Posts Tagged ‘Moroni’


I recently took a weekend and headed over to California to attend a small conference on brick ovens.  While there in California I took some time to explore the Big Sur Coastway and State Route 1 that runs north and south along the Pacific Ocean.  While there, I snapped this photo of a bee exploring a flower outside of the Hearst Castle.

You can see more of the pictures I took here and here.

The reason for posting this specific picture is because I followed a link at the WfZ blog.  That link takes you to a small powerpoint presentation which talks about the importance of individuality, uniqueness and personalities with respect to our children.  Within that powerpoint is a discussion on bees and the living miracle they are.  Bees, it seems, are unique in that their wing structure, to us humans, is odd, seemingly too small and, at least to earlier views on the laws of aviation, too small to support the body of the bee in the air.  The bee, nevertheless, defied our human understanding for many years, carrying on in it’s ability to fly and pollinate the world.  Only recently, it seems, humans have caught up and begun to understand that the bee is able to create a vortex with it’s small wings which allows it to fly.  Nevertheless, for decades (centuries?) humans have seen the bee as an anomaly.  A living, flying miracle which defied our finite understanding.

The application of this idea should not be lost on you, the reader, or me.  How often do we decry something as impossible if we haven’t seen it happen in person?  Worse, how often do we decry something as impossible, even though it happens in front of our eyes?  In discussing these impossibilities, it is important to note that there are many miracles that happen in front of our eyes every day.  From the unseen – photosynthesis – to the seen – a child learning to walk.  While it is important to note these everyday miracles, the miracles of which I speak are of a different variety.  The creation of the earth, the creation of man, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to see, etc.  These are the miracles of which I speak in this article.

The book of Fourth Nephi, chapter 1 verse 5, describes these miracles as follows:

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did aheal the sick, and braise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of cmiracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

Moroni, among others, also spoke powerfully about miracles in the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon. What he wrote, though, was not written from an historical viewpoint.  It was not written about a people which had already lived when he wrote it.  It was written, as most of his stuff was written, about a people who would live in the distant future.  A people who would live to see the “great and marvelous work” come to pass.  A people who would be led to err by power hungry churches and leaders.  In fine, he was speaking directly to us in our day and, more specifically, us of the LDS faith who have been given the record on which his words are written.

Specifically, Mormon chapter 9 contains the following lecture about miracles:

10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of amiracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same bGod who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.

•  •  •

15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do ano miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.

•  •  •

17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his aword the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was bcreated of the cdust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?

18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty amiracles? And there were many bmighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.

19 And if there were amiracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he bchangeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.

The Book of Ether (12:12) contains a similar cry:

12 For if there be no afaith among the children of men God can do no bmiracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

Later, again, Moroni adds some more information on miracles in Moroni, chapter 7:

27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have amiracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to bclaim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?

•  •  •

29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have aangels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

•  •  •

35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with apower and great glory at the last bday, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?

•  •  •

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that amiracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of bunbelief, and all is vain.

What do these verses have to do with us?  I’d argue that they have everything to do with us.  I have frequently heard some (myself included) lament about the lack of spiritual gifts in today’s world, generally, and the LDS church, specifically.  We rarely, if ever, see people being raised from the dead, the blind having their sight restored to them, the deaf being able to hear, angelic visitations, and on and on.  In its place, members of all shapes and sizes simply reply that the lack of these gifts is merely the result of God’s will.  Since it doesn’t happen, it must be God’s will that it doesn’t happen.

In the place of faith based priesthood blessings, we give blessings with convenient “outs.”  We tell the recipient of the blessing that it’s contingent on their faith and the will of God.  We do this for many reasons, but mostly because (a) we’re scared that we don’t truly hold the Priesthood, (b) we’re scared that we’re not speaking inspired words, (c) we’re scared that we don’t have adequate faith and (c) we’re scared of miracles.  It may actually be a combination of all of the above, or something entirely different, but the following story may help relate it somewhat.

A year or so ago I had the privilege of listening to Parley P. Pratt’s autobiography for the first time as I commuted to and from work.  One particular passage from his authobiography still sticks with me, in my feeble memory.  It has to do with this very idea and I feel it will teach the principle better than I ever could:

When we first arrived we lived in the open air, with out any other shelter whatever. Here I met brother Joseph Smith, from whom I had been separated since the close of the mock trial in Richmond the year previous. Neither of us could refrain from tears as we embraced each other once more as free men. We felt like shouting hosannah in the highest, and giving glory to that God who had delivered us in fulfillment of His word to

His servant Joseph the previous autumn, when we were being carried into captivity in Jackson County, Missouri. He blessed me with a warmth of sympathy and brotherly kindness which I shall never forget. Here also I met with Hyrum Smith and many others of my fellow prisoners with a glow of mutual joy and satisfaction which language will never reveal. Father and Mother Smith, the parents of our Prophet and President, were also overwhelmed with tears of joy and congratulation; they wept like children as they took me by the hand; but, O, how different from the tears of bitter sorrow which were pouring down their cheeks as they gave us the parting hand in Far West, and saw us dragged away by fiends in human form.

After the gush of feelings consequent on our happy meeting had subsided, I accompanied Joseph Smith over the Mississippi in a skiff to visit some friends in Montrose. Here many were lying sick and at the point of death. Among these was my old friend and fellow servant, Elijah Fordham, who had been with me in that extraordinary work in New York City in 1837. He was now in the last stage of a deadly fever. He lay prostrate and nearly speechless, with his feet poulticed; his eyes were sunk in their sockets; his flesh was gone; the paleness of death was upon him; and he was hardly to be distinguished from a corpse. His wife was weeping over him, and preparing clothes for his burial.

Brother Joseph took him by the hand, and in a voice and energy which would seemingly have raised the dead, he cried: “BROTHER FORDHAM, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, ARISE AND WALK.” It was a voice which could be heard from house to house and nearly through the neighborhood. It was like the roaring of a lion, or the heavy thunderbolt. Brother Fordham leaped from his dying bed in an instant, shook the poultices and bandages from his feet, put on his clothes so quick that none got a chance to assist him, and taking a cup of tea and a little refreshment, he walked with us from house to house visiting other sick beds, and joining in prayer and ministrations for them, while the people followed us, and with joy and amazement gave glory to God. Several more were called up in a similar manner and were healed.

Brother Joseph, while in the Spirit, rebuked the Elders who would continue to lay hands on the sick from day to day without the power to heal them. Said he: “It is time that such things ended. Let the Elders either obtain the power of God to heal the sick or let them cease to minister the forms without the power.”

What stuck with me is that last paragraph.  There were Elders in Montrose who were giving blessings to the sick, in an effort to heal them, “day to day” without the power to heal them.  Why were they lacking in the power which Joseph so boldly possessed?  What made them different?  Were the sick not being healed because it was God’s will that they remain sick and dying, or were the sick not being healed because the Elder’s giving the blessings were lacking in power?  I will let the reader decide how they interpret what happened.

I postulate, at the end of the day, that we, as members of the Church, are so afraid of seeing miracles, so afraid of making a mistake, so afraid of being looked at as odd, weird or different, that we all run from the calling Christ has for us.

D&C, Section 121, describes this as follows:

34 Behold, there are many acalled, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

35 Because their ahearts are set so much upon the things of this bworld, and caspire to the dhonors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—

36 That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness.

37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to akick against the pricks, to bpersecute the saints, and to cfight against God.

39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but afew are chosen.

We are scared, perhaps rightfully so, because (a) our hearts are set on the things of the world and (b) we want men to honor us.  The Priesthood, as laid out above, can only be handled “upon principles of righteousness.”  When we lack a connection with heaven, when we lack the ability to receive revelation, when we attempt to control, in any way, another we are left to “kick against the pricks.”  Why?  Because in so doing we’ve become an enemy to God (verse 38).  We struggle so much to see and witness these miracles because we’re too busy asserting authority, clamoring for others to believe, listen and follow us.  We want so much for the “honors of men.”  We want our wives, our friends, our associates and everyone in between to listen and give heed to our words.  When they don’t, all too often we start messing around with what’s found in verses 35-39 above and, as a result, we fail to “self select.”  We’re not chosen, because we’ve failed to give all the glory to Christ.  We’ve failed to realize exactly how reliant we are upon Him, and Him alone.

Others have also recently discussed this topic.  On another blog, we read the following opinion on why miracles seem to happen less now than they did in 1835-1840 and other time periods:

I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individuals lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with “a firm mind.”  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a “firm mind.”  One or the other has to be incorrect.
I think such things are experienced less because we talk of them less.  As we talk of them less, we increase our doubts about such things.  Doubt and faith cannot coincide. So was Christ weak-minded or of “a firm mind?”  Was Saul of Tarsus deceived or a deceiver, or instead a godly man who received notice from heaven?  What of Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John?

Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it’s safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD’s and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.  Well, even if that is not as it should be, it is at least as Nephi said it would be: “They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.  Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.”  (2 Nephi 28: 5-6.)

I think, in my interpretation of this response, is that fear of the miraculous is still prevalent.  We “prefer our miracles at a distance” because it is “safer that way.”  It’s less troublesome, less intrusive.  We’re less likely to be ridiculed by the outside world (both in and outside the church), we’re less likely to be viewed as crazy lunatics.  You put the certification of recognized scholars behind it, when they’re able to interpret it through their educated paradigms, and only then will it become comfortable.  Only then will we be able to say how great a miracle it was.

At the end of the day, do we view miracles as wings that are way too small for a creature to use?  Or, do we view them as enablers?   Do we view our ability to witness and see miracles as a likelihood that we aspire to, or as something relegated to other societies, other peoples, other centuries?  Do we have the faith necessary, “for it is by faith that miracles are wrought?”

Those are good questions.  Questions I admittedly do not have the answer to and questions which are very troubling to me.  Nevertheless, I hope to find positive answers for these questions.  At the end of the day, the gospel is all about us.  Do we, as individuals, view it as much?  Do we seek after the gifts we need, or are we content to let others do it for us?

Let us not forget, though, that:

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

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Blinded by the Light – the Parable of the Moth

This article and write-up had its naissance thanks to an article which was linked to the Huffington Post.  That article, entitled, Anything Beyond the Universe?  New Theory Changes Our Destiny[1], was a thought provoking article on what we view as reality – constructs of time and space – and how that may be changing.  I would encourage all to read it before continuing on here.

There are numerous aspects from that article from which I could create and write an article, though it may not do justice to the true parable of the Moth as it plays itself out in our individual lives.  The paragraph and statement, however, which jumped out on me was a statement on moths.  Moths, as those who have seen them in action can attest, love light.  Turn on a light in the dark of night and a moth will flock to it for reasons I do not understand.  Turn on another light, and the moth will likely float along to that light, trying to penetrate the glass that houses the light.  The moth will likely, then, fly around between the available lights for hours on end.  This will continue until either the person watching the moth will try to free the moth from the madness of the scene, until the moth dies, or until some other unfortunate incident occurs.

To a moth, this scene tells a vastly different story and, although this article will discuss how we humans can learn something from this evolutionary dance, I feel obliged to share some of the studies done on the moths and their attraction to light.  There are, according to the brief research I did on this topic, at least two schools of thought on why moths are attracted to light sources.  One such school of thought is represented by Dr. Henry Hsaio, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina, while the other, for the purposes of this article, will be represented by Dr. May Berenbaum, Head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois.

Henry Hsaio has stated in some moth studies that moths exhibit two kinds of behavior:  (1) when they’re distant from a light source they are drawn to the light source and make a beeline straight to it; and, (2) once the moths are in close proximity to the light source, the moth actually tries to avoid the light.[2] In trying to avoid the light, these same moths are seeing in vision the “Mach band.”  The Mach band, which can be seen by all sighted creatures, is the “region surrounding a bright light that seems darker than any other part of the sky.”[3] Hsaio, in his studies, postulated that the moth, in trying to fly within the Mach band, is actually seeking out the darkest part of the sky, which, according to Hsaio, is the safest area for the moths.  This theory also suggests that moths, who try and hide themselves in the daytime from predators, view the light source as a signal of morning light and are trying to seek that light and find a hiding place.

Dr. Berenbaum, in an interview with NPR discussed a slightly different view.[4] The “standard line of explanation,” according to Berenbaum, suggests that moths and other nocturnal insects use “celestial navigation” as a way of orienting themselves in the dark, much the same way man has done for centuries.  The reason moths, supposedly, are attracted to porch lights and the like is because these lights take on a “terrestrial” point source in their minds, much the same way sea turtles can be distracted by porch lights on the beach while they look for the moon to signal when they should head back to sea.[5]

When you step back to consider these schools of thought, they really aren’t that much different.  In essence, the moths are (a) disoriented by the false light, (b) distracted by the false light and (c) nevertheless seeking refuge in the light.  Obviously, taking these results and applying them to ourselves individually, there are potentially many lessons we can learn.  While I do not intend to expound each of these ideas, there is yet a further idea I would like to discuss – namely what we see when we witness this “light dance.”

It could be said, and indeed it has been said, that these moths are completely oblivious to their surroundings when a false light (by false light, I mean any source that isn’t natural – like celestial objects) comes into their view.  They, as mentioned in both of the articles on the two different schools of thought, make a “beeline” for the source of light and use that light to either seek refuge from the predators of the night, or to orient themselves on their travels.  Neither goal is achieved, unfortunately, in this “light dance.”  What is achieved, however, is a complete and total distraction to what is happening all around them.

Robert Lanza, in the original article from the Huffington Post, shared something that Loren Eiseley once wrote on this very subject:

“While I was sitting one night with a poet friend watching a great opera performed in a tent under arc lights, the poet took my arm and pointed silently. Far up, blundering out of the night, a huge Cecropia moth swept past from light to light over the posturings of the actors. ‘He doesn’t know,’ my friend whispered excitedly. ‘He’s passing through an alien universe brightly lit but invisible to him. He’s in another play; he doesn’t see us. He doesn’t know. Maybe it’s happening right now to us.”

This statement should, hopefully, elicit some internal yearnings to better understand the universe in which we individually live.  Are we, like the huge Cecropia moth, blundering on in the darkness, oblivious to the universe which is all around us?  Are we ignorant to the realities that present themselves in our everyday lives, simply because we aren’t really paying attention to what is going on around us?  Maybe, just maybe, it is happening right now to us.

This thought, so eloquently set forth by Eiseley, isn’t without scriptural support.  The Doctrine & Covenants discuss, in a veiled way, what it means to walk in darkness – a metaphor which has direct application to this discussion:

For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to aprune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my bstrange act, that I may cpour out my Spirit upon all flesh—But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are achosen.  They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are awalking in bdarkness at noon-day. … If you akeep not my commandments, the blove of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall cwalk in darkness.[6]

The meaning of this scripture may get lost in the cracks of our everyday lives, but it is directly applicable to us, today.  We are those who are walking at “noon-day” in that we fail to see the light shining all around us.  Whereas the moth is distracted from the universe which surrounds it because of false light sources, we are distracted from the universe which surrounds us because we glory in the darkness.  To be fair, we may not “glory” in the darkness, but all too frequently we reject the light because we “per-ceive” it not.  The light, much like the example of the moths, is not hidden from us mortals, but all too often we choose not to “see” that light.  The light which I am referring to, I hope, would be obvious to the reader.  That light is none other than Christ.

For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the alight which shineth in darkness, and by my bpower I give these words unto thee.  … Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the aSon of God. I am the life and the blight of the world.[7]

I am the alight which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not[8].

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the aSon of God. I am the same that came unto mine bown, and mine own received me not. I am the clight which shineth in ddarkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.[9]

Similarly, Christ reiterates this same idea throughout the New Testament.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the alight of the world: he that followeth me shall not bwalk in cdarkness, but shall have the light of life[10].

Whereas the moth is attracted to a false light source, mistaking it for a celestial body which it uses to guide itself on its journeys, we tend to mistake darkness for light.  We view our surroundings, the false paradigms of our worlds, the chasing after money, goods, possessions, “that … which doth corrupt the soul,”[11] as the purpose of our existence.  And, if not the purpose, certainly something worth spending the majority of our life chasing after.  If that is not the purpose of our existence, then why do we spend the vast majority of our time laboring after those things which, according to Isaiah, “satisfieth not?”  (see Isaiah 55:2).  It seems nonsensical, when you think about it.  Looking at the things on which we spend our energy and resources, it’s no wonder Christ states that we are “walking in darkness at noon-day.”  We’re so distracted and overwhelmed with “life” that we forget the reasons why we are here on earth.

Christ himself describes this darkness in a separate section of the Doctrine & Covenants, where he says, “…that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.”[12] Centuries earlier, a prophet who had seen and communed with Christ, echoes these words in the concluding chapters of the Book of Mormon where he writes, “…all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil … that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”[13]

While we may conjecture and postulate what it is about the false light sources which distracts and leads astray the moths in their nocturnal flight patterns, the scriptures have laid out a formula and method whereby we can avoid similar distractions.  According to the scriptures discussed previously, what we must do is find those things which “enticeth to do good” and to serve God.  In so doing, we will find the “light which shineth in the darkness” (which shineth in [us], though we comprehend it not).

A friend of mine, in an email, stated the following in discussing the opening verses of Alma chapter 41 (his words are in the brackets):

3 And it is requisite with the ajustice of God that men should be bjudged according to their cworks; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be drestored unto that which is good. [good = happiness]

4 And if their works are evil they shall be arestored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be brestored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—cmortality raised to dimmortality, ecorruption to incorruption—raised to fendless happiness to ginherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—

5 The one raised to ahappiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; [good = happiness] and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.

6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

aThese are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, [of Hell – or our current state of mind] that are delivered from that endless night of darkness [which is in our own minds]; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.

As verse seven describes, those who are redeemed of the Lord, are taken out [of hell – or our current blinded state of mind; our current false paradigms; our current skewed individual universes] and are delivered from that “endless night” of darkness [again, in our own minds].  As we seek the true source of light, discussed in the above scriptures, we will lay hold of every good thing and be led to the:

“…light which shineth, which giveth [us] light, is through Him who enlightened [our] eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth [our] understandings; … which is in all things, which given life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed…for intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light…”[14]

Let us shun the darkness and cleave unto the Light.  It is the only way.  He is the only way.


[1] Robert Lanza, M.D.  Anything Beyond the Universe?  New Theory Changes Our Destinyhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-lanza/anything-beyond-the-unive_b_455260.html.  Retrieved 02/09/2010.

[2] Cecil Adams.  Why are moths attracted to bright lights? http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1071/why-are-moths-attracted-to-bright-lights.  01/27/1989.  Retrieved 02/09/2010.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Why are Moths Attracted to Flame? http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12903572.  08/18/2007.  Retrieved 02/09/2010.

[5] Ibid.

[6] See Doctrine & Covenants 95:4-6, 12.

[7] See Doctrine & Covenants 11:11, 28.

[8] See Doctrine & Covenants 10:58.

[9] See Doctrine & Covenants 6:21.

[10] See John 8:12.

[11] See Mosiah 29:40.

[12] See Doctrine & Covenants 50:23.

[13] See Moroni 7:12-13.

[14] See Doctrine & Covenants 88:11-13, 40.


Post 2 (Originally written for weepingforzion.com):

All We Need is Love  by:  Guest Author (Tom)

What is Love, or in other words, what is Charity?

I’ve been engaged in several conversations over the past couple of weeks regarding the state of today’s LDS Church and have been constantly reminded that “all we need is Love”.  The response to inquiries into the state of the church, church policies, doctrines, leadership, etc., all goes back to this euphemism – “all we need is Love.”  Typically, this “love” is related to the differences between the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.  The tree of life, symbolizing God’s love, is the tree we’re shooting for.  The tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree we’re hoping to avoid, is the tree which, supposedly, relates to these inquiries, questions and discussions regarding the brethren, different policies and procedures.

The Nature of Criticism

It seems that the critique of a policy or procedure is inexplicably linked to a critique of the brethren (brethren being the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 Apostles).  No longer can we, as this logic flows, question something the church does without it automatically implicating them.  They, as I suppose, are those who send orders down to various levels of an extremely centralized hierarchy and as such purveyors of information, policy and procedure, they are either glorified or vilified for the results.  Never mind that this logic flow doesn’t truly work in other areas and sectors of our lives, it nevertheless is the apparent case within the LDS Church and its members.

Interestingly, in a talk which has granted members supposed justification to persecute others they view as criticizing, or at the very least a justification and need stifle “apostate” behaviors, Dallin H. Oaks differentiated between two kinds of criticism.  One he defined as “the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything”, and stated that this form of criticism is “inherent in the exercise of agency and freedom.”  Today, however, all criticism of church policies, teachings and programs seemingly fall within the other definition Dallin H. Oaks gave, that of “passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.”  It’s unfortunate that members would persecute other members, and stifle discussion of issues, because of ignorance between these two definitions of criticism.

Indeed, Dallin H. Oaks further added this recommendation, which we’d do well to understand and implement:

“The counsel to avoid destructive personal criticism does not mean that Latter-day Saints need to be docile or indifferent to defective policies, deficient practices, or wrongful conduct … Our religious philosophy poses no obstacle to constructive criticism of such conditions. The gospel message is a continuing constructive criticism of all that is wretched or sordid in society.  … But Christians who are commanded to be charitable and to “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) should avoid personal attacks and shrill denunciations. Our public communications—even those protesting against deficiencies—should be reasoned in content and positive in spirit.” – Dallin H. Oaks

Instead of shying away because of fear of harming the reputation of people – especially when the modern man’s (and woman’s) ego is so fragile and easily harmed – we should engage in constructive criticism to avoid the pitfalls that come through groupthink.  However, within the LDS church today, any tiffs with policy, procedures or the like is automatically tainted because of alleged “evil speaking” or “faultfinding” of the brethren, a bitter fruit of that pesky tree of knowledge of good and evil.  This, to a large extent, serves to smother all discussion of policies, procedures, and matters emanating from the Church Office Building.  It seems to suggest that the teaching from the June 1945 Improvement Era maintains a stronghold on the minds of members at all levels of the hierarchy, especially at the individual level.  This teaching stated:

“…He [Lucifer] wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to “do their own thinking.”… When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s plan.   When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy…. (June 1945 Ward Teaching Lesson, Improvement Era 48:354)

Never mind that President George Albert Smith, the newly called President of the Church at that time, repudiated this teaching in his response to a letter from an official from another church questioning the message taught:

“…that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to his Maker for his individual acts…. (George Albert Smith Letter to Dr. J. Raymond Cope, Dec. 7,1945)

Yes, in spite of this repudiation and other teachings from the very leaders members sustain as prophets, seers and revelators, this same line of thinking largely exists inside the Church today.  To compound this problem – getting to the heart of this essay – one of the main reasons why we are to forgo our questioning and discussion into questionable policies, procedures and teachings is because we are to be Love.  “All we need is Love” is something that is frequently reiterated in response to anything that appears controversial.  To show love, it seems, we must show mercy, understanding and, unfortunately, acceptance in the face of contradictory information.  Acceptance as used in the previous sentence can either mean personal acceptance (i.e. agreement) or acceptance in that the church and its teachings are how they should be and to speak up is to partake of the bitter fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the expense of the tree of life.

Personally, I fully agree that we must show mercy and understanding to those who labor for the cause of Zion – wherein they actually labor for that cause and not some other – but I do not agree with the injunction that we must accept and move on from the contradictions as we see them.  The reason why I disagree with this premise is rooted in this very discussion on love and charity.  Both love and charity have many levels of understanding, which magnifies the complexity of the situation.  To say that “all we need is love” is an extremely vague and misleading statement.  What kind of love, one might ask?  Do we show “love” in the permissive sense of the word, letting everyone do what they feel is right, or do we show “love” in the same way which Mormon and Moroni – the last two prophets in the Book of Mormon – and Christ showed love.

In writing this essay, I’m fully cognizant that I’m writing from an extremely flawed perspective and paradigm.  I am but one person and fully hope that my errors in reasoning, judgment and application of the following principles and scriptures will be pointed out to me to prevent further errors down the road.  This I fully accept and realize as truth.  Please correct me in my the rationale I put forth to reach my conclusions.

Mormon & Moroni

Moroni first emerges onto the scene in the Book of Mormon in statements made by his father, Mormon, near he end of the record as he states in a couple of different locations his plan to give some of the plates to his son to finish their writings and seal up the record for a latter day (see Words of Mormon 1:1; Mormon 6:6, 11).  It’s significant, in my flawed opinion, that Moroni’s first words and writings can be found in Mormon 8, a chapter filled with words which are none to pleasant on the ear of those living in the times he described.  Mormon 7 is a record of Mormon’s dying testimony, after which Moroni picks up the record and states, in Mormon 8:1, “I … do finish the record of my father, Mormon.”

Mormon 8 is a chapter that pulls on the heartstrings of anyone wanting to know the truth and willing to understand the context of Moroni’s words.  He, Moroni, is noticeably distraught over the destruction of his people, lamenting that:

“…and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people.  But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father.  And whether they will slay me, I know not. … wither I go it mattereth not … for I am alone.  My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor wither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.” (Mormon 8:3-5, emphasis added)

Moroni and Mormon, like Christ, were men acquainted with grief, sorrow, pain and death.  Their lives were lived in an era of constant war, destruction and death, Moroni even stated that “…the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.”  With this information as a pretext, we jump into the meat of Moroni’s teachings, but before doing so I must comment on love and charity.  In spite of all his afflictions, in spite of all that he had seen and lived through, Moroni nevertheless had a firm testimony of love and charity, because he had been gifted that pure love of Christ.

“34 And now I [Moroni] know that this alove which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.

“35 Wherefore, I [Moroni] know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not acharity, because of our weakness, that thou wilt prove them, and btake away their ctalent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly.

“36 And it came to pass that I [Moroni] prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles agrace, that they might have charity.

“37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made aclean. And because thou hast seen thy bweakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. (Ether 12:34-37)

In these verses I see a story of a man fighting within himself, wanting to be filled with charity in spite of all that is going on around him.  He grew up in a world filled with hate, murder, destruction and cynicism.  He grew up and lived a life which saw everything taken from him – his friends, kinsfolk, his father, the disciples who ministered to him and his father, and any semblance of a home.  Yet, in spite of all these struggles, we see a man who nevertheless was blessed with the gift of charity.  A gift he must have desired, a gift he must have asked for.  In pondering over verse 37, I wonder whether his weakness was a lack of charity during a portion of his earlier life.  In verse 36 he’s praying for others that they may receive grace, which would lead to charity.  In verse 37, the Lord tells him it does not matter whether they have charity (at least it did not matter to Moroni), but what did matter was that Moroni did see “[his] weakness” (verse 37), which the Lord, as promised, made into his strength.

It became such a strength to him that he felt, in spite of the lack of room he had on the plates (Mormon 8:5), the need to include a letter from his father on the topic of charity.  Within this letter Mormon states emphatically:

“Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear…I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love…” (Moroni 8:16-17; emphasis added)

This particular verse is enlightening in how it deals with the discussion of love and charity because these verses immediately follow a stinging rebuke of those who believe in infant baptism, stating that such people are “pervert[ing] the ways of the Lord”, that they shall “perish” absent repentance, that they are in “the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity”, and that they neither have “faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go to hell.”  Those are some pretty strong words for a man, a prophet, who is filled with “everlasting love” and “with charity” and takes time to testify of his being filled with it, but only after reproving those who believe in a fallacious doctrine.

This chapter follows the beautiful writings of Mormon in Moroni 7 which discuss the “pure love of Christ.”  Moroni, likewise filled with such charity, stated throughout his short writings the need for charity, faith and hope and that all things will fail, excepting charity, and that “if ye have not charity, ye are nothing.”  These two men, father and son – Moroni and Mormon – knew like few others what it was like to have charity in the face of a life filled with unimaginable pain, suffering and sorrow.  This undoubtedly was one of the main reasons why they felt the need to share those words with us on the last few remaining pages of their written record, to us who may also witness similar sufferings and afflictions.

Later, Moroni, like his father, also issued a rebuke to us in the last days who pollute the holy church of God and prostitute ourselves for that which is of no worth.  His stinking rebuke was, nevertheless, a result of his love and charity towards us, as strange as that may seem.  He wasted no space in writing what he did, precisely and accurately describing what he needed and was inspired to say.  Some of his rebukes included the following language, in describing the time in which his record [the Book of Mormon] would come forth from out of the ground:

“…it shall come forth in a day when … the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts…”

“…it shall come forth in a day when … there shall be churches built up that shall say:  Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.”

“…ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people … why have ye transfigured the word of God?”

“…ye do walk in the pride of your hearts … unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts…”

“…ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God?”

“…why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans…”  (Mormon 8:28-41).

I would recommend a thorough reading of the entire chapter with the thought in mind of how his charity and love for us, the very people he saw and was writing to, comes through in his words.  Surely, if we look at the words of both Mormon and Moroni we can see that charity and love include a level which can and must be described as either hard, tough, or a rebuking love.  Love is much more than a platitude we add to letters, conversations and discourses about positive messages, it’s also a willingness to say the hard things that sting and cut through the fluff all too present in our current dialogues and conversations.  In writing this they were no doubt partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life, God’s love, in that they were laboring to bring men unto repentance and laboring to get men, across centuries of time, to turn back to God and Christ.

Truly, these men emulated Christ, and truly received “the pure love of Christ”, which required that they, at times, teach truth which is hard to receive (at least, for those who reject truth because it’s uncomfortable).

Christ

Turning, then, to Christ, who needs neither introduction nor preface, especially from me, and some of the ways he showed charity and love to those around him.  I will not attempt to create an exhaustive list of some of his stinging rebukes, but have selected some which show several different ways he used and taught love and charity to those around him:

“And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. … Woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the market.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For yea re as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. … Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.  … Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge; the fullness of the scriptures; ye enter not in yourselves into the kingdom, and those who were entering in ye hindered” – Luke 11:39-52 (emphasis added)

“And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation …” – Luke 9:41 (emphasis added)

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My ahouse shall be called the house of bprayer; but ye have made it a cden of thieves.” – Matthew 21:12-13 (emphasis added)

“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from aheaven.  He aanswered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and alowring, O ye bhypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the csigns of the dtimes?  A wicked and aadulterous generation seeketh after a bsign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the csign of the prophet dJonas. And he left them, and departed.  ¶ Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the aleaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.  aWhich when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?  Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?  Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?  How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the adoctrine of the Pharisees and of the bSadducees. – Matthew 16:1-12

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall asin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be blifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and cmurders, and dpriestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall ereject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.” – 3 Nephi 16:10 (emphasis added)

“And while they were at variance one with another they became very aslothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord.  And the enemy came by night, and broke down the ahedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive-trees.  Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the avineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil?  Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a awatchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?  And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer. – D&C 101:43-62 (50-54)

There are likewise hundreds of other scriptures in the same vein, uttered, written or spoken by Christ (or his authorized servants) throughout our standard works.  The number of times that Christ has called us wicked, perverse, faithless, adulterous, hypocrites, murderers, full of priestcrafts and wickedness, materialistic, rotten on the inside, and other names and insinuations is almost without number.  Are his rebukes and criticism examples of his partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, a bitter fruit, an example of him not showing forth the very charity of which He himself is the definition?  Did he ever partake of that bitter fruit?  I think the answer to these questions is self-evident.  In all of this Christ provided the perfect example of one who was all about love, whose every action was motivated by pure love for those around him, including the Pharisees and scribes and including us, perhaps the most perverse and wicked generation yet to live on this green earth.  Indeed, Christ is the very definition of charity, especially when it meant rebuking and calling out those who were preaching false doctrines, following false traditions and professing to know his name and gospel.

Conclusion

In the aforementioned examples of Moroni, Mormon and Christ, we have direct and scriptural examples of both love and charity through the use of words and criticism which we typically associate with partaking of the bitter fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This association, as we can see, is largely false.  Charity and love occasionally require us to “[reprove] betimes with sharpness” (D&C 121:43).

One of the definitions for “betimes”, according to the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, is “before it is late” or in “good time”.  In Hebrew, the word for “betimes” is shachar which means to “seek early”, “look early for”, etc.  The reproof needed, then, as directed by the Holy Ghost, must be done before something gets out of hand, while there’s still time to correct the erroneous path and well before the errors take hold within the individual, quorum, class or wherever it’s found.  For those members of the church who hold the priesthood, if they’ve attained the office of teacher or higher (in either the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods), then they have a scriptural duty to “teach, expound, exhort, baptize and watch over the church” (D&C 20:42, 53).  To watch over something implies observation, vigilance and providing protection from harm (see Nehemiah 4:7-9; Luke 2:8; D&C 61:38; D&C 82:5; among many others).

To what end do we, or should we, “watch over the church” and how does this relate to charity and love?  I believe that watching over and protecting both flocks and individual sheep (including myself) from harm, error and evil (where we see it and where we are in position to say something) is perhaps the epitome of charity and love that Christ, Mormon and Moroni were showing.  They said and did the things they did because they truly cared for us, were concerned for our spiritual welfare and had special responsibilities and callings to “watch” over us.  Indeed, the Lord is our Shepherd.  His utmost concern is to watch over us and provide us protection from the storms of life where we need it.  If one fails in their watch, as those responsible for building the watchtower in D&C 101, then that person has no charity and must fail.  Christ has charity because he is the very definition of charity and love.  Sometimes that charity and love is soft and meek, sometimes that charity and love is hard and reproves us because of our wickedness.

Questioning a policy, practice or teaching within the church can be, depending on the method, the epitome of love and charity, serving to correct error and lift everyone to higher planes of understanding.  In a world which has grown soft to criticism, where anything relating to “negativity” is viewed as a personal attack or, worse, “evil speaking” and “faultfinding”, and where we in the church are told to avoid all forms of criticism for fear of partaking of that bitter fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, this lesson gets lost in the mud of life and buried deep beneath the surface.

No matter the result, if we deceive ourselves into believing that the only duty we have is to profess allegiance to a form of love which ignores the very love which Jesus and the Lord’s authorized servants have employed since Adam was first on the earth, and if we imply that we have no duty to “watch” over our respective flocks, to speak up and confront error when so impressed by the Holy Ghost, indicates nothing more than the sad fact that we have no understanding of love, nor charity, and must fail.  To suggest that any critique or criticism of policies, practices (false or otherwise), teachings and traditions is partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil at the expense of partaking of God’s love is to promote a perverted version of the truth.  For it is true that at the end of the day all we really do need is love…Christ’s true love, not a misleading definition that promotes both the ignoring and continuation of fallacies wherever they may be found.

Your thoughts, critiques and rebukes are encouraged.  :)

8 Responses to “All We Need is Love”

  1. anonymous Says:
    December 3rd, 2009 at 9:50 pm Best post I have read in a while.

    While admonishing the Thessalonian Saints, Paul encouraged them to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”.

    Although that scripture is a great one for missionaries to use in getting Christians of other denominations to become critical thinkers and investigate the restoration, it is interesting to note that Paul was not speaking to investigators. He was speaking to his fellow Saints.

    As a general authority, Paul was not as threatened about having his teachings critically analyzed by fellow Saints as he was concerned that the Saints would become complacent and mindless followers, setting themselves up to be taken advantage of by the eventually infiltration of false teachers into the flock.

    Being a critical thinker whilst under the influence of the spirit is how we avoid being deceived and/or avoid getting too far off the path.

    Baptism is not the finish line, it is the starting gate. There is still much to learn and experience after that and much discernment is needed in keeping us on the right path.

    Paul was one of the exceptions to the rule who did not find his way into the fold via the “proving” process. Rather, his paradigm change had to be brought about by divine intervention. It appears as though he had been stuck in the traditions of his fathers and refused to question those in authority… including himself. It appears he refused to be a critical thinker, discerning the fruits of the existing church and its members and leaders.

    This makes his counsel all the more poignant, coming from one who had failed to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good…. he learned the hard way .

    If “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” certainly the edifying act of continuing to prove all things and discerning truth and holding fast to that which is good is a very important function of charity.

    In that context, I agree with your friends…

    all we need is love…

    even if it appears at times to be “tough love”

  1. TuNeCedeMalis Says:
    December 4th, 2009 at 12:50 pm My thoughts… A great writeup.

    I have had very similar thoughts recently and appreciate your concise and direct focus on the truth.

    Disagreeing is not lacking love, we simply must pray to have charity for those that we are disagreeing with.

    TuNeCedeMalis

  2. Tom Says:
    December 4th, 2009 at 2:35 pm Thanks for the comments…

    Disagreeing is not lacking love, though I’ve heard direct assertions (to me personally) that questioning and disagreeing are automatically linked to both apostasy (from what I might ask?) and to leaving the church, or trying to find your way out of the church on purpose. The flow in logic baffles me – as if to say we can’t question ANYTHING church related without wanting to apostatize or leave the church.

  3. dan Says:
    December 5th, 2009 at 12:58 am It could be viewed that the most Charitable act the Lord ever did to this point was to baptize the earth by water. And he sent a prophet to tell them all they needed to repent first. The next big charitable event is soon on the table. If men could only see as he sees.

    Though in reality the most charitable acts ever performed involved giving up celestial nature that we may live and putting sin on a perfect and sinless mortal body for our sake. Both, if I could do them now, would be seen as evil by the skeptics looking on.

  4. Jeff R. Day Says:
    December 8th, 2009 at 6:42 am I think there is a true Love (of Christ), and a false Love (of Paul, in my opinion). Be careful which you apply.

    The topics upon which you have been blogging on here are close to my heart. I was ultimately driven out of the church as a result of going down these paths. But, I would make the same choice again if given the option. Truth will prevail.

    I am just so very glad to see that at least one other person out there cares about some of these topics enough to study them out. Pray, study, hold fast to that which is true, and do not the group-think of the society within the Church to convince you otherwise.

  5. Jake The Ant Says:
    December 8th, 2009 at 10:01 am and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.

    Elaborate, ye wise ones.

  6. dan Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 1:46 am After the resurrection of christ, three days and night in the heart of the earth (hollow earth?) as Jonah in the fish, the people of the south who accepted Jonas words will be given to destroy the Israelites who do not accepted the new covenant or Jonah, Christ.

    This is of course also a last days type. When the servant is marred, he will later be healed and receive power. Than, with all Israel safe, the Gentiles (who had originally accepted Jonah) will reject this new prophet and Israel will not. The last may be first and the first last.

  7. Tom Says:
    December 10th, 2009 at 2:12 am Curious as to why paul’s love was referred to as “false love” (comment #5)…and would love to hear your point of view.

    as to the discussion on “proving all things”, the greek word used in this verse (1 Thess 5:21) is dokimazo, which comes from the root word dokeo. Dokeo means to judge something or have an opinion of something. dokimazo means to “recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy”, and is synonymous with “discern[ing]“. Thanks for pointing this verse, in context, out. Truly we should “prove all things”, but hopefully with the goal of taking what we’ve been given, and improving upon it by taking the good and rejecting the false in favor of better.

    If that makes sense…