Gathering and the Pre-mortal Existence The plan for the gathering is based on our pre-mortal existence and God’s knowledge of it. Abraham tells us that some of the spirits in the pre-mortal existence were noble and great ones (Ab. 3:23). Obviously, if some spirits were noble and great, other spirits were less noble in developing their spiritual capabilities. However, the Father loves all his children and desires to save them all. In His omniscience he devised a plan by which each of His children would come to the earth at the time and place and with the right amount of opportunities the would maximize their ability to accept the plan of salvation. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explains this principle in these terms: “It does no violence even to our frail human logic to observe that there cannot by a grand plan of salvation for all mankind, unless there is also a plan for each individual. The salvational sum will reflect all its parts” (Determined Discipleship, 71). Gathering and the Pre-mortal Existence For some spirits this meant they would receive an opportunity to have the gospel in this life, while for others it meant they would wait until the spirit world for that opportunity. For some it meant the extra responsibility of serving in the government in God’s Kingdom and bearing the message of salvation to the world (TPJS 365). For others it meant coming to the earth at a time when and in a place where the gospel was not available but coming to prepare a people with a certain portion of the light. Such were the missions of Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and Plato according to Orson F. Whitney. Speaking of these individuals he said, “They were servants of the Lord in a lesser sense, and were sent to those pagan or heathen nations to give them the measure of truth that a wise Providence had allotted to them” (33). This concept is supported by the First Presidency statement of 15 February 1978. The Father’s plan means these things and many more -- some that are difficult if not impossible for us to understand without the omniscience of God. We are not, for instance, generally given a knowledge of the relationship between other people’s pre-mortal existence and their earthly circumstances. Preface Elder Mark E. Peterson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, testified, “The Church to which you and I belong is that stone. It has been cut out of the mountain without hands, and your destiny and mine is to help roll it forth” (C.R., Oct. 1960, 82). By the time Joseph F. Smith, son of the Prophet Joseph’s brother Hyrum, became President of the Church, he could say, “We have passed through the stages of infancy…and are indeed approaching the condition of manhood and womanhood in our experience in the Gospel” (C.R., Apr. 1909, 2). No longer might this church be thought of as the “Utah Church,” or as an “American Church,’ but the membership of the Church is now distributed over the earth” (C.R., Apr. 1973, or Ensign, July 1973, 4-5). Daniel 2:44-45 “Stone - the church we belong to, cut out of the mountains without hands” Isaiah 29:14 “Marvelous work and a wonder” Ephesians 2:20 “Apostles and Prophets” Ephesians 4:5 “One Lord, one ……” Ephesians 1:10 “Fullness of Times” D&C 1:30 “Out of Obscurity” Acts 10 “Day of the Gentiles” Acts 3:19 “Times of Refreshing” Acts 3:21 “Restitution of all things” 1 Timothy 4:3 “Forbidding to marry” & commanding to abstain from meats. Why we are not considered Christians by the World! 1. We do not come from the traditional Catholic or Protestant line. 2. We do not believe in “The Trinity.” 3. Our unusual doctrines. Concerning mainstream Christianity, they say: “You’re not like us, and we say, you’re right, and we don’t want to be!” John Taylor Doctrine of the Holy Trinity Fundamental to the Catholic and Protestant faiths is the acceptance of the God of their creeds. Known to us today as the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, this teaching first found formal expression in the Nicene Creed and then in its successor, the Athanasian Creed. It reads as follows: “We worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity; neither confounding the persons; nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father: another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. “Such as the Father is: such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate: the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible: the Son incomprehensible: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. “So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God; And yet they are not three Gods: but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord: The Son is Lord: and the Holy Ghost is Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord: so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion: to say, there be three Gods, or three Lords” (Smith, Restoration of All Things, 49). The Nicene Creed is not found in any Gospel. It derives from no utterance of Christ nor from the words of any of His Apostles. It directly contradicts the plain language of the New Testament. Its ideas can’t even be expressed in scriptural language; they are cloaked in that of the Greek philosophy from whence they came. Its best defense is the admission that it is a mystery and as such is indefensible. Of the Athanasian Creed, which was formulated about a century after the Nicene Creed, James E. Talmage said, “It would be difficult to conceive of a greater number of inconsistencies and contradictions expressed in words as few” (Articles of Faith, 44). The following is a literal translation, as published by the Nicene Creed then adopted: “We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father, through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and for our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge living and dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made out of nothing; or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance (than the Father), or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, (them) the Catholic Church anathematizes.” The Nicene Creed Constantine called a council of Catholic bishops to meet at Nicaea in 325 A.D. Their work was to adopt a creed which would settle the then politically explosive problem of the Arianism — a concept that the Son had been created by the Father, was subordinate to him, and was therefore unequal as to eternity, power, and glory. The Council was opened by Constantine. He made sure that all the Bishops had taken their seats before making his entry. He was clad in gold and covered with precious stones. A chair of gold had been made ready for him. The current version of this creed is called the NicenoConstantinopolitan Creed and was probably adopted by the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11, 49-50). Parley P. Pratt would observe when once the light of the restored gospel had risen: “It is painful to the human mind to be compelled to admit that such wonderful inconsistencies of language or ideas have ever found place in any human creed. Yet, so it is. It is but another way of saying that there is a God who does not exist, a God who is composed of non-entity, who is the negative of all existence, who occupies no space, who exists in no time, who is composed of no substance, known or unknown, and who has no powers or properties in common with any thing or being known to exist or which can possibly be conceived of as existing either in the heavens or on the earth” (Key, 18). As that day begins to dawn, we see on the horizon such noble spirits as Thomas Jefferson, who observed, “When we shall have done away with the incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three; when we shall have knocked down the artificial scaffolding, reared to mask from view the very simple structure of Jesus; when, in short, we shall have unlearned everything which has been taught since his day, and got back to the pure and simple doctrines he inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily his disciples” (quoted in McGrath, Understanding the Trinity, 110). Penance: Punishments which a repentant sinner had to undergo to show their sorrow for their sins. Purgatory: The place after death where repentant sinners completed the portion of punishment for sins not completed while living. Indulgences: A waiver from the Pope that excused the sinner from doing penance and shortened the time one had to stay in purgatory. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) wanted to be remembered for three things in his long and illustrious career: 1. Author of the Declaration of American Independence. 2. The founding father of the University of Virginia. 3. The author of the statue of Virginia for religious freedom, which was adopted in 1785. Non-Biblical Doctrines and Practices Developed within the Catholic Church Monasticism: The church encouraged many to withdraw from society believing that in so doing they would be alone with God; men who practiced monasticism were called monks and women were called nuns. Celibacy: Monks, nuns, and priests believed they should not be married (I Timothy 4:3, Doctrine & Covenants 49:15-18). Praying to Mary or Saints: Deceased persons who were officially recognized by the church as holy. They believed Mary or the saints could stand before God on behalf of sinners. Transubstantiation: The belief that elements of the Sacrament actually become the body and blood of Christ (John 6:53-57). Infant baptism: The belief that infants must be baptized to overcome original sin (Moroni 8:9, Doctrine & Covenants 137:10). Pilgrimages: Those who visited the Holy Land or visited holy churches with select religious relics were able to shorten their time in purgatory. Relics: “Melanchthon visited the Schlosskirch, with its thousands of special, holy relics displayed in fabulous gold and silver casements --- 17,443 relics which could help a person reduce his future stay in purgatory by as much as two million years” (Melanchthon: The Quiet Reformer, Clyde Leonard Manschreck, 21). “The thorn that had brought blood to the brow of Jesus was always displayed on a special altar on All Saints’ Day, while the other relics were shown from emporiums and balconies built along the sides of the church. Pilgrims came to behold, and they contributed. Melanchthon gazed at a piece of the cloak of John the Baptist. A rock from Mount Calvary. A portion of the rock on which Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem. Some of the milk of the Virgin Mary’s breast. A part of Mary’s gown. Four strands of Our Lady’s hair. Four pieces of Our Lady’s girdle. A tear that Jesus shed at Lazarus’ tomb. Thirty-five splinters from the cross of Christ. Three pieces of myrrh and one piece of gold brought by the Wise Men to the baby Jesus. A strand of Jesus’ beard. One of the nails driven into his hands. A piece of bread served at the Last Supper. A part of the stone on which Jesus stood before ascending into heaven. A twig from Moses’ burning bush. An angel feather. Bones and teeth from an array of saints including Chrysostom, Bernard, Augustine, Jerome, Anastasia, Apollonia, and Lucia, along with one complete skeleton and 204 odd bones of the innocent children of Bethlehem slain by the order of Herod (Clyde Leonard Manschreck, Melanchthon: The Quiet Reformer, 22). A Brief History of the Bible Why were books bound? It was easier than hiding scrolls. It wasn’t until 1200 A.D. that the Bible came to be. Only 50 fragments existed from the first 300 years of Christianity. There were no printing presses until the 1400’s. Latin was the standard language before the printing press was invented. The Bible was the dominant book over the people and yet the people had no access to it. It controlled the people economically and politically. The first English Bible was created in 1384 by John Wycliffe. Wycliffe (1320-1384, England) was opposed to the doctrine of transubstantiation. During the 1400’s there were two Popes who excommunicated each other. Wycliff believed that the scriptures had more authority than the church. John Wycliffe was called: “The Morning Star of the Reformation” Though he lived two hundred years before the Reformation, his beliefs and teachings closely match those of Luther, Calvin and other Reformers. Translated the Bible into English (the poor had no scripture) He called the Pope an “anti-Christ.” He believed that all men should have access to the Bible. It took one small herd of sheep to provide the parchment for one Bible. Wycliffe's followers were burned by the hundreds and thousands. What was there crime? They had a page of the Bible in their possession. Wycliffe's bones were exhumed from his grave 44 years after his burial by his enemies. They pounded his bones to dust to symbolize that he never existed. He translated the Bible from Latin to English. These Bibles were widely distributed around England and denounced by the Catholic Church. The Gutenberg Bible: (1453-55) Was printed in Latin and was intended for the use of the church. It is considered to be the greatest contribution to Western Culture. William Tyndale: (1494-1536) He was England’s Martin Luther. He knew eight languages fluently. Knowing those languages were helpful when he was fleeing English authorities seeking to take his life. He read the Bible in Latin and translated it from Greek to English. Why? Because Wycliffe's Bible was pretty much destroyed. May we emulate the feelings for the scriptures held by Tyndale and Paul? Tyndale was imprisoned for translating holy scripture, and Paul was martyred for providing and testifying of holy scripture. The parallels are powerful: Heroic Tyndale, from a cold, dark dungeon where he stayed for 16 months and from which he would soon go to be strangled and then burned, sent a letter begging for “a warmer cap…a warmer coat also…also a piece of cloth to path my leggings…but above all my Hebrew Bible.” Heroic Paul, aging Apostle --- in Rome waiting to be brought before Nero a second time and then to be martyred, deserted by friends --asked Timothy to bring his “cloke,” “the books,” and “especially the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4:13.) (Neal A. Maxwell, “Thanksgiving for the Holy Scriptures.”). Tyndale standardized the English language. He translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to English. He finished his work to the Book of Chronicles before he was caught and put in jail for 18 months. He was admitted to Oxford when he was eleven years old. He helped to open the eyes of England. He was also burned at the stake. His last words were, “If God grants me breath to finish this translation then the simplest plow boy will be able to read it and will know more about it than you in the clergy.” The Geneva Bible: In 1560, it was the first English Bible. Because of Bloody Mary people escaped and settled in Geneva, Switzerland. People began to study the Bible in English. It was the first entire Bible written in English. This was the Bible that the Puritans and the Pilgrims brought to the New World. King James, 1611: Forty seven scholars worked on it. It was not really completed until 1900. They averaged about a page a day while translating it. King James had nothing to do with it. We are really reading Tyndale’s words, not so much God’s. The Wicked Bible: Thou shalt commit adultery! The Bay Psalm Book, 1782: Was the first publication in America because of copyright problems with the King James Version. Just for fun: The Dead Sea Scrolls They found 18,000 segments, they did not find scrolls. They were 2,000 years old They legitimize that Jesus once lived there. Forerunners to the Reformation John Huss (1369-1414) Objected to the selling of indulgences (which were to reduce time in purgatory). He was greatly influenced by Wycliffe. He was excommunicated in 1411, therefore his doctrines could not be taught and his books were burned. In June of 1415, still refusing to recant his beliefs and teachings, he was found guilty of heresy and sentenced to death to be burned at the stake. Martin Luther (1483-1546) The 95 item thesis was written in 1517 and nailed to the doors of the Church in Wittenberg Germany. He was later buried there with Melanchthon. Philipp Melanchthon to Luther was like Oliver Cowdery to Joseph Smith. Luther wrote the 95 thesis in Latin so that only scholars would know what he had written. He was not trying to offend anyone and was being respectful. During that time period scholars would often nail questions to the church door in hope of future discussions or debates. The 95 thesis was not 95 different points, it was different points related to the following challenges: 1. Selling of indulgences 2. Celibacy 3. The Grace of God 4. The Pope not having the authority to forgive When Luther was ordered to give up his work, he boldly declared: “Unless I be refuted by Scriptural testimonies, or by clear arguments – for I believe neither the Pope nor the councils alone, since it is clear that they have often erred and contradicted one another – I am convinced by the passages of Scripture, which I have cited, and my conscience is bound in the word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything; since it is insecure and dangerous to act against conscience” (Henry Eyster Jacobs, Martin Luther: The Hero of the Reformation, 1843-1546, 192). Luther’s resistance led to his excommunication from the church and to his being placed under the ban of the empire, which made him an outlaw. It was the work of others who took his writings and had them translated so that the common people could read it. Some say that when Luther hammered his thesis to the door, the sound was heard in Rome. Wittenberg, Germany is to Protestants what Temple Square is to us. Luther translated the Bible into German (Joseph Smith’s favorite translation). Martin Luther (1483-1546) Philipp Melanchthon The Chapel door that Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis The Chapel in Wittenberg Germany Martin Luther’s Grave Anabaptist Did not believe in infant baptism John Calvin (1509-1564) Sovereignty of God, double predestination, denigration of man, elect, visible and invisible church, two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s supper. Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) All who believe in Christ can be saved. The Atonement was universal, making it possible for all to be saved. Men cannot be saved without the grace of God. God’s grace was not irresistible. The Synod rejected the Arminian belief by setting forth their doctrine on each point. These doctrines are often called the TULIP Doctrines. Synod of Dordt November 1618 – May 1619 The Tulip Doctrines: T U L I P Total depravity of man Unconditional election of those predestined to be saved Limited Atonement for only the elect Irresistible grace for the elect Perseverance of those saved (not possible to fall from grace) Two major reformers in Switzerland were Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. Zwingli convinced the citizens of Zurich that the Bible should be the only standard of religious truth. He rejected life in a monastery, celibacy, the mass, and other Catholic practices. John Calvin was even more influential. At Geneva, he attempted to create a holy city around the biblical models. Gradually Calvinism became predominant in many parts of Switzerland, and from there it spread to France, England, Scotland, Holland, and in a lesser degree to Germany. The Pilgrims and Puritans, two strict Calvinist groups who came to the New World, greatly influenced American values. The Constitution --- D&C 101:80 Wilford Woodruff, fourth President of the restored Church, spoke of the early American patriots: “I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men who labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. “...Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them” (C.R., Apr.. 1898, 89-90). “All fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence have had their temple work done — these are the ones who appeared to President Woodruff in the St. George Temple. In fact according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, George Washington, Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, and John Wesley were ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood office of high priest at that time by proxy (see Ezra Taft Benson, “God’s Hand in Our Nation’s History,” Speeches of the Year, 1976 (Provo: BYU Press, 1976, 307). Elder Wilford Woodruff said that the signers of the Declaration of Independence and others such as John Wesley and Columbus appeared to him, wanting to know why their temple work had not been done. They said, “You had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” Elder Woodruff said that “they waited on me for two days and two nights.” Then he “straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McCallister” to baptize him. Thus, the necessary ordinances were performed for these people in the St. George Temple (JD, 19:229). The Prophet Joseph Smith stated that “the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land (Teachings, 147). Reformation in England Kings and Queens of England during early part of Reformation Henry VIII (1491-1547) Catherine Mother of Mary Tudor Anne Boleyn Mother of Elizabeth Jane Seymour Mother of Edward VI Edward VI (ruled during 1547-1553) Ruled six years (9 until 17 years old) Reform ideas continue to grow Mary Tudor (ruled during 1553-1558) Catholic Persecuted those who held to reformed views --- “Bloody Mary” Elizabeth (ruled during 1558-1603) Elizabeth Settlement (1563) a theological statement that formed the basis of the Church of England. Puritans: Did not feel that the Elizabethan Settlement went far enough in rejecting Catholic theology and practices. They wanted to reject the settlement and purify the church of all Catholic elements. They were persecuted by English kings and queens. Colonization of New England Separatists: Separating, Holland The Great Migration: (Puritan) (Massachusetts Bay Colony) English persecution, Religious intolerance, Salem witch trials American Revolution: (1775-1783) Constitution and Bill of Rights: Constitution ratified in 1788 Bill of Rights ratified in 1791 The Prophets on the Reformers John Taylor But outside of that there have been many good influences abroad in the world. Many men in the different ages, who, in the midst of wickedness and corruption, have tried to stop the current evil, have placed themselves in the catalogue of reformers. Some of those have been what are called heathen, others what are termed Christian, and others have been scientific and philanthropic --- lovers and benefactors of the human race. The many reformers that existed in former ages have been men many of whom have been sincerely desirous to do the will of God, and to carry out his purposes, so far as they knew them (The Gospel Kingdom, 42). Lorenzo Snow We can trace the providences of the Almighty in raising up certain individuals to establish religious organizations, and we see in these things the workings of the Spirit of God for the general interest of the human family (JD, 14, 304). Joseph Fielding Smith Calvin, Luther (Professor of Theology, Melanchthon (Professor of Greek), and all the reformers, were inspired in thoughts, words, and actions, to accomplish what they did for the amelioration, liberty and advancement of the human race. Their inspiration, as with that of the ancients, came from the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the one true and living God (Gospel Doctrine, 31). Joseph Fielding Smith Latter-day Saints pay all honor to these great and fearless reformers, who shattered the fetters which bound the religious world. The Lord was their protector in this mission, which was fraught with many perils. In that day, however, the time had not come for the restoration of the fullness of the gospel. The work of the reformers was of great importance, but it was a preparatory work, and they shall in no wise lose their well earned reward (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1:174-75). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The discovery (of America) was one of the most important factors in bringing to pass the purpose of the Almighty in the restoration of his Gospel in its fullness for the salvation of men in the latter days (Smith, Progress of Man, 258).