I’ve recently been studying the book of Revelation, the parts dealing with the Harlot Babylon and the 7-headed Beast. Interesting thing is the Book of Mormon has a great deal to say about the Harlot. It calls her the Great and Abominable Church of the Devil (See 1 Nephi chapters 13 and 14). It tells us that this abominable church was founded after a Jew published a pure version of the Bible and that this corrupted church corrupted this Bible. So, this must have happened sometime after Jesus and Peter. Us Mormons call this the Great Apostasy. Now the apostasy probably started before the church started changing their holy books, but we can see that over time it became full blown. It’s obvious the reason why apostate churches feel the need to change the word of God. Apostasy always leads to changes in doctrines and ordinances. In order for the apostate church to still look valid in the eyes of its members it has to change the words of God to conform with their new doctrines and ordinances.
One fundamental truth which the Bible teaches and which Joseph Smith taught is that God is consistent and his word is consistent. Since this consistency exists, God in scripture often refers us to other scriptures to back up what he’s saying. Here’s one example of this:
“And the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire, according as it is spoken by the mouth of Ezekiel the prophet, who spoke of these things, which have not come to pass but surely must, as I live, for abominations shall not reign.”
You won’t find the word “church” in the book of Ezekiel (or the Old Testament for that matter), but you do find the word “abominable” in three verses. One of these verses really sticks out:
“Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more ABOMINABLE than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.”
We find this near the beginning of that chapter:
“Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations,”
So Jerusalem is the harlot? Well, she’s one of them, but this chapter makes clear there are two harlots, one is Jerusalem and the other is her older sister Samaria. Jerusalem historically has been the capital of the Jews and Samaria was the capital of the rest of the house of Israel, led by the tribe of Ephraim. If we put this all together we come to conclude that the harlot is the house of Israel. Why is she the harlot? Because she departed from God and went after the traditions of the nations around her and she began serving their gods. Because she did this God withdrew his presence from her and left her to the consequences of her actions (for the full story read Ezekiel 16 and 23). So she was scattered. Ephraim and the other Ten Tribes was the first to scatter and then Judah was scattered in 70 AD after they killed Christ. And they both remained in that condition until the Restoration when Joseph Smith began to gather Ephraim back together. However, they still had too much Gentile blood in them and so they rejected the gospel (D&C 45:28-30). God knew they would do this and so he said that when the Gentiles reject the fulness of his gospel he would take it from them and give it to the house of Israel (3 Nephi 16:10-11). Who is the house of Israel? It includes those Gentile Ephraimites who “hearken unto the Lamb of God … And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 14:1-2)
There is a pattern to this all:
“And the time cometh that [Christ] shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”
(1 Nephi 13:42)
First Christ visited the Jews in Jerusalem (his 1st coming), then he visited the Gentile church founded by Peter. He then visited a second Gentile church founded by Joseph Smith (D&C 109:60). After this church goes into apostasy he will again visit an Jewish/Israelite church, but only after the Gentile portion has been purged from her. Those who recognize the signs of the times will stay close to God and he will lead them to the Moses he’s called to gather his people before the coming of Christ. (1 Nephi 22:20)
As a Mormon most of us are acquainted with the Law of Eternal Progression, although we may not call it that. The basic concept is that we can continue to learn after the death of this mortal body; that in fact even the gods themselves are still growing in knowledge and wisdom. There is also a corollary concept that we are always either growing in knowledge or shrinking in knowledge. There is no middle ground or neutral zone.
Reading from the book of Alma we find the following:
9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
This opened my eyes to something I’d been pondering about in a podcast I’d listened to earlier this week. The podcast is titled “An Objective Approach to Adam-God Teachings” and can be found here. In it, the mormonchronicle producers interview an LDS man who recently wrote a book about the Adam/God theory. He is a lawyer by trade and so took a very objective approach in his research on the topic. His conclusion is that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught that Adam was God. It was a teaching, not a theory. He states that it was removed from LDS teachings nearly a century ago because of its controversial nature. It was creating a divide in the church so the leadership decided it was best to just ignore it and hope it would go away. That policy worked fairly well for many years, however, with the advent of the internet, it has become impossible to ignore all the evidence. He stated that this is a doctrine that the Church as a body rejected at that time.
If it’s true that the Church rejected this doctrine, could that have started them down the road of rejecting other truths? As Alma states, “they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries.” If this is the case, could that mean the Church is even further off the path of truth now and not even realize it? Given the number of years since this doctrine was abandoned, you can only wonder how far off track they might be today.
“…the enemy, even Satan, he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness. …
“But the Lord saith unto [the angels], pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also. Therefore,
1) let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe;
2) then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and
3) after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.”
We can see from this that as the Church grows its membership becomes increasingly polarized; the wicked becoming more wicked and the righteous becoming more righteous. And thus, the righteous (the wheat) will increasingly feel choked by the wicked (the tares). While the wicked clamor for weaker laws and the removal of laws, the righteous strive to live the laws of God that they have been given in hopes of attaining more laws. For scripture tells us, every law has a blessing attached (D&C 130:20-21). Therefore, the more laws God gives, the more blessings are available. As the righteous and wicked within the Church grow to maturity, a growing tension inevitably forms between them. How can the righteous be fed the weightier matters of the gospel when the teachers must dilute the word of God so as to continually speak to the weakest of saints? God’s remedy for this is to gather the righteous out from among the wicked that righteousness might flourish.
God knew the fulness of his gospel would be rejected by the majority of his Church, because the wicked have always outnumbered the righteous. The Church is a democracy and therefore, God in his wisdom knew it would ultimately follow the vote of this majority membership. This is a repeat of history. The same happened in the days of Moses and in the days of Christ. Only a few (the elect remnant) ever survive. Recall the account of Abraham and Lot fleeing Sodom & Gomorrah. Also recall Lehi gathering his family and a few others out from the wicked city of Jerusalem before it was burned. The nature of man remains the same and this pattern continues to repeat itself.
The wholesale rejection of the fulness of the gospel by the LDS church has been prophesied. Consider the following:
“And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Few would question that this light was the fulness of the gospel restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. You might be tempted to think that the Gentiles who “turn their hearts” from God are all those nonbelievers who rejected the light of the gospel when the missionaries brought it to their doorsteps. Read on and you will see that it also includes the vast majority of those who initially accepted the gospel.
“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all people of the whole earth, and shall be filled will all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father. But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.”
(3 Nephi 16:10-15)
Who is this “salt that hath lost its savor?” If you search the scriptures for the keywords salt and savor, you will find only a handful of references containing it. The following verses makes plain who these people are:
“When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men; They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor; behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.”
“…inasmuch as [my people] keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them. For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.”
These two passages make clear that the salt of the earth are those Gentiles who have been called out from the world and who have made an everlasting covenant. They are the “saviors of men.” Understanding this, one can conclude that 3rd Nephi 16 warns that the fulness of the gospel would be rejected by the majority of the members of Gentile church founded by the Prophet Joseph. However, the scripture also points to a body of people called “O house of Israel” who the fulness of the gospel would be given to after it was taken from the Gentiles. The “times of the Gentiles” is the period of time when the gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles. It is finished when the gospel is taken from the Gentiles and given to O house of Israel. 3rd Nephi 16:13 tells us that the Gentiles can repent and be numbered with these people. If you are one who feels trodden down by the wickedness around you, you’ve got to asking yourself questions like: Has the times of the Gentiles been fulfilled? If so, where is this prophesied people, O house of Israel? How did Lehi know when it was time to pack up the family and get out of Jerusalem? Has Lehi already left?