OF GOD OR BY CHANCE

I am aware that some have not appreciated the effort of drawing lots as the means to choose seven individuals to write the Statement. As I contemplate what has happened and delve deeper into the many “coincidence’s” which have come to light in the effort, I simply stand all amazed at what has taken place, and thought, perhaps, you might enjoy the following.

The Equality Factor

Perhaps there are other processes which could give participants the equality of which we have been taught so much lately, but so does drawing of lots. There were 185 unique numbers in the (now famous/infamous) spittoon. Each number was unique to a person who had accepted this process and submitted their own name, or had submitted another’s name [who also accepted]. Without factoring in other things such as shape and size of Elaine’s hand, or size of the spittoon, or the type of tag used, or other tools of the statistician’s trade, each number in the pot had, at first drawing, 1 in 185 chances of being drawn. As Elaine dipped her hand into the pot the second time each number had 1 in 184 chances of being drawn, etc., until the 14th consecutive drawn number offered a 1 in 171 chance for each number in the pot to be drawn. Every number in the pot had, at each picking, as equal a chance as every other number in the pot to be drawn. Every person had the same offer to put his/her name in for the drawing. This WAS a way to produce equality among all this Covenant group.

There were 114 unique numbers in the pot representing males, while there were 71 representing females. This means that by random chance alone there should have been 5 numbers drawn representing women, to 9 numbers drawn representing men. Yet there were 12 men vs 2 women, and those two women are split, one in the first group of 7, and one in the second group of 7. The probability that it would happen this way in each group of 7 is about 1 in 2,500.

I am told that the odds of drawing a husband and wife were approximately 33,000 to 1. And the odds of drawing the husband and wife consecutively would be 33,000 to one, to the 185th power. Other things we could list that would effect the probability of this couple would be the couple themselves, who they are among us. Another could be the drawing of the husband first and the wife next. In other words the result is so small as to be statistically zero.

Other improbabilities exist.

In the first group of seven one of the individuals lives in the United Kingdom, but happens to be the son in law of another member in that group, and is in regular communication with his father in law.

The fact that Jeff Savage’s name was drawn in the 14th spot or even drawn at all is very very very small (I couldn’t get anyone to calculate the numbers for this, but this was the common opinion). I wonder if for Jeff the case could be made that “the first shall be last and the last shall be first. At the very least God is aware of Jeff Savage. Jeff, many of us love you for what you did.

But, perhaps for me the greatest evidence of God’s hand in this drawing is the product itself. Read for yourself the “Plea” and then the “Guide and Standard” and experience for yourself the message of peace contained in them, and see if perhaps you can also agree.

I would like to echo the sentiment expressed by the compilers, Praise be to our God for His mercy and goodness. These are His words compiled by those He chose.

Keith

Drawing of Lots – Part 2

RESULTS OF LAST NIGHTS DRAWING OF LOTS

DRAWING OF THE FIRST SEVEN

#52 Jack Hinkle
#198 Jason Carlson
#36 John Webster
#44 Doug Larson
#186 Jeff Reber
#175 Jonathan Dippold
#96 Shalyce Woodard

DRAWING OF THE SECOND SEVEN (alternates to be used if needed in the order chosen at drawing and as given here)

#38 Kirk Strong
#133 David Kay
#181 Jeff Brown
#32 Adrian Larsen
#30 Tausha Larsen
#105 Christian Meyer
# 62 Jeff Savage

I would personally like to thank all who offered their services. Again there were 184 who volunteered or were volunteered and accepted to participate in this drawing of lots. As I saw this effort mature I was amazed and said to myself quite often, “so this is how this is done.” Well, at least this is how it was done by us.

You can watch or listen to the whole process by clicking on one of the links in the previous post.

As entertaining as that may be, it doesn’t show the many hours of preparation which went into making that 19 minute presentation possible. There were well over a hundred who, in one manner or another, made it possible to get that video produced. We give a heartfelt thanks to the 184 mentioned above whose names were in the spittoon for the drawing. And there were almost 400 who voted to accept drawing of lots, as the means for getting a group together who will now produce a Statement of Principles, to take to our Lord for acceptance.

May God’s Spirit and blessing accompany these who develop this Statement and all those who have participated in this process. Our prayers are with you.

Keith Henderson

Casting Our Lots

WELCOME

This post has only one purpose, to solicit you to send in your name, or perhaps another you feel would be acceptable to our Lord, to be included in the jar (or box) from which names will be drawn according to the system of drawing lots, that will comprise those individuals making up the committee which will write a Statement of Principles.

Boy, that was a mouthful but I wanted to insure understanding of what we are doing here. We are only drawing lots to determine God’s will about who will write a Statement of Principles.

I was surprised at how many have responded to this tactic of selection. The great majority of those responding have expressed their desire to use this method, but even if you felt to vote against this process please know that your response was needed. I feel it is a valid way of determining God’s will. Others would perhaps disagree thinking revelation should only be a voice in the mind, or perhaps an audible voice causing air to vibrate, or others need a personal visitation. Gideon needed a piece of fleece to make it work for him; asking the lord to please have the dew of the night settle only on the fleece and the earth be dry. When that worked he asked the Lord for another sign. This time just the reverse. Have the earth be wet with dew and the fleece be dry. That worked also, and the anger of the Lord was not kindled at such a request.

At the very beginning of the Book of Mormon (a Covenant to us) we are confronted by the son’s of Lehi drawing lots to determine who gets to confront Laban about the brass plates. We see in hind sight God’s purpose in having it work out as it did, but I doubt Nephi had any grandiose scheme in mind about him finally being the one to succeed and obtain the accoutrements of kingship. It was just four brothers, sitting around a campfire, exercising faith that God’s choice would be with them in drawing the short straw (or whatever) to see who went first. And there are many others:

And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:24-26.)  The same method is used here by Apostles as had been used by the Lord’s crucifiers to divide up His clothing, as He was hanging on the cross in the last throes of dying. When we think of the Roman guards using it to divide Christ’s clothing, it becomes less inspired-looking and more homely.  It looks more like expediency than revelation as a tool for choosing an Apostle.  Yet, at the same time, this same process is built into all the scriptures and has been used by those of faith for millennia. Without regard to feeling, emotion or desire, the lots are drawn and the assignments are made.  These physical objects contain within them the Lord’s mind for organizing a council by whom work gets done and things get written.

From Nephi’s casting lots to decide who would go, to choosing a scapegoat, to choosing an apostle, to choosing roles for a disciplinary court, casting lots has been the way people of faith have determined God’s will for centuries. Through it God “speaks.” But it requires faith to see it in that light. For these are ordinary, even commonplace ways of making a decision. Only through faith, however, does it acquire the “voice of God” in it. With that said let’s proceed to the work of making this work.

Read carefully that which is below. Please click on all the links and obtain all the understanding you can. And then if you feel to move forward, to submit your’s or another’s name for inclusion in the lots, click on the first link again to find the form required. Fill it out with honesty and integrity and push submit. May God bless us all in this effort.

Keith Henderson

THE WORK

If you have entered into the recent covenant offered, you may submit the following on the website indicated below until Sunday November 12, 2017 at 7pm MST:
1. Names, including your own if you feel called or those of others you would like to nominate, to be drawn by lot to serve on the body of 7 to compile a Statement of Principles; when submitting name(s) please include contact information such as email and/or phone number as directed in the form.
2. Versions of the Statement of Principles that you have had a primary role in developing for the body of 7 to consider when they are performing their labor. Even if you have previously posted a Statement of Principles on the Guide & Standard website, it will need to be resubmitted to the Central Recorder through this form for consideration by the body of 7.

Central Recorder Lots Form

As your information is received via the form linked to above, you (or those you nominate) will receive an email or phone call from the Central Recorder to 1) confirm that you are willing to participate (for those nominated by others), 2) verify that you meet the criteria listed below, and 3) inform you of your unique “lot number” (if your name is submitted multiple times, you will only receive 1 “lot number”):
* At least 18 years of age;
* (Re)baptized and baptism recorded with the Central Recorder;
* Entered into the recent covenant;
* Agree to perform your labor according to the criteria of composing the Statement of Principles using primarily the words of Christ directly or through an authorized servant (as described in the United Proposal).

As Statement of Principles documents are received, the Central Recorder will copy them into an electronic folder that will be shared with the body of 7. While the body of 7 are not required to incorporate any of these materials into the Statement of Principles that they compile, they are at liberty to choose one or more to use as the basis, or bring together aspects of different Statements of Principles into a single document that also includes their own labors, as guided by the Spirit.

The drawing of lots (ie, “lot numbers”) will take place on Sunday November 12, 2017 at 9pm MST. The event will be broadcast on this link or by calling 1-669-900-6833 (Meeting ID: 216 044 0046). The broadcast is limited to 150 viewers/callers, but a link to a recording will be made available soon after the drawing of lots on the Recorder’s Clearinghouse website for any who are not able to join the live broadcast. The “lot numbers” selected (including alternates) will also be posted to the Recorder’s Clearinghouse website immediately following the drawing. As soon as all those whose “lot numbers” were drawn have been confirmed and verified (if this was not completed prior to the drawing), the names of the body of 7 will be posted to the Central Recorder’s website. The Central Recorder will then put the 7 in communication with each other via email and send to them any Statement of Principles documents that have been received. The baton will then be officially passed to the body of 7 to complete the assignment as outlined in the lots proposal (see here and here) as well as the United Proposal. For whatever reason, if the body of 7 cannot complete a Statement of Principles to be presented to the Lord within two weeks, a set of 7 alternates will replace them to complete the assignment. We humbly ask that all who feel so inclined will unite in prayer and fasting on Sunday November 12th so that the Lord’s will may be manifest.

This is how Christ’s Gospel works

I want to show you something!

From Preserving The Restoration Page 227, by Denver Snuffer, we find he has written:

“King Benjamin (or, substitute any legal administrator) did not act on his own. He taught only what had been given him to teach by an angel. Because God renewed His covenant with King Benjamin, it was through King Benjamin that the people could once again make an acceptable covenant with God. The purpose of sending the angel to King Benjamin was not to offer him salvation, but to offer once again a valid covenant through which others could repent.

This is how God operates. Even the chosen people of Lehi and his son Nephi, brought to the promised land, failed to abide the conditions of the covenant. But God did not abandon them. After generations had passed and a new one would allow the Lord’s hand to be revealed, the Lord acted.

This is a great type. The Book of Mormon is far more relevant for our day than we imagine. It is a blueprint for how our own history is unfolding. It is a sobering lesson in how to fail and how to wait for the Lord to reclaim and redeem us.

We ignore or misunderstand the content of the Book of Mormon at the peril of our own salvation. When we do, then no one can be saved.”

Continuing further on………..(Bottom of 229, top of 230.)

“Joseph [Smith Jr,] said: Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God, but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not. All the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none others will be acknowledged either by God or angels. (TPJS, p. 274.) It is for this reason that King Benjamin and Mormon include the final ingredient in [Mosiah 4:] verse 3: “According to the words which King Benjamin had spoken unto them.” They heard the truth from one sent by God, had faith in Christ as a consequence of that, believed, asked and experienced the fruit of conversion, (and finally receive a covenant from God, through His legal administrator.) This is how Christ’s gospel works.” (All emphasis, and stuff in brackets and parenthesis, and out of quotes above is mine.)

THIS IS HOW CHRIST’S GOSPEL WORKS!

Governing Principles for me

I have taken very seriously the question Denver asked in Reconciliation (A little). “What if the meaning is that in order to receive salvation it is essential that the believer receive a message from a minister actually sent by God with a message for our day and time?”

My witness about the Ten Talks, and in the book Preserving The Restoration, as written in the back of that book Is that, “I bear solemn testimony that I have received a message by God’s own voice of their truthfulness, and also of His desire for us to believe in, and act upon these things that have been [first] spoken and [then] written [in this book].” This book contains much of the message sent by God to a minister with a message for our day and time. As such, this book, then necessarily contains “Governing Principles” by which I must abide in order to be obedient to God’s covenant with me. It doesn’t matter that this particular book has on the front that it was written by Denver C. Snuffer Jr., but it helps, because then I know that other things he writes or does must be given close scrutiny so that I don’t miss anything important.

I also believe that God has spoken through His Servant Joseph Smith, and has said, “There has been a day of calling, but the time has come for a day of choosing; and let those be chosen that are worthy. And it shall be manifest unto my servant, (now, as well as then) by the voice of the Spirit, those that are chosen; and they shall be sanctified; And inasmuch as they follow the counsel (Governing Principles) which they receive they shall have power after many days to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion.” (Le. D&C 105: 35-37. Emphasis and parentheticals mine.)

And I also believe the following, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord,I will put my law in their inward parts , and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall [then] teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Le. Jeremiah 31: 31-34.)

THEREFORE,

The principles by which I shall be governed shall be every word that proceeds from the mouth of God through His authorized minister. I do not need a list written by men [or women] in their understanding to remind me of a few things, but I need to make this declaration to God that my Governing Principles will be all the words He shall say.

I no longer care what comes of all the effort by myriads of participants to formulate a list of things they espouse as their Governing Principles, although I profusely thank them all for their effort, and will vote affirmatively for whatever they say they want as the things they will follow, even though they say they “are not by way of commandment.” I believe each should have the agency to choose their own list, or even a common list, and have others respect that list. But for me, I seek “commandments not a few, and revelations many,” and all He speaks to me through authorized servants I will accept as such. These will be my Governing Principles.

I do not believe we are to tell God what we will accept, and by omission what we will not, and require or hope of him to accept our criteria, although I think He probably will. But I believe we should bend our will to Him, and make a declaration to Him that we are willing to accept everything He is willing to give. I, for one, do not think He is through speaking through His chosen minister, even after fifteen or so volumes.

And with this I have changed my stance on Paul and also accept him as one of God’s ministers and if Joseph chose to leave some of his statements unchanged I now thoroughly agree. I will yet come to understand, but for now it is simply enough that I agree. I apologize for my adamancy in arguing for those things to be changed.

Keith

Governing what?

It’s pretty clear that most of those concerned with the new scripture development don’t want the “Governing Principles” left in the scriptures under the title they are currently called, or in the format they are currently couched in, or under the name of the person who currently said he wrote them, or at all?

I seem to remember an incidence when the Lord returned in resurrected form to the Nephites at Bountiful and commanded them to bring forth the records they had kept. As He perused their content He noticed an omission. Christ spoke the omission which was a prophecy He had commanded Samuel the Lamanite to give to the Nephites, and asked, was it not so? His disciples answered, Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled. And Jesus said unto them; How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them? And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written. And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded.

Now, of course, we don’t know if they just forgot to write this particular thing, or whether there had been a great debate about putting a stranger’s sayings into their precious book, and the dissenters won. But evidently the Lord intended all along that this prophecy of Samuel’s should be in their records.

These thoughts have set me to wondering if maybe the Lord wants this particular item of Governing Principles in this particular edition of the scriptures. It’s furthermore set me to wondering why I haven’t asked the Lord if He does. To this point all I have done is exercise the offer I have from the Scripture Committee to criticize, and have done it according to my best thoughts and desire. I’m going to re-evaluate this. It should be simple enough to find out what the Lord wants. I will re-read Jeff’s stated motivation in writing the Governing Principles, and ask the Lord if He concurred. If you’d like to join me in this I’m including what Jeff has said about it here.

Question: Have you gone to the Lord to verify that which you received is from Him?
Answer: Yes. And since it was in response to an assignment, I have gone to my wife, the Scripture Committee, and (now) to many others.

Question: Have you asked the Lord if what you have written is correct?
Answer: Yes. Though I readily admit there are flaws, as is always the case when a mortal attempts to communicate a heavenly message.

Question: Have you asked the Lord if what you have written is intended for you/your family only or is it for a wider audience? Who is that audience?
Answer: Yes. This material is intended for individuals, families, fellowships and groups who hope to prepare to build Zion. But it is important to note that nothing was written in a “volunteer” fashion. I was given an assignment by Denver, confirmed it with the Lord, then proceeded. I believed that was unnecessary to explain, because who would decide something they wrote on their own time could be considered scripture without an assignment, but I have been persuaded that it makes sense to explain it.

Question: Have you asked the Lord if you should submit this to be added to the scriptures?
Answer: Yes. I was instructed to do so by Him. I did not volunteer.

This criteria for inclusion contains some other questions, but I feel for me, Jeff’s (and the Lord’s) answer to the ones I have listed will be sufficient to convince me. If the Lord concurs to me that He has given this instruction to Jeff, that will be all I need to change my mind, and my vote. The answer to the last question above is actually all I need to be fully satisfied.

BUT

I am aware that other versions of the Governing Principles have been written and submitted to the Scripture Committee. One of these was written by a woman I know. I actually think her’s was the better version. I do not think any of the Lord’s answers to Jeff as I have listed above, preclude Jeff from fulfilling his assignment to provide a set of Governing Principles, by selecting a better written set than his own, and, in the doing of that even giving the credit for the writing to that other. I think it would be a wonderful thing that a woman be given credit for a part in our Latter-day scriptures, for I know now, even as she knows, that which was given her was given by the Lord to her.

REGARDLESS

I am now satisfied for myself that the Lord desires a set of Governing Principles (or whatever they end up being called) included in His scriptures.

Keith

Looking Ahead

LOOKING AHEAD

If an individual makes a covenant before the Lord to keep and be judged by the law contained in these scriptures (picture in your mind the last iteration of the scriptures being held up for our consent in September); this will be something completely different than a request for us to accept these scriptures as binding upon us. The difference being, to accept the scriptures as binding requires us to accept everything in the scriptures as worthy of this binding. Accepting the scriptures as containing the law by which we will be judged promotes the idea that even though the scriptures might contain errors made by men, which include conjecture, or just history, or without value in increasing our knowledge of Jesus Christ or keeping His commandments, yet, the law by which we will be judged can be found within the covers of these scriptures.

A parallel concept seems to be that a person can already be living a higher law than is currently seen or understood by most in the scriptures. But when the time comes for the hand raising, or verbal assent in September, this person can in all honesty, and in full confidence raise his/her hand or speak “Yea” to sustain these scriptures as presently constituted, along with all the rest who may not consider themselves at such a high level. The analogy given is that if a person is required to run 50 yards to meet a requirement, but is currently running 10 miles per day in training for an olympic marathon, will, like all the rest of us trying to meet the requirement, be able to commit without any reservation to the obligatory 50 yards. The questions such a person should ask and answer for themselves are: Does the Old Covenant contain a fullness of scripture, and Does the New Covenant contain the idea of the fullness of the Gospel and live up to being the most correct book on earth?

Other scripture will undoubtedly be given in the future. In fact new scripture accompanies these editions. But more and greater scripture divulging higher doctrine and ordinance will not be given beyond that contained in these editions until these are accepted, and it is proven by our faith and works that we are ready for more.

It seems to me that anyone thinking they live a higher law than their fellows should be able to find allusion to what they think they have in the Old and New Covenants and the D&C and the Pearls of Great Price. And anyone thinking they haven’t as yet attained to things as high as they might like will find encouragement in keeping on. In other words, something for everyone at their own level of understanding.

In that vein of thought as expressed in the last paragraph, this anticipated Covenant may be substantially more complete for some than for others. For some it may be as simple as an adoption which makes them numbered among a particular house of Israel. For others it may provide a deed of land onto which they might move and accept the peace and security it will offer. And for even others it may mean that their covenant with the Lord will become as complete as it can be in this life, because they will, because of a land covenant, not rest until they have attained the rites of the Temple and Zion itself, and the promise of Eternal Life, or in other words the presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and of His Father. For some this will be the case. For others, they will stop short.

“The gathering to the New Jerusalem develops in time to the status of being “Zion” where God will visit. The growth is through refinement of the residents of the New Jerusalem.” (Was There An Original?: Paper by, Denver C. Snuffer Jr. P. 35.)

“It will be a physical and spiritual enterprise to be accomplished by the hard effort of those interested in welcoming the Lord’s return.” (Same paper as quoted above. P. 36)
_________________________________________________

COMMON CONSENT

Common consent is a hot topic these days. I don’t think it means what most assume it means.

It seems to me that common consent can be well explained by using the example of Alma. Alma had a unique experience in being impacted by the Spirit of the Lord while hearing the message delivered in King Noah’s court by the prophet Abinadi. He believed it! This belief required him to run for his life. While hiding out from the king’s soldiers he was enabled by the Spirit to write all the words spoken by Abinadi. Abinadi said he was commanded by God to speak the message to the king and his priests. In the process of delivering it, one believed – Alma – coming into a “common” mind with Abinadi (and God) on these particular issues, and “consenting” with/to the message which had originated with God. At this point it didn’t matter that neither the king nor his priests believed, nor were they granted a vote before Alma could believe, Common consent by Alma’s belief is now a reality, and not a single other person raised his hand to agree with him or confirm his choice.

The fruit of the matter then grows as Helam (he being one of the first) hears the same message from God, now authorized to be taught by Alma in a thicket, in hiding. Others then become of the same mind through the teaching of the message. No one voted. No one raised his hand to join in a vote of unanimous consent as to whether or not Alma taught truth. They Listened and they believed.

Common consent does not require a unanimous vote by a crowd or congregation, but can be as few as one Joining minds with an authorized teacher delivering God’s message.

I used to love it when I was presented in the temple, a portion of the covenant, and was then instructed by God’s representative at the altar to bow my head and say yes. I would reverently bow my head, and speaking to my God – not his representative – vocally say very clearly with those around me who were of a common consent,”Yes.”

I am indebted to John and Jennifer Willis and the blog post they put up last week at “A Little Peace In Paradise” web site for expanding my thinking on this matter. In it they used the example of Enoch and Mahijah (Whether in reality Mahijah ever believed Enoch’s message or not, Elder Neil Maxwell seemed to promote the idea that he did) coming into common consent with each other over a message given to Enoch by God.

Keith Henderson

What about some criteria for inclusion or exclusion?

John Taylor, the third President of the Church, once overheard a member of the Illinois legislature who was visiting Nauvoo speaking to the Prophet Joseph Smith.The gentleman asked the Prophet Joseph how he was “enabled to govern so many people and to preserve such perfect order, remarking at the same time it was impossible for them to do it anywhere else.”“Mr. Smith remarked that it was very easy to do that. ‘How?’ responded the gentleman; ‘to us it is very difficult.’ Mr. Smith replied, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 284).

“Correct principles;” Now there’s a novel idea. For our purposes here, however, I am going to call it “design criteria.” What we don’t have in this effort to obtain a set of scriptures suitable to the Lord, at this point, are a set of criteria designed to make a selection of what should stay in and what should be taken out, easy and consistent. So far, it seems our criteria is, “is it right or wrong, or do I like it, or not?” I would ask, according to who (or is that to whom)? With these items as the only things we try to use as our reasoning for sending suggestions to the scripture committee, I doubt we will ever be in agreement.

If, however, we could come up with a set of Design Criteria which a scripture could be judged against, by asking and answering “yes” or “no” questions about it, then consensus would likely become a relatively easy thing to achieve.

This post from this point will be the result of a small group of people putting their heads together and petitioning the Lord for guidance and revelation about what He wants that design criteria to be.

First of all, I will add that this effort should only be applied to the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearls of Great Price. The Old Testament (or should we call it the Old Covenant?) and the New Testament and the Book of Mormon (or should we call it the New Covenant?) shouldn’t be subject to this kind of editing, because they are other peoples’ writings according to revelations they received and compiled according to instructions given them of the Lord, and edited as far as the Lord felt necessary by Joseph Smith. The Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearls of Great Price, however, were assembled by this dispensation and should be relevant to any covenant the Lord should expect from us.

DESIGN CRITERIA

1. Does the intended inclusion emphasize a hierarchal or institutional structure rather than an equality among individuals? If the answer is yes, cast it out.

Equality of all in Zion. No strongman.

“…I am Messiah,the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven,which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy.” (Le Moses 7: 53.)

“But, verily I say unto you that in time ye shall have no king nor ruler, for I will be your King and watch over you.” (Le D&C 38: 21.)

“For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things.” (Le D&C 78: 6.)

2. Is the intended inclusion to or about an individual without any other relevance to the body of the church as a whole? If the answer is yes, cast it out.

“Therefore, what I say unto one I say unto all; (Le D&C 82: 5.)

3. Is the intended inclusion revelatory or doctrinal in such a way that advances the reader’s knowledge of Jesus Christ, and his desire to keep His commandments? If the answer is yes, keep it in.

“And in that day no man will say know ye the Lord, for knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the water covereth the seas.” (?)

“Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength. And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.” (Le D&C 59: 3-4.)

4. Is the intended inclusion historical without revelatory or doctrinal content? If the answer is yes, cast it out.

“…History of [our] people should be engraven upon other plates…And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that [we] should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.” (Le Jacob 4: 3-4.)

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children and also our brethren, to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all that we can do.” (Le 2 Nephi 25: 23.)

5. Does the intended inclusion teach Terrestrial and Celestial principles, practices and doctrines? If the answer is yes, keep it in. We need all this we can get.

“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles and the law of the Celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” (Le D&C 105: 5.)

“That the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ, let us become subject unto her laws.” (Le D&C 105: 38.)

6. Does the intended inclusion contain anything pertaining to a covenant land for development of the New Jerusalem? If the answer is yes, keep it in.

“Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy (Lehi) seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God.” Le 2 Nephi 10: 19.)

“[The New Jerusalem to be built after it is revealed] That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people.” (Le D&C 42: 36 (34-36).)

7. Does the intended inclusion develop understanding of the Patriarchal Order? If the answer is yes, keep it in because that which was in the beginning concerning government and priesthood will also be part of this covenant.

Denver has said much about Patriarchal linage, family of God, Government, and Priesthood. (See Plural Marriage talk – last half, and Why a Temple, among many blog posts.)

8. Does the intended inclusion develop a more complete understanding of the ordinances of Baptism, Sacrament, Marriage, and Priesthood Ordination? If the answer is yes, keep it in. If it adds nothing to that which is already written in all the scriptures which makes it more applicable to our day, cast it out.

Baptism and the administration of the Sacrament as indicated in the current scriptures should not be added to, detracted from, or otherwise changed. Marriages must be performed (see current Governing principle on marriage for principle and practice). Sealing of marriages are currently done according to worthiness of couple and ratification of the Holy Spirit of Promise. It is anticipated that a practice in the temple in Zion will include a sealing ordinance of the couple. Priesthood Ordination is currently covered by instruction in print written by Denver Snuffer. My recommend would be that the heads of this instruction be written for inclusion in the scripture body.

With this criteria applied to the D&C and the P’sofGP perhaps we can whittle down a mass of inappropriate gobble-de-gook to a manageable assortment of information which supports a Covenant with the Lord. Keep the history in the history books, Denver’s principles for running fellowships in Preserving the Restoration, and put all personal revelation which has no applicability across the board in your own journals, or in an archive somewhere. I think here, for us, at this time, in regards to a promised Covenant, less amounts to more.

Keith Henderson

Inclinations About a Covenant

I have considered this, I have considered that. I have felt changes, additions, and deletions needed to be made to this book or that section. I have questioned logic used to put one thing in this order or that, and why that same logic wasn’t used consistently on another thing of the same type. I have felt to question grammar, spelling, capitalization or lack thereof, and tense. I have questioned the deleting of certain early prominent names and things they wrote, which my whole life I’ve considered to be revelatory, and again questioned the addition of individual’s names I barely know from among us and stuff they supposedly had revealed to them. I have worried about this and I have worried about that. All this now in the short space of about three weeks.

I have found or have had pointed out to me obviously incorrect teachings by Paul in the New Testament regarding Marriage and Circumcision which in the view of many must be eliminated, and “opinion” in the Book of Mormon offered by Alma on the topic of resurrection which certainly can’t be left to stand, because it’s only his opinion. These things are considered by many, at their worst, to negate those books as being worthy to stand in any revised set of Restoration Scriptures, and at least many think these inconsistencies should be corrected before those books can be considered as part of a covenant.

But, you know what – I’ve had a revelation for myself to myself that there is a completely different way of judging the worthiness of any of the four books and their parts, and whether in the final voting I will be voting for or against any proposed changes. The criteria I will be using is:

Will this or that change negate this book as a book containing a fullness of scripture, or that book as containing a fullness of the gospel. or this other book as being explanatory of the covenant I am making, or that other book giving me knowledge of how God covenanted with others? For me, this is somewhat like the Temple Endowment Joseph left as part of his legacy to the Gentiles. No man to this point has been able to batter it so badly that it stops the seeking person from learning how to find God. In the matter of what you do to the peripheries around the the four books constituting the covenant, you probably won’t be able to butcher it badly enough that it won’t still contain a recognizable Covenant by God to me.

That’s it for me! Only one criteria.

If I were to list another criteria it would be something on the order of whether eliminating or sustaining a suggestion might cause more or less jarrings or contentions. But then I don’t really think I will list this, because we all know that those things would be anathema to the whole prospect of a covenant.

So just as I probably won’t spend a lot of time in the Book of Mormon reading the report of Omni who tells us he was a wicked man who had not kept the statutes and commandments of the Lord as he ought, or Paul’s treatise on circumcision and marriage; I will spend much effort on the changes Joseph Smith made to the Bible which inspired him to call it a “fullness of scripture,” and on the Book of Mormon which has always been intended as “The Covenant” God desires to make with the Gentiles, and which by using the 1840 edition brings us closer than before or since to the real intent and meaning of that covenant. I will spend a great deal of time with the “Doctrine” and Covenants because the Lectures on Faith give me a a better view of the path to becoming more like Jesus Christ and getting into His presence than any other scripture I know. And the arrangement of the “Commandments” gives more order and sense to me than previously, of why and when Joseph received those revelations.

I will read the Pearls of Great Price with relish, because regardless of what else may have been inserted there by others it can’t dim my enthusiasm for the Joseph Smith History, Book of Abraham or the Lord’s brilliant illumination by revelation of the Book of John through Denver. After all, what I am seeking is a Covenant to myself from God, and am not particularly interested in whether you all think this or that or your pet should be brought to shine forth as an opportune moment for yourself.

Now I don’t imagine this all will catch on very much because after all we are Gentiles. Our views are important, and the louder we shout the more we think we are heard. After all It’s important to us that we be heard. But…….

These are my current inclinations.

Keith

An Altar Experience

In an old dusty attic, searching through effects, which had been kept in a box for years, I came across a, still like new journal, containing the following: Penned in the neat hand of what I am assuming is my long dead ancestor, great great grandfather, Henry James Talbot:

“Building an altar after the order of the ancients.”

I found this experience to be a very personalized process, because the altar’s great lesson is in the doing of it.  Anyone coming onto, and contemplating doing this should see in this process the making of ourselves, and then the remaking of ourselves, and then again, the remolding of the lump as the Lord demonstrates His graciousness through His long suffering, patience, and the fact that long ago we were not cast off.  This effort and this process is the story of God’s own labors, our need to be gathered, and the recognition of those who are to be included, framing together the disparate and individual lives to build a single, unified sacred place or people.

After having done this work, one should know there is, through me, and perhaps you, again on the earth a return of an ancient and hallowed practice of altar building which began at the first, and now appears again at the last.

I began the effort with mighty prayer unto God. This dedicating of the whole process was like coming into an awareness that something different needed to be done in one’s life, and dedicating, and consecrating one’s time, talents, and every available moment and resource to the accomplishment of this new found life one is entering into. In a very real way it was leaving old thoughts and traditions behind, and seeing for the first time a path centered on God; desiring Him to be at the center of everything that followed. No longer were the old ways enough. The teaching elements of preparing for the journey and then making it; fraught with danger, and being subject to every adverse wind that might blow one off course, even kill him spiritually or physically on the journey; Choosing a site of land that would become a holy place unto the Lord, almost as though it were a promised land; Choosing a raised site on that land that would cause a ritual ascent as I approached my intended place of worship; These all have been the driving thoughts of my mind for many months.

BUILDING THE ALTAR:
First, you build an altar again and again in your mind. The days preceding the beginning of the actual construction were days of “acting as if;” days of anticipation; days of internal measurement, “can I really do this?” “Can I receive revelation that will enable a successful conclusion?” “What do I really expect to happen?” “What are its measurements to be?” What should be its orientation?” “How big should the rocks be?”

The gathering begins with prayer; then searching for and discovering the pre-determined number of stones; then prayer to know if the one you think is right, is. Over and over again. Sometimes with great clarity. Sometimes not being completely sure. Sometimes with a darkness or even foreboding. Slowly, ever so painstaking slow, and one by one the rocks are gathered in. Each is individually picked. It is turned over and examined for its peculiar properties, brushed clean of the dirt and grime that may obscure some particularly beautiful facet or in the brushing may reveal a hidden flaw. Sometimes in the gathering process ideas form that indicate what will work with what. Perhaps the most exciting is realizing that you have selected that one precious stone that will be Christ, the Chief Corner Stone of the whole, upon which the whole will be anchored. In the process of this gathering you come to realize that you are like many of these rocks. You are flawed, dirty, or sometimes even with a particularly becoming trait that should be demonstrated prominently and make the whole more beautiful or functional.

Construction actually begins with the laying out of the rocks. You see to some extent what will work with what; to which tier this or that rock belongs; and like I said, that all important Southeast Corner Stone that represents Jesus Christ. Amazingly, this all important stone will be buried the deepest within the whole when it is completed. It will be mostly out of sight and one coming upon your altar without knowledge of what it is would not recognize the importance of the prime anchoring characteristics of this all important rock. Construction, like gathering, takes place at an agonizingly slow pace. A particular stone just does not seem to work anyplace. You can often see that the altar is leaning precariously because of the placement of some of the rocks. You realize a teardown is in order and refashioning needs to take place. I saw myself in this process really quite close to the first. Initially it surprised me and even frightened me a little as I saw that the building of me was a lot like my altar. I also saw that, at the point I recognized myself in the construction, I still had a lot of rocks to lay and if it continued like it started, “would I ever be a finished product?” In fact would the Lord cast me off as I might cast off this altar, because it just seems impossible to make it work? It also provided a driving thought, that even as the Lord had not cast me off, but through His mercy and grace and diligence in working with me, had saved me; so I could salvage this altar I was attempting to construct, and even though it might be hard, it was do-able. You see miracles happen that cause it to be possible. Sometimes whole sections slide out that indicate a hidden flaw in construction. Sometimes a rock is rejected and replaced by another which at first glance seems impossible to obtain. Sometimes you see in amazing clarity that if the location of this rock is changed with that one, everything will lock together. Sometimes you just keep going with faith that somehow it will work. This is all symbolic, but it is also real in the project in which you are engaged.

Actually the symbolism in the building of this altar doesn’t seem to end. Even as I write this I see many other things that the actual doing of building the altar could represent, or did represent. Some of it is symbolism of me. Some of it of the Church. Some of it of the Gospel. Particularly that defining central theme of the Gospel; the Atonement of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The altar and His atonement have become one in my mind. And because of that, the symbolism based in the realism of this will continue to show itself for the rest of my life!

THE DEDICATION AND THE OFFERING:
When the table of the altar was placed upon the top as the final stone, I walked around the altar at a distance and looked at it from every angle. I could see that it even looked like an altar, and that barring a physical act of man or beast would likely stand looking that same way until the earth at some time in the future convulses and scatters the carefully laid stones. But I know that even if that should happen, the ground upon which it is built will remain hallowed. I declared that it was the best I could do, and further declared to myself it was completed. It was now recognizable as an altar to me rather than just a pile of rocks and I declared it “an altar.” It felt to me to be a “whole.”

The next step in the process was to consecrate the Pure olive oil which I brought and then pour it in its consecrated state upon the top of the altar, with the pouring of it on a part being the pouring of it upon the whole, because of what it had now become. Opening the bottle, I held it up to God and said that by the power of the holy word which had been given me wherein I was declared a son of the Almighty God, I now dedicate and consecrate this oil to represent the blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ, which He has shed for all mankind and that upon its pouring, it will represent the blood offering required to dedicate and sanctify this completed altar. I then poured its contents upon the top of my altar. Using a particular sign, I then offered up prayers to my Father, petitioning Him to accept of my meager offering, and of myself. I covenanted that my life, and my will, and all that I have or ever will have is His. The altar had now served its purpose. It was complete. I was complete. And both are acceptable to the Lord. It was palpable and clear.

Grandma and I will probably visit it only one more time, that we may pray together, and covenant together and with our God. I will then sell the boat which will represent a moving on in our trek through this wilderness. I don’t know but that I may or may not do this again. I feel that one could become really proficient at this, but I don’t know if one really has to. I feel this was really important for me to do, and I feel that having done it there are future ramifications that will happen to my family because of it. For all I know right now, maybe you who might be reading this are a product in a small way of me having done this. This has not been made clear to me at this point.

I know I have not answered all questions. I’m not sure it’s my place here to just give my answers. If at a future time you decide upon this, I think you will receive your own answers to any questions you will ask. I feel like to the best of my limited ability I have laid out what this experience meant to me.

One more parting shot. I do know that what was at the first must return and be part of the last. In this, I have participated.

As copied by
Keith Henderson