"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
December 18, 2007

Where’s the fight?

Important in the record of the dispensations is that when men to depart from God’s way and substitute their own ways in its place they usually do not admit that that is what they are doing; often they do not deliberately or even consciously substitute their ways for God’s ways; on the contrary, they easily and largely convinced themselves that their way is God’s way. “The apostasy described in the New Testament is not a desertion of the cause, but a perversion of it, a process by which the ‘righteous are removed and none perceives it.’” The wedding of the Christian Church and the Roman state was a venture in political dialectics, a restatement of the age-old political exercise of demonstrating that our way is God’s way….the Lord told the Apostles that in time “whosoever kills you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). The horrible fiasco of the Crusades went forward under the mandate of the Deus Vult — God wills it: it is His idea; the Inquisition was carried out by selfless men “for the greater glory of God.” In every age we find the worldly powers hypnotized by the image of the world as a maidan, a great battleground, on which the forces of good and evil are locked in mortal combat. True, there is a contest, but it is within the individual, not between ignorant armies; that solution is all too easy. Recall the statement of Joseph Smith that “every candid man [must] draw [the] conclusion in his own mind whether this [any political system] is the order of heaven or not.” Banners, trumpets, and dungeons were early devised to help men make up their minds. But God does not fight Satan: a word from Him and Satan is silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are especially told that all the power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. “We will allow Satan, our common enemy, to try Man and to tempt him.” It is man’s strength that is being tested–not God’s. Nay, even in putting us to the test, “the devil,” to quote Joseph Smith, “has no power over us only as we permit him.’” Since, then, “God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not,” it is up to us to decide how much power Satan shall have on this earth, but only in respect to ourselves; the fight is all within us. That is the whole battle. But how much easier to shift the battle to another arena, and externalize the cause of all our misfortune.

It is easy enough to see how a world willingly beguiled by the devil’s dialectic is bound to reject God’s way and continue with its own. Even the Saints are guilty: “Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed.” As in every other dispensation, the world will continue to go its way, which is one of progressive deterioration:….After all is said, there is nothing for it but to accept God’s way–nothing else will work. (Hugh Nibley, on the Timely and Timeless, Beyond Politics, pages 310-311)

September 20, 2006

The Bitter Cup

Pastor/teacher John MacArthur, in writing of the “bitter cup” Jesus was called upon to imbibe, observed: “Never was so much sorrow emanating from the soul of one individual. We could never comprehend the depth of Christ’s agony because, frankly, we cannot perceive the wickedness of sin as He could. Nor can we appreciate the terrors of divine wrath the way He did.” Further, he asked: “What is the cup? It is not merely death. It is not the physical pain of the cross. It was not the scourging or the humiliation. It was not the horrible thirst, the torture of having nails driven through His body, or the disgrace of being spat upon or beaten, It was not even all of those things combined.” Rather, MacArthur adds, “what Christ dreaded most about the cross — the cup from which He asked to be delivered if possible — was the outpouring of divine wrath He would have to endure from His holy Father….In some mysterious way that our human minds could never fathom, God the Father would turn His face from Christ the Son, and Christ the Son, and Christ would bear the full brunt of the divine fury against sin….In other words, on the cross, God imputed our sin to Christ and then punished Him for it.” (Joyn MacArthur, The Murder of Jesus, h. 63-71) — Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus?, p. 91

September 14, 2006

Your God Is Too Small

…many otherwise honest and intellectual people will construct a neat by-pass around the claim of Jesus to be God.  Being people of insight and imagination, they know perfectly well that once to accept such a claim as fact would mean a readjustment of their own purposes and values and affections which they may have no wish to make.  To call Jesus the greatest Figure in History or the finest Moral Teacher the world has ever seen commits no one to anything.  But once to allow the startled mind to accept as fact that this man is really focused-God may commit anyone to anything!  There is every excuse for blundering in the dark, but in the light there is no cover from reality.  — J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small, p 83

August 18, 2006

He IS the Son of God

Fifty years ago or more (circa 1921), when I was a missionary, our greatest responsibility was to defend the great truth that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely called and inspired and that the Book of Mormon was indeed the word of God.  But even at that time there were the unmistakable evidences that there was coming into the religious world actually a question about the Bible and about the divine calling of the Master himself.  Now, fifty years later, our greatest responsibility and anxiety is to defend the divine mission of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, for all about us, even among those who claim to be professors of the Christian faith, are those not willing to stand squarely in defense of the great truth that our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, was indeed the Son of God.  — President Harold B, Lee in an address to the LDS Student Association, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, 10 October 1971

August 17, 2006

“Now I know man is nothing”

Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s dimunition’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory be refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him…and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God — though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little. — C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain

May 11, 2006

This is a Test

“God does not fight Satan: a word from him and Satan is silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are expressly told that all the power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. “We will allow Satan, our common enemy, to try man and to tempt him.” It is man’s strength that is being tested—not God’s”. — Hugh Nibley, “Beyond Politics,” 288

March 23, 2006

Our Love Needs to Be Developed

“God loves us all — saint and sinner alike — with a perfect and everlasting love. We have His love, if not His approval. It is our love for Him that remains to be developed. When we come to be genuinely concerned with pleasing God — more than with pleasing any in the world, even ourselves — then our behavior improves and His blessings can engulf us. This sublime feeling can be experienced only if we come to know enough about Him so that our awe melts into adoration, and our respect into utter reverence.” — Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 3 (italics added)