Monday, February 20, 2012

Why Did God Ask Abraham to Sacrifice His Son Issac?

I am constantly amazed at all the attempts I hear to dilute the book of Genesis. People claiming the creation was just symbolic and/or trying to mix it with the philosophies of men such as evolution and billions of years old earth etc. Then we have the claim of the Egyptian chariots only getting stuck in the mud rather than the Egyptians drowning. Again there is the claim of a tree that reflects the sun and could be why Moses thought it was a burning bush. This week I was reading a Jewish viewpoint trying to claim the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice Issac was a fable or symbolic concept.

People sometimes try to intellectualise the Scriptures into a book for playful examination instead of taking them seriously.

The question that so many have trouble with is why would a God of love ask someone to perform a human sacrifice (even if he had no intention of having it happen)?

Some pose that perhaps it was an education to Abraham to help him understand what God would feel like sacrificing his son. Yet for God to do this there would have to be a reason why: Abraham would have to be doubting something to need to have such a demonstration. Such an idea would be proposing that Abraham doubted that sacrificing a son would be a problem to God and that somehow by him having to face sacrificing his own would teach him otherwise. This seems nonsense for two reasons.

Firstly we have Abraham believing that God wouldn't feel badly about sacrificing his son when Abraham himself knew that he would feel badly sacrificing his.

Secondly, somehow his being told to do it changes his mind about how God feels. How does that make sense?

So why did God tell Abraham to offer his son?

I remember when in the Army I straightened out my life. I had been through an examination period of 3 years and found it a waste of time. Upon straightening out my life I had spent hours on many days just reading the Scriptures and listening to my radio. The Holy Ghost had taken me to many Scripture texts and I had quite a collection of them written in my Scriptures (I had a "quad" at the time). I remember one day thinking that I would be completely lost if I were to lose my Scriptures and radio. It seems a strange thought on reflection. But at the time I was making my way back spiritually and that is how I felt.

The next week we were assigned to look after some big wigs for a couple of weeks at another location. Upon travelling there the army lost my baggage. In it was my quad. I began to realise that I didn't really have to have my quad. That as surely as the Holy Ghost had taken me to those Scripture references the first time, he could do it again. Upon me accepting this fact the Holy Ghost said to me that my quad would be sort of waiting for me on my bed when I got back. This left me a bit lost as I had been out on many exercises and they always locked the rooms with us there and unlocked them after we had got back. So I couldn't understand how anything could be on my bed. Secondly his statement of "sort of" being on my bed was also confusing.

Upon returning to the barracks I found the rooms were unlocked (the only time it ever happened) and the guy said he'd just unlocked them as he thought we'd be eager to just get in. Upon my bed was a letter from the Police stating that someone had got to a hotel and found it wasn't his case. He'd handed it in to the Police and they had contacted the army after going through the case.

The next week I moved barracks (as I was getting out of the army) and a guy there stole my radio. I again realised that I didn't really need it, that I could just buy another one. After the weekend the guy returned my radio and apologised for taking it.

The Holy Ghost then reminded me of what I had said. Here I had thought I really had to have these two items to get by: That my spiritual life depended on them. And God had shown me that such a notion wasn't true by removing them both.

Now lets use this thought to look at Abraham. He had waited until he was 100 years old to have a son to Sarah. How do you feel he felt about that son? I know that I regarded my children as God giving me an assignment in looking after them. They were a spiritual thing of the greatest value to me. And I didn't have to wait a hundred years. Also I had 7. But he just had this one that he had always hoped for by Sarah. Are we really to believe that Abraham wouldn't have felt the same types of feelings that I had about those items that I regarded as a sacred part of my spiritual relationship?

I firmly believe that Abraham did feel that way; and that God had to show Abraham what Abraham's real spiritual priorities were, as surely as he did me.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Who's Who in "Mormonism"?

I remember when I first got baptised and went the next day to talk to a local minister, that I knew well, about this. His response was to bring out this book with things against the church. He talked of Brigham Young and other people and events I knew nothing about.

At the time all I could think was that the Holy Ghost had told me to join the church and the Spirit was in it, and so it must be right, and there must be answers to these accusations. So I thought a rundown on who's who could be of value to some. If I've forgotten anyone significant feel free to comment and include them.

Before beginning I should define what "Mormonism" actually is. It refers to the truth: Those things Jesus Christ came and taught, and the Holy Ghost and Heavenly Father teach.

I could get technical and say that the highest position in the truth are eternal laws. But we'll keep it simple.

The highest position in the truth is that of the Father God. He is referred to as "Heavenly Father."
Secondly comes Jesus Christ, who is also a God; and referred to generally in Scripture as "Lord."
Thirdly comes The Holy Ghost. He isn't a God in the same sense, but reveals the Father God and the Lord Jesus. He teaches us and helps us create a relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Next in position is us. All people are equal children of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.

In addition to this we have the church that Jesus Christ set up for us, his brothers and sisters. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is part of the truth; as it sets out to teach those things that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would have for the majority of members to learn. Within this he has created a structured organisation. Meaning that there are offices within it for different functions.

The First Presidency is often composed of 3 men. Firstly we have what is termed "the President of the Church." Another term we use for him is "The Prophet." This term is used as he is the only one who is to receive revelation that is to be placed before the membership, sustained as revelation and placed within the Current Scripture. All members should be prophets for themselves etc. But this is a special prophet for the church as a whole.

His main role is as president, making operational decisions and encouragement to members.

The president has counselors who are also apostles (though not acting within the Council of Twelve Apostles - which comes next). They assist him in his role so that they can stand in his place where required (though they can't receive new doctrine for the church for sustaining).

The presidents of the church that we have had so far are (in order) _
Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. Mc Kay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson.

Next comes the Council of 12 Apostles. There are always 12 in this council. They get assigned areas of responsibility within the church. Upon the death of "The Prophet" the next prophet becomes the apostle that has served as an apostle the longest period of time.

Additionally to this we have several other groups that also make up what is termed "General Authorities" (often referred to as GA's). Prophets and apostles also are GA's. These other groups have areas of responsibility within the church structure.

Arguably the "Standard Works" (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) hold the greatest authority within the church. I'm not saying "arguably" because it should be in dispute, but some are too lazy to read, ponder and pray. They lean on another of their mere mortal brothers to bring them to eternal life. Something Brigham Young said they should not be doing.

Church members generally place large authority to any comments made by Joseph Smith. Other "prophets" carry the next greatest weight. Particularly the "Current Prophet" gets special attention when comments of prophets are in disagreement.

This gets to a problem in quoting GAs (even past "Prophets"). If it doesn't suit it will be said that the "Current Prophet" hasn't said that.

"Prophets" will sometimes disagree with each other as not every word they say or acts they do are by revelation. We see examples of this in Scripture. For example Moses wouldn't circumcise his children as God commanded. His wife had to do it (Ex 4:25-26).

Some non-members feel that by demonstrating differences of opinion of past GAs that this somehow disproves "Mormonism." It must be remembered that the church isn't "Mormonism." "Mormonism" (the truth) is God's religion. It is based on eternal laws. The church is not a group of people who already have all the truth. The church is theoretically a group of people endeavouring to discover that truth more fully through revelation.