Tag Archives: prayer

Little Known Propaganda: 12 – Personal Relationship With Jesus

8 Feb

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11

FACT #12. Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie has warned his people against a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

McConkie made these shocking statements at a speech given at BYU:

“… gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. . . . Now, I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. . . .But you have been warned, and you have heard the true doctrine taught.” (Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p. 5)

In opposition to this, Jesus gives us a personal invitation:

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

I have read the talk that is being quoted here, and I will agree that this is likely unknown to the vast majority of the world. I think the best way to address this is to simply let Elder McConkie explain himself. So, we will first see the quote in its context. After all, the quote given is actually taken from three different parts of the talk, and are separated by a great deal of further explanation.

 

“There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.”

So, Elder McConkie is, first of all, speaking of an over the top Zeal that is truly fanaticism, which is never healthy.

“I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby which creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should.

“Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed…”

Here we are told why it is perilous. It causes arrogance and pride in those who seek it, or such depression that it hinders their functioning. The Bible tells us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16: 18) Is it any wonder that we are warned against such actions?

Please note that we have not even touched on the second part of the quote given, and we have gone through three paragraphs. We now skip down four more paragraphs before we get to the second part of the quote.

“Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or Americanism, or the little red schoolhouse. But I am not. There is a fine line here over which true worshipers will not step.”

So, again, we have Elder McConkie speaking against an improper relationship. There is a proper, personal relationship we can have with Christ, but once we step over that line to seek an improper relationship, that is when we are in danger.

“It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.”

And here we get the full point of all of this. The personal relationship with Christ becomes improper when we seek that over the other members of the Godhead. When our devotion to Christ overshadows our devotion, veneration, and worship of the Father we have stepped over the line and are in peril.

Then, jumping down four more paragraphs, Elder McConkie tells us this.

“Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.”

When we try to remove the reverence between us and God in a desire for a personal relationship with Christ we dishonor the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we maintain that reverential barrier we strengthen ourselves spiritually.

 

I think this is sufficient to show the true intent of Elder McConkie’s words. He is not saying we shouldn’t have a relationship with Christ, even a personal one. He is saying that we should not have an improper relationship that removes the reverential respect and excludes the rest of the Godhead from our devotions. I honestly don’t see how any Christian could even disagree with this, let alone complain about it.

 

On a final note, none of this contradicts anything in the Bible. The specific quote given tells us to come to Christ, which we should do; but we should do so with reverential respect, never forgetting that He is the Son, not the Father.

 

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The Whole Armor of God: Part Three – The Sword

25 Feb

I was going to just do a single article here, but found it was simply too long. So I am separating it into three parts. The First is a description of the Armor; the second discusses how we put the armor on; and the third tells of the Sword. I hope you appreciate this.

In Ephesians chapter six, verses thirteen through seventeen, it says:

“13.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15.  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16.  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God:”

The sword is the only weapon we are given in the war we face every day against Satan.  While the armor protects us, the sword allows us to go on the offensive.  We are told in the doctrine and covenants “Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word.” (D&C 6:2211:2; 12:2; 14:2)  This is the power of the Sword of the Spirit.  Sharper than a two-edged sword, it will divide both joint and marrow.  This can be our sword in our struggle against the forces of Satan.  In Isaiah chapter 49 verse 2 we read:  “And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me.”  We wield this sword every time we open our mouths and speak the truth of Christ.  When we have the Spirit of God so that our words become “the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” then they can be as dangerous as a sword to the enemies of truth.

So how do we sharpen our mouths to be our weapons?  One way is by not only reading, but understanding the scriptures.  But not only the scriptures contained in the standard works, but all the words that God has inspired his servants to speak in all times and places.  We also have available to us other resources, such as the ensign and other church magazines.  We have the lesson manuals that have been prepared for our instruction.  We have a number of books that have been commissioned by the church and written for our benefit.  We should seek out all the words of God, and strive to understand them so that we will have the knowledge needed in wielding the Sword of the Spirit.

But are our mouths swords yet?  No.  The next step is explained in Ephesians chapter 6 verse 18:  “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”  It says here that a critical step of using our mouths as weapons is in kneeling for prayer each day.  However, it takes more than a simple prayer in the morning and one at night, we should go through the day with a prayer in our hearts and a desire to be connected to the Spirit.

Are our mouths swords yet?  They could be, but at this point we still have our weapon in its sheath.  Next comes for many the hardest part; the use of our knowledge against the forces of Satan; commonly known as missionary work.  There are many times throughout our day that a simple truth boldly spoken and without fear will cut down lies and open the way for the Spirit to speak to the hearts of men.

President Brigham Young said: “When I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminate[d] my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality [were] before me.” He said that he was encircled and filled by them, and he knew for himself that the testimony of the man was true (DNW, 9 Feb. 1854, 4).”

The words of one unlearned man, spoken by the spirit, was sufficient to convince others of the truth.  Truly he wielded the Sword of the Spirit.

If we have a knowledge and understanding of the scriptures, a connection with the spirit and the boldness to use our knowledge, we finally have our weapon sharpened, polished, and drawn.  Only then are we ready and able to do our part in the great war for the souls of men.

The Whole Armor of God: Part Two – Putting It On

25 Feb

I was going to just do a single article here, but found it was simply too long. So I am separating it into three parts. The First is a description of the Armor; the second discusses how we put the armor on; and the third tells of the Sword. I hope you appreciate this.

We have now discussed what the whole armor of God is.  When we take on the Full Armor we are protecting ourselves, in all aspects of life, against all types of temptation.  But how then do we put on this armor?  Is it something that we can wear occasionally and then put it off as it suits us?  Can we wear the breastplate of righteousness if your hearts swell with pride and our desires do not focus on righteousness?  Can we place the helmet of salvation on a head that only thinks of worldly treasures and the honors of men?  How do we prepare ourselves to wear the full armor of God and protect ourselves in this world of sin.

In reading a few pass conference ensigns I have found two great statements that tell us perfectly how we may put on this armor and gain the protection that we all need.

In April, 2001, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said “As sovereigns, choosing to yield to the Highest Sovereign is our highest act of choice. It is the only surrender which is also a victory! The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole armor of God, which would not fully fit before!”  Is this not a great statement.  I think we are all familiar with King Benjamin’s statement that the Natural man is an enemy to God unless he yields to the spirit.  We must put off the natural man before we can wear the whole armor of God, and thus we must yield to the enticing of the spirit.

In October of 2011, J. Devn Cornish Of the Seventy said “…in our prayers we may begin the protective process of putting on the whole armor of God by looking forward to the day ahead and asking for help with the sometimes frightening things we may face. Please, my friends, do not forget to ask the Lord to protect and be with you.”  Once we have put off the natural man we must then turn to God in prayer for assistance in putting on his armor which will protect us throughout our lives.