THE JOYFUL MESSAGE* * * * * * * *
gospel is one long shout of hallelujah as far as that goes. . . . The gospel is
our being here.
"Nibley the Scholar," 3* * * * * * * *
Nothing is easier than to identify one's own favorite
political, economic, historical, and moral convictions with the gospel. That
gives one a neat, convenient, but altogether too easy advantage over one's
fellows. If my ideas are the true ones—and I certainly will not entertain
them if I suspect for a moment that they are false!—then, all truth being
one, they are also the gospel, and to oppose them is to play the role of Satan.
This is simply insisting that our way is God's way and therefore, the only way.
It is the height of impertinence.
"Beyond Politics," 298* * * * * * * *
All of us believe things that aren't true, things that will
be proven false in time to come. Scientists Galileo, Newton, Heisenberg,
Planck, Hawking, and Penrose all had differing beliefs about the very nature of
our existence, the most fundamental doctrines of reality. Einstein used to
bring God into it. But they all respected each other and didn't damn each other
for wrong ideas. Yet throughout history, men have damned and persecuted and
banished and imprisoned and burned others on a vast scale, not for any crimes
they committed, but purely for having the wrong ideas. The only crime for which
persons were brought to trial during the inquisition was heresy. . . . Consider
the Christians and Muslims of Lebanon, for example, living together for
centuries with each other, sharing the same customs and values. Each knows the
other not as a bad person, yet for years they've been slaughtering each other
purely for having the wrong beliefs; and within that group, the Sunni and the
Shiites are both good Muslims who disagree on but one point of tradition, and
for that the car bombs and artillery fire have reduced their beautiful city
[Beirut] to rubble.
"Criticizing the Brethren," 7* * * * * * * *
The unique value of Christianity lies in those things which
would never in a million years occur to men if left to themselves.
"Easter and the Prophets," CWHN 3:160* * * * * * * *
The gospel of repentance is a constant reminder that the
most righteous are still being tested and may yet fall, and that the most
wicked are not yet beyond redemption and may still be saved. And that is what
God wants: "Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?"
(Ezekiel 18:23). There are poles for all to see, but in this life no one has
reached and few have ever approached either pole, and no one has any idea at
what point between his neighbor stands. Only God knows that.
"Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN 8:461-62* * * * * * * *
Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad
he has been, if he is repenting, he is a righteous man. There is hope for him.
And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is
a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of
the stairs facing down is much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is
facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what
determines whether we are good or bad.
"Funeral Address," CWHN 9:301-2* * * * * * * *
To be a believer you must be a literalist with a mind open
to infinite possibilities.
"Sophic and Mantic," CWHN 10:314* * * * * * * *
Nothing in the restored gospel is more stimulating to the
inquiring mind than the infinitely expanded panorama of time and space it
spreads before us.
existence is viewed as a one-act play, beginning with instantaneous creation of
everything out of nothing and ending with its dissolution into the immaterial
nothing from which it came (as St. Jerome puts it), but as a series of episodes
of which for the present we are allowed to view only a few. The play has always
been going on and always will be: the man Adam played other roles and was known
by different names before he came here and, after his departure from mortal
life, assumes other offices and titles.
in this life everyone changes from one to another, gets new names and callings
and new identities as he plays his proverbial seven parts—but always
preserving his identity as the same conscious living being.
"The Expanding Gospel," in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, 21* * * * * * * *
The idea of a primordial revelation is that a complete knowledge
of the world from its beginning to its end is already written down and has been
vouchsafed to certain chosen spirits from time to time.
"Genesis of the Written Word," CWHN 12:463* * * * * * * *
I've mentioned the third dimension. The other churches live
in a two-dimensional world. But our gospel adds a third dimension, so to speak.
We think of the other world as being a reality, and so we actually live in
"Rediscovery of the Apocrypha," CWHN 12:213* * * * * * * *
The message of the restored gospel is that one phase of the
earth's existence is coming to a close, and another phase, a phase in which God's
will will be done on earth as it is in heaven, is about to become the order of
life on earth.
"Beyond Politics," 281* * * * * * * *
A favorite with LDS schoolmen has been Brigham Young's
declaration that "Every art and science known and studied by the children
of men is comprised within the gospel." But this does not mean, as is
commonly assumed, that anything one chooses to teach is the gospel. That would
be as silly as arguing that since all things are made of electrons, protons,
neutrons, etc., whenever anyone opens his mouth to speak he gives a lecture on
physics. It means rather that all things may be studied and taught in the light
of the gospel.
"Educating the Saints," 239* * * * * * * *
If we have no professional clergy in the Church, it is not
because the Church cannot use expert knowledge, but because all members should
be experts where the gospel is concerned, and as such they should make their
"The Day of the Amateur," 44* * * * * * * *
Moroni enumerates the spiritual gifts in the last chapter of
the Book of Mormon, yet we rarely ask for these gifts today—they don't
particularly interest us. There is only one that we do ask for in all
sincerity, and duly receive, and that, for obvious reasons, is the gift of
healing. But the other gifts? Who cares for them? We make light of them and
prefer the real world of everyday life. We do not even ask for the temporal gifts, because we don't want
them either—as gifts.
"Work We Must, But the Lunch Is Free," CWHN 9:234* * * * * * * *
"If everything is given to us, do we have to work?"
Of course. The gifts do not excuse us from work. They leave us free to do the
real work. . . . The Lord . . . [says], "I'll give you the stone and the
chisel—now you show that you are a Michelangelo." It is much harder
to be a Michelangelo than to work enough to buy a chisel and some stone.
"Gifts," CWHN 9:101* * * * * * * *
All belongs to us that we are capable of conceiving, and
containing, and enjoying. But what happens? We go and spoil everything , and
then in our feelings of guilt, we petulantly slam the door on faith and
repentance, and we doggedly pretend to find fulfillment after the "vision
splendid" of our immortality has faded into the light of common day, which
we smugly call "the real world."
"Goods of First and Second Intent," CWHN 9:550* * * * * * * *
We are commanded not to ask for or seek for office. Yet
nobody seems particularly interested in asking or seeking for gifts, while men
constantly plan, scheme, and aspire to office. Martin Harris and others
actually left the Church because their services were not recognized by high
office—Martin Harris, who had the privilege of standing in the presence
of an angel and turning over the plates, wanted an office in the Church, something
which would only be temporary and a nuisance. Why, let me talk to Moroni for
five minutes and I'll give you the pleasure of sitting on the stand for
"Criticizing the Brethren," 19* * * * * * * *
Implicit and explicit in the concept of a gospel taught by
degrees instead of all at once—"line upon line, precept upon
precept, here a little, and there a little" (2 Nephi 28:30)—is the
idea that the most important, the highest, and the holiest teachings come last.
is the exact opposite of the reasoning of the Christian world today, that the
most important teachings must have come first,
so that everything essential is known while anything that may have escaped is
not really vital.
would dispute that the higher and holier a teaching is, the fewer are qualified
to hear it: One need only recall the Lord's practice of discussing "the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" only with his disciples behind closed
doors and of selecting only a few chosen apostles to share in the still greater
mysteries such as the transfiguration.
Christians, indeed, agree that the most glorious manifestations are reserved
for the end. But the importance of a teaching is not measured by its depth and
wonder but by the particular need of the person receiving it. God does give
people at all times what are for them the most important teachings that
could possibly be given.
". . . But Unto Them It Is Not Given," CWHN 7:107-8* * * * * * * *
The mysteries are not magic or occultism, but any knowledge
that men cannot obtain by their own efforts, knowledge to be had only by
revelation. The whole Book of Mormon is such a mystery. There you will find
clear, concrete definitions of such daunting words as faith, heaven, hell,
creation, atonement, resurrection, redemption, preexistence, hereafter.
"The Book of Mormon: Forty Years After," CWHN 8:547* * * * * * * *
A mystery, by definition, is something that you keep to
yourself; the Greek muo means "to
shut up." A mystery is something you've been initiated into, and you don't
convey that to the general public.
"Criticizing the Brethren," 5* * * * * * * *
The established academician with his tried-and-tested
platitudes and truisms is welcome to his world of preaching and posturing, but
the greatest appeal of the gospel in every age has been that it is frankly
wonderful—one glorious surprise after another.
"New Look at the Pearl of Great Price" (May 1970):
86* * * * * * * *
Those who turn from the daily paper and the news broadcasts
to con the scriptures for signs of the times, revise their charts of prophetic
world events, and plot the course of God in history are wasting their time.
This is a shabby little show down here—read a last month's newspaper if
you don't think so.
a matter of fact, the human race is at this moment as near to an earthly
paradise as it can ever expect to be—unless you honestly think that more
televisions and cars and play-school education are going to endow man with the
wisdom and forbearance of the angels. After every conceivable improvement and
correction in our world has been made, we are still at a loss to imagine any institutional
setup or scientific attainment that can make men permanently happy. . . .
the things of this world are all an empty show, "a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," what is important? The
atonement of Jesus Christ—that is the one supreme reality of our life
upon this earth!
"Prophets and Glad Tidings," CWHN 3:263-64* * * * * * * *
We cannot enjoy optional obedience to the law of God, or
place our own limits on the law of sacrifice, or mitigate the charges of
righteous conduct connected with the law of the gospel. We cannot be willing to
sacrifice only that which is convenient to part with, and then expect a reward.
The Atonement is everything; it is not to be had "on the cheap." God
is not mocked in these things; we do not make promises and covenants with
mental reservations. Unless we live up to every covenant, we are literally in
Satan's power—a condition easily recognized by the mist of fraud and
deception that has enveloped our whole society.
"The Meaning of the Atonement," CWHN 9:590* * * * * * * *
You do not have to be an inspired prophet to know that man's
state is parlous, that life is more than we can handle, and that death is more
than we can face. Nothing is more real in this life than the constant awareness
that things could be better than they are. The Atonement does not take place in
this part of the celestial order. The unreality is all on this side of the
great and awful gulf. If there is anything manifestly evident about the doings
in the great and spacious building, it is the hollow laughter and silly
pretensions of the people in it.
"The Meaning of the Atonement," CWHN 9:595* * * * * * * *
In its sweep and scope, atonement takes on the aspect of one
of the grand constants in nature—omnipresent, unalterable, such as
gravity or the speed of light. Like them, it is always there, easily ignored,
hard to explain, and hard to believe in without an explanation. Also, we are
constantly exposed to its effects whether we are aware of them or not.
"The Meaning of the Atonement," CWHN 9:603* * * * * * * *
To be redeemed is to be atoned. From this it should be clear
what kind of oneness is meant by the
Atonement—it is being received in a close embrace of the prodigal son,
expressing not only forgiveness but oneness of heart and mind that amounts to
identity, like a literal family identity as John sets it forth so vividly in
chapters 14 through 17 of his Gospel.
"The Meaning of the Atonement," CWHN 9:567-68* * * * * * * *
We are commanded to be joyful because he has borne our
sorrows. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief so that we need not
be. Our own sins and limitations are the things that make us sad. He had no
sins and limitations; he was not sad for his sake, but wholly for ours. Only
one could suffer for others who did not deserve to suffer for himself.
we remain gloomy after what he did for us, it is because we do not accept what
he did for us. If we suffer, we deserve to suffer because there is no need for
it if we only believe in him.
"Prophets and Glad Tidings," CWHN 8:259* * * * * * * *
Jesus actually lived—a man standing out in sharp
relief against a totally hostile social environment, for without such a leader
no group of men could have come together, formed a society, and propounded a
doctrine that ran counter to all their own teaching, upbringing, and experience,
both individual and collective. . . .
Jesus was not a product of his time,
is not to be explained in terms of
his background, and cannot have got his ideas from a society to which they were
utterly strange and obnoxious, he must have obtained his perfect conviction
from personal experience. For the present, what can we do but accept his own
version of the thing? He really had seen the Father; he really had seen Lucifer
fall from heaven; he really did speak with Moses and Elias on the mount; he
really did receive the ministrations of angels in the desert, and there he
really did discourse with Satan; he really was before Abraham's day; and he
really was resurrected.
"Easter and the Prophets," CWHN 3:161* * * * * * * *
I have a testimony of the gospel which I wish to bear.
Again, as Brigham Young says, because I say it's true doesn't make it true,
does it? But I know it is, and I would recommend you to pursue a way of finding
out. And there are ways in which you can come to a knowledge of the truth.
is a thing proven? When you personally think it's so, and that's all you can
do. . . . Then you have your testimony, and all you can do is bear your
testimony and point to the evidence. That's all you can do. But you can't impose your testimony on another. And you can't make
the other person see the evidence as you do. Things that just thrill me through
and through in the Book of Mormon leave another person completely cold. And the
other way around, too. So we can't use evidence, and we can't say, I know this
is true, therefore you'd better know it is true. But I know it is true, and I
pray our Heavenly Father that we may all come to a knowledge of the truth, each
in his own way.
"Brigham Young as a Theologian," 4
GOD AND SATAN* * * * * * * *
God does not fight Satan: a word from him and Satan is
silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are expressly told that all the
power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. "We will
allow Satan, our common enemy, to try man and to tempt him." It is man's
strength that is being tested—not God's.
"Beyond Politics," 288* * * * * * * *
[God's permission] has given rise to the favorite
proposition of the philosophers that God is either weak because he cannot prevent evil or vicious
because he does not want to: an argument which conventional Christianity finds unanswerable.
But it all makes sense to Brigham
Young: . . . "[It] is not necessary that we should sin
because sin is in the world; but, to the contrary, it is necessary that we should resist sin, and for
this purpose is sin necessary. . . . Sin
is co-eternal with righteousness, for it must needs be that
there is an opposition in all things" (Journal of Discourses,
10:2-3). The idea that sin should be put within the reach of all who want it is
by no means the same thing as saying that all are obliged to sin.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 1:2* * * * * * * *
God discusses things with men "in all humility"
for the sake of our enlightenment. Satan too loves to "discuss," but
what a different type of discussion! He is not teaching but laying traps; his
whole line is a sales pitch with his own advantage as the end. He is not
enlightening but manipulating. He does not reason, but bargains: his
proposition as put before Adam, Cain, Abraham, Moses, Enoch, and the Lord
himself is the same one he puts to Faust and Jabez Stone: "If you will
worship me I will give you unlimited power and wealth—everything this
world has to offer. All you have to do is sign away your rather dubious
expectations for the other world." If his proposition is refused outright
he has no other resort but to have a tantrum, falling down, rending upon the
earth, screaming madly, "I am the Son of God! Worship me!"
"Beyond Politics," 291* * * * * * * *
There is an enemy, the enemy of all righteousness—but
he is a disembodied spirit. How do we come to grips with him, according to
Brigham Young? Very intimately and immediately; he enters, or seeks to enter,
right into us individually. There(fore) we cannot engage him by attacking other
human beings, no matter how full of the devil they may be. The futility of
trying to combat Satan in the persons of those whom we deem to be his human
representatives is rendered complete by the circumstance that there is evil as
well as good in all of us; and while every man can know for himself what is
good and evil in himself, he cannot possibly distinguish with any accuracy what
is good and evil in others.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 2:5* * * * * * * *
In dealing with this particular enemy, the enemy of all
righteousness, the first rule is never to use his methods, for if we do he has
already won. He does not care which "side" we are on as long as we
act like devils, just as God does not care which side we are on if we keep the
great commandments. He held up as the shining example that of a Samaritan who
was not a member of the Church, was not even of Israel, and contrasted his
behavior ("go thou and do likewise!") to that of two devout and
active churchmen who wanted nothing to do with a drunken bum lying unconscious
in the gutter.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 2:1* * * * * * * *
What would it be like if I could view and focus on two or
more things at once? If I could see at one and the same moment not only what is
right before me but equally well what is on my left side, my right side, what
is above me and below me? I have the moral certainty that something is there;
and as my eyes flicker about, I think I can substantiate that impression. But
as to taking calm and deliberate look at more than one thing at a time, that is
a gift denied us at present. I cannot imagine what such a view of the world
would be like, but it would be more real and correct than the one
we have now.
bring up this obvious point because it is by virtue of this one-dimensional
view of things that we magisterially pass judgment on God. The smart atheist
and pious schoolman alike can tell us all about God—what he can do and
what he cannot, what he must be like and what he cannot be like—on the
basis of their one-dimensional experience of reality. Today the astronomers are
harping on the old favorite theme of the eighteenth-century encyclopedists,
who, upon discovering the universe to be considerably larger than they thought
or had been taught, immediately announced that man was a very minor creature
indeed, would have to renounce any special claim to divine favor, since there
are much bigger worlds than ours for God to be concerned about, and in the end give
up his intimate and private God altogether.
jaunty iconoclasm rested on the assumption that God is subject to the same
mental limitations that we are; that if he is thinking of Peter, he can hardly
be thinking of Paul at the same time, let alone marking the fall of the
sparrow. But once we can see the possibilities that lie in being able to see
more than one thing at a time (and in theory, the experts tell us, there is no
reason why we should not), the universe takes on new dimensions and God takes
over again. Let us remember that quite peculiar to the genius of Mormonism is
the doctrine of a God who could preoccupy himself with countless numbers of
things. "The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man;
but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine" (Moses 1:37).
"Zeal Without Knowledge," CWHN 9:64-65* * * * * * * *
Meanness of spirit . . . offends God more than anything
else. We have no laws ordering men to be charitable and open-handed, or
penalizing that meanness of spirit that so often means an enhanced profit, for
the obvious reason that no one can know what is in the heart of another. But
God knows, and meanness of spirit is the one thing he will not tolerate. If one
loved God with all his heart and soul and his neighbor as himself, few if any
laws would be necessary; for such love, said the Lord, comprises all the Law
and the Prophets; laws against base and contemptible actions are unnecessary
for people to whom such actions are themselves unthinkable.
"Work We Must, But the Lunch is Free,"
CWHN 9:218-19* * * * * * * *
The comings and goings of God himself, moving between heaven
and earth, must needs be surrounded by an aura of mystery and excitement. Can
such things really be? Luke, in his meticulous, almost clinically exact and
factual reports, wants us to know once and for all that they really can be. The
wonder of it, something akin to the excitement of Christmas, quickens the
reader's pulse, but how could we describe the state of mind of those who
actually experienced it? The apocryphal writings go all out to make us feel
with them, but it is 3 Nephi who really catches the spirit (3 Nephi 19:1-3).
"Christ among the Ruins," CWHN
THE RIGHTEOUS LIFE
* * * * * * * *
is easy to imagine absolutes, and to think and argue in terms of absolutes, as
the theologians have always done: good and evil, light and darkness, hot and
cold, black and white. We know exactly what they are but in the
real world have rarely experienced the pure thing. Our own experience lies
between. Yet, standing on that middle ground, we are faced with
absolute decisions. . . . You are either repenting or not repenting and that
is, according to the scriptures, the whole difference between being righteous
or being wicked.
"Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN 8:462-63* * * * * * * *
This world was organized in the light of infinite knowledge
and experience and after due thought and discussion, to offer multiple
facilities to an endless variety of creatures and especially to be the home and
dominion of a godlike race who would take good care of it and have joy therein.
Being a highly favored breed, much was expected of them, and their
qualifications for advancement were to be put to the test by allowing an
adversary, a common enemy to God and man, to tempt them and try them. It was
decided before even the world was that, if man should yield to this temptation
and thus lower his defenses and make himself vulnerable to repeated attacks of
the adversary, steps would immediately be taken to put into operation a
prearranged plan to restore him to his former status.
God tells us in effect is, "Now that you have fallen and forfeited your
paradise by deliberately, knowingly disobeying me, I will give you another
chance to get back to that paradise by deliberately and knowingly obeying me.
To get back where you were and beyond, you must repent—forever give up
doing it your way and decide to live by the law of God, or by the law of
obedience, which means doing it my way."
agreed to do it God's way, though Satan lost no time in trying to sell him on
another plan. Adam's own children and their posterity, however, chose to
achieve salvation their way, not God's way, and ever since then
there has been trouble. The Lord Jesus Christ told the young Joseph Smith in
the First Vision that men were no longer doing things his way, that as a result
that way was no longer upon the earth, but it was about to be brought again.
"Beyond Politics," 280-81* * * * * * * *
I doubt not that when we know the reason for some of the
things we do now on faith, the practical value of the actions will be so plain
that we will wonder how we could have missed it, and then we shall be heartily
glad that we did what we were told to do.
"Prophets and Ritual," CWHN 8:149* * * * * * * *
We know that this is not our real existence—even the
Gentiles feel that and resent the madness of it all. Here we are nothing, but
here we want everything, because we think this is our only chance. And it is
indeed our only chance in a sense. Our great day of probation in which we show
how we can adjust ourselves to eternity—here is where we do it.
"The Book of Mormon: Forty Years After,"
CWHN 8: 568* * * * * * * *
There are certain things of which we never tire, with which
we never become bored. Those are the things of eternity. Yet strangely enough
it is these which we easily dismiss and neglect as if they were highly
"Goods of First and Second Intent,"
CWHN 9:529* * * * * * * *
The doctrine of probation is the inescapable choice between
two ways, everyone having a perfect knowledge of the way he should go. None may
commit his decision to the judgment of a faction, a party, a leader, or a
nation; none can delegate his free agency to another.
"Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN
8:462* * * * * * * *
The basic elements of religion are . . . man's awareness of
his lost and fallen state—the "Urtragik" (original tragedy) of
his existence—and his hopes of escaping from it. Equal awareness of his
present misery and potential for glory meets us at every turn in all the nobler
products of his mind.
problem is how to get from the one state to the other; that is the main concern
of the mysteries. The dark coffin chamber and the bright celestial room are the
beginning and ending of the story, but the fearful passage itself, the most
important learning and doing, is found in the "Mittelraum" (middle
room) on the way from the one to the other.
Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 183* * * * * * * *
Much of Christ's discourse in the New Testament is addressed
to schoolmen, the Scribes and Pharisees, who apparently often consulted with
him; and yet though he converted farmers and soldiers, tax-gatherers,
fishermen, shepherds, harlots, and princes, there is no recorded instance of
his ever converting one of the Doctors. . . .
sick did not have to make Peter's confession before they were healed, but they
did have to have faith. The people who would not
believe in Jesus believed in nothing—they said they believed in the
prophets, but they did not: if they believed in the prophets, in the
scriptures, in Moses, or in God, they would believe in Christ—but they do
not. The greatest Christian convert was a man who believed all the
wrong things about Christ—it was not what he believed, but
his capacity for faith that made Saul of Tarsus eligible for immediate
"Sophic and Mantic," CWHN 10:331-32* * * * * * * *
You are not going to appease God by trying to buy him off,
by going through the pious motions of religious observances, your meetings and
is not for you to decide what to do to please God—it is for him to
decide, and he has not required all this display of piety from you. Your most
dedicated observances, even following [his] ancient prescriptions, if done in
the wrong spirit, are actually iniquity—not to your credit but to your
"Great Are the Words of Isaiah," CWHN
1:219-20* * * * * * * *
There are a few absolute and categorical "Thou shalt
nots" in the scriptures which we are far from taking to heart. We have
been told that under no circumstances are we to contend, accuse,
coerce, aspire, or flatter. These practices will be readily recognized as
standard procedure in getting to the top in our modern competitive society.
What all of them have in common is a feeling of self-righteousness.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 2:7* * * * * * * *
Does not one person need repentance more than another? Ezra
and Baruch protested to God that while Israel had sinned, the Gentiles had
acted much worse, and asked why they should be let off so much more easily. But
God was not buying that argument. You can always find somebody who is worse
than you are to make you feel virtuous. It's a cheap shot: those awful
terrorists, perverts, communists—they are the ones who need
to repent! Yes, indeed they do, and for them repentance will be a full-time
job, exactly as it is for all the rest of us.
"Great Are the Words of Isaiah," CWHN 1:217* * * * * * * *
We can afford the luxury of trusting our fellow-man only
because we trust in God, who has assured us that if others let us down, he will
make it up to us.
"Uses and Abuses of Patriotism," 195* * * * * * * *
Latter-day Saints have always been the greatest advocates of the
Christmas spirit; nay, they have shocked and alarmed the world by insisting on
recognizing as a real power what the world prefers to regard as a pretty
sentiment. Where the seasonal and formal aspect of Christmas is everything, it
becomes a hollow mockery. If men really want what they say they do, we have it;
but faced with accepting a real Savior who has really spoken with men, they
draw back, nervous and ill at ease.
the end, lights, tinsel, and sentimentality are safer, but a sense of
possibilities still rankles, so to that we all continue to appeal. For by
celebrating Christmas the world serves notice that it is still looking for the
"Christmas Quest," 5* * * * * * * *
One does not have faith in propositions, creeds, or
institutions, to which one is merely loyal. One has faith in God
alone—all else is subject to change without notice. Faith does not seek
security by boxing itself in with definite and binding creeds, as did the
Doctors of the Church in a time of desperate uncertainty and insecurity. . . .
Gaylord Simpson likes to cite the case of Santa Claus as providing the futility
of all faith. But has belief in Santa Claus ever closed the door to knowledge
as loyalty to a scientific credo so often has? Is it better for a child to
believe in Santa Claus with the understanding that someday he is going to
revise his views than for him to be taught what is scientifically correct . . .
from infancy, so that he will never, never have to revise his views on anything
and thus go through life always right about everything? Which course is more
liable to lead to disaster, the open-ended Santa Claus, or the ingrained
illusion of infallibility?
"Sophic and Mantic," CWHN 10:332* * * * * * * *
Being perfect in the way means keeping the covenants one has
"Churches in the Wilderness," CWHN
8:309* * * * * * * *
The word perfect (teleios) does not mean perfect
digestion, perfect eyesight, perfect memory, and so on; it is a special word
meaning keeping the whole law. What remained for the young man,
before he could be really serious (teleios), was keeping the law
of consecration. If he did not keep that, he could not be perfect in keeping
the others either, in other words, the whole law, for he could not
become one of the Lord's disciples. So there was nothing but for Jesus to
dismiss him—and a very sad occasion it was when they parted.
Lord observed to the apostles that the rich just can't take it; nevertheless,
any alternative plan, any proposal of compromise, easier payments, or tax
write-offs, was out of the question. The Lord did not say, "Come back;
perhaps we could make a deal." No, he had to let the young rich man go.
One does not compromise on holy things. Unless we observe every promise we make
in the endowment, we put ourselves in Satan's power.
"Law of Consecration," CWHN 9:438* * * * * * * *
As Heber C. Kimball reminded the saints, there are no
covenants made between individuals in the church. All promises and agreements
are between the individual and our Father in Heaven; all other parties,
including the angels, are present only as witnesses. Therefore whether anybody
else observes and keeps the promise is not my concern, but if I do not what I
have promised, what blessings can I expect?
"Breakthroughs I Would Like to See,"
CWHN 9:385* * * * * * * *
These are the gifts and talents that prescribe our proper
activities on this earth: . . .
of all, before anything can happen, one must be aware of being in the world. A
measure of awareness is apparently possessed by all living things, and the
greater the awareness, the greater the intelligence. If our time here is to
have any meaning at all, our brain and intellect must be clear and active. . .
this life we have too many options. There are thousands of good things any of
us could be doing at the moment but will never be allowed to do, because of the
shortness of time and the peculiar need we have to focus on just one thing at a
time. . . . What can any of us do in such a predicament? We can only "hear
the word of the Lord," and to hear is to obey. . . .
. . "The eye cannot choose but see," and what it sees is the big
picture—it gauges and measures, perceiving ratios and proportions and
noting those that are pleasing and those that are not, and it compares and
structures all by the awareness of light, the constant and the measure of all
things. . . .
. . If an important aspect of our sojourn here is the release of tension,
monotony, and drabness by those sensual delights best represented by the nose,
it is the disciplined taste, smell, and touch as well as
hearing and seeing that have, as Brigham Young again informs us, the greatest
capacity for enjoyment; and discipline means control. Appetites, desires, and
passions can give us the best of what they have to offer only if they are kept
within the bounds the Lord has set. . . .
. . What God asks of the mouth and lips . . . is not that they eat the proper
food—they have means of sensing that—but that they never
. . The ancients considered the neck as the tower, a sort of control on the
rest of the body, the index of confidence and courage. It is the characteristic
mark of the alert and healthy animal. . . .
can expect to have trials and burdens not a few, for that is part of the game;
and for that your shoulders and back should be strong—those burdens are
necessary to the plan and are meant to be borne. Best of all, they will not
hurt you! . . .
with that, you are to be valiant; mere innocence is not enough, as Brother
Brigham said, if you are to realize your potential. The ancient formula blesses
the arms to be strong in wielding the symbolic sword of righteousness. . . .
the brain, the phrenos, the ancients considered the
thumos, the breast, the main receptacle and processor of our
feelings and emotions. It is there that the surges of passion or fear are felt,
and it is there that our prevailing attitude to things is engendered. . . .
to our reins (kidneys) and liver, you leave your innards alone; they should
perform their proper function on their own, and the less they attract our
attention, or anyone else's, the better! . . .
Hebrew and Egyptian rites place one goal and one delight above all others, the
joy in one's posterity, in patriarchal succession. . . .
comes our means of getting around in the world, feet and legs. The Egyptians
place great emphasis on this; the resurrection is finally achieved only when
the legs are set in motion on the path of eternity. . . . The Saints are the
most mobile of mortals, das wandernde Gottesvolk (God's wandering
people), like Abraham, strangers and pilgrims, but missionaries in the world,
meant to circulate abroad, to get around and broadcast the good news and spread
the stakes of Zion.
"But What Kind of Work?" CWHN 9:265-70.
* * * * * * * *
moment I even think of my priesthood as a status symbol or a mark
of superiority, it becomes a mere hollow pretense. At the slightest hint to
gloating or self-congratulation the priesthood holder is instantly and
"Best Possible Test," CWHN 12:536
* * * * * * * *
As far as the whole world is concerned, the Priesthood is a
thing of value which is cruel to withhold from anyone, because it enhances one's
status and dignity among his fellows, whether inside the Church or outside. And
yet the one thing that renders that Priesthood completely null and void is to
treat it as something to aspire to among one's fellows! Priesthood is strictly
an arrangement between the individual Priesthood holder and his brethren in the
eternal worlds; as personal and private as anything can be.
"Priesthood," 1* * * * * * * *
Nothing is more wonderful than the way in which the Spirit
operates through the priesthood; especially firm was its foundation in a
principle by which the priesthood cannot be abused or misused; its power cannot
be applied to further private or party interests or to impose, coerce, or
intimidate—the moment it is directed to such ends, it automatically
priesthood is further more invulnerable because it is indivisible. As long as
one true holder of the higher priesthood is on
the earth the potentiality of the church is there. It suggests the idea of
cloning, that from one cell one can produce a whole organism; it also suggests
present-day ideas of manifestations of energy at various levels.
"How Firm a Foundation!" CWHN 9:152* * * * * * * *
RELEVANCE is the one thing the world has a right to demand
of words delivered by divine revelation, or personally by the hand of an angel
who took the trouble to come down, hand over, and explain.
"Some Reasons for the Restored Gospel," 24* * * * * * * *
In recent years, one frequently hears (especially in
testimony meetings) such things as, "We are thankful for having a Prophet
who can tell us exactly what we have to do and think every moment of the day."
The Prophet is a convenient time and trouble saver. Actually, people pester him
to death for these things (they always have), as someone ready to bail you out
no matter what silly things you've done or what a fool you've made of yourself.
Well, you're not going to learn anything that way. Let us recall Joseph's
warning the people who were depending on the prophet, hence "darkening
their minds, and neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves" as much
as the prophet; but he was not to be called on for every emergency. "It is
a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, and we feel fearful to approach
him, especially about things which men should obtain in all sincerity for
themselves by humility and prayer." Don't ask me for revelation. You have
just as much right to it, he says.
"Criticizing the Brethren," 11* * * * * * * *
What the Brethren say is the word and the will of the Lord
(D&C 84), but only, as President Clark pointed out no less than
twenty-seven times in a speech on the subject, when they are so moved upon by
the Holy Ghost. "How can we know that?" asked Brother Clark. By
following the oft-repeated principle that everyone must so live that the Holy
Ghost will reveal to him whether the others are speaking by the spirit or not.
. . . Before I question another or make a direct appeal to God, I must be
perfectly sure of my own purity and integrity, because what I'm asking for is
the same revelation.
"Criticizing the Brethren," 12* * * * * * * *
I think if you live right and keep your mind open—if
you ask for revelation . . . and your mind is open, you will receive hints and
proddings that are stronger than just normal insights and things like that.
"The Faith of an Observer," 13* * * * * * * *
Ask the Lord and he will tell you what to do as long as you
behave yourself. Nothing in the world is more personal than that.
"Nibley Talks about Contemporary Issues," 14* * * * * * * *
At no time did Smith claim that his gift of translation was
permanent; on the contrary, the gifts of the Spirit are given when and where
God wills, and men have no control over them. Joseph Smith stated publicly more
than once that he had to study languages like anyone else, save for the brief
time when he was actually receiving revelation. To say that his interpretation
of one document proves or disproves that of another document made many years
before, is to introduce one's own rules into the game.
"On the Pearl of Great Price," 3* * * * * * * *
[Referring to the Wd3t-eye symbol, Facsimile 2, fig. 7] The key of knowledge and
life, the secret of the resurrection, the key to the measure of all things, of
science itself, the knowledge of "every gift and endowment," the
consummation of every good thing—what comes nearer to "the great
keywords of the priesthood"?
"Three Facsimiles from the Book of Abraham," 67* * * * * * * *
Religion becomes magic when the power by which things
operate is transferred from God to the things themselves. . . . When men lack
revelation they commonly come to think of power as residing in things. . . .
time the Bible became a magic book in men's eyes, conveying all knowledge by
its own power, without the aid of revelation. So also after a fierce
controversy on the matter, priesthood itself acquired the status of a thing
that automatically bestows power and grace, regardless of the spiritual or
moral qualifications of its possessor—it became a magic thing.
"Some Fairly Foolproof Tests," CWHN 7:261
PROPHETS AND REVELATION* * * * * * * *
rejection of living prophets and the veneration of dead ones is not a folly
limited to one nation or to one generation. It meets us throughout the long
history of Israel as a sort of standard procedure. Nor did it cease with the
coming of Christ, who promised his disciples that they would be treated as
badly and rejected as completely as he.
"How Will It Be When None More Saith 'I Saw'," CWHN 8:7* * * * * * * *
The sectarian world simply cannot understand how it is
possible for a prophet of God to make a mistake. They could never see, for
example, why Brigham Young, if he was really a prophet, would need to
experiment with sugar beets or silkworms. Why should a prophet experiment?
Shouldn't God reveal to him exactly what to do in every instance so that he
need never, never, make a mistake? . . .
God ever permits a prophet to be wrong or to learn by trial and error as the
rest of God's children do, how can we ever be sure whether he is right or not?
That, of course, is where revelation comes in.
individual must get a testimony for himself and be guided by the Spirit
entirely on his own; then, and only then, as Brigham Young so often and so
emphatically declared, can the people of God be led by revelation. In the light
of such a doctrine, whether Joseph Smith ever made mistakes or not becomes
completely irrelevant. . . . What mortals have ever been more keenly aware of
their weaknesses and shortcomings than the prophets?
"New Look at the Pearl of Great Price" (March
1968): 17* * * * * * * *
People use perceived imperfections of the Church as a
pretext for them to relax their own personal moral standards. The psychologists
tell us regarding our own emotional feelings not to keep these feelings bottled
up too tight, because it can lead to an explosion. So what should we do? Be
like the importunate widow and complain. Itemize your griefs, your doctrinal
objections, your personal distastes. Lay them all out in full detail and get it
out of your system. (You may wonder why people see me talking so much to
myself.) With this understanding—you will do all this before the only
Person qualified to judge either you or your tormentors. As you bring your complaints,
be fully aware that he knows everything already—including everything
there is to know about you.
"Criticizing the Brethren," 23-24* * * * * * * *
[Certainly] I would sustain Judas. He was one of the
apostles. . . . If we sustained only perfect people, we wouldn't sustain
anybody. The Lord has his purposes in these things.
"Nibley the Scholar," 10* * * * * * * *
If you think any of the Brethren seem to be underendowed in
any particular gift or knowledge, know that God has chosen that brother for
other gifts, and God will endow him with the gifts he needs as the occasion
"Criticizing the Brethren," 20* * * * * * * *
The Brethren have their work cut out for them, and strenuous
work it is. It calls for studying the gospel, and to see that the greatest
possible number of people in all parts of the world get to hear the first
principles. This requires constant repetition of first principles to fresh
audiences wherever General Authorities go; they cannot be expected to set forth
advanced ideas or front-line research.
"Criticizing the Brethren," 21* * * * * * * *
It has been common practice to dismiss any saying of
[Brigham Young's] of which one disapproves (and he makes no effort to please)
by observing that he said so much on so many things that he was bound to
contradict himself, and therefore need not be taken too seriously all the time.
view could be more ill-advised, for there never was a man more undeviatingly
consistent and rational in thought and utterance. . . . Granted that Brigham
would admonish the Saints to wear overcoats one day, so to speak, and the next
day turn around and advise shirtsleeves, the element of scandal and confusion
vanishes if we only get the main idea, which is that it is not the rule-book or
the administration but the weather that prescribes the proper dress for the
day. All the other apparent contradictions in Brother Brigham's teachings
likewise vanish when we grasp the main idea behind them.
"Educating the Saints," 230-31* * * * * * * *
Was there ever a preacher or leader more willing to admit
his fallibility or more emphatic in exhorting his followers not to follow him blindly or believe a thing was
so because he said it? If there was one teaching that Brigham Young emphasized
more than any other it was the importance of the individuals getting a
testimony for himself independently of all human guidance, and putting his
trust not in the words of any leader but in the Holy Ghost.
"Sounding Brass," in CWHN 11:679* * * * * * * *
No matter how wildly improbable or paradoxical or utterly
impossible a thing may seem to the cleverest people on earth, only by witness
and not by reason, theory, or speculation may its truth be ultimately
established, whether the truth be scientific or religious. "This is the
testimony . . . which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him . . . and
we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father"
this testimony of modern prophets with that of the ancients: "That which
was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and
our hands have handled of the Word of life; That which we have seen and heard
declare we unto you" (1 John 1:1-3). After all, it is the testimony of the
prophets that gives us the real Easter.
"Easter and the Prophets," CWHN 3:162* * * * * * * *
Who can draw the line between insight and inspiration
believing, as the Latter-day Saints, that all knowledge comes from God at
various levels of revelation?
"New Approaches to the Pearl of Great Price"
(March 1968): 17* * * * * * * *
Eusebius develops the theory that all that is good and
desirable in any civilization is actually a survival from some previous age of
enlightenment when the Gospel was on the earth and men received light from
heaven. Since civilization and the arts are of course older than Christianity,
he does not presume that God's gifts to mankind began with Jesus, but conceives
of earlier dispensations when the earth was blessed with divine visitations and
showered with heavenly gifts, only to be followed in the course of human
affairs by inevitable corruption and apostasy.
is a conspicuous item in the Jewish and Christian apocrypha, in the early
Christian writings, and now in the Dead Sea Scrolls. A dispensation is not a
reformation but a restoration, specifically, a return of revelation—"again
the heavens were open."
revelation is resumed, the holy order of things revives, while that holy order
cannot survive after revelation has ceased no matter how hard men try to preserve
and imitate its institutions. The sacral order is thus completely dependent on
revelation. . . .
this is important when it comes to understanding the peculiar role of Mormonism
in the world.
"Sophic and Mantic," CWHN 10:371-72* * * * * * * *
The one true religion cannot overlook the existence of other
beliefs and practices that have been followed by the vast majority of the human
race over many centuries. It cannot be a localized provincial religion such as
Roman Catholicism and the extremely limited Protestant sect. That does not mean
that it must have a large membership, but that its doctrine should acknowledge
and seek to understand the full scope of human experience. Thus Abraham treats
the knowledge of the Egyptians and the morality of Pharaoh with reverence and
respect; he doesn't share their beliefs but understands their position. Today
the existence in prehistoric times of an "archaic religion" or "ancient
wisdom" is ever more strongly suspected as comparative studies accumulate.
Mormonism is not only a world religion, it is the World Religion.
"Egypt and Joseph Smith," 3* * * * * * * *
The yearning of Augustine for real revelation and the
inadequacy of all substitutes is beautifully brought out in his last
conversation with his mother. Here these two saintly people bare their souls,
and what they both wish for above all else is a real revelation: what is it
like when God really speaks, they ask each other, when he alone speaks, not by
any intermediary "but by himself, that we may hear his word
not through any tongue of flesh nor angel's voice, nor in the
sound of thunder, nor in the dark riddle of the similitude, but we might hear
the very One whom we only love in these other things, that we might hear his
very self without these—and if this thing could be continued
on . . . so that life might be forever like that one moment of understanding
for which we now sighed—would not that be 'entering into thy Master's
joy?' And when shall that ever be?"
this moment of frank self-revelation Augustine admits that what he really wants
is not revelation that comes by the preaching of men or even of angels, nor
that comes through his laborious intellectual demonstrations, nor is the
manifestation of God in nature—the voice of thunder—nor even the
mystic flash of insight which both he and his mother experienced in their last
conversation together, for even then they still "sighed after" the
real thing and wondered what it was like.
"A Substitute for Revelation," CWHN 3:91-92* * * * * * * *
In a testimony meeting, it is the spirit who testifies to
the individuals there, not me. I may get up and say that I know it's true, and
if a person does not receive the spirit there, that will leave him cold.
"Fact and Fancy in the Interpretation of Ancient
THE GOSPEL AND THE CHURCH* * * * * * * *
The gospel and the Church: we call one the plan
and the other the work. The plan looks to the eternities and must
necessarily be perfect; but the work is right here and is anything but the finished
product. Yet the two are inseparable! "To bring to pass the immortality and
eternal life of man" is the plan; to carry it out, "this is my work
and my glory"—the glory is in the work. We are permitted to take part in the work, to participate like
eager but bungling children in the kitchen or the shop—dropping things, doing it all wrong,
quarreling, getting in each other's way, trying the patience of indulgent elders. What a headache! Yet such
is the best and happiest arrangement
for all concerned, everybody having a wonderful
time—and it is found only in the restored
Church, where the plan and the work are equally exhilarating
and equally sacred. . . .
the plan does not suffer fools gladly. If its object is
perfection—eternal progression, no less—nothing could be more
retrograde to it than the easy self-congratulation, shallow learning, vanity of
office, quest for wealth and recognition, the futile ambition and careerism
that characterize our present society. . . . It is the schoolmen and the
fundamentalists who stop the process with final answers, satisfied with what
they have. Too often the mere fact that the teaching and history of the Church
raise unanswered questions is taken as proof positive that something is
seriously wrong. And it is wrong if we ever stop seeking.
"Foreword" to England's Why the Church Is as True
as the Gospel, CWHN 12:555-56* * * * * * * *
Origen, the first and foremost of Christian theologians,
divided the church itself into two bodies of members—the "esoteric"
and the "exoteric"—corresponding to two different ways of
comprehending the teachings. The
words are his, and they speak volumes. Both societies shared the common membership, but while the exoteric side
made up the popular congregations, the esoteric community was limited to those
who understood and could be trusted with the deeper meaning of the doctrine. .
. . Throughout the Book of Mormon
the church itself regularly split into a worldly society, notably the religion
of the Nehors, and another consisting of "a few . . . humble followers of
Christ (2 Nephi 28:14) to whom special gifts and revelations were given (Alma
12:9). These were Origen's
exoteric and esoteric churches respectively. That is why true Israel was called a peculiar people; people
often ask today in what sense the Latter-day Saints are still peculiar, and it
is not always easy to find an answer.
"One Eternal Round," CWHN 12:386-88