Religion / Theology

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Navigator
Posts: 775
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:15 pm

Words of a Righteous Leader

Post by Navigator »

A couple of hundred years following the trek of Lehi and his family to the Americas, their decendents has broken up into rival kingdoms.

One of these kingdoms was led by King Benjamin, who was not only the political leader of his nation, but also a righteous man and a prophet. He became king at the death of his father, King Mosiah.

The following is most of a speech/sermon given by King Benjamin, who is abdicating the throne in favor of his son, who he named after his own father, Mosiah. This is found in the record made by this son, who today would be referred to as Mosiah II. Note in the speech the centrality of Christ and his atonement to the gospel, and our charge to serve one another.

Book of Mosiah, Chapters 2 (starting with verse 9) and 3

CHAPTER 2

9 And these are the words which he [King Benjamin] spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.
10 I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.
11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.
12 I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you;
13 Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you—
14 And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.
15 Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.
16 Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
18 Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?
19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.
26 And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust. And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth.
27 Therefore, as I said unto you that I had served you, walking with a clear conscience before God, even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you.
28 I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.
29 And moreover, I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might declare unto you that I can no longer be your teacher, nor your king;
30 For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you; but the Lord God doth support me, and hath suffered me that I should speak unto you, and hath commanded me that I should declare unto you this day, that my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you.
31 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should do as ye have hitherto done. As ye have kept my commandments, and also the commandments of my father, and have prospered, and have been kept from falling into the hands of your enemies, even so if ye shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him, ye shall prosper in the land, and your enemies shall have no power over you.
32 But, O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit, which was spoken of by my father Mosiah.
33 For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.
34 I say unto you, that there are not any among you, except it be your little children that have not been taught concerning these things, but what knoweth that ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have and are; and also have been taught concerning the records which contain the prophecies which have been spoken by the holy prophets, even down to the time our father, Lehi, left Jerusalem;
35 And also, all that has been spoken by our fathers until now. And behold, also, they spake that which was commanded them of the Lord; therefore, they are just and true.
36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—
37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.
38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.
39 And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.
40 O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.
41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

CHAPTER 3
1 And again my brethren, I would call your attention, for I have somewhat more to speak unto you; for behold, I have things to tell you concerning that which is to come.
2 And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me.
3 And he said unto me: Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.
4 For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.
5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
10 And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.
12 But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
13 And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.
14 Yet the Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses.
15 And many signs, and wonders, and types, and shadows showed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also holy prophets spake unto them concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood.
16 And even if it were possible that little children could sin they could not be saved; but I say unto you they are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins.
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.
22 And even at this time, when thou shalt have taught thy people the things which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, even then are they found no more blameless in the sight of God, only according to the words which I have spoken unto thee.
23 And now I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me.
24 And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.
25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.
26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever.
27 And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.

Navigator
Posts: 775
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:15 pm

Christ's Mission and Atonement

Post by Navigator »

In the Book of Mormon, in contrast to the kingdom led by King Benjamin and Mosiah (see my previous post), is the kingdom of King Noah. King Noah was wicked, and this influenced his people to forget God and his commandments. A prophet named Abinidi was sent to these people. He was accused of sedition and is brought to trial for that and blasphemy. The following is his testimony before he is found guilty by the King and executed.

This testimony is of Christ, his mission, and the Atonement.


Book of Mosiah, Chapter 15

1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—
3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—
4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.
6 And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—
9 Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.
10 And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?
11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
12 For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?
13 Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed.
14 And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!
15 And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet!
16 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!
17 And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!
18 And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people;
19 For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished.
20 But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.
21 And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called.
22 And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.
23 They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.
24 And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.
25 And little children also have eternal life.
26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.
27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.
28 And now I say unto you that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
29 Yea, Lord, thy watchmen shall lift up their voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
30 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
31 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Book of Mosiah, Chapter 16
1 And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.
2 And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not.
3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.
4 Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state.
5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.
6 And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.
7 And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
10 Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—
11 If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—
12 Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.
13 And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?
14 Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come—
15 Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.

Navigator
Posts: 775
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:15 pm

Christ's Church, attributes and membership expectations

Post by Navigator »

A priest working for King Noah heard Abinidi and was greatly moved. This priest's name was Alma. He tried to stop Abinidi's execution, but failed and was forced to flee to save his own life.

He repents of his own sins, and begins to secretly preach to others in a distant part of the kingdom. There, he re-establishes a Church of Christ.

The following is notable in that it defines the creed and practices of Christ's Church, and of the membership expectations of those that belong or wish to belong to it.

Book of Mosiah, Chapter 18


1 And now, it came to pass that Alma, who had fled from the servants of king Noah, repented of his sins and iniquities, and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi—
2 Yea, concerning that which was to come, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the redemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
3 And as many as would hear his word he did teach. And he taught them privately, that it might not come to the knowledge of the king. And many did believe his words.
4 And it came to pass that as many as did believe him did go forth to a place which was called Mormon, having received its name from the king, being in the borders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts.
5 Now, there was in Mormon a fountain of pure water, and Alma resorted thither, there being near the water a thicket of small trees, where he did hide himself in the daytime from the searches of the king.
6 And it came to pass that as many as believed him went thither to hear his words.
7 And it came to pass after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did teach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.
12 And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.
13 And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.
14 And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.
15 And again, Alma took another, and went forth a second time into the water, and baptized him according to the first, only he did not bury himself again in the water.
16 And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God.
17 And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.
18 And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
19 And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.
20 Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
22 And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.
23 And he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.
24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained should labor with their own hands for their support.
25 And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together.
26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.
27 And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.
28 And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.
29 And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.
30 And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

Navigator
Posts: 775
Joined: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:15 pm

Book of Mormon - proof of a Restoration of Lost Truth

Post by Navigator »

I have been posting selections from the Book of Mormon for multiple reasons. First is to show how it enhances our understanding of Jesus Christ and his Atonement. Second is to show that it compliments the Bible, and that it clears up many of the controversies that have arisen over the ages due to different interpretations of the bible.

But just as important as these reasons, the Book of Mormon is the test, the touchstone, as to whether or not the man who translated it was a prophet or not.

I do believe that much of the truth was lost from Christ's gospel during the years following the deaths of his Apostles. These truths, lost so long ago, could only be returned to mankind the way that God has always dealt with mankind, through prophets (btw, Apostles are also prophets, as they received direct revelation from Christ as to how to run his church - the great example being Peter and the change to allow Gentiles into his church).

I posted the following on another thread, but also wanted to post it here:

So the question is about "Who has authority from God"? I agree that this question is CRUCIAL to religion, as it is fundamentally important to be able to distinguish between someone who is voicing their personal opinions and beliefs (as Luther stated he was doing) versus someone who is speaking on God's behalf.

Those that speak on God's behalf are his prophets. Whenever God has something to tell the human race, he tells a prophet who then disseminates the message. People do not get to self-select to be prophets. God calls THEM. He gives them the authority to act in his name (they thus hold the keys of God's priesthood).

Prophets are not just in the Old Testament. Peter and the other Apostles of the New Testament also received revelation and guidance directly from God.

I believe that after the Apostles of the New Testament died off that revelation from God ceased and that the authority to act in God's name was taken from the earth due to the wickedness of people. I would refer to this period as the Dark Ages / the Great Apostacy.

The Great Apostasy

After the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted the Apostles and Church members and killed many of them. With the death of the Apostles, priesthood keys and the presiding priesthood authority were taken from the earth. The Apostles had kept the doctrine of the gospel pure and maintained the order and standard of worthiness for Church members. Without the Apostles, over time the doctrine was corrupted, and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances, such as baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth. Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. Important parts of the doctrine of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. The priesthood authority given to Christ’s Apostles was no longer present on the earth. This apostasy eventually led to the emergence of many churches.

After centuries of spiritual darkness, truth-seeking men and women protested against current religious practices. They recognized that much of the doctrine and many of the ordinances of the gospel had been changed or lost. They sought for greater spiritual light, and many spoke of the need for a restoration of truth. None of these people claimed, however, that God had called them to be a prophet. Instead, they tried to reform teachings and practices that they believed had been changed or corrupted. Their efforts led to the organization of many Protestant churches. This Reformation resulted in an increased emphasis on religious freedom, which opened the way for the final Restoration.

The Savior’s Apostles foretold this universal apostasy. They also foretold that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church would be restored once more upon the earth.

The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith

When the circumstances were right, Heavenly Father once again reached out to His children in love. He called a young man named Joseph Smith as a prophet. Through him the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth.

Joseph Smith lived in the United States, which was perhaps the only country to enjoy religious freedom at the time. It was at a time of great religious excitement in the eastern United States. His family members were deeply religious and constantly sought for truth. But many ministers claimed to have the true gospel. Joseph desired “to know which of all the sects was right”. The Bible taught there was “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Joseph attended different churches, but he remained confused about which church he should join. He later wrote:

“So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was … to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. … In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

As Joseph sought truth among the different faiths, he turned to the Bible for guidance. He read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Because of this passage, Joseph decided to ask God what he should do. In the spring of 1820 he went to a nearby grove of trees and knelt in prayer. We have four different accounts of what followed, recorded by him or scribes under his direction. In one account, he described his experience:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”.

In this vision God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith. The Savior told Joseph not to join any of the churches, for they “were all wrong” and “all their creeds were an abomination.” He stated, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof”. Even though many good people believed in Christ and tried to understand and teach His gospel, they did not have the fulness of truth or the priesthood authority to baptize and perform other saving ordinances. They had inherited a state of apostasy as each generation was influenced by what the previous one passed on, including changes in the doctrine and in ordinances such as baptism. As God had done with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other prophets, He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet through whom the fulness of the gospel was restored to the earth.

After the appearance of the Father and the Son, other heavenly messengers, or angels, were sent to Joseph Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery. John the Baptist appeared and conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood, which includes the authority to perform the ordinance of baptism. Peter, James, and John (three of Christ’s original Apostles) appeared and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, restoring the same authority given to Christ’s Apostles anciently. With this priesthood authority, Joseph Smith was directed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. Through him, Jesus Christ called twelve Apostles.

The time in which we live is referred to by Bible prophets as the last days, the latter days, or the dispensation of the fulness of times. It is the period of time just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is the final dispensation. This is why the Church is named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A living prophet directs the Church today. This prophet, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. He and the present Apostles trace their authority to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations through Joseph Smith.

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Knowing that doubt, disbelief, and misinformation would remain after centuries of darkness, our loving Heavenly Father brought forth an ancient volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible, which contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. This volume of holy scripture provides convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. This record is the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith was directed by a heavenly messenger named Moroni to a hill where golden plates had lain hidden for centuries. These golden plates contained the writings of prophets giving an account of God’s dealings with some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. Joseph Smith translated the contents of these plates by the power of God. The prophets in the Book of Mormon knew about the mission of the Savior and taught His gospel. After His Resurrection, Christ appeared to these people. He taught them His gospel and established His Church. The Book of Mormon proves that “God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:11). In order to know that the Book of Mormon is true, a person must read it and ponder and pray about it. The honest seeker of truth will soon come to feel that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon are critical for an enduring conversion. Those who begin reading the Book of Mormon for the first time take important steps toward coming to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the true Church has been restored to the earth.

Pray to Know the Truth through the Holy Ghost

This message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is either true or it is not. We can know that it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost, as promised in Moroni 10:3–5. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... &id=3-5#p3

Consistent study of the scriptures (particularly the Book of Mormon), regular church attendance, and sincere prayer help us feel the power of the Holy Ghost and discover truth. After reading and pondering the message of the Book of Mormon, any who desire to know the truth must ask our Heavenly Father in prayer in the name of Jesus Christ if it is true.

Because God is our Father and we are His children, He will help us recognize truth. When we pray with faith, sincerity, and real intent—a commitment to act on the answers we receive—God will answer our questions, guide our lives, and help us make good decisions.

When we pray, we address our Heavenly Father. We thank Him for our blessings and ask to know that the message of the Book of Mormon is true. No one can know of spiritual truths without prayer.

In answer to our prayers, the Holy Ghost will teach us truth through our feelings and thoughts. Feelings that come from the Holy Ghost are powerful, but they are also usually gentle and quiet. As we begin to feel that what we are learning is true, we will desire to know all that we can about the Restoration.

Knowing that the Book of Mormon is true leads to a knowledge that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through him.

Prayer
• Address our Heavenly Father (“Our Father in Heaven, …”).
• Express the feelings of your heart (gratitude, questions, requests to confirm that the Book of Mormon is true, and so on).
• Close (“In the name of Jesus Christ, amen”).

John
Posts: 11185
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:10 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA USA
Contact:

*** The Theology of Judaism

Post by John »

Saturday, December 17, 2022

The following was posted in another thread.
It's being reposted because of its relevance
to this thread.

*** The Theology of Judaism

The following is from my original 2003
book on Generational Dynamics:

&&2 Judaism and the Spread of Christianity

Great ideas are born during awakenings,
and frequently they're spread (or
extinguished) during crisis wars. Now
we're going to look at another great
idea, born during an awakening, and
spread throughout the world for
millennia to come -- the ministry of
Jesus Christ and the spread of
Christianity.

It's impossible to understand Jesus
Christ without first understanding the
history of Judaism, as well as the
unique qualities of Jews that have
caused them to excel at whatever they
did -- the same qualities that have led
them to be the targets of attack by
other civilizations throughout the
centuries.

&&3 Judaism and Diaspora

The seminal crisis war that set the
pattern for Hebrew life for millennia to
come occurred somewhere around 1200 BC
(give or take a century), when Moses
liberated the Hebrew people from
Egyptian slavery by means of two
miracles: the crossing of the Red Sea
and survival in the desert. That
legendary story, told in the book of
Exodus in the Bible, has influenced
major world events ever since, to an
extent that must not be
underestimated. If that event hadn't
occurred, the Hebrews might have been
just another cult that eventually
disappeared, and Jerusalem might have
been just another ordinary city, rather
than a location that has been the
epicenter of one major historical event
after another.

Just as the heroic victory of Athens
over the Persians started a chain of
events that spread Greek culture
throughout the world, the heroic victory
of Moses and his people over the
Egyptians started a chain of events that
sustained Jews and Judaism to this day.

For, in the eyes of the Hebrews, this
event made them the "chosen people."
The two miracles caused them to renew
their covenant with God that Abraham had
made several centuries, and confirmed
their faith that God would protect them.

<insert Callout> The seminal crisis that
set the pattern for Hebrew life for
millennia was the crossing of the Red
Sea

In the austere days following the
exodus, Moses took steps to make sure
that "nothing like that must ever happen
again." He imposed the Ten Commandments
on the people, and then developed an
entire moral and religious code, a code
of political and social
organization[[*]]. The covenant with
God, made centuries earlier by Abraham,
presumably during an awakening period,
was now confirmed and established by a
crisis war.

[["He imposed the Ten Commandments on
the people, and then developed an entire
moral and religious code, a code of
political and social organization.":
Henri Daniel-Rops, <i>Daily Life in
Palestine at the Time of Christ</i>,
Phoenix Press, 2002, originally
published as <i>La Vie quotidienne en
Palestine au temps de J&eacute;sus</i>,
1962, pp. 31-32 |~ Henri Daniel-Rops]]

This time, the awakening that followed
went in a different direction, to the
worshippers of the Golden Calf. There
must have been many struggles and crisis
wars in the centuries that followed,
creating a historical fault line between
the followers of Moses' law and the
others - the heathens.

The view of Jews as the "chosen people"
was sealed several centuries later when
the Jews were conquered, exiled into
Babylon, and eventually allowed to
return to their homeland. This was once
again interpreted through Jewish law:
God had punished the chosen people for
their heathen practices, but then had
shown mercy by ending their exile[[*]].

[["God had punished the chosen people
for their heathen practices, but then
had shown mercy by ending their exile.":
Daniel-Rops, <i>op. cit.</i>, p. 32]]

The point of all of this history is the
set of ideas surrounding the word
"Diaspora." This word was originally
coined to describe groups of Jewish
people scattered around many countries,
but now the word "diaspora," without
capitalizing, is used to describe any
group of people of common religion or
ethnicity who are living in a community
not in the native country of their
religion or ethnicity.

But while diaspora is a general word,
it's the Jewish Diaspora that have
influenced world events the most. Why
is that? Mainly because Judaism has not
had a homeland for the overwhelming
portion of its history, and so it's
always been mainly a Diaspora religion.

No religion could possibly survive
without a base, a homeland, and
certainly not a religion whose adherents
have been exiled, moved or slaughtered
so many times in history. Yet, Judaism
<i>has</i> survived.

It survived because the Jewish law,
starting with the laws of Moses, was
designed so that God's chosen people
could survive as Diaspora.

As a "chosen people," the Jews could
live in any country and still maintain
their Jewish identity. Whether in
Jerusalem, Egypt, Italy or later in
other countries throughout the world,
the Jews had a collection of scriptures
and laws to live by, and they could
reestablish their identity simply by
gathering together in a group of two or
more and reading and discussing those
scriptures. This ability of Jewish
Diaspora to live anywhere, anytime, and
still maintain a Jewish identity,
without merging into the local society,
makes the Jews almost unique among major
civilizations of world history.

And that's the uniqueness that creates
the irrational xenophobia among other
people toward the Jews. Jewish people
had their own laws that took precedence
of the laws of the society around them.
(They viewed their laws as coming from a
"higher power," a concept that the
Christians later inherited, as did the
Muslims even later.) Even in earliest
times, Jewish communities were
insulated, and even had their own courts
of law. Some societies tolerated Jewish
disobedience of local laws better than
others, and the ones that didn't
tolerate it often responded by moving
the local Jewish community elsewhere,
passing the problem on to someone else.
This common solution to the local
"Jewish problem" meant that Jewish
history has almost always been of Jews
in other countries, rather than of Jews
in their own country.

<insert Callout right> As a Chosen
People, the Jews could live in any
country and still maintain their Jewish
identity

Historian Henri Daniel-Rops puts it as
follows:

>> Everything, then was related to the
Chosen People's certainty that they were
unique, different from all others and
superior to them[[*]]: everything, their
monotheistic faith, love of their
country, submission to moral laws,
desire to order their social and
political lives according to given
principles, and their feeling for the
highest kind of mystical experience. It
was, therefore, theology rather than
ethnology that determined their racial
characteristics.

[["Everything, then was related to the
Chosen People's certainty that they were
unique, different from all others and
superior to them": Henri Daniel-Rops,
<i>op. cit.</i>, pp. 32-33]]

It's important to understand that most
of this description -- a monotheistic
faith and submission to moral laws -- is
common to Christianity and Islam (and,
in fact, was inherited by them). The
distinctive difference is the form those
laws took resulting from the fact that
there was no Jewish homeland.

&&3 A Jewish Homeland

Following the Golden Age of Greece,
Alexander the Great had spread Greek
culture and Greek language throughout
the Mediterranean area, and into points
further east. Whether in Jerusalem or
elsewhere in the region, the ordinary
people spoke the local language, but the
educated elite spoke Greek, enjoyed
Greek art, and lived in expensive homes
with a Greek architecture. To use
modern day terminology, "Hellenization"
was associated with the rich, making it
a resented symbol of the class struggle
between the rich and the poor.

However, the Greeks were not the rulers
of this Greek-based culture. These were
the days of the Roman Empire, and the
Romans were the rulers. The Roman
rulers had to deal with large Jewish
populations of Jewish Diaspora in
Babylon and Rome, and mostly got along
well with them (with some painful
exceptions) because they granted Jews
the right to violate Roman law when it
conflicted with traditional Jewish law.

Nonetheless, Judea, the region
containing Jerusalem, was a special
problem. The Jews actually took control
of Judea in 142 BC, and it became a
Jewish homeland, an independent Jewish
state. In 63 BC, the Romans took over,
and there was no Jewish homeland again
until 1948.

&&3 King Herod

In 42 BC, Rome appointed Herod to rule
Judea. It's hard to imagine any ruler
with the ability to cause more
dissension and despair among the people.
Consider these factors:

(*) Herod was given the title "King
of the Jews" by the Romans.

(*) Herod was half-Jewish,
half-Arab, a combination that caused
many people to consider him impure,
and hold him in contempt.

(*) Herod ruled by cruelty and
terror, killing anyone who stood in
his way, even members of his own
family. (According to one anecdote,
when Herod had his own son executed,
a Roman master quipped, "I would
rather be Herod's pig than Herod's
son.")

(*) Herod enforced his terror by
using Roman forces, hated by the
people.

(*) Herod collected enormous amounts
in taxes, and used them to build
lush palaces in the hated Hellenized
style. One building that might have
helped with the people was his
rebuilding of the ancient Jewish
temple of Jerusalem. But he spoiled
it by adorning it prominently with
the hated golden Roman eagle.

Added to all that, there was a natural
disaster. In 31 BC, an earthquake
killed 30,000 people and leveled
thousands of buildings.

Herod ended his reign with especially
cruel forms of terror. When some
students tried to remove the golden
Roman eagle from the temple, some 40
students were burned alive. And the
Matthew 2 tells a (possibly exaggerated)
story of the "Massacre of the
Innocents": When Herod learned of a
ruler that the real "King of the Jews"
had been born, he ordered the murder of
all babies younger than 2 years. Christ
was born in 6 BC, and Herod died in 4
BC. The kingdom was divided among three
of his sons.

&&3 Aftermath of Herod: Jesus Christ and Christianity

The long reign of terror ended with
Herod's death. A crisis period is
always followed by a period of
austerity, where people who lived
through the crisis set rules for society
so that nothing like that will ever
happen again. For the Jews, this meant
that they would not provoke the Romans,
and for the Romans, this meant that any
minor revolt had to be put down quickly,
in order to avoid a larger revolt.
There was an extended period of peace
between 7 and 26 AD.

Jesus Christ was born too late to have
any personal memory of Herod's reign of
terror. There's always a "generation
gap" between the generation of children
born after a crisis period and the
people who lived through the crisis
period. That's why so may great new
ideas, like a new religion, almost
always occur 20-40 years after a crisis
period ends -- that's when there's a new
awakening.

As a member of that young rebellious
generation, we can well imagine that
Jesus Christ would have wanted to rebel
against not only the Romans but also
against the elders in his own community,
people who would be telling him to keep
quiet, lest he cause trouble for himself
and themselves.

Although this is a secular presentation
of Jesus' life using Generational
Dynamics, it may seem strange,
especially to Christians, to be talking
about these kinds of generational issues
with regard to Jesus, but doing so is no
disrespect to the Christian religion,
according to Professor Gene Chase of
Messiah College in Grantham, Penn.

"Of course Jesus was a man of His time,"
says Chase. "The very essence of the
doctrine of His incarnation is that He
is fully man, not just physically but
also socially, intellectually, and
emotionally. Jesus was a man of his
culture, and hence a man of the culture
of his time. He studied the Torah as a
boy; He enjoyed parties as a young man;
His parables are agrarian to connect
with the culture of His time; He taught
peripatetically. These are the sorts of
things that one would have expected of a
good Jewish boy who became a rabbi. In
fact, the Bible even says explicitly
that Jesus came at just the right time."

So, for Christian and non-Christian
readers alike, there is nothing
unreasonable to say that his rebellion
got many people angry. He got the
Romans angry because of his popularity.
He got many of the Jews angry because of
his attitude toward the Jewish
laws. (According to Matthew 5:17-20, he
said, "Do not think I have come to set
aside the Law and the prophets; I have
not come to set them aside, but to bring
them to perfection." So he "perfected"
the laws by ignoring the unnecessary
parts, including the dietary laws which
were considered extremely important.)
So he was a very charismatic
rabble-rouser, and he was considered
"dangerous" by both the Romans and the
Jews.

Why didn't Jesus flee? This is a
question that demands an answer from
both a secular and a Christian point of
view. Jesus knew that the Romans were
coming to arrest him and execute him.
Why didn't he flee the region (as
Mohammed did in a similar situation six
centuries later)?

The answer, according to Chase, is that
Jesus saw himself as the Messiah as
described in Isaiah 53:7, which was
written 600 years before Jesus: "He was
oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not
open his mouth; he was led like a lamb
to the slaughter, and as a sheep before
her shearers is silent, so he did not
open his mouth."

According to Chase, "Jesus saw himself
as the person described there, not as
molded by his time. Jesus knew Isaiah's
writings well and lived in the light of
them."

So Jesus was executed / crucified.

During the next 30 years, there were
many uprisings among the Jews, resulting
in many skirmishes with the Romans.
Such skirmishes are typical of the years
immediately preceding the next crisis.
The hostilities end quickly because, as
we've seen, the opinion makers are
people who lived through the last
crisis, and happily resort to
containment and compromise.

By 66 AD, the generation that had
personal memory of Herod's reign of
terror were gone, replaced as leaders by
the post-Herod generation, and the most
conservative Jewish extremists had taken
over the temple. The entire region was
in rebellion against Romans, and the
Romans had to "solve the problem once
and for all." The Romans massacred tens
of thousands of Jews. The city of
Jerusalem was destroyed, especially the
Herod's new Temple.

This was the end of the Jews in
Jerusalem for centuries, but it was the
beginning of the spread of Christianity.

&&3 Converting to a new religion

How does one convert to a new religion?
It depends on the religion, of course.

[[~Convert;/ing to Judaism,
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism,
Buddhism]]

We're getting a little ahead of
ourselves by discussing religions we
haven't come to yet, but let's look at
how you convert to various religions:

(*) <b>Judaism.</b> Perform a long
course of study in Jewish law,
customs and life.

(*) <b>Christianity.</b> Agree to be
baptized. A baptism is usually
given by Christian clergy, but it
can be performed by anyone with the
proper intent. The person
performing the baptism pours water
on the head of the person to be
baptized, and says, while pouring
the water, "I baptize thee in the
name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost."

(*) <b>Islam.</b> Recite the words,
"There is no God except Allah, and
Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah."

(*) <b>Hinduism.</b> It's
practically impossible to convert to
Hinduism, because of the caste
system.

(*) <b>Buddhism.</b> Agree to accept
the precepts of Buddhism.

Of these religions, Judaism and Hinduism
are "hard" to convert to, while
Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are
"easy" to convert to.

When I write the last paragraph, I mean
no disrespect to any religion. Any
Christian, Muslim or Buddhist will tell
you that you haven't really converted to
that religion just by reciting a few
words; you have to study and accept an
entire way of life. Nonetheless, you
<i>can</i> convert to these religions in
a matter of a few minutes, just by
reciting a few words or performing a
simple rite.

&&3 Proselytizing and Non-Proselytizing Religions

Consider the following: There are
Catholic missionaries in China whose
purpose is to convert people to the
Catholic religion, but there are no
Jewish missionaries in China to convert
people to the Jewish religion. What's
the difference?

The Jewish concept of a "chosen people"
is contrary to the idea of
proselytizing. That's not to say that
proselytizing has never occurred,
especially in the old days, but no one
would ever expect Judaism to become a
universal religion. No one would expect
a Chinese Buddhist to convert to Judaism
except in very unusual circumstances.

Christianity is the universal version of
Judaism. (Incidentally, Buddhism is the
universal form of Hinduism.) Any person
can become a Christian by becoming
baptized. That's why Christianity could
spread while Judaism couldn't. And
that's why, eventually, someone would
have to come along and provide a
universal version of Judaism, if Jesus
Christ and his followers hadn't done so.

&&3 Top-Down and Bottom-Up Religions

Just as there's no Jewish missionary in
China doing proselytizing, you're not
too likely to see a Greek Orthodox
missionary in China to convert Chinese
to the Greek Orthodox religion, or a
Russian Orthodox missionary converting
Chinese to the Russian Orthodox
religion. Once again, what's the
difference?

The religion that grew out of Jesus'
ministry became the Orthodox religion.
It was adopted by the Romans, and then
moved east, became centered in
Constantinople (Istanbul), and later
spread northward to the Slav peoples.
Today, the two main branches are Greek
Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, although
there are dozens of other minor
branches.

Orthodox Christianity differs from
Catholic (and Protestant) Christianity
because the former is a "top-down"
religion, adopted first by rulers and
then spread to the people, while the
latter is a "bottom-up" religion,
spreading among the people, and then
adopted by the state during fault line
wars.

The Orthodox religion moved east to
Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey)
because Rome was being attacked and
pillaged from the west and north,
especially by the Teutonic tribes from
the North. The Teutonic (German) tribes
adopted Christianity, but not in the
Orthodox form. Instead a new form,
Catholicism, was born. This was a
"bottom-up" religion because, as we
said, any individual could become a
Catholic by being baptized. The same was
true of the Protestant religions that
split off from the Catholic religions in
the 1500s in Germany (then known as the
Holy Roman Empire, even though, to use
the words of Voltaire, it wasn't holy,
it wasn't Roman, and it wasn't an
empire).

These are some of the many reasons why
Orthodox Christianity is different from
Western Christianity.

&&2 Judaism and the Spread of Christianity

Great ideas are born during awakenings,
and frequently they're spread (or
extinguished) during crisis wars. Now
we're going to look at another great
idea, born during an awakening, and
spread throughout the world for
millennia to come -- the ministry of
Jesus Christ and the spread of
Christianity.

It's impossible to understand Jesus
Christ without first understanding the
history of Judaism, as well as the
unique qualities of Jews that have
caused them to excel at whatever they
did -- the same qualities that have led
them to be the targets of attack by
other civilizations throughout the
centuries.

&&3 Judaism and Diaspora

The seminal crisis war that set the
pattern for Hebrew life for millennia to
come occurred somewhere around 1200 BC
(give or take a century), when Moses
liberated the Hebrew people from
Egyptian slavery by means of two
miracles: the crossing of the Red Sea
and survival in the desert. That
legendary story, told in the book of
Exodus in the Bible, has influenced
major world events ever since, to an
extent that must not be
underestimated. If that event hadn't
occurred, the Hebrews might have been
just another cult that eventually
disappeared, and Jerusalem might have
been just another ordinary city, rather
than a location that has been the
epicenter of one major historical event
after another.

Just as the heroic victory of Athens
over the Persians started a chain of
events that spread Greek culture
throughout the world, the heroic victory
of Moses and his people over the
Egyptians started a chain of events that
sustained Jews and Judaism to this day.

For, in the eyes of the Hebrews, this
event made them the "chosen people."
The two miracles caused them to renew
their covenant with God that Abraham had
made several centuries, and confirmed
their faith that God would protect them.

<insert Callout> The seminal crisis that
set the pattern for Hebrew life for
millennia was the crossing of the Red
Sea

In the austere days following the
exodus, Moses took steps to make sure
that "nothing like that must ever happen
again." He imposed the Ten Commandments
on the people, and then developed an
entire moral and religious code, a code
of political and social
organization[[*]]. The covenant with
God, made centuries earlier by Abraham,
presumably during an awakening period,
was now confirmed and established by a
crisis war.

[["He imposed the Ten Commandments on
the people, and then developed an entire
moral and religious code, a code of
political and social organization.":
Henri Daniel-Rops, <i>Daily Life in
Palestine at the Time of Christ</i>,
Phoenix Press, 2002, originally
published as <i>La Vie quotidienne en
Palestine au temps de J&eacute;sus</i>,
1962, pp. 31-32 |~ Henri Daniel-Rops]]

This time, the awakening that followed
went in a different direction, to the
worshippers of the Golden Calf. There
must have been many struggles and crisis
wars in the centuries that followed,
creating a historical fault line between
the followers of Moses' law and the
others - the heathens.

The view of Jews as the "chosen people"
was sealed several centuries later when
the Jews were conquered, exiled into
Babylon, and eventually allowed to
return to their homeland. This was once
again interpreted through Jewish law:
God had punished the chosen people for
their heathen practices, but then had
shown mercy by ending their exile[[*]].

[["God had punished the chosen people
for their heathen practices, but then
had shown mercy by ending their exile.":
Daniel-Rops, <i>op. cit.</i>, p. 32]]

The point of all of this history is the
set of ideas surrounding the word
"Diaspora." This word was originally
coined to describe groups of Jewish
people scattered around many countries,
but now the word "diaspora," without
capitalizing, is used to describe any
group of people of common religion or
ethnicity who are living in a community
not in the native country of their
religion or ethnicity.

But while diaspora is a general word,
it's the Jewish Diaspora that have
influenced world events the most. Why
is that? Mainly because Judaism has not
had a homeland for the overwhelming
portion of its history, and so it's
always been mainly a Diaspora religion.

No religion could possibly survive
without a base, a homeland, and
certainly not a religion whose adherents
have been exiled, moved or slaughtered
so many times in history. Yet, Judaism
<i>has</i> survived.

It survived because the Jewish law,
starting with the laws of Moses, was
designed so that God's chosen people
could survive as Diaspora.

As a "chosen people," the Jews could
live in any country and still maintain
their Jewish identity. Whether in
Jerusalem, Egypt, Italy or later in
other countries throughout the world,
the Jews had a collection of scriptures
and laws to live by, and they could
reestablish their identity simply by
gathering together in a group of two or
more and reading and discussing those
scriptures. This ability of Jewish
Diaspora to live anywhere, anytime, and
still maintain a Jewish identity,
without merging into the local society,
makes the Jews almost unique among major
civilizations of world history.

And that's the uniqueness that creates
the irrational xenophobia among other
people toward the Jews. Jewish people
had their own laws that took precedence
of the laws of the society around them.
(They viewed their laws as coming from a
"higher power," a concept that the
Christians later inherited, as did the
Muslims even later.) Even in earliest
times, Jewish communities were
insulated, and even had their own courts
of law. Some societies tolerated Jewish
disobedience of local laws better than
others, and the ones that didn't
tolerate it often responded by moving
the local Jewish community elsewhere,
passing the problem on to someone else.
This common solution to the local
"Jewish problem" meant that Jewish
history has almost always been of Jews
in other countries, rather than of Jews
in their own country.

<insert Callout right> As a Chosen
People, the Jews could live in any
country and still maintain their Jewish
identity

Historian Henri Daniel-Rops puts it as
follows:

>> Everything, then was related to the
Chosen People's certainty that they were
unique, different from all others and
superior to them[[*]]: everything, their
monotheistic faith, love of their
country, submission to moral laws,
desire to order their social and
political lives according to given
principles, and their feeling for the
highest kind of mystical experience. It
was, therefore, theology rather than
ethnology that determined their racial
characteristics.

[["Everything, then was related to the
Chosen People's certainty that they were
unique, different from all others and
superior to them": Henri Daniel-Rops,
<i>op. cit.</i>, pp. 32-33]]

It's important to understand that most
of this description -- a monotheistic
faith and submission to moral laws -- is
common to Christianity and Islam (and,
in fact, was inherited by them). The
distinctive difference is the form those
laws took resulting from the fact that
there was no Jewish homeland.

&&3 A Jewish Homeland

Following the Golden Age of Greece,
Alexander the Great had spread Greek
culture and Greek language throughout
the Mediterranean area, and into points
further east. Whether in Jerusalem or
elsewhere in the region, the ordinary
people spoke the local language, but the
educated elite spoke Greek, enjoyed
Greek art, and lived in expensive homes
with a Greek architecture. To use
modern day terminology, "Hellenization"
was associated with the rich, making it
a resented symbol of the class struggle
between the rich and the poor.

However, the Greeks were not the rulers
of this Greek-based culture. These were
the days of the Roman Empire, and the
Romans were the rulers. The Roman
rulers had to deal with large Jewish
populations of Jewish Diaspora in
Babylon and Rome, and mostly got along
well with them (with some painful
exceptions) because they granted Jews
the right to violate Roman law when it
conflicted with traditional Jewish law.

Nonetheless, Judea, the region
containing Jerusalem, was a special
problem. The Jews actually took control
of Judea in 142 BC, and it became a
Jewish homeland, an independent Jewish
state. In 63 BC, the Romans took over,
and there was no Jewish homeland again
until 1948.

&&3 King Herod

In 42 BC, Rome appointed Herod to rule
Judea. It's hard to imagine any ruler
with the ability to cause more
dissension and despair among the people.
Consider these factors:

(*) Herod was given the title "King
of the Jews" by the Romans.

(*) Herod was half-Jewish,
half-Arab, a combination that caused
many people to consider him impure,
and hold him in contempt.

(*) Herod ruled by cruelty and
terror, killing anyone who stood in
his way, even members of his own
family. (According to one anecdote,
when Herod had his own son executed,
a Roman master quipped, "I would
rather be Herod's pig than Herod's
son.")

(*) Herod enforced his terror by
using Roman forces, hated by the
people.

(*) Herod collected enormous amounts
in taxes, and used them to build
lush palaces in the hated Hellenized
style. One building that might have
helped with the people was his
rebuilding of the ancient Jewish
temple of Jerusalem. But he spoiled
it by adorning it prominently with
the hated golden Roman eagle.

Added to all that, there was a natural
disaster. In 31 BC, an earthquake
killed 30,000 people and leveled
thousands of buildings.

Herod ended his reign with especially
cruel forms of terror. When some
students tried to remove the golden
Roman eagle from the temple, some 40
students were burned alive. And the
Matthew 2 tells a (possibly exaggerated)
story of the "Massacre of the
Innocents": When Herod learned of a
ruler that the real "King of the Jews"
had been born, he ordered the murder of
all babies younger than 2 years. Christ
was born in 6 BC, and Herod died in 4
BC. The kingdom was divided among three
of his sons.

&&3 Aftermath of Herod: Jesus Christ andChristianity

The long reign of terror ended with
Herod's death. A crisis period is
always followed by a period of
austerity, where people who lived
through the crisis set rules for society
so that nothing like that will ever
happen again. For the Jews, this meant
that they would not provoke the Romans,
and for the Romans, this meant that any
minor revolt had to be put down quickly,
in order to avoid a larger revolt.
There was an extended period of peace
between 7 and 26 AD.

Jesus Christ was born too late to have
any personal memory of Herod's reign of
terror. There's always a "generation
gap" between the generation of children
born after a crisis period and the
people who lived through the crisis
period. That's why so may great new
ideas, like a new religion, almost
always occur 20-40 years after a crisis
period ends -- that's when there's a new
awakening.

As a member of that young rebellious
generation, we can well imagine that
Jesus Christ would have wanted to rebel
against not only the Romans but also
against the elders in his own community,
people who would be telling him to keep
quiet, lest he cause trouble for himself
and themselves.

Although this is a secular presentation
of Jesus' life using Generational
Dynamics, it may seem strange,
especially to Christians, to be talking
about these kinds of generational issues
with regard to Jesus, but doing so is no
disrespect to the Christian religion,
according to Professor Gene Chase of
Messiah College in Grantham, Penn.

"Of course Jesus was a man of His time,"
says Chase. "The very essence of the
doctrine of His incarnation is that He
is fully man, not just physically but
also socially, intellectually, and
emotionally. Jesus was a man of his
culture, and hence a man of the culture
of his time. He studied the Torah as a
boy; He enjoyed parties as a young man;
His parables are agrarian to connect
with the culture of His time; He taught
peripatetically. These are the sorts of
things that one would have expected of a
good Jewish boy who became a rabbi. In
fact, the Bible even says explicitly
that Jesus came at just the right time."

So, for Christian and non-Christian
readers alike, there is nothing
unreasonable to say that his rebellion
got many people angry. He got the
Romans angry because of his popularity.
He got many of the Jews angry because of
his attitude toward the Jewish
laws. (According to Matthew 5:17-20, he
said, "Do not think I have come to set
aside the Law and the prophets; I have
not come to set them aside, but to bring
them to perfection." So he "perfected"
the laws by ignoring the unnecessary
parts, including the dietary laws which
were considered extremely important.)
So he was a very charismatic
rabble-rouser, and he was considered
"dangerous" by both the Romans and the
Jews.

Why didn't Jesus flee? This is a
question that demands an answer from
both a secular and a Christian point of
view. Jesus knew that the Romans were
coming to arrest him and execute him.
Why didn't he flee the region (as
Mohammed did in a similar situation six
centuries later)?

The answer, according to Chase, is that
Jesus saw himself as the Messiah as
described in Isaiah 53:7, which was
written 600 years before Jesus: "He was
oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not
open his mouth; he was led like a lamb
to the slaughter, and as a sheep before
her shearers is silent, so he did not
open his mouth."

According to Chase, "Jesus saw himself
as the person described there, not as
molded by his time. Jesus knew Isaiah's
writings well and lived in the light of
them."

So Jesus was executed / crucified.

During the next 30 years, there were
many uprisings among the Jews, resulting
in many skirmishes with the Romans.
Such skirmishes are typical of the years
immediately preceding the next crisis.
The hostilities end quickly because, as
we've seen, the opinion makers are
people who lived through the last
crisis, and happily resort to
containment and compromise.

By 66 AD, the generation that had
personal memory of Herod's reign of
terror were gone, replaced as leaders by
the post-Herod generation, and the most
conservative Jewish extremists had taken
over the temple. The entire region was
in rebellion against Romans, and the
Romans had to "solve the problem once
and for all." The Romans massacred tens
of thousands of Jews. The city of
Jerusalem was destroyed, especially the
Herod's new Temple.

This was the end of the Jews in
Jerusalem for centuries, but it was the
beginning of the spread of Christianity.

&&3 Converting to a new religion

How does one convert to a new religion?
It depends on the religion, of course.

We're getting a little ahead of
ourselves by discussing religions we
haven't come to yet, but let's look at
how you convert to various religions:

(*) <b>Judaism.</b> Perform a long
course of study in Jewish law,
customs and life.

(*) <b>Christianity.</b> Agree to be
baptized. A baptism is usually
given by Christian clergy, but it
can be performed by anyone with the
proper intent. The person
performing the baptism pours water
on the head of the person to be
baptized, and says, while pouring
the water, "I baptize thee in the
name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost."

(*) <b>Islam.</b> Recite the words,
"There is no God except Allah, and
Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah."

(*) <b>Hinduism.</b> It's
practically impossible to convert to
Hinduism, because of the caste
system.

(*) <b>Buddhism.</b> Agree to accept
the precepts of Buddhism.

Of these religions, Judaism and Hinduism
are "hard" to convert to, while
Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are
"easy" to convert to.

When I write the last paragraph, I mean
no disrespect to any religion. Any
Christian, Muslim or Buddhist will tell
you that you haven't really converted to
that religion just by reciting a few
words; you have to study and accept an
entire way of life. Nonetheless, you
<i>can</i> convert to these religions in
a matter of a few minutes, just by
reciting a few words or performing a
simple rite.

&&3 Proselytizing and Non-Proselytizing
Religions

Consider the following: There are
Catholic missionaries in China whose
purpose is to convert people to the
Catholic religion, but there are no
Jewish missionaries in China to convert
people to the Jewish religion. What's
the difference?

The Jewish concept of a "chosen people"
is contrary to the idea of
proselytizing. That's not to say that
proselytizing has never occurred,
especially in the old days, but no one
would ever expect Judaism to become a
universal religion. No one would expect
a Chinese Buddhist to convert to Judaism
except in very unusual circumstances.

Christianity is the universal version of
Judaism. (Incidentally, Buddhism is the
universal form of Hinduism.) Any person
can become a Christian by becoming
baptized. That's why Christianity could
spread while Judaism couldn't. And
that's why, eventually, someone would
have to come along and provide a
universal version of Judaism, if Jesus
Christ and his followers hadn't done so.

&&3 Top-Down and Bottom-Up Religions

Just as there's no Jewish missionary in
China doing proselytizing, you're not
too likely to see a Greek Orthodox
missionary in China to convert Chinese
to the Greek Orthodox religion, or a
Russian Orthodox missionary converting
Chinese to the Russian Orthodox
religion. Once again, what's the
difference?

The religion that grew out of Jesus'
ministry became the Orthodox religion.
It was adopted by the Romans, and then
moved east, became centered in
Constantinople (Istanbul), and later
spread northward to the Slav peoples.
Today, the two main branches are Greek
Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, although
there are dozens of other minor
branches.

Orthodox Christianity differs from
Catholic (and Protestant) Christianity
because the former is a "top-down"
religion, adopted first by rulers and
then spread to the people, while the
latter is a "bottom-up" religion,
spreading among the people, and then
adopted by the state during fault line
wars.

The Orthodox religion moved east to
Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey)
because Rome was being attacked and
pillaged from the west and north,
especially by the Teutonic tribes from
the North. The Teutonic (German) tribes
adopted Christianity, but not in the
Orthodox form. Instead a new form,
Catholicism, was born. This was a
"bottom-up" religion because, as we
said, any individual could become a
Catholic by being baptized. The same was
true of the Protestant religions that
split off from the Catholic religions in
the 1500s in Germany (then known as the
Holy Roman Empire, even though, to use
the words of Voltaire, it wasn't holy,
it wasn't Roman, and it wasn't an
empire).

These are some of the many reasons why
Orthodox Christianity is different from
Western Christianity.

John
Posts: 11185
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:10 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA USA
Contact:

Re: *** The Theology of Judaism

Post by John »

Saturday, December 17th, 2022

some issues have been raised about my previous post on the theology of Judaism. these include the following :

* The parting of the Red Sea may have been legend, with no historical support.

* in fact, the entire Exodus story is not supported by any historical records or any archaeological findings.

* there is no uniform definition of what a Jew is. Some believe in God. some Don't. ashenaz Jews are not even related two other Jews. some are anti-christian, and others are comfortable with Christians. some even hate Jesus Christ. some even hate Jesus Christ.

The point of making these criticisms is to show that Jews are so different from one another that it's impossible to make. generalizations about Jews .

but from the point of view of generational dynamics, none of these issues beis important. generational dynamics deals with identity groups, which are typically entire generations or populations living in the same country, or related by skin color, by religion, or by ethnicity.

what makes the Jewish identity group somewhat unique is that they haven't had a homeland for most of their existence. and so the creation of the country Israel in 1948 has become central to the jewish identity for most Jews.

I had some experience with these issues back years ago when I was dating. two of the girls that are dated and had brief relationships with were very attractive. Jewish girls. (yes, I know I should call them women, but since I'm 78 years old I believe I have leave to call them girls.)

One of them was religious, and felt it was her duty to do the" work" of having children. (although not with me.) the other was an atheist, and did not want to have children. and yet both of them felt very strongly about their Jewish identities, and felt it was their duty to support Israel and even to become proIsraeli activists.

and so, questions like whether there really was a virgin birth, or whether Buddha had a period of enlightenment, or whether Moses really parted the Red Sea , and weather the descriptions of these events are historically accurate, are not important. these events are important because they are part of the identity of the respective religions, irrespective of their historical accuracy.

note: as usual, errors and typos should be blamed on Google's transcription software. I'm just a victim.

spottybrowncow
Posts: 214
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:06 am

Re: Religion / Theology

Post by spottybrowncow »

Merry Christmas, my fellow forum members.
Absolute faith placed anywhere except in the Lord is a losing proposition.

Cool Breeze
Posts: 2315
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:19 pm

Re: Religion / Theology

Post by Cool Breeze »

spottybrowncow wrote:
Sun Dec 25, 2022 2:15 pm
Merry Christmas, my fellow forum members.
Absolute faith placed anywhere except in the Lord is a losing proposition.
Amen.

Best to you, spotty!

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