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Benjamin McGuire

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Benjamin McGuire last won the day on May 14 2014

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About Benjamin McGuire

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  1. Vogel suggests that: But this seems to be an interpretation suited to his thesis. It could just as easily be suggested the other way around - that this wasn't seen as a special case in this sense, and that the language is used because a connection had already been made. There is no Christian Biblical belief about John being ordained to the priesthood by an angel. Earlier, Vogel notes this about the 1832 history: Here is the problem presented by Section 84, that Vogel doesn't address well at all. Here are verses 26 and 28 for contrast: 26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; 28 For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power. "this power" seems to refer to the priesthood (if not, it's antecedent is unclear). But, what comes out of this is that the two points mentioned in verse 26 with regard to the lesser priesthood are the "ministering of angels" and "the preparatory gospel". Both of these things are repeated in verse 28 - as illustrations of this point. The first is in being "ordained by the angel of God" and the second is repeated in the "to prepare them for the Coming of the Lord". The ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel. The challenge this brings for Vogel is that is suggests that by September of 1828, that "the ministering of angels" is being understood specifically by the idea of angelic ordinations. And so he has to contend that in between the summer 1832 composition of that history and the September 1832 writing of the revelation, that the meaning of this phrase underwent significant change. It seems much more likely that it is the other way around - that the language in Section 84 represents an already understood meaning and context, and we see that context in the 1832 history. And while what Vogel describes of the 1832 history is correct, it doesn't actually present the full context which does contribute to my argument: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-summer-1832/1#full-transcript That "the reception of the holy Priesthood" refers to the lesser priesthood is understood from this narrative viewed as a sequence of events. And this confirms the idea that we see in Septermber of 1832 in the parallels in Section 84 between an ordination and the ministering of angels. So I think that we can use the notion of "ordain" as being about an ordination to the priesthood (as opposed to some other ordination). But the emphasis of my comments was more about this idea of the ministering of angels (84:26) becoming an ordination by an angel (84:28). And while Section 84 is where we encounter this idea of a "lesser priesthood" as Vogel points out, the idea of the Melchizedek Priesthood as a "high priesthood" is already in the 1832 history - and this suggests that whether articulated or not, the Aaronic Priesthood was already viewed as a lesser priesthood (we have this language of comparison that comes before Section 84). So I think that there is probably a reasonable case to be made that Vogel has it wrong in these specifics here. That is, the chronology of change is less discrete than he describes, and that Section 84 isn't exactly the demarcation between one set of ideas and another that he suggests. Ben McGuire
  2. Section 84 of the D&C comes September 22-23 in 1832 (the date is reasonably well established). http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-22-23-september-1832-dc-84/1 This passage from it seems particularly important to your discussion: What we see here is that the idea of being ministered to by angels is illustrated in John the Baptist, who is "ordained by the Angel of God". Ben McGuire
  3. Jacob frames his entire book with Psalm 95. The first use of Psalm 95 occurs in Jacob 1:7. Jacob’s text reads: The source text in Psalm 95 reads: Psalm 95 appears again in Jacob’s text in Jacob 1:15: the Nephites “began to grow hard in their hearts”. Psalm 95 is alluded to by Jacob at least two more times in the remainder of his book. First, we have these comments in Jacob’s prophetic interpretation of the Zenos allegory in chapter 6:6: And then in his narrative ending for the entire book, the last verses of the Plates of Jacob, he writes to his audience that (7:26): While this last piece does not use a longer phrase from Psalm 95, as do the earlier occurrences, it continues the idea of the allusion. Psalm 95 is about Israel in the wilderness. In its original context, the provocation is about Israel's failure in the wilderness (first with the golden calf, later in its lack of faith about entering the land). And because of Israel's failures, they are left to wander in the wilderness while waiting to enter the promised land. Using this an a springboard to understanding Jacob, Jacob's sermon in chapters 1-3 is presented as the Nephite provocation. In this context, their entry into their promised land is dependent on their willingness to be obedient. Jacob's view of this in the last couple of verses of his book is fascinating, because he recognizes that they have failed to enter their promised land (and perhaps as a conclusion - that they have yet to overcome their provocation). Just as interesting is the fact that the Book of Jacob has a double narrative ending. The first is in 6:13 - And the second is in the last verse of chapter 7: It is almost as if Jacob thought his end was near and completed his text in Chapter 6, recovers, and then goes through the process again in Chapter 7 with an update of significance (the narrative of Sherem). Perhaps Jacob sees in the apostasy that follows Sherem an additional context for understanding their failure to re-inherit their promised land. And so at the end of Chapter 7, when Jacob describes their condition, it is entirely through this lens of longing to return to the land of their inheritance that they left when the Lamanite-Nephite split first happens (2 Nephi 5:5ff.) They are in the wilderness. Cast off. Waiting to overcome their provocation and be given the land of their inheritance. It just never happens. So there is my answer to your question.
  4. No CV75 - we don't have a real response. It's not about a public response - its about how to place these individuals into the gospel as we understand it. We speak about how important family is, how important being sealed in the temple is, how important it is to have that special relationship with your spouse, and your children - and for this group - well, you don't get any of this in this life - you have to wait until it all gets sorted out later. It's just too bad that you crave human intimacy as much as the rest of us. You just can't have it.
  5. I have no idea how many people use the website, and get information from the database there. I do know that with FairMormon, I have interacted with thousands of members (and non-members) over the years, and that the experience has been tremendously rewarding for me personally. Ben McGuire
  6. For me, I appreciate the fact that the Proclamation on the Family spells out the idea that there is a gender in the pre-existence. Our challenge with gender ambiguous children, with the occurrence of gender reassignment surgery that is regularly used for those children points to the reality that our biological gender is not identical with our spiritual gender in every instance. And so this provides us with a doctrinal point of entrance into the discussion of how to address those with biologically linked gender issues of all sorts. This kind of discussion will be necessary for us to find ways to be more inclusive in the Gospel for those who experience (through no choice of their own) challenges that the Church really has no adequate response for right now. At least we have stopped blaming it on poor parenting, or progressive sinfulness, or all of the other past justifications used to to explain how "unnatural" these conditions are. Ben McGuire
  7. CV75: The reality is that your reading clearly disagrees with a the readings of many other general authorities. And that, I think, is the clearest indicator that this is not a settled doctrinal issue for the Church. And I certainly feel in good company when I disagree with you. More to the point, Joseph Smith had a lot to say in 1843 and 1844 that is now formally rejected by the Church. Included in this is a great deal about the Celestial Kingdom - including his idea that those who die never change - that there are a host of tiny thrones in the Celestial Kingdom on which sit infants who died in their infancy - and they never change from that infancy for eternity. This idea (that Joseph taught) was part of the basis for the idea that there could be no change after our mortality. But clearly we have rejected this idea, we allow them to grow up, to be married, and so on. And certainly the sealing policies that Joseph Smith set up - to create the connective tissue in the Celestial Kingdom through adoption, has been rejected by the Church for well over a century. The entire connective tissue built in this way was largely dismantled after that change was made, replaced by something that was not only better for us (as we came to understand the purpose of our work for the dead), but something that also didn't create a hierarchical structure in the Celestial Kingdom where who you were sealed to was far more important to your place in that kingdom than any consideration for your own willingness to subject yourself to the will of God. So we will have to simply agree to disagree. I think, to quote one of the most vocal proponents of the idea that there is no eternal progression between kingdoms, Elder McConkie once said, of another topic (that he was very vocal about): "As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them." Our greatest concerns with these questions remains in all of the cracks that are typical of doctrines that have this kind of history and are poorly defined or explained. We have the clear teachings that it is the sealing power that ties us to the Celestial Kingdom (us, our spouses, our children). From another journal entry made by William Clayton about something Joseph Smith said: "When a seal is put upon the father and mother it secures their posterity so that they cannot be lost but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father." And then we have all of those who die as infants (a particular problem where Joseph Fielding Smith had to effectively invent sources to contradict what Joseph Smith taught in the KFD so that they would agree with his theology). And then we go even further to the other discussions this spawned - the questions about when life begins (Brigham Young believed it was before birth, but quite some time after conception - so what do we do there with the resurrection then? Are there even smaller thrones?). No matter how we look at this, our doctrinal position is clearly incomplete. Our theology of the Celestial Kingdom has evolved, and contains some things that are new, and some things that are remnants of past belief - things which can be understood by looking backwards into the past, but have little context in today's teachings. These kinds of issues are what help create change in our doctrine - and point to a need for change. And, as I noted pretty early on, I think that individuals who believe this idea of permanent barriers (like yourself) also have a distinct set of views about God, and that these views tend to flow from those hidden assumptions as much as anything else. At any rate, feel free to have the last word. I probably will not respond again on this topic. Ben McGuire
  8. Part of the challenge for me is that I think that we have altogether too much of a temporal mind set when we get to this part of the discussion. We want to ground all of these ideas in concepts that we are familiar with. And on top of this, we want to make our mortality as sort of the basis for the future, when in fact it seems to me that in mortality we look at virtually none of our existence (if we assume an eternal existence extending backward as well as forward). So, most of what we have to say about this idea of the speed of progression, or placing progression on some sort of scale, seems to me to have little value. After all, we could suggest that if the same sorts of principles we understand today were involved, we could use time dilation to become an equalizer of sorts - where those who are more advanced simply have more motion, providing more time (relatively speaking) to those who are not so far along. Rather, I think, these things simply won't fit the understandings that we have today. And, more than likely, all that we have (whether its speculation or revelation) isn't really some sort of perfect knowledge, but rather is given to us according to our knowledge and understanding so that we can move towards something better. And this is why there are fewer doctrines of the Church that have changed more, or evolved more than has our notion of the Celestial Kigndom. Ben McGuire
  9. It's certainly the recognized position of the Church today.
  10. So let's start with the low hanging fruit. Rev Testament wrote: So here is the problem with Section 131. It isn't a revelation. These four verses were taken from William Clayton's personal journal, where he briefly described something said by Joseph Smith to Benjamin F. Johnson and his wife, in their home, on May 16, 1843. It was first published as part of the serialization of Clayton's journal in the Deseret News on September 24, 1856. It was turned into a text for the D&C in 1876 by Orson Pratt - and Orson Pratt is the one who added the material in brackets as an interpretive comment. Part of the challenge we face in this section are that the interpretive comment added by Orson Pratt was intended as a reference to polygamy. This is where the idea was formalized that in the three degrees in the Celestial Kingdom (instead of the earlier potential infinite regress of sub-kingdoms in the Celestial Kingdom), the highest degree was reserved for those who were polygamous. And understood in this context, the idea of increase is about that polygamy. That is, there is a natural limitation on the size of your kingdom/posterity in the Celestial Kingdom without it. So, when you adopt polygamy, there is no barrier to eternally growing your kingdom. This sort of explanation also makes more sense when we understand how this section was trying to change the doctrinal understanding of the Church at the time (since this idea of three degrees in the Celestial Kingdom was new to the Church). So, in response to this, we have to clarify hat it means to "have an increase", what the "new and everlasting covenant of marriage" refers to in this particular context, and, what is meant by "celestial glory". This of course assumes a certain interpretation of what Clayton wrote that the Church has generally followed. There are many members (like myself) who believe that this reading is in error. That this should in fact refer to the three degrees of glory (and not to subdivisions in the Celestial Kingdom). But, it was a useful way of ending the earlier organization of the Celestial Kingdom, and helping to end the practice of sealings of adoption (a practice which wouldn't be completely abolished until 1894 when we started allowing people to be sealed vicariously to their own dead ancestors). At any rate, the real problem that we face here is that our doctrine of the Celestial Kingdom and our understanding of its organization are both issues that have changed significantly since the first revelations were given about them. And this makes it something of a challenge when we start dealing with this topic and all of the statements made about it - since any attempt to simply flatten the issue and make all of the statements (and even all of the passages of scripture) of equal value are going to result only in misunderstanding and not enlightenment. Ben McGuire
  11. Actually, we do have a doctrine wherein we explain how God is able to come to a terrestrial and a telestial place. We call it transfiguration. What do we think happened when God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith in the telestial world? And of course, the only ordinances we teach that are required for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom are baptism and confirmation - ordinances that we provide (in theory) for everyone. So in the context of progression between kingdoms, there isn't anything that is lacking for progress except the condition of the individual. When Lehi speaks of how we become like God, he speaks of it in terms of our becoming persons who act and are not acted upon - absolute agency is for Lehi, one of the core attributes of deity. And for us, he suggests, we can only obtain that absolute agency through the resurrection (which we all receive) and the atonement. He tells us (verse 26): In the context of Lehi's remarks, our question shifts to whether or not the punishment of those in the Terrestrial and the Telestial Kingdoms has an end. And this is an interesting point - because of course, we have strong doctrinal indicators that this belief was held by the early leaders of the Church. It was held particularly in the doctrine of having one's calling and election made sure. Where (after receiving this ordinance) you could still sin, and you would be punished for those sins, but, once that punishment had ended, you were free to move into a place of glory in the Celestial Kingdom. Isn't that how we read D&C 132:6 - Or, as McConkie explains it in his New Testament commentary: So I can see a doctrinal basis for the idea that sin (except the unpardonable sin) generates a limited punishment. The only unlimited punishment is that given to the sons of perdition. Apart from those things that qualify us for perdition, there isn't anything that is capable of keeping us from the Celestial Kingdom - and that is without the benefit of an infinite atonement; imagine how much easier it is with the benefit of that infinite atonement. So I think that there is no doctrinal statement or theology that prevents upward mobility (as all of those leaders who favored the idea have noted). Last September, in the discussion about politics, I read an interesting blog that investigated the idea that some of our political views are determined by our view of family. That is, we see the President as a father figure, and our views are often influenced by our own views of family - should the father figure be the stern disciplinarian? Should he play more of a nurturing, teaching role? You can read it here: http://www.npr.org/2016/09/13/493615864/when-it-comes-to-our-politics-family-matters There is a fascinating corollary of course for this discussion. We call God "Our Father", and I think that these same kinds of issues apply in our individuals theological views. Do we see God as more of a strict disciplinarian or more of a nurturing loving parent? Is this part of the shift in views that we see sometimes in scripture (from Old to New Testament for example)? I expect that if we looked in those terms, we would see a number of different beliefs that correspond with beliefs on this idea of eternal progression - that is, perhaps our views here are connected as much to our experience of family in mortality as anything else .... Ben McGuire
  12. Perhaps, but it seems really, really unlikely doesn't it. I can't think of anywhere, where any of the past leaders of the Church wrote about the idea of the time between the death of the mortal body and the resurrection being eons of eternities long. We have a first and a second resurrection - and they are usually mentioned as fairly discrete points in time (as we understand time). This discussion about progress between kingdoms has been going on for a very long time (ever since we really produced the three degrees of glory). The current view of no progression is only the majority view because of the influence of the speculative writings of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie, and not for some other reason (like, say, a revelation on the subject). Ben McGuire
  13. We could add some statements - President Joseph F. Smith: President J. Reuben Clark: Elder James E. Talmage: One of our challenges today is the understanding that our idea of a three-tiered Celestial Kingdom is a relatively late development in the Church. It wasn't introduced until 1878 (Section 131 isn't published until 1880). We have Orson Hyde's description of the Celestial Kingdom from 1847, with its potential infinite regression of kingdoms. And even with what we have, we have these huge differences. Joseph Smith taught that everyone would live in the Celestial Kingdom (who inherited it) in the same state in which they died - so he tells us in the King Follett Discourse: And of course, we don't really believe this - and we don't imagine a Celestial Kingdom filled with infants. Much of what was taught about the Celestial Kingdom in that first century of Mormonism has been replaced, reunderstood, and remade into what we have now. And while we have gotten rid of many ideas, some of them have remained - creating something of an inconsistent approach that results in these contradicting ideas from leaders in the past. While it is certainly true that we taught that what happened in mortality was what determined where our eternal destination was, we have increasingly complex explanations for this. That infant, to be in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom will have to be married (an issue that we now postpone at least until the Millennia, when we expect to have the necessary revelation to make such a thing happen). It is, in my opinion, far more reasonable to agree with President Clark above - that our future eternities are not so closely tied to the events of mortality as we might think, and that our progression in an eternal context (where in many ways time becomes irrelevant), these ideas of greater or lesser also become irrelevant, since instead of comparison (which will hardly matter - but which mattered a great deal in the original imaginings of the Celestial Kingdom held by the early Saints) we will simply mark our existence as some place along a spectrum moving us from where we were to where we are going. And we see this in the B.H. Roberts statement, with his not to a temporal component (time) that likely has little meaning in an eternal existence. Progression, eternal progression, isn't likely to be some kind of race, where our glory is determined by our position in that Celestial Hierarchy. That idea was (at least doctrinally) tossed out the window when we consolidated the Celestial Kingdom into three degrees, and replaced the artificial structure of kingdoms and sub-kingdoms created by sealings of adoption with an ordering based on our biological family ordering (implemented in 1894, when the Church began performing sealings of children to their deceased parents - which couldn't begin until we started performing proxy priesthood ordinations in 1877, IIRC). In some ways, our current model of Celestial Glory is woefully incomplete. When it was first introduced, the lowest degree in the Celestial Kingdom was for the unmarried. The highest for the polygamous. Without polygamy, we had a period where this was repurposed (which leads to something closer to our current model of believe) where priesthood became a more prominent aspect. And at the bottom were those who could not be sealed into the family of God (those denied the priesthood). Today, we end up with this legacy model, but really no clear doctrine of what defines the second degree in the Celestial Kingdom. And we have this challenge where we recognize the challenge of change outside of mortality. The unmarried in mortality who attains to the Celestial Kingdom can only get (we say) the lowest degree - but for them to achieve the upward mobility that no one denies (within a kingdom) we have to allow for them to find an eternal spouse, and so to be able to progress. And in both cases, this is done through events that will not happen in mortality. I suspect that for some of us who what to spend eternity with a spouse who might not be as spiritually progressed as ourselves, rather than being required to give them up and take another, we will be able to wait for them to progress to the Celestial Kingdom so that our journey together may continue. Short of explicit revelation on the topic, I find the notion of eternal progression (for all of God's children) made possible through an infinite atonement far more reasonable than (as President Clark suggest) the constructionist view that the only thing that matters is this brief mortality in which we find ourselves, and the limited perspective that it creates that we can only surpass when we leave mortality behind. Ben McGuire
  14. The challenge we have is that the Church is undergoing constant significant change all during this period - and much of this change is driven by growth. The Church is organized in 1830. We get the first Bishop in 1831. The first Stake is organized in 1834. The Quorum of the Twelve is formed in 1835. You can imagine that this shift - from going to a congregational model, to having a Quroum of the Twelve Apostles - this is a huge shift. And it certainly has an impact on how the membership sees themselves and the Church's place in connection with the rest of Christianity. So growth drives the creation of infrastructure (so to speak). But we don't see the full extent of that infrastructure for a few years (and even then we continued to see major adjustments for over a century). This growth, and these developments were at times quite challenging for early leadership, and necessary changes were not always popular. In 1832, they simply did not see themselves as we do today, with our millions of members, and church organizational units around the globe. And we forget that even by 1835, the vast majority of members had been members for only a year or two. And all of them bring different expectations (both cultural and religious) with them. So this is a huge transitional period in more ways than one. And this is the context in which the Church begins to work to frame (and perhaps re-frame) its founding narratives (and perhaps even the reason why such narratives were seen as necessary). And this is partly why I suggest in 1832 that the membership of the Church didn't really understand what the movement they were participating in would become. And this is why we cannot look at the entire early period of the Church as a single monolithic entity. The issues driving the creation of a history in 1832 are certainly different than the issues driving the creation of a history in 1838. Ben M.
  15. Yep, my mistake.