Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

Well, as I begin to type this post, it's 10:45 PM on 31 December 2011, and so 2012 is just around the corner. This is the first full calendar year that Study and Faith has been up and running, so it seems like a good time for me to at least remind myself what sorts of things I've done since this time last year. Counting this post, I estimate that I've made a total of... 138 posts... since that time. The busiest month was March at 24, though that's still short of the 29 posts I made in December 2010.

I've asked some questions that never got answered (see here, here, here, here - though I'm sure answers are out there), and some that did (see, e.g., [partial] answers here and here). I've had one guest post, and I'm always up for hosting others - especially seeing the popularity of the first! I've tried to highlight a few other blogs, posts, projects, and articles/stories that I thought were noteworthy; I wrote a cursory review of the seven ecumenical councils to the best of my knowledge at the time; I started a review of Richard Bushman's Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, but I haven't gotten around to finishing it. I hope I will. I've also had much more of a focus on highlighting selections from older literature, particularly 19th- and early 20th-century LDS writings. In keeping with that, most recently I put up a late-19th-century series on gospel principles by one Daniel Tyler. This ties in with the reading project I initiated in an effort to begin working through freely available early LDS and anti-LDS literature... something I've also apparently decided to mostly set aside for lack of time, but which - like the book reviews - I'm adamant about resuming in the future. I've had some quite popular posts (e.g., here and here), including a few that - at least for a while (I haven't checked lately) were top hits on Google for relevant search terms, and I'm sure that brought in some traffic. In addition to all that, I've also extensively revised my introductory post. Oh, and I created the site banner currently in use.

Offline, I also started once again meeting with some LDS missionaries (at their initiation), but they terminated my 'investigator' status when they decided that I was a bit too tough a sell, and that their time would be better spent with easier targets, essentially. I've also read a few relevant books during the past year, including:
  • Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard L. Bushman
  • Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History, edited by Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera
  • Delusions: An Analysis of the Book of Mormon by Alexander Campbell
  • The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846: A Documentary History, edited by Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera
  • Mormonism Unvailed by Eber D. Howe
  • View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith
  • The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 by John L. Brooke
  • Baptism on Account of the Dead (1 Cor 15:29): An Act of Faith in the Resurrection by Michael F. Hull
  • Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915 by Kurt Widmer
  • The Melchizedek Tradition: A Critical Examination of the Sources to the Fifth Century AD and in the Epistle to the Hebrews by Fred R. Horton Jr.
  • Currently reading: Early Mormonism and the Magic World View by D. Michael Quinn
Recently I haven't had a time to do much in the way of original posting here (not since November!), partly because the end of the semester and the Christmas season have been quite hectic, and partly because my computer crashed and I lost all of my data. (My back-ups are all in Kentucky, and I won't have access to my files, notes, and documents until the end of January.) I hope to resume in earnest in 2012 and to keep it up to the extent I'm able. It's been a busy year; it's been a good year, where involvement with LDS matters is concerned. I'm certain there's a great deal I'm forgetting.

I want to thank everyone who's followed, viewed, contributed, or commented here at Study and Faith during 2011. As of this year, I've finally hit the 'ten official subscribers' mark through Blogger, which doesn't include RSS feed subscriptions (I have no idea if there are any of those) or people who simply make a habit of swinging by from time to time. I hope you all have a blessed new year, and that we can continue to edify one another during it. In the meantime, feel free to celebrate by reading the beautiful poem that Blair Hodges posted at the By Comment Consent blog.

Peace in Christ be with you all,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Resurrection

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Resurrection", Juvenile Instructor 13/23 (1 December 1878): 269.
"But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" (1st Cor., xv., 35).

Some professed Christians answer the above question by saying that the body goes down into the grave and the spirit ascends to God, after which, if the party was righteous, it remains on the right hand of God to all eternity, singing praises to Him, ceasing only long enough on the great day of judgment to hear the plaudits of welcome. While, on the other hand, the wicked, including all except religious folks, no matter how moral, honorable, benevolent or good, must, as soon as the spirit leaves the body, be cast into a lake burning with fire and brimstone, there to remain eternally, except during a period just long enough to hear the awful sentence to return to the same dreadful lake, and be perpetually burning, but never consumed. While others believe that when Christ comes to reign on the earth a thousand years, the spirits of the righteous will receive bodies similar to our mortal bodies - out of the same kind of material, but not the same bodies.

Were we to tell you all the different conflicting views of this wicked, perverse generation of pretended Christians we should have no room or time to tell you the facts in the case.

Well, then, "With what body do they come?" Joseph Smith said they would come with the same body they had here, in all of its parts except the blood. To all Latter-day Saints, that should settle the question, once for all. But as there are some who read the Juvenile Instructor who are not Latter-day Saints, and that our youth may be prepared to answer those not of our faith, I will quote a few passages from the old scriptures, which are also corroborated in the new.

St. Paul, in the same chapter from which we have quoted, comparing the spirit to the germ of grain, says, "God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." In other words, each spirit, no matter whether of man, of beasts, of fowls or of fishes, will receive its own body in the resurrection. The different elements comprising the different kinds of flesh will not be amalgamated. It will be observed that although the Apostle mentions the body, he no where mentions the blood; in fact, no part of the scriptures indicate that blood, which is the life of the mortal body, will be restored in the resurrection. But they do say that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." It is no where written that neither flesh nor blood can enter into that kingdom. That is to say, flesh with the blood cannot enter. They must be separated. Jesus, who is the type of the resurrection, had His blood shed for the sins of the world, yet He arose with every component part of His body except blood, as He said to His disciples, "handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." The prints of the nails will still be visible in His hands and feet when he appears on Mount Olivet to deliver the Jews in the last days. In answer to their inquiry, He will say, "These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends." Perhaps some will say all that might be, as His body never decayed or saw corruption. If Jesus was a pattern of the resurrection, as we have indicated, this would make no difference. To show that the same rule holds good with decomposed bodies, we will refer you to the 37th chapter of Ezekiel. Ezekiel saw in a certain valley a great quantity of bones which he says were very dry. How long they had been bleaching we are not told, but the flesh and sinews were gone from off them. After informing us that he had been commanded to prophesy unto them, and promise them life, the prophet says: "So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them." Why is the qualifying adjective the so oftenly repeated - the bones, the sinews, the flesh, the skin? The answer is plain. It is that there may be no mistake as to whether the bones, sinews, flesh and skin were the same that the individuals had before they were slain or died a natural death. This is doubtless done to remove the last doubt from the minds of those who believe in the revelations of God to man.

Should there be any who still doubt, the Lord tells them in the same chapter that when He brings them out of their graves and places them in their own lands, they shall know that He spoke it, and performed it. He says He will put His spirit in them and they shall live. Thus, you see, instead of having blood in their bodies they will be filled with spirit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Atonement

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Atonement", Juvenile Instructor 13/21 (1 November 1878): 242-243.
On the subject of the atonement, this and many previous generations who have called themselves Christians, are and have been as much in the dark as upon the subjects already treated upon. In fact, plain as is the gospel taught in the scriptures, if there is one principle not shrouded in mysticism, but "held in uprightness," by all the men-made churches, we would not know where to look for it.

Several of the churches hold with John Wesley, in substance, "that the offering Christ once made is that of perfect atonement, propitiation and redemption for all of the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone;" while believers in John Calvin, and others of his type, hold that a definite number of God's children, both angels and man, before the foundation of the world, were elected to be saved, while others were doomed to be damned; and that the number is so definite and certain that it cannot be increased or diminished; and that Christ only died for the chosen few who are to be saved.

Neither of these views is warranted either by scripture or sound reasoning. That Christ died for all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve is correct; but that atonement only applies to the effects of the sin of Adam and Eve, commonly denominated "the original sin." Paul tells us that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (See Cor., xv, 1.)

Adam's death was such in its nature as to bring upon him and his offspring not only an eternal separation of spirit and body, but an eternal banishment from the presence of God. By the voluntary death of Christ, all mankind, both the righteous and the wicked, will be raised from the dead, and brought before Christ, the Son, to judgment, as He saith "if the Son of man be lifted up he will draw all men unto him." But this does not guarantee a full salvation to all. Adam, before the fall, was an immortal being; and so will all other mortals become immortal through the redemption of Jesus. But immortality is one thing, and a fullness of glory and eternal life is another. They must have their resurrected bodies before coming to judgment, so that they may "be judged according to the deeds done in the body," and "every man be rewarded according to his works." Not according to Adam's, but according to his own works. The atonement, healing the wound of Adam's fall, leaves children free from any charge of sin until they are old enough to know right from wrong. They are then like our first parents were in the garden, with respect to their agency. If they sin they must abide the penalty of the law they violate, unless their sins be remitted through repentance and baptism. Hence the commandment, "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins * * * be baptized and wash away they sins" - not Adam's, but your own sins. Death was the penalty of Adam's sin - "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

The Book of Mormon tells us that were it not for the atonement of Christ we were eternally lost, or banished from the presence of God. Peter tells us the same, in substance, when he says "Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." If we could get to God in any other way, Christ would not have suffered for that purpose.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Christian Denominations

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles", Juvenile Instructor 13/20 (15 October 1878): 232.
It may seem strange to some of our readers, and especially the young, that there should be so many different Christian denominations, and all teaching different doctrines. One would naturally conclude that almost any person of ordinary ability could understand plain, simple language, such as is found in the Old and New Testaments, which they all profess to believe. Still more strange does it appear when we learn the fact that educated men, who have spent the best part of their lives in the study of literature and religion, differ more widely on religious points than the common people; yet such is the case.

Those differences among learned religionists in olden times were attributed to a species of insanity, as the term is often used in our day: "He is religiously insane." Hence it was that a learned judge once said to St. Paul, "Much learning hath made thee mad." The word mad here is used for insane, vulgarly called crazy, which signifies the same thing.

The learned ministers under the Mosaic law were just as much in the dark as are the present Christians. One of those devout preachers being impressed with the divinity of Christ's mission, more on account of His miracles than of the truths He taught, went to Jesus by night and asked the Savior about the plan of salvation. He was told that "except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." The minister thought this a new and strange doctrine, and asked a further explanation. He was then told that after a person had been born again to see the kingdom, he must be born of water and of the spirit in order to enter into it. It was too great and too mysterious for the learned priest, or rabbi, as Nicodemus was called. He could not comprehend it. Jesus told him the reason was, that he was not born of the Spirit. He said "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." The man knows that he has felt the divine influence as well as you know when you inhale a gentle breeze of air; but if you have never had that Spirit, he cannot tell it to you so that you can comprehend it, any more than you could explain to an unborn babe the sensation of the atmosphere of this world. It must be felt to be understood.

St. Paul says, "The things of man knoweth no man but by the spirit of man that is in him; even so the things of God knoweth no man but by the spirit of God." The same Apostle says, "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea even the deep things of God." For this reason, when Jesus arose from the dead, and did not design to remain much longer with His disciples to tell them just what to say to the people, He would not allow them to preach in their uninspired condition, lest they should, without that Spirit, lead the people astray, as uninspired men do now. He told them to tarry or wait at Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high; or, in other words, until they were born of the Spirit, having already been born of water.

The reason, then, that this generation of so called Christians but really infidels, do not understand the gospel plan as it is, is because they have not the spirit of God. There is a passage of scripture to the effect that the wisdom of this world cannot find out God. That those professing to be wise have not the Spirit of God, which is inspiration and revelation to those who enjoy it, must be plain to everyone, from the fact that they claim that all of the gifts and graces which anciently attended the Holy Ghost are done away, and no longer needed. No matter how plain the plan of salvation is, it requires the Holy Spirit to understand it. So say the scriptures, and the experience and observation of all our Elders are that the doctrine herein set forth is correct. Kind reader, if you have not done so, repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands by proper authority, that you may the more fully learn how to be saved; for on those conditions "the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Do "not neglect so great salvation." You cannot obtain it in any other way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Signs and Miracles

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: Signs and Miracles", Juvenile Instructor 13/19 (1 October 1878): 221.
"Give us a sign, and we will believe," is familiar to the ear of every Elder who has come into contact with the religious teachers of this generation. If there are cripples or sick persons in the vicinity they will say, "Heal them and we will all believe." If there are none, then they will ask the Elder to break or amputate some member of his body and restore it to its former place and strength. Now this proves two points against them; first, that, although they profess the religion of Jesus Christ, they are infidels. Second, that, although they profess virtue and purity, they are adulterers, and, instead of setting up a howl and cry against the pure principles of celestial marriage, they should remember the proverb, "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."

That they are infidels, is plain from the fact that Jesus said, "these signs shall follow them that believe," etc. (see Mark xvi. 17). Now, if they are believers, and hence not infidels, the signs must follow them, for it says they "shall follow them that believe." This language is positive; hence, if the signs do not follow them, they are not believers, as they were promised to all believers. They must be unbelievers, or infidels. Their God is also a nonentity - nothing, being without body or parts.

As to being adulterers we have the same authority as for the other. The statement of the Savior was "an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign," and He refused to give any except that of His own death and resurrection. What, then, were and are signs given for? Not to convince an adulterous generation of hireling priests, of whose adulteries, the newspapers abound, but to confirm and strengthen the faith of those who already believed. Where they did not believe, Jesus "could do no mighty miracles." "So they went everywhere preaching and confirming the word with signs following." The word was, of course, confirmed to the believer, who alone had the promise, while unbelievers were hardened, and sought to destroy those who worked such wonderful miracles, to prevent the news from spreading, and even sought to kill Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. The Latter-day Saints are the only true believers who enjoy these blessings. The signs follow them, and no others, in all of their varieties, such as speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, prophesying, healing the sick, etc. These blessings are not to our leaders alone, but to ourselves. The writer has witnessed all the gifts in the Church, and many sick have been healed under his administration, and evil spirits have been cast out and returned no more. Thousands of others have the same testimony to bear. Those relieved have been from infancy to old age.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Spirit World

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles", Juvenile Instructor 13/18 (15 September 1878): 213.
In writing for the Juvenile Instructor, a few plain, simple facts only can be given in a brief article. In addition to what has been said before on the subject of baptism for the dead, I will refer to the case of the thief on the cross. Jesus said to him, "this day shalt thou be with me in paradise." This is often quoted to prove that the thief went right into heaven with Jesus as soon as he was dead. Nothing is, however, further from the truth. That both went to the same place, I will not dispute; but that place was not where God the Father and Jesus, our elder Brother, reside. The Spirit of Jesus went to the spirit world between the time of His death and resurrection, as will be presently shown. No doubt that many, both before and after the crucifixion, in their dying moments, called upon God for mercy and salvation. But His purposes are governed by laws which are immutable and unchangeable. One of those laws declares that "every man shall be rewarded according to his works," which means, "according to the deeds done in the body," and not according to his dying words. Such kind of repentance is not taught by the gospel, but is one of the dogmas of this priest-ridden generation. All will be weighed in the balance, and if good preponderates, they will be rewarded according to the balance in their favor.

As to where Jesus and the thief went after death, or between death and the resurrection, we will let the Apostle decide. Peter says Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison - the antediluvians. Jesus told the penitent thief he should be with him in paradise. This simply means the unseen world - sometimes called hades, prison, hell and the spirit world. Jesus had not time then, while on the cross, to enter into explanations, but as He was about going to preach to other sinners, many of whom were doubtless penitent in their last moments like himself, He told the thief he should be with Him, where of course, he would hear the gospel as preached to them. But this did not mean in heaven; for, after Jesus arose, and Mary was about to embrace Him, He told her plainly not to touch Him, for He had not yet ascended to His Father.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Godhead - Part III

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Godhead", Juvenile Instructor 13/16 (15 August 1878): 183.
Before leaving the subject of the Godhead, I wish to show that the doctrine enunciated by Joseph Smith that men might become as Gods is a scripture doctrine. All claim Jesus as one of the three persons of the Godhead. Paul says He is our elder brother. He also says we shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Him. What! joint heirs with the second person in the Godhead? So said the inspired Apostle, and "the scriptures cannot be broken." Joint heirs is where two or more hold in common. And His (God's) name shall be in their foreheads (Rev. xxii, 4). In the 7th chapter we are told that one hundred and forty four thousand shall be sealed with the seal of the living God in their foreheads. In another place the same writer says that Jesus shall be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. Now He could not be so crowned unless there were other kings and lords besides Him and under Him. John says Jesus "gave all who received him power to become the sons of God." In fact, the Lord's prayer implies that all who use prayer legitimately are sons and daughters of God. Otherwise it would be mockery to say "Our Father." Jesus said He and His Father were one - God the Father and God the Son. He prayed that His disciples and all who believed on Him, through their word, might be one, even in same sense that He and the Father were one; or, to use His own words, "even as we are one." This opens up an extensive field of thought. Is it true that Jesus, under His Father, is to be Lord of lords, the "elder brother" among the "joint heirs with him?" and that the joint heirs are to be acknowledged lords as well as Himself? Perhaps some of our Christian friends will claim that such an idea is preposterous - blasphemous. Well, so thought the Jews when Jesus taught the same doctrine. We might quote many passages to the same effect, but our space will only admit one, with a few remarks.

St. Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, says, in the 2nd chapter of Philippians, 5th and 6th verses, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." What mind was that? Read the connection, and see: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Have the same mind or ambition is the exhortation. To seek the same thing. The Apostle also says, "There are Lords many and Gods many, but to us there is but one God." Jesus is our Lord and we may be lords under him, He being Lord of lords, our posterity standing to us as we stand to our Father, He being over all. Who then is our Father?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Godhead - Part II

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Godhead", Juvenile Instructor 13/15 (1 August 1878): 173.
The Lord's prayer is coroborative of the doctrine set forth in our last. Common sense teaches us if we have a father in heaven we must have a mother also. The fact of there being a Father clearly implies the existence of a mother; neither one could exist without the other. Both are included in the word God, in the same sense that the first man and woman on this earth were included in the word Adam, the latter being in the image and likeness of the former. The ancient Israelites understood this doctrine. But during the apostasy from the early church many discarded the Father, as this generation discards the mother. Hence, they ignorantly worshiped the mother, or the "queen of heaven." This is perhaps sufficient to make this part of the subject plain.

Now, has God a body and parts? The scriptures tell us that he ate and drank with Abraham. Jacob said, "I have seen God, face to face, and my life is preserved." We read that Moses "saw his back parts." Isaiah "saw him sitting on his throne, high and lifted up." Jesus looked so much like other men that He was crucified as a criminal; yet He looked so much like the Father that He told Philip that he had seen Him had seen the Father. St. Paul coroborates this statement by saying that Christ was not only in the brightness of His Father's glory, but "the express image of his person." As to passions, anger and love are the two strongest, and He possesses both. "He is angry with the wicked every day." "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He "loved Jacob and hated Esau." He "hated the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes."

The Father and Son each have a separate body, although their features are so much alike that Joseph Smith said when he saw them in his first vision the only difference he could discern was that one looked a trifle older than the other. The image of the person was precisely the same. In person they cannot each be in two separate places at the same time. The Holy Ghost, however, which is a divine spirit, power and influence, emanating from the Father and the Son, is omnipresent, or everywhere present, and fills immensity of space. It is that Spirit from which the psalmist, David, inquired where he could flee to escape from. If he soared to the heavens he was there. If he fled to the uttermost parts of the earth, or to the depths of hell he could not hide from it. It is that Spirit which Joel said should be "poured out upon all flesh." The same that would fill the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the great deep. The same that Ezekiel saw fill the bodies of the slain of Israel, and they arose from the dead. In short, it is the minister of God, and reveals His will to the children of men. It opens the vision of the mind to behold eternal things, and foretells future events. It also unfolds the hidden things of the past. By it, through the Son of God, the worlds and all created things were made and are upheld.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Godhead

I found the following as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Godhead", The Juvenile Instructor 13/14 (15 July 1878): 166.
Plain as is the doctrine of the "Godhead," as contained in the Old and New Testaments, it is a lamentable fact that the Christain [sic] world has for centuries been drifting into atheism. It would be, perhaps, less surprising if this remark applied only to non professors of religion. But such is not the fact. The very fundamental articles of faith in God, of most denominations, are laid in infidelity. To this cause mainly may be traced the infidelity of the outside world. The great mass of sectarian creeds have the following language: "There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions." A few leave off the word passions.

Now, my dear readers, reflect for a moment and ask yourselves if you can conceive of the existence of anything, no matter how small, "without body or parts." Your answer must be "No! there could be no such existence. It is nothing." Just so professed atheists argue. Then they say if God is nothing, there is no such a being.

The God we worship is a living, material Being, with body, parts and passions. Such is the God described in the Bible. A Being in form like unto ourselves. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," etc. (Genesis 1st chapter, 26th verse.) "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them" (27th verse).

Now, if man is a material form, then is God the same, for man was made in His image and likeness. This is what Adam who had dwelt with Him taught his offspring, and the same was committed to writing by Moses.

We may also infer that woman formed a part of the heavenly family, as we are taught in our beautiful hymn. This should be a comfort to the daughters of Eve – that our Father in heaven was not alone when enthroned in the heavens before the world was. "They twain were one flesh," says the inspired writer, and in this the earthly is without doubt a pattern of the heavenly. This Scripture is in harmony with modern revelations as given by the prophet Joseph, and also with the ancient writings of inspired men. The Church after the death of Jesus gradually departed from the truth, and taught the practice of celibacy, forbidding marriage to the priesthood and degrading women from her proper position as necessary to the completeness of man, for man is not perfect without the woman.

The 1st and 2nd verses of the 5th chapter of Genesis says "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God created he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created."

This subject is beautifully illustrated in a discourse preached in Beaver some time ago by Elder Erastus Snow, and published in the Deseret News.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Asa Shinn on Agency

The other week, I was involved in an online thread in which a Latter-day Saint commenter started a discussion of the notion of 'agency' with a couple other Evangelicals. The Latter-day Saint began by defining agency as the "power to exercise one's own moral choices", and was curious whether mainstream Christianity affirmed that we humans really do have agency. Some of my fellow Evangelicals, while affirming that we have 'free will', were concerned over the meaning of "agency", both suggesting that this was just another case of Latter-day Saints redefining an established term. One defined agency as "acting for another person or entity, not yourself", and thus being "pretty much the opposite of free will". He concluded, "I find it strange how mormons tend to assign a completely opposite definition to a word." The other Evangelical, meanwhile, suggested that Joseph Smith had perhaps been impressed by the fancy word 'agency' (and others) in a business context and had then "incorporated them into his new religion without really understanding the implications".

Now, this all seemed odd to me. I'd never had any difficulty understanding what 'agency' meant in LDS use, because I know that the concept of 'agency' is still an important one in the philosophy of action. However, to get to the bottom of things, I decided to see if the term 'agency' had any currency in theological discourse of Joseph Smith's time. The first author I consulted was Asa Shinn, an American Methodist theologian who was a somewhat older contemporary of Joseph and who became one of the co-founders of the Methodist Protestant Church. Searching briefly through two of Shinn's works, I found an abundance of references to 'agency' with usage that seems to roughly align with the way 'agency' is discussed in LDS scripture. I would love to get some LDS input on the following quotations from Shinn, both in terms of their use of the term 'agency' and in terms of how a Latter-day Saint might react to Shinn's arguments.

From Asa Shinn, An Essay on the Plan of Salvation: In Which the Several Sources of Evidence are Examined, and Applied to the Interesting Doctrine of Redemption, in Its Relation to the Government and Moral Attributes of the Deity (Baltimore, MD: Neal, Wills and Cole, 1813), 212:
He [God] is perfectly free and voluntary in all his actions, because he is omnipotent, and cannot be controlled by any other power or authority. To deny his free agency, is to ascribe our being and happiness to necessity, seeing if God be not a free agent, they depended not upon his liberty of option, and could not be otherwise than they are. It is to deny that power belongeth unto God; because a power to do any thing, includes a power to leave it undone, and to affirm a being has power, who is destitute of agency, is an absolute contradiction.
From Asa Shinn, An Essay on the Plan of Salvation, 212-213:
That God did in fact endow his creatures with free agency, is evident from their fall: for if they were not free, it is certain that they were made wicked, or else were driven into sin by some other power; if they were made wrong, the fault was in their Maker, not in themselves; and if they were forced into sin by the agency of another, God only could be the author of it, because there was no other power in the universe. Therefore we are reduced to this dilemma: either to believe that our creator is essentially wicked, or that his creatures were made free, and introduced evil by an abuse of their liberty.

But why was this agency or active power bestowed upon them? We must answer that it was essential to the enjoyment of moral happiness, or that it was not: if it was, this good and perfect gift is resolvable into the divine beneficence; if it was not, then we say God bestowed a useless power upon his creatures, which could do them no good, and which might prove fatal to their tranquillity. If we say he gave it in order to ruin them, we charge him with malevolence, and if we say he gave it for no end, we charge him with folly: therefore the only modest and rational conclusion is, that he gave it through benevolence, because it was essential to their spiritual or moral happiness.
From Asa Shinn, An Essay on the Plan of Salvation, 213:
His giving them a moral law is, of itself, an incontestable proof of their free agency. For had God intended to regulate all their actions by the force of destiny, nothing more would have been necessary than to subject them to the mechanical laws of matter, because these are entirely sufficient to accomplish the end.
From Asa Shinn, An Essay on the Plan of Salvation, 214-215:
But waving the case of beasts for the present, it is sufficient to our purpose that all men are conscious of a degree of power over their actions, and that their highest happiness arises from knowledge, and is inseparable from a voluntary choice. The exercise of virtue, or the enjoyment of moral happiness against our consent is impossible; because it implies a state of complete slavery.

If it be asked, why was not the will inclined to choose all the proper means of happiness, as necessarily it is inclined to choose happiness as its end, in preference to misery; I think the proper answer is, that it was impossible for creatures to possess moral rectitude, and of consequence, moral happiness, without the liberty of option, or, which is the same thing, without a degree of power, which essentially implies that agency of will that can choose one thing or its contrary; - that can perform an action, or omit the performance of it - that can determine, or omit the determination.

If this be true (and that it is so, I hope to prove directly) it clearly follows that the reason why God did not hinder the introduction of moral evil, by making it impossible for his creatures to sin, was because it could not be done without making it impossible for any creature to enjoy holiness or moral happiness. God left his creatures free, because God is love; and being love, he delights to see his creatures enjoy that sublime felicity, which the chains of destiny would have deprived them of forever.
From Asa Shinn, An Essay on the Plan of Salvation, 230:
Had it been our Saviour's purpose to save mankind by force, or any particular part of them, he doubtless had power sufficient to accomplish his design, without dying on the cross; and had such a compulsive system been consistent with the moral attributes of God, I have no doubt but he would have done so: he would have changed every man from sin to holiness, or rather, from bad propensities to good ones, by an absolute and irresistible influence; but the actions of a person thus compelled could have no relation to morality, and therefore God's moral perfections demanded that they should be saved, if at all, in a way that should not destroy their agency: for this reason our Saviour's atonement had relation to the moral attributes alone, and therefore his plan must be so laid as only to influence sinners by motives, and leave them to the liberty of choice.
From Asa Shinn, On the Benevolence and Rectitude of the Supreme Being (Philadelphia, PA: James Kay, 1840), 72:
Another attribute constituting the greatness of the Deity, is his Almighty Power. By this we mean his ability to do any thing which it is possible for agency to do. The bounds of possibility are known only to himself; but to some extent we are able distinctly to conceive them. [...] To say that God has Almighty Power, is to say, in other words, that he is an Almighty Agent. He who does any thing without agency, does it by necessity, which is not power, but the want of it. Whenever an agent acts, he could, at the same time, have omitted the action; and therefore He who possesses the greatest power, enjoys the most perfect liberty of any being in existence.
From Asa Shinn, On the Benevolence and Rectitude of the Supreme Being, 73-74:
There is, in short, no other alternative but to believe either that God is a perfectly Free Agent, or to embrace a system of atheism. An intelligent being without agency, that is, without power, however good in his disposition, and however clear in his intelligence, could do nothing; and his understanding could serve no other purpose than to gaze at the course of necessity, as a man bound down with a chain might look up and watch the course of the wind and the clouds.
From Asa Shinn, On the Benevolence and Rectitude of the Supreme Being, 99:
Secondly, our agency, or freedom of will, is another gift bestowed on us by infinite goodness. This power is essential to three great purposes: 1. to furnish each individual with the happiness of spontaneous action; 2. to give each the capacity to contribute to the good of society; and 3. to render both men and angels amiable in the sight of their Maker, as his cheerful, free, and voluntary servants and children. Without the gift of moral agency, all these great and valuable ends would have been prevented; and both men and angels would have been placed on a level with brute creatures in the scale of existence.
From Asa Shinn, On the Benevolence and Rectitude of the Supreme Being, 129:
Is it not a plain contradiction to say that a man is at liberty, at the same time that his will is bound to one certain course of action? And besides, for aught we know, freedom of will is essential to intelligent existence; so that the existence of a creature with mental endowments, and destitute of all agency, is as impossible as for matter to exist without occupying space.
So how does Shinn's use of "agency" compare to that found in the LDS tradition? And does Shinn present a good case for the reality and importance of both divine and human agency?


EDIT: I've decided to introduce a few brief quotations from an author other than Asa Shinn: Methodist bishop and theologian Randolph Sinks Foster. The following comes from R. S. Foster, Objections to Calvinism as It Is, in a Series of Letters Addressed to Rev. N. L. Rice, D.D. (Cincinnati, OH: Hitchcock and Walden, 1849), 36, 46-47, 51:
I object to the doctrine of decrees, as held by Calvinists, in the second place, because it is inconsistent with, and destructive to the free agency of man. [...] Thus we prove upon the system both that it makes God the author of sin, and destroys the free agency of man. [...] Freedom and liberty, I believe all admit, are essential to accountability; and hence the well-grounded apprehension of our Calvinistic brethren, at the imputation, that their doctrine is destructive to freedom of agency. [...] By destroying the agency and accountability of man, I charge the system further, with destroying the moral character of human acts and volitions - with rendering the terms, vice and virtue, good and bad, as conveying the idea of moral quality - not predicable of man. If the system be true, man is no more a moral being. Do what he may, he is not vicious - he is incapable to be virtuous. He never sins - he cannot; nor the opposite. [...] Morality supposes agency - the system, by inevitable deduction, denies it; and the two fall together.
I note that, between these volumes and some additional works quoted therein, "agency" seems to have been roughly synonymous with will and liberty (indeed, Shinn glossed it with "freedom of will" as a synonym), and denoted the power to choose to act; it could be qualified as "free" or "moral", though it could also appear without such additional qualifiers; and it could be ascribed to both God and humans.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Baptism for the Dead

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: Baptism for the Dead", Juvenile Instructor 13/13 (1 July 1878): 154-155.
Heretofore we have said but little about the dead. Not because they are of less importance than the living, but because our duties to ourselves when once understood include our duties to the dead. On this subject the whole world, outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are in darkness, although the ancient as well as modern scriptures are very plain.

The prophet Isaiah, in the 61st chapter and 1st verse, among other things, said of the mission of Christ, one portion of His labors would be "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."

To find the fulfillment of this prediction we must, of course, go to the New Testament, which gives His biography. Neither of the four writers of His life and travels tell us of His visiting a single prison to proclaim liberty to a single captive. But on the other hand they all tell us that He was Himself captivated, held a prisoner and put to death. But Peter, the presiding Apostle, unravels the mystery. In the 3rd chapter of his first epistle, commencing with the eighteenth verse, he says: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

The theory of some portion of the Christian world is that all who die in their sins must go to purgatory - a lake of fire and brimstone, to remain throughout all eternity. Peter tells us that those wicked antediluvians, after being shut up in prison a few hundred years to atone for their rebellion, have another chance offered them. He also tells us, in the 4th chapter and sixth verse of his first epistle, that the reason the gospel was preached to the dead was that they might be judged according to men in the flesh. Men in the flesh hear the gospel when it is on the earth, and the judgment where with they are judged is, if they receive and obey it they shall be saved, and if they reject it they shall be damned. So, then, the dead shall have the same chance. Our good fathers and mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and, in fact, all who have died without the gospel shall have the same chance as those who heard it in the flesh, that they may be judged the same as those who have their agency to receive or reject it, just as they please. But, says one, Jesus said they must be baptized as well as believe if they would be saved. Yes, and He said again, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

A man means any man. Now, if no man can enter God's kingdom without baptism, how can the dead who receive the gospel be saved, as they cannot be baptized? Paul answers this question by asking another. In the first Corinthians, 15th chapter, 29th and 30th verses, he says: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?"

This solves the mystery. Those who were not baptized because they did not hear the gospel, in fact all who have not committed the unpardonable sin, may at some period of God's mercy have the work done by proxy, and receive their resurrected bodies.

Baptism is of itself a sacrament, and reminds us that as Jesus died for us, and was buried and resurrected, so, also, shall we, through Him, come forth out of our graves, in like manner as we come out of the water. It is then an emblem, not only of His, but our own resurrection, through Him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One Year

Earlier today, I was making some additions to my Welcome and Introduction post here at Study and Faith. And as I looked at the date it was posted and the date I marked as 'last edited', I had the stunning realization that today is the one-year anniversary of Study and Faith! I can hardly believe that it's been an entire year... In one sense it seems like merely a few weeks or months, but in another sense, I suppose it feels like an eternity. It boggles the mind to think that this blog has been a part of the most recent 4% or so of my life thus far. I think this blog has done and hopefully accomplished a lot in the past year - and may there be many more to come!

I considered doing a review of the contents of this year's-worth of posts, but I'll reserve that sort of thing for the end of the calendar year. Instead, I'd just like to thank everyone who's commented here in the past year, everyone who's ever helped to promote this blog or any of its posts, everyone who's ever linked to it, everyone who inspired some of the ideas that have made the last year possible. Through blogging and life, I've found wonderful relationships with friends of all sorts of backgrounds, whether LDS or Evangelical or Orthodox or non-theist, and I'm so grateful for it all. I suppose one could say I unknowingly celebrated the anniversary by attending an LDS sacrament meeting this morning for the first time since before I started Study and Faith. I'll hopefully have more posts derived from that in the weeks to come.

So thank you, everyone. (...And hopefully I'll be able to find time to reply to comments again soon!)

Logic and Faith: A Convert's Testimony and Some Pushback

Last week, I was reading through the blogs of some currently serving online LDS missionaries, and I came across the written testimony of a recent convert named Rachel. There were some statements there that struck me oddly:
I have a small testimony, but a strong one. Speaking to the missionaries and studying religion and the Scriptures left me with three main questions.
  1. What is God?
  2. Why does the Holy Spirit lead different people to different things?
  3. And is the Holy Spirit leading me to join this church?
And I in my arrogance and foolishness felt that I could figure out the answers to these questions logically. This led to months of confusion. Then about a week before Easter, I felt that I had figured it out. I had the answers to all but a small question on where the Holy Spirit was leading me that I was sure I could figure out. I gave my answers to the missionaries who told me that I was being too logical and that I needed to be much more prayerful. This turned out to be very true. [...] I began my journey trying to understand everything logically. Finally I came to the point where I ceased relying on my own mind for the truth and relied on faith and prayer. [...] Logic brings with it a feeling of safety, but there is a deep beauty that can only be found in faith.
Notice the strong contrast between 'logic' and 'faith' here - the same antithesis that has for such a long time been endorsed by detractors of all religion as well as by many believers who wanted to protect their beliefs from challenge or themselves from mental effort. (I'm not accusing Rachel of that, of course.) I don't think Rachel is right about this. I am not at all convinced that there is such a thing as "being too logical". No, not at all. There is such a thing as being insufficiently prayerful. There is such a thing as being insufficiently attentive to the non-rational dimensions of the human experience. There is such a thing as failing to trust God's actual promises, or failing to value God as God. But to say there is such a thing as "being too logical", as the missionaries said to Rachel, seems to me to be saying that it's possible to love God with all your mind too much. I don't think I can buy that.

God wants us to be logical, he rejoices in our ardent and faithful use of the precious gift of reason that he gave as a crown of glory to the human creature. 'Logical' is not the only thing God wants us to be, that's true, but nor does he want us to shrink back from pursuing logical rigor and consistency in our beliefs or from putting all things to rightful tests. Rationality can and ought to be pursued in the full with respect to its proper domain - which includes coming to an awareness of the truth and scrutinizing claims of truth and falsehood. That doesn't mean that nothing but abstract reason has any rightful or realistic bearing on that task, of course; by all means, prayer for God's enlightenment ought to be a critical element in the quest for religious truth. But let us abandon any fear of being "too logical" - for God wants us to approach him with study and faith (or, perhaps here I might paraphrase, logic and faith) held in both hands clasped together.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Daniel Tyler on the Gathering Dispensation

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Gathering Dispensation", Juvenile Instructor 13/12 (15 June 1878): 136.
There never was but one dispensation that was not a gathering dispensation. In the commencement of the Christian era those who embraced the gospel did not gather together. This was because they could not. They made an effort to live as a united body, under the direction of the Apostles in Jerusalem, but after the death of Ananias and Sapphira this order of things was broken up, and no one sought a temporal union after. They were content on the one hand to look after their own varied interests; and, on the other hand, the persecutions without and discords within were such that it was not possible for them to live in large bodies together. Yet the Apostles looked forward to a period when there should be a "dispensation of the fullness of times." In that dispensation all things that were "in Christ" were to be gathered in one.

The great dispensation which was to exceed all others, is referred to in the Lord's prayer as the kingdom of God, wherein His will is to "be done on earth, as it is in heaven."

In the 21st chapter of Luke, Jesus speaks of this same kingdom as one of the signs of His second coming. From the 5th to the 24th verse He speaks mainly of the signs which were to precede the destruction of Jerusalem. From the 25th to the 36th He speaks of His second coming, and says that all the signs, including the setting up of the kingdom of God, which shows that the church must be gathered to form a kingdom, should all take place in the generation in which He would come; that is, the generation who should then be living would not all pass away until all should be fulfilled. By this we may perhaps infer that the most of those living when the signs began to show themselves would pass away, but a few would remain until all was fulfilled. It needs no argument to prove to us that the signs spoken of here have been showing themselves for more than forty years, and that they are every year more visible. In this generation, then, we must look for the kingdom of God. When we find it, as was shown in a former article, we must find Apostles at the head and all other grades of priesthood, the same as delineated in the 4th chapter of the Ephesians, 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians, and other places in the scriptures.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church in all the world that has all the offices and gifts in it. It is the kingdom spoken of.

John the Revelator, in the 14th chapter and 6th and 7th verses of his prophecy, shows that this new and last dispensation should be ushered in, in the midst of the signs spoken of, by the administration of a holy angel. This was fulfilled when the angel Moroni delivered the plates, from which the Book of Mormon was translated, to Joseph Smith, and when he exhibited them to the witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. The kingdom spoken of is the same as that figuratively represented by a little stone, in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, mentioned in the 2nd chapter of Daniel. The little stone, represents the rock of revelation, upon which Christ said He would build His church - by which the prophecies will be fulfilled, and the dispensation of the fullness of times accomplished; when "the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the great deep."

John says, in the 18th chapter of the Revelations, "I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." The whole burden of scripture, ancient and modern, shows the last dispensation to be one of gathering the righteous to escape the calamities which are to befall the wicked and to learn the ways of the Lord in His house (see Micah, 4th chapter and 2nd verse, also Isaiah, 2nd chapter and 3rd verse).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Materialism and a Finite God

Recently, BYU mathematics professor William V. Smith posted at the By Common Consent blog an interesting analysis, "Toward a Theology of the Material", in which he explores the implications of saying that all things (both 'physical' and 'spiritual') are in fact composed of matter, including God himself. It's a fascinating exercise, and Smith concludes that God could perhaps travel at about 90% of the speed of light and would have to position himself close to our planet during "potential communication episodes"; that God would have to govern the universe through an "established administrative network"; and that all things, including God, are ultimately mortal, even post-resurrection. Thus, our future and God's future are only "functionally infinite". God is not all-powerful, of course, and nor can he be 'omniscient' even in a relatively limited sense, since the speed of light sets limits upon the rate at which he could receive information. (Note: Smith himself, noting the drastic cost of these limitations, consequently does not take this level of materialist theology to heart. I don't happen to know what Smith substitutes for it or how he relates his own theological positions to LDS historical precedents.)

In light of Smith's case, must any modern LDS theology that remains true to its thoroughly materialist roots indeed accept all of these limitations upon God and ourselves?

Daniel Tyler on the Duties of Church Membership

The following appeared as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Priesthood", Juvenile Instructor 13/11 (1 June 1878): 130.
A number of the foregoing chapters have been devoted to the different grades of priesthood. I will now say something about the duties of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Several of these duties are mentioned in what has already been said on the duties of the Lesser Priesthood - such as partaking of the sacrament, praying vocally and in secret, meeting together, etc. It is also implied that they must not hold any hard feelings towards one another, that they must not speak evil of one another, and that they must not tell lies or backbite one another. As we have already shown, it is the duty of teachers to see that none of these evils exist. Of course, then, it is the duty of members not to indulge in what the teachers must suppress when found among the Saints. The importance of being worthy to partake of the sacrament must be apparent to all who understand the gospel. Jesus said, "Except ye eat of my flesh and drink of my blood you have no life in you." This does not mean, as the Catholics hold, that the bread is transformed into the very body of Christ and the cup into His blood; but as He said in another place, "As oft as ye do this, do it in remembrance of me." And as St. Paul said, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." The substance of all that is revealed on this subject is that it brings to mind not only what sufferings Jesus endured for us and all mankind, but the consummation of the great plan of redemption laid "from before the foundation of the world," "the only name under heaven whereby man can be saved" and the Godlike love and union which should dwell with all Saints. Without this redemption Adam and Eve and all their posterity would have been eternally lost. No one from the beginning to the end of the world could have been resurrected to return to God, from Whom all our spirits came. Take away the atonement made by our great Redeemer and all our hopes of heaven, happiness and exhaltation would be lost - eternally and hopelessly lost. But through Him all may come to God and be saved.

The Saints should make the labors of the teachers easy by observing every known duty. Otherwise, the only benefit resulting from their labors will be that they have cleared their own skirts.

Through the faithfulness and obedience of the Saints, the teachers or presiding officers will not have any occasion to govern them. Joseph Smith once said to a stranger who enquired how he governed so great a people of so many nationalities and conflicting traditions, "I do not govern them. I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves." This is all that should be expected of teachers, or any other grade of priesthood.

One duty of vital importance is the building of temples, in which to perform ordinances for the living and the dead. Could those who feel indifferent to this duty once have the vision of their minds opened to the anxiety of those prisoners of hope on the other side of the vail, and be as anxious for the dead as many of the dead are for themselves through the living, the temples now in progress would soon be completed and filled and others going up. There are many little everyday duties to attend to. Our daily labors - feeding the hungry, if any be in our midst, clothing the destitute, visiting the sick, binding up the broken hearted, comforting those who mourn, encouraging the meek, uniting in our temporal as well as spiritual labors, being self-sustaining and independent of Babylon, and finally, keeping all the commandments of God.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Modern Mormonism: Just Another Protestant Sect?

I found the following quotation from Yale professor Harold Bloom in an opinion piece he wrote the other week for the New York Times:
I recall prophesying in 1992 that by 2020 Mormonism could become the dominant religion of the western United States. But we are not going to see that large a transformation. I went wrong because the last two decades have witnessed the deliberate dwindling of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into just one more Protestant sect.
What do you people out there think? Note: Bloom does go on to charge that Mormonism is "not even monotheistic" and includes "other secrets also, not tellable by the Mormon Church to those it calls 'Gentiles,' oddly including Jews"; he adds that "the Mormon God is not a creator", and he raises concerns about the fitness of any devout LDS politician for office (while also taking some rather mean-spirited cracks at the "anti-intellectual and semi-literate Southern Baptist Convention"). Is Bloom's assessment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here accurate and fair?

As you contemplate an answer to that question, worth reading is this reaction to Bloom's piece: "Harold Bloom, Mormons and spleen-venting".

EDIT: More recently, also see James Olson's Times and Seasons post "Why Bloom, et al are wrong" - though with regard to Olson's early endorsement as "succinct and accurate" of Bloom's claim that most mainstream American denominations deviate as strongly from historical Christianity as do both Mormonism and Islam, I must call this not simply wrong but bafflingly wrong.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Priesthood - Part IV

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: Priesthood", Juvenile Instructor 13/10 (15 May 1878): 112-113.
In tracing the history of the patriarchal priesthood, we find much difficulty. There is no doubt that it commenced with Adam. Moses says that God blessed Adam and Eve. In the 3rd chapter of Luke, 38th verse, it says Adam was the son of God, hence we find the first patriarchal blessing on record in the first chapter of Genesis, which is given jointly to Adam and Eve.

This blessing does not differ materially from those of later date, only in this, that Adam being the first man of whom we have any record, is placed at the head and given dominion over all the earth, including the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air and every living creature, as well as the fruits of the earth. Whereas, the blessings of his descendants divide the earth and all things pertaining thereunto among his faithful offspring. For instance, Abraham was promised the land of Palestine and all the surrounding countries, which would probably include the entire eastern hemisphere. Jacob appears to have had North and South America added, and transferred it to the branches of Joseph, as shown in a former article on the Book of Mormon.

It may be asked, if the earth is to be divided and given to the offspring of Abraham, what will become of those nations of different lineage if they obey the gospel? It would look hard and unjust to debar them of an everlasting inheritance, to which these blessings referred; especially since the gospel is to be preached to every creature.

Before explaining this matter, I will say that all the nations of the earth sprang from the three sons of Noah - Shem, Ham and Japheth. The Israelites sprang from Shem, the Negroes from Ham and the Gentiles from Japheth. Yet none but the descendants of Shem were promised land enough to pitch a tent upon - in allusion to the ancient mode of living in tents, instead of houses as we do now. Canaan, the oldest son of Ham, was to be a servant of servants to the descendants of Shem and Japheth, and as such he would need no landed property. Japheth was to dwell in the tents of Shem, or, as we would now say, live on Shem's homestead, farm or inheritance. You will find this statement verified by reading the 25th, 26th and 27th verses of the 9th chapter of Genesis. To the ignorant this would look hard; but St. Paul, who was the Apostle to the Gentiles, tells them how they became heirs to the promises. He says, in substance, if not in word, that as many as were baptized into Christ became Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Scripture shows that the Jews were broken off because of unbelief and the Gentiles were grafted in.

The ancients esteemed their patriarchal blessings very highly, and well they might when we consider, as already shown, the extent of their magnitude. Even Esau, the brother of Jacob, who, so far as we have any account, never labored to accumulate anything, but depended solely upon hunting for a living, wept bitterly when he heard that his brother Jacob, who had always been faithful and had taken care of his father's property, had, through the stratagem of his mother, obtained the first blessing of his father, which he supposed belonged to him by birthright. And, when his father, Isaac, told him he could not recall what he had done, although he had given his brother the blessing, in the agony of his soul, Esau exclaimed, "Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father."

This story, which is a true one, should teach a moral to all Latter-day Saints, both old and young - it shows that those who are more worthy and less assuming will have their rights. We all get just what we live for, and no more.

Of the office of patriarch, as we understand that important position in the priesthood, we know but little that occurred in the days of the ancient apostles. There is no doubt the records of their blessings and most of their other gospel writings were destroyed during the apostasy and persecution of the church.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bowman on Joseph Smith, Theosis, and Daniel Peterson

A while ago (early August 2011), BYU professor and LDS apologist Daniel C. Peterson authored a somewhat popular-level article for Deseret News, "Joseph Smith's restoration of 'theosis' was miracle, not scandal", in defense of the claim that the LDS conception of 'exaltation' was original to apostolic Christianity. In the course of this brief defense, Peterson appeals to a variety of ancient Jewish and Christian writings.

More recently, however, Christian apologist Robert M. Bowman Jr. has replied to Peterson's arguments in a five-post series titled "Did Joseph Smith Restore Theosis?", hosted at the Parchment and Pen blog. I've found Bowman's critique to be quite worthwhile reading, and I'd invite any of my readers to seriously consider making their way through it entirely:
  1. The Mormon Doctrine of Exaltation
  2. The New Testament and Joseph Smith's Doctrine of Exaltation
  3. The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's Doctrine of Exaltation
  4. Esoteric Jewish Theology and Joseph Smith's Doctrine of Exaltation
  5. Early Church Fathers and Joseph Smith's Doctrine of Exaltation
I for one really hope that someday Bowman expands this critique in some more suitable venue to also interact with the best LDS scholarship in detail. What he's done here, I think, is quite good; an in-depth critique of the academic treatments of exaltation by Peterson and others, however, would have the potential to be utterly magnificent in pushing the dialogue forward.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Priesthood - Part III

The following is taken from Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Priesthood", The Juvenile Instructor 13/08 (15 April 1878): 86-87.
The fact that there was anciently a quorum of Twelve Apostles did not necessarily imply that there should be no more than that number, any more than the fact that there were at least two quorums of Seventies implied that there should be no more of that grade of priesthood. This will be clearly seen by reference to one example. Although Matthias had been called to fill the vacancy caused by the fall of Judas Iscariot, Paul was afterwards called to the Apostleship, when the quorum was full. There was also a full quorum on this continent, while there were at least thirteen Apostles in the old world. In fact, there must have been more even in the old world; for, as already quoted, when Jesus "ascended upon high * * * * he gave some apostles," with other authorities. The quorum was full long before his ascension, except the place of Judas, and that one vacancy was filled soon after. Those that he gave when he ascended were not numbered with the Twelve, Matthias being chosen afterwards.

These remarks are to show our young readers that the statement of religious teachers in the world, (with whom many of them may have to cope in a few years) that there were but twelve, and never to be any more, is incorrect and unscriptural. What we have quoted from the fourth chapter of the Ephesians shows plainly that wherever the Church of Christ is, there must be Apostles to aid in uniting and perfecting the Saints.

What is true with regard to the continuance of Apostles is equally so with regard to all grades of priesthood named in the Old and New Testaments. They are not all named in the above chapter. Those not named directly are given under the general head of helps and governments, and mentioned in other places. In the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th chapters of Hebrews we have a pretty fair explanation of the priesthoods of Melchisedek and Aaron.

Many religious persons in these days take upon themselves to preach. In fact, all the hundreds of different denominations, except the Latter-day Saints, are men-made churches, and have nearly all broken off from the Catholic Church or the Church of England, and, as they deny revelation, have no right to preach, and, in fact, do preach but very little of Christ's gospel. Paul says, while speaking of being called to the above priesthoods, "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." By reading the 4th chapter of Exodus, 14th, 15th and 16th verses, you will learn how Aaron was called. It was by revelation through an inspired man; and that is also according to the pattern given to Joseph Smith. Not only were Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and others called in this way, but the Lord, in giving His plan for ordaining men to different offices in the Church, says they shall be ordained according to the gift and calling of God in the one who ordains them. The manner of calling men to preach, we see, is precisely the same as in the days of Moses and of Christ. In fact, it was always the same whenever God had a people on the earth, and always will be.

The patriarchal priesthood, although equal in importance with the other grades, is not so much written about. It seems to have been more of a family than a general church government, although the President of the church held this as well as all other grades of priesthood. Thus, Adam governed the righteous portion of his posterity by this priesthood as long as he lived: and several of his descendents did the same thing.

If children who have good, faithful Latter-day Saints for their parents understood this principle they would never wish to get beyond their control in time nor in eternity. The law of celestial marriage is connected with this priesthood. Not only are men and women sealed for time and all eternity, but the results or offspring of that marriage are just as eternal as the covenant itself. I will say further that it was no more designed in the economy of heaven that children should break off and be independent of their parents than it was that the woman should forsake and be independent of her husband after having been sealed for time and all eternity. It not only places the man at the head of the woman, but constitutes him a father or patriarch to his posterity forever. Of course, he is expected to prove himself worthy to retain his wife or wives and children.

This does not take any blessing from the children, although at first sight it may so seem. It is, in fact, a great blessing to them to have a lather to look up to; not only for the short space of eighteen or twenty-one years, but to all eternity. The children, when they become men and women, and have families, will stand at their head the same as their parents stand to them.

Now, children, is not this lovely? Who would want a better heaven than this? Suppose all the inhabitants of the earth from Adam had observed this law, would not this have been a happy world? If you think it would, I will ask few other questions. Suppose all of you who have good Latter-day Saints for parents, always take their counsel, no matter how old you are. Then suppose they are adopted or sealed to great and good men, and they to others until all the righteous, both the living and the dead, are united in one great family, with Adam and Eve at the head as they would have been if people had remained righteous. Then, suppose Satan should be bound and the wicked destroyed, and Jesus, our elder brother, should come and reign over and with us for a thousand years. Would we not have a happy millennium? Let us try it and see.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Mormonism and the 'Cult' Issue

Lately I've been wanting to take a moment to address a few of the most major questions one is likely to deal with in dialogue between Latter-day Saints and representatives of traditional strains of Christianity. It seems that the first one of those has to be the matter of the pejorative term "cult", which is frequently used in Evangelical parlance as a classification of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was in the news a while back with the comments made by Rev. Robert Jeffress, who wished to politically favor Rick Perry over Mitt Romney by casting Perry as a member of an acceptable religious community and Romney as a member of a fringe, deviant "cult". For a qualified audio defense of the practice of designating the LDS faith as a 'cult', see this episode (17 October 2011) of Mormonism Research Ministry's Viewpoint on Mormonism podcast. For just one recent LDS reaction to the use of the word 'cult' to describe the LDS faith (but not a direct response to the MRM podcast episode), see Kevin Barney's post "Cynical Use of the Word 'Cult'" at the By Common Consent blog. While I disagree cordially with some of Kevin's statements (and those of a few of the commentators), I agree with much of the spirit of his post and recommend reading it.

These days, Evangelicals and others who want to classify Mormonism as a 'cult' will typically recognize that attempts to actually use the standard sense of 'cult' are pretty unsuccessful. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is too large, allows for too much ideological diversity within its ranks, and is generally no more guilty of most of the standard 'secular' criteria for culthood than any of the mainstream Christian denominations. Because of this, representatives of Evangelical 'countercult' ministries typically distinguish between the "sociological definition of a 'cult'" and the "theological definition of a 'cult'". Jeffress did the same, clarifying that he considers the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a "theological cult".

The latter is generally defined (more or less) as any group of comparatively recent coinage that, while staking some manner of claim to normative Christian identity (or, sometimes, not), nevertheless exhibits sufficiently high degrees of doctrinal aberration on major Christian tenets as to render that claim problematic as stands; sometimes it is added that a cult will generally focus on one particular leader's (or tradition of leaders') interpretations of Christian scripture, or includes novel scripture foreign to the historic Christian tradition, and that the 'cult' will attempt to restrict its members' access to any criticisms of its teachings. In the podcast episode I linked above, Bill McKeever, drawing on Alan Gomes, defined a cult - in this 'theological sense' - as "a group that claims to be Christian while at the same time either denies or distorts the basic teachings of the Christian faith". McKeever added:
...I think we need to get this across, that if that word is to be used - and we have often said, that's not a word that we like to use a lot, I think it should be more descriptive rather than accusatory. I would certainly never go up to a Latter-day Saint and just say, "Oh, you're a cultist." I mean, that would certainly not allow for a very good conversation, and I should not be surprised if a Mormon would not want to talk to me if I acted like that, probably any more than they should expect me to want to talk to them after they come up and say, "Oh, you're a part of the Great Apostasy." [...] But if that's what they want to believe about us, I have no problem with that. I don't lose sleep at night knowing that my Latter-day Saint acquaintances or neighbors think that I'm a part of the Great Apostasy. I just don't. But I find it odd that the Mormons tend to really wring their hands over this notion that we in Evangelical Christianity don't embrace them as a part of the Christian faith. They really get upset about that.
Now, with regard to the thorny 'Are Latter-day Saints Christians?' question, I'm choosing to defer that to another post; it's a big issue and deserves more time, effort, and space than I can give it right here and now. I'll also be upfront and say that - rejecting the above 'theological definition' as offered by Gomes, McKeever, Jeffress, and others - I would not classify the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a "cult", and at any rate do not think it is wise or charitable to call it such (for reasons partly overlapping with McKeever's stated rationale for using the term sparingly, even on his definition).

During the past several weeks as I've been thinking through this subject, and particularly the modern form of the claim as represented by modern countercult ministries, I thought I had a fairly firm idea of why I have a problem with the statement. I was going to write that I find the notion of a "theological definition of a 'cult'" to be a wholly spurious attempt to piggyback onto the cult hysteria of the late twentieth century, thereby allowing for the same sort of equivocation and dishonest play on the public perception of a common term that countercult apologists frequently accuse 'cultists' of. More recently, though, I've been doing a cursory historical examination, and I'm not sure that most of those charges will quite fly anymore.

The word 'cult' was once a fairly value-neutral term derived from the Latin word cultus, generally denoting any system of (somewhat ritualized) worship devoted to some entity - thus, one might talk of the "cult of Poseidon" in ancient Greece, or of the "Jewish temple cult" in the early first century. Eventually, however, other uses of the term began to crop up. In 1898, a church rector from Wisconsin named Arthur H. Barrington published a book called Anti-Christian Cults: An Attempt to Show That Spiritualism, Theosophy and Christian Science are Devoid of Supernatural Powers and are Contrary to the Christian Religion. The 'cults' of the title were any seemingly novel spiritual/theological counterfeits that simply revived old heresies; in a commendatory prefixed to the book, Barrington's bishop Isaac Nicholson calls them "old ghosts of old-time heresies", with each presenting itself as one of "the latest fashions, the last mental 'cult,' the newest and freshest 'religion'" (4). Barrington himself, very early in the text, goes on to write:
Too many (if there were but two or three, it were too many) - too many are being deceived, and blinded, and led astray to-day, by the false hopes, and promises, and claims of certain religious yet anti-Christian cults which in vain would undermine the truth as it is in Jesus. Undoubtedly, like other fads which sprung up in the night of darkness rather than in the light of eternal truth, these shadows of good shall come to nought, as they are unquestionably of men; but, in the meantime, the effect upon the adherents of such substitute religions cannot but be disastrous. (12-13)
Barrington later continues to refer to such groups as "these anti-Christian cults, which are making inroads into the Household of Faith" (23). In his conclusion, he again classifies them as "modern substitutes for the Gospel or anti-Christian cults" (158). Noteworthy, perhaps, is that Barrington was here focused on what we might call the 'occultic' and/or 'mind science' variety of then-new religious movements; noteworthy also is that the early Latter Day Saints also engaged in harsh polemics against many of the same movements, particularly spiritualism. In this book, Barrington never identifies the LDS faith as a 'cult', though it would be difficult to argue that he wouldn't have seen it in that light, and the general sort of rhetoric he uses against his 'cults' bears a great deal of resemblance to that used in many nineteenth-century anti-LDS polemics.

That was in 1898. It was only in 1932, so far as I know, that the word 'cult' in a non-cultus sense came to be used by sociologists, and that was with Howard Becker's modification of Ernest Troelsch's church-sect typology. For Becker, a 'cult' was a small and somewhat disorganized religious group that originates, not (like a 'sect') by way of schism from a previous religious body, but rather by way of crystallizing around some new leader or thesis. Later sociologists refined this sense.

From what I can gather, it was mostly after Becker's work that the word 'cult' came to be more widely used by Evangelical apologists to designate theologically deviant movements; up until the late 1930s and early 1940s, where the Evangelical countercult movement really began to take off, the words 'heresy' and 'sect' still enjoyed much greater currency. Jan Karel van Baalen's 1938 book The Chaos of Cults was probably an early milestone, though in those early days, the term '-isms' was also quite common (as even in the subtitle of van Baalen's book). The countercult legacy was expanded by Walter Martin's 1955 book The Rise of the Cults, where he defined a cult as a group centered on "any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith" (12). Of course, it was his 1965 book The Kingdom of the Cults that really became influential. In the 1970s and 1980s, of course, a secular 'anti-cult movement' arose in connection with the 'cult scares' of groups like the Peoples Temple (Jim Jones), the Branch Davidians (David Koresh), and so forth.

Somewhat contrary to my initial expectations, then, the Evangelical 'theological' use of the word 'cult' actually has a lengthy ancestry, one that predates even the 'sociological' use of the term. Historically speaking, at least a soft division can be made, though any given 'countercult' author in later years may have used the word 'cult' with some mixture of 'theological' and 'sociological' elements in mind. So there's a sense in which the Evangelical use of the term 'cult' in general is valid. Furthermore, if all of the above is accepted, then in that limited sense, the common Evangelical application of the term 'cult' (as so defined) to the LDS Church also has a sort of validity, from an Evangelical standpoint.

However, it also seems to me that most people today have a certain sense of the word 'cult', a sense inculcated in large part by the cult scares of the late twentieth century. The word conjures up images of followers devoted to a single charismatic leader, willing to kill themselves to attain enlightenment if required, or residing on a compound awaiting the leader's cue to engage in apocalyptic combat with the 'forces of darkness' residing in the outside world. There is certainly a theological element to this common sense, but it can't be reduced to just 'weird beliefs', let alone 'a supposedly Christian but doctrinally deviant group of people with some weird beliefs and practices'. Modern-day Mormonism simply does not fit the ominous popular picture of what a 'cult' is, at least not in most of the relevant aspects.

In light of this overwhelming popular notion of what a 'cult' is, it seems that Evangelicals should probably abandon the special use that prevails in our subculture, no matter how old its precedents are. Let's face it: we don't need it. Either we want to communicate precisely and only what our 'theological definition' (and preferably a more nuanced formulation of it, at that) states, or we actually desire the extra baggage of the word's popular connotations. If the latter is the case, I consider that to be rather shameful. If that's what we want, then - all our rhetoric about truth and clarity aside - we really just want to tar the LDS reputation by guilt-by-association with far more nefarious and dangerous groups. (Or, perhaps we really do believe that the LDS Church is a 'cult' in that popular way, right down to 'brainwashing'. In that case, there's no dishonest dealing here, just a need for a reality check.)

Alternatively, perhaps we really are being sincere in using just the venerable and time-tested 'theological definition' for the word 'cult'. Maybe we really do wish that people would understand the distinction, and our goal is to be "descriptive" rather than "pejorative". In the podcast episode linked at the top of this post, Eric Johnson reads a passage from Alan Gomes in which Gomes appeals to the long pre-secular usage of the word 'cult' in just this fashion as a reason to continue doing so now, since - the implication runs - we therefore have a greater implicit 'ownership' of the word than the secular/sociological uses; Gomes also finds it fitting for reasons ill-explained. (They also point out that some mainstream LDS leaders have had no qualms about using the word 'cult' in reference to, e.g., alternative claimants to the LDS legacy.) But we have to realize that we're setting up wholly unnecessary obstacles for communication with anyone outside our subculture. I don't see a need for that. We can retrain ourselves to be comfortable with words like 'heresy'; won't that do? That certainly has a far more august pedigree in Christian polemical use than the word 'cult' does. As Timothy Dalrymple writes on the subject:
If we want to communicate with the world in a way that brings both clarity and charity, then we have to deal with words according to their current meaning. It profits us nothing to call Mormonism a cult. It makes us appear paranoid, self-righteous and cruel, and it slanders the good people who believe they are following Jesus Christ in the LDS Church. According to the popular definition of that term, we are accusing Mormons of being on a level with David Koresh and Jim Jones. This is inaccurate, unloving, and unChristian.
The use of the word 'cult' is an obstacle to dialogue to a greatly unnecessary degree. Even for those Evangelicals who sincerely wish to invoke only the 'theological definition' of the term and to do so in an air of gentle love and respect, the very offensiveness of the word due to its widespread current connotations will belie that message. It is the very example of needless offense and poor communication. Now, perhaps most of our alternative evaluative terms (e.g., 'heresy') could also be offensive, and we may have to live with that, just as Latter-day Saints must learn to live with the extreme offense that their narrative of apostasy and restoration represents for all mainstream Christians. But forsaking the word 'cult' is a worthwhile gesture, since more understandable evaluative terms remain that denote the same as our cherished "theological definition of a 'cult'".

For that reason, I try to avoid using the word 'cult' whenever possible in general, and particularly in reference to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Under virtually all but the now-most-trivialized sense of the word, it's simply inaccurate. Even under that sense of the word, it communicates poorly and causes offense. And better options are available. I love and respect Latter-day Saints, and so I don't want to cause any offense that isn't necessitated by any accurate articulation of my honestly-held views. I also don't want to perpetuate inaccurate impressions of the LDS people or their faith. As best as I can, I want to speak the truth in love, and I don't believe I could effectively do that while routinely using the term 'cult' in reference to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Given the history and momentum of Evangelical use of the term, I doubt there's much hope of it dying out any time soon, but to me it's worth protesting.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Daniel Tyler on Priesthood - Part II

The following appeared as Daniel Tyler, "The Gospel Principles: The Priesthood", The Juvenile Instructor 13/07 (1 April 1878): 77.
Although the New Testament informs us what officers were in the Church, it says but little as to their duties or callings. Paul does say, in the 4th chapter of the Ephesians, that, from the Apostles down, they were "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry," etc., "till we all come in the unity of the faith;" but what the special duty of each was is left for modern revelation to determine, so far as we are concerned. The ancient disciples were, of course, posted in all these matters, but they never committed them to writing, or, if so, their manuscripts were either lost or destroyed through persecution of the church.

The book of Doctrine and Covenants, commencing on page 115, new edition, says, "An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, and to administer bread and wine – the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ – and to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures; and to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church; and to confirm the church by the laying on of hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost, and to take the lead of all meetings. The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.

"The priest's duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament, and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties; and he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons. And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present; but when there is an elder present, he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret, and attend to all family duties. In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires."

Next in order is the duty of the teachers, who are standing ministers in the Church. The office of a teacher, although in the grade of priesthood reckoned as one of the lesser, is, nevertheless, one of the most important callings in the Church; and, above all men, those who hold this office should be exemplary. On the other hand, if there is any preference to be shown, I think the teachers should have it as they visit among the Saints. Their duties are so important to the general welfare. I trust our aged and venerable Presiding Bishop, Brother Edward Hunter, will pardon me for quoting a few words which I once heard fall from his lips in a Bishops' meeting, in Salt Lake City, on this subject. After telling the Bishops to instruct the Saints to set their houses in order when the teachers came to visit them, he said, "The teachers are the only men who can preside in my house when I am at home. I call my house to order and give the presidency to them during their visit."

Those words fell upon my heart like "apples of gold in pictures of silver," and, although thirty years have passed, they are as fresh in my mind as when first spoken. I can recommend them to all Latter-day Saints, not only as falling from the lips of a great and good man, but for their intrinsic value.

Of course the offices are all of vital importance to the Saints. The will of God cannot "be done on earth as it is in heaven" unless they are all in the Church and all magnified. And without them all it would not be the "kingdom of God."

Jesus said of John the Baptist, "Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." Hence we see that John, although a great prophet, holding only the lesser priesthood, could not establish the kingdom. But after the Savior had ordained twelve to the higher priesthood, he said to them, "the kingdom of heaven is within you." That is as much as to say that they held all the authority necessary to build up the kingdom of God on the earth.

We will now come to the duties of teachers, and and you will see I have not attached too much importance to the calling. We will quote from page 116 in the book of Doctrine and Covenants:

"The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them, and see that there is no iniquity in the church – neither hardness with each other – neither lying, back-biting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty, and he is to take the lead of meetings in the absence of the elder or priest – and is to be assisted always, in all his duties in the church, by the deacons, if occasion requires; but neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands: they are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach and invite all to come unto Christ. Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon, is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him."