Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Runaway Bride leaves Great Whore at the altar! Church decides to divorce Babylon!
Extra! Extra! Church to go out of business. Church to make new start without Mammon's financial support, even if it has to move into Father's basement in the wilderness.
An Ohio State University study found that 60% of restaurants fail during their first year, and 80% of restaurants close within five years of opening.
Why do so many restaurants shut down? Well, it all boils down to one reason: lack of paying customers.
The restaurant world, like the religious world, is highly competitive. About 5,000 congregations in the U.S. disappear every year.
Sectarianism is religion's bread-and-butter. As Joseph Smith experienced, "When the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued" (JS-H 1:6).
Where is the profit in love, in charity, in sacrifice, in equality? If we want to bring in the big bucks from financial donors, it helps to have an "us vs. them" mentality, perhaps a persecution complex; a sense of superiority; a platform for declaring we have a monopoly on God's favor, whilst others are fools. (How else could the Great and Spacious Building operate? The Condominium Association Fees alone are exorbitant.)
The thing that generates revenue is the rivalry! Are McDonald's french fries better than Wendy's? Is Popeye's chicken sandwich juicier than Chick-fil-A's? You see, we have to draw lines, take sides, and create division over stuff that doesn't matter.
But the stakes are greater in religion than in fast food. If I stop going to McDonald's and begin eating lunch at Taco Bell, no one will care. But guess how families and friends will react if we stop attending Kingdom Hall with the Jehovah's Witnesses and start attending Mormonism? Or if a Scientologist converts to Methodism? Or if an Amish girl becomes Catholic?
All hell breaks loose. And sometimes families shun their loved one for exercising their God-given agency and religious autonomy.
We find that we do not really believe Article of Faith 11 after all. We give it lip service:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
How does God respond to Sectarianism?
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Should we join Joseph Smith in the sentiment, "I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned -- that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed" (JS-H 1:26).
Beneficial Life Insurance Company
What is the difference between a convert and a customer?
One of the businesses the LDS Church owns is the for-profit Beneficial Life Insurance Company. I find it beautifully ironic: a church owning a life insurance company.
This is how life insurance works: You purchase life insurance by signing a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for your regular premium payments, the insurance company will write a check after you die to your beneficiaries. The benefit of life insurance is that you leave behind a financial cushion for your loved ones.
This is how religion works: You purchase an eternal life insurance policy by joining a church that promises you that they have the One-True-Way. In exchange for your regular tithing payments, the church assures you that you will go to heaven when you die. The benefit of an eternal life insurance policy is you have peace of mind while living.
Notice, though, religion doesn't have to write a check when you die.
Sectarianism is Big Business
According to the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, the "faith-based economy" in the United States is worth about $1.2 Trillion Dollars. (http://www.religjournal.com/pdf/ijrr12003.pdf)
The primary tenet of Priestcraft is 'you can buy anything in this world with money.'
The very best definition of Priestcraft I have found is from Nephi:
God commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that:
(1) men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world,
(2) that they may get gain
(3) and praise of the world;
but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing.
(2 Nephi 26:29-30)
Notice how the opposite of Priestcraft is Charity?
So let's look and see how our churches fare. How charitable are our churches? Do they:
(1) Suffereth long?
(2) Is kind?
(3) Envieth not?
(4) Is not puffed up?
(5) Seeketh not her own?
(6) Is not easily provoked?
(7) Thinketh no evil?
(8) Rejoiceth not in iniquity?
(9) Rejoiceth in the truth?
(10) Beareth all things?
(11) Believeth all things?
(12) Hopeth all things; and
(13) Endureth all things?
One Ring to Rule Them All
In the Lord of the Rings, the evil lord Satan . . . I mean, Sauron, crafts a Master Ring to rule all Middle Earth.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all And in the darkness bind them.
Priestcraft is the "One Ring" of religion, the means by which we can have our cake and eat it too. The way we can promise followers an eternal reward . . . for a price.
If we can buy anything in this world with money, why not eternal life?
Nehor was a priest who had great success. He declared that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; that they ought not labor with their hands, but should be supported by the people (Alma 1).
Instead of sacrifice, he wanted a salary.
Contrast Nehor with Nephi, who taught:
My beloved brethren, the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw call men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
(2 Nephi 26:23-25)
Instead of getting rich, Christ got dead. Instead of taking our money, Christ gave his to the poor and needy.
"Darkness" vs. Transparency
The Lord loves honesty. He loves transparency, which leads to accountability. The Spirit of Christ is open, true and light.
Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
On the other hand, it seems like the Lord really dislikes his children trying to hide in the dark, keeping secrets from each other.
Their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.
That is why the Lord commands common consent. How can a church call itself Christian if it does not operate transparently? According to Jesus:
And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?
For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.
On the other hand, secret combinations love to keep their works hidden in the dark.
And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.
Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.
Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.
O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?
(Mormon 8:27-28, 32-33)
My friends, I do believe Moroni was speaking to us. Have we read the headlines lately?
I think it is time we took a serious look in the mirror. Would we pass a Priestcraft Test?
Everything on that list is equivocal, subjective and susceptible to manipulation.
So how can we discern what is universally true? Is it possible to agree on common, self-evident truths?
C.S. Lewis expressed his views on Moral Law in his book Mere Christianity. Lewis showed we all have an instinctual moral compass (what I like to call a "fairness bone"). And he can prove it.
Use this experiment the next time someone tells you they do not "believe" in right or wrong:
Say to them, "Oh really?" and steal their wallet. Kick them in the groin.
"Hey!" they'll yell, and just respond, "What's the matter? There is no right or wrong."
Since we're quoting C.S. Lewis, I might as well share my favorite quote of his. It is relevant to this discussion:
It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.
(C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 1996, p. 33)
While there may be something to the power of positive thinking, some things simply are -- whether we wish them to be or not.
There are realities beyond our control, like the tides of the ocean and the phases of the moon.
To understand the Law of the Harvest, though, we have to know which things we can influence versus those things that are immutable. Otherwise we'll be knocking our heads against the wall with false hope, having faith in the universe acting contrary to the nature of reality.
How can we apply the laws of cause-and-effect if the outcome we seek simply cannot be affected by our agency? We need to know what we have power to affect.
But here's the problem: what if the realities of a telestial kingdom -- speaking of those things we cannot change -- can change in a higher kingdom?
Einstein demonstrated that time is relative; what if reality itself was relative?
Three Common Examples of Relativity
1. Gravity. We all experience the same gravity on earth. It is not subjective.
If a person chose not to believe in gravity and jumped from the top of the Eiffel Tower, they would fall regardless.
Spiritual laws are just as real, and impactful, as natural laws.
But we get confused when a bowling ball falls at the same rate as a ping pong ball in a vacuum, where there is no air resistance, misapprehending the nature of reality, assuming a heavy bowling ball should plummet at a greater velocity than a ping pong ball.
Spiritually we wonder, "I did all the things I thought I was supposed to. Where are the blessings?"
But let's throw a monkey wrench into our faith crisis: something as constant as gravity is actually relative. The force of gravity is caused by our planet's mass and density, which results in a "gravitational strength" of 9.8 m.
Now imagine we are standing on the moon. It has a completely foreign gravitational strength: 1.6 m. So gravity on the moon is about 1/6 of earth's. In other words, if I weighed 185 lbs (I wish) on earth, I would only weigh 30 lbs on the moon.
The point? Apply the "spirititual gravitational strength" of a telestial kingdom to that of a terrestrial, or celestial kingdom. How will the differences be manifested? Can you run the same way on the surface of the moon as on the earth?
2. Boil Point. Everyone knows water boils at 100 Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). Or does it?
The standard boiling point applies only to sea level (as if we were all lucky enough to live in San Diego). The boiling point changes based on elevation (due to pressure). So on Mt. Everest water boils at 71 Celsius (160 Fahrenheit).
The point? Picture a person pounding the pulpit in San Diego testifying that water boils at 212 degrees. "I know it; I am certain! I can prove it. You must accept the truth of Water's Boiling Point."
Well, what if you were visiting the congregation from La Rinconada, the highest habitable place on earth, perched in the Peruvian Andes mountains at 16,000 feet above sea level? Guess what. The preacher is wrong in your case.
3. Time Zones. I have two brothers. One served a mission in Italy, the other in Hong Kong. I could pick up the telephone and speak to both at the same time. But Italy is 8 hours ahead of me in MST, so if I made a call at 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, it would be 9:00 p.m. at night for my brother; and when we conferenced my other brother in it would be 4:00 a.m. the next day in Hong Kong.
Imagine that -- at the exact same moment, my brother and I exist on separate days. Now think of 1,000 years being like one day for God.
The point? For one person it may be bedtime; another is ready for their morning coffee; and yet another is taking a lunch break. We are all at different stages in our spiritual progression. When we tell people, "Okay, everyone needs to say the same things, teach from the same manual, sing the same songs," we ignore reality.
A Tale of Two Cities . . . or Kingdoms What are the implications of different spiritual kingdoms having different laws?
Do the cause-and-effects change based on what kingdom we are in? Do we see the Law of the Harvest (you reap what you sow) as being contingent?
We don't get college calculus answers from a second grader's math quiz.
We don't get 24 karat gold from a copper mine.
And we don't get Zion from tithing and home teaching/ministering.
The fruit depends on the tree. A cherry tree will produce cherries; a celestial law will produce celestial blessings. A telestial law will produce telestial blessings.
Circumference (Perimeter) of Ignorance
Albert Einstein said, "As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it."
As we grow in truth and knowledge, our expanding awareness reveals how much more we have yet to learn. In other words, the more we know, the more we realize we don't know.
What's interesting is that the greater our ignorance, the less aware we are of our ignorance.
Our Circumference of Spiritual Ignorance ("CSI") is very, very great.
C.S.I.: Telestial Kingdom (or Miami, same thing)
Well, I have some bad news. Unfortunately for all of us, "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance" (D&C 131:6).
Our ignorance is so great that we were D.O.A. thanks to the Fall.
You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins
Spiritually speaking, this is how we must look to the angels:
And then a miracle! Christ reaches out and raises us from the dead. We are spiritually reborn as his sons and daughters.
And like little children, we know nothing. We are some of the most ignorant beings in the universe. And like children, we ask our parents questions about everything. We hunger and thirst after truth and righteousness.
"Knowledge is revelation. Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation.”
(Joseph Smith, quoted by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray, May 21, 1843)
Why is knowledge so important to our salvation, if Christ has saved us?
"A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth."
(Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:588; Apr. 10, 1842)
What knowledge is critical to our salvation?
I SUBMIT the knowledge we seek above all else is the knowledge of the law of the celestial kingdom, which we must abide in order to dwell there.
What's Up With Unbelief?
I SUBMIT a definition of "unbelief" is to resist the higher law, settling instead for the comfortable fruits of a lesser a law.
Jesus appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
I SUBMIT that the knowledge (or truth) of the celestial kingdom is communicated by Christ and through His Spirit.
I am the Father, I am the the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.
The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.
I SUBMIT the ultimate reality is the singularity of Christ's sacrifice.
I submit that "there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. He is the life and the light of the world. He is the word of truth and righteousness" (Alma 38:9).
I SUBMIT following a lesser law than Christ's law of the gospel, which is His celestial law of love, is by nature Anti-Christ because it keeps us from experiencing a fulness of His intelligence (or glory), causing us to remain in gross darkness.
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
The Time of Harvest is Come
I SUBMIT the time has come for us to stop filling our bellies with the husks that swine eat, and to gird up our loins and seek after the celestial law of love that resides in Christ Jesus, and be done with lesser things.