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David Bokovoy

The Sermon on the Mount and the LofC

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First, is there a reason I should think that the intention behind that scripture was a commandment to poor people?

Yes!

Does that scripture only speak to poor people?

No!

If so, does that scripture apply to them?

Yes, but this thread is about the poor.

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Nibley tried to clear up the contradiction by attempting to make the case that that scripture wasn't talking about poor people at all. He thought that, historically, statements like that referred to idle rich who appropriated the products produced by the poor who were forced to labor for the rich because they (they poor) had nothing but their labor to sell. He seems to have thought that when considered in its historical context that that was the meaning behind that particular scripture. But, hey, maybe he's wrong about all that. For all the love Nibley got and continues to get for his defense of Mormonism, his economic ramblings are widely disregarded. His communist tendencies obviously led him astray.

Interesting. The reason I say interesting is because as I pointed out the verse makes no mention of rich or poor.

Now for a little sarcism, I wonder why Nibley's comments on economics gets widely disregarded?

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His communist tendencies obviously led him astray.

???????

Condemning a certain behavior isn't the same as advocating using the force of government to strip a person of his wealth to give to government cronies with a smaller portion distributed among the proletariat.

Greed, whether practiced by the ultra rich or the ultra poor, is to be condemned. You know that "thou shalt not covet" thing.

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:P

Ok don't worry about it, it must just be me.

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In a "free enterprise" system a person (or company) offers to by your labor, and you can choose to sell your labor to them or to another person or company that makes you the offer. Or you can choose to produce your own product or service with your labor and sell that in exchange for the goods or services that you need but cannot produce (at least as efficiently).

I understand that. Free enterprise sounds good to me. Of course, let's be clear, you can only choose to produce your own product for exchange if you have capital to begin with. If you don't, then, sure, you can still choose not to sell the only thing you have to sell (your labor), but then you also won't have money to buy food.

But you are not free to use the force of government to steal from your neighbor for yours or any other persons individual benefit.

I agree. I don't advocate that.

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Ok don't worry about it, it must just be me.

Oh, no, it's not you. I was mocking a bit.

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Oh, no, it's not you. I was mocking a bit.

Oh you sneaky sneakerson you.

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???????

Condemning a certain behavior isn't the same as advocating using the force of government to strip a person of his wealth to give to government cronies with a smaller portion distributed among the proletariat.

Greed, whether practiced by the ultra rich or the ultra poor, is to be condemned. You know that "thou shalt not covet" thing.

I was being sarcastic.

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Well, in a way, we all (most likely) have socialistic tendencies. I think it is fair to assume that we all get pleasure from spending other peoples money.

BUT, as Ms Thatcher said,

"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money" (or something to that affect).

Edited to add,

It is better if the other people voluntarily gave you the money to spend. :P

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I find it funny that this thread hardly touches anything David talked about. Consecration can't be brought up without socialism and capitalism being mentioned and debated apparently.

Frankly, I don't really see what either of those secular institutions have to do with the Law of Consecration. And given the technological and industrial advances the world has known since Christ's time, King Benjamin's time, and even Joseph Smith's time, approaches to the poor will out of sheer necessity be different. The grinding poverty of Christ's time is not the same as the "poverty" of, say, modern America. The standard of living has increased dramatically since those days.

If you had tried to explain Marxist or capitalist views of a hi-tech, industrial, globalized economic society to Peter, James, or John, they wouldn't have known what in the hell you were talking about. So, let's put the anachronisms aside.

Excellent OP, David.

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There appears to be a contradiction in our scriptures. Perhaps we can get a serious response to the reconciliation?

I do not believe that there is a contradiction. Here is one of the explanations that Brade hinted at:

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I don't disregard his comments. I believe his views on Zion and economics were his most important contribution to LDS scholarship/literature.

OK so one person finds them of value.

I would also note that D&C 42 does not mention poor or rich poeple. So I think that Nibley simply got this one wrong because his political agenda got in the way as it seems that it often does when these topics gets brought up as Walker pointed out. That is to say that socialism/communism and capitalism get brought up.

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OK so one person finds them of value.

I would also note that D&C 42 does not mention poor or rich poeple. So I think that Nibley simply got this one wrong because his political agenda got in the way as it seems that it often does when these topics gets brought up as Walker pointed out. That is to say that socialism/communism and capitalism get brought up.

I would suggest that you may wish to read D&C 42 again, for it most certainly does mention the poor:

"And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken. And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me" (vv. 30-31)

So in light of the Lord's focus on taking care of the poor/beggar all throughout scripture, including D&C 42, Nibley's reading makes the greatest sense. Not only does it eradicate the alleged contradiction you incorrectly perceived between D&C 42 and king Benjamin's mandate to give to the beggar, but Nibley's interpretation works well conceptually with the revelation's internal focus on the need for Latter-day saints to impart freely of their substance unto the poor. But if you wish to successfully counter his observation, you'll obviously have to do more than simply shake your head "no" and criticize Nibley's comments as evidence of a wrongful political agenda.

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I wonder why Nibley's comments on economics gets widely disregarded?

Because people don't take their temple covenants seriously?

Because their hearts are set too much upon the things of this world?

Because the FP hasn't sent a letter specifically telling people what is already in the scriptures?

Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. ~ D&C 104:18

And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you

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Hello Walker,

And given the technological and industrial advances the world has known since Christ's time, King Benjamin's time, and even Joseph Smith's time, approaches to the poor will out of sheer necessity be different. The grinding poverty of Christ's time is not the same as the "poverty" of, say, modern America. The standard of living has increased dramatically since those days.

I respectfully disagree. I believe when the Savior declares concerning the poor, "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away" (Matt. 5:42), he is defining what it means to be his disciple. Gospel principles do not change, and whether ancient or modern scripture, the standard works constantly repeat the mandate to give to the poor regardless of whether or not we believe the beggar has not earned the right to our help.

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain?... [therefore] if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth" (Mosiah 4:19-22)

The manner in which we live this standard not only defines our discipleship, but reflects the way Christ will judge us in terms of eternal rewards. This is an eternal principle.

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OK so one person finds them of value.

Make that 2

Discovering Nibley's writings on Zion had a paradigm changing affect on me. In fact, outside of the spiritual experiences with the thoughts of a Personal Savior, this "revelation" is the closest thing I can claim to having a testimony of. It brought a very beautiful synergy between a heavenly Gospel, and our potential in a mortal existence, which previously had remained in a state of disconnect in my mind.

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Make that 2

Discovering Nibley's writings on Zion had a paradigm changing affect on me. In fact, outside of the spiritual experiences with the thoughts of a Personal Savior, this "revelation" is the closest thing I can claim to having a testimony of. It brought a very beautiful synergy between a heavenly Gospel, and our potential in a mortal existence, which previously had remained in a state of disconnect in my mind.

Amen to that beautiful testimony, Senator.

In my case, it was life that allowed the Lord to teach me about Zion, her inhabitants, and the celestial law. Reading Approaching Zion was a sweet confirmation of what the Spirit had already made clear.

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Hello Walker,

I respectfully disagree. I believe when the Savior declares concerning the poor, "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away" (Matt. 5:42), he is defining what it means to be his disciple. Gospel principles do not change, and whether ancient or modern scripture, the standard works constantly repeat the mandate to give to the poor regardless of whether or not we believe the beggar has not earned the right to our help.

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain?... [therefore] if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth" (Mosiah 4:19-22)

The manner in which we live this standard not only defines our discipleship, but reflects the way Christ will judge us in terms of eternal rewards. This is an eternal principle.

I'm not quite sure on what thing you disagree with based on what you quoted. Do you disagree that the standard of living has increased dramatically since the time of Christ or Joseph Smith? Do you disagree that what is considered poverty in modern America is not the same poverty as 1st century Palestine due to the standard of living being raised? Or are you disagreeing that the approach will be different? And please don't read confrontation into this: I am really just asking because I'm not sure. I'm not seeing what your response has to do with what I said because I didn't say anything about changing the principle or that the poor have "not earned the right to our help."

The main point I was trying to get across is that "the poor" is a very abstract category that is often invoked. "The poor" of Christ's day are not equal to "the poor" of many modern countries. Even "the rich" of Christ's day don't in many cases rise to the level of today's "the poor." The rise in living standards for everyone is worth noting. Does being poor only relate to necessities (i.e. food, shelter, clothing) or does it mean that you can't afford a luxurious cruise that King Benjamin's people would have known nothing about? Or high-speed Internet that 19th century saints would have been baffled by? Or a nice car that Jesus wouldn't have known how to drive?

The approaches to helping the poor in an ever-evolving world will be different given the circumstances. The eternal principle does not change, but the practical application might. Raising the poor out of poverty is the best way we can live the principle. Finding the practical way to do so is the challenge, especially in an industrial, global economy. That's all I was saying. Latter-day Saints should constantly be seeking ways to improve the life of everyone around them. No doubt about that.

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As for Nibley, I find his views on Zion to be largely rhetorical and virtually useless in real-life economic application. The emotional check on one's own selfishness may be helpful, but his agrarian-like views of Zion leave much to be desired. Nate Oman offers this criticism:

My primary complaint with folks like Nibley and Berry is that they attack a straw-man. Rather than actually thinking through the social benefits of markets, they instead insist that the only benefits are material, dismiss those as spiritually hollow and ultimately destructive, and pass on breezily to invective about the charlatanry of salesmanship. This isn

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"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain?... [therefore] if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth" (Mosiah 4:19-22)

Do some people read this passage in a literal/absolutist sense to mean that there is no valid reason for withholding our substance from those petitioning us?

I ask because what if in some cases and some instances the failure to withhold our substance inadvertantly contributes to binding certain petitioners in a culture of poverty, thus contravening one of the ultimate intent of charity--i.e. to help insure that there are no poor among us?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Do some people read this passage in a literal/absolutist sense to mean that there is no valid reason for withholding our substance from those petitioning us?

I ask because what if in some cases and some instances the failure to withhold our substance inadvertantly contributes to binding certain petitioners in a culture of poverty, thus contravening one of the ultimate intent of charity--i.e. to help insure that there are no poor among us?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

Hi Wade,

Long time no see.

I do take King Benjamin's words at face value, in part because they are echoed by the Lord in Matthew 25 where He clearly defines the sheep on His right by their willingness to clothe, feed, give drink, take in, and visit. There is no exemption stated in the Savior's description of the righteous.

What a beggar does with my handout is between Him and God. He will have to answer for his use or misuse of my gift. Likewise, what I do with my talents is between me and God. And I don't want the salvation of my soul to rest on a flawed judgment of "I didn't think he deserved help."

My belief is Serve them all. Let God sort them out.

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My education is in organizational behavior. I know that Nibley criticized business management, but his criticisms actually undermine his own economic approach to Zion. Heavily centralized, top-down management block innovation and growth. Here is an excerpt from a research paper I currently wrote on innovative organizational culture:

In the final days of World War II, economist and social scientist Friedrich von Hayek published an article in The American Economic Review (1945) criticizing heavy central planning in government policy. The future Nobel laureate described what he calls the

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Hi Wade,

Long time no see.

I do take King Benjamin's at face value, in part because they are echoed by the Lord in Matthew 25 where He clearly defines the sheep on His right by their willingness to clothe, feed, give drink, take in, and visit. There is no exemption stated in the Savior's description of the righteous.

What a beggar does with my handout is between Him and God. He will have to answer for his use or misuse of my gift. Likewise, what I do with my talents is between me and God. And I don't want the salvation of my soul to rest on a flawed judgment of "I didn't think he deserved help."

My belief is Serve them all. Let God sort them out.

Hi Mercy,

I can see the sense in what you say and can easily respect that perception.

For myself, though, I chose not to view such passage simply or in relative isolation, but rather I find it beneficial to consider them in the complex context of all that God asks of us.

As such, given the example I outlined in my previous post, I find a need to strike a balance between two seemingly competing commands of God (the one being that I give to the poor and the other being that I help nake it so that there are no poor among us).

From my perspective, to strike this balance necessitates my viewing passages like that in Mosiah as guiding rather than absolute principles, as general rules with exceptions.

This, I believe, can be done at times by witholding my substance without harshly judging the poor petitioner, while also not condemning the poor petitioner--either by condemning them for their poverty or condemning them in their poverty (the later of which may occur were I to view the Mosiah passage in absolute terms and not withold my substance).

Something to consider.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Wade,

I know it wasn't your intent but it sounds like you just said "I'm watching him starve for his own good but I won't judge him harshly for letting his corpse rot on the sidewalk." LOL.

Knowing our past conversations, I believe you are talking about the creation of a permanent underclass by a system that rewards dependence. That system is not in keeping with the teachings of the Lord or King Benjamin. But neither is withholding our substance out of fear that it will be mishandled or abused. For perfect love casteth out fear.

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This, I believe, can be done at times by witholding my substance without harshly judging the poor petitioner, while also not condemning the poor petitioner--either by condemning them for their poverty or condemning them in their poverty (the later of which may occur were I to view the Mosiah passage in absolute terms and not withold my substance).

This perspective on poverty and Zion certainly runs contrary to everything we see scripturally. The idea that one can help eradicate poverty by turning away the beggar stands in direct conflict with the Book of Mormon: "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you" (Jacob 2:17).

We make others rich by being "free with our substance," not by witholding our substance for their own good.

Moreover, in light of the fact that the Savior declared, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again," I simply could never feel comfortable choosing to withold my substance from the poor for their own good (see Matt. 7:2).

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