agreed with, but feel that some of the wording is not as clear as Joseph’s statements. We noted that baptism and the ordinances were left out of the NAE statement. They did “believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by who’s indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life,” which to us would include how the ordinances of the church would enable us to have the spirit with us and help us to endure to the end.
I am asking the students to bring a King James Bible with them for the next class because we are going to look up the scriptures given as back up for the points given to us in the “New Hampshire Confession of Faith” (1833). That confession of faith is printed in the MIT Academy text on page 18-21.
January 29, 2018 Class # 31
Monday’s class covered the 5 criteria for Christian denominations per Ron Rhoades in his book called “The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations” © 2015. They are printed out in our study text on page 15. Briefly: 1) Scripture, 2) God, 3) Jesus Christ, 4) Humanity, 5) Sin and salvation.
We disagree with his criteria on point number 1 as he says the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Also, point number 4, in that he says humanity is destined to be in heaven or hell depending upon whether they have responded affirmatively to the gospel. We might discuss the concept of heaven or hell and I read into the criteria the need to “say the sinner’s prayer” alone as acceptance into heaven.
We also discussed the grace “alone” and faith “alone” comments in criteria number 5. We do recognize the grace of God allowing us to be in his fellowship, but look at more of the whole picture on “salvation.” I have considered that much of what protestants disagree with is the indulgences of the Catholic churches.
He excludes Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses because they do not agree with his 5 criteria. The reality is, his criteria doesn’t agree with the early church.
January 25, 2018, Class # 30
The class discussion today begins to cover chapter Six of the Missionary In Training Academy material called “What do other churches believe? Creeds and Statements of Beliefs.
The mention of “previous events” refers to missionary experiences in recent years that the author had done in various communities in the area. Most of them were public events where we could share reading materials with those passing by, and then some conversation when possible. Those events helped to point out that we need to be better prepared as to what other denominations believe. It was noted in class that we could approach these one on one opportunities by either discussion those beliefs or just presenting our view points. Either way, having some knowledge of both would be beneficial.
The class spent some time discussing why the church leaders of the early church felt they needed to develop a definitive statement about beliefs, mainly that of deciding who is and who wasn’t a Christian and who was following who’s teaching. As the church was a dominate force in the early kingdoms, gaining funds, control, territory, etc. was important to their survival.
We discussed the Apostles Creed which was developed from around 120 to 205 AD. We discussed what we agreed with and those points we felt were incorrect. We also discussed what was meant by the “universal church.”
The next class will take up the rest of page 15 and Ron Rhodes summary of what he thinks are the five criteria for a Christian Church.
January 22, 2018, Monday, Class # 29
Today’s class started by looking at a current bumper sticker that says “coexist” using different religious symbols. From the research that I have done, the symbol is in support of religious pluralism, the belief that all religions are true, and thus we should just accept whatever is taught and co-exist.
I asked the class to look up Deut. 13:1-5, John 4:1, and Gal. 1:8. I encourage you to do the same. The scriptures encourage us to be careful and not to stray from the truth, but where does the truth come from and how do we know it when we hear other claims about truth?
I referred to a graph found on page 51 of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist”. It is based on the answers to the question he asks at seminars; “Why do people believe what they believe?”
Peace of Mind
Explanation of all the
We discussed how we should evaluate the messages we receive. Any theological concept that we hear should be evaluated through the scriptures and through prayer. Just as Moroni 10:5 says, we should ask with a sincere heart and we will receive an answer through the Holy Ghost.
It is interesting to note that many people will say that they believe this or that and that they have received spiritual confirmation of that belief. But we also know that conflicting ideas can’t both be true. So, to sort through some of the beliefs found in various places, you need to look at all scripture and not base a belief on just one verse. We are also blessed to have two additional books of scripture to help us see more clearly.
In the restored church, we must also consider that God and Christ are directing us on who we must be to be citizens of his Kingdom. If we wanted to be a part of a sports team, the coach of that team would expect us to fulfill the requirement needed. So does God.
The next class will begin Chapter Six.
January 18, 2018 Class # 28
Today we discussed the question of evil. What is it? Where did it come from? Most of the answers are found on page 12 and 13 of the class material.
The class indicated that evil is the opposite of good. It has its basis in the sin of mankind with Satan pushing us onward toward his objective and our demise. Evil “is in the will, the choice, the intent, the movement of the soul, which puts a wrong order to the physical world of things and acts.”
It we understand that the Hebrew translation of evil is adversity, then it becomes easier to see how God placed evil or adversity in our world, that we might have the choice and thus, with choices that are of God’s design, achieve our preparedness for his kingdom. One student paraphrased scripture and reminded us that we must “taste the bitter that we may prize the good.” Love can only be full if chosen freely.
The text refers to two kinds of evil: physical and moral. The physical evils are those aspects of our worldly life that are brought upon us through the world we live in and cannot control. The moral evils are brought upon us by the choices mankind or individuals make.
Scriptures to review: Moroni 7:11-18, II NE 1:81, II NE 8:90, D&C 1:3, and Isaiah 45:7
We discussed how much of the moral evil in the world may be caused by the lack of security in each of us. We look to the things of the world to bring us security. When “bad” things happen to us, we blame God and loose our security in him. We want to conquer others in order to gain our position or status, etc. We should be placing our security in Christ and in the Father. We can turn all our fears over to him and we can thank him when we have seen his hand in helping us through the dilemmas of worldly life.
The next class will take up chapter five, on page 13 and 14.
Why should we believe anything at all? See Duet. 13: 1-5
January 15, 2018 Class # 27
Just in case you were looking for Thursday’s class, it was canceled due to the ice and snow. Even with a little snow last night, we did have class today.
In review, we considered the benefits of a zionic community in hopes that being able to see those perks, people would desire to change themselves and become a people ready to live there. We noted that it is like the question, what comes first, the chicken of the egg. We need the community to help us change who we are so that we might take on the attributes of a zionic citizen. So ultimately, both the community and the citizens grow together as we become what God wants us to be.
I asked the class to give me some attributes of a citizen of Zion. Here is what they gave me:
1. Love – no envying, no strife or contentions.
a. strife means angry or bitter disagreements
b. not fighting over the little things
2. Not angry
3. Humility (being humble)
4. Peaceful on a personal level (from a security in God)
7. Joyful – outward reflection of inner joy
a. Boldness – confidence in beliefs resulting in not having a fear in sharing
8. Compassionate – going the extra mile for someone – empathy
At the end of this discussion, I gave the students a list of what I had found and some scriptures to go with them:
- Love – John 13:34-35; Moroni 7:48-53; Luke 10: 26-30, IV Ne 1: 17-18
- Service – Alma 2:20-22; James 1:26-27
- Work – Genesis 3:25; D&C 42:12b
- Self-reliance – D&C 77: 3c-d; I Tim 5:8
- Accountability – D&C 101: 2b-d
- Purity of Heart – D&C 94:5a
- Be Ye Perfect – Matt. 5:50
- Diligent – II Peter 3:14
- Praying – Jude 20
- Keeping His Word – I John 2:5
- Clean and white – Rev. 19: 7-8
- Charity – Moroni 7:50-53, I Cor. 13: 3-8
- Wisdom – Luke 2:40 (and service – Mosiah 1:49)
- Kind – Moroni 7:50-53
- Repented – Alma 16:134-137; Alma 14:103
- Fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-26
- Consecration: D&C 42:14b, 106
- Faith, Virtue – II Peter 1:2-8
This is by no means a complete list, but some things to consider in our own lives.
I felt that it is time to move on, so the assignment for Thursday’s class is to continue in the text on page 12 and 13, evil and tolerance.
January 8, 2018 Class # 26
This was the first class of 2018. We had taken time off during the holidays.
We left off our discussion on page 12 of the MIT material, chapter 4, Can mankind fix its problems without the help of God?
A large part of the discussion during the last class was considering what would need to be “fixed” to make it a “better place.” What do we mean when we say “better?” What would it take to bring our current society from the beliefs it has into a community we would call Zion? I was hoping to allow the students to consider or visualize what living in a zionic community would be like, and thus create a greater desire to live under those conditions. Therefore, I gave them the assignment to write a 2-page paper on how zionic conditions would make the world a better place. Thus, answering the question of the chapter as to why mankind needs the church’s concepts and God’s concepts to make it a “better society.” This seems to be a two-part problem. One, creating a community where the conditions exist for the proper development of the citizens; and two, having citizens who have the attributes of zionic citizens living together. The two aspects seem to need to develop side by side. Can you have one without the other?
The students brought up several things they felt would be better in this zionic society:
- More righteous tolerance and acceptance of each other.
- Because of the first point, less political unrest.
- Everyone would accept God and his principles.
- People would strive to live under God’s will, and place more trust in the Lord.
- Less hungry people and all finding a way to contribute to the community.
- Lower crime rates.
- A more loving people.
- A better understanding of how people would deal with each other.
I’m not sure that each of the points above were specific enough to tell us just how it would be better, but some did. We did discuss them as we went as we expanded our thinking. One of the discussion points was to consider the church's teaching on just wants and needs, or the creation of surplus. If members of the community were to consider creating and sharing their surplus, what things could be done for the betterment of others? What opportunities could be provided and thus the community would be better. This comes about because the citizens desire to share and to consider the needs of others.
I then quoted from a series of radio broadcast by President Frederick M. Smith done in 1938. He said:
“Religion is more than a mere theory, or the philosophy of the mystical. It has and should have a practical application. It should furnish a basis on which the maladjustments of society might find a rectification. Among Latter Day Saints is firmly fixed the earnest belief that the Christian religion was intended by its Author to have social application toward betterment of human conditions, and that present social ills are the result of departures from such religion, or failure to apply it…We have lost sight of our brother and our neighbor and their needs, or in our selfishness have reused to do what lies in our power to supply those needs.
Because most of the students did not write out the assignment, but shared bullet points on their thoughts, I asked them to go ahead and write the 2-pages to help them express their thoughts.
The next class will review the assignment and then consider the second part of formula, that of what personal attributes are needed to be a zionic person. We then need to continue with the understandings on evil. As we consider what needs to be better, we are discussing mostly how we can change the moral evils in the world, for the physical evils of the world are harder to address, such as illness, which are those things we may have to suffer through.
I am going to put the most recent class on the top of this page for each entry to make it easier to find the most recent material.
2017 class reports:
1st class notes:
Goals for the class:1. better learn what we as the Remnant Church believe. 2. strengthen our understandings to keep us strong in the faith. The first activity was to watch a video found at: allaboutphlosophy.org/absolute-truth-video.htm. You should be able to find that on line. We then discussed our observations about the video and if we felt the video was acurate.
We then discussed what we thought absolute truth is and found a definition of it which says that "truth is not relative but absolute. If something is true, it is true for all people, at all times, in all places."
The reason we need to discuss that there is absolute truth, is because many of those opposing Christianity don't want to consider that there is abosolute truth. Thus, we need to open that door of thought to allow people to be ready to accept religion.
Much of these discussion will come from a resourch listed in the SRCB material. It is called "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" by Geisler and Turek. The main points they bring up are in the SRCB text.
Assignment for the next class: Look up on the web some information about Logical Thinking or Critical Thinking. Write a couple of simple logical progressions. Read chapter one of the text. Read over the definitions found on page iv of the material.
Class number 2 notes:
We reviewed the definition of truth and why it is important.
We reviewed the 7 points on page 2.
We discussed what a self-defeating statement is. Those statements contradict themselves. Such as "All truth is relative." Our answer to that should be: is that a relative truth? We then took a look at a simple example of a logical progression statement:
1. All men are mortal
2. Spencer is a man
3. therefore Spencer is mortal.
This is a valid conclusion base on the premises. They follow that if...and if... then..... What is not stated is whether the proposition is true. In this case, at least the conclusion is valid. What if all men are not mortal, or if Spencer is not a man, then the argument could be false even with the correct conclusion.
Logic can help us with our missionary work as we can use it make a strong case for those questions that cannot be ultimately proved like is there a God? Through good sound observation, a solid conclusion can be made.
Two scriptures were brought up on truth: D&C 90:5a,b and 85:9a.
Assignment for the next class: look up scriptures on truth and write more logic statements.
Class # 3: September 18, 2017
The first topic for today's class was a look at self-defeating statements and the "road runner tactic". We had the opportunity to watch a road runner cartoon. You can find one on you-tube. Basically it is the coyote finding himself suspended in the air or being beaten by his own attempts to catch the road runner who alludes the traps and remains unharmed. A self-defeating statement is much like that, it has no ground to stand on.
An example is someone saying there is no truth. The statement doesn't meet it's own criteria. Our answer to that might be: How do you know there is not truth? To continue with that thought, one might ask whether we know everything in the universe. Is it possible that there are still facts on bits of knowledge that haven't yet been discovered, explored, or considered. The answer would be yes. If that is true, then I don't know everything and that something might still come forth that would explain a truth we previously thought of as not true.
We then discussed opinion verses truth. Some things that are considered to be true may be just opinion. This is true in religion. The idea that babies need to be baptised is a good example. Scripture does not back up that belief, yet, people still consider it to be true.
In a classic sense, philosophy means finding truth through logic, evidence, and science (look up the definition of science). This is how we will approach our research on theological topics. Is something worth believing if it's rational, if it is supported by evidence, and if it is the best explanation of the data? The answer should be yes. I believe that it is possible to test our beliefs by this method.
Assignment: look up scriptures on truth and continue to consider your logic statements. Reading assignment: continue with chapter one, page 3 of the MIT Academy material.
Class # 4: September 21, 2017
We took up our assignment to review the scriptures found by the students on "truth". The first one was D&C 90: 4a-e, 5 b, and 6 a. We especially looked at the thought that truth is set and anything more or less than that is not of God but of the wicked one. We saw that truth is independent and in God's sphere, and that light and truth is outside of our human sphere.
I asked the class to give me examples of what we claim as truths. 1. There is a God. 2. God created... 3. The gospel 4. the elements and physical laws which brought us to the restoration concept that the temporal and spiritual make up the celestial law. 5. We discussed the opposite views between the unchurched and the churched that God is the source of everything and the results of the world's thinking that God and his truth isn't the source of truth.
We put a large box on the white board representing absolute truth. We wrote in the box: God, the gospel, the word of God, intellegence, agency, Christ, the spirit of Christ, the family unit, and society structure or community. These things we decided were patterns set by God and if the world followed them it would be a better place (less chaos).
The concept of Relativism was introduced, the philosophy that doctrine should be determined by culture, society, historical context, and are not absolute. The scriptures we are looking at do not agree with the philosophy.
Other scriptures that we looked at: Sec 83: 7b, Ether 1: 108, and Moroni 10: 5.
The next class will continue the scripture search on truth with an emphasis on the Old and New Testament references to truth. Are they as complete as the D&C and Bk of Mormon.
Class # 5 September 25, 2017
As an exercise in logical thinking, I presented the class with a couple of puzzles:
A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Everyday, he takes the elevator to the first floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns, he always takes the elevator to the seventh floor and then walks the remaining flights of stairs to his apartment on the tenth floor. Why does he do this?
On night during the Second World War, an Allied bomber was on a mission over Germany. The plane was in perfect condition and everything on it worked properly. When it had reached its target, the pilot ordered the bomb doors opened. They opened, and he then ordered the bombs to be released. But the bombs did not fall from the plane. Why?
Do you know the answer? Send it to me.
We discussed relativism, the philosophy that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relationship to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.
I read from the book: "Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics" the following: From a practical point of view, the question of whether we can know objective truth is one of the most important questions in apologetics, because today most arguments between Christians and non-Christians come down to this point....the argument retreats to this ubiquitous line of defense: "What you say may be true for you, but not for me. Truth is relative. ...We must be prepared to help our opponents that they take refuge in this relativism and subjectivism only after they have lost the argument."
We then discussed the decay in our society. A discussion of that is found in our text on page 3. We also looked at the 5 reasons the Socratic Society has given us as arguments against the idea of absolute truth.
The class shared several OT and NT scriptures regarding truth. Exodus 34:12, Genesis 7: 69-70, 9: 22, Mark 5:25, Romans 1:18, John 14:6. It was noted that the KJ version of the Bible does not give us as clear of an understanding on the topic as does the IV, the D&C, or the Bk of Mormon.
The assignment for Thursday: Read chapter 2 page 4. Look up the arguments points of General Relativity, Law of Causality, the first Law of Thermodynamics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Law of Entrophy.
Class # 6, September 28, 2017
We began the discussion on chapter 2, Does God exist?
We reviewed Genesis Chapter 1: 1-7
Comments were made regarding the words "this heaven and this earth" and we wondered if this tells us that there were or will be others. In any case, it tells us that God created all that we know of or can observe. We also considered the statement "I AM." The beginning of the universe we are a part of started and will have an end.
Many truths about God can be known by the effects that we observe. It is from these logical observations (induction) that we can draw reasonalble conclusions (deductions) about the existence and nature of God. This is how chapter two begins.
We then began to discuss the three arguments for the existence of God: 1) Causality 2) Design and 3) Moral. We then began to define, General Relativity, Law of Causality, The First and Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the Law of Entrophy.
General Relativity was Einstein's discovery which stated that the earth must have had a beginning, which was contrary to his desire to believe that the universe was constantly perpetuated by itself (eternal- non ending or constantly regenerating)
The Law of Causality states that everything that comes to be has to have a cause. This allows us to answer the question of who made God, by saying that He does not have to have a beginning (cause). God did not come to be, He is eternal, the I Am.
Class # 7, Monday October 2, 2017
We watched and discussed a video found on You-tube called "Science has found proof of the existence of God." The video is about 25 minutes long and is presented from the Christian view point.
Class # 8, Thursday October 5, 2017
We began the class by reading Exodus 3:13-14. This is the scripture where God speaks to Moses and says; "I AM THAT I AM." Matthew Henry makes this comment about the scripture, this explains his name Jehovah and signifies: 1. That he is self-existent, 2. Eternal and Unchangeable, and 3. He is incomprehensible.
On page 92 of the book "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist," the authors clear up a common flaw in the atheist question: who made God? They point out that they misunderstand the Law of Causality. "The Law of Causality does not say that everything needs a cause. It says that everthing that comes to be needs a cause. God did not come to be...so he didn't need a cause." This gets us back to our openning scripture..
We then reviewed the SURGE acronym as found on page 5 of the MIT text. Note again the comment in the video from the last class telling us that the percentage of deviance from the big bang event that would have not allowed the continuation of the creation of the universe. We might also consider what variants would not allow for life on earth if they were upset such as the percentage of oxygen in the air.
The students were asked about their views on the old universe (earth) vs. the biblical new universe (earth) theories. We agreed that we should at some point take a look at those. For now we agreed that either way, God still created the universe we are in. And that God is still the most reasonable explanation for the Cosmos.
Class # 9 Monday, October 9, 2017
The class viewed a short video found on : allaboutphilosophy.org/is-there-a-god-video.htm. This video asked people on the street what they thought about how to have a relationship with God. Most of them answerrd that they don't know or don't want to bother. This again points to how the people in today's world are not paying attention to religion.
Today we took up the second argument as an aid to help people consider whether there is a God, that of the Teleological argument or that of Design. Did the universe have a designer? What point to this concept? This is found on page 5 of the MIT text.
We then took a look at the Anthropic Principle - the universe is extremely fine-tuned and balanced.
5 examples were given to help confirm this concept. 1. The balance of oxygen on earth is at 21%. If it were at 25%, the earth would be subject to spontanious fires. At 15% we would die. 2.Transparency - if the earth's atmosphere was less transparent, not enough radiation would reach the earth, if the transparency was more trasparent, we would have too much radiation. 3. Moon-Earth gravitational interaction - if the interaction was greater, earth's rotation speed would be too severe, ocean tides, etc. If less, we would have greater climatic instabilities. 4. Carbon Dioxide Level - if higher a runaway green house effect, if lower, plants would not be able to grow. 5. Gravity - if the gravitational force were changed by .00000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, our sun would not exist.
There are many more examples of how well balanced the universe and our plant are which supports the idea that it is extremely fine-tuned and balanced.
Class # 10 Thursday, October 12, 2017
The assignment for today's class was to read chapter 2 of F. Henry Edward's book; "Fundamentals."
We had a good discussion as we went through the text. His first paragraph discusses how wonderful are the creations of man (the inventions and building, etc.), but then makes the statement that "we have not yet organized the spiritual forces of the universe. Our personal relationships do not match our scientific achievements." We read between the lines and agreed that mankind has not, even with all of its achievements, been able to bring about that total God fed relationship with Him. The author later states that the achievments of men has not fulfilled our deepest needs. We need religion and God to do that.
He presented 4 reasons for believing in God: 1) because of the loving activity of Divinity, 2) because of my observation of human nature, 3) because Jesus believed in him, and 4) because of personal experience.
The class then discussed the four points. On point one; yes, we agree, we can see, it we look for it, where God has had some effect on man even though some would attribute that to society being good to society due to training and education. On point two, we felt that what we currently observe on human nature today is not leaning towards "good" and in fact is deviating from it. On point three, we felt that this is true, but that in order to use this as a discussion point with a non-believer, they would have to accept scripture and that Christ was divinity. On point four, personal experience is always a good testimony and is difficult to argue with, other than for the non-believer to say they think the one sharing the testimony is just crazy. We felt that the question at the end of the chapter: Your agnostic friend is interested in your reasons for belief in God. Where will your arguments for the existence of God most likely to fail to convince him? The class response was back to the 3 arguments from the MIT text, causality, design, and moral.
The assignment for the next class is to do a little research on DNA, most how the complexity of DNA supports the argument that there is a God.
Class # 11, October 16, 2017
Today, the main object is to see just how complex DNA is and that, due to incredible amount of exacting information included in each strand, it would take a "designer" or "creator" to write the codes. To help us understand this concept, the class viewed 3 short videos on DNA that were found on YouTube: "The Discovery if the Structure of DNA," "The structure of DNA," and "DNA-Evidence of God ."
After some discussion of the subject, I asked the class to consider the question; can DNA write itself? We agreed that it cannot and still be complete. It can replicate itself, but needs a designer to write the codes and that they must be complete and exact or they do not work. It was noted that it would take 200 volumes of a 1,000 page book to equal the information in one stran.
We looked up and marked two scriptures: Psalm 139: 13, 14 and Isaiah 40: 26.
I then reminded the class that 99.9% of our DNA is similiar to everyone's. I indicated that one author said that the reason for this is because we all live on the same sphere and the codes need to be similiar inorder for all life to exist.
I then brought up the Mitochondria DNA factor which traces all human beings back to 3 female sources. There also seems to be a genetic block somewhere in our history back to 4 couples. Many believe this to be Noah and his family. Noah's wife did not have any children after the flood. That leaves the three sons and their wives. There are three mtDNA markers found today: "M", "N", and "R". There is very little difference in these markers, so there must have been a one female who lived not too long before the bottleneck.
The next class will take up the holes in the evolutionary theory.
Class # 12, October 19, 2017
We spent a little time reviewing the complexity of DNA and how the complexity points to the need for a designer. I again asked the class if they thought DNA could "write" or create itself. We agreed that because every bit of information in a strand was important, it would be difficult to see how that DNA could spontaneously "write" itself. I used the analogy of a yard covered with car parts spontaneously putting themselves together in just the right sequence to become the car. Not to mention the creation of the parts in the first place, from nothing.
We then watched a video found at: answeringgenesis.org/kids/videos/evolution-refuted.
There were two basic messages from that video: 1. that evolution is not an observable (nor is it observable) process and 2. that in order for "new life" to come into existence, there is the need for new genetic information (code) to be added to the DNA code, which it cannot do. Observable science reveals that living organism only loose information, they don't gain from it.
There is the possiblilty for DNA to have some mutations to occur resulting from chemical interaction, but that those mutations don't cause the species to improve.
I read to them the story found on page 113 of the book by Geisler and Turek about the Alpha-Bit letters being spilled out to read "TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE-MOM", the point being that the information could not have existed without some intellegent intervention (Mom). The text goes on to say that "Naturalist biologist assert that life generated spontaneously from nonliving chemical by natural laws without any intelligent intervention." The next "problem for Darwinists is explaining the origin of first life." Because the process of evolution cannot be observed, nor was it observed except only by God, then what evolutionist are doing is making assertions based upon pre-concieved theories, that some kind of combinations of events changed a current species into the next stage, and then the process was repeated by chance into again another stage and so forth. The possibility of these events is astronomical.
It is interesting to note that Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker writes: "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." But two pages later flatly denies that human life or any other life has been designed.
From the Pocket Guide, page 38: "What difference Does Evolution Make?" 1. a theory about what happened-more complex species appeared on earth- and when as shown by fossel records. 2. a theory about how this happened-natural selection. 3. it can mean the absense of a divine design as distinct from God using natural selection.
Homework: write a paragraph on Natural Selection.
Class # 13 Monday October 23, 2017
I started the class by discussing the Term: Intellegent Design. This came about due to the lack of an answer during the last class.
We agreed that Intellegent Design is the theory that life and the universe could not have come about with out the aid of some designer and is ofter seen as an alternative to evolution. ID is often seen as creationism. According to a source, ID may have happened as the designer placed the needed species on the earth at the appropriate time, not all at once. We also discussed the possiblity that the universe might be very old and the account in Genesis is for this earth. It was suggested that we turn to D&C Section 22: 21d; "But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you...."
I then brought up a distinction in terms. Historical verses Observational Science. Historical science is often called origins. It is non-repeatable and not able to be done through repeated testing and confirmation of the experiments done. Thus Historical Science is an assumption as to the theory or theories presented. Observational Science or experimental science is that which can be verified through testing and control.
Evolutionist also try to claim that Creationist cannot be good scientist. This is just not true, for their are many great scientist that still accept the biblical accounts and the research into true science are possible.
The Theory of Evolution is developed by looking back at discoveries with a preconcieved concept and claiming that the discoveries proof the theory instead of looking at the testable research and trying to discern what the evidence is telling us. Because only one term for science has entered into our text books and media, we then conclude that evolution is totally factual when in reality, other theories and factors might explain the same observations. It was noted that only one has seen the creation, God; thus we should go to the source to best understand the events.
We then discussed the assignment, write a paragraph on natural selection. Definition: The change in heritable traits of a population or species over time, random mutations which the offspring inherit. It was noted that mutations almost always decrease the quality of the species. In order for their to be mutations, there must first be a "correct" set of DNA. Evolutionist cannt tell us where the first species came from nor how the parent species became.
We watch a video found at Youtube: Myths and Misconception on Evolution by Alex Gendler. The video was from the evolutionist view point and said that evulotion comes through reproduction, not some of the popular ideas of the day such as; 1. Evolution is organism adapting to their environment. 2.Individual organisms don't evolve at all, instead, random genetic changes occur and those organism survive. 3. Survival of the fittest doesn't always fit. It's due to reproduction.
I think we have covered enough of the design argument conseidering the time elements given us. Note, that their are many text books written on the subject.
The assignment for the class: Research and consider this question, and then write a response: Are moral laws instilled in us by God or are they developed by society and given to us through education and training? Some in society say that we just accept them because they make society "work" better and are for the benefit of all. Read pages 6-8 on the third argument: Moral law.
October 26, 2017 Class # 14
This class begins the 3rd argument for the existence of God, the Moral Argument which states that there is an absolute moral law, and that standard implies an absolute moral law-giver. Something outside of man has placed within us this standard or set of values. The reading assignment is on page 6-8. The other assignment was to consider the question: does moral law come from God or has it been developed by society?
I started the class with a video found on youtube: "Can You Be Good Without God?" (watch?v=OxiAik2vu)
I then invited the class to share their thoughts on the assignment. If you have thoughts, please send them to me.
We then discussed some examples of those absolute moral choices we feel are instilled within us such as: universal notions of fairness and justice, universal standards of right and wrong. The video said that when a person is saying; "Hey, that's not fair, that's wrong, tha's an injustice" you are saying that you affirm that you believe in objective morals.
The atheist or materialist says that humans are just another species and are therefore, just matter (no spirit). Therefore, marality comes from us. We as a society have chosen different subjective moral choices just because we accept that they are better for society, they help to keep us safe.
Yes, it is true that subjective moral choices can evolve and growth as mankind realizes the benefit of the choice. But deep within every person is an objective moral code that guides us.
I believe that it is because we are created by God, God has placed within our spirit (the non-matter part of us) those codes that are most like him. Perhaps those codes are a part of our spiritual training before our birth and come with us. Or, because our spirit is connected to God through the Holy Spirit, we have those codes with us. We don't know. We do affirm that there is a God and he has written the prescription for the codes that guide us.
There will be no class on October 30 and Nov 2nd.
Assignment for November 2nd: begin reading chapter 3. We will begin to discuss other views of God or views of no-God.
November 6th, 2017 Class # 15
The class today went back to page 7 of the text material to discuss point iv and v on page 7.
"We can't know what is good unless there is an unchanging standard of good outside of yourself." People will appeal to a code that is beyond themselves when they compare what is good and what is bad.
The class was asked the question: "How do we know what is good? According to who's set of moral standards? If there is no God, then does society dictate what is morally correct or is the standard? We agreed that there is a moral light given to all people and that it comes from God. But also realize that many people do not agree. So then what dictates their moral choices. On page 7, point b,i, we find four possible choices for the source of morality, 1) from something less than me, 2) me, 3) from those equal to me, 4) from something above me.
Many of the apologetic books consider one main moral comment a validation for God. That come when people claim that something "is not fair," which basicall says that they believe that there is something beyond themselves to base the comment upon.
To help measure whether we are understanding the class material so far, I presented the class with a 13 True or False quiz. (I can send you a copy by request.) We then reviewed the questions.
Assignment for November 9th, read chapter 7 of the book: Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics, by Kreeft and Tacelli; called The Problem of Evil. This discusses how to explain the existence of evil to those who find it a stumbling block to believing in God.
November 9th, 2017 Class # 16
To help clarify question 11 of the True and False Quiz given on Monday, I was able to re-find the source of the quote. It was from F. Henry Edwards book, Fundamentals, page 12 of the 1940 printing. The paragraph which included the statement in the 1940 book adds some clarification to the comment:
T or F: A belief in God is not
possible (my word in the test) capable through of scientific demonstration due to the limitations of science rather than the absence of evidence (1951 printing). The 1940 book adds this: Belief in God...is not capable of scientific demonstration. That is because science does not operate in that field, and is due to limitations of science rather than to the absence of evidence.
The book goes on to state that scientific demonstrations cannot proof the love of my mother.
I then asked the class to again define truth and morality. I asked the questions found in the book; "what is the greatest problem in America today?" The class discussed the other comments found on page 8.
We then looked at D and C 1: 3e and Alma 19: 83-91 and discussed the prophecy of the D&C scripture and the explanation for the fall as found in Alma.
Reading from the book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, on page 67, it tells about a conversation between one of the authors and a fellow naval officer. The friend made the comment that "I don't believe the Bible. But if it is true, then I'll be in big trouble." Oh, how true. The next page discusses the importance of knowing what is theologically correct. For example, if an atheist believes that all humans are just material (everything is materialistic view) then there is no difference between a pig and humans and that no deity has created us with any special significance. Then we see people who don't value human life.
November 13, 2017 Class # 17
As we continue to discuss how to present and answer to the question: How can a "good" God allow evil or create evil; or what is evil; I thought we should look at some scriptures on evil.
Here are the scriptures we took a look at and discussed:
Inspired Version - Genesis 3: 22 and 28, Genesis 9:6, Isaiah 5: 21-21, and 45:7, Luke 11:14, Moroni 7: 4-7and D&C 1:3e
Basically, the class discussed that God does allow evil in the world and that he did, as Isaiah says "create" the situation in where evil can exist. But, man is the real creator of evil in our world today as we make choices that affect others or try and take away the choice of others. This is apart of man needing to choose between good and evil. By choosing good, we become as God who knows good and evil, but always chooses good.
Look at Alma 19:83-91, Book of Mormon 4:59-94.
The assignment for the next class is to meditate on D&C 1: 3, Alma 19: 83-91, Book of Mormon 4: 59-94, and to write some words of reflection on what is there.
November 16, 2017 Class # 18
We began the class today by reviewing the two scriptures given in the assignment. Daisy presented a paragraph on each one She indicated that she was struck by the use of the word "probation" for our time on earth. She had previously thought of the word as describing a punishment. When she looked up the word, she found that it can mean a rescue from a penalty. That concept can apply to our lives. That brought up some discussion on the reason for our life on earth and the need to make righteous choices.
The next scripture discussed was the one found in Alma 19. We discussed the concept of and the need of knowing good from evil, and why it is important for us to be able to make a choice between them. Without the choice, mankind would end up trapped in sin and its punishments. We also discussed how the condition of our life at the end of our life will determine the "condition" of our next life.
Last week we looked up Isaiah 45:7 as it pertains to God "creating evil." I looked up the scripture in a Hebrew translation and it said that the word evil in that scripture means opposition. Thus, God created opposition. That fits with restoration theology.
We next turned to the chapter from "Pocket Guide of Christian Apologetics" called The Problem of Evil. Corwyn especially liked and we discussed, the last sentence: "There can be no human being without it (free will). The alternative to free will is not being a human but an animal or a machine." We discussed how animals do not have agency. They may make decisions based upon their instinct, but that for them, killing for food or survival is not evil or a free will choice (thus murder). The chapter points out that evil is not a being. Evil is not a thing. Free will allows humans to choose to do evil things.
The chapter went on to say that we need to distinguish between moral evil and physical evil, moral, being the choices and result of human decisions, physical evil being the result of natural disasters, illness, the actions of others toward us that are out of our control. Another point given is the arguments indicating that the fall of Adam and Eve is a real event. God did make mankind good, it is we who became the sinners. God is not to blame for creating sinners. Second, if the fall is just an individual thing, "why have none of us ever resisted the forbidden fruit?"
I asked the question, "What is good about cancer, car accidents, the death of a loved one?" This question may be similar to one an atheist might ask trying to validate their thought that a "good God" would not create these bad things or if He did, then he is not a good God. We concluded that these types of events are still the result of the bad things people do to one another or are the result of sin being brought into the earthly equation.
How would you answer the question? Let me know.
Assignment: Read the section on the different views of God and on Humanism. Write down your thoughts on why you think Humanism is incorrect.
November 20, 2017 Class # 19
Assignment: read page 10 and 11 and tell the class why you think humanism is incorrect. No one had a prepared statement for humanism in totality, but were willing to share on the individual points.
To help us understand where humanism comes from (other than a teaching of Satan), I shared that the term humanism was coined by Frierdrich Niethammer at the beginning of the 19th century and was used to refer to classical literature. The idea that man is supreme and doesn't need God has been around since Adam and Eve noting that they were saying through their actions that they didn't need God, or that man is supreme.
But the humanist movement as an organization started in the mid 18th century and was formalized around 1940. It seemed to me that much of the points were pointed at how the "old churches" that came after the apostasy and before the restoration were dominating society and governments with much oppression.
We also found it interesting to note that they call themselves a "religion," and wondered how can they use that term as we defined religion as a belief in and worship of a supreme being. But, if you use one of the secondary definitions, it includes something like adherence to a cultural system of designed philosophy.
We then looked up a definition for humanism: A system or outlook of thought, putting prime importance on human matters, stressing the potential of man and values human ideals, emphasizing man's common needs and seeking ways to solve human problems. We felt that Christianity today does value the same, but puts God into the equation and that the church also strives to nourish the spiritual aspect of life and addresses eternal preparation.
We then began to look at the 15 points they present.
Regarding the first one, many scientist who do not believe in God have affirmed that the universe had a beginning and will have an end which contradicts the statement.
The second point says that man is a part of nature. The name for that philosophy is materialism which states that there is only matter and its movements and modifications (no spiritual element). It then goes on to say that life is the result of a continuous process (evolution). This is another attempt to leave God out of the picture and say that we don't need him.
The third point says that the idea that there is matter and spirit is false. I guess they just haven't experienced it yet. We considered that there is a lot of information and facts present in the universe that we do not know yet. If that is true, then the possibility of God may for them be apart of what they just don't know yet.
The assignment for the next class: Write down your thoughts on how humanism has revealed itself in our societies today?
The next class will be next Monday due to the holiday.
November 27, 22017 Class # 20
We have been and will continue to discuss Humanism in our world. The class was given an assignment: Write down your thoughts on how humanism has revealed itself in our societies. Some of the class members presented these thoughts:
- They are trying to take away the mention of God in our conversations, education, and government.
- That creates an atmosphere where they no longer have to strive to be "good." I asked them to tell me what that meant. They made the claim that society is becoming less civilized, less concerned about morals, more self-centered, etc. I challenged them to consider that many people whether they are claiming to be humanist or not, might disagree with the statement and say that they are striving to build a more civilized society, that they are concerned with moral questions, and can see the disadvantage of a self-centered society. They just believe that society can achieve the goal without God.
- We then tried to define what a better society is. Were the patriarchal societies of the Hebrew worse than we are? Perhaps less material possessions and advantages, but they might have been just as good at being a "good society" as we are, maybe better.
- That brought up the humanist point number 14 as quoted on their web page. The key word we decided was that the humanist say they are demanding a "socialized and cooperative economic order." The emphasis is on the demanding of such conditions as opposed to a society having the choice to bring about the conditions.
- The class thought that the government is becoming less interested in religion or in a government with God.
- The class brought out that a humanist's philosophy would not include doing things in this life that would effect the outcome in eternity because they don't acknowledge that there is an afterlife. What is the purpose of life?
We then read the fourth humanist point. The key word we choose to look at was "that man's religious culture and civilization...are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage...molded by that culture." I made this comment: so first man was "less" than today's man and tomorrow's man will be "more" than today's man. We then discussed that many of the men and societies of the past may have been better than that of today. In what way are we better?
What is needed here is a standard to help us measure as to how we are better or worse, or is our society better or worse. I would rather depend upon scripture and God for that standard than the ever changing standards of man.
November 30, 2017 Class # 21
Today's class will take a brief look at the history of humanism. I say brief because the evolution of humanism has been going on since the early philosophers. And as each philosopher considers the theories, they have changed or added to the beliefs of humanism. It also appears that the some of the early contributors were not trying to take God out of the equation. It was called religious humanism. Secular humanism came along later and did include statements that took God out of the picture.
I wrote on the board this quote: "As I have said, happiness cannot be gained without good and just and righteous deeds...The best works are those that benefit many people. Those are most virtuous, perhaps, that cannot be pursued without strength and nobility. We must give ourselves to manly effort, then, and follow the noblest pursuits."
The quote was written by Alberti in Della famiglia (1435-44; "On the Family")
The class reviewed the quote and thought that, from our perspective, we would have change "manly" effort to "Godly" effort. It is interesting to note how close to theology it is. Some of the early history and early philosophers were not trying to take God out of the picture. It seems that they were trying to change the church and encourage it to help society become better and the church less oppressive. Trying to get way from Medieval Catholicism.
We then reviewed a couple of points found in an article from newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/humanism which stated:
· Humanism was in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries "a reaction against the religious authoritarianism of Medieval Catholicism," from the rediscovery by European scholars of classical Latin and Greek text.
· In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a "reaction against the newly prevalent dogmatic authoritarianism of Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, and the Counter-Reformation..."
· "IN the last two centuries, various elements of Enlightenment humanism have been manifested in philosophical trends such as existentialism, utilitarianism, pragmatism, and Marxism."
· "Secular humanism, in its neglect of God the source of human values, risks as impoverishment of meaning. Yet humanism is an inevitable reaction to theism when it is authoritarian and dogmatic."
We discussed the thought that if the church of the past had been all that it was set up to be and true charitable principles manifest, the church would have solved many of the problems which caused the rebellion. We might also suggest that a church is needed today that will manifest the fullness of the gospel and the charity of the gospel and bring mankind, with the help of God, to the Kingdom Christ came to establish. May the Remnant Church be that church.
The article mentions that one reason why "humanism rejects theistic religious belief, and the existence of God or other supernatural being, is on the grounds that supernatural beliefs cannot be supported rationally." We discussed the statement and said that at least for us, we do what God wants us to do because we want to be near Him through his Holy Spirit. What humanist are seeking is the observational science and repeatable science that proves that God is real. Note that when that revealment takes place, the opportunity to choose based upon faith, will be gone. "And every knee will bow."
A speaker in a debate that I watched indicated that he felt that the "dogma" of the church hasn't provided solutions or the answers and suggestions for we should just do the directions from God. He stated that circumstances might be present to steal a loaf of bread from a hurricane ravaged stored. The bread would go to waste anyway and the thief's family needed the food. (Debate found on You tube: Atheist Debate – Dillalunty vs. Slick – Is Secular Humanism superior to Christianity?)
Assignment: review the comparison chart, Christian? Or Secular Humanist?, www.aboundingjoy.com/humanism chart. htm
December 4, 2017 Class #22
We began to review the chart as seen on the above web page (assignment for today's class).
The chart presents three columns. The first one is the Secular Humanist statement of belief per the author, Steve Hall, with a copyright of 2005. The second column presents a Christian view point on the Humanist statement. And the third column are some questions for us as Christians to consider. We were able to discuss the first 3 topics.
The first topic was God; humanist say: "man is the measure of all things." without a belief in God. Discussing the questions for the Christian allowed us to consider just how much time in our day do we spend thinking about God, serving God, in prayer with God, and praising God. We then discussed just what do we mean when we say that we should pray unceasingly for we can't be as a monk might be, on our knees all day. We need to spend time serving others. So, then what does it mean to serve others? Do we choose professions that allow us to "serve others in a Godly way (righteous works)?
The second topic was how the world (humanist view) might use the name of God and in the questions for us, it asked us to consider when we might cross the line and say something like "Gah" or "Jeez". Just how close to swearing is this? Or, do we as Christians speak or talk in a plain manor?
The third topic was the views on Jesus Christ. Humanist would say that Christ is just a normal man and did not arise from the cross. The questions for us, is whether we have personally accepted Jesus Christ into our life? We discussed the different perspectives of a normal protestant (like a Baptist, or Evangelical) where just saying the sinner's prayer is enough. In the restoration perspective, accepting Jesus Christ is a lifelong relationship and requires us to "endure to the end." Yes, we have accepted Christ, but don't see that our salvation is sure or that we can do whatever we desire because we have been forgiven.
I would encourage you to pull up the chart and review for yourself the questions. We will continue through the chart on Thursday.
December 7, 2017 Class # 23
The class continued to look at the chart mentioned above beginning with the line on Creation. We noted that we have felt that some people try and make us feel ignorant or uneducated because we believe what the bible says regarding the creation. We did note that some in the class were unsure about a belief in the "new" earth (6000 years old) or just that no matter how "old," God is still the creator. We also noted that there are many very well- educated men that can present solid evidence regarding the new earth and that God is the creator.
We discussed the sin-full nature of man as opposed to humanist view that man may feel good about himself regardless of the behavior. We see how because man was created by God, that all men and women are of value to us and to God. On sin, they say that all activity is OK as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Our point was that there are many activities that may not directly harm others, but the behavior may still effect society and effect one's eternity.
The idea of moral relativism (no absolute right or wrong) has been discussed earlier in the study. We did ask ourselves how much Christians have tried to rationalize behavior that God says is wrong.
We spent time discussing the problem of tolerance. The humanist view says that it is wrong to tell someone else that their behavior is wrong or sinful. Are we willing to take an unpopular stand on an issue because of what God says about it?
The last topic was how society has turned over much of the parental training to the schools and noted that most students do better when their parents are taking an active role in what they do.
The next class will take up on the Humanist points found on page 11 of the text.
December 11, 2017 Class # 24
We were able to go through all of page 11, the eighth through the fifteenth thesis/points for humanism. We did find that the verbiage of the points was often hard to understand perhaps due to the age when they were written. Or, perhaps because they were cloudy on purpose. There is little doubt that the humanist view point does not consider any after life for it is stated that life is for the here and now. All of our passions should be for this life. Living the high life is the goal, worship and prayer as a way into the next life does not need to be considered.
Any observations or actions that would lead one to think that there is a supernatural power, should be done away with. They can be explained away by the science of the day, and if mankind still doesn't understand where the events are coming from it is because we don't yet understand the science of how it is done. But a confidence in mankind says that we will learn the how someday. For example; we can't raise someone from the dead because we don't have all of the science needed to accomplish the goal. Such events should not be considered as God's miracles.
On the 12th point, we wondered how they would define "joy in life." We thought that the best joy in life was when we were in tune with the Holy Spirit and doing what God wants us to be doing in service to them. In their view where all things are just material, this life is for us to enjoy through the material things we have or the activities that we can enjoy while here on this earth.
We need to remember that the battle of humanism verses Christianity was partially due to how the authoritive church dominated over people and that it did not do a very good job explaining why the Godly view would help individual and communities in the here and now, as well as in eternity.
We noted in the 14th point how they insist that a "socialized and cooperative economic order" is only possible by the demands of a higher order taking from all so that all might have an equal chance. We felt that Zion may accomplish a more equitable order but by the charitable giving nature of those citizens. It was noted that when some people are "given" all that they need, they fail to appreciate what they have and fail to contribute to the whole.
It is not by man's decisions as to what shall be distributed, but by the council with God through the proper channels that the church and its citizens will be able to affirm life and help to establish conditions satisfactory for all. It is with God, not without God. It is through accountability to God in this life and the next that a fuller society can come about. Maybe the church hasn't taught this well enough or clear enough. When we do, humanist might see the example and see value in a God centered society.
On Thursday, we will discuss chapter four, page 12. "Can mankind fix it problems without the help of God?"
December 14, 2017 Class # 25
This was the last class of 2017. Our next class will be January 8, 2018.
We started into the question presented in chapter 4, "Can mankind fix its problems without the help of God?" A simple way to answer the question is to say no, it cannot. But I feel the question begs a deeper answer. I think the world is looking for something better, mankind just doesn't know the answer and as demontrated in the humanistic view, is looking for the answers without God. As has been stated earlier, one of the reasons the humanistic points have been developed is that the church did not or is not answering the question of why being a part of "church" is a better way of life and not providing answers to how society could be. The humanist make the claim that the authoritive church is always providing does and don'ts without providing the reasons why. Towards the end of this chapter I said; "But the question was presented; can we ultimately succeed in making the world what we want it to be? And then we should ask; according to who's philosophies or ideals do we look for the pattern?" This is when we as Christians need to realize that we need to and are being asked to give up ourselves and to follow what Christ wants us to do.
I began the class by asking the opening question and then trying to consider what we might mean as "better." What do people want? What do we mean by the "the world."
So, the answers the class discussed were:
- freedom - the right to go out and do things
- to be loved
- to feel accepted (tolerance is our next chapter)
- to be comfortable
- to have a place to call home (shelter)
- to feel safe
- to be challenged
- to have opportunity
- a peaceful world
- to be able to give service to others
A third world country would consider their world better if they had clean water, better shelter, access to food, medical care, and some education.
We were reminded about Maslow's higher-arcy of needs. The bottom is the physiological needs or basic living needs like food, shelter, clothes, etc.
The next level up is to be able to live safely. Then a feeling of being love; self-esteem and on top, self-actualization (a feeling of being of worth).
So, can the church provide the above? Some of the items on the list cannot be satisfied without great resources. Some of the needs are promoted by media and may not be as important as we think. Much of the list involves mankind's insecurity.
Mankind seems to think that it can, through learning about each other, through sharing wealth, by talking to each other, etc, make the world a better place. And yet we still have "great human suffering, unhappiness, discontent, violence, war, disease, pollution..."
Is was brought up that when we put ourselves into Christ's hands, our self-worth is in and with him, not of our own doing. Even in death, we can be secure so we do not fear what the non-christian may fear. When we receive Christ, we receive self-actualization and a feelling of self-worth. But, we haven't yet solved all of the problems around us today. Some of the problems are the things we must face, go through, and decide about to help us grow towards the ultimate goal as sent forth by God.
Now, having taken a look at what mankind "wants," I asked the class to write a 2 page paper on how zionic conditions would make the world a better place, or at least provide an example that what God wants is the better "phylosophy" for our guide..
Please let me know if you are participating through this web page.