A Lesson from the Great Sign of the Birth of Christ in the Book of Mormon

One thing has long puzzled me about the Book of Mormon account of the birth of Christ. Why did the believers mourn and begin to fear that Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy had failed regarding the promised sign of Christ’s birth?

The Book of Mormon has a scene where Samuel the Lamanite gives a prophecy of a dramatic sign to come the night before the birth of the Messiah. In five years, there will be a night when it stays bright as the sun sets, giving a sign of the Savior’s birth. From Helaman 14 we read:

[1] And now it came to pass that Samuel, the Lamanite, did prophesy a great many more things which cannot be written.

And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for
five years more cometh
, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem
all those who shall believe on his name.

[3] And
behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming;
for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the
night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it
shall appear unto man as if it was day

[4] Therefore,
there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and
there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall
know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they
shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night;
nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night
before he is born.

[5] And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.

[6] And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.

[7] And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth.

Over the next five years, many other less dramatic signs have come to pass, which are easily handled by the critics with arguments similar to what we often hear today in discussions, say, of Book of Mormon evidence, as we read in Helaman 16:

[16] Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but
behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to
pass, of which has been spoken.

[17] And they began to reason and to contend among themselves, saying:

That it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come;
if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, as
it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto
them who shall be at Jerusalem?

[19] Yea, why will he not show himself in this land as well as in the land of Jerusalem?

But behold, we know that this is a wicked tradition, which has been
handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe
in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not
among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not;
therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our
own eyes that they are true.

[21] And they will, by the
cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery
which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to
their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to
teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will
yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives.

And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which
were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir
them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading
rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might
harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against
that which should come.

[23] And notwithstanding the
signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord,
and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the
hearts of the people upon all the face of the land. 

 Lucky guesses and logical fallacies, nothing worthy of any interest.

The anti-Messiah sentiment in Nephite society had become powerful among the movers and shakers in their society, so powerful that a plan was even concocted to provide a final solution to manage the divisive, retrograde believers who were such a roadblock to progress. The opportunity came with the apparent failure of Samuel’s prophecy and the huge momentum this gave opponents of the Church, as we read in 3 Nephi 1:

[4] And it came to pass that in the commencement of the
ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to
be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater
miracles wrought among the people.

[5] But there were
some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be
fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time
is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy
and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.

And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the
land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by
any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. 

 This was a difficult time for the believers, for the argument against their faith was strong enough, in spite of other prophecies and signs having been fulfilled, that they began to be very sorrowful, wondering if the sign had actually failed. I presume that some turned from their faith at this point, and that it was the “true believers” who held on and waited, as we read next, and as we read of the audacious and intolerant deadline imposed by those in power:

[8] But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and
that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no
night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the
unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be
put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given
by Samuel the prophet.

The prophecy would be fulfilled right before the deadline given, but it does not appear that the believers were dealing with the arguments against them by saying, “Hold on, guys. Samuel said five years, and it’s only been 4.9. Nothing is supposed to happen yet.” No, they were worried and fearful.

Going back to Samuel’s prophecy, he doesn’t exactly say that the sign would come in five years. He says five years will pass, “and then” the sign will come. So it’s after five years. Five years and a month? Six months? I’m not sure. But I suspect that the prophecy became widely understood as a sign to come in five years. After five years had passed, the critics could rejoice and the believers began to fear. There’s a subtle point in Helaman 14:2 that I didn’t notice until yesterday, right before I gave a talk in sacrament meeting and was inspired by the Primary children having just sung about Samuel the Lamanite. As I was wondering about that prophecy and the misunderstanding, that’s when I noticed Helaman 14:2’s wording, and decided to change my talk to emphasize that story. I asked people if they would be able to hold onto their faith in that day, with such influential arguments and popular sentiment against it? And can they hold onto it today, when there is still much we don’t understand, in spite of many signs, miracles, and blessings we have received? That’s another story. Here’s what happens with the story in Third Nephi 1:

[10] Now it came to pass that
when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his
heart was exceedingly sorrowful.

[11] And it came to
pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried
mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about
to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their

[12] And it came to pass that he cried mightily
unto the Lord, all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came
unto him, saying:

[13] Lift up your head and be of good
cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign
be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the
world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by
the mouth of my holy prophets.

[14] Behold, I come unto
my own, to fulfill all things which I have made known unto the children
of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the
Father and of the Son — of the Father because of me, and of the Son
because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night
shall the sign be given.

[15] And it came to pass that
the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had
been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no
darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no
darkness when the night came.

[16] And there were many,
who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth
and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of
destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of
the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was
already at hand.

[17] And they began to know that the
Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the
face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land
north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they
fell to the earth.

[18] For they knew that the prophets
had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which
had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of
their iniquity and their unbelief.

[19] And it came to
pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light
as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in
the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it
was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had
been given.

A wonderful story to ponder as we remember the birth of Christ long again in a manger in Bethlehem (part of the ancient “land of Jerusalem” per Alma 7:10 and the Dead Sea Scrolls and Amarna Letters, but that’s another story, too.)

Author: Jeff Lindsay

70 thoughts on “A Lesson from the Great Sign of the Birth of Christ in the Book of Mormon

  1. Thanks for the post, Jeff. I thought you'd be interested to know of the following language of Helaman 14:5:

    And behold, there shall be a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld;

    As might be expected, the be was removed, which is the reading you have provided from the LDS text. It's just one of thousands of edits that the current text has incorporated. Of note is that the current text has 654 conjectural emendations. The Yale edition has only 354. The latter has more consistent readings, and 300 fewer conjectures. All older, lengthy texts, especially those based on manuscripts, have the same problem with inevitable conjectures. For instance, the number of variant readings for biblical passages and even titles of the books can be quite large. Different critical text approaches yield different results. Some tend to accept more difficult readings, when choosing between two or more. Some tend to accept longer readings, some shorter readings.

    Interestingly, the following puritan preacher, who died in 1646, used language that is similar to what is found in Helaman 14:5:

    1675 EEBO A30576 Jeremiah Burroughs [1599–1646] Four usefull discourses

    That is, If a Son of Peace be in the Family, your Peace shall rest upon the Family; that is, there shall be some good come unto the Family, by reason of any one Son of Peace that’s there: If there be but one that doth Entertain the Gospel,

    We see the same the language here:

    2 Nephi 1:6
    Wherefore I Lehi prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me that there shall be none come into this land save they should be brought by the hand of the Lord.

    These are mutually supporting. The general construction is “there shall be {indefinite noun phrase} {intransitive infinitive}”. It seems to be a future-tense analog of language like "there was a voice came" or "there was a man fell". In the past tense there is a missing "which". In the future tense there is a missing "which shall".

    Notice these other uncommon/rare nonbiblical matches with Burroughs's language:

    Jacob 5:46
    notwithstanding all the care which we have taken of my vineyard, the trees thereof hath become corrupted,

    1651 EEBO A30575 Jeremiah Burroughs [1599–1646] An exposition . . . of the prophesy of Hosea

    and think they have gotten a great Victorie that they have prevail’d over their consciences, that their consciences hath given them leave to do such a thing;

    Alma 6:8
    according to the revelation of the truth of the word
    which had been spake by his fathers

    1659 EEBO A30566 Jeremiah Burroughs [1599–1646] Christ inviting sinners to come to him for rest

    Now the spiritual afflictions have been spake of much in the handling of the former burden,

    1 Nephi 18:15
    my brethren began to see that the judgments of God was upon them

    1651 EEBO A30575 Jeremiah Burroughs [1599–1646] An exposition . . . of the prophesy of Hosea

    But this Admah and Zeboim were two of the Cities that the judgments of God was most terrible upon;

    Alma 11:25
    when thou had it in thy heart to retain them from me.

    1657 EEBO A30608 Jeremiah Burroughs [1599–1646] The saints inheritance and the worldlings portion

    dost not thou account thy self an undone man,
    when thou had some comforts?

  2. Jeff, I thought you would also be interested in this obscure language from eModE and 3 Nephi 1, which is where you end your post:

    3 Nephi 1:29
    they had many children which did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some which were Zoramites by their lyings and their flattering words to join those Gaddianton robbers.
     ‘that they came of age, and were led away . . .’

    1650 EEBO A30574 Jeremiah Burroughs [1599–1646] An exposition upon the prophesy of Hosea

    How many in their young yeers, we had thought very gracious seed began to sprout forth, and we had thought that the seed grew to a stalk, and when they came to be for themselves, we had thought they had begun to bud in gracious actions, we had thought it came to be meal, to their middle age; but to their old age strange lusts hath come and devoured all.

    This Burroughs meaning has not yet been found in the OED, but matching attestations have been found (see also Defoe, Colonel Jack [1722]):

    1680 EEBO A43153 Richard Head [1637?–1686?] The English rogue

    I will now conclude, only tell you a Story or two, how I have initiated my self in this Art of Knavery, for my time being suddenly to expire, I thought it necessary to try some expedients, how I might live hereafter, when I came to be for my self; and knowing that my master could not do any thing at first, without a Confederate, (some body to help and assist him) I procured the like:

  3. Anon, a secular lexicographer would probably read your comments and see evidence that these archaic forms persisted into Joseph Smith's linguistic milieu. That's the sort of conclusion usually drawn after finding forms in texts newer than those in which they'd previously been observed. I was thinking that maybe you should contact someone at the Oxford English Dictionary about the persistence of these forms, but then again I don't know what real lexicographers would make of archaisms in texts that were deliberately designed to sound archaic.

    Of course, my understanding here presumes that the BoM is a 19th-century production, and yours that the book is ancient. I might think you're being stubborn or gullible or whatever, while you might think I've been blinded by Satan, but really, the differences between our conclusions are pretty much completely driven by the differences in our assumptions. You've chosen to believe something I find preposterous, and, as they say, GIGO.

    To everyone: Nothing personal, but now that the Church has so completely lost its battle against gay marriage, it's past time for me to be moving on. Jeff, you have my best regards. James, ETBU, and all you other honorable souls who have been "blinded by the craftiness of men" — see you in the Terrestrial Kingdom! Maybe after the resurrection we can all get together and have (decaf) coffee and donuts with Mark Twain.

  4. Well, Orbitational, the fatal problem with your deplorably ill-informed view is that you need to posit that obsolete / "archaic forms persisted into Joseph Smith's linguistic milieu" more than 30 times over. GIGO indeed. Cheers.

  5. Orbiting: "Maybe after the resurrection we can all get together and have (decaf) coffee and donuts with Mark Twain."

    As one who believes in a literal resurrection I look forward to that. I also look forward to moving onward and upward into greater spheres of existence. The great hermetic tradition which had it's beginnings before Adam is alive and well today.

    You have a standing invitation to join us in this greatest of adventures.


  6. I come here and talk about Mormonism's occultic tendencies, and I get reprimanded. Jack comes here and openly and shamelessly admits to the occultic reality of Mormonism by saying, "I also look forward to moving onward and upward into greater spheres of existence. The great hermetic tradition which had it's beginnings before Adam is alive and well today," and no one will blink an eye.

    What Jack is saying here is at it core an occultic proclamation. Not only does he invoke Hermeticism, which is a branch of the occult, but he talks about moving upward "into greater spheres of existence."

    You may wonder why I consider this so harmful.

    Well, here goes: Mormonism believes that each individual human being has eternally existed as "intelligence." God himself was once nothing more than "intelligence." Thus, all humankind is eternally co-existent with God, because all intelligence is eternal. God is God simply because he is further along this "greatest of adventures" than we are.

    If there is some aspect of our existence that is independent of God, which our "intelligence" would be since God didn't technically create it, then there is something in us that does not owe anything to God. As indebted to him as we may be in so many ways, ultimately our success in this great adventure is at least partly due to the quality of our eternally-existing intelligence. And thus, those who are more successful at this great adventure have something of which they can boast.

    This is the root of Mormonism. Some are more fit for the task than others, and those are the ones who are able, through obedience to laws and ordinances, to make use of the Atonement of Christ to move onward and upward into greater spheres of existence, as God did before them.

    If you do not understand how evil this doctrine is, it is time to wake up and come to learn of the true God who is the source and cause of all existence. The God you worship as a Mormon is nothing more than the Sorceror's Apprentice who stands on a cliff made of matter that he did not create, and waves his wand to command the stars and planets, all of which he "organized," none of which he "created."

    You possess the false doctrine of the world, the wisdom of the world, which is that man is the measure of all things. This is the original lie that led to the original sin. It has been passed down through the centuries, cloaked in pleasing words that lull the listener into a deep spiritual sleep. It is transferred quite often by secret rituals which promise to give to the initiates strength and health and power and authority. Especially authority. It has been revealed in different forms time and again through those who have been driven by their own lusts, who, as Peter says, have eyes full of adultery, who seek to exploit us and make merchandise of us.

    Sometimes this lie leads to wanton indulgence. Sometimes it manifests itself in false piety. It doesn't matter whether on the surface it appears to be righteous or wicked. Underneath the surface is the reality: Man is God. Take that to its logical end. If man is God…there is no God, not in the Biblical sense.

    Paul said that we suppress the knowledge of the true God, who has made Himself sufficiently known so that we have no excuse, and we put in His place gods fashioned after the likeness of corruptible man. He is talking about you, Mormons.

  7. Please, friends. Let's allow a little room for a God who is wise beyond our present limited capacities and knows how to patiently lead us from grace to grace into greater measures of love, knowledge, and spiritual fulfillment. Remember, the Savior said to His disciples that to them it was given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom while to others it was not. Did that dichotomy make Jesus an occultist?

    That said, I don't really chafe at being labelled an occultist as it (occultism) is a manifestation of a corrupted hermetic tradition which was pure in the beginning and has been restored from time to time in its purity. Remember, Paul also said, "eye hath seen, ear hath not heard, nor has entered into the heart of man…"

    Finally, I don't want to argue about God. I think we can agree that He is loving and to dispute over his other virtues would be an oddly ironic under the purview of a loving God.

  8. everythingbeforeus,

    While some things about "intelligence" have been revealed, I don't think we have the complete story. Still, we have some interesting concepts to think about. From a search on the term at lds.org:

    Intelligence has several meanings, three of which are: (1) It is the light of truth which gives life and light to all things in the universe. It has always existed. (2) The word intelligences may also refer to spirit children of God. (3) The scriptures also may speak of intelligence as referring to the spirit element that existed before we were begotten as spirit children.

    Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence:D&C 88:40;
    Intelligence was not created or made:D&C 93:29;
    All intelligence is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it:D&C 93:30;
    The glory of God is intelligence:D&C 93:36–37;
    Intelligence acquired in this life rises with us in the resurrection:D&C 130:18–19;
    The Lord rules over all the intelligences:Abr. 3:21;
    The Lord showed Abraham the intelligences that were organized before the world was:Abr. 3:22;

    Everything to do with our ultimate end rests on our agency and how we use it. In a sense, that DOES make us masters of our own fate, captains of our destiny.

    "Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life." (2 Nephi 10:23)

    I would not raise that notion to the level of "Man is God," however. We cannot simply "will" ourselves into any "higher sphere of existence."

    I am inclined to believe that God's laws are what He has revealed to us about some of what He knows about eternal existence. I have trouble believing that He invented the laws He has revealed, because if He arrived at His current station through obedience to laws, they must have already existed for Him to exercise His own agency on. But, again, we don't know much about how all that transpired. In short, I believe He is God because of His perfect obedience to eternal laws, most of which we probably have no clue even exist.

    One of the above references talks about how intelligence is neither created nor made, but is matter or "spirit element" (elsewhere we learn that all spirit is matter).

    Apparently, even THAT had to be organized. If so, we certainly DO owe all that we are to God, except that portion that couldn't be created, or made. That in no way diminishes His role or importance in my mind.

    A quick search on "Thoughts" also brings up some instructive information:

    Thoughts – Ideas, concepts, and images in a person’s mind. The power to think is a gift from God, and we are free to choose how we use our power to think. The way we think greatly affects attitudes and behavior, as well as our standing after this life. Righteous thoughts lead to salvation; wicked thoughts lead to damnation.

    This leads me to think that in one sense, intelligence – like all matter – could not act, but needed to be acted upon (organized) before it could act for itself. Hence, we needed God from the beginning of our existence as individuals.

    This all brings up something I hadn't thought of before: Is there something actually transferred to our spirits whenever we have spiritual experiences? Some kind of "matter?" Hmmm….

  9. Jack, may I suggest that you go ahead and post under "Jack" instead of "Anonymous?" It might save you time and trouble, and us extra scrolling time and effort.

  10. everythingbeforus, you said:

    As indebted to him as we may be in so many ways, ultimately our success in this great adventure is at least partly due to the quality of our eternally-existing intelligence. And thus, those who are more successful at this great adventure have something of which they can boast.

    This is the root of Mormonism. Some are more fit for the task than others, and those are the ones who are able, through obedience to laws and ordinances, to make use of the Atonement of Christ to move onward and upward into greater spheres of existence, as God did before them.

    It might interest you to know that there is a reference in Alma 13, particularly vs. 4 and 5, that speaks to the "same standing" enjoyed by both those who were ordained as high priests and their brethren, who were not.

    I don't know where you might have picked up the notion of a "different quality" of intelligence.

  11. everythingbeforeus, you said:

    Joseph Smith said the first principle of the Gospel is to know that God was once a man who now sits exalted on a throne. That is the first principle of the Gospel as spoken by the founding prophet of the dispensation and of your religion. Brigham Young taught that acceptance or rejection of his Adam-God doctrine will prove the salvation or the condemnation of humankind.

    Actually, it is more well-known that Joseph Smith wrote that the first principle of the gospel is faith (4th Article of Faith).

    As far as the Adam-God "doctrine" goes, please read the following by Pres. Kimball:

    “We hope that you who teach in the various organizations … will always teach the orthodox truth. We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine” (CR, Oct. 1976, 115).

    Did you somehow miss this in your apparent deep study and knowledge of the teachings of the Church?

  12. To all:

    There is a collection of essays on lds.org that address many current and past topics that many have had questions about.

    "These essays complete a series of 13 that the Church began publishing in 2013 to provide an accurate resource for its members to gain insight and understanding into some of its teachings, practices and history. The 13 essays published to date were prepared through extensive research by men and women Church scholars and carefully reviewed by members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other General Authorities and women leaders to provide an official, authoritative and transparent source of information."

    The essays can be found at


  13. bearyb: What's your take on SWK's "alleged to have been taught" as it might apply to BY's Adam-God emphatic pronouncements?

  14. Everything,

    I didn't want to argue about a loving God — that just seems strangely counterintuitive. But since you're calling me out let me just say that, IMO, one of the great stumbling blocks of modern Christianity is the idea of "Creatio Ex Nihilo." And I think your position on the nature of God and our relationship to Him seems to be based upon that notion.

    As per you're argument — I prefer to view God as helping coexistent beings along and allowing them to progress as they are able rather than to view Him as one who creates us unequally and then places us in unequal situations. And then there is the problem of evil wherein a loving God would create people with unequal tendencies toward good and evil, thus becoming responsible for Hitler, Mao, Stalin and the like.

    These are standard arguments with which you are probably already familiar — but there it is. I much prefer a God who allows us to join with Him by covenant and shoulder the burden of accountability. It is then that grace truly makes sense — we have fail to live up to our end of the covenant and yet God who provides a way for us to renew that covenant through Christ. If we are merely His creations then grace becomes nothing but the corrective action of a God who didn't get it right the first time — and a capricious action at that.


  15. By the way…"stumbling block" in Greek is "skandalon." In Latin that word carries with it the meaning "offence." You can also see the word "scandal" in there, too.

    So, Christians do not have a stumbling block in the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, because they accept it. However, the doctrine is "skandalon" to Mormons when viewed in light of the etymology.

  16. Everything: "Jack, either way…we are unequal. Whether God created us this way, or we just are that way because of the nature of our eternally-existent intelligence, it doesn't matter."

    You're right. But the important question is whether or not *God* made us that way. Because if He did then He is responsible for all the evils and inequalities in the world. And that makes Him terribly capricious — not a God that can be trusted. If, however, He is one who helps us along in spite of our *innate* inequality then He is more apt to be a God of grace. And we can feel more assured that everything He does is for our benefit.


  17. Well, I would recommend reading some St. Augustine. Christian thinkers from the apostate Christian church have been tackling these grade-school sandbox problems regarding the origin of evil for a very long time.

    If God didn't make us good or bad, then our goodness or our badness is simply the result of bum cosmic luck. If he did make us that way, then God is a rather nasty entity. But it wasn't bum luck. Nor is God nasty. God made us perfect, and along with that perfection came the gift of choice. We couldn't be in His image without it. We have volition, free will. If we were not gifted free will, we'd be automatons. But God created us in such a way, that the praise and honor we give to God is the result of a conscious choice on our part.

    I see what you are getting at, that God helps us along, regardless of our cosmic luck, whether good or bad. That sounds good, but that doesn't solve the problem of what happens if we are cosmically doomed to disobedience because of a flaw in our intelligence. If some of us are destined to disobedience because of a weakness in the nature of our "intelligence," how is such a person to be saved? By lowering the standard for them? Not at all. So again, how is such a person to be saved.

    The reality is that none of us are going to meet that standard, so by the terms of the law, we are all already condemned. Jesus himself said so. John 3:16-18. We are not walking on a fence, and our choices will determine what way we fall. We are already on the bad side of the fence. Already condemned.

    You talk about God's grace, but from the Christian perspective, you are denying God's grace the minute works become a prerequisite to receive that grace. For it is then no longer grace. But wages.

  18. Jack, think of it this way…I'll take it you are a good Mormon. You don't drink, smoke, fornicate. You serve others. You are charitable.

    There are other people out there who are not that way. For all kinds of reasons. They drink to excess. They are lustful. Why are you the way you are and they are the way they are?

    Is God responsible for this disparity? We would say no. Are you and this other person responsible for this disparity?

    If yes, why? What is it about you that makes you so much more capable of living the law than this other person? What do you have that they clearly do not have? And why do you have this and they do not?

    How would you account for this if creation is not ex nihilo? If you and this other person were eternally-existent intelligence, where does this disparity come from if not from within the nature of your intelligence?

    Have you not then something of which to boast? And is not your ability to live the law simply the result of cosmic luck?

  19. I don't love arguing tenets because none of us really has very much knowledge about God. I would say, though, that you have to figure God's foreknowledge (or lack thereof) into your argument. Even if He created us perfectly he must have had some sense of how we would digress into sin and, therefore, would still bear some responsibility for evil.


  20. None of us has anything to boast of because we all (except the Savior) fall infinitely short of the mark no matter how well we might be prepared before coming into this life.


  21. As a reminder, for the tenth time or so, this post and nearly all of my posts are NOT about the long-rejected Adam-God theory. My posts are NOT excuses to jump in and keep raising that objection. I don't know why that is just such an irresistible temptation, but I don't think yielding to it is an expression of Christian goodwill. I am sorry to report that I've deleted a couple of Everything's comments here that I found to fall within my definition of bad behavior. I may be unreasonable and impatient in doing this, though I hope it's a reasonable step meant to remind you that I offer the ability to post comments with some basic expectations, and that I will delete things sometimes. Sorry about that.

  22. Whatever the nature of our intelligences are, we know almost nothing about that and almost nothing about what it means for some aspect of us to be co-eternal with God. But we do know that the difference between Him and us is vastly beyond your unfair mischaracterization of my faith. Even after we are brought into His presence and more fully made His sons and daughters, even after we are brought into the throne as joint-heirs with Christ (Paul's words in Rom. 8, not mine), even after we enter into that incomprehensibly joyous state that early Christians and biblical writers referred to as being like God, putting on the divine nature, even being called "gods" as Christ himself taught in John 10, even after that point, we will not view God as "just another" like us, but will have all the more cause for wonder and amazement and rejoicing. As D&C 76 explains, in the eternities, after we are in His kingdom and presence, all things bow humbly before him, giving him glory and reverence forever.

    The more we learn the wonders of science, the more we can appreciate the majesty of the Creation. The more we learn of the human soul and mind, the more we can appreciate the majesty of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. None of us, no matter how advanced our science becomes, will be the Creator who gave us this incredible cosmos with its perfectly balanced properties of light and matter that makes stars possible, that make carbon and water possible, that make DNA and reproduction possible. None of us will become the sinless, perfect One who wiped out the debt of sin for those who will accept Him. We will always be infinitely in their debt and able to enjoy their greatest gift, Eternal Life, only due to their grace and kindness. No amount of effort and commandment keeping can resurrect a single cell of my body or wash away my sins. Nothing I can ever do can make me take the place of God. I will always bow in humble reverence to Him, even if He invites us to receive all His blessings and sit in a throne as joint-heirs with Christ. Accepting the possibility of such divine potential seems unspeakably evil to you, but it's an outrage that needs to be applied to those earlier occultists and evil-mongers, Jesus and His apostles, plus the early Jewish prophets as well.

  23. Jeff, you are correct that we will always bow the knee to our God even when we have become gods ourselves, and that we'll never catch up with Him. But what you leave out is that our posterity will indeed eventually bow before us in the same reverential manner in which we now bow before our own God. Just as we do not acknowledge any gods before God, our posterity will not acknowledge any gods before us.

    You know this is true. You know this is the promise of the temple ordinance, Jeff. You say I am mischaracterizing your faith, but I am not. I am simply revealing the logical end of the doctrine that clearly and openly taught by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Orson Pratt, and others.

    If your church no longer embraces this doctrine, it is in a state of apostasy. YOu can't say, "Well, they were only speaking as men." They were prophets and apostles. Just like Peter, James, and John. Do you think Peter went around preaching a conception of God that would later be disavowed as "the words of an imperfect, but good and sincere man who is happens to be a prophet?" No! Because Peter warned us of such men, false teachers who introduce false doctrines, just like the false prophets who showed up in Old Testament times. 2 Peter 2. He tells us about men like this.

    Mormons will claim that the early Christian church fell from its original truth, and that they would've done well to have followed the original apostles who taught it in its purity. Well, your original apostles taught Mormon doctrine in its purity. Why has the church moved away from it? Why is this not considered a sign of apostasy as it is in the early Christian church? Why are the leaders so hesitant to teach it in its fullness to the extent that the earliest Mormons taught it?

  24. I don't know that it has been disavowed, ebu. And what is your point? The church surely doesn't emphasize it, as there is little reason to do so. We know hardly anything of post-mortal processes and activities that may lead to such a state. You really do have vicious hang-ups that you should let go of.

  25. anon,

    The point is this: I was taught doctrine in the church that I built my entire life upon. I don't believe this doctrine anymore. Now, when I speak to Mormons about this stuff from a critical point-of-view, I get the runaround. I get the "we can't know this," and "I'm not sure we really believe that." I get this from my own mother even! Doctrine I was taught in seminary by my mother, and when I press her on it, she backs away and says things like, "I just keep it simple. I don't know about all that complicated stuff. I just don't think so deeply about it like you do."

    See what I am saying? And I am basically getting the same thing here. I don't know what Mormons really believe anymore. They don't know what they really believe anymore. All they really need to believe at the end of the day is that no matter what their church taught, teaches, or will teach in the future, it is God's church.

    It isn't about truth for you guys. It is about authority, and about being the only ones who have that authority. Your leaders could say what ever they wanted. It wouldn't matter to you.

    I want to speak to an honest Mormon who says, "Yes…I was taught this. Yes…this is what I believe. Yes…Brigham Young believed this." I want to speak to a Legrand Richards or a James Talmage or a Heber C. Kimball or an Orson Pratt. Someone who stands up and defends those doctrines that were taught to me as eternal truths.

    Setting Adam-God aside, because the church clearly has rejected this teaching, you all know that someday if you are exalted, you will be worshipped as a God by your posterity. This is the deep doctrines of the temple. You know this. Tell me you believe this. Stand up and defend it!

    I can't believe what I am seeing since I left the church almost two years ago. Only one person from my ward has had the guts to sit me down and go the distance to me, to listen to almost the full extent of my disaffection, and lovingly stand up and defend his beliefs against it. I respect that man. That is the kind of Mormon I was trained to be! That is the kind of Mormon I tried to emulate on my own mission. Bold, courageous, unflinching. I will respect that man despite the fact he believes what I consider to be false doctrine. I will go down fighting for such a person's right to believe, to be what he believes he should be.

    But he was the only one. All the other members, bless them, the kindest souls I've ever met. True emulators of Christlike ways. They invite us over for dinner. They bring us snacks. They come by to visit my children. But they don't touch religion with us. Even the missionaries who have a standing appointment every Saturday night come, shoot the breeze, relax. But they don't dare go into religion. It is sad. This is not the courageous Mormonism of my youth anymore.

  26. Everything,

    I for one, as a Mormon, am glad that we are not steeped in creedalism. The mystery of godliness is far beyond our comprehension and will only be understood in its fullness a great while after this life. So the important thing for now is to be led in the right direction. And that's why, for Mormons, if we do have anything that resembles a creed it is very minimal — the basics.

    That said, we tend to build our testimony more squarely on events than ideas or doctrine. To say "I know the church is true" implies a restoration of the church. To say "I know that Jesus lives" implies that He resurrected. To say "I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God" implies that Joseph Smith's account of its coming forth is true and that its contents has to do with real people and events.

    Remember, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. And prophecy, as such, has to do with events.

  27. Oh, anon…if you could step outside your own world long enough to hear how your words sound, you'd probably alter them.

    You can enjoy your lack of a creed all you want, but don't think your church is without its creeds. They just aren't written down. The moment you begin to enjoy your doctrinal freedom a little too much, you can be certain a bishop or a stake president will call you into their office and try to rein you back into the fold. It is kind of a twisted system that says it won't pigeon-hole anyone with a creed, but then excommunicates its members for teaching doctrines that go astray from what is, for all practical purposes, a creed.

    So your testimony as a member is rooted in the reality of events? What events? The First Vision? Which version?

    The restoration of Priesthood through angelic visitors? No one in the church heard anything about these angelic visitors until five years of so after they were supposed to have appeared.

    D&C 27, which speaks of these visitors was doctored. It says in the heading that it is a revelation given in 1830, but the first publication of this revelation in 1833 doesn't include any mention of John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John. That was added later, after the fact, when the Book of Commandments was republished as the Doctrine and Covenants.

    Try as you might, you'll find absolutely no mention of these visitations in the historical record until much later. This is all akin to building a house on sand. I wouldn't build a testimony on something as unstable as that, if I were you.

    By the way…D&C 27 says that Jesus is going to drink wine with us again when he comes. Where in the world is he going to find a Mormon who will sit down to a glass of wine? And why in the world didn't Jesus know that in a few short years he was going to ban wine altogether in D&C 89?

  28. Orbiting, I wish you the best as you move on. I wish to point out that some of your comments have been extremely helpful to me, in spite of your intent of undermining the Church. I appreciate your willingness to engage and discuss on a number of issues. For example, the extra investigations you spurred me to conduct in Alma 36 and the Lehi's Trail topics proved highly interesting, and I think there were even a couple of meaningful little discoveries, at least for me, that came through that process even if I also strongly objected to your approach. Anyway, best wishes, and thanks for your time.

  29. Hi Everythingbeforeus,

    You're not being very genuine. Here is D&C 27:5 –

    5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;

    Interesting that he does not say he will drink wine but of the fruit of the vine. I'm confident that there will be plenty of Mormons willing to drink of the fruit of the vine with Jesus.

    You like to say doctored, I like to say revised. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to review many technical documentations. The process was not called doctoring but was called revising. Details are overlooked, not mentioned for one reason or another (which makes the Book of Mormon a bit amazing at how little doctoring / revising has happened to it given the length of the volume). So is the case when revelations have come.

    You like to jab at the fact that there are multiple accounts of the first vision. Nobody has given me a hard time when I retell certain events in my life when I add details or omit details depending on my audience. I'm sure we can allow Joseph the same latitude.

    You sound certain that no one in the church had heard about these angelic visitors referenced in section 27. I would suppose you have references to back this up or are you just stating an opinion loudly enough so that no one will challenge you?


  30. Everything,

    You have this habit of laying out a concern having to do with something in my comments and then zeroing in on some juicy non sequitur. It's like parting the curtain just enough to lob in a pineapple.

    But even so, let me just say that when we talk about doctrine in the church we're generally talking about things that we *do* (or fail to do) rather than things we believe. And those folks who are excommunicated from the church for supposedly only having an opinion are not merely thinking or believing in unconventional ways. They are actively promoting their ideas in ways that de-edify the oracles of the church, causing schism among the members.

    You say, "So your testimony as a member is rooted in the reality of events? What events?"

    The Creation
    The Fall
    The Atonement
    The Restoration

    Just for starters…