Thursday, April 23, 2009

Death - How should we Respond and Deal with it - What is the State of the Dead?

First I should mention that I have been dead twice; and remember it well. Secondly I have seen the dead in their everyday existence, as I see spirits from time to time. I bring this up to point out that things I'm saying are more than me just speculating.

A point I would like to raise at the beginning is that those left behind should try and consider the feelings of the person who has passed on. This person is still present. They haven't actually gone anywhere (I have discussed this point before, and it can be read on my "Obscure Doctrines" site - the link is at the top of the page). Their spirit is watching and listening.

Now consider how you would feel if you had passed on and everyone is absolutely miserable? What is more, they are ignoring your presence altogether. They are not listening to you trying to comfort them that you are OK.

So for those who have had someone pass on, just keep that thought in mind too.

As LDS we can tend to be philosophical about death, and just accept it as part of the eternal plan. While this understanding is a huge advantage, it still is difficult when we are faced with the passing of a loved one, or are called upon to comfort those who have.

Some left behind attempt to find some justice in the death. They see death as some ultimate penalty (after all it is given as such in scripture and in some justice systems). Therefore they search to understand what the deceased did wrong, in disbelief that they were that bad. They may tend to blame God for some injustice, in having allowed this person to die. Yet all LDS should be aware that it is just an inevitable step in God's plan, that happens to all at some point. Heavenly Father knows the best time for this to occur in each individual's life. He has taken this into account for each individual he places in any situation (before birth).

We are all different, and therefore require different lessons in life. Heavenly Father seeks to provide the lessons that each person needs for that individual to achieve their highest potential. And some of that experience will be provided in the spirit world, in the vast majority of cases.

We came here to earth to get a physical body. Obviously upon death we will miss that extra thing we have got used to having and went to all this trouble to get.

"For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage." D&C 138:50

Fortunately Jesus Christ came and made resurrection available to all. And that is what I look forward to; along with going home (to Heavenly Father) upon being resurrected.

The dead have the same situation we have in that they are here: Their lives are normal. Spirit Prison, Hell and Paradise are all mental states, not areas. And missionary work there is by members as much as missionaries (or should be - as here).

When I was working as a night-patrolman for a security firm I was assigned a place we referred to as "the Wool Sheds" (as part of my area). We had to enter the sheds and walk through them and check various areas. Those who had done this place made mention of the fact of it being haunted: They could feel the presence of something other than themselves. One adamantly denied the existence of a God but said, "you know you are not alone in the Wool Sheds."

I could feel them also. One night I looked and saw many spirits standing around talking. These were those who had worked at the sheds during the over a century it had been there for. Their clothes demonstrated their eras. Some on one side saw me coming and eagerly came over to try and scare me. The rest over that side just took vague notice of this situation and went on with their various conversations or just watched me.

My experience only contributes to the enormous amount of sittings of the dead that so many others have also experienced. The only reason I mention it is that it was obvious from the experience that these people were neither in fire (and, obviously, the ones coming to scare me didn't have good intent) and that there were no prison walls or bars: People interact freely, as here.

General Authorities have pointed out that the generation now living will be there for Christ's second coming. I would add my testimony to that which I have also received through the Spirit. Therefore we live in a fortunate time in that the resurrection of the righteous will soon be upon us. Even those righteous dying now will have little time to spend without their bodies. All the Celestials and Terrestial dead will be resurrected. I certainly look forward to this.

It will be a great thing to see our friends and relatives who are now in the spirit state.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

All's Well in Zion VS Dissension and Murmuring - the Right(?) to Question

The devil is prophesied to use several tricks in the latter days, in order to keep mankind from gaining eternal life. Among these tricks one is particularly centred at church members.

"And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." 2 Nephi 28:21

Naturally no one uses this exact term. But many times I find members saying that all is well in the church (Zion). Any question or challenge to the way things are running is frowned upon by some. Words such as "dissension" and "murmuring" are used to suggest the person having a desire for improvement is off with the devil.

Now we all know that dissension isn't good. And just winging isn't good either. Neither of these things are likely to create a better situation. But is all critique negative? If so Jesus Christ would stand accused of being negative and of the devil. As would Isaiah, Abinadi, and the list is almost endless.

Modern day prophets have often spoken of the positive things that are happening in the church. But the prophets also speak of the improvements we need to make as individuals. This isn't an "all's well" preaching. Yet mentioning the problems doesn't make them guilty of dissension or murmuring against us, either.

D&C 121:34-40 warns us that leaders in the church will make errors, and that all won't be well. So is God guilty of murmuring against church leaders? Sensible examination is important. And questioning of decisions that a person can't accept isn't dissension away from God either. I have questioned God and his decisions; and he took no offence. Neither did he propose that I had no right to question. Neither did he propose that I was off with the devil for questioning.

Abraham questioned God's decision and posed that surely he would do the right thing in regard destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:23-25). Is this dissension? Murmuring? The Lord didn't take offence at it. In fact he fully answered all his questions.

So is all well in the church? Obviously not. God gave the word of wisdom directed at the "weak and weakest of Saints". Has he added to it since because of advancement of the Saints? No. In fact he had to turn part of it into a commandment - a backward step. Then there is tithing. Another Law of Moses concept we still are called upon to practice - though let me state that great blessings come from obeying the Law of Moses.

Then we have bishops etc leaving their families to take the chief seats in the synagogues, also contrary to Christ's statement against this (Matt 23:6). Obviously if a person is speaking or conducting the meeting it is logical to be there. I can also see that for general (or stake) conferences, to get the idea of church structure, every six months.

The Book of Mormon presents that God inspired (Protestant(?)) reformers to question. And where would we be without it?

So is saying, "hey, what's going on?" murmuring and dissension?

I believe that sensible questioning is our responsibility. If we start leaving the church because of it, then we are off line. But I believe in the right to question.