Insulting One’s Brother: A New Interpretation of What Jesus Meant

Scott S. Mitchell

In his Sermon on the Mount, wherein Jesus defined his own religious philosophy and distinguished it from the Law of Moses his audience was accustomed to, he spoke many religiously memorable and unprecedented words. Among them were the following, from Matthew 5 of the New Testament. I have highlighted those words in yellow which are different from the wording of the Book of Mormon version of the same sermon:

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

As recorded in the Book of Mormon, Jesus delivered essentially the same words, with some important differences, to the Nephites in the New World following his resurrection. The Book of Mormon counterpart of Matthew 5:21-24 is found in 3 Nephi 12. Below, I have highlighted words which differ from the New Testament version:

21 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time –and it is also written before you — that thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God.
22 But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to this brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me or shall desire to come unto me and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee,
24 go thy way unto thy brother and first be reconciled to thy brother and then come unto me with full purpose of heart and I will receive you.

Jesus’s Concern for Each Other’s Feelings

Before we compare the significant differences between these verses, we should perceive that either version may well subject a would-be Christian to painful introspection. The way we address people whose views we don’t like, especially in such arenas as politics where disparaging put-downs have become the norm, may require a jolting revision if we would re-adhere to Christ’s elevated behavioral standards. But that’s what Jesus desired of us — introspection and, if necessary, repentance; a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The philosophy quoted above in verses 21-24 signifies that to Jesus, “Christianity” is not a label we lightly adopt to distinguish us from other religious traditions. Instead, Christianity is meant to guide us as caring stewards over each others’ emotional wellbeing. Indeed, as Jesus delivered this famous sermon, he was revolutionizing the Jewish religion, replacing and transcending it with a higher law focused on mutual regard instead of the mere avoidance of harmful or offensive physical acts. To follow Jesus, an inner spirituality was required, not just abstention from such things as murder, adultery, stealing or perjured testimony. This spirituality would manifest itself in a genuine concern for the feelings of one’s “brother.”

What Jesus Meant by His Use of the Word “Brother”

Regarding that term “brother” found in both the biblical and Book of Mormon texts of these verses, for the purposes of this essay I will assume that what Jesus meant was the definition he gave sometime later in his ministry when he explained that “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (See Matthew 12:46-50.). Some readers will undoubtedly prefer a broader definition of the brother that would embrace all of humankind, but I don’t believe Jesus intended his use of the term should be construed so broadly. He himself was sharply critical of many of the scribes and Pharisees, variously calling them such things as “blind guides,” “fools,” “whited sepulchers,” “serpents,” a “generation of vipers,” and, of course, “hypocrites.” (See generally Matthew 23 and Luke 11:44.) If the term “brother” as used in Matthew 5:22-44 were to mean any human being, no matter how ill-intentioned, Jesus would have been in danger of hellfire himself for calling the scribes and Pharisees who sought his destruction such derogatory names. By construing brother to mean any person who seeks to do the will of God, Jesus was effectively describing how his disciples should treat each other as brothers and sisters while still recognizing the need of strong disciples to denounce pernicious ideas or behavior when confronted with it.

To Jesus, ill treatment, or insulting words, though expected to be directed to his disciples by Christianity’s enemies, would not considered harmless when directed to fellow laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, or to church authorities attempting to promote love and kindness among the believers. Each follower of the Righteous One was to care as much about the emotional state of her fellows as she did about her own.  There was not to exist an ethos of “stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” among Christians. Rather, the wounded feelings of the righteous and innocent disciple were even more important than physical wounds. In fact, the worst pains Jesus himself would suffer on the cross wouldn’t come from physical pain.  That which caused the Son of God to cry out in anguish shortly before he gave up the ghost, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (“My god, My god, why hast thou forsaken me?”) was not from nails and tearing flesh, but from the emotional isolation he felt when his Father in Heaven withdrew his succor near the end of the crucifixion in order that His Beloved Son might be able to eventually say that he had “trodden the winepress alone.”

New Insights from the Book of Mormon on How Verse 22 Should be Understood

In reading the Book of Mormon, we discover a new insight into how the above-quoted Verse 22 should be understood that isn’t found in the New Testament’s wording of Jesus’s sermon.  The Book of Mormon’s Verse 22 states not that being angry with one’s brother will place the angry one in danger of the judgement, but his judgement.  It may be argued that the word his here refers to God’s judgement, but, for the reasons provided below, I believe the more likely interpretation is that the offender will be in danger of the brother’s judgement.  And this judgement isn’t nothing.  As explained above, he brother whose judgement we’re in danger of incurring is by Jesus’s definition a righteous man (and the sister whose judgment we’d be in danger of incurring would, by Jesus’s same definition in Matt. 12:46-50 be a righteous woman), someone Jesus says is doing he will of his Father who is in heaven.  To be judged guilty or in the wrong by such a person would, by definition, be righteous judgement.  Therefore, the remedy sought by such a person, even if it were mild as a mere private verbal scolding, would at least afflict the offender with a painful guilty conscience akin to what we’d feel if the Lord himself upbraided us.  And if our wrongful anger were especially opprobrious, a brother’s or sister’s judgement might require an even more painful restoration of goodwill, possibly involving other people who were negatively affected by the unjust treatment of a fellow disciple.

Jesus then addresses, in Verse 22 of both canons, what will rightfully occur should the offender call a brother Raca, a demeaning and insulting term understood, apparently, in he Jews’ spoken Aramaic language, as well as in Greek and the Nephite version of Hebrew.  Presumably, insults roughly equivalent to this particular word would also occasion the same response.  Such an epithet directed at one of God’s followers was serious enough to summon the offender to appear before a church council whose range of remedies or punishments could presumably include such possibilities as suspension of the offender’s right to partake of the sacramental bread and wine, or to act as a teacher, priest or elder.  He might be required to publicly apologize before the entire congregation, or if he refused, face suspension or termination of church membership.  In Jesus’s early church, such remedies were common.  In fact, Moroni described both the meetings and administration of Christ’s church in Moroni Chapter 6 of the Book of Mormon:

6 And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
7 And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of he church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ.
8 But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.

The Most Serious Level of Judgment Visited Upon the Insulter

The third and most serious level of judgment visited upon the offending insulter is that which implicates one’s standing with God.  We surmise from what Jesus says in the final words of verse 22 that to call someone a fool to their face constitutes a more serious and hurtful disparagement than the term Raca.  Because the insult inflicts the greater emotional wound, the offender, if she doesn’t repent, is in danger of a judgment more potentially eternal and painful than that which an individual or a local church council could administer.  This judgment, “hell fire,”  suggests the kind only God would  have the power to impose. 

I should clarify here that I don’t purport to know precisely what Jesus considers hell fire.  My perception is that it is a tormented state of mind wherein the offender realizes he has offended God and is, for the time being, unable to find relief from the searing emotional pain of a guilty conscience.  It is not necessarily permanent, but while it lasts, it may be described, as Alma the younger described his own three days of hellish remorse, as “eternal.”  Alma had been rebuked by an angel of God, for trying to destroy the faith of church members, and described the effect on him of that rebuke with some of the same words Jesus later used in his sermon:  “. . .I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.  Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell. . .” 

It should also be noted that Jesus doesn’t guarantee that such excruciating torment as Alma described will result from a mere one-word insult leveled at one of his disciples.  But such an offense, if ongoing and not repented of, will place the offender in danger of that result.    

Therefore, Jesus appears to outline a three-part hierarchy of judgments that can await a person who hurts the feelings of his righteous disciples with their undue anger or verbal assaults.  The first judgment comes from the victim of the wrongdoing, the second from a local council of religious leaders, and the third comes from the ultimate authority, God. Because Jesus employs what appear to be increasingly serious exposure to judgments or punishments as the seriousness of the offense increases, I infer that the word the word “his” in the Book of Mormon’s version of verse 22, refers to the victim of the misplaced anger, and not to God.  Otherwise, the pattern of progressively serious judgments in the verse would be lost.

Conclusion

As we communicate with each other in person or through internet platforms, the importance of adopting Jesus’ own high standards for discourse cannot be overemphasized. Whether we’re discussing politics or sports, or expressing undue anger over some disappointing outcome, we must remember that our actions or words can be as injurious as physical crimes, and indeed, more so.  Evil must be opposed, and sometimes done vociferously.  But emotionally harming a well intentioned person who is trying to follow the path of righteousness cannot be excused merely because the belligerent one considers his or her actions or words less serious than physical crimes.  That’s why Jesus juxtaposed his “Raca” teachings with the commandment the Jews and Nephites considered the most serious of all — the injunction to not kill — and enlarged upon it.  Simply put, we should think twice before we call someone a moron, idiot, racist, misogynist, deplorable, fool or insane person, not to mention the many more vulgar terms that have proliferated in our culture.  Paying tithes, attending church or the temple, holding down a church calling, being married in the temple and abstaining from unhealthful substances are not what our religion, at its core, is all about.  Those things don’t absolve us of meanness to those we disagree with.  Doing good to each other emotionally and spiritually is where Jesus placed the emphasis in his most famous and groundbreaking sermon, and we should do likewise.

 

 

Scriptural Evidence Jesus Christ Wasn’t Married

Scott S. Mitchell

INTRODUCTION

It may seem odd to some readers that I’m providing evidence that Christ wasn’t married when most Christians consider this conclusion already too obvious to require proof.  But I, having grown up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter “LDS Church” or “Church”), am writing to a sizable number of members of said Church who, because of other LDS doctrines, suppose it likely that Jesus was indeed married.  Remarkably enough, they believe this was necessary for even Jesus, in order to attain the highest level of exaltation of the highest kingdom in heaven (which doctrine of different levels of glory with the highest kingdom of glory is another belief peculiar to the LDS Church).  This doctrine originates from one of the Church’s own unique canonical works, the Doctrine and Covenants.  Section 132, verses 15-21 of that book not only requires all people be married to be exalted, but that said marriages be performed by priesthood authority possessed exclusively by worthy male members of the LDS Church.  Thus, the reasoning goes, Jesus had to have been married or he couldn’t qualify for the highest level of exaltation.

In an essay elsewhere on this website entitled Jesus’s Failure to Endorse Eternal Marriage in the Bible and Book of Mormon, I have pointed out that the Bible and Book of Mormon contain no endorsements by Jesus of the LDS doctrine of “eternal marriage.”  Indeed, I set forth therein several arguments which not only demonstrate why Jesus wouldn’t, and didn’t, include eternal marriage as a teaching of his church, but also that he himself wasn’t married during his earthly ministry.  This essay expounds on that latter point, providing compelling scriptural evidence confirming Christ’s earthly bachelorhood.

I. THE BIBLE FAILS TO MENTION JESUS HAVING A WIFE 

The first, and most compelling piece of evidence for the proposition that Jesus remained single is also the most obvious.  And yet, it’s invariably overlooked by those maintaining that Christ was married.  It’s this:  The Bible doesn’t say anything about him being married.  That’s enormously important.  In fact, those who study this issue should not suppose that the significance of biblical silence on this point is neutralizedby the fact that the Bible also doesn’t say that he wasn’t married.  For one thing, as I will argue below, both in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible does affirmatively make plain that Jesus remained single.  But even if it didn’t, the New Testament’s failure to inform the reader that Jesus was married should be considered in light of the fact that it does report a massive amount of intimate details from Jesus’ adult life starting from the point when he was about 30 years old.  It tells us where he walked, where he stayed, whom he stayed with, what he ate, what he drank, what he said in private conversations, whom he touched, who touched him, whom he healed, the other miracles he performed, his relationship to the family members who waited outside for a chance to talk to him, when he tired, when he slept, when he wept, and when all these things happened in relationship to each other (though the dedication to events chronologically varies with the writer).  Most importantly, the New Testament names the people whom Jesus associated with in a diverse variety of roles — his mother, stepfather, brothers, publicans, Pharisees, apostles, other prominent followers and students, and disciples of both sexes.  This joint effort by the writers of the four gospels to pay so much attention to any religiously significant episode of his life, then, is the proper context within which to consider those writers’ failure to make any mention of Jesus having a wife.  If Jesus had had a wife, she would have been the most important person in his life, and if the existence of anyone he associated with were to be mentioned, it would be hers.

II. OTHER SCRIPTURAL FIGURES ALSO DIDN’T MARRY BECAUSE OF THE SPECIAL MINISTRIES TO WHICH THEY’D BEEN CALLED

It requires no great scrutiny of the scriptures to conclude that numerous prophets down through time, both before and after Jesus, were definitely not married.  The Scriptural descriptions of the lives of Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, John the Beloved and Paul (and most likely Jeremiah) so clearly establish their lifelong bachelorhood, this author has been unable to find a single scriptural scholar outside the LDS faith who thinks otherwise.  Those LDS Church members who have been willing to teach that Christ or Paul were married, for example, constitute a very small minority of writers, and even they, apparently cognizant of the nonexistent scriptural support, have rarely been willing to publish books or papers to that effect.  (For more on Paul’s voluntary celibacy, see arguments hereinafter.)  In the author’s experience, said individuals hold such views only because they deem it impossible to be fully “exalted” without being married, relying solely on their interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants Section 132 referenced in the Introduction.  As I’ve argued in other essays on this website (see, e.g., Jesus’s Doctrine and Gospel versus Mormonism’s Teachings of Temple Priesthood Ordinances and Exaltation and Why the “Lines of Priesthood Authority” Concept is Missing from the Book of Mormon, and How Authority was Obtained to Found the First Known Church of Christ), the teachings of D&C 132 are spectacularly wrong, fully contradicted by the Book of Mormon and Bible at almost every turn.  (In the author’s opinion, Book of Mormon figures Ether, Abinadi, two of the three specially chosen Nephite disciples, and certainly the last Moroni, to name a few, most probably remained single as well.)

III. JESUS POINTEDLY REFERRED TO THE NECESSITY OF SOME MEN TO REFRAIN FROM MARRIAGE FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN’S SAKE

In preaching that marriage was ordained of God and that men should not divorce their wives for any reason other than sexual infidelity, Jesus also explained why some few men nevertheless intentionally remain single.  He prefaced his remarks by saying  “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”  He then declared, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven sake.  He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”  (Emphasis added; see Matthew 19:11-12.)  By twice limiting his words’ application to those who could receive them, Jesus implied that they were not generally applicable to most men.  Virtually all Bible commentaries interpret this scripture the same way.  Representative of them is this explanation:

Those who heard the words could hardly fail, as they thought over them, to look on their Master’s life as having been the great example of what He thus taught. . .The motives which St. Paul states as determining his own choice of the celibate life (1 Corinthians 7:7), or the counsel which he gave to others (1 Corinthians 7:32-34), are identical with this teaching in their principle.1

Even James E. Talmage interpreted Jesus’s words to mean that some men

voluntarily devoted themselves to a celibate life, and some few adopted celibacy “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” that thereby they might be free to render all their time and energy to the Lord’s service.  But the disciples’ conclusion that “it is not good to marry” was true only in the exceptional instances stated.2

The demands of Jesus’s ministry were anything but conducive to fulfilling the expected and rightful role of a husband.  Jesus had no home.  He was always traveling from one place to another, accompanied by his male disciples, whom he was with even on the last night of his life.  He stayed with fiends, and those friends sometimes included single women like Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus.  He commonly had private conversations with single women.  On one occasion, a woman with what appears to have been a known history of sexual immorality wept in Jesus’s presence, kissing his feet repeatedly as she washed them with her tears, anointing him with expensive perfume, then drying his feet with her hair.3  When he sought privacy, he went off by himself, not home to a wife.  If he had married a woman, he would resolutely have dedicated himself to being a loving and attentive husband, putting the same effort into marriage that he actually did put into maximizing the fruits of his abbreviated ministry.  Like some other prophets, his life required celibacy “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”

This understanding is further reinforced by the compaison in Ephesians  5:25 of Christ’s relationship with the church to the ideal relationship of a man to his wife:  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .”  Again, if Jesus had been married, Paul would have taught that men should love their wives as Jesus loved his wife.  The comparison of men’s wives to Christ’s church bolsters the conclusion that as Jesus had himself indicated, some men, like he himself, had kept themselves celibate so they could serve God with undivided attention and devotion.

IV. JESUS’S MINISTRY LIKEWISE LEFT HIM UNABLE TO RAISE CHILDREN

As a corollary to the foregoing point,  marriage wouldn’t make sense for a man who couldn’t be available to give his wife children and help her raise them.  And it would be unthinkable to marry a woman but that the same time deny her the blessing of childbearing.  If Jesus had married, his wife’s natural desire would be to have children.  And like Jesus’ mother Mary and her cousin Elizabeth had done, such a wife would have rejoiced over God’s goodness in granting her that blessing upon learning she had conceived.  But, for the same reasons Jesus would have neither the time nor the privacy to be a husband to a wife, he wouldn’t be available to properly give children the time, attention and conscientious upbringing they would need.  He wouldn’t father children only to be absent and longed for due to the demands of his ministry.  Not only would his traveling, preaching and working miracles consume his time, he was also foreordained to die very young–the opposite of what his wife and children would need from him.

Instead, Jesus’s children would consist of those who accepted his gospel.  In this way, he would answer the rhetorical question posed by Isaiah in Judea, and quoted by the prophet Abinadi in America:  “[W]ho shall declare his generation?. . .And who shall be his seed?”  Jesus would indeed have seed (i.e., posterity), Abinadi explained:

Whosoever has heard the word of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have testified concerning the coming of the Lord–I say unto you, that all of those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.

(Emphasis added; see Mosiah 15:10-11 in the Book of Mormon.)

These words by Abinadi both echoed and expounded on Isaiah’s words, declared centuries earlier, and recorded in Isaiah 53:8, wherein the prophet made pointed reference to the dilemma posed by the prospect of Jesus dying without posterity.  Isaiah had then resolved the dilemma in verse 10 by explaining that Jesus, the suffering servant, shall obtain posterity whenever individuals “shall make his soul an offering for sin.”  These two prophetic explanations would be unnecessary, and would make no sense, if Jesus were producing posterity through the biological means incidental to marriage.

V. JESUS’S INSTRUCTIONS TO JOHN WHILE ON THE CROSS INDICATE HE HAD NO WIFE

While dying on the cross, Jesus spoke to John regarding the future care of his mother Mary, who stood near John and watched the crucifixion.  John records that standing with Mary were three other women–her own sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.  Jesus instructed his mother to look on John as her son, and John to regard Mary as his mother.  And from that time John took Mary into his own home.  (See John 19:25-27.) These verses communicate much more than Jesus’s filial concern for his mother’s wellbeing after his own death.

The fact that John went to the trouble to specifically identify the women who stood watching Jesus’s crucifixion, and to show the steps Jesus took to ensure his now-widowed mother would be cared for in his own absence, leaves little doubt that if Jesus had had a wife, she would have been present with John and the other four women during the last hours of her husband’s mortal life, and John would have recorded her presence.  No less obvious was the conclusion that Jesus would have made sure to see that she, too, who would be a widow herself at the end of that day, was cared for following his death.  Or, if for some compelling reason Jesus’s wife existed but was not present to witness him die, John would have explained to the reader why that was.  John was careful to do that kind of thing in his record.  If Jesus had been married but somehow Matthew, Mark and Luke had inexplicably omitted that fact in their separate accounts of his life, it nonetheless would not have been omitted here by John.  Its absence here compels this conclusion:  Jesus was single.

FOOTNOTES

1. Excerpted from “Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers” as quoted in biblehub.com, an online biblical exegesis website.

2. James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ (Salt Lake City:  Deseret Book Company, 1972), p. 475.

3. See Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 7:36-50 and John 12:1-8.  While John’s account identifies this woman as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, the other three accounts disagree on this point.  I personally find John’s account the least reliable of the four, because of the relative consistency of the other three accounts in stating the event took place in the home of one Simon. Jesus directed his chastisement to Simon after the latter was offended by the acts of the woman and Jesus’s allowance of it.

Did the Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon Plates Contain More than Just the Brother of Jared’s Vision? A Theory

The Gold Plates; GAK 325; Primary manual 5-13; Alma 37:4

Introduction

A puzzling feature of the description of the gold-colored metal plates, on which the Book of Mormon text was written, was the thickness of the sealed portion.  The unsealed plates could be turned like the pages of a book, but the sealed plates were bound together by some means (which was never actually described by witnesses) whereby  the individual leaves could not be separated from each other and read.  David Whitmer, one of the witnesses privileged to actually see the plates, estimated the sealed portion to constitute about one half of the total number of leaves, while Orson Pratt, who did not personally see the plates but wrote about what eyewitnesses had told him, estimated the sealed portion to be two thirds of the total.1  The overall thickness of the sealed and unsealed portions together was estimated as ranging from four (Martin Harris’ version) to six inches (Orson Pratt’s version).2  The unsealed portion produced what is now 531 pages of text in the Book of Mormon, so presumably, the sealed portion, if translated, would produce approximately that same amount or more.

This short essay suggests a possible explanation for why the sealed portion of the ancient plates was as thick as reported by witnesses, and what other texts might have been contained within that portion in addition to that which is already known.

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More Puzzling Subordination and Diminution of Book of Mormon Text in LDS General Conferences

David A. Bednar waving with a journal in his hand as he and his wife exit the Conference Center.

In most of the articles on this website, I have stressed the point that The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter “LDS,” “Church” or “LDS church”) teaches myriad ideas which run contrary to the unambiguous teachings of the Book of Mormon.  Most LDS church members are surprised and/or upset by this assertion and skeptical of its accuracy.  But to prove its truth, I urge readers to ask themselves if, during the April 2020 LDS general conference, they noticed any point in any talk where a scripture was quoted by a general authority which was at odds with the version of the same scripture in the Book of Mormon.  It absolutely did happen, as we shall see. Continue reading

The First Vision: Commemorating and Concealing its History

General Conference - The Daily Universe

Introduction and a Word of Caution

I’ve written two previous essays on this website analyzing whether the First Vision account is authentic history, and whether the doctrinal pronouncements contained within it are from the Lord.  One of those addressed the historical evidence in depth, while the latter dealt solely with whether it’s doctrinally correct to assume the Lord appears to, and speaks face to face with, us Gentiles living in these latter days.  On both occasions when I announced the essays were being posted, I encouraged readers NOT to read them if they believed the Pearl of Great Price’s First Vision account was true and didn’t desire to read material that would threaten that belief.  I assumed then, and still assume now, that most readers of this website will be hostile to the assertions of those two essays, and this one.  Since I’ve previously delved deeply into the specifics of several of the First Vision’s major evidentiary issues, I won’t repeat that exercise in this shorter essay.  However, because I WILL be discussing herein the degree to which I think the Church is misrepresenting the facts of one of those issues, I once again urge readers to not proceed beyond the end of this paragraph if they fall into the category described above.  (I’ve provided the link to the previous essays in the next paragraph to prevent you from prematurely linking to them and later regretting it.)  I don’t judge you, hostile or not.  I was in that category myself until about 27 years ago, and my intentions were just as pure then as they were later when I affirmatively sought to expose myself to ideas and evidence I’d previously avoided.  If you believe the First Vision account taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereineafter “the Church”) is true, you should read no further unless you’re willing to risk those beliefs being altered.

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Going it Alone in Interpreting the Book of Revelation, Part 3: The False Prophet and the Beasts

Image result for the false prophet and the beast

Identifying the False Prophet of the Book of Revelation

The phrase “false prophet” is mentioned three times in the Book of Revelation (see 16:13, 19:20 and 20:10).  The phrase draws particular attention to itself because its singular form distinguishes it from the plural phrase “false prophets” which Jesus warned against and which is found in six different New Testament passages.   Since John himself refers to the “many false prophets” in 1 John 4:1, his use of the singular term in Revelation, preceded by the word “the,” suggests he is referring to one man who is the most famous and dangerous of all false prophets who would threaten Christianity.  John appears to expect the reader will naturally identify one false prophet among many anonymous and generic ones because of the former’s superior notoriety.

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Going It Alone in Interpreting the Book of Revelation, Part 2

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Underlying Assumptions

My interpretation of certain key verses of Revelation 9 is based on these assumptions:  First, John is aware that his audience readers extends beyond the seven churches he names in Chapters 1, 2 and 3.  He’s aware that the Lord has chosen him to fulfill the role that the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi prophesied he would fulfill, as I set forth in Part 1 of this essay.  He knows that prior to the Millennium,  his revelation will be the world’s only available scripture describing Earth’s entire history.  Therefore, the events set forth in his narrative won’t be trivial or obscure ones; rather, they’ll be momentous, enormously consequential ones which can be identified after they’ve occurred.

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Going It Alone in Interpreting the Book of Revelation, Part 1

Image result for Book of Revelation

In the latter part of this essay, I will propose that certain words written by John in the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelation refer to Hitler’s rise, Hitler’s conquest of Europe and the Normandy Invasion in which the forces of good combined to liberate the Jewish and Christian world from tyranny and destruction.  I’ve never heard anyone express most of the views contained below, but I have heard and read a great number of views reaching  different conclusions.  For proof of this, one might visit biblehub.com and read the various interpretations of Revelation Chapter 9 from a host of biblical scholars.  The uniqueness of my interpretations, and especially the fact that I interpret scriptures the LDS Church has declined to interpret, motivate me to explain why I presume to venture into this doctrinal territory.

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Vulgarity and Plain Words in Scripture and Life, Part 1

A painting by Del Parson showing a group of people mocking and pointing their fingers at Lehi, who is prophesying while standing near a palm tree.

I have a long history of loving and hating vulgarity.  Like most devout Christians, I’ve been disgusted at how vulgarity now dominates everyday speech, and how our crass, dumbed-down society seems incapable of expressing anything without resorting to it.  And many movies, plays and TV shows with compelling stories and acting are made unwatchable by writers whose profanity-laced dialogues are harder to endure than a long swim in a cesspool.

But perhaps I’m as devout a hypocrite as I am a Christian, and because of that, I also enjoy some forms of vulgarity. Continue reading