The Fifth Mission

The Fifth Mission

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Preach My Gospel

LDS missionaries study and use the book titled Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service. It's online here.

It's an outstanding guide, but there's an interesting aspect of it.

The book never uses the word Zion.

This strikes me as a strange omission.

In several places the guide encourages missionaries to refer to Moroni 10:3-5 when they teach investigators about prayer and how to gain their own testimony of the Book of Mormon. Lesson 2 suggests investigators read chapter 10 because "Moroni invites all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him." Lesson 3 cites Moroni 10:7.

Chapter 4 of the Guide is titled "How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?" It explains, "In Moroni’s concluding testimony, he wrote “a few words by way of exhortation” (Moroni 10:2). Read Moroni 10 and write in your own words what Moroni exhorts the reader of the Book of Mormon to do." Later, that chapter encourages missionaries to read Moroni 10:8-18 to understand the gifts of the Spirit.

But nowhere does the guide discuss or even mention Moroni's summary of the global purpose of missionary work, found in verse 31: "31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled."

It seems to me that missionaries ought to know that Joseph Smith said, "We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object."

This ultimate objective would give more coherence to the missionary message. Yes, we teach people about the restoration, the plan of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the commandments and the laws and ordinances, but to what end?

In verses 31 and 32, Moroni explains clearly the objectives are to (i) establish Zion and (ii) come unto Christ and be perfected in him. After all, Moroni sealed the book with these words.

Everything else the missionaries teach leads to those objectives.

Wouldn't it be clearer for both missionaries and investigators (and members) to have this two-fold objective spelled out the way Moroni expressed it?

I would include the establishment of Zion and coming unto Christ in every one of the lessons.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

If ye are not one

One oft-quoted scripture on the topic of consensus is this:

"I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine." D&C 38:27

I've heard this quoted many times to support the idea that people should agree on doctrinal matters, including interpretations of geography of the Book of Mormon and Church history. And that's fine, provided the agreement is on something that is true.

But look at the first part of the verse:

"Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine."

What is the Lord referring to here?

Verse 26 is the parable, but it refers,in turn, to the preceding verses.

Verse 26: "For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?"

In the preceding verses, the Lord explains that he created the Earth, that he has taken "the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom," and that "all flesh is corrupted before me, and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth." 

Then the Lord says, "And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons. And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.... And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself."

This principle is so important that the Lord repeats it twice, right before giving the parable of the unjust father.

In my view, Section 38 teaches about the basic Zion principle of equality; i.e., it is not just that some people are rich while others are poor. The Lord clarifies that he has made the rich; they may think they have "earned" it and therefore "deserve" it, but it is God who has given them the gifts and opportunities to become rich. 

A few months later, on June 15, 1831, the Lord explained further. 

"Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!"

The parable of the unjust father who tells one son to be clothed in robes while the other must be clothed in rags applies to the Latter-day Saints who seek to establish Zion. 

The Lord has told us that he has made the rich, and he has told the rich that they must give their substance to the poor. Enabling some of his children to create wealth is the Lord's way of providing for the poor. As D&C 104 puts it, "this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low."

This is what D&C 38 means. 

And to the extent that we fall short of becoming one in terms of wealth, we are not His.