Jesus often invoked his right to remain silent (even though the Sadducees never read him his Miranda rights).
Another annoying habit for them, I'm sure, was the way Jesus answered their questions with a question.
One of the times He did this was during an epic encounter with the chief priests and scribes, who were challenging Christ's authority (what else is new?).
The leaders asked Him:
Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things?
or who is he that gave thee this authority?
Now here's the surprising thing: Christ doesn't tell them!
Hmm. Didn't he want them to believe? How hard would it have been for Christ to whip out His credientials and pedigree?
So why did the Lord "hide" the insignia of His rank?
"Anything You Say Can and Will be Used Against You"
Notice the leaders posed two separate questions:
(1) By what authority did the Lord do the things he did?
(2) Who gave Him his authority?
The answer to #2 was obvious to the scribes and Pharisees: No one!
(No one other than Satan, that is: "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils" (Matt. 12:24).
But I hope you noticed that the leaders were not asking an honest question.
They already knew Christ's geneology inside and out, having dug into his past to find any dirt they might use to smear him.
One thing was demonstrably evident: Christ held no ecclesiastical office (he wasn't a Levite) and held no political position (he wasn't among the rulers of the Sanhedrin).
In other words, the leaders went into this smugly knowing that Christ had no authority.
This was all a set up. They wanted him to publically acknowledge before the throngs of people that he held no "legitimate" priesthood.
I mean, Nathanael said it best, when he said out loud what everyone else was thinking: "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46).
"You Have the Right to an Attorney"
I guess I can't blame the leaders; after all, Jesus was bad for business ― and what's worse, in their eyes, he was leading good Jewish grandmothers astray.
(The worst persecution always comes from the most sincere.)
It would be like if I were stopped by the police on the Freeway for speeding.
I would want to see the Officer's badge to make sure he had the "authority" to stop me. Did he graduate from Police Officers Standards and Training? Can he prove it? Were his certifications to use a Radar gun up-to-date?
I would be all over that paperwork.
Because without the proper authority, he can't issue me a legimate ticket.
And, in fact, if he stops me while impersonating a police officer, then he's committed a serious crime.
So the Pharisees were just doing their due diligence, I guess, trying to weed out imposters.
"If You Cannot Afford an Attorney"
Jesus deflected their question with his own:
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
Well, this is going to be easy to answer. There are only two options: from heaven or of men?
50/50 chance of getting the correct answer.
Of course the religious establishment couldn't admit that John's authority came from heaven when they had rejected his baptism. They weren't going to step aside and let John jump ahead of them in line.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
I think it is hilarious that "the people" knew John was a prophet when the religious leadership did not. I mean, that shows us that uneducated, non-trained laypeople are better judges of God's messengers than those who claim to be God's rulers.
Question: Okay, so the Pharisees didn't accept John's or Jesus's authority. Tell me, whose authority did they recognize?
Answer: I think it's safe to say they viewed the only "good" authority as their own.
"One Will Be Appointed to You"
You guessed it: Jesus won the argument without even breaking a sweat.
And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
Ah, that's interesting. Jesus did not answer their first question, by what authority he did these things.
But he would repeatedly answer their second question ("Who is he that gave thee this authority?"), only they were too deaf to hear Him:
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and they to whom the Son will reveal himself; they shall see the Father.
Here's the point: the leaders didn't accept Christ's authority because, at the end of the day, they didn't accept the Father's authority, either.
Their devotion to God was a guise for them to enjoy the trappings of status, power, and wealth while appearing holy.
After all, it's easy to give lip service to God when you claim to be the mouth that speaks on His behalf.
"Do You Understand These Rights?"
The story isn't over.
After the Jewish leaders left with their tail between their legs, things got nasty (they always do when you embarass powerful egos).
And the chief priests and scribes watched him, and sent forth spies,
Look! They used spies. Religious Gestapo agents. Think about that. It reminds me of the Church's Strengthening the Church Members Committee, which spies on its members and keeps McCarthy-esque dossiers on them.
which should feign themselves just men,
They're just pretending to be "just men," you see (as if the Lord couldn't see through their hypocrisy). Going back to our policeman example, they dress up in uniform to fool others into thinking they uphold the rule of law, when in fact they are law-breakers.
that they might take hold of his words,
Well, instead of sitting down with Christ and sharing a coffee, and actually listening to what he had to say, they chose instead to use his words against him, and to twist them to entrap others, laying a snare by speaking his words with a forked-tongue.
that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
Ah, here we are at last. Re-read that last part.
Here we learn who the Pharisees actually trusted; the authority they truly honored: Rome's.
Not God's, but the "power and authority of the governor."
This will certainly be the most candid of anything I have written so far, because I want to address one of the most common objections I hear that goes something like this:
"Tim, darling, you make some good points. But who cares? The only thing that matters is divine authority. And the only legitimate priesthood authority on earth is controlled by the Prophet and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
The implied message behind their raised eyebrows is, "You don't want to get sideways of them" (as if the Brethren were mafia dons just out of earshot).
When I hear this, I know it's time for dessert. One's mind is made up when they play this Trump Card.
And so this Series will address their Ace head-on:
"Thems got keys! Zion's at ease! Pay the check, please!"
"The Church’s name, wordmark, and symbol are key Church identifiers. They are registered as trademarks or are otherwise legally protected worldwide. They are used to identify official literature, news, and events of the Church.
"The Church’s key identifiers are to be used only according to the guidelines provided below.
"Written name of the Church. Local units may use the written name of the Church (not the wordmark or symbol) when all of the following conditions are met:
- The activity or function with which the name is associated is officially sponsored by the unit (for example, a sacrament meeting program).
- The name of the local unit is used as a prelude to the name of the Church (for example, Campo Rosa Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
- The typeface does not imitate or resemble the official Church wordmark.
"Wordmark and symbol. The Church’s wordmark and symbol (see the illustration above) are to be used only as approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles."
What does it mean to be a "lord over God's heritage?" Is it a good thing? After all, don't we want to be good stewards over what God has entrusted to us?
Let's first look at what a "lord" is. In order to be called a "Lord" (at least in the British aristocracy) you must have a proper title.
In descending order, you must hold the title of:
1. Duke 2. Marquess 3. Earl 4. Viscount 5. Baron
I'm not British, but I've read enough Jane Austen novels to know that you can also address Dukes as "Your Grace."
If you're visiting Buckingham Palace and happen to run into Prince William, feel free to use his full, proper title: His Royal Highness William Arthur Philip Louis, duke of Cambridge, earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.
Now, if you like lots of titles, check out all these names reserved for the Catholic Pope:
1. Vicar of Christ 2. Prince of the Apostles 3. Supreme Pontiff 4. Church Patriarch 5. Sovereign
So if you're visiting the Vatican and run into the man who goes by any of the names cited above, you may properly address him as "Your Holiness."
Calm down. This won't hurt. We can't forget about all the titles we give to the prophet of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. As members we've outshown even the Romans in heaping praise and bestowing titles upon our leader supreme:
1. President of the High Priesthood 2. Beloved Prophet 3. Seer 4. Revelator 5. Polygamist 6. Spiritual giant 7. Watchman on the Tower 8. Dear; devoted; divinely-called 9. "Remarkable man"
Just to give you a taste of the typical General Conference tribute we get each year for our prophet, it goes something like this:
"When I envision a Christlike heart in daily practice, I see President Nelson. I have not met anyone who exemplifies this trait at a higher level than he does. It has been a remarkable tutelage for me to be in the position to observe firsthand the manifestations of the Christlike heart of President Nelson."
And so, if you are on Temple Square and happen upon the prophet, don't worry about how to properly address him. Chances are, he'll be flanked by security guards and escorted through underground tunnels away from the masses. (But if, on the off chance you do see him, just call him "Brother.")
Peter, the Apostle Who Cried Wolf
Now that I've highlighted the absurdity of our fixation on titles, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Who cares if we honor, sustain, praise, admire, follow, adore, and obey the living prophet?
Isn't that what God wants?
Good question. Let's consider the following advice from Senior Apostle Peter, given to the leaders of the Church:
Feed the flock of God
Well, immediately we are given the key to discern between true shepherds and false ones: do they feed us the good stuff ("nourished by the good word of God") or are they just fattening us up on swill for market day?
which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly;
Notice that shepherds are NOT to use "constraint" as they invite, persuade, love, and teach.
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Oh boy. Shepherds aren't supposed to be paid or collect a stipend, salary, fee, or pension. Good heavens, they're not "hirelings" (John 10:12)!
Neither as being lords over God’s heritage,
Well, this goes without saying. After all, Jesus said himself that his apostles were NOT supposed to "exercise lordship" over the flock like kings, using their authority to act as our "benefactors" (Luke 22:25). So why in the world do we treat apostles like spiritual nobility?
but being ensamples to the flock.
What examples do current Church leaders offer?
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
(1 Peter 5:2-4)
Every leader is just a lower-case "s" shepherd. Because we all have One Shepherd, who is Christ.
We all know titles are important. We look at a person's spiritual credentials to know whether we have to listen or not.
Unfortunately, appealing to authority is the worst way to discern truth.
But a hiearchy removes the need for individual discernment because we can all read nametags.
A title will tell us everything we need to know: whether to listen, whose bread we need to butter, whose ring to kiss, whose name to hold on the tips our tongues with reverence as we petition heaven in our prayer circles to bless them.
The Pharisees, now! They understood this. They knew the worth of titles. Jesus said they loved the "greetings in the market, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi" (Matt. 23:7).
Christ, on the other hand, was not impressed with their rank and offices. The Lord said:
Be not called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Why do you think the Lord had to clarify that "all ye are brethren?" Is it because we like to create distinctions of importance? Do we treat each other like "brethren" when we stand for important persons when they enter a room? Or when we give the Sacrament to the presiding officer first, sitting on the stand so we can all know who's in charge?
When in reality, Christ is telling us, we're all the same; we're family; no one should put on airs because we're all just children.
Children of God.
(But boy, where did all these kids come from who are going through their bossy phase, right?!)
Uncle Tom's Cabin
If someone is our "master," then we're their servants (or slaves, the Hebrew doesn't distinguish between the two).
And guess what? No man can serve two masters.
So it is impossible for us to serve both Christ and a prophet. We must choose whom we shall serve.
Now, don't misunderstand. We can, and should, listen to the Lord's prophets; we can hearken to the word of God spoken by prophets and respond to their calls to repent; we can honor prophets with our hospitality ―
But we serve Christ alone.
Whenever a President or a Pope acts as our master, requiring our obedience to their precepts over the light of Christ given to each of us, then they are acting like we're slaves.
Maybe this is why Jesus declared:
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
I'm okay with Christ being my Master; I'll serve Him because my loyalty was earned by his lifeblood; my salvation depends upon Him.
I will gladly be His servant.
Which assumes, then, as servants of Christ, we will listen to ALL those who speak the words of Christ, whether they be angels, devils, men, or women.
It's impossible NOT to love this wonderful Master when he tells us:
I called you servants for the world's sake, and ye are their servants for my sake―
[But] I will call you friends, for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me.
(D&C 93:46, 45)
Imagine that! What sort of Master leaves his estate to his servants? None that I know of.
But Christ says to us, "You were my servant, but now I adopt you into my family and you are my son. You will inherit everything I have."
As opposed to the modern church, whose inheritance practices are spelled out in the Articles of Incorporation.
(Spoiler alert: it all goes to the Prophet.)
Sugar with My Tea
One of the more prominent businesses the Church engaged in during the past was the sugar beet industry. As I've written before, the justification for being high-rollers in Babylon has always been to use the profits to finance Church operations.
I mean, how else is the Church (i.e., Body of Christ) supposed to finance missionary work?
Well, let's see:
(1) We could try the way Alma did it;
(2) We could try the way Paul did it; or
(3) We could create a sugar empire and lobby congress for tariffs against our competitors, engage in corporate malfeasance and violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, get sued by the federal government, secure enormous amounts of debt from eastern banking syndicates and experience many sleepless nights worrying how to pay back the loans, spend a lot of time as board members fretting over stock share prices and insolvency, receive dividends and salaries for said board memberships, lobby congress for larger sugar subsidies, engage in corporate merger and acquisitions to increase our sugar portfolio, deal with unhappy suppliers who refuse to plant beets . . . .
Or, you know, we could just stick to the gospel.
How Sweet: a Poem
I am Utah-Idaho Sugar Co. selling religious sweetener: the sucrose of circumcision popular among Judaizers. We offer sugar substitutes to the grace-resistant. I am Amalgamated Sugar Co. crafting artisan sweeteners for our signature line of authority: Lords Over God's Heritage®. We use a proprietary blend of dark molasses and honey to ferment the finest ales served world-wide.
I am Knight Sugar Company, Ltd. promoting the supremacy of beet sugar over competing brands of dextrose and fructose. We employ a patented process to convert beet pulp fibers into hardened crystal. Our sweeteners are superior to any in the market place.
I am Oregon-Utah Sugar Co. using modern manufacturing and old-fashioned Phariseeism to monitor quality control at our profitable factory. Those who invest in us will find our dividends pay in prerogative.
I am Canadian Sugar Factories, Ltd. I am I am I am I am Odgen Sugar Co. I am Lewiston Sugar Co. I am I am am I company sugar I am I am I am I am Layton Sugar Co. I am American Sugar Refining Co. I am United States Sugar Manufacturers Assoc. serving as trustee-in-truth, making God a Creditor and His Son, transferring debt on your behalf, a Money Changer.
As we try to understand folly in terms of prophets, the following verse seems particularly relevant to Latter-day Saints:
And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all people.
What if we applied these words to the Church, meaning the Ephraimite Gentiles? Instead of thinking this refers to the wicked or non-members, let's re-read the verse and pretend it is speaking about us: And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all people.
What greater "folly" could there be than for the leaders of the Lord's people to teach them to practice "abominations" in His name?
Isn't this the story of the Bible?
What could be a greater mockery to God than that?
The Abomination of Desolation
The Lord prophesied something in 1837 that scares me.
As you read the following prophecy, notice each verse concludes with "saith the Lord":
A day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
I guess people could blaspheme in General Conference, "in the midst of my house," but let's pretend the Lord means the temple when he says "my house."
Could this mean we "blaspheme" the name of the Lord when we use the temple in vain, pretending to act with His authority when in fact we "have not known me?"
Yikes. Folly is frightening.
And did you notice how the Lord compares his judgment to a "whirlwind?" That's a particularly graphic way to describe the desolation that shall sweep through us "as a whirlwind."
Can you outrun a tornado?
How fast does your truck need to be to outdistance a hurricane?
The Lord asks rhetorically:
For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it?
Who? Who is going to escape? Am I? Will the Church?
The Lord prophesied the fate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1833:
The ax is laid at the root of the trees; and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. I, the Lord, have spoken it.
Well, in case we missed it, that language is identical to what John the Baptist prohesied regarding the overthrow of the Jews:
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Umm. What does this mean? Does it mean our fate will be similar to that of the Jews who failed to repent and follow Christ, who were content to live the law and be good disciples of Moses?
Worried yet? Don't be. We can repent. And guess who shall escape?
Here is the Lord's promise to her:
Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her.
So we needn't focus on the folly of the prophets. Instead, we can concentrate on becoming pure in heart, for such is Zion.
Let's conduct a little logic expirement.
We are frequently told the prophet cannot lead us astray (although here Jeremiah tells us that prophets can cause us "to err," but don't worry about that).
So if we frame this proposition logically:
If a peson is a prophet, then they cannot lead us astray.
Simple enough. Now, we can make certain logical inferences from (if a, then b) statements.
Unfortunately, we can easily make logical fallacies, too. One of the most common fallacies is to infer that (if a, then b) means (if b, then a).
For example, if I say that all Boy Scouts have large appetites, is it also true that anyone with a large appetite is Boy Scout?
Now we get to the important part: there is a logical inference we can ALWAYS make, which is ALWAYS true:
(if a, then b) = (if not b, then not a)
Now let's run our doctrine through to its logical conclusion:
If a person is a prophet, then they cannot lead us astray = If we are led astray, then they are not a prophet.
This exercise was theoretical because we all know the scriptures do not teach anything of the sort.
We're continuing our Top Ten List about detecting wolves in sheeps' clothing that began in Part 12.
Here's Number 8:
#8: Beware of those who collect "the wages of unrighteousness"
Question: What do you call a christian who profiteers off Christ?
If we study the profile of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ for money, we learn many interesting things about false prophets and their modus operandi.
The very first time we encounter Judas speaking in the scriptures, straight from the horse's mouth, is in this fascinating vignette involving, of course, money:
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone.
(1) Control of Funds. Notice that Judas was the treasurer for the group, who managed their finances. He controlled the bag of money and was probably chosen because of his MBA.
(2) Piousness. Notice, next, how pious he sounds, wanting to sell the ointment to donate it to the poor.
(3) Hypocritical. But Judas's concern for the poor was all a ruse. He didn't really care about the poor but about getting that 300 pence to fatten his purse.
(4) Dishonest. It explicitly states here that Judas was "a thief." He was embezzling funds from the group and pocketing them himself. He coveted his role as the Holder of the Purse because it gave him easy access to skim off the top.
(5) Chauvinist. Let's not miss this interesting, personal dynamic between Judas and Mary. Judas criticized Mary and tried pulling rank on her, accusing her of waste. Jesus himself had to come to Mary's defense, telling Judas to leave her alone.
Be cautious around pious men who control the purse strings and believe they know best how to spend the Lord's money.
Chances are they're cheats.
Betraying the Lord with a Kiss
The second glimpse we get into Judas's soul is when he sells Christ to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver.
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
(1) Personal Gain. Notice that Judas's loyalty is negotiable. "What will ye give me?" he asked the priests.
Judas never read "sacrifice" in his job description. What is the opposite of "sacrifice?"
(2) Granting Access to Christ for a Fee. This is perhaps the most sickening part: Judas using his close association with the Lord to give special access to those willing to pay money.
Any religion that teaches that they can give you access to God (heaven) through rituals, ordinances, sacraments, or covenants for a fee (there's the catch), is practicing priestcraft in the spirit of Judas, a son of perdition.
Hard Lessons for a Farm Boy
Look, I get it. Who wouldn't want a comfortable living with all the trappings of a respected, admired prophet?
But that's the danger. There's something spiritually toxic when we practice priestcraft. It cankers our souls.
And it's the one thing Moroni specifically warned Joseph Smith about.
Apparently we've never learned the lesson (which is why, perhaps, we are no closer to Zion).
Remember the Smiths lived on leased land. They had to pay annual rent on their 100 acre farm. Which is why the Smith boys were hired hands, trying to earn some cash so the family could pay their mortgage and not lose their home.
And then, a miracle! Gold plates! (Emphasis on gold). Those heavy plates must have been worth a tidy sum.
Sure, you need to translate the plates, first. But afterwards, why not melt them down into gold boullion and sell them?
It's a win-win!
Well, the angel could read Joseph's mind.
"The angel added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have NO OTHER OBJECT IN VIEW in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them."
It is a tale as old as time. We think we will be the exception; that we will figure out a way to finally serve two masters; to pleasure mammon without cankering our souls; thinking we're able to build the kingdom of God while at the same time earning a wage from it.
Well, as we know, Joseph didn't get to keep the plates. On to Plan B: let's sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon and earn money that way!
And remember how people make fun of Joseph Smith for never finding any buried treasure with his seer stones as a young man, or later when Mr. Burgess promised him a big payoff in Salem, Massachussets?
Well, it's almost like God is trying to teach us a lesson: we cannot use the gifts of God for personal gain.
In my opinion, the General Authorities would have a lot more credibility if they followed Moroni's counsel and kept their day jobs, serving God through sacrifice rather than from a stipend (or better yet, left their nets and became itinerant preachers like Philip and Alma).
I Call St. Peter to the Stand
Me: What is your name?
Peter: Simon Peter.
Me: Do you recall writing the contents of a book in the New Testament called 2 Peter?
Me: And did you allege that prophets can, in fact, lead us astray?
Peter: Yes. I said that "they have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray" (2 Pet. 2:15).
Me: Can you clarify, for the court, the context in which you made this claim?
Peter: I made it in reference to those "who love the wages of unrighteousness."
Me: Are the "wages of unrighteousness" some spiritual punishment, or something figurative?
Peter: No, I meant the literal "wages" or money that prophets receive for their labor. I was using Balaam as an example.
Me: But why is it "unrighteous" for them to take money, when we're told "the laborer is worthy his hire?" (Luke 10:7).
Peter: You are referencing the Lord's commission to the Twelve, but you are not using that phrase correctly. Jesus said:
Carry neither purse, nor scrip . . . . And into whatsoever house ye enter . . . remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire.
The Lord was telling us that we would be depedent upon the providence of God and the generosity of our hosts. But we weren't supposed to earn a wage, or collect a stipend, for our service.
Me: But I thought you were supposed to leave the fishing business and devote yourself to converting souls to Christ. Remember the whole "lovest thou me more than these" conversation?
Peter: You are pretending to be an idiot, or are you in fact one? How did Jesus support himself financially? He relied upon gold from a fish's mouth; he accepted charity and hospitality; he was content with food and raiment. In those days, we didn't have a lifestyle to support.
Me: So, what would you do, say, if you had $150 Billion Dollars in the bank?
Peter: [Looking incredulous]. Idiot, then.
Out of the Mouths of Two or Three Witnesses
Jude warns us that "there are certain men crept in unawares" (Jude 1:4).
What sort of mischief does Jude accuse these men of?
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.
Well, that is intresting. Why would Jude use Cain as an example of a false prophet?
Because Cain and his descendants practiced a religion that perverted sacrifice (remember he wouldn't offer up the firstling of the field?).
In its place, they created a system in which they could profit.
Wherefore, Lamech, being angry slew him, not like unto Cain, his brother Abel, for the sake of getting gain.
Religion of the Circle R
In my poem, Religion of the Circle R, I satirize the way the modern Church has followed in the footsteps of Cain, trying to trademark salvation and license redemption to those willing to pay them a fee.
We have far more in common with Master Mahan than we would like to believe.
Religion of the Circle R
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. —Exodus 20:7 The copyright owner is entitled to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement, and any profits of the infringer. —17 U.S. Code §504 Dear Sir or Madam: The Religion of the Circle R® owns the copyright to the publishing of “glad tidings” and what you term the “Good News.” You are hereby ordered to cease and desist your unauthorized sharing and use of the GOSPEL® trademark, for which you do not have a license.
My client holds the exclusive rights belonging to the name of Jesus Christ for all commercial use in: marriage ceremonies, baptismal ceremonies, baby dedications, financial management, business administration, computer software, choral performance, genealogical research, pedigree charts, downloadable media, mobile applications, recruiting and career networking, systematization of information, trade shows and exhibitions, educational services, secured-access websites, counseling in etiquette and protocol, and providing eleemosynary. It is unlawful for you to utter, repeat or otherwise perform these things in the unspeakable name of Deity without express permission and only after you pay a royalty. Sincerely, The Law Firm of Flax & Cord
__________________ Dear Gentlemen: I am in receipt of your letter of the 12th instant. I must decline your request that I refrain from preaching Christ Jesus unless I pay an annual licensing fee.
God's name cannot be bought or sold. I say with Peter: Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought the gift of God may be purchased with money.
I claim the privilege of worshiping God according the dictates of my own conscience and allow others the same privilege.
We must all choose between two masters, between priesthood and priestcraft:
one a Lamb with wool bloodstained, a token of its love unfeigned; the other, a ruddy ram awaiting in the thicket the Pharisee and hypocrite. Yours truly, Gen. Jos. Smith