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Navidad

A Terrible Silence - Pratt Reference to the Apostasy

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Good morning all: I have been absent from the board for a year and a half or so. I have a question with which I hope someone here can help me. I am wrapping up a book on Anglo influence on Mexican religion and have been reading a 1968 book by Ernest Lee Tuveson a former UC Berkeley professor on the history of the United States as a millenial kingdom. To my surprise I got to around page 150 and he has a whole section on LDS millenial beliefs as epitomizing the concept of the US and the future reign of Christ. In this section he talks about the LDS concept of the apostasy. He quotes the Pratt brothers in a way that is difficult to follow. Apparently in his writings, one of the brothers used the term "a terrible silence" to refer to the apostasy. I think that is a terrific phrase; one I would like to use. Dr. Tuveson doesn't provide a source for the quote. I am wondering if any of you gurus might have heard this term before and can help me with a citation? Is there a source where the writings of the Pratts could be searched to find that term?  I trust you all are doing well and that maybe someone has a way I might be able to track down this phrase?

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Hi Navidad,

Good to see you. Doesn't Tuveson cite Orson Pratt, The New Jerusalem or The Fulfillment of Ancient Prophecy(Liverpool, 1 October 1849 ), p. 4, for that phrase on page 177? It seems to me he is saying that there was a silence from heaven since essentially the time of Christ, and that men went astray. I am not particularly a fan of the Pratts, and have not checked this citation, so can't be more helpful I'm afraid, but I agree that is certainly one way to describe the apostasy. I think as much could be said for the period from the time Jerusalem was rebuilt to the time of Christ when the heavens fell silent. 

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Hi Rev. Thanks you could be right. The problem is the Pratt brother he is referring to before that is Parley Pratt. He quotes him from The Science of Theology. I will have to find both sources and see if I can figure it out. I don't know if Tuveson was LDS or not. He seems to intermix the Pratts in a confusing way. I have a number of books on the Pratts so I will start poring through them. The Apostasy is certainly an appropriate term for the time between Ezekiel 10 when God withdraws his presence from the temple til the birth of Christ. For all those years there was no physical visible presence of God on earth. Thanks for your reply.

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The expression "terrible silence" is Tuveson's ("The 'science of theology,' Pratt says, had been lost to suffering mankind for many centuries, during which there was a terrible silence as the communion of God with man was broken.")

Tuveson is summarizing Parley P. Pratt's views in Key to the Science of Theology, which he then quotes. Pratt's actual words are: "No revelation has burst upon the silence of midnight darkness which has brooded over the nations" (see https://archive.org/stream/keytoscienceofth00pratrich#page/24).

Edited by Nevo
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Nevo, thanks so much. "The silence of Midnight darkness" . . . now that is a great quote as well. Best wishes, Phil

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And yet, we also have quotes such as this:

"There were men in those dark ages who could commune with God, and who, by the power of faith, could draw aside the curtain of eternity and gaze upon the invisible world. There were men who could tell the destiny of the human family, and the events which would transpire throughout every subsequent period of time until the final winding-up scene. There were men who could gaze upon the face of God, have the ministering of angels, and unfold the future destinies of the world. If those were dark ages I pray God to give me a little darkness, and deliver me from the light and intelligence that prevail in our day..." - John Taylor

Terryl Givens also sums up the problem with a silent apostasy as well:

"Joseph didn’t believe the Christian Church died either. He was very particular about his wording when he recast his first revelation about restoration to state specifically that God was bringing the Church back out of the wilderness, where it had been nurtured of the Lord during a period when priesthood ordinances were no longer performed to bind on earth and in heaven. Precious morsels of truth had lain scattered throughout time, place, religion, and culture, and Joseph saw his mission as that of bringing it all into one coherent whole, not reintroducing the gospel ex nihilo."

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I have been doing a lot of studying of the historiography of the LDS concept of the apostasy. It seems to be migrating from the Total apostasy of Talmage to the Great Apostasy of Roberts to what may be termed the "partial apostasy" of some of the recent literature. I suppose there would be a debate about that. That is healthy. Wilford Woodruff certainly did not accept a total apostasy. His spiritual mentor as a boy and young man was Robert Mason. There is a lds.org website and video dedicated to his influence. He preached and healed prior to the restoration of the priesthood and never became a Mormon. Woodruff credited him as a powerful spiritual influence on his life back in Connecticut. I hope to write a book analyzing the concept of the apostasy from both an LDS and an evangelical perspective. That would be an exciting project.

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3 hours ago, Navidad said:

.................. the time between Ezekiel 10 when God withdraws his presence from the temple til the birth of Christ. For all those years there was no physical visible presence of God on earth. ......................

False.  Note the High Priest Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) who  met the Angel of God's Presence (Gabriel) inside the Temple -- who struck him dumb with revelation (Lk 1:8-20).

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31 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:
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the time between Ezekiel 10 when God withdraws his presence from the temple til the birth of Christ. For all those years there was no physical visible presence of God on earth.

False.  Note the High Priest Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) who  met the Angel of God's Presence (Gabriel) inside the Temple -- who struck him dumb with revelation (Lk 1:8-20).

Could you not argue that the visit to Zechariah was just an initiatory event for that dispensation?

There are always signs fortelling a restorative period.   Doesn't change the lack of God's visible presence between  an apostasy and a restoration.  But it may not be total.

 

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Sigh. Now I remember why I stopped visiting this site. It is called the dialogue and discussion site. I guess it is the debate and you're wrong site. So I will jump in for this post and then back away again.  First, I stand by what I said as being a valid interpretation of Ezekiel and the events between then and the birth of Christ. . Zechariah was a priest - we have no evidence at all that he was a high priest except from the early church fathers in the Eastern Church. You know, the Nicene folks and their colleagues?  First he was by the alter of incense, not in the Holy of Holies. He was in the holy place, during his duty time. Priests were regularly assigned to serve there. Second, he was astonished when he saw Gabriel. Gabriel was an angel, not the physical visible presence of God on earth which only came in the form of a member of the Godhead. Gabriel was not God; his presence did not indicate the presence of God. He was a messenger from God. Zechariah was struck so by the encounter he couldn't speak thereafter. Certainly what happened wasn't normative. It was a special revelation from God. It wasn't the physical visible presence of God on earth. I know you can quote the early church fathers that Zechariah was a high priest. Fine. High priest or not, he was astonished at what he witnessed. Never had before and unless he saw Jesus, never would again. It would be a year or so after the Zechariah episode that a member of the Godhead came to earth and once again the presence of God was on earth. He lived, died, rose again was glorified and ascended back to heaven. The Holy Spirit was then sent to dwell within faithful believers. Have I said anything that the Saints don't believe? I just got home from a baptism and confirmation. The boy's mom gave him a wonderful talk about the Holy Ghost in his life. So we who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit are the living physical visible presence of God on earth today. We are more like that pillar of fire and cloud of smoke to the lost people around us, at least we should be. We are not like the angel Gabriel. I am not saying I am right and your are incorrect. I got over needing to do that a long time ago. I am only offering you another view of what I am saying without making your's wrong.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Could you not argue that the visit to Zechariah was just an initiatory event for that dispensation?

There are always signs fortelling a restorative period.   Doesn't change the lack of God's visible presence between  an apostasy and a restoration.  But it may not be total.

How many unsupported declarations of apostasy must we have?

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

How many unsupported declarations of apostasy must we have?

I'm not sure what you are asking here.    Great, partial, total.  Doesn't really matter to me.

But there clearly was an apostasy.  Priesthood and ordinances were taken from the earth (except for a few translated beings) and then brought back.  Apostasy, Restoration.

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7 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I'm not sure what you are asking here.    Great, partial, total.  Doesn't really matter to me.

But there clearly was an apostasy.  Priesthood and ordinances were taken from the earth (except for a few translated beings) and then brought back.  Apostasy, Restoration.

Fine.  But how many apostasies do you enumerate?  The claim was that from Ezekiel to Jesus there was a total and continuous apostasy, which leaves out of consideration the return from Babylon, the building of the Second Temple, and biblical texts such as Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, Daniel, etc.  Are all the prophets after Jeremiah and Ezekiel null and void?   The Great Apostasy is one thing, but how many others did Joseph Smith enumerate?

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I am a little confused here as well. The claim about the time period from Ezekiel 10 to the advent of Christ was mine. It is not an LDS claim, to my knowledge. It is also a claim that is different from the LDS claim of the a Great Apostasy. I have never heard or read anything from a Saint or in Saint literature about what I am referring to. My claim was that God withdrew his presence from the earth in Ezekiel 10. The shekinah glory of God that was present in the tabernacle and which dwelt in the Holy of Holies was withdrawn and was not "restored" until Christ came to earth. I am talking about a literal physical and apparently visible presence of God on earth - that which came in the presence of Christ for 33 years and within weeks thereafter in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Ghost). I am not suggesting there was no revelation during that time via special (not general) revelation a la the visit of the angel to Zechariah or any other special revelation for that matter. I am positing the existence of a literal physical and constant presence of God in and in front of the tabernacle, in front of the people of Israel as they wondered and in the Holy of Holies that was withdrawn by God. It wasn't angelic, it wasn't a vision, it was the literal physical and apparently visible presence of God with his people. The Holy Spirit is a spirit, but its presence indwells us. We, as Christians with the indwelling Holy Spirit are the physical and visible presence of God on the earth for this dispensation. It is an awesome responsibility that relates to keeping our temple clean (the word of wisdom - in my view) and in living a life in which non-Christians can literally see God in us. We are the hope of Glory for them.  This is not an LDS perspective to my knowledge. I heard it preached as a boy and a young man and I have preached this myself; but I have never heard an LDS believer ever mention it. It seems to me, and I may be very wrong - the LDS temple has taken over as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit on earth today. I have a terrible time getting that figured out. I am constantly told that the Holy Spirit is there and that they vacuum the rugs every Saturday in Case Christ comes to visit himself. I offer that yes, the Holy Spirit is in the LDS temple when the Saints are there because the Holy Spirit indwells them and they as Christians are now the physical visible presence of God - where they go, the Holy Spirit goes. They look at me with blank faces, so I think this is a foreign concept to them. Let me reiterate; I could be very wrong on that. The concept of the indwelling Holy Spirit as a constant for the faithful believer seems a stronger concept to me. I don't know for sure if the shekinah glory of God was the Holy Spirit (Ghost) or something else - I incline to interpret that it was the Holy Spirit but I cannot be certain or sure to any degree. It was clearly something that could be seen, was very powerful, and could be felt. Not sure if it was a theophany or a hierophany. It wasn't a vision, dream or a representation of God. It was the real deal; something I believe we have today in the practice and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It gives the believer an awesome responsibility to be the presence of God to the unbeliever. 

 

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2 hours ago, Navidad said:

I am a little confused here as well. The claim about the time period from Ezekiel 10 to the advent of Christ was mine. It is not an LDS claim, to my knowledge. It is also a claim that is different from the LDS claim of the a Great Apostasy. I have never heard or read anything from a Saint or in Saint literature about what I am referring to. My claim was that God withdrew his presence from the earth in Ezekiel 10. The shekinah glory of God that was present in the tabernacle and which dwelt in the Holy of Holies was withdrawn and was not "restored" until Christ came to earth. I am talking about a literal physical and apparently visible presence of God on earth - that which came in the presence of Christ for 33 years and within weeks thereafter in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Ghost). I am not suggesting there was no revelation during that time via special (not general) revelation a la the visit of the angel to Zechariah or any other special revelation for that matter. I am positing the existence of a literal physical and constant presence of God in and in front of the tabernacle, in front of the people of Israel as they wondered and in the Holy of Holies that was withdrawn by God. It wasn't angelic, it wasn't a vision, it was the literal physical and apparently visible presence of God with his people.

When I brought up the subject of apostasy much like the time after the rebuilding of Jerusalem I was essentially speaking of the prophetic reference to a famine in the word of God. The prophets fell silent. I think there was an apostasy. The pharisees and sadducees were making up their own rules and traditions. Yeshua spoke to this by condemning their "traditions" or rules. However, He also said they sat in Moses' seat, and that the people were not wrong to try to follow them. He was basically saying their rules were stupid, and the people didn't need to follow them. History also reveals that the High Priest office had become a stooge of Rome rather than an appointment of God. Yeshua restored the office of High Priest apparently on the mountain of transfiguration. To be clear I was not talking about the temple presence of God. I do not read Ezekiel 10 as being a withdrawal of the temple presence of God at the time of the second temple. Even if God were to withdraw His presence, that does not automatically equate to an apostasy in my mind. Apostasy is when the people go astray. The LDS concept implies this happens when the people lose the authority to act for God ie lose priesthood authority.

Quote

The Holy Spirit is a spirit, but its presence indwells us. We, as Christians with the indwelling Holy Spirit are the physical and visible presence of God on the earth for this dispensation. It is an awesome responsibility that relates to keeping our temple clean (the word of wisdom - in my view) and in living a life in which non-Christians can literally see God in us. We are the hope of Glory for them.  This is not an LDS perspective to my knowledge. I heard it preached as a boy and a young man and I have preached this myself; but I have never heard an LDS believer ever mention it. It seems to me, and I may be very wrong - the LDS temple has taken over as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit on earth today. I have a terrible time getting that figured out. I am constantly told that the Holy Spirit is there and that they vacuum the rugs every Saturday in Case Christ comes to visit himself. I offer that yes, the Holy Spirit is in the LDS temple when the Saints are there because the Holy Spirit indwells them and they as Christians are now the physical visible presence of God - where they go, the Holy Spirit goes. They look at me with blank faces, so I think this is a foreign concept to them. Let me reiterate; I could be very wrong on that. The concept of the indwelling Holy Spirit as a constant for the faithful believer seems a stronger concept to me. I don't know for sure if the shekinah glory of God was the Holy Spirit (Ghost) or something else - I incline to interpret that it was the Holy Spirit but I cannot be certain or sure to any degree. It was clearly something that could be seen, was very powerful, and could be felt. Not sure if it was a theophany or a hierophany. It wasn't a vision, dream or a representation of God. It was the real deal; something I believe we have today in the practice and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It gives the believer an awesome responsibility to be the presence of God to the unbeliever. 

To LDS man cannot abide the physical presence of the Father. His physical presence is not in the temple now nor in the days of the second temple. Yeshua, the Holy Spirit and other messengers acted as mediators. When a member is baptized part of the baptismal process is to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which promises the Holy Spirit as a constant companion to the believer. This is the manner in which the believer has access to the Godhead. In this regard we seem to be in agreement that where we go, the Holy Spirit goes. This is taught to all LDS Christians, so I am not sure why you feel you are getting blank faces when you bring up the subject. LDS Christians don't particularly use the term "indwelling" so this may cause the reaction you are getting. The Holy Spirit can also visit with other believers in Christ, and manifest truth to them through their prayers and other means. I don't know about your claim about vacuuming the rugs in the temples. I think that is done to keep the temple clean rather than to prepare for Christ's return. I personally believe His next advent will be in the clouds rather than a physical presence here on earth, but Pres Snow did have a vision of Yeshua in the temple. 

Edited by RevTestament

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22 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

Even if God were to withdraw His presence, that does not automatically equate to an apostasy in my mind. Apostasy is when the people go astray. The LDS concept implies this happens when the people lose the authority to act for God ie lose priesthood authority.

To LDS man cannot abide the physical presence of the Father. 

Just checking- you mean that LDS belief is that man cannot abide the physical presence of the Father without sufficient priesthood?

Because we definitely believe we can be in the Father's presence with the necessary ordinances.  

And then there are a couple of events in Church History that appear to be exceptions to that rule (or they should be questioned whether physical presence was involved).

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24 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Just checking- you mean that LDS belief is that man cannot abide the physical presence of the Father without sufficient priesthood?

Because we definitely believe we can be in the Father's presence with the necessary ordinances.  

And then there are a couple of events in Church History that appear to be exceptions to that rule (or they should be questioned whether physical presence was involved).

I've heard the First Vision given as an example of the Father having a physical body, but I consider the First Vision to be just that - a vision. Visions include things like Cherubim with wings which I don't consider to be actual physical beings. I personally don't believe we can abide the presence of the Father in our mortal state regardless of priesthood. It takes a change in our mortal state to abide His presence imho.  Whether that is brought about by ordinances or something else is another question. (I sense a quote of Joseph Smith coming). 

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10 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

I've heard the First Vision given as an example of the Father having a physical body, but I consider the First Vision to be just that - a vision. Visions include things like Cherubim with wings which I don't consider to be actual physical beings. I personally don't believe we can abide the presence of the Father in our mortal state regardless of priesthood. It takes a change in our mortal state to abide His presence imho.  Whether that is brought about by ordinances or something else is another question. (I sense a quote of Joseph Smith coming). 

😂  And you would be right...

"Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; …when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God;"

And D&C 84:21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;  22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

There is even a topical guide section on the subject.  Seeing God.. But in general I agree with you, most of these refer to visions, not physical presence.  But I consider D&C 84 and John 14/D&C 130 to refer to physical presence.

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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

😂  And you would be right...

"Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; …when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God;"

Yeshua said the Father abode in Him, yet also that no one had seen the Father at any time. In all humbleness I represent that Yeshua has made the Father manifest to me, but yet, I claim no visitations, nor visions of Yeshua nor the Father. 

Quote

And D&C 84:21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;  22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

Yet, I believe no one has ever claimed to see the Father in His full glory here on earth except Yeshua - not Moses and not Joseph Smith. D&C 84:22 does not necessarily mean men in their earthly flesh. Do I believe I will see the Father one day in the future? Yes, I do, but I don't believe it will be in my mortal and present physical state. Have Priesthood ordinances prepared me for this day? Yes, I believe they have.

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On 8/25/2018 at 1:36 PM, halconero said:

"Joseph didn’t believe the Christian Church died either. He was very particular about his wording when he recast his first revelation about restoration to state specifically that God was bringing the Church back out of the wilderness, where it had been nurtured of the Lord during a period when priesthood ordinances were no longer performed to bind on earth and in heaven. Precious morsels of truth had lain scattered throughout time, place, religion, and culture, and Joseph saw his mission as that of bringing it all into one coherent whole, not reintroducing the gospel ex nihilo."

The 1997 Gospel Principles paints a much darker picture.

Page 105 says, "The perfect organization of the Church no longer existed, and confusion resulted. More and
more error crept into Church doctrine, and soon the destruction of the Church was complete. The period of
time when the true Church no longer existed on earth is called the Great Apostasy
."

However, the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18 paint an entirely different picture (of an advancing and
victorious church). "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock [Thou art the Christ, the
Son of the living God from the earlier verse] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it."

Jim

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This is exactly why I enjoy studying the historiography of the LDS concept of the Apostasy.  If the True Church is the only place where true believers can abide with true authority and power; and it no longer existed before the restoration, and no longer exists outside of it, then there are lots of confusing issues to resolve. "Standing Apart" an edited work on the apostasy by 12 or so LDS scholars and published by Oxford is a step in the right direction.  Each of the authors accepts the concept of an apostasy, but opens the doors for some non-simplistic thinking about it. A diminishing of the concept of total absence of the Holy Spirit has also been a step in the right direction. Now the Saints tell me, yes  I certainly can receive bits and pieces of revelation, insight, and inspiration from the Holy Ghost sans LDS baptism; I just can't have the full indwelling of the Holy Ghost. I don't think Talmage would have agreed with that.

I believe my LDS brothers and sisters are Christians in every sense of the word. I have more and more evangelical friends who believe the same thing. I pray for the day when my LDS brothers and sisters will feel the same way about me. Full salvation outside of the LDS church is not going to hurt  or diminish it. I believe (and I am not saying I am right) that it is time to let go of the need to be the "other" and come into the fellowship as another true and living branch on the wonderful tree of Christianity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has so much to offer to other branches. LDS scholar Dr. Paul just published a new book about Protestant missions in Utah. I was on the review team. He says we must go farther into having mutual respect for each other even as we try and convert each other. I agree with the first part and disagree with the second. It is time to stop needing to convert our Christian brothers and sisters, whether in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or in The Mennonite Church or in the Presbyterian Church. That will be a time of real mutual respect and an advancement of the Kingdom of God like we have not seen in our time. That is my prayer. I am attaching a copy of the sacrament talk I gave in our ward a couple of months ago. The roof didn't cave in and the presiding officer didn't shut it down. I shared my testimony from my heart and challenged the folks to appreciate the wonderful area in which we live that is full of sacred history.

Sacrament Talk.docx

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      Without the choice to overcome temptation, we cannot overcome the "natural" or "carnal" tendencies within ourselves and attempt to become Christlike- many scriptures speak of "overcoming the world", and that is not possible without fully experiencing both the good and the bad within the world.
      The follower of Christ is to be IN the world but not OF the world.
      It appears that this idea varies from the view of Pope Francis in a recent interview.
      https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/01/deliver-us-from-dynamic-equivalence
      And at least from this article, it seems some scholars would come down more on the idea that we should be proactive in overcoming temptation rather than avoiding it.
      What do you think?
      Are there any defenders of Pope Francis here?
       
    • By mfbukowski
      When I was a nice little Catholic altar boy, I was taught that I should wear the "brown scapular" which on one side had some religious symbols, and on the other side it had some brown cloth.
      I was told that it represented a garment like the habit of Catholic "Brothers" ("monks" to non-Catholics though that is a very vague term which really doesn't grasp all the nuances) and Catholic "Sisters" ("nuns" to non-Catholics- but that is at least as vague as "monks" is, and barely scratches the surface of all that is entailed)
      I thought that was VERY cool that I could be a "kind of Brother" even as a kid and resolved to be extra good to live up to the promise I had made to God.
      Later I studied Mormonism and thought it weird that everyone called each other "brother" and "sister", then I found out that they too wore a special kind of garment like the habit of monks and nuns.
      Then suddenly it became reasonable.  Mormons also wore special clothing and were all kind of like monks and nuns who made covenants with God.
      So the parallels instead of being something "weird" suddenly became very comforting to me, and I could not wait to get to the temple to get my very own "garment"
      But I know that many here are not aware of scapulars, though I have mentioned them in passing before and since we have some Catholics who visit here,  I thought it might be fun to discuss.   No Protest-ants please.  (Just kidding  )
      Catholics also believe that scapulars offer a kind of spiritual protection for wearing them, which also parallels a Mormon belief about garments.
      http://m.ncregister.com/daily-news/put-on-our-ladys-protection-with-the-brown-scapular#.WkwHvtWnHrd
       
       
       
       
    • By kiwi57
      It is something of a truism among Christians generally, and Latter-day Saints more specifically, that martyrdom has frequently been what Hugh Nibley (who the Church's enemies love to hate) called "a prophet's reward." The cases of Zechariah, Abinadi, Stephen, James the Just, most of the original 12 Apostles, not to mention Jesus himself, demonstrate that the world - not excluding the religious world - has little tolerance for any who have the temerity to remind them that God expects something better than the mere polite navigation of societal currents.
      While it is easy, with hindsight, to respond to such events with platitudes like "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," in every case that I know of, those who followed a martyred prophet regarded the prophet's death as nothing less than tragic, if not outright disastrous. Authentic martyrs don't go out of their way to court martyrdom, and the followers of authentic martyrs don't seek to throw their prophets to the lions.
      We do not live in a time when the message delivered by the Lord's prophets is at all popular. As usual, that message runs counter to prevailing cultural winds. But we are blessed to live in a time - and long may it continue! - when they are able to deliver their message in relative safety.
      But as dreadful as the martyrdom of a prophet is, it isn't irrecoverable. After the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, a few dissenters and ambitious individuals left the Church, in some cases taking some followers with them; but the body of the Church recovered from the emotional shock, picked themselves up, and followed the legitimate leadership of the Twelve. And the Church, despite often-fierce opposition from various quarters, has survived and even thrived ever since.
      What is - and always has been - far more disastrous to the Church than the death of any leader, is the spectre of apostasy. Not apostasy from the Church - that always happens - but apostasy of the Church. Nibley, again, in arguing that the primitive Church was always expected to be taken from the earth, pointed out that its demise wasn't expected to be brought about by destruction, or even defection, but by the Church abandoning its faith. As he put it, the Church in that generation was faced with a choice between "saving its soul by remaining true to the faith, or saving its skin by coming to terms with the world." (Quoted from memory.)
      To those who see the Church as faced with the same choice in our generation, the lesson is clear. The martyrdom of Joseph the Prophet was in every sense a disaster - but a recoverable one. But if the Church in the latter days were to surrender to the world on matters of faith and morality, as the Church in former days did, then that would be a disaster from which the Church could never recover.
      That is why I, along with many others, am so frankly bewildered by those who claim to be Latter-day Saints, but who seem to be urging just such a surrender on a currently fashionable issue.
      There may be some who will interpret this as some kind of "slam" or insult. I assure you that it is no such thing. It represents my sober, calm and considered position. I have held it for a number of years now, and I have never been presented with any arguments that might make me reconsider that position.
      So the question for discussion is this: why should the Church's abandoning its doctrinal position on conjugal marriage, if such an abandonment were to happen, not be seen as a mere surrender to the shifting fashions of a fallen world?
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