Does Christlike teaching reference damnation and hell?

We have been shamed out of speaking of hell and damnation as part of the consequences of sin. Its not that we need to speak of them obsessively. But we should use them in the same way Christ used them, and he certainly did use them in his teaching, where we have stopped altogether. The answer is simple: be not “ashamed of the doctrine of Christ”. Even if that doctrine is unpopular. It is a doctrine calculated that “it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.”

We have largely put aside teaching it, to the detriment of our own ability to convince.

Enos 1:23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.

We are fooling ourselves if we do not believe that making the consequences of sin clear keeps people out of trouble they would have gotten themselves into.


Not all are given every gift

The scriptural statement that not all are given every gift refers to initially, and not in the long run. There are no restrictions in long run of course. Christ had every good gift. Moroni 7 teaches us how to lay hold of every good gift (Moroni 7), which is the same as growing from grace to grace until we eventually grow into a fullness. The scriptural statement that not all are given every gift is a statement than initially all are not given every gift. But there are no graces God arbitrarily does not allow one individual or another to receive over time because that is precisely the path to exaltation, and one can hardly be exalted and still not have every good gift. Over time, if we follow Moroni’s counsel, we can lay hold of every good gift.

Sin, punishment and tribulation

Everybody knows that just because someone is facing a trial doesn’t mean that person is being punished for their sins. This has been proclaimed loud and long. It is completely true. The Savior was perfect. But he still had to live his youth in Egypt because Herod wanted to kill him. He was still a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Joseph Smith was the “best blood of the nineteenth century” (D&C 135:6). But he was persecuted constantly through his life starting from the young age of 14.

In fact, Joseph Smith taught that:

“He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you falsely, blessed are ye. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No. If a man stands and opposes the world of sin, he may expect to have all wicked and corrupt spirits arrayed against him. But it will be but a little season, and all these afflictions will be turned away from us, inasmuch as we are faithful, and are not overcome by these evils. By seeing the blessings of the endowment rolling on, and the kingdom increasing and spreading from sea to sea, we shall rejoice that we were not overcome by these foolish things.”
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842-43, p.259)

It is true that if are warring the “true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days”  then we will find “wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against” us.

However, all that being said, and perfectly true, there is another side to the coin, and I think that side is just as important.

The Lord blesses us for our obedience, and chastens us for our disobedience. Yes, as is pronounced among us with a loudspeaker constantly, that is not the source of all our difficulties. Christ himself demonstrates that, but it is still perfectly true that the Lord blesses us for our disobedience and chastens us for our disobedience and that fact is very relevant in our own lives.

It is also true that the Lord punishes the wicked.

There is a piece of literature, a puritan sermon, that I think we all become familiar with in high school. It is called “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” It was in my high school text, and I read it. Somewhere or other my father read it. I think it is interesting that of all the religious writings and teachings of the puritans, that one is the one we learn about the puritans with. It is obviously quite ridiculous, and I don’t think the selection of a ridiculous sermon is unintentional.

Sadly, this doesn’t just make people feel derisive of the puritans to whom we own this country’s origins, it also makes them feel derisive of quite a bit of what the scriptures actually do teach, including Christ’s own words about whether or not God will punish the wicked or chastise the righteous. No, many won’t ever say they think what Christ said is wrong, but they don’t seem to believe him either, no matter how blunt he is.

But there is more to the matter than just this. We really, really, don’t like to believe that the Lord punishes people for their transgressions. But here are a few questions:

Would the Lord afflict and sorely chasten a faithful member for holding a grudge?

D&C 64:8 My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.

Would the Lord chasten members for treating his commandments lightly and departing from his ordinances?

We have been chastened by the hand of God heretofore for not obeying His commands, although we never violated any human law, or transgressed any human precept; yet we have treated lightly His commands, and departed from His ordinances, and the Lord has chastened us sore, and we have felt His arm and kissed the rod; let us be wise in time to come and ever remember that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 253)

Would the Lord visit his church members with afflictions for disobedience?

D&C 97:25 Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her.
 26 But if she observe not to do whatsoever I have commanded her, I will visit her according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire.

Regarding the Lord punishing the wicked, one of the least believed of all scriptures is

Moroni 10:22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.

It’s one of those scriptures that one can hardly quote without being corrected. Which is part of what makes it interesting, as the scriptures is certainly true.

Is this scripture reconcilable with the fact that many of the prophets were persecuted and slain and that Christ himself is described as a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief? Absolutely. The scriptures are completely correct. Those people who suffered for their righteousness still had the hope of eternal life. This scripture is about the despair that is felt by those who have no genuine hope of eternal life. It is about those who live their lives so that their spirit cannot genuinely hope for salvation, no matter how it rationalizes the matter, suffer an underlying despair for which there are only short term, frail cover ups. Some of them may even be members whose lives secretly differ from their principles.

Joseph Smith taught: “don’t envy the finery and fleeting show of sinners, for they are in a miserable situation”.


There are some principles about the premortal life that are well worth considering, but are not politically correct to have earned their place in our lessons. This is too bad, because truth is invariably more powerful than error, even if at first that seems like it isn’t the case.

The two victims of political correctness we are gathered to mourn today are:

1. There are blessings in this life that were granted because of actions in the premortal life. In fact, mortality itself was granted on condition of our behavior in the premortal life.
2. What we did yesterday is less important that what we decide to do tomorrow. Alma the younger led a life of rebellion for many years, but then he repented, and became a prophet who was eventually translated. This principle is true in mortality. It is just as true for the premortal life and mortality. What we did yesterday in the premortal life is irrelevant compared to what we are going to do from here on out. All who kept their first estate have the option of choosing to be as good or as bad as they want to be here in mortality.

This second principle is explained in a scriptural pharse: There are many who were first, who shall be last, and many who were last, who shall be first.

We see exactly the same thing in mortality. A man may choose to sin away his life. He may lose every spiritual advantage that would have been opened to him if he had lived righteously. Then he may choose to repent and turn around. He may become as righteous and devoted as he chooses to be. He can change his chosen path to one that leads to exaltation and godhood.

Just so a righteous man can turn from his righteousness. Balam was a prophet, but in the end he taught his people to send their women to seduce the Israelites so that the Lord would not longer bless Israel. For this act of spiritual treachery the Lord ensured he was slain by the Israelites. David was a man who the Lord said was after his own heart. Then David committed adultery and murdered Uriah, and lost his exaltation.

Another scripture lays this same principle out. The Lord promised Abraham he would send his most righteous spirits to be his posterity. Consequently the more righteous spirits were not gentiles, but Israelites. But Nephi has some plain words for those Israelites that think anything in the past counts more than righteous behavior today.

2 Nephi 30:1 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.
 2 For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.

We are fine with the doctrine of a premortal life, and even that all those who followed lucifer suffered terrible, but just, punishment for their actions in the premortal life, becoming perdition.

However, people have a hard time accepting that anything else affecting this life is a result of actions in the premortal life. We live in a day when truth takes a backseat to man’s view of justice all the time.

The scriptures teach that

D&C 130:18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
 19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

This should be coupled with the verses that follow it.

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
 21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

These verse are quite profound and teach that whenever we obtain a blessing from God it is by obedience to the relevant law. This idea is not separate from the previous verses. If we gain “so much advantage” it was because we gained “more knowledge and intelligence” in this life. That is logical. The phrase “you can’t take it with you” doesn’t apply to our spiritual state. As our judgement will represent who we have become, then our spiritual state is the one thing we can be certain that we do take with us.

So what of when we were born here. Was not the same true. Is there any point in sending “the noble and great ones” to be born at a specific time and place if when we are born the same principle that whatever principle of intelligence we attained unto in the premortal life rose with us when we were born. That doesn’t mean that we know how to say it when we are born. But as they grow don’t we see in our own children different principles of goodness that they have acquired peculiar abilities in? And doesn’t it vary from one child to another?

The Lord promised Abraham to send his most righteous spirits to be the descendants of Abraham (and how else could the all the world be blessed by Abraham’s posterity). Can’t we see that there is a converse to this, that those who were most righteous in the premortal life were given promises about the families into which they would be born? Not all were promised the gospel in mortality, some where called to prepare a free nation. But there are still two sides to this coin: the promises we receive about our posterity, and the promises our posterity received about us. We cannot be saved without our fathers, and nor without our posterity, and neither of them can be saved without us. Sure, there are ways the Lord works things out for those whose fathers rebelled, or whose posterity rebels, but there is no reason to let the exception wash out our perception of the rule.

All good and true principles

This is a follow up to my post about Christ speaking on official church doctrine, in which I observed that according to the Savior the church can apparently have an “official” position that just represents the hardness of the hearts of the members, but the spiritual consequences still remain. There is plenty of law of Moses that testifies of that truth. It should be added that, that in his day Christ was the head of the church of course. But his statement about the official position on divorce under the law of Moses being because of the hardness of their hearts, as well as the spiritually damaging consequences, were as true when he said them as they had been for the preceding many hundreds of years.

I wrote that post because it is interesting to have that pointed out by the Savior. I also pointed it out because there has been a belief more and more among members that their duty is to learn whatever constitutes the official doctrines of the church. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Which may sound good at first, but it is utter bunk.

If that were true, we shouldn’t read the scriptures. We should instead read the church sanctioned Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Once we know everything in there, we can read the prophet’s talks in the conference Ensigns since it was published, and we will be done. We know all the official doctrine of the church. Case closed.

This runs strongly counter to what is portrayed in the lives of faithful members in all ages past.

The scriptures DO teach to follow the living prophet.

The scriptures DO teach to search the scriptures.

The scriptures DO teach how to discern truth from error.

But scriptures DO NOT teach the modern role of “official” doctrine as it exists in the minds of many members.

And the idea that our obligation with regards to truth isn’t to ask, seek, and knock but to instead carefully enumerate which ideas can be justifiably called “official” church doctrine actually runs severely contrary to the scriptures.

The idea of “official” doctrine appears to probably have been coined originally with the intent of bringing some member around to accept basic doctrines. Which is good.

But the notion has taken a life of its own in the hands of some of the membership and the term “official doctrine” in its current incarnation is used far more frequently for evil than for good.

This switch from asking “what is true” to asking “what is official” is one of the most standard ways that members in the church are convinced to discard anything and everything found in such wonderful church works as “Doctrines of Salvation” by Joseph Fielding Smith, or “Mormon Doctrine” by Bruce R McConkie. Quite clearly these members do not discard these tremendous writings because they have already gleaned all the truth those books had to offer and are ready for more. This is typical of the life the word “official” has taken in the church these days. It has been twisted into a tool for rejecting good teachings. In fact, many of the modern “official” crowd will even object to my calling such books “church works” since they aren’t “official” publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Which is ridiculous. We aren’t obligated to accept every word of them, but the sheer quantity of truth contained in them is tremendous and that truth is about the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rejecting an enormous amount of truth because it isn’t all guaranteed to be perfect is exactly the life “official” has taken to itself. When those authors wrote books, they had no question they were writing church books.

The shift from “what is true” to “what is official” has also started to be turned against even basic truths, as many basic truths of gospel living were tacitly assumed as universal truth, and sometimes finding a good source that is “official” enough can be difficult in these days. These tend to be fundamental truths about family, gender, marriage, intimacy and children. The shift also enables enemies of truth to argue over just exactly how official any statements made by the brethren are. By moving the argument away from truth and into the realm of a sort of doctrinal bureaucracy they dramatically increase their ability to obscure and discard truth. Discussion of doctrine is shifted from discussions about actual doctrine to a debate about what is official. Even discussion on the Proclamation of the Family degenerate into what is official and what isn’t, instead of truth being taught. We are becoming experts on bureaucracy, but not experts in doctrine.

We are also becoming experts at collecting quotes, but not experts at gaining the understanding that allowed the original speaker to make the quote in the first place. After all, if you can’t say anything that hasn’t been already said, there really isn’t any point in trying to root out the basic principles anymore, is there? What purpose is there to gaining the depth of understanding that allow a speaker to say something if you are only going to quote exactly what he said in the first place anyway?

But in reality, our leaders are not trying to put words in our mouths, but to put the gospel in our minds and hearts. They want us to gain the same spiritual knowledge that would have allowed us to have said the same things for ourselves, independently, in the first place. The move to an obsession with quotes and “official” doctrine is a move away from understanding principles and becoming independent witnesses for truth. It is a move away from what our leaders are actually try to lead us towards.

It is typified by passing around quotes, but without ever thinking about them. There are many profound statements that have been made, but we don’t ponder them, we just pass them around like desktop calendar quotes, or inspirational ideas.

But not only are there profound statements made, there are many things that cannot be taught sufficiently with a single statement. Not every good idea fits inside an internet meme or a twitter post, or even in a quote brief enough to be cited in an article or online discussion.

Some people are so attached to this notion of “official” that if one even speaks against it they immediately conclude that one no longer believes in following the prophet. The scriptures teach that we should follow the prophets. That is foundational truth. But the commandment to ask, seek and knock, is not about enumerating which teachings can justifiably be termed “official” doctrine.

We have the gift of the Holy Ghost for crying out loud.

We have the light of Christ, which, according to the scriptures, we can search diligently in to determine whether anything is right or wrong, and know with a perfect knowledge what is right, and what is wrong.

Shifting from “what is official” back to the scriptural approach of searching for truth brings discussions to the heart of what is being taught instead of a quagmire of who has a quote from the Ensign, and who has one from a CES fireside, or  from a book, or from general conference, or whether the speaker was an apostle or not when the statement was made. Or whether what was said in a more official source is sufficient to justify a slightly different case as official. Or debating the precise scope of a statement that was clearly very official. Or whether a very large number of less official sources is enough to state that something really is part of our official doctrine. Or any other spiritual bologna which all derive from changing our search for truth from “ask, seek, and knock” to “what is official”?

There was only one group in the scriptures as concerned about what was official was we now are, and it isn’t one we want to be emulating. It was the Pharisees. Now don’t get me wrong. Speaking collectively we are definitely not emulating the Pharisees in our moral and spiritual practices. We are, speaking collectively, a group of followers of Jesus Christ. However, our doctrinal practices are taking more and more of a leaning in the Pharisee’s direction. And sadly, as this mindset becomes more part of our thinking, the obsession with what is official is providing a tool for some to actually follow in the Phariee’s footsteps and justify in committing sin in action and thought if they can find a loophole in the doctrinal bureaucracy.

We have replaced what the scriptures taught with something much less spiritually useful. And many of our number have taken this so to heart they have branded the approach portrayed by the scriptures as heresy. They want to claim that you if you don’t like the obsession with “official” doctrine, it must be because you disagree with official doctrine. As there are many who actually do disagree with our doctrine, they mentally toss you into that boat.

But the real problem is that “official” is the wrong question altogether. Our obsession should be with asking, seeking, and knocking. It should be an obsession with truth itself.

If truth is our real pursuit, then we will drink freely from the words of the living prophets and apostles. We will be thrilled that we have living prophets and apostles. We will also drink deeply from the scriptures and the temple.

Ironically, those obsessed with whether something is “official” generally take a very limited view of what that might include. General conference talks by Brigham Young? For many of these people, those are not “official” doctrine. Statements of the first presidency previous to the last 50 years? No thank you, still not official. Sometimes not even “official statements of the first presidency”. In fact, while I won’t go into specifics, it is interesting how many people obsessed with official doctrine like to throw away unpopular teachings of the brethren as not “official” enough, without having any idea of the weight of the prophetic words that have stood in favor of them. Just not in their lifetime. So it must not be “official” doctrine.

Yes, we follow the prophet. He is the Lord’s living oracle. Yes, we sustain the prophet and the twelve as prophets, seers and revelators and the only men with the right to lead the church. That is a foundational principle. And if truth is what you are after, then that is a foundational truth. You drink deeply from their teachings. You also drink deeply from the scriptures and the temple, which are the fountainhead. If truth is what you are after, those are truths you start with.

Joseph Smith taught:

Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true “Mormons.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 316)

Apparently, to be a true Mormon we are accountable for recognizing whatever good and true principles we run into. Note that these were religious ideas Joseph Smith was speaking about.

We are apparently accountable to simply accept truth.

That kind of flies in the face of those obsessed with only accepting or teaching what is “official”. According to Joseph Smith, they aren’t even true Mormons.

So if the baptists have some truth, and we should accept what truth they have, and if the Methodists have some truth, and we should accept what truth they have, then it also follows that when we hear truth taught by any member, we are obligated to accept it. This is not particularly different than what the scriptures teach:

D&C 68:3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.
5 Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.

There you have it. An official statement from an official source of what constitutes our official doctrine. If someone speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, we are obligated to accept it. It is officially official. More importantly, it is true. If you want an official doctrine, there is one right there. Our official doctrine is that whatever a man teaches by the Holy Ghost is our official doctrine. We are obligated to accept whatever truths are taught by the power of the Holy Ghost. Put differently, all such teachings constitute part of our official doctrine.

But wait, don’t we only turn to the brethren for revelation? Aren’t they the only one’s who receive revelation for the church? Yes. But there is a huge difference between revelation with a capital R, and revelation with a small r.

What is discussed above in D&C 68 is revelation with a small r. In fact, if someone speaks truth from a different church that doesn’t even have the Holy Ghost, then according to Joseph Smith, to come out true “Mormons” we should gather whatever good and true principles they offered. If we have that obligation, we certainly also have the obligation to accept whatever is taught by the Holy Ghost, exactly as outlined in D&C 68:4 above.

If someone comes forward with a vision or marvelous manifestation that they want to make public, that is revelation with a capital R. Those are given to the church only through those with the proper authority. Otherwise what a mess we would be in. Everyone and anyone that claimed to come forth with a revelation from God would have to be considered and weighed to determine what was divine manifestation and what was not. After all, there is nothing more perfect than a direct revelation from God. If God speaks directly, that is as perfect as it gets.

There is a great difference between these two types of revelation. We can determine what was taught by the Holy Ghost. We may even determine that part of what someone said was spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost, but that some other portions weren’t.

The revelations with a captial R are very different. If we accept them, we have to accept them whole hog. We have to accept them absolutely as being on the same par as the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. If the Lord speaks personally, we accept his words as perfect.

Thus there is a huge difference in our obligation in the two cases.

And consequently there is a huge difference in how the Lord dispenses the two. Any member can speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and we are obligated to accept what truth is taught under the influence of the spirit. We may even find that we learn truth this way that wasn’t stated by the original speaker – more is conveyed than what he had in mind. We may find it was stated imperfectly but that the Holy Ghost, which conveys it to us, clarifies the meaning and frames it more perfectly than the original speaker was able to state.

However, only those who are called are authorized to received revelation with a big R for the church. We sustain them as prophets, seers, and revelators. That is because such revelations have to be either accepted or rejected whole Hog. This is also because, if such a revelation is accepted as true, such revelations have to be accepted as being perfect as God is perfect, on equal standing with the scriptures.

Joseph Smith taught by the power of the Holy Ghost, but he was blunt that there was a difference, an enormous gap, between his teaching and the revelations he had. Joseph Smith taught in the school of the prophets. But he didn’t want his teachings there put on par with the revelations he received. He confessed that he was flawed, but stated that there was no flaw to be found in the revelations he had. The revelations he had were revelations with a big R. They are perfect as God is perfect. Someone could not take just part of one of these revelations and accept it, but think the rest was error. Each was either an entirely perfect truth, or entirely deception.

Thank goodness God calls men as prophets, seers, and revelators for his church. We can and must discard revelations and marvelous manifestations published by others than those he has called.

Most of the teachings of the brethren in this dispensation are revelation with a small r. There is nothing wrong with that. The Holy Ghost can lead the brethren what to say or do and that is a perfectly fine way for Christ to lead his church by revelation. If we have any question why there has not been given more revelation with a capital R, we need only turn to the existing revelations to find the answer.

D&C 84:54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
 55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
 58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

Put differently, if we really haven’t accepted and lived up to the big R revelations we have already received there is not reason for us to receive more. Frankly, I don’t think we are living up to many of the small r revelations we receive each general conference either. What sort of questions do groups of members come to the brethren with these days? Are they the results of many members asking, seeking and knocking for truth? No, so far, they are all the result of looking so much to the world that they wonder why the church can’t be more babylonian. The most recent questions to arise from a significant number of the membership seem to be things like: “Can women have the priesthood?” and “Is homosexuality really morally wrong?”.  Universally in my lifetime the doctrinal questions posed by enough members for the brethren to answer in conference have been questions like these questioning our already existing doctrines. What need is there for further big R revelation when all we can come up with to ask is whether the existing revelations are really all that necessary? Let us follow both types of revelation we receive now, and have already received in the past. It is by faith and obedience that the Lord leads us into greater light and knowledge.

D&C 132 use of the word Virgin

Just a small note on the use of the word Virgin in D&C 132.

Virgin is probably less an emphasis on being chaste (as it would occur to those reading in our day where immorality is sort of a norm) as much as an emphasis as not already having been married before. From what I can tell so far there is far less of an emphasis on chastity in conference talks in, say, the 1940s because that was tacitly assumed as part of being decent, instead there was more talk about the word of wisdom and honesty.

To older era ears, virginity may have been more fairly interpreted as a reference to previous marital status.

There is a J of D talk by Brigham Young addressing men who were teaching false doctrine to widows to get them to seal them to themselves (men telling widows to marry and be sealed to themselves so they could be sealed and have exaltation – proxy sealing apparently really did require a descendent something similar in those days, not just any old member). He said those men who had so tricked a widow not have those women in the resurrection, rather, their faithful first husbands would.

Looking down on the ancient apostles

Christ’s challenge to us

When we hear Christ admonish his disciples for lack of faith, instead of feeling like those apostles haven’t yet reached our own personal stature, we need to consider what Christ considered someone who had faith like a mustard seed to be capable of.

Luke 17: 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

If we were there with them, would Christ have changed his correction from “why are ye of little faith” to “Peter, why don’t you have the faith of brother so-and-so standing here next to me?”

Definitely not.

When we read Christ tell Peter to strengthen his brethren when Peter is converted, we need to ask whether we are converted enough to cast out devils and heal in the name of Jesus in the same miraculous way Christ’s apostles were known for doing. We need to ask whether we have faith to walk on water, or to say to a sycamine tree “Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea;” and it would obey us. If not, we should read these corrections to the ancient apostles as applying equally well to us, as we do not yet have faith like a grain of mustard seed, and we are not yet truly converted.