Literal Confusion (about D&C 137)

I’m not usually a literalist about the scriptures, but I’m a little baffled by a verse I read today and the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 137. This section is the account of a vision Joseph Smith had of the celestial kingdom. He names Adam and Abraham, as well as his parents, as inhabitants, likely those who were saved “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

And then he mentions his brother, Alvin. Joseph “marvels” that his brother Alvin is there, “seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.” And then the great revelation that “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.” Of course, this revelation plays a big part in understanding why we do work for the dead in our temples…right?

Here’s my question: What was Alvin doing there in the celestial kingdom when his work hadn’t been done yet?

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If I could ask God one question…

Things are quiet on the blog lately, so I figure it’s a good chance to make an appearance. Perhaps few people will read this entry and then I can likely avoid being blacklisted.

I applied to teach at Messiah College in Pennsylvania recently and part of the application was affirming the Apostles’ Creed. I affirmed the Apostles’ Creed, and I did so because I agreed with all the statements that were made within the creed. However, after having done so, I couldn’t help but recall the words of Joseph Smith when discussing his First Vision: “the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (JS-H 1:19).

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Meditations on Time, Part 1: My Childhood Fear of Living Forever

CB007962This is the first of a series of short posts entitled “Meditations on Time.” In this series I will explore some of my thoughts and experiences concerning time and the gospel.

Living forever hasn’t always been a pleasant thought for me.

I still remember when the notion of living forever first dawned on me. I was probably 4 or 5 years old. Prior to this time, I had believed in life after death, but I never had really thought about what that would be like. I remember having some kind of conversation with my older sister, and she said something about how in the next life time never ends. That idea was so foreign, I couldn’t even begin to fathom it. I asked my mom if this were really true, and she said it was. When I expressed that it sounded so weird to me, my mom replied, “Well, wouldn’t it be weirder if your life just suddenly ended?” I had to admit that I of course didn’t like that outcome either.

Therein was my dilemma. Both possible outcomes — living forever and ceasing to exist — frightened me.

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The Kingdom of God Is Among Us

Whenever I hear people talk about the kingdom of God, it seems like it’s always referred to in the future tense. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if the kingdom of God isn’t already all around us.

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Pew Forum Question Does Violence to Mormon Belief

A recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study, in which over 35,000 Americans were interviewed, had an interesting result. According to this Time article, the Pew Forum study found that

70% of respondents agreed with the statement “Many religions can lead to eternal life.” Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation.

Agreement was also made here by 83% of Protestant Christians and 79% of Catholics.

The Time article goes on to say,

In fact, of the dozens of denominations covered by the Pew survey, it was only Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who answered in the majority that their own faith was the only way to eternal life.

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Rough Stone Rolling vs. No Man Knows My History: The Heavyweight Championship of Joseph Smith Biography

The following is a paper I wrote a few years ago in a history class about Joseph Smith from Grant Underwood at BYU.

Released in 2005, Richard L. Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling has been hailed by many as the definitive biography of the Mormon founder. It is only natural, then, to put the book in the ring with Fawn M. Brodie’s classic, No Man Knows My History—without question the most famous, and controversial, biography of Joseph Smith to date. In this paper I compare the two biographies according to four criteria: (1) key similarities and differences, (2) characterization of Joseph’s personality, (3) coverage of key events, and (4) interpretation of teachings and doctrine. Continue reading

Unearthing Parley P. Pratt — And Some (Interesting?) Questions

Let me begin by saying that Parley P. Pratt is my great-great-great grandfather. He is a man that my family and I honor very much, arguably one of the most consequential pioneers of the Restored Gospel. His Autobiography is one of my favorite books, and I feel somewhat of a close kinship with the man.

So, I’ve been casually following the story about the possibility of disinterring Pratt’s remains from Arkansas — and moving them to Utah. Continue reading