Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2018, December 31

Book of Mormon, Holy Bible, Doctrine and Covenants | “If God Is Unchangeable, Why Does the Church Change?” by grego

If God Is Unchangeable, Why Does the Church Change?
(c) 2018 by grego

God is unchangeable. We humans are not. Nor are the tools we have. Tools that are mundane, tools that are from God.

Truth and eternal laws are unchangeable in their appointed places. They don’t change, though there are different laws for different places—in other words, our reality is the same, but all reality (“all creation”) is not constant/ the same.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ policy certainly changes. Policy is a way of doing something, or a decision about how to act. It can be very simple, or it can be very “deep”. There was certainly no policy on polygamy before polygamy, and no giving the priesthood to the Blacks before they released themselves from overt bondage and oppression, and the church safe because of that.

Yes, the Church must remain safe, or it will, of course, fail in its purpose and mission. This holy Church never has been, and never will be, in our lives, free from outside and inside evil influences. This is not because the Church is evil, but because of evil people and evil ways.

The words of Jesus Christ: Matt. 22:21: “They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Mark 12:17: “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Luke 20:25: “…Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” D&C 63:26: “Nevertheless, I, the Lord, render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.

I don’t think we realize how much covert rendering some powerful forces require of the Church. What good is it to preach against Satan’s hosts, rile them up so they destroy the Church and the Saints; so that the true purpose and mission of the Church are quickly subdued? When President Hunter was held at bomb-point, it was a personal danger that allowed him to “stand strong against the adversary”; had the church itself been in danger, it might have been different. Matthew 5: 25 “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” And in 3 Nephi 12: 25 “Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison.” Why was polygamy stopped? There’s your answer.

No doubt there will be another future but not-distant point in history, when, as with polygamy in the past, Satan and his will stir up wicked emotions and wickedness and hypocrisy will rage against and ravage the Saints, and the Saints and the Church as we know it will be in danger; but it will hold; and God will save them. Until that time, however, the Church must carefully hold to its purpose the best it can, under circumstances. After the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Church will be very free to fulfill its purpose and mission.

Nevertheless, God, knowing all things from the beginning, will use opposing forces against the Church to further His purposes through the Church as much as can be.

As someone said, there are so many wars, you have to carefully choose which ones to fight, and how and when. This includes wars outside and inside the Church.

Our understanding of the truth certainly changes. Doctrine does. Yes, I know that many say doctrine does not change; but if we consider that ‘doctrine’ is “our understanding of truth, as revealed to us”, then of course we understand it changes, because we don’t have all truth revealed to us, nor do we understand it, especially all its context and nuances—and we never will, in this life. When leaders usually say ‘doctrine’, I think they mean ‘truth’. We’ve heard times in Sunday School where someone says something correct, but it’s not complete; someone else then says something that seems like it’s contrary, but in actuality, it’s just complementing the first comment. Even then, the two comments, however true they are, are not complete; we could go down many, many levels to get a more complete truth.

Here’s a great example of how ‘doctrine’ changes: the Spirit World.

In the Book of Mormon, Alma is the first person to talk about the spirit world, and the information he gives is sparse, and a little is personal opinion (Alma 41:9-14). In the Bible, we have a little information from Peter (1 Peter 2:12 “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 4:6 “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”). From that point on, we have nothing official/ scriptural until Joseph F. Smith’s vision (DC 138). Unofficially, there are many more teachings from other latter-day prophets, particularly Brigham Young. There were also many personal experiences that contributed to our understanding. So, did the truth change between Nephi and now? No. Has our understanding of the truth changed/ increased? Yes. Has doctrine changed? Yes—because new revelation has increased our breadth and depth of the topic.

There have been times when things have been misunderstood—perhaps even intentionally given, knowing they would be misunderstood; waiting until we ask for clarification, to clarify.
For example:
DC 19:6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

Or, here:
3 Nephi 15:21 And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
22 And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.
23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.

No doubt there are times when things were misunderstood, and the Lord allowed the mistakes, to some degree or another, to continue—until it was time to correct them.

What else influences the Church’s changes? The members of the Church. The Lord did not reveal to the apostles in Jerusalem the Nephites, nor perform so many open and wonderful miracles. Why? Here are some verses for understanding:

3 Nephi 15:16 This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:
17 That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
18 And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them.
19 But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you.

3 Nephi 17:2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.

3 Nephi 19:35 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying he came again to the disciples, and said unto them: So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief.

We see that it’s often up to the faith and righteousness of the members of the Church.

Joseph Smith also commented, “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.” When he says “anything new”, I’d say he’s talking about doctrine and policy. So, revelation of doctrine (‘new doctrine’, but not new truth) and policy for the Church also depends on the Saints and their ability to receive it.

If God is unchangeable, why does the Church change? Because until time stands still and circumstances and people remain constant, it’s best for the Church to change.

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