I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 7: Korihor and Secularism

Korihor's philosophy outlined in the immediate prior post has a modern equivalent. It is called secularism. In all my academic experience, outside of BYU, secularism required no definition or justification. It was always assumed to underlie everything we were doing or discussing.

For this blog, I'll let some Church leaders define and explain it:

Elder James E. Faust:
Secularism is expanding in much of the world today. Secularism is defined as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.” Secularism does not accept many things as absolutes. Its principal objectives are pleasure and self-interest.

From Elder Robert D. Hales:
As prophesied, we live in a time when the darkness of secularism is deepening around us. Belief in God is widely questioned and even attacked in the name of political, social, and even religious causes. Atheism, or the doctrine that there is no God, is fast spreading across the world.
The best topic discussion can be found in Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1974 address, "Eternalism vs. Secularism." In it, Maxwell points out that embracing secularism leave you with no purpose in life but pleasure:
[S]ecularism simply seems to assign a higher value to leisure. Though we all need some leisure, secularism often finds itself trying to reduce the necessity for work without showing corresponding concern as to the purposes to which leisure time should be put—except more idleness or pleasure-seeking.
For Mormons, Korihor and his secular philosophy is easily dismissed, except for one aspect of it in verse 17:
[E]very man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

One of the things that so bothered me in my management training and beyond was how untrue this statement was. Numerous people either succeed or failed on the basis of sheer dumb luck. 

People who should have succeeded, often didn't and people who had no right to succeed, often did.

We are not entirely in control of our own destinies. Forces outside of us, both good (Heavenly Father) and bad (Satan) can affect what happens to us.

But, eternalism will ultimately triumph over secularism.

(This post is late due to upheaval in my personal circumstances.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 6: Korihor

Korihor is the second Antichrist in the Book of Mormon. See the video above and read Alma 30: 6-60.

In a nutshell, Korihor began teaching his particular philosophy that countered the true Gospel of Christ. He was able to persuade others to adopt it. Because the law only punished action, not belief, there wasn't much that could be done about him. The Ammonites wouldn't listen to him and had him ejected from their lands. Korihor went on to greener pastures. He contended with secular and church leaders demanding that he be given a sign from God. He was struck dumb. He asked for his punishment to be reversed insisting he was a changed man. He was refused. He took up life as a beggar and died in an accident.

What is interesting for our purposes is what Korihor was teaching. Many of his philosophies are present today:

There is no Christ.
No one can know the future.
So-called "prophecies" are just foolish traditions.
You can't know something unless you see it.
People who believe in religion are mentally deranged.
We control our lives here. There is no influence from any other power.
There isn't any "sin" per se. You can do what you want to do.
Religion isn't freeing. It's bondage.
Religious leaders are just trying to exert power and authority over you and keep you ignorant.
You can't know if something is true or not.
You can't know Christ will come.
Religious leaders are just trying to oppress people and get rich off of them.
Religious leaders just like directing people based on their own whims.
God doesn't exist now and never has.

I'll evaluate the modern relevance of Korihor's teachings and tactics in future posts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 5: Modern Priestcraft in Mormondom

Modern day priestcraft is most easily identified amongst those who teach. Learners SHOULD emerge from a lesson NOT thinking that the teacher's wonderful, but that the gospel is.
Focusing on the needs of the students, a gospel teacher will never obscure their view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in priestcrafts, which are "that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world" (2 Ne. 26:29). A gospel teacher does not preach "to become popular" (Alma 1:3) or "for the sake of riches and honor" (Alma 1:16). He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which "the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner" (Alma 1:26). Both will always look to the Master. Dallin H. Oaks, "Gospel Teaching," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 78.
Elder Oaks set the stage for this caution much earlier in an address entitled, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," Ensign, Oct. 1994. This is from an address previously given at BYU.
Another illustration of a strength that can become our downfall concerns charismatic teachers. With a trained mind and a skillful manner of presentation, teachers can become unusually popular and effective in teaching. But Satan will try to use that strength to corrupt teachers by encouraging them to gather a following of disciples. . . .Teachers who are most popular, and therefore most effective, have a special susceptibility to priestcraft. If they are not careful, their strength can become their spiritual downfall. They can become like Almon Babbitt, with whom the Lord was not pleased, because “he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church; and he setteth up a golden calf for the worship of my people” (D&C 124:84). 
I think the most poignant comment comes from Elder David A. Bednar in an address originally given to Seminary and Institute instructors:
[W]e must be careful to remember in our service that we are conduits and channels; we are not the light. “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:20). It is never about me and it is never about you. In fact, anything you or I do as an instructor that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self—in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor—is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost. “Doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God” (D&C 50:17–18). David A. Bednar, "Seek Learning by Faith," February 3, 2006, Address to CES Religious Educators, Jordan Institute of Religion.
Elder Bednar's instruction tells us how we can avoid priestcraft in any of our church callings. We should never inject ourselves into what we are doing. This simply distracts from the Spirit and focuses attention on where it shouldn't be -- ourselves. Keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to inject a comment into someone's lesson or dialog, especially if the comment is about yourself.

I've done some video and slide show presentations for some gatherings and conferences. With the above quotes and instruction in mind, I deliberately did not put my name on any of these projects. No one viewing them would know I had anything to do with them. 

It's not my universe. It's not my world. It's not my gospel. It's not my church. It's not my program. Why should I seek the glory for it? Doesn't the glory rest with Heavenly Father? We should never seek any glory no matter what our calling in the church is.

If the Spirit touches people because of you, you are merely a temporary conduit. Heavenly Father is working through you. You should never seek any glory because of it because you deserve no such glory.

This is a sobering subject. You should intentionally keep your profile as low as you can to avoid the sin of priestcraft.

Remember what President Gordon B. Hinckley said on the subject:

It is so very important that you do not let praise and adulation go to your head. Adulation is poison. You better never lose sight of the fact that the Lord put you where you are according to His design, which you don't understand. Acknowledge the Lord for whatever good you can accomplish and give Him the credit and the glory and (do) not worry about that coming to yourself. If you can do that, you'll get along all right and will go forward with a love for the people and a great respect for them and try to accomplish what your office demands of you.

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 10: A New Theory of Sherem 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Antichrists in The Book of Mormon: Part 4: Priestcraft, Cashing in on Mormondom

Most management scholars are ticked off at Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Why? It is very simple really. They feel he took some basic gospel principles, knowable to everyone, packaged them neatly and made a fortune from doing so. And, they're ticked off they didn't think of it first. . .

In priestcraft, people set themselves up as a light to the world, seek popularity, financial gain, power and influence, etc.

Many people have, and are, cashing in on Mormondom.

Mormondom is rife with people writing books, holding conferences, traveling the lecture circuit, making recordings, videos and multiple other efforts. Very little of it actually builds the Kingdom. Most of it goes into the heads, egos and pocketbooks of a few select people. They are simply Mormon celebrities.

How many Christmas gifts will you receive or give that fit into this category?

Isn't it awfully arrogant to assume the gospel of Christ needs to be subsidized by us and our efforts?

Isn't most of the religious kitsch available in Mormondom basically purposeless? Do we really need all those pictures, doilies, widget's and thing-a-ma-jigs?

Granted, some of it has a purpose. I have a wheat grinder, mixer and some other tools to preserve my memories for posterity, for example. But, what are the real motives of most of the people and entities that hawk this stuff? What were the real motives of the money-changers that Jesus cast out of the temple?

If your primary market is Mormondom then maybe your activities are suspect.

Products like herbs and supplements capitalize on the Word of Wisdom. Is it strange that Utah is the heart of this industry? Hardly. Would crafts be so popular if Relief Society didn't exist? The food storage and emergency preparedness industry also ties it's popularity to Mormon beliefs.

What would happen to certain Book of Mormon tours and other services if we really knew where the city of Zarahemla was actually located? Is it good for your entire occupation to be tied to one theory of geography? Could you let go of your livelihood it your efforts were proven wrong? Would it harm your testimony?

How much of all this is just simply greed?

It's not just religious activities. Many people use their church positions to influence worldly ventures. Affinity fraud is probably the best example. People cash in on the Church in many different ways.

People use the Church to sell the "eliteness" or "specialness" of their own product or service. And boy do Mormons buy it and buy it and buy it.

We should be praying in Church, not preying on it.

So, take a good look at what you, yourself buy and do. Maybe it is time for some personal course correction.