Feast upon the Word Blog

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145 Responses to “Submit a question”

  1. Robert C. said

    (Note: I’ve archived the previous questions (for 2006-2008) at: http://feastuponthewordblog.org/submit-a-question/questions_2006-2008/ )

  2. stargazer said

    I am teaching a “Teachings For Our Times” Lesson in Relief Society on Elder L. Tom Perry’s address: “Let Him Do It with Simplicity”. “In our search to obtain relief from the stresses of life, may we earnestly seek ways to simplify our lives.”

    I looked forward to conference this year, wondering if the issue of our economic downturns would be mentioned. I think this obliquely applies. It could be mistaken by some for a “preparedness” talk, mentioning the basics of food, clothing, shelter and fuel. However, on the topic of food, for example, Elder Perry reminds us of the importance of the Word of Wisdom; on clothing, he mentions modesty; shelter: stay out of debt; fuel: righteousness.

    Elder Perry mentions Henry David Thoreau at the beginning and end of his address, partly because he and his wife went to Walden’s Pond frequently to commune with nature during a stressful time in their lives.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions as I approach this lesson. I will be teaching the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Thanks.

  3. Robert C. said

    Sounds very interesting, stargazer—let us know how the lesson goes. I too was very impressed with Elder Perry’s talk, but then I was already a pretty big fan of Thoreau (and I think the “spirit of Thoreau” in the film Dead Poet’s Society has a lot to teach us). In reading for Sunday school this week, Mormon 8:36-37 stuck out to me as also very much in this same spirit of getting too caught up in the world (and Elder Christofferson’s talk seemed in this same thematic spirit too, which I was even more bowled over by…):

    [36] And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their 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. [37] For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

  4. stargazer said

    Thanks for your helpful comments, Robert C.

    I taught the lesson today and felt very satisfied with the outcome. For 3 of the subtopics (living the law of health, living the law of modesty, living within our means) I asked the class how it is that valiant LDS women struggle with these things. We got some interesting comments. For each of those 3 subtopics I also pre-assigned a sister to answer the question: “How can living the law of ___ help us remain positive, even optimistic, during times of trial?” On modesty, the sister quoted Pres. Kimball as saying something to the effect: “Regarding strapless dresses, you cannot rely on faith alone.” (!) My favorite comment came from the “frugality” sister: “My self-esteem does not come from what I have, but from my relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    I concluded by applying the idea of incorporating simplicity into our approach to Christmas activities, including a reading of a short piece, “This Christmas I will do less, and listen more.” I think Thoreau might have been pleased with the sentiment.

    Thanks again.

  5. Chris Davenport said

    I have been Gospel Doc teacher for a couple of years. I am planning out the lessons for 09. It seems there are more sundays then lessons (48 sundays vs. 46 lessons) Does anyone have the 09 schedule planned out for the D&C lessons? Thanks.

    Chris In Idaho

  6. cherylem said

    I have been looking at the Wikipedia entry for Martin Harris: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Harris_(Latter_Day_Saints)

    Anyone have any comment on this entry? It seems totally legit, and totally . . . well, fascinating.

  7. cherylem said

    Chris (#5)
    I’m going to do a schedule . . . will post when I get it done.

  8. joespencer said

    Most of this was familiar to me, Cheryl. A few details were new, but they fit the expectations I’ve developed. Is there anything in particular that struck you?

  9. cherylem said

    Joe,
    It was not familiar to me but was very interesting.

  10. Tammy said

    I have to teach Relief Society lesson number 26. Elijah and the Restoration of,the Sealing Keys. I have several questions on this chapter. How did Elijah end up with the keys? Was the baptism for the dead practice in the Bible?

  11. Robert C. said

    Tammy, hopefully Joe will post some notes on this lesson soon. In the meantime, one thought about baptism for the dead in the Bible, 1 Cor 15:29 is a (famous) reference in the New Testament to baptism for the dead. Less commonly discussed is D&C 128:12ff which seems to allude to baptism for the dead in Old Testament times. (See some discussion and cross-references for this verse here and here at the wiki….)

  12. JerryYoung said

    Re: RS/MP Chapter 28 (Missionary Service)
    As I began working on this the “first missionary” Samuel Smith story impressed. He returned disappointed, feeling unsuccessful. But he had sewn the seed by placing the Book of Mormon into the hands of several, most notably Brigham Young and Heber Kimball.We have a grandson in the New England area who recently had his first transfer and discouraged a bit in having to leave contacts. We often by effort and/or example have furthered the Lord’s work more than we know. It is faith that we do our callings letting free agency and promtings work in His way, plan & time.
    Our ward has scheduled this Chapter for February 15th and I look forward to comments on the topic.
    Jerry Young in AZ

  13. joespencer said

    Jerry, I’ll get some notes up on this chapter by this coming Sunday. Thanks for sharing in the meanwhile!

  14. JerryYoung said

    Joe, Thanks in advance. as we always experience, the teacher is the one who learns the most during preparation.
    With this marvelous manual, my goals are to present the manual material (alas, so few read it) and to help them feel spiritually fed.
    Jerry

  15. Pam said

    I was teaching today and read this
    from the History of the Church VOL 1 page 358. It says:
    The painted squares in the middle are for public buildings. The one without any figures is for store houses for the bishop, and to be devoted to his use. Figure first is for the temples for the use of the presidency. : the circles inside the squares, are places for the temples. You will see it contains 12 figures, two are for temples of the lesser priesthood. It is also to contain 12 temples.

    The whole plot is supposed to contain from 15-20 thousand people; you will therefore see it will require 24 buildings to supply them with houses of worship, schools, and so forth……………

    I got an email today from someone in class saying there will be 24 temples…. so, did I read that wrong?

  16. Robert C. said

    Pam, very interesting—but I’m sorry I can’t help. Anyone else??

  17. NaomiRook said

    I am a stay at home Mom interested in an institute class, but there doesn’t seem to be any in my city. Is there any online or can I purchase a book and just do home study?

    Thanks
    Naomi

  18. Robert C. said

    Naomi, the manuals can be found online here. I don’t think there are actual classes online, but if you’d like to discuss what you’re studying here, I think we could arrange it and find others that are interested—that is, start up a kind of online institute class. Just let us know (I’d be happy, for example, to start a new post discussing this as a possibility and seeing who else might be interested…).

  19. BrianJ said

    Naomi, Rob: I could see that being very interesting.

  20. joespencer said

    I’m game.

  21. Jadon said

    Today in Sunday School we had the lesson on the Sabbath. The teacher and a class member very strongly advocated the position that it does not matter which day of the week is used as the sabbath. The idea being that it is for convenience we meet on a Sunday (everyone together)
    This is very new to me. I thought that Sunday was used as it tied our observance to the resurrection and thusly the atonement. Also calendar systems seem to attach great significance to dates events occur and tie our days to recurring Hebrew observances. Is the actual day of the week important? Can someone point me to a talk or discussion of this?

    • BrianJ said

      It’s possible they were relying on the Bible Dictionary entry for “Sabbath,” which explicitly states that it doesn’t matter what day is chosen for worship.

      • jadon said

        You are right that they were using the Bible Dictionary entry for “Sabbath”. In fact the teacher had the class read aloud all the paragraphs under that entry in class. Since I cannot read (visual thing), then I must not have been paying attention closely enough. I will revisit that part and perhaps find my answer there. Thank you Brian J

  22. NathanG said

    Jadon,
    I’m curious why they strongly held that it does not matter which day of the week is used as the sabbath. Is it over the question of whether the sabbath is Saturday or Sunday, or is it whether we could worship any day of the week? Then I wonder is this a question for individual worship or for congregational worship? (Although D&C 59 suggests that we should worship every day). If somebody must work on Sunday, but has Wednesdays off, can that person change the sabbath to Wednesday? If the church leaders never took the sacrament because they were always at stake conference, could they hold their own sacrament meeting on a different day of the week? I think the Bible Dictionary entry is good to help sort through some of these questions. I think Christ’s answer is also important to keep in mind in Mark 2:27. The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.

    • jadon said

      Somewhere there must be something I was not understanding. Parts of your comment I remember being brought up in class. Such as the example of working on Sunday. Someone did mention also that (either the General Authorities or was it just the Apostles?) meet on a Thursday to partake of the sacrament for the very reason you mentioned (conferences)
      So many aspects of your comment are so familiar, even the reference to Mark 2:27 so I am not sure as to what it is that I am not grasping. Perhaps I am just slow to embrace what is to me a new idea. In my mind I thought the Sabbath to be Sunday, that it used to be Saturday and that this is ‘set in stone’ (at least till the second coming. I felt that the actual day an event is observed was significant and tied it to the original event as well as serving as a pattern for the timing of things yet to occur.
      I have not read the Bible Dictionary entry so I shall do that and see if in there I may find that ‘missing link’. I freely confess I thought of it more as a commentary and almost never have used it. Thank you Nathan G for taking the time to explore my concern with me. Jadon

    • Robert C. said

      I think these are interesting questions and I do not think the Bible Dictionary should be read as much more than just one opinion on the matter—so, as y’all have more thoughts on this issue, I hope you’ll share them.

      To bolster a bit the counter-argument against the Sabbath being arbitrary, I think there’s an important sense in which this view risks making the Sabbath convenient for humankind, rather than humankind responding to the call to make whichever day the Lord designates as holy. I too have heard the significance of Sunday regarding the resurrection (in Russia, the language I learned for my mission, the word for Sunday is essentially the word for Resurrection, so I suppose that’s part of the reason I find this significant). In the end, it’s hard for me to think this is too significant—after all, perhaps it’s like the sacramental bread: bread has scriptural and symoblic significance, but in the absence of bread, something like crackers could also have symbolic significance, but if bread’s available we should really use bread….

    • NathanG said

      I should mention that personally I would feel uncomfortable with the notion of making my own personal sabbath out of convenience. My question was to explore reasons people might suggest the sabbath could be any day. I think we follow what the church directs in this matter. Membership in the kingdom can not focus on the “personal relationship” to the exclusion of being part of the kingdom, so I think an arbitrary individual sabbath would be the wrong direction.

      On a similar theme, I remember in the last year or so a letter being read about family home evening and the many competing activities on Monday nights that might conflict with this important family time. I was bracing myself to hear them say that people should just set aside their own time once a week, but they reaffirmed that the church is setting aside Monday night for home evening and encouraged all members to follow this. I think the sabbath would be similar, but to a much more significant degree.

  23. Diane Morrissey said

    I am teaching in RS TOT and I am seeking your feedback. We will be discussing “trials for the purpose of purifying the Saints” where this life is a “shool of experiences” “to know our own weaknesses, and the weaknesses of our fellowman; our own strengths as well as the strengths of others; and to comprehend our true position before God, angels, and men; that we be incline to treat all with due respect” (Teaching of John Taylor, p.203).

    When we think of “trials” we think of adversities, but I would also like to think of the trials of having “much;” either much in material wealth, physical and mental abilities, and maybe even spiritual experiences. How may we think “where much is given, much is expected” as a refiner’s fire to become more Christ-like?

    Thank YOU

  24. NathanG said

    It seems like there’s plenty of scripture support to taking that approach as the Book of Mormon is full of examples of people failing the trial of having too much.

    It seems that trial has many different definitions that could be explored. Here’s a few. Trial, as in a court case. Trial, as in trying something on or trying something out. Clinical trials where drugs or procedures are tried.

    Sounds like an interesting lesson.

  25. JerryYoung said

    Re: Lesson 35 Redemption for the Dead

    In trying to delve into the thoughts of those who developed the manual, I am wondering about “for” vs the more commonly used “of”.
    Is there a significance?
    One can not address the subject without referring to the Joseph F Smith vision / D&C 138. Do we link the more “detailed” or “advanced” or “complete” knowledge of the vision into this lesson?
    Your comments, advice and/or suggestions will be appreciated.

  26. BrianJ said

    JerryYoung: My first thought is that “of” would point the redemption toward us whereas “for” points it to the dead. Who benefits from the redemption? who are we most concerned about? If I place a deposit of money on a rental, then when I check out I go back to redeem my money—it is the redemption of my money, as my purpose is to get my money back for my sake. (It would make no sense to say “the redemption for my money,” as clearly my money does not stand to gain anything.) Similarly, I think we say the “redemption for the dead” because we do the work primarily out of concern for them and not for ourselves.

    As for bringing D&C 138 into the lesson, I think it’s always a good idea to be prepared to discuss scripture in any class. Whether you must link to it in class or not is probably best determined in two ways: 1) Does it help to address or elaborate on questions you have that you expect to bring up for discussion, 2) if the Spirit prompts you to go there.

    • JerryYoung said

      BrianJ:
      Thanks for your good of-vs-for example.

      Besides delivering HP lessons, my wife & I are the ward family history consultants; she will be presenting in RS while I am doing the same with the HP; great opportunity to encourage temple/family history work.

      We are anxiously awaiting Joe’s take on this chapter.

  27. Gardner said

    Has only tackled Lesson 41 yet????? I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we have had this same lesson numerous times recently…in Sunday School and similar ones in Relief Society. I’m not sure where go to or what to do???? Any help or ideas? It is lesson 4l…”Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion.” Help?

  28. Marjorie said

    I have been given a talking assignment of dialog with the scriptures about the atonement in our life. I have spent countless hours researching articles and talks and have not found anything appropriate. HELP

  29. BrianJ said

    Marjorie: without quoting any scriptures, can you tell me “about the atonement in your (you, personally) life”? I think that’s where you should start.

  30. Jacob B. said

    Is there any way to search the archives on this site? Meaning, a search engine of some kind, not simply clicking the links.

    Thanks,

    Jacob

  31. joespencer said

    Jacob, you can do this through Google, though it’s not terribly thorough. If you go to Google and click on “advanced search” (next to the text box), you can enter (in the text box furthest down the page) a domain name to be searched. Just insert into that box “http://feastuponthewordblog.org” and then do your search. It should get you started.

  32. joespencer said

    The other thing you can do is ask about any topics you’re interested in, and someone is bound to remember a post on the subject. :)

  33. Robert C. said

    Jacob #30, the search box widget got removed for some (probably unintentional reason). I just added it again, look at the top of the left sidebar.

  34. Jacob B. said

    Thanks, Robert.

  35. Park said

    When will you be posting notes on RS/MP lesson two?

  36. joespencer said

    Robert will be doing these notes, and they are supposed to be up by tomorrow, Park.

  37. Moses 4 talks about the eating of the forbidden fruit and the fall. If Adam and Eve didn’t know good from evil before the fall, how can their partaking of the fruit be considered sin/evil? Or how could their decision be considered good for that matter? If they can’t distinguish between good and evil, aren’t they like little children, and therefore unaccountable for their actions? Yet we hang the entire fall into carnal man and a fallen world on this act, while at the same time condemning people who baptize little children (condemning them because little children are innocent and therefore not accountable for sin).

    The fall can only be considered a fall if Adam and Eve could distinguish good from evil. Otherwise, it’s just a blind mistake in the same way that little children make blind mistakes. But if they can distinguish good from evil, they didn’t need to eat the forbidden fruit in the first place. Can you comment on this dilemma?

  38. JerryYoung said

    Were they not told to NOT eat?
    That is what they violated.
    It seems to me a simple matter of disobedience and (big-time)consequence.

  39. Robert C. said

    Tom, I think you raise a very good question here. Here are some notes, links, and other references I put together on this, or a closely related, topic a while ago (actually, 4 years ago, I think, last time this was a topic focused on in Sunday school!). If you’d like to discuss this more, I’d be happy to start a blog post on the topic, just say so here (or email me at rZZZcouch@gmail.com, without the ZZZs)—I think there are many interesting issues here worth discussing more.

  40. Sarah Vidal said

    I always love this site when preparing for my lessons. I am excited to teach RS/MP lesson three next week. When will you be posting notes on this lesson?? Thanks!

  41. BrianJ said

    Sarah: Thanks for the encouragement! We expect that people will only be teaching from the Gospel Principles manual in RS/MP on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays each month, and we have committed to posting lesson notes at least one week in advance. Thus, lesson notes for Chapter 3 should be up by this Sunday, Feb 7th (the 1st Sunday of the month) in time for teaching it Feb 14th. If you are already teaching it then you are a week ahead of us.

  42. NathanG said

    Yep, Sunday. I have it this week.

  43. kirkcaudle said

    You guys are teaching from the manual on the first/fast Sunday? I’m confused.

  44. BrianJ said

    Kirk: we are posting notes one week in advance of the actual date most wards will teach it. So Chapter 3, taught on the second Sunday in Feb, will be posted on the 1st Sunday (or earlier). Chapter 4, taught on the 3rd Sunday, will be posted on the 2nd Sunday (or earlier). And so on.

  45. kirkcaudle said

    Oh yeah, nevermind, I knew that. I thought everyone was talking about needing to teach the lesson this week, but when I went back and reread the conversation I saw I was wrong. Sorry!

  46. Sarah said

    You are correct . . . I teach it THIS Sunday, the second Sunday. Thanks for doing these. The authors on this blog are by far the best commentators about the lessons I’ve seen! And, I can use all the help I can get! Keep it up!

  47. chillypepper said

    Long time reader and fan, first time question asker.

    I got hung up this morning after reading Gospel Principles chapter 6. I know you’re not there yet, but this is kind of a general question.

    How literally do you, or we as church, take the metaphor of spiritual death to physical death. In the gospel principles manual, chapter 6: “Adam and Eve also suffered spiritual death. This meant they and their children could not walk and talk face to face with God.” This seems to indicate that not being in God’s presence is spiritual death. Are we all then experiencing spiritual death currently? It seems odd to define spiritual life OR death in terms of physical proximity to God.
    Also, the bible dictionary explicitly states that physical death can only occur once, by virtue of the atonement. Is that implying that spiritual death is not a one time thing?
    My assumption had always been we are not currently spiritually dead, even though we are separated from God, and that spiritual death is a final state of the soul that occurs after the final judgment (sorry no reference).

    Any thoughts will be appreciated.

  48. joespencer said

    Chillypepper,

    I’ve have a good deal more to say about all this when I finish my notes for chapter 6 (I’m doing that lesson), but I’ll say this for now:

    The Book of Mormon has a complex relationship to the notion of “spiritual death,” since it appears in several places but with slightly distinct meanings in each instance. Importantly, in none of these instances does the term seem to have reference to anything like “being separated from God’s presence,” which is the usual definition in Mormon discussions.

    In short, I quite agree with you that “we are not currently spiritually dead,” that “spiritual death is a final state of the soul that occurs after the final judgment.”

    Expect more when I get my notes done.

  49. KirkC said

    I will also look forward to those thoughts.

  50. chillypepper said

    Yes, thank you.

  51. Rody Canham Blair said

    I am an LDS convert of several years now teaching Gospel Essentials. Getting to know the several recent converts in my ward through this class, I’ve realized that none of us know how to read the Standard Works. We mostly have a personal history in a religion which doesn’t promote scripture study and so we have no experience. Is there a “primer” that walks someone through actually reading the scripture? Such as taking a chapter and walking someone through how to use the footnotes, etc.
    Thank you for any help you may have.

    Rody Canham Blair
    Amherst, MA Ward

  52. joespencer said

    Hey Rody,

    I’d recommend the little book Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions by James E. Faulconer, published by FARMS. (See the amazon page here.) Others will, of course, have other suggestions.

  53. ricke said

    I would also suggest the various LDS Institute manuals as a good introduction to reading and understanding the scriptures. They are available online at http://institute.lds.org/courses/

  54. JerryY said

    Atonement Chapter 12 Gospel Principles will be presented Church-wide on June 20th; today is the 16th.
    Is someone working up something to help?
    I have felt the “cute” breaking up into at-one-ment was a distraction from the gravity of the principle. However,looking back at Elder Packer’s address and the use by many present-day Apostles has reeled me back into harmony with the concept.

  55. Robert C. said

    Jerry, sorry we’re slacking this week. I’ll look into this and see if we can’t get some notes up ASAP. For now, you might try the following pages where we had some discussion regarding the atonement:

    * http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2009/08/09/the-awesomest-atonement-analogy-ever/

    * http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2009/04/18/atonement-perspective-overcoming-or-escaping/

    * http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2008/06/07/if-it-werent-for-the-atonement-then-we-would-have-to-be-perfect-i-said/

    * http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2008/03/24/atonement-revisited/

  56. I hope I’m posting this in the right place…

    I’ve been reading Bodie & Brock Thoene’s historical fiction series, “The A.D. Chronicles,” which take place back in the time of the Savior’s ministry and shortly before His death. I came across the following passages which really struck a chord with me, being that I’d just finished teaching the Hosea lesson on Gospel Doctrine, where we focused heavily upon the Bridegroom/Bride marriage covenant (between Jehovah and Israel).

    The passages from the book I’m reading focus on how circumcision might also point to this marriage covenant and the covenant the Lord made with Abraham. (I’d never considered such a thing before…)

    In the Thoene’s book, the story of Moses’ wife, Zipporah, is told. Originally Zipporah was not Jewish, but a Midianite. This would cause problems when the children of Israel would say she was not a daughter of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. [I'll quote portions of the book below.]

    “She was outside the covenant of circumcision that Adonai had made with Abraham. The Lawgiver marrying outside the Law?…

    “In the culture of Midian, circumcision was merely a legal and civil transaction: a rite performed by the father-in-law upon the bridegroom before the daughter was given in marriage. The blood of the bridegroom’s foreskin sealed the ketubah (marriage contract). Henceforth forever the world knew that the bridegroom had made a covenant with the father of the bride to keep her and care for her as his wife. By shedding his blood, the bridegroom took her under his protection. By this sacrifice the bridegroom pledged that even to death and the spilling of his own blood he would care for her. After such pledge any objections to the union were forever silenced.

    “This was the custom in Midian. But it had no connection with the covenant Adonai made with Abraham. So Zipporah and her children were outsiders. They were not Jews. They were unclean…”

    So, my question is… Is there more to “circumcision” than I originally believed? More than that it pointed to “cutting a covenant” and all the basic things we learn in Sunday School class? Could this also be some symbolism here of Jehovah being our Bridegroom and circumcision showing that we (as His bride) are placing ourselves under His protection?

    Again from the book:

    “The words used in Torah for applying the blood are the same used to describe the way the Hebrew slaves in Egypt placed the blood of the sacrificial lamb upon the doorposts of their houses! This was the same sign given to the Angel of Death that they were under Yahweh’s protection.”

    In Ex. 4, was Zipporah whispering to Adonai… “Surely you are to me the bridegroom of blood?” (And by acknowledging Him as God, taking Him as her own? Was she saying:

    “There is no covenant stronger than circumcision, whereby the bridegroom’s blood is shed for the sake of the bride… his pledge of everlasting faithfulness. This is what circumcision means. I have made Adonai, your God, my bridegroom! I have sealed the contract with the blood of a covenant. This silences any objection to my belonging to your people. I have pledged my life and the lives of my children to your Yahweh by the blood of my firstborn son. By this I am no longer outside. Our sons are no longer outside. We belong to Him just as you do.”

    “Everything in Torah means something. Every detail. This story about Zipporah is often read and misinterpreted. But she taught me something… that Messiah makes provision for those who believe they are outside the boundaries of His love. For all the nations of the world. Father Abraham, a man, circumcised his firstborn son and thus, by faith, the covenant between his descendants and Adonai was sealed. Zipporah, Gentile. Woman. Wife of Mosheh the lawgiver. She circumcised her firstborn son and thus, by faith, opened the door for many nations to enter Yahweh’s covenant of blessing and redemption. This was the promise Adonai gave Abraham through the picture of circumcision: that in a future time not only Abraham and his descendants, but all the nations of the earth will be blessed through this covenant.

    “Very soon now, in the city of Yerushalayim, the blood of Messiah, our heavenly Bridegroom, will be shed to redeem His people, His bride. This is the price He is willing to pay. Messiah’s blood daubed upon our souls will be our seal that we are His beloved – forever. It is the seal to the ketubah, the marriage contract of our salvation. And He will be our Yahweh, and we will be His people for all eternity. All objection to our union with Him will be silenced forever. He will guide us, protect us, love us, free us from sin, and redeem us from the curse of death and sorrow.

    “Yet Messiah is not only the Bridegroom-Redeemer of Israel but the Redeemer of people from all nations who will call upon His name for salavation! Many who are outside Yahweh’s covenant will be saved by the Light. By faith they will claim the blood of Messiah’s sacrifice for themselves.”

    • Scott Zogg said

      Check out JST of Genesis 17: 11 of cirumcision as a reminder of the age of accountability…one aspect we don’t often hear about…

    • Laura, this is a profound connection! I knew that Moses received the High Priesthood from his father-in-law…the Hebrews were a captive people, and had not learned how to read…an apostate people, with some of the oral traditions intact. It is almost as if Zipporah is speaking to US from the dUSt!
      there has to be a way for one covenant people, although lettered, and outside the Camp of Restored Israel, to bring US their writings, and be joined in the New and Everlasting Covenant. Midian was a Son of Abraham by his Third wife, Keturah…and the Doctrine and Covenants show that this righteous branch that kept the High Priesthood, was wed to Moses, and to a people who rejected the Greater Covenant. So much yet to be restored, so that we can understand our own place as a remnant of the Jews…and be grafted in to the True Vine. Di-vine = Two in ONE Vine…in the Father in the Son.

  57. Jim F. said

    I don’t know where your book got its information, but as far as I can tell we don’t have any information about ancient Midianite circumcision practices. One contemporary commentator, John I. Durham, says of Exodus 4:24-26, “These verses are among the most difficult in Exodus, not in terms of their translation, which is quite straightforward, but in terms of their meaning and their location in this particular context. From ancient . . . to modern times . . . a wide range of interpretations, both fanciful and plausible has emerged. . . . The interpreter is further blocked by the problem of the meaning and application of the obscure phrase “bridegroom of blood,” which appears in both v 25 and v 26.” I suspect that the book you’ve read is among those with fanciful interpretations.

    Nevertheless, thoughtful speculation can get us to think about things in new ways and see things we might not have otherwise seen. It seems to me that your book’s speculations about Midianite circumcision and its meaning may well help us think about circumcision–and, therefore, also circumcision of the heart–in productive, useful ways.

  58. Scott Zogg said

    Does anyone still use the wiki? I’ve posted a couple things over the past week but haven’t seen any other activity. I left a question on the help page and emailed Matthew regarding if it was OK to post brief quotes from General Conference etc. in our commentary but haven’t received any response. Thanks in advance.

  59. Scott Zogg said

    Does anyone know anything about the author/creation of gospeldoctrine.com? This is a pretty amazing commentary. The “Contact Us” listed on the sister website josephsmith.com lists a “richards29@msn.com” which is not invalid.

  60. Robert C. said

    Hi Scott, the wiki use has fallen off a bit recently, though I try to post links to the Sunday school lesson notes every couple of weeks, to keep a running index. Wiki use seems to go in waves. Also, wiki seems to work best when we make a coordinated effort to take up a small group of passages as a group over several weeks or so. I’ll respond to your questions there when I have bit more time, esp. if there are particular passages you’d like to study. Thanks for your contributions.

  61. Scott Zogg said

    I meant “no longer valid”.

  62. Adeline said

    Hello!

    My name is Adeline and I was recently baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. While reading the Book of Mormon, I keep thinking up questions and have been pondering many different scriptures and their meanings, but I wanted to ask someone. Tonight, I read 3 Nephi 20 and was very interested, but I had NO IDEA what they meant!! So, I tried google. I am SO GLAD I came across your site and blog. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for… a critical analysis of the scriptures from a historical AND theological point of view. Thank you so much for putting this into cyberspace, you have my deepest gratitude.

    Much love,
    Adeline

    • Jim F. said

      Adeline, have you tried the wiki part of this site? It gives commentary on many individual verses of scripture. I’ve not checked to see what it has to say about 3 Nephi 20, but I would be surprised if it has nothing.

  63. kirkcaudle said

    Welcome to the blog Adeline, hope you stick around :)

  64. Janet Lisonbee said

    The format for the scriptures has changed and difficult to read in the box. What has happened? I like to read the scriptures, along with everyone’s commentaries and now it is difficult to do so.

  65. NathanG said

    A friend asked about books related to sanctification/justification/exaltation. Anyone have any favorites?

  66. [...] School Lesson 46: Daniel 2NathanG on Sunday School Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44, 47NathanG on Submit a questionRobert C. on Submit a questionZack on Book of Mormon Sunday School Lesson 46: “By Faith All [...]

  67. Katherine P said

    Thanks to my brother, Rob C, for tipping me off last year about this site when I was preparing G.D. lessons. I love “Feast!”
    Now for a different calling tho…If anyone runs across a forum for SS teachers of the 12/13-y.o. classes using “The Presidents of the Church” (2011’s manual), let me know, pls!! THX.

  68. BrianJ said

    Katherine: Why not submit the lesson notes yourself to this site? You will already be preparing notes for your class, so you could just post those notes/questions in advance and get feedback and input from people here—and help other teachers like you!

  69. Robert C. said

    Yes, Kat, we’d love to have you post any of your notes here if you are interested (email me for details). We could even work up a rotation schedule if others would be willing (I could probably even help once a month or so…). Also, if you do find other internet sources, please share.

  70. Cinthia said

    I have a question in regards to the scripture in Isaiah 45:7 ” I form the light, and create the darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” I am confused by this scripture as in all other scriptures it says God does not create Evil. I know that Isaiah is a hard Book to understand, but I am trying to figure out if this scriptures is stating that in fact Does and Did create Evil, or if he only allows it, and by allowing it, he creates it? Can someone help me with understanding this, thanks so much :)

    • I love this question! My brother did a paper in his philosophy class on “The Problem of Evil” any time that people seek a deeper understanding of the passage, they will open the door to personal revelation! I have begun to look up the Isaiah passages/passageways in the interlinear bible, called biblos

      http://InterlinearBible.org

      I like to find the hebrew, and compare it with other languages that I read, such as Spanish. I strongly encourage all of my brothers and sisters to learn Hebrew, using the Old Testament to gain greater appreciation for the Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants; Pearl of GREAT Price…starting with Genesis ONE. Find out where the word evil is introduced to the people; or any other word you seek, ask, or NOK.

  71. joespencer said

    Two quick thoughts, Cinthia:

    (1) It is common in Isaiah 40-55 (sometimes called “Second Isaiah” by biblical scholars) to find strong assertions of God’s absolute omnipotence. This is especially visible in verses 5-7 of the chapter you’re reading. Note verses 5-6: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.” If there is no God apart from God, then it would seem to be necessary to attribute to Him all power, even the ability to “create evil.” (Other versions of this can be found elsewhere in Isaiah. I have in mind, in particular, Isaiah’s strange assignment in Isaiah 6:9-10.)

    Of course, in the end, recognition of this aspect of Isaiah’s theology might not be satisfying, because it doesn’t sound terribly Mormon. So . . . .

    (2) It is worth noting that the Hebrew word r’, here translated as “evil,” is broader in significance than we might recognize by its translation. It is used in just the Joseph story in the last part of Genesis alone to describe “ferocious animals” (Genesis 37:20), “downcast faces” (Genesis 40:7), “ugly cows” (Genesis 41:20), “unfortunate circumstances” (Genesis 44:34), “difficulties of life” (Genesis 47:9), etc. Hopefully, this gives you a sense for how much broader the word can be; it need not refer to “evil” in the theological sense. Thus, importantly, modern translations get rid of the word “evil” in their rendering of Isaiah 45:7. Here is the NRSV: “I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.”

    Hope this helps!

    • Cinthia said

      Thank you so much for the reply, it does help, alot. So in reality the word evil was mistranslated out of context and really means he creates hardships? But then again, a lot of ppl would take that as why would he create hardships? But the way I read it is, that by him creating the light darkness forms, and by him creating hope and blessings, hardships and trails are formed. Not that he makes them happen but only allows them to happen since for every good thing there is, there is the opposite of that? sorry if I am not making any sense. Basically, I have someone who is interested in the Church, and asked me this question yesterday, If God Created Evil, I answered no that I didnt believe so, and found scriptures supporting this. But then as I was continuing to research the Scriptures I came across this verse and it has me stumped.

      • joespencer said

        I’d be less inclined to understand the passage to mean that God “creates hardships.” There is seldom in the Old Testament an emphasis on God’s dealings with individuals. When Isaiah speaks of making weal and creating woe, I think we should hear him referring to God’s covenantal dealings with Israel. God gave them the promised land; God took it from them and led them into exile; God will restore them to Jerusalem; etc. (Note, in fact, that verses 2-7 record the Lord’s word to Cyrus, the king of Persia—who would bring Judah back to Jerusalem. It is to this pagan king specifically that God, through Isaiah’s words, announces that He both makes weal and creates woe.)

        So I don’t know that there is any particular need here to emphasize God’s letting bad happen. Isaiah generally is interested in asserting that God intentionally orchestrates things that we as humans take to be disasters. But He does it, of course, in order to further the work of the covenant—in Isaiah, in order to construct the remnant who will prove fully faithful to the covenant and so allow for its ultimate fulfillment.

        So, did God “create Evil” in some cosmic sense? Not according to our beliefs, and there is nothing in this Isaiah passage that suggests such—given the context and the range of meaning of the Hebrew word in question. But Isaiah does nonetheless have something to teach us about God’s sovereignty, and that we shouldn’t overlook.

        Helpful?

      • Cinthia said

        Thank you Joespencer. your comment was very helpful indeed, and gives me a lot to think about and consider. I have never though of God creating evil things, but as you put it, it does make sense. So when the other scriptures deny that God creates evil, that only means he does not create evil without purpose then right?

      • joespencer said

        Without purpose. Yes, I think that’s fair. That’s something like the way it’s put in 2 Nephi 2: without opposition in all things—and hence evil’s being a part of things—there would be no end/purpose of creation….

      • Cinthia said

        Thanks again, and when I say without purpose, I mean Rightgeous purpose. To me there are two types of evil, Moral Evil, which we create with our free agency, and then Natural Evils, obviously those come with just natural reason, and then God creats those as well. Gods evil is done with purpose and reason, to fulfill his plan for our happiness. while our evil is rarely done for those reasons. Thanks again :)

  72. Eddy R Impanis said

    If the R.C. institution is the Whore of Babylon and it is obvious that it is, then, according to Deut 12:29-31 wouldn’t their entire liturgical calendar (and the rituals and customs associated with them) be idolatry as surely as bowing to a statue when GOD has told us that this an unacceptable form of worship to HIM? The Man of Sin mentioned by Daniel after all sought to change TIMES and laws and we do know they reordered, reworded and altered the 10 commandments and changed their day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday on their own authority claiming authority over all those who do likewise. (They become daughters of the whore.)

    • Robert C. said

      Eddy, I don’t think the Roman Catholic church is the whore of Babylon, if that’s what you are claiming. It’s a great question though, how and what are we to understand by the whore? I think it’s more of an ideology that creeps into many different cultures, institutions and practices, though this is a topic for another post.

    • Jim F. said

      For Mormons 1 Nephi 14:10 makes it impossible to identify the “whore of all the earth” with the Roman Catholic or any other particular institution. Few Christians understand the “mother of harlots” mentioned in Revelation 17:5 to be the Roman Catholic Church or any other particular institution.

      This is a place for Latter-day Saints to talk about their beliefs, not a place to attack the beliefs of others. In particular it isn’t a place for non-LDS to attack others.

  73. How many Sabbath Year events can you find in the Book of Mormon?

    I have been involved in a Study of the Sabbath Year Events, recorded in the Book of Mormon, that shows that the Nephites were strict in their observance of the Law of Moses…since March 29, 2007…anyone else seen the seven year cycle?
    IMHO, the greatest event recorded prior to the birth of Messiah was the establishment of a system of Judges, at the request of their last Nephite King, which ended the Dynastic Rule of Nephi.
    Starting with the first year of the reign of the judges of the people of Nephi, count every seventh year and share what you find. It was the phrase…the …year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi…that drew my attention to the year-count. Mormon would have a difficult time engraving the words of Nephi, and seldom abbreviated that phrase. There must be some reason why he kept using the entire phrase; so I decided to check the seventh year; the fourteenth year and so on. Try it yourself; it is pivotal to our understanding the things of the Jews…especially those of US who were not raised in Jewish homes. The turning of the hearts of the Jews to the Prophets? and the turning of the Hearts of the Prophets to the Jews.

  74. TFOT said

    I’m teaching the TFOT lesson this week and the talk is “An Ensign to the Nations” by Elder Holland. Has anyone taught this lesson? Does anyone have any ideas?

    thanks

  75. Robert C. said

    TFOT, although it’s probably too late, I hope you noticed Joe’s recent post which I think nicely explicates much of what Elder Holland seems to be getting at in his address (esp. the part of about being universal—hopeful, faithful and charitable–when raising the standard…).

  76. Adeline said

    Moroni 10:6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

    After a long day of watching Doctor Who, one of the cleanest shows I have seen that was made after 1960, I was reading my scriptures and stumbled upon this. I want to know other people’s opinions.

    The Family Proclamation states that a happy family is partly based on wholesome recreational activities. But this is a television series about aliens and there are episodes that make “old fashioned” humans, the ones who believed in God, out to be daft. Yet at the same time it is wholesome and clean.

    What do you all have to say?

    • Robert C. said

      Adeline, I don’t know Dr. Who very well, but I’ve wondered about similar things with regard to other good fiction writing. Orson Scott Card has written some interesting thoughts regarding fiction in his book A Storyteller in Zion that I’d recommend. In short, my thinking is that good fiction illustrates true principles regarding the following: human nature, the nature of love and relationships, truth and fidelity, humility, patience, hope, etc. The little bit of Dr. Who I remember watching seemed to embody these principles in various ways, and that’s how I’d be inclined to interpret the show’s “goodness.”

  77. Robert Robinson said

    Perhaps I’m coming a little slow to this, but I’m just now noticing as I begin rereading the BOM for Gospel Doctrine this year that the phrase from the old print editions of the BOM which said the Lamanites are the “principal ancestors of the American Indians” has been changed in more recent editions to read “they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.”

    Does anyone know when or why this change took place? I should stress that I’m interested in any official reasoning or rational from church leaders, it isn’t my intention to open a rambling thread on DNA evidence or anything of that nature. Anyone have any insight into this particular change in wording?

    Thanks,

    Robert R

    • Robert Robinson said

      perhaps I should clarify that by “more recent editions” I mean the electronic version on http://www.lds.org and the electronic versions available for my various devices. They all say “among the ancestors.” I haven’t seen a print edition with the new wording.

  78. joespencer said

    Robert,

    There has been an immense amount of discussion of this point on the Mormon blogs that are more geared toward politics and the like. A quick Google search should land you some of the major discussions. In the meanwhile, my own—rather non-committal—approach is to assume that the DNA issue drew the attention of some Church leaders to the fact that the claim as it had before been written took some real liberties with the text, liberties that we are now realizing weren’t much justified. I suspect that there were also motivations connected with the offense many feel now when Native Americans are lumped together as “Lamanites.” That said, I’ve not followed the discussions on this point carefully.

  79. Sandi Walker said

    I was thinking about 1Nephi 16:7 today. Zorem (who was the servant of Laban) took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife. It is my understanding that there was great honor in marriage to the oldest daughter. Why would Laman or Lemel or even Nephi if she was righteous and obviously was since she married Zoram not marry her first .Surely the prophet Lehi would have had a say in which of his sons married which daughter. And wouldn’t Ishmael want his oldest daughter to mmarry the son of a prophet rather than a repentant servant of Laban

  80. Robert C. said

    Good question, Sandi. I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer. One idea is that perhaps the oldest daughter was offered to him who had the “most outsider” status. I think I’ve read this sort of idea in some anthropology book somewhere, that marriage “exchange” is used as a way to generate peace across cultures, similar to how it was used in Europe by royal families to generate alliances….

  81. Hi, I am Patricia, I will be teaching the Gospel Doctrine class. I am 75 years old and I know very little about using a computer. Can anyone tell me how to find information about my class, on the computer? I am on ,lds.org right now, and I cant find my class. Thank you.

  82. Marcus said

    I have just published a new book on the Book of Mormon called “And He Spake Unto Me: Structural Revelations and Prophetic Pattern in 1 Nephi. It is available at the BYU book store and at Amazon.com where you can preview its contents. It proposes a new chiastic macrostructure for 1 Nephi wherein most of the individual chapters are chiastic and are parallel to other entire chapters. My book identifies the center point for all of the Book of Mormon, which is distilled to the thought in 1 Ne 11 – he spake unto me! I would invite everyone who loves the Book of Mormon to take a look. There are several appendixes with new information of the Old Testament as well. Thank you so much

  83. NEO said

    What are the grammatical differences between
    δυναμεις “G1411 N-APF” πολλας “G4183 A-APF” in Mat 7:22 and
    δυναμεως “G1411 N-GSF” πολλης “G4183 A-GSF” in Mar 13:26? and
    How do these differences affect our understanding of the 2 verses?
    THANKS IN ADVANCE

    • Jim F. said

      Looking for help on your koine Greek exam?

      You’ve listed the grammatical differences by placing the grammatical description next to each Greek word, so I don’t think I understand what you want to know.

      • NEO said

        No in fact that is not for an exam, its just a part of a study,

        What I mean is what is how did these differences affect the translation of the original and hence what are the implications on our understanding of these two texts. thanks

  84. Mike McLaughlin said

    Hi;

    First I would like to say that I really appreciate your work put into the lessons as they are a great asset in my preparation to instruct my High Priest Group.

    Second, I noticed that Chapter 17: “The Strengthening Power of Faith” seems to have been skipped from the list. I am teaching this lesson in a few weeks and was wondering if you will by chance be including it with the others?

    Thank you and have a great day;

    Mike

    • Robert C. said

      Mike, I dropped the ball on this lesson — sorry! Our ward covered this lesson last week (and I didn’t teach it b/c I was out of town). But I’ll try to put some notes up this Friday or so (unless, Kirk or someone else is able to…), knowing you haven’t covered the lesson yet.

      For now, here is an article, “Room to Talk” by Jim F., that I think makes some really interesting points about faith and its relation to reason that might be helpful in thinking more deeply through some of the underlying issues at stake in this lesson.

    • Robert C. said

      Wait, Mike, I thought of a more self-promoting link to give you: try the book Experiment on the Word by Salt Press. I think Adam Miller’s essay is an esp. good one on the topic of faith. My article in the collection also addresses the question of faith.

      These articles are more directly engaged with scripture than Jim’s very fine but more philosophically styled article that I linked to above (Jim’s essay in that book also touches on faith, but less directly so, if I am remembering correctly…).

      • kirkcaudle said

        Robert,

        I was going to ask you if you wanted me to write up some lesson 17 notes before I posted mine. I assumed you got busy or something. I can still do that tonight if you want. I’m sure others will be waiting for them and will be having the same question as Mike. It is not a problem if you want me to do that.

        But I am NOT competing with the links posted above. The Experiment upon the Word Book is awesome. I suggest that anyone reading this right now follow the link that Robert just posted. It is really great stuff.

  85. jacob said

    Hi all,

    I have really appreciated all the work you do for this amazing site and I have finally articulated the question I’ve been wanting to ask for months.

    Where/when did the principle of the “renewing our baptismal covenants” as part of partaking the sacrament originate during the Restoration?

    I don’t really see this principle outlined or even implied in the scriptures. I’m especially intrigued by the word “renew” because it is not mentioned in connection with the sacrament or the baptismal covenant anywhere in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants or the sacramental prayers themselves.

    The only exception is here:

    Section 88:48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.

    But it is the Father renewing the covenant, not us. Am I simply overlooking an obvious assumption?

    Thank you for looking into this.

    • Robert C. said

      Jacob, sorry for not responding to this question you wrote several months ago. I think it’s a great question. I can’t help you with the actual history of this way of talking, though I’d suspect it started early on in the Restoration.

      But, if you read this, I’d think that scriptural justification can be found in 3 Nephi 18, where Christ mentions baptism a couple of times when instituting the sacrament among the Nephits. Also, because we reject infant baptism (cf. Moroni 8), the idea of making a conscious covenant at baptism lends itself nicely to a kind of reenactment/renewal during the sacrament in a way that is distinctive (compared to other Christians that practice infant baptism). Also, the fact that the Aaronic priesthood is needed for both of these ordinances also suggests a distinctive connection between these ordinances, in light of the Restoration….

  86. Keeli said

    Hi. I am new to planning a baptism. This is for my oldest chid and i am totally clueless on how to go about it all. so i am asking if anyone has any ideas and suggestions please help me out here.

  87. Charles said

    Will there be an entry on Chapter 12 dealing with Tithing by this weekend by chance?

    Thanks;
    Charles

  88. Sharon said

    When will Lesson 15 be posted? Thank you,

  89. mkbbutto said

    when will lesson 19 be posted? I love reading your thoughts.

  90. mike mclaughlin said

    When will Lesson 20 be posted? Thank you for all your work.

  91. mike mclaughlin said

    Will Lesson 2 for this coming Sunday be up soon?

  92. kirkcaudle said

    I am trying to get it done sooner than later.

  93. when will you have lesson 3 of the JFS manual be ready to view?

  94. mkbbutto said

    when will you have lesson 7 ready entitleed Joseph and Hyrum Smith Witnesses for Christ?

  95. When will lesson 8 be ready for this coming sunday?

  96. Charla Stone said

    Were the more valiant spirits held in reserve until the latter days?

    • Robert C. said

      Charla, I think some Church leaders have suggested that something like this is the case. Sorry I don’t have quotes ready-at-hand. However, I think there’s a dangerous logical fallacy of presuming that this means spirits born in earlier generations were less valiant. (This might be true in some sort of statistical sense, but I can’t believe it’s true across the board!)

  97. Mike McLaughlin said

    Will Lesson 10 be ready sometime today?

  98. Alma S said

    Who ordained Adam? The Father, Jehovah, Angels (Peter James and John)?

  99. mkbbutto said

    how soon can you have Joseph Fielding Smith lesson 11 Honoring the priesthood keyes restored through Joseph Smith ready?

  100. runstrong7 said

    Someone has hacked porn links onto your “Recent Comments” column. Really bad ones. Please remove them ASAP.

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