The Danger of Riches and Inequality and the Law of Consecration

I have been on the road now with my youngest son for a while doing a little writing and sightseeing. I am currently in Nauvoo. I have been here nearly a week. I am thinking about hitting Independence or Kirtland after this stop. I have a herniated disk in my back which has been excruciating at times. Any prayers from any of you out there would be muchly appreciated.

I am making this post because of an incredible work of gospel scholarship that was sent to me that I want to share with you, but, first, I will share a few of the interesting experiences that I have had thus far-

The Martyrdom: I met an LDS guy that became obsessed with the history of the Martyrdom and has written a book about it and moved to Nauvoo. He claims that William Law was somewhat involved in the martyrdom conspiracy and that he was meeting with Joseph Smith’s two shady lawyers in Fort Madison at the time of the martyrdom, which provided his alibi. I will be digesting his book when I get a chance. It seems like there are certain topics of the gospel and church history that the Lord picks certain people to investigate and share information about. I love it when I meet people with passion who have closely researched a given topic.

Nauvoo Christian Center: I always enjoy meeting with the guy at this place. This time I harped on the obvious TOTAL apostasy of ALL flavors of Christianity have experienced and the need for priesthood authority. The more I talked the harder he tapped his foot on the floor as he was listening to me. It is insidious and disgraceful how much delight I get out of making some people uncomfortable. He is a salt of the earth person that, like the rest of us, is doing the best he can to live the gospel and bring people to the truth as he sees it. I really enjoy chatting with. He never remembers who I am each time I visit him. I told him that is because I am a very forgettable personality.. LOL

Community of Christ Historian: I had the opportunity to meet with one of the Community of Christ administrators who is also one of their top historians. I will not divulge his name since I neglected to ask for permission to do so. He said some very interesting things. One of the things I got from the conversation is that for years, the leaders of the RLDS and LDS church debated back and forth over whether Joseph Smith was really involved in polygamy. He indicated that many years later, when the top officials of the RLDS church could no longer deny the overwhelming flood of evidence that Joseph was involved in it, it really threw their church into an identity crisis, as well as a crisis of faith. That is largely what ultimately motivated the RLDS church to change its name, take its emphasis off of church history, off of the importance of Joseph Smith and even off of the Book of Mormon.

I can remember how shocked I was back when it changed it’s name to the community of Christ and how it seemed like they morphed into a protestant church instead of a restoration church, almost overnight. I remember how some of their main-streamers left the church at that time, unwilling to give up their roots and core beliefs. I suspect that is about the time and the reason that the Prices left the fold. I had meant to ask him his thoughts about the Prices but forgot.. Apparently he feels the same way about the Prices work that John Hamer does. Here is John Hamers response to me about the Prices:

 The Prices are wrong about Joseph and polygamy. They are in the “Josephite” (RLDS) tradition, but they are not in Community of Christ. They are independent “Restorationists” (meaning conservatives who separated from the RLDS Church). I’m familiar with their arguments; I’ve read their book. Their book is entirely uninformed of the evidence; it’s not actual scholarship; it’s simply a repeat of old pre-scholarly RLDS polemics that have been discredited. I have not personally met them or conversed with them on the topic, although I have been to their book store in Independence.

Back at the time of the transformation from RLDS to Community of Christ, I did not connect the dots that the polygamy issue was such a huge part of their transformation.

He feels that the pendulum is now beginning to swing back a little bit in their church towards embracing their history, but with a more healthy and realistic view of history and the role of prophets. He emphasized that prophets are not perfect and they have human weaknesses and can make mistakes, etc. I asked him if he still believes the BofM is what it claims to be as far as a literal history of an ancient civilization.. he said no, but that it is still a good book with good principles. I love how candid and forthright he was and how the enmity that used to exist between the two churches appears to be completely gone now. The contention is gone and nobody is trying to convert the other side or show the falicy of their position anymore.. I think the polygamy issue and all of the difficult issues brought out by the  “Google Apostasy” has provided both groups with a huge portion of humble pie. BTW, I noticed an interesting article at the Mormon Interpreter

Separated but not Divorced: The LDS Church’s Uncomfortable Relationship with its Polygamous Past

Zarahemla:  I have previously speculated that the land of Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon ,was located in the same place, across the river from Nauvoo, that was named Zarahemla by revelation. (Section 125) Since Wayne May has declared that he may have found the place where an ancient temple was located, in the old city of Zarahemla, I thought it would be fun to see if I could locate that parcel of land. I wanted to see if I could locate the land using the Google Maps graphic that he provided in his article. I wanted to see if in fact he has begun his archeological dig.

Sure enough, I found it!

It does not appear as if he has begun digging. Perhaps he never acquired the land for some reason. I couldn’t help but notice that when driving along the road along the river, there is a space of about a half a mile in which one can see the exact front of the Nauvoo Temple, without seeing part of either side of the temple which enables a person to gauge when they are directly in front of the temple. Interestingly, the piece of land Wayne thinks is the place of the old Zarahemla Temple falls nicely within that range. The Nauvoo Temple is one of the very few temples that faces west. That puts the Nauvoo temple facing west directly towards Zarahemla. Assuming that the new temple is positioned where the old one was in Nauvoo, and that the place of the old temple Wayne has identified in Zarahemla is accurate, this puts both temples facing each other directly, across the river from each other. That also assumes that the Zarahemla Temple faced (and will face) east, like most temples do.. I find this interesting based on the following passage of scripture and the following definition from the 1828Websters:

Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it.”

OP’POSITE, a. [L. oppositus. ]1. Standing or situated in front; facing; as an edifice opposite to the Exchange. Brooklyn lies opposite to New York,”

The Danger of Riches and Inequality and the Law of Consecration

I have really enjoyed my semi retirement from blogging and had no intention of blogging during this pilgrimage, however, I have been motivated to write this post because of an email with some scholarship that I just had to share with you.

A fellow has contacted me and told me about his blog that has a 12 part thesis on the law of consecration. He has done a remarkable job of researching the topic. I would have to say it may be the best paper I have ever seen on the topic with the exception of a few assumptions made within and at the end of the thesis that I strongly disagree with.

I am so impressed with the thesis that I am going to share the new blog post and encourage everyone interested in the topic to read all 12 parts of the thesis even though the assumptions in the final part, in my opinion, are seriously flawed. I am also going to share the email I sent back to this person, so that my readers will know what the issues are that I disagree with.

I want to thank the fellow who wrote the thesis, it obviously has taken a long to time to put it together. I believe he has done an outstanding job of scriptural research.

Here are links to his blog and the twelve parts of the thesis. It will be interesting to see what else he posts about.

 

Here is the content of my response (with a few minor changes) to the author of the above thesis after I had read all 12 parts of it

 

 

“WOW

 

I just finished reading your thesis on the danger of riches and inequality and the Law of Consecration, which I assume is your personal Magnus Opus.

 

 

I loved it.

 

I have been thinking about doing an exhaustive paper on the topic of consecration and have felt overwhelmed at the thought of doing it… NOW I DON’T NEED TOO!

 

I love your zeal and passion and I love that I have identified someone else that agrees with me that the manifestations of the Lords spirit are being withheld because of our failure to live the mandatory law of the gospel. (If people comprehended this, they would not fall for the belief that the Lord somehow overlooked the failure to live consecration but decided to give a “higher law of Polygamy” to the Saints anyway. They would also realize the folly and deception of those claiming to have the second comforter when in fact, the Lord has told us that he is withhold the manifestations of his spirit until the church repents and obeys the laws of Zion, etc.

 

I think you have been inspired of the Lord to do this amazing work and I want to recommend your blog to others.

 

I need to ask you a few questions, because, if I recommend it the way it is currently written, I will need to put a disclaimer about a few of the things you have said that I don’t agree with…

 

Please take this in the spirit in which it is intended..

 

Let me say that I agreed with 99% of everything you said until I got to part 12.

You made the following statement,

 

“Many theorize that the law of consecration is in some way meant to be hypothetical or forthcoming, in essence a law that we would agree to live by, and are supposedly willing to some day, if and when we are commanded to do so. I can’t find anything in the scriptures to support these ideas.”

 

That belief, that we can and should live the law of consecration right now, shows up a few times throughout your work and of course, you really drive it home in the last part.

 

Here is why it gives me great indigestion-

 

Allow me to respond to your challenge to show where we are in fact told to wait until a forthcoming time to live consecration..

 

In section 105, one of the many sections you quote from, the Lord says this:

 

VERILY I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the redemption of mine afflicted people—

2  Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.

3  But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;

4  And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;

5  And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.

6  And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.

7  I speak not concerning those who are appointed to lead my people, who are the first elders of my church, for they are not all under this condemnation;

8  But I speak concerning my churches abroad—there are many who will say: Where is their God?  Behold, he will deliver them in time of trouble, otherwise we will not go up unto Zion, and will keep our moneys.

9  Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—

10  That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.

11  And this cannot be brought to pass until mine elders are endowed with power from on high.

12  For behold, I have prepared a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them, inasmuch as they are faithful and continue in humility before me.

13  Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season, for the redemption of Zion.

33  Verily I say unto you, it is expedient in me that the first elders of my church should receive their endowment from on high in my house, which I have commanded to be built unto my name in the land of Kirtland.

34  And let those commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her law be executed and fulfilled, after her redemption.

 

My interpretation of the above passages is that after the Saints failed to live the laws of Zion, most notably, for the purposes of this conversation, the law of consecration, the Lord temporarily revoked the commandment to live it, until after the final restoration during the upcoming Marvelous Work and a Wonder begins and after the land of Zion is once again physically redeemed (as per the prophecy of the redemption of Zion given in section 101), and after the first elders receive their endowment of power from on high.

 

I am not saying we should not be living the law of Zion in our hearts. I am not saying we should not be going by the spirit to responsibly impart our excess substance to the poor as the spirit guides us and to not have our hearts set on accumulating wealth.

 

However, living the actual law of Zion, under the direction of the Lord and his ordained servants, is not an option right now, in my opinion, during this, the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham that we currently live in.

 

One of the things that jumped out at me as I read your document, is that all of the people that were commanded to sell all that they had and give it to the poor, had the blessing of the safety net of the Lords storehouse when they took that leap of faith. We don’t have that safety net at this time. Therefore, the act of doing what you seem to be suggesting may be irresponsible foolishness that could actually result in putting the giver into the position of being poor and being reliant on others if their income should ever stop for some reason, after they have given all of their excess away. (you cannot count on the church as a safety net. They have no obligation to support anyone if they decide for any reason not to. There is a single lady in my neighborhood right now who is being denied welfare that she needs because she had not previously been a full tithe payer.)

 

I realize that what I am saying sounds faithless, and perhaps it is. But I see a practical application to what the Lord is telling us with regard to the law of consecration. His law is a very practical law because it focuses on providing temporally for those in need. I don’t think the Lord wants others to become needy themselves by being irresponsible with their financial stewardships.

 

It appears to me, that even the rich man, who was told to sell all that he had and give it to the poor, was not even being told to just go by faith that he would be taken care of, in the inspired version, we are informed us that the Jews at that time, had their own form of consecration set up with a storehouse treasury safety net:

“Then said John to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, crying against them with a loud voice, saying, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, Abraham is our father; we have kept the commandments of God, and none can inherit the promises but the children of Abraham; for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

And now also, the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire.

And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

He answered and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed unto you.

For it is well known unto you, Theophilus, that after the manner of the Jews, and according to the custom of their law in receiving money into the treasury, that out of the abundance which was received, was appointed unto the poor, every man his portion;

And after this manner did the publicans also, wherefore John said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.”

 

The Strongman Model for Zion

The other thing that seems to be missing in your thesis is the fact that Zion cannot be established without God’s servant who has been commissioned and endowed with authority, to direct the cause.

 

In every single successful Zion, there has been a servant endowed with power from on high directing the cause.

 

Enoch’s Zion was directed by the Lord, through revelation, through Enoch.

 

Melchizedek’s Zion was directed by the Lord through revelation, through Melchizedek.

 

Nephi’s Zion-like community was directed personally by the Lord Himself.

 

Prophecy informs us that there will be another anointed servant that will lead the cause of Zion just as there have been in the past.

 

One of the things you surely noticed during your research is that priesthood authority is mandatory to administer the Gospel and establish the Law of Consecration, it cannot simply be done by those desiring to take things into their own hands.

 

Denver Snuffer, a popular LDS author-blogger appears to be telling people that Zion cannot be established with a “strongman model”.

 

He apparently considers leaders like Moses and Joseph Smith to represent a strongman model, although, technically, according to the dictionary, a strongman is someone not inspired, who intimidates people:

 

“..apoliticalleaderwhocontrolsby force; dictator.”

 

In my opinion, Brigham Young was the textbook example of a strongman, however, I think that Snuffer may well be alluding to the fact that he considers the prophetic narrative in the parable of the redemption of Zion, in Section 101 as the strongman model, which he obviously rejects.

 

He seems to be suggesting that everyone simply needs to spontaneously just begin to “rise up” and begin living the law of Zion, even though they are not properly gathered and have no authority.

 

Interestingly, Snuffer’s suggestion actually represents the cumulative strongman model, instead of the God-sanctioned model, my opinion. This is because it is encouraging a group of people to take the law [of the Gospel] into their own hands and move forward without God’s sanction.

 

He doesn’t seem to understand that there is an appointed servant like Enoch and Melchizedek that is to direct the establishment of Zion (and that the servant is not him.)

 

He doesn’t seem to understand that there is an appointed place and time, and that the elect are to be patient and be found watching and waiting for the anointed servants to arrive and begin the gathering.

 

He doesn’t seem to understand that delegated priesthood power is required. He has made some heretical statements indicating that we don’t need the priesthood, like the following ones:

 

“It does not matter whether there is an officiator with authority from God on earth or not”

 

“it would be good to have an authorized minister to perform the ordinance, but the language of Section 20 is not contingent upon authority. Rather it is the faith of the one receiving baptism which determines the ordinance’s validity.”

 

Of course the Book of Mormon makes it perfectly clear that priesthood power and authority is necessary.

 

Just prior to establishing the law of consecration on the American Continent, Christ gave power to his servants to administer the ordinances:

 

“And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and he commanded him that he should come forth.

And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet. And the Lord commanded him that he should arise.  And he arose and stood before him.

And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.

And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize.  And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.

 

Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them”

 

 

As you can see, unlike the gospel according to Brother Snuffer, who does not recognize the mandatory need for delegated priesthood power, and thinks anybody can baptize anybody, without priesthood power, the gospel of Christ is very strict about this. One does need to have the proper priesthood authority.

 

I noticed that in one of his talks, he grossly  misinterpreted Section 64:22-24. He believes that passage was giving the Saints the lesser law of tithing:

 

“One of the things that happened when we failed to live the Law of Consecration was a replacement commandment requiring the payment of tithes. D&C 64:23“Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming “For after today cometh the burning..”  — this is speaking after the manner of the Lord  for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.” (D&C 64: 23-25).

 

First of all, the above interpretation is illogical because Section 64 was being addressed to the elders in Kirtland in September of 1831 and it was not until about three years later that the Saints in Kirtland failed in their attempt to live consecration. They arguably had not even formally been organized and begun the practice it when section 64 was given, even though they had been taught about it.

 

Why would the Lord be giving a lesser law of tithing before the saints failed at the higher law?

 

Secondly, the Lord NEVER gave a lesser law of tithing in any of the published revelations. The term tithing, as used in the scriptures is always either being used interchangeably with the term consecration, or it is referring to the paying of an annual interest or surplus, after being consecrated. Even section 119,  which many people typically, erroneously attribute to being the announcement of a lesser law that replaces consecration, is also referring to the surplus of those previously consecrated.

 

My concern with your logic is that it is the same logic that people like Snuffer use to move forward in establishing Zion without authority. Perhaps you are a follower of Snuffer, I don’t know, but youe logic seems to be similar to his.

 

Those are the issues I have with what you have written.

 

1- We have been commanded to wait until the land of Zion has been redeemed and the first elders have returned and been endowed with priesthood power.

 

2- We have been commanded to establish consecration and Zion under the direction of the Lord and through his priesthood and his anointed servants

 

I would love to get a response from you on those issues.

 

Again, I love the research you have done. You have done an amazing job of accumulating virtually all of the pertinent passages pertaining to this important topic and I love your commentary and how you put so many pieces of the puzzle together.

 

Thank you for sharing it with me.

 

Watcher”

 

Anyway, as you can see, I have some issues with the content of this person’s thesis even though I think he has done a remarkable job of accumulating scriptures having to do with the topic. I have not heard back from this fellow that wrote the thesis on consecration.. perhaps I will add his  response to this post if I do.

 

Enjoy the thesis!

 

[Editorial Notes:] I have since heard back from the author if the thesis. He has softened some of his wording to imply that one can still personally consecrate even though the group covenant was broken..  or something to that effect… I still have some differences of opinion about whether we are actually held accountable to be living it now, however, that is something each of us need to ponder and pray about and arrive at our own conclusions.

I think everyone should read the entire thesis and prayerfully consider all of the passages that he provides.

Again, I think it is the best work I have ever seen written on the topic and it provides some sobering food for thought about how the accumulation of wealth effects a person and what our moral and scriptural responsibilities are with regard to helping our fellow man that is in need.

 

Indeed, the love of money is the root of all evil

 

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