Friday, June 14, 2019

Aladdin


My wife and I saw the new Aladdin movie a little bit ago.  The new live action version was very  entertaining.  Couple really interesting parallels stood out to me to scriptural ideas.  Obviously not everything matches up all nice but here are some fun ones:

-The lamp was in a cave.  Prophets frequently were reduced to hiding in caves. Caves are often where sacred records were kept and stored for safety and preservation.

-There's also the idea of not touching anything unclean and the parallel with Aladdin not being allowed to be distracted by all the false unclean shiny looking items in the cave of comparatively little value.

-Only a worthy person could enter the cave of wonders. One who's worth was within, not on the exterior.  In contrast to the unworthy villain who's external worldly worthiness and wealth contrasts the poverty and humility of the other.  To obtain what scriptures speak of requires worthiness and humility.  The villain seeks to abuse and use the worthy in order to enter in the wrong way to obtain what can't be obtained that way.   

-In a scriptural sense the worthy person was Christ who has also been symbolized by a rock and or or a protective cave within a rock.  We find Christ by following His messengers and obeying His teachings which then allows us to enter in and receive a Holy Ghost to reside in our own body-lamp/vessel.

-Aladdin's physical lamp had a type of spiritual being inside without a body.  Trapped in some ways.  This reminded me of the scriptures that speak of the spirit world being viewed as bondage in the absence of the physical body.
D&C 138: 50 For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.
T&C 31:4 As you have asked of me concerning these signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds of Heaven, to fulfill the promises that I have made unto your fathers, for as you have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel.
-The happy-go-lucky goofy genie we know from Disney's animated film is pretty distant from the middle eastern origin of the Genie or "Jinn" who were more like a class of spiritual beings or daemons.  Such beings are accepted part of the culture in many areas of the world with myths and stories dating back who knows how far (whole book about them here).  Although also distant it's interestingly related to the scriptural truth about the Holy Ghost residing inside a person. 

-When Aladdin's realizes he's trapped and the cave is about to get very dark, the lamp provides hope to light the way.  It reminded me of the Net Testament 10 virgins parable with their lamps. They all had lamps. Some were wise and actually had oil in them, which could fuel fire and some brought the lamp but it didn't have much of anything in it.  Fire, Oil, and the Holy Ghost are related in scripture. The lamps stored the potential for fire and light.  All virgins slept, but the unprepared were could neither buy nor borrow the oil at the last minute.  At midnight! Precisely at the darkest hour, when least expected, the bridegroom came.  The lamps lit the way.  The unprepared couldn't enter in the final destination.

-Making wishes to the spirit being.  In the west it's worded more like "offering prayers".  Distant parallel but definitely related.  Scriptures warn not to ask amiss or ask to consume the answer upon your lusts.  Which is apparently what most of the people did before Aladdin and what the movie's villain did do. 

-On the subject of making requests.  Interesting connection to scripture.  There's that moment in scripture where at a certain point Christ asks Disciples "Ask what you will" of him.  In 3 Nephi for example 9 of the 12 ask for one thing and 3 ask and are granted their request for what they desired in their hearts. And the petitions were answered.

Another example here:
JSH 13: paragraph 20: And the Lord said unto me, John, my beloved, what do you desire? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you. And I said unto him, Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto you. And the Lord said unto me, Verily, verily I say unto you, because you desired this, you shall tarry until I come in my glory, and shall prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.
-There's also the song about never never having a friend like him, but I feel like I should leave that to the reader without comment.   

Interesting how many Gospel parallels are sprinkled everywhere, even in some random entertaining movie on the weekend during date night.

On an interesting side note about the 10 virgins.  I asked Kelsey why she thought all the virgins in the parable from the New Testament were female.  After re-reading the scriptures the scriptures don't specify their sex.  The custom of the Jews was for the bridesmaids of the bride to respond to the announcement of the coming of the Bridegroom with their lamps.  So that's likely the origin of them only being female.  But that image in our head might be misleading.

Spencer W. Kimball taught: 
I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world. All of the virgins, wise and foolish, had accepted the invitation to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the program and had been warned of the important day to come. (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 253-257)
T&C 31:12
And at that day when I shall come in my glory shall the parable be fulfilled which I spoke concerning the ten virgins, for they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the holy spirit for their guide and have not been deceived, verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day, and the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance. 
From Matthew:
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us. But he answered and said, Truly I say unto you, you know me not
How did they not know him?  Perhaps because no record born to them with fire and the Holy Ghost?
And whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also, and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the holy ghost.  (NC 3 Nephi 5:9)
In some unexpected way seeing the movie reminded me of scriptural warnings about the Second Coming.  Not just have a lamp, but have something in it that can fuel fire.  What I see and hear taught at Church is incapable of fueling anything or of creating any such spark or fire.  It's decayed so much from where the religion began.  I conclude attending church does not put oil in your lamp.  All those religious checklists don't either.  You have to get the oil from God by following God, not man or man's religions.  God is where the fire comes from.

NC Hebrews 1:57
Wherefore, we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, should have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Declining Divinity

This is a third post in a series about word frequency trends in the LDS Church.  I've been exploring a database of LDS General Conference talks back to 1851 up until today.  Over 10k talks, and 168 years worth of data.  This has provided the ability to see frequency of words spoken over time.  It does not include manuals or magazines, only conference talks.  It has been very interesting.  I first started talking about the Doctrine of Christ, how mention of it sharply increased a few years ago and some possible correlations as to why.  Last post was about the sharp downward trend of mentioning Zion and the sharp rise in mention of priesthood keys and living prophets.

In this post I look at some other trends.  Taken as a whole, hopefully the posts have been meaningful.  They are intended to draw a contrast and point towards Christ and away from idols.

While the presence or absence of a word obviously does not equate to a sermon's value, the overall trends of words does portray something about what is being taught to the people during the broadcast intended for the world.  Where sustained prophets seers and revelators and others called by them teach messages and give instruction the people view as from God.  Almost without question one of the concluding speakers or individuals offering prayer will talk about the presence of the spirit during the conference.  Seemingly confirming the cultural assumptions about the divine nature of all the messages.

A friend the other day explained to me how religious throughout history follow a trend.  First there is a charismatic leader who has contact with the divine.  Gifts of the spirit are present, there is an awakening, and large initial growth.  The divinity is what attracts people.  The presence of angels, authentic visions from God, prophecy, and God's presence is manifest.  Over time things plateau, once the leader has passed business practices and policies replace the Holy Ghost and individual contact with the divine.  As more time passes there are fewer converts, and the depth of the conversion is more shallow as there is increasingly less substance to the religion to deeply convert a person or attract new people.  So other methods involving business or whatever are employed to keep the religion alive and viable.  Traditions become the truth. I couldn’t help but consider these trends in today’s churches.

Before I go on, I want to point out that just because a word is spoken doesn't mean it's reflective of an accurate understanding of the word.  Two people using the same word can sometimes be like an ink blot test.  Each person uses the word differently and perhaps with different meaning depending on their own understanding.  On a large scale for example the word faith is on the rise in General Conference over the years, but unless you distinguish between faith in Christ vs faith in the Church or teach how to develop saving faith then the increased frequency of the word may not mean faith is actually increasing.  So to me most of the increases are usually less interesting than decreases.

There's also this comment from Christ himself to Joseph Smith about the religions of his day.

From Joseph Smith History:
I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong, and the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight, that those professors were all corrupt, that, They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof"
They draw near unto Christ with their lips but the hearts are far from him.  If you were to draw near unto Christ with your lips, you'd speak of Him often (or the idea of him). You'd put his name on a lot of things. You'd emphasize his name wherever you could. This would give the impression you are founded on him. But what did Christ say? That just this alone is is actually something to watch out for. Because many will profess with their lips.

Suppose we look at how often "Christ" is mentioned in General Conference.



It's on the Rise. That means we're on track right?  That means all is well right?  The fact that Christ warned people would draw near unto him with their lips, and words, does not guarantee the person or group is aligned with Him.  According to Him.  So we have to look further and looks for fruits not just mention of the name of Christ.

The word "vision" or visions is also on the rise, but to my knowledge when the word is used, it's never the speaker having had one.  It's other people's, or visions from scripture.  Or the word is used as a mental image of some thing or future someone is envisioning as a hope or wish or desired destination.   

So what about when people don't even speak of a word, or the idea, or concept.  Not even pretending to lip service.  It's interesting to look at those trends. 

Here are some words that denote divinity, or contact with the divine.  Angels, Prophecy, The Second Comforter, Calling and Election.  All of these words have seen significant declines over the years in the LDS Church.  Possibly additional evidence of a declining divinity. 


Calling and election used to be talked in the 60's and 70's.  But it has not been mentioned in 35 years. 


Prophecy is very much on the decline.  Both the word and actual prophecy. 


Second Comforter was spoken only twice in 168 years.  The doctrine of the Second Comforter was taught by Joseph Smith openly.  Doctrine about Christ personally and literally ministering to a person.  Very neglected doctrine.




Lets look at some of the other gifts of the spirit mentioned in scripture:  Gift of tongues, and Discernment.  Both again showing decline.



Healing gets talked about a lot, and is on the rise, but the gift of healing not so much.


On a positive note "Miracles" has seen an increase of mention.  On another positive not "Lectures on Faith" which teach the saints how to develop and exercise faith is on the rise.  However it's rise is offset by the fact that the lectures have been de-cannoized since the 1930's. 


Just because an institution becomes stale doesn't mean the people themselves need experience a lack of God or the gifts of the spirit or miracles in their lives.  So there is always hope despite institutional trends.  All of these posts are intended to show where hope still lies.  It's in Christ, and what he's doing now.  These graphs may not be persuasive as they are mostly something for the mind to see.  For me that is an important piece of the puzzle.  But ultimately conversion to Christ needs to involve him.  Just not graphs.  To do that we need to read the scriptures.  Here are two sites intended to help with such a search.  https://www.learnofchrist.org/   http://scriptures.info/

The Book of Mormon warns about certain attitudes where God has apparently given his power (keys) unto men, and that explains the lack of divinity.  As we looked at last post, living prophets and priesthood keys are sharply on the rise.  You can read about that there.

I wanted to end with an important and meaningful section from Nephi in the Book of Mormon.  NC 2 Nephi 12 1-7.  Someone who saw our day in vision, was visited by Christ as Second Comforter, and spoke to his modern day reader.  None of us should hold our heads high and be stiff-necked. There is only reason to repent, not be prideful. 

And now behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you according as the spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass. And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel. For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other, Behold, I, I am the Lord’s, — and the other shall say, I, I am the Lord’s, — and thus shall everyone say that hath built up churches and not unto the Lord. And they shall contend one with another, and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the holy ghost which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel. And they say unto the people, Hearken unto us and hear ye our precept, for behold, there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men. Behold, hearken ye unto my precept. If they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. Yea, and there shall be many which shall say, Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say, Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God, he will justify in committing a little sin. Yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor, there is no harm in this. And do all these things, for tomorrow we die. And if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner false, and vain, and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord. And their works shall be in the dark, and the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

Yea, they have all gone out of the way, they have become corrupted; because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride, they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing, and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads, yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray, save it be a few who are the humble followers of Christ. Nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms and pervert the right way of the Lord, Woe, woe, woe be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell.

Woe unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught, and revile against that which is good and say that it is of no worth, for the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth. And in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity, they shall perish. But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations, they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts. But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof. For the kingdom of the Devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the Devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains and they be stirred up to anger and perish. For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men and stir them up to anger against that which is good. 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. And behold, others he flattereth away and telleth them there is no hell. And he saith unto them, I am no devil, for there is none. And thus he whispereth in their ears until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death and hell; and death, and hell, and the Devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is Endless torment. Therefore, woe be unto him that is at ease in Zion.

Woe be unto him that crieth, All is well. Yea, woe be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God and the gift of the holy ghost. Yea, woe be unto him that saith, We have received and we need no more. And in fine, woe unto all those who tremble and are angry because of the truth of God. For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness, and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth, lest he shall fall.

Woe be unto him that shall say, We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough. For behold, thus saith the Lord God, I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. And blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom. For unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough — shall be taken away even that which they have. Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the holy ghost.
Woe be unto the gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts, for notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me. Nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me, for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Building Zion?

Over at Bare Record there's an insightful post about how instead of building Zion in the tops of the Mountains in the West (As Joseph Smith Prophesied Zion would be built) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is focused on building up Babylon in the swamps to the East (Florida). 

People I know give some push-back on this idea and insist the Church is ever moving closer to Zion.  Zions bank maybe.  My question is can you move closer to something you don't talk about?  For example this is how frequently Zion is spoken of in General Conference (1835- date of this writing).  Notice any overall trends?  This is 160 years worth of data, 10,000 talks, and over 25 millions words.  At no time in the recorded history of LDS General Conference has Zion been spoken of LESS during the General Conference than it is right now.  The LDS knowledge base about Zion is shrinking.


Mention of Zion has gone down.... down..... down....  And if you pay attention to the news, I would think this would be a bit of a wake up call because what we see in the religious news matches!  The quest and even ability to build Zion, like the graph, is going the wrong direction.  The trend line makes it even more visible if you look at this same exact data as a line graph.



Why would I post such a negative statistic?  Anger? Bone to pick?  No. I'm not being angry or cynical or critical.  I'm just looking at a graph. Then looking at my own experience, the present day religious news, and I see a match between them them all.  It's concerning.  It's alarming to me.  I post this for the same reason you'd ring an alarm bell. Which is so myself and anyone in hearing distance can maybe do something about it if they so choose.

What happens if you covenant all your time and talents etc... to a Church for the establishment of Zion yet that Church does nothing to build Zion?  How then can you keep your covenant?

While mentions of both Zion and Revelation are down, Priesthood Keys and Living Prophets are decidedly on the rise.  It's a most interesting moment in time right now in 2019.  could these graphs change?  Well yeah.  But right now is the moment in time that seems very interesting.




The LDS Church (regardless of the style guide mandated name) isn't building Zion, and at this point can't.  I believe if any of us want to have any hope of seeing it, we'll all need to repent and turn away from idols (IE expecting and waiting for The President of the Church to announce some program or give a call to move to Missouri).  We'll all need to turn back to God immediately, and see what God is up to now.  See link below.  This is positive, this is edifying, turning back to God is uplifting.  My hope is to be positive. 

https://www.learnofchrist.org/   (this is not another church FYI)

Side Note:

Here's a zoomed in section of this decade and mention of Priesthood Keys.  A clear jump in 2 places. 2014 was the highest frequency Priesthood Keys had ever been mentioned in General Conference since 1851.  2016 set another outlying new record.  Roughly 90% of all mentions of this phrase were by members of the Quorum of the 12 and or First Presidency. The top two key holding bodies ironically.


Makes me wonder if anything else happened or was said in 2014 (then again during or before 2016) regarding the Church's Priesthood Keys.   Because as we looked at last post these jumps aren’t always random. One correlation to consider on these jumps in 2014 and 2016 is below.  I’ve included an excerpt from a talk given Sept 2014.  PDF here: pages 6-8. 

Of note also is a book containing this same material was published in late 2015 "Preserving the Restoration".   
"Joseph Smith cautioned the saints about violating God’s trust. As Joseph put it: “His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath.”18 We should expect God’s house to be ordered around only one principle: repentance. When the pride of a great organization replaces repentance, the heavens withdraw, and when they do, “Amen” to that portion of God’s house. But the restoration through Joseph will always remain, even if God chooses to order it differently before His return. It is His to do with as He determines best.

At the time I was excommunicated, I was in good standing with the Lord. I had nothing amiss in my personal life. There was no sin warranting church discipline. As a former member of the High Council for years, every church disciplinary proceeding I attended that resulted in excommunication, always involved serious moral transgression, betrayal of marriage covenants, and in some cases criminal wrongdoing. In contrast, the reason for my discipline was a book I had written about church history, in which I attempted to align the events of the Restoration to the prophecies of the Book of Mormon and the 
Doctrine and Covenants. The stake president admitted to me and my wife before the Council began, that I was then worthy of a temple recommend.19 By any standard of moral conduct, I was an innocent man, whose only offense was believing the scriptures revealed our condition before God. On the evening of May 1, 2014, the Lord gave me further light and knowledge about His work in His vineyard. The Lord is in control over the church, men, and all things. When He undertakes to accomplish something, “there is nothing that the Lord God shall take in His heart to do, but what He will do it.” (Abr. 3: 17.) Often the means used by the Lord to accomplish His “strange act,” and to perform His “strange work”(D&C 101: 95), are very small indeed. "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37: 6-7.)
It is almost always the case that the Lord uses simple things to confound the mighty. I can think of nothing smaller or simpler or less important than myself. Inside the great church to which I once belonged, I was obscure. However, I lived my religion, attended faithfully, served to the best of my ability, upheld church leaders with my prayers, paid tithes, fasted, observed the Word of Wisdom, and helped answer questions for those needing assistance with troubling issues. There was no reason to regard me as a rebel who should be singled out for discipline. Nevertheless, the Lord chose to use a faithful and believing member to accomplish His design. Only someone who is devoted to His will could accomplish what the Lord had in His heart. Now He has accomplished it.
The Church has Doctrine and Covenants 121, verses 36 to 40, to warn it about abusing His authority. There is an "amen" or end to authority when control, compulsion, and dominion are exercised in any degree of unrighteousness. Therefore, when using authority, great care must be taken. In any case, the church was careless. Therefore, those involved, are now left to kick against the pricks, to persecute the Saints and to fight against God.
Section 121 is a warning to church leaders. It is addressing the powerful, not the powerless. It is addressing those who occupy the seats of authority over others. Only those who claim the right to control, compel, and exercise dominion, are warned against persecuting the saints, who believe the religion and practice it as I did from the time of my conversion. My excommunication was an abuse of authority. Therefore, as soon as the decision was made, the Lord terminated the priesthood authority of the stake presidency and every member of the High Council who sustained this decision, which was unanimous. Thereafter, I appealed to the First Presidency, outlining the involvement of the 12 and the 70. The appeal gave notice to them all.20 The appeal was summarily denied.
Last general conference, the entire First Presidency, the 12, the 70, and all other general authorities and auxiliaries, voted to sustain those who abused their authority in casting me out of the church. At that moment, the Lord ended all claims of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to claim it is led by the priesthood. 21 They have not practiced what He requires. The Lord has brought about His purposes. This has been in His heart all along. He has chosen to use small means to accomplish it, but He always uses the smallest of means to fulfill His purposes.
None of this was my doing. The Lord's strange act, was not, could not, be planned by me. Was not, could not, have been controlled by me. It was not anticipated by me, or even understood by me, until after the Lord had accomplished His will, and made it apparent to me on the evening of May 1, 2014. He alone has done this. He is the author of all of this.22
Just because something is true at one moment does not mean it is true at another moment. Things change, decisions matter, what we do always matters. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the same thing as it was when I joined in 1973. At this moment it is not even the same thing it was in 2012. It is in the process of changing rapidly, and will be something very different again in just a few more years. The Lord, knowing the direction the LDS Church is now headed, has acted to preserve the Restoration itself. This change does not affect the leadership’s legal right to preside.23 They are upheld by common consent, and therefore have the right still to control the direction of the organization. But it cannot be fixed, either. Any new authority will have to sustain the senior leaders now in position. I belonged for forty years to the church, and President Monson, President Packer and Elder Perry were in leadership when I joined and they are among the senior most leaders today. Adding new authorities that were not in the leadership when the Lord took these steps cannot remedy the Lord’s decision."24__________________________________________________________
Footnotes:
18 TPJS, p. 18. To the same effect, during the Mormon Reformation Heber C. Kimball said: “We receive the priesthood and power and authority. If we make a bad use of the priesthood, so you not see that the day will come when God will reckon with us, and he will take it from us and give it to those who will make better use of it? (JD 6: 125.) George A. Smith said, “God has set his hand at the present time to establish his kingdom. But unless the Saints will so live and so exert themselves that they can preserve the purity of the holy Priesthood among them, the work will be left to other people.” (JD 6: 161.) Even Brigham Young commented on the possibility that only an LDS remnant would remain to carry forward the work: “God will preserve a portion of the meek and the humble of this people to bear off the Kingdom to the inhabitants of the earth, and will defend His Priesthood; for it is the last time, the last gathering time; and He will not suffer the Priesthood to be again driven from the earth.” (JD 2: 184.)
19 I had a current temple recommend at the time of the disciplinary council. I was not asked to return it before the council, nor asked to return it even after the council’s decision. It expired in March, 2014, six months after excommunication.
20 A transcript of the Appeal Letter is attached as an Appendix to this paper.
21 Meaning the leaders who exercised control, compulsion and dominion, and not the powerless who had no part in the affair.
22 Transcribed from Journal of Denver Snuffer, Vol. 8, entry of May 2, 2014, pp. 29-33.
23 The entire corporate church is organized as a “corporation sole.” There is one owner: the LDS Church President. As The Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he owns everything from the copyrights to chapels, from temples to business entities, from websites to artwork, the entire “church” belongs to one man. Even if voted out by common consent, he, and not church members, would own all the property. In a very real legal sense, there is only one Mormon in the LDS organization.
24 It would require such a radical and unprecedented change from history and tradition that it will not be possible. Every one of the leadership positions would have to be replaced at a single moment, which in LDS practice, although actually possible for them to do, is impossible for them to even contemplate.

Continued next post....

Friday, May 31, 2019

Dogs Cats and The Doctrine of Christ

I was struck recently with a few elements of the Doctrine of Christ and how The LDS Church teaches it.  Or even speaks of it.

To start I wanted to look at some really interesting statistics.  Thanks to a database of general conference talks back to 1851 we can easily see how focused the General Conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been on The Doctrine of Christ.


Here's a link to see the full thing in case the image isn't very clear.  The link takes a second to fully load so give it a minute.  https://www.lds-general-conference.org/x.asp?c=gc&q=73946295

As you can see the "Doctrine of Christ" (or alternate "Christ's Doctrine") wasn't said all that much over the last 60 years.  Sometimes only mentioned twice a decade.  To give you some frame of reference, the word "dog" has been used more in general conference than "Doctrine of Christ", 14 times more to be exact.  The word "pulpit" blows them both  away with 884 mentions.  The speakers seemingly talk more about dogs and the pulpit.  Before I return from my digression I need to speak to the cat lovers of the world and acknowledge that cat has been said in General Conference 81 times with definite trends upward this decade. The word cat has been said more in General Conference than the Doctrine of Christ for like 4 of the past 8 decades.  But now I'm way way off track.

The Doctrine of Christ isn't typically known by other names is the interesting thing. We can all refer to faith and repentance and baptism, and Holy Ghost but those are also stand alone ideas.  They are also grouped as part of an article of faith as "first principles and ordinances" of the Gospel.  It's obviously related to Christ's Doctrine but Christ's Doctrine includes different things.  It also has a warning not to add to or take away from the doctrine and than teach it as Christ's doctrine.  So there's a clear boundary between groupings of related ideas, and Christ's specific doctrine.  So for me, that limits what other words or phrases you would use to refer to it other than the obvious proper name scriptures, and Christ himself give it.   

With that as background what I'm wondering about is the actual Doctrine of Christ that we can locate easily in scripture under that name. So back to the above image you no doubt saw the huge bar graph jump in 2010's where the doctrine of Christ was said 62 times (still less than buzz word "Covenant path" which has no clear definition or scriptural reference but boasts 77 mentions this decade).  But back on track.  Something very interesting must have happened as the Doctrine of Christ got triple the mention it had EVER had.  Drilling down into the 2010's we see where the big jump was.  2016. 



2016 is the clear outlier.  Every mention of the Doctrine of Christ that year was during the October General Conference.  Why would that be I wonder?  I mean this jump is significant during 168 years.  More mentions in one General Conference than any prior decade!  Why?

One interesting idea is something else that happened in 2016 prior to the October LDS conference.  A small unorganized and informal group of Mormons or former Mormons.  Both now formerly known as Mormons per the Church's teachings to no longer use the term "Mormon.  Anyway this group decided to hold a "Doctrine of Christ" conference in September of 2016 in Boise Idaho.  That was the focus of the entire event.  Prior to this event in September there was a bit of an awakening among this band of religious misfits about how neglected, discarded, and completely misunderstood the Doctrine of Christ had been for generations in the LDS church.  That group decided to revisit the subject and bring added emphasis, light and life to the topic taught by Christ as His own doctrine.

I have no idea who is reading this so I need to give some context.  The LDS church (as it was known then) does not at all fancy this informal band of independent thinking Mormons/Christians I'm referring to.  They often excommunicate them, call them apostates, and oppose them and any of their beliefs which don't conform to LDS thought and tradition. This group made up of mostly members or former members has firmly gotten the attention of the LDS church and it's not the approval kind of attention.  It's the opposite.

So, it's a matter of fact that the LDS Church knew about this "Doctrine of Christ" conference months in advance.  A few top leaders were even invited to speak at it. See here.  They were invited and encouraged to send a speaker as this was a unique opportunity to address folks who's views of the Church may not be very positive.  It was also a chance for LDS leaders to share whatever insights they had with people on a topic presumed to be of high importance to everyone who believes in the Book of Mormon. 

4 months prior to the little conference the LDS Church demanded all names of any leaders and the Church be removed from the conference website.  It became a legal matter of intellectual property.  They adamantly and firmly rejected any invitation to speak and instead demanded that a clause be added that this conference was not endorsed by the Church.  So much for sharing their insights or speaking to people who's views of the Church are not very positive. 

They no doubt saw the event or had people or informants attend it to see what was going on at this disavowed and non LDS sanctioned conference.  The leaders knew the topic and knew that such things as re-baptisms would take place at the event since Christ's doctrine has baptism by authority as one of it's main elements.  Remember this Doctrine of Christ conference was September 2016, one month prior to the regularly scheduled and sanctioned LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City. 

Now the graph comes into play.  As you can see, fall of 2016 is when you can see on the graph a  sudden and major jump in mention of the Doctrine of Christ.  But the changes are only a temporary spurt, it then returns to the previous trend. 

Is it possible that in order to not be shown up, or not be shown as lacking teachings (or even mention) about such a core topic for decades, that this was a counter response?   The data is there. You decide if there is a correlation.

If an organization were concerned about search engine hits on the "Doctrine of Christ" possibly directing the public to that disavowed little conference in Idaho, then making a lot of mention of that phrase soon after could help keep online search results pointing where you want.  Namely to your own organization. 

It's interesting that one of the speakers at the LDS conference who spoke about Christ's Doctrine Oct 2016 mentioned how for members of the Church partaking of the sacrament "renews covenants made at baptism".  He referenced this idea twice in his talk.  The citations for the idea linked only to another conference talk by another Church leader.  This idea of sacrament renewing covenants has been shown to be unscriptural by other members of the 12 but that's a separate topic. 

I wonder if this double reference to sacrament as a renewal of baptismal covenants had any inkling of attempting to counter what they knew was happening up there in Boise Idaho with actual physical re-baptisms.  Since in olden days of the LDS Church if you wanted to renew your baptism, you'd simply get re-baptized.  It was common. Accepted, and an early temple recommend question even asked "When was the last time you were re-baptized".  The idea of re-baptism now days however to most members of the Church is viewed as poisonous. 

Christ went to the trouble of specifically defining His doctrine in scripture (LDS 3rd Nephi 11:30-40) and then warned not to add to or take away from it and go and establish it as His doctrine.  The speaker at the LDS conference also went to the trouble of defining Christ's Doctrine but interestingly never included Christ’s definition. Instead he gave his own definition supposedly coming from scripture. And there are differences between the speakers definition and Christ's. But I'll leave that to you.

Here's the section of the talk.
My message today focuses on the doctrine of Christ. The scriptures define the doctrine of Christ as exercising faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.5
[5] See 2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 27:16–20.

If you look at footnote 5 it cites 2 Nephi 31 (that's good) and 3 Nephi 27.  But oddly missing is where Christ himself defines his own Doctrine in 3 Nephi 11.  What a curious things to leave out. Instead a related but different passage in 3 Nephi 27 is used as the source.  Wonder why that is? 

I was in attendance at that little Doctrine of Christ Conference in Boise Idaho.  Some things were said that have stayed with me ever since.  Those thoughts and the contrast between that and what I heard a month later at LDS conference motivate the below.  In Nephi's words "there is none other way...man can be saved in the Kingdom of God" than the doctrine of Christ. (LDS 2 Nephi 31:21)  So this topic is of greatest importance to us all.  Both Nephi and Christ himself spent time teaching and clarifying this doctrine.  It's about our own salvation.  It describes an interaction between God and man.

Interestingly it's not a stand alone topic in any Church manual, it's not the title or main subject of any LDS book that I can find.  It's never been the subject of any lesson I've had at church with the exception of when a lesson or talk happens to be based on a General Conference talk that happens to have had the Doctrine of Christ as its subject.

There are often strong undertones that connect this doctrine to fidelity to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The topic can hardly be taught by the Church without some focus on and pointing to the men leading the Church.

For most of my religious upbringing this doctrine has been reduced to a list of actions checkboxes that you can fill out and then be done with it.  At least that was the predominant attitude I have seen all my life as a member of the Church.  It's an attitude still held by the overwhelming majority of people I still attend Church with.  Even the enduring to the end bit is simply killing time on the clock of life. As long as you can somehow remain a member in semi-good standing until your physical death, you've apparently "endured to the end".

How boring.  How shallow. How lifeless.  It's no wonder the topic doesn't get much attention. If there's any question on what the Doctrine Consists of here are the scriptural links:
3 Nephi 11:30-40 (NC 3 Nephi 5:9)
2 Nephi 31-32 (NC 2 Nephi 13-14)
I wrote a few posts about a few things on this topic beginning here
Other's have written some great stuff, here is one: https://www.totheremnant.com/2014/09/destroying-doctrine-of-christ.html

Assuming you know what the doctrine is, and have spent time on it, I put together a list of questions I found thought provoking on the topic.  Food for thought but it's important to be familiar with the doctrine first.  My goal is to refocus on Christ's Doctrine and gaining from it what God offers.

How far does the Doctrine of Christ take you?  Nephi teaches “Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. (v. 6–7).  "Unto you" "in the flesh".  Does the Doctrine of Christ lead you to an encounter with Christ as Second Comforter?  While you're mortal?  Is that within it's scope?  Or does the Doctrine of Christ stay shallow and not encompass or involve such Gospel depth?

Nephi also relates this when discussing this doctrine: But behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying, After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the holy ghost, and can speak with a new tongue—yea, even with the tongue of angels—and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me

Speak with the tongue of angels.  Does that make the person a type of ministering angel?

That last part has an an ominous warning.  What is it about denying Christ at that point in progression that provokes this warning?   There's another warning by Christ in context of this doctrine warning not to add or take away from the Doctrine.  What does it do to the doctrine when men add to it or take away from it?  What does it cost a person or people when this happens?  What do they potentially loose out on?

When Nephi teaches: And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved. (2 Nephi 31:16) Does that just mean the end of your body clock?  Or does that imply an "enduring" or "preserving" of truth forever?  How far does the example of the Son of the living God extend?  I think our idea of "endure to the end" is extremely short sighted and boring.

Christ taught: "I am Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end", He tells us. "The end" is one of his names. Is Christ the "end" to which we are to endure?  Is that when we meet Him and receive Him?  Is it also something further?  Why has no one ever taught or even talked about any of this in Church?  It's as if it was hidden in plain sight.

Why would God hide things in scripture?  Is it so God in his Mercy can judge people less harshly?

Does the doctrine of Christ require your fidelity to a Church?  Does it even require a formal earthly Church at all?

Where in the Doctrine of Christ require a man from the Church to lay hands on your head?  Can the Holy Ghost just come upon you like it did for Christ who's example we are supposed to follow?

Does the Doctrine of Christ require you to give your tithes and offerings to a corporation or only one specific Church to be considered tithing?

If you follow Christ's Doctrine who is it you should be getting to know?  It makes sense that you get to know someone you're following.  But if all you're following are religious steps or religious leaders the only thing you may get to know are a Church organization and some men.

Going back to the question that started this post, can you talk about and follow religious steps and never come to know Christ?

Does the Doctrine of Christ require you to "know Christ"?  Nephi tells us his revelation on the subject was given that we "might know the gate". Christ called himself "the gate" (NIV John 10:7). "Knowing the gate", and "knowing Christ" sound like one of those hidden clues God wants us to notice.  All these synonyms and names and titles all seem to have an intriguing theme and an underlying message as you follow the clues.

2 Nephi 31:21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father..."

___________________________________________________________
*Update 6/4/19

The Doctrine of Christ twice mentions to become as a little child.  Also in Luke:

NC Luke 10:8
And they brought unto him also infants, that he might touch them; but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them and said, Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I say unto you, Whoever will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall by no means enter therein.
Is there a connection between a little child and the Kingdom of God? For a fascinating read on the birth of the Kingdom of God symbolized in the constellation of the Infant Prince, as seen in the heavens, see here.  https://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2019/kingdom.html

Truly "of such" is the Kingdom of God.

Continued next post....

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Named and Proclaimed to Reign

President Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has recently embarked on another traveling ministry tour.  Similar to the world wide tour last year, and the Asia one, this year it's a Pacific ministry tour.

During the previous tours and during this Pacific ministry tour I sometimes look for transcriptions or video of the ministerial message he took to the people. There aren't any. There are only news highlights of only small excerpts of what he says. There are plenty of PR clips, PR images with children, and pictures with civic or government leaders.  It almost looks more like a vanity tour than a spiritual or prophetic tour with a message from God.

I did see that he gave one governmental leader, who's a former Mormon, a fancy Book of Mormon with her name embossed.  Oh, and like he did to the single mom in Africa, he also gifted The New Zealand Prime Minister a picture of himself and counselors (see caption).


When the early apostles had ministry traveling tours I don't recall any examples of it being a public relations endeavor.  It was instead to preach a message and not to point to themselves, give out pictures of themselves, or gain favor with the world. It got them thrown in prison, severely persecuted, or killed.  In 2019 the actual message preached seems to be a much less important (sometimes hardly mentioned) part of what the Church Newsroom publicizes of President Nelson's ministry travels. When we do see highlights of the message it's never in full, and it's never anything not already found in any given generic Church produced manual.  The focus is definitely on the President himself and his own prestige. What does he say to these governmental leaders?  Does he preach repentance?  Whatever he's saying it's not producing any of the results early apostles endured. 

But that's neither here nor there.

Something did stand out to me on the Church's web page about the recent Pacific Ministry tour.  It's something mentioned in another post but it stood out to me again.  Something very misleading.

This is the last paragraph from the News Room article on the Pacific Ministry.




The paragraph from the Church Newsroom has a link on the word "sustained" which takes us to the below: 


It says President Nelson was named 17th Church President and this was announced on Jan 16th 2018.  This special live broadcast was specifically stated to be for the "members" of the Church.  Then it says President Nelson was sustained and set apart January 14th.  The announcement was 2 days after some sort of sustaining and ordination by a small group inside an upper room of the temple, on a Sunday (Temples are closed on Sundays).  Whatever happened, it happened in secret, outside of view of the public, and without any involvement or vote by the members.  The members did not even know about the ordination and sustaining, hence the Church had to announce what they had done.

Can you imagine if a POTUS took the office and 2 days later the White House announced it to the people before the people even voted?  The country would erupt in fury and cry corruption! That goes against the Constitution.  But if  when this type of thing happens in religion I'm not sure people even notice.  But continuing on from above, how much more weird would it be to offer the people a chance to vote a month or two later for that political leader ALREADY sworn into office?  That's like 2 cups of pandering, 1 cup lip service, and 3 cups of distraction, and no one would buy it.  But if a top Church leader is sustained and ordained and takes the helm, and they announce it, and then months later the people get to vote on it?  ♫  "Juuuuuuust a spoonful of pandering helps the medicine go down......"  What's concerning is this suggests those in authority did not believe they needed the people in order to assume the power or position.

Did everyone expect President Nelson would be the new President?  Of course.  But that's because of process and procedure, not revelation, or scripture.  But even still, common consent was required and that requirement was blatantly broken.  Voting after the fact just makes the previous rise to power appear legitimate.

On an interesting side note: D&C 107 talks about the First Presidency in a very overlooked verse:
22 Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.
Chosen by the body.  Clearly that is not how the First Presidency is chosen in our day. The President is the longest living Apostle and his counselors are chosen by the President, not the body.  Clearly differing from what we read in the scriptures.  It makes sense to uphold with faith and prayers someone you chose.  But misalignment with scripture seems to really not matter to most members in 2019 since it's widely accepted and taught that living leaders trump all others.

When the members and press were first introduced to the new counselors I found the setting and alignment with the painting of Christ above President Nelson to be interesting.  The locations of the broadcast, pictures, and camera angles are likely deliberate and intended to imply alignment with Christ (similar visual alignments are common in Church picturesmanuals and magazines).



Least you think the above analogy to politics and the President was too distant from how the Church was supposed to propose its leaders and receive a vote of the Church before they grab the position, below is from the D&C Church manual about Common Consent:

D&C 26:2. The Law of Common Consent

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that “administrative affairs of the Church are handled in accordance with the law of common consent. This law is that in God’s earthly kingdom, the King counsels what should be done, but then he allows his subjects to accept or reject his proposals. Unless the principle of free agency is operated in righteousness men do not progress to ultimate salvation in the heavenly kingdom hereafter. Accordingly, church officers are selected by the spirit of revelation in those appointed to choose them, but before the officers may serve in their positions, they must receive a formal sustaining vote of the people over whom they are to preside. (D. & C. 20:60–6726:22838:34–3541:9–1142:11102:9124:124–145.)” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 149–50.)
Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints (see D&C 26:2). D&C 26:2.
Could a Person Hold an Office in the Church without the Consent of the People?
No man can preside in this Church in any capacity without the consent of the people. The Lord has placed upon us the responsibility of sustaining by vote those who are called to various positions of responsibility. No man, should the people decide to the contrary, could preside over any body of Latter-day Saints in this Church, and yet it is not the right of the people to nominate, to choose, for that is the right of the priesthood.” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:123; see also D&C 20:65.)
A few phrases and a scripture in particular worth noting:
Accordingly, church officers are selected by the spirit of revelation in those appointed to choose them, but before the officers may serve in their positions, they must receive a formal sustaining vote of the people over whom they are to preside
“No man can preside in this Church in any capacity without the consent of the people. The Lord has placed upon us the responsibility of sustaining by vote those who are called to various positions of responsibility.
D&C 20:65 No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church;
D&C teaches: No person is to be ordained to ANY office.  So what does that make of President Nelsons ordination that occurred without a vote of the Church?

If you've ever paid attention in any local Church when a new ward leader is called, say a Bishop for example, before they are set apart they are first presented to the ward for a sustaining vote. Once they receive a confirming vote THEN they get ordained and set apart.  Why would top Church leadership presume themselves exempt from this charge in scripture and church law? 

The announcement by Elder D Todd Christopherson was not a proposal. It was, as the newsroom said, an announcement and proclamation of what had already occurred.  So when the newsroom says President Nelson was sustained January 14th 2018 that is either completely the wrong date, or it's true and represents a very blatant departure from the Church's and scripture's teachings about common consent.  The new Church President likely signed some legal papers that day making him the sole owner of the entirety of the Church's assets but the actual sustaining vote for President Nelson as Church President, by the body of the Church, didn't happen until the Solemn Assembly held for that purpose during the April 2018 General Conference.  (The Solemn assembly was technically on the last day of March) 

Here is an excerpt from that assembly meeting: Full link here.  Seems like that should be the date cited for the sustaining since according to Church law that is what authorizes the person to hold the position. To use any other date seems to only proclaim how scriptures and church laws were disregarded.    
Dating from October 10, 1880, when John Taylor was sustained to succeed Brigham Young as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, each of these occasions has been designated as a formal solemn assembly of the body of the Church to express the voice of the Church.
We will vote by quorums and groups. Wherever you are, you are invited to stand only when requested and express by your uplifted hand that you choose to sustain those whose names will be presented. You should vote only when asked to stand.
Goes to show that someone can assume the highest office in the Church with only a few other men with high callings agreeing to make it so behind closed doors.  How does that sound to you?  Any inklings to unfortunate patterns with power we see in scripture?   There is way way more to the topic of succession of Church Presidents but this post is just about this one element. 

To recap: The Official Newsroom identifies a sustaining date months before the Church body even had a chance.  Why does this matter?  It implies that in 2019 leaders can do whatever they want and whenever and they have such confidence the people will simply vote in approval after the fact that they go ahead and skip laws of consent and sustaining.  Does this sound like Priesthood power to you?  Not a very reassuring first act by the new First Presidency.  

This has been mentioned before but it caught my eye again as I read about the current Pacific Ministry tour.  I reached out to the website and newsroom media relations department and asked if perhaps the wrong date of sustaining was utilized since the Church did not sustain President Nelson until months after the date they use.  I didn't receive a reply and likely never will.  

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Father's Own Works

Christ said in 3rd Nephi that if there is a Church calling itself after Jesus Christ's name and which is also built upon His Gospel then the Father will show forth His own works in it. 

I've been pondering on what those works of the Father are for a few weeks.  A few study thoughts below.  Here's the original reference:

NC 3rd Nephi 12:4
Verily, verily I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing? Have they not read the scriptures which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day. And whoso taketh upon him my name and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day. Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name. Therefore, ye shall call the church in my name, and ye shall call upon the Father in my name, that he will bless the church for my sake. And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name, then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man, then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name, then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. Verily I say unto you that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore, ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call in my name. Therefore, if ye call upon the Father for the church, if it be in my name, the Father will hear you. And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel, then will the Father shew forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men or upon the works of the Devil, verily I say unto you, they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire from whence there is no return, for their works do follow them. For it is because of their works that they are hewn down. Therefore, remember the things that I have told you.
If the Church is called in Christ's name, and if built upon His Gospel, then will the Father show forth His own works in it.  Otherwise.... there will be joy in their works for a season but by and by the end comes and they get hewn down and cast into the fire.  Because of their works it says.  And Christ says to remember that he told us these things.

Joy for a season 

So why do folks not built on Christ's Gospel get to have joy in their man made works (or works of the Devil) for a season?  I thought wickedness never was happiness?  What gives?  Why aren't cause and effect more immediate? A whole "season" of joy in works of men and or the devil gets to be enjoyed.  A season can be a potentially long time.  Like maybe even generations.  Why I wonder?

I would initially think this season of joy in "their" own works is because God's patience is greater than ours, and he allows people to learn by their own experience, and allows opportunity to discern by tolerating both good and bad as they exist simultaneously.  He grants time for repentance.  He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  The rain waters both flowers and weeds.  Because God is good.  The dichotomy is in place which gives people the chance to choose.  But it only lasts a season. 

The scripture above contrasts the works of the Father with the works of men and or the Devil.  So what are works of men?  Isn't anything done by a mortal considered a work of man?  I see a lot of things done in God's name in 2019 as if God were behind it.  But a lot of them are clearly works of men as it involves things God has never endorsed. How do we know which are God's works and which are works of men?  That seems like an important difference.  From Matthew in the New Testament: And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name have cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, You never knew me. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Given all that, I think "works of men" is likely referring to works of men's own accord.  Not authorized by, not asked by, not commissioned by, and not approved by God.  Even if men claim otherwise.  Men's works which men get credit for, and which benefit themselves and not the welfare of Zion, to use a scriptural phrase.  I can think of a few examples of religious or Churchy such works of men, done for their own profit.  Those are not hard to find in our current dark world.  Those seem like works of men.  More on profits below.

What are the devil's works?

NC 2 Nephi 12:4
For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men and stir them up to anger against that which is good. 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. And behold, others he flattereth away and telleth them there is no hell. And he saith unto them, I am no devil, for there is none. And thus he whispereth in their ears until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

NC 2 Nephi 12:1
For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other, Behold, I, I am the Lord’s, — and the other shall say, I, I am the Lord’s, — and thus shall everyone say that hath built up churches and not unto the Lord. And they shall contend one with another, and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the holy ghost which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel. And they say unto the people, Hearken unto us and hear ye our precept, for behold, there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men. Behold, hearken ye unto my precept. If they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. Yea, and there shall be many which shall say, Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die and it shall be well with us. And there shall also be many which shall say, Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God, he will justify in committing a little sin. Yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor, there is no harm in this. And do all these things, for tomorrow we die. And if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner false, and vain, and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord. And their works shall be in the dark, and the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

Works of darkness.  Works that may look authentic, or look like true ordinances but which aren't effective and which don't cleanse the recipients.  They've become void by being altered. They end up cheating people out of salvation. Abominations, wickedness.  False teachers, false doctrine.  Dig a pit for your neighbor.  Lie a little.  With the LDS Church headquartered in SLC what might we potentially see happening on this?  As I asked myself these questions I just so happened to see a really disturbing article today in the news that confirmed Utah is the Fraud Capital of the US.   A few notable comments from the article: 
"This is a question people have been asking for a long time, 'Is Utah really that bad?'" he said. "This for the first time gives us some quantifiable basis to say yes, we are that bad. Not only are we bad, but we're way worse than anyone else by a long shot."
But after helping people recover losses from investment fraud for 25 years, he said he's learned that Utahns are simply too trusting, particularly when the person soliciting an investment is in their Latter-day Saint ward or shares their religious affiliation. 
Pugsley said Latter-day Saints are taught to trust their feelings, but while that might be a valid basis for religious decisions, it's not for business decisions. He also said he found people who believe if they're using the money for good, God would protect it.
The Wall Street Journal named Salt Lake City the "Fraud Capital of America" in a 2015 story.
Utah is the only state with a dedicated regional U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission office that services no other location.
The state's fraud epidemic has reached such significant proportions that state lawmakers a few years ago created the nation’s first white collar crime offender registry, which includes photos, names and aliases of Utah fraudsters. 

What are the The Father's own works?

The Father's "own works" being shown suggests He is the one behind it, regardless of whether men participated.  Showing forth verbiage also seems to suggest something has occurred or been accomplished.  As opposed to ideas or claims or vain claims that have no works to show forth.

From the Book of Ether:
Come unto me, O ye gentiles, and I will shew unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief. Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you because of unbelief. Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you — yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name with a broken heart and a contrite spirit — then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed. Therefore, when ye shall receive this record, ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land. Therefore, repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name. For he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. And signs shall follow them that believe in my name. And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold, it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.
Christ says when ye see "these things" the time is at hand, that "they" shall be made manifest in very deed.  "These" things and "they shall be made manifest" could include the greater things which were manifest to the Brother of Jared as well as the revelations of John.  Things yet future to us but perhaps beginning.  There's definitely more coming at some point. Shall be manifest "in deed".  These things will be visible.  People may not accept them, notice them, or view them as having any importance but to me this all carries a degree of tangibility to the Father's works.

Then it goes on to say "When you shall receive "this" record".  I'm not 100% clear on what "this record" is referring to.  It was singular so it could refer to John's revelations.  Or the full record of the Brother of Jared, or perhaps the Book of Mormon itself which is the primary interpretation the LDS church teaches about this passage.

Works of the Father seems to include but not limited to:
-Sacred records
-Covenants with the Patriarchal Fathers being fulfilled
-Revelations of the Lord's servant John unfolded in the eyes of all the people.  Possibly connected to D&C 93:6 and the fullness of the record of John promised in that section.
-The Father's work involves a gathering.
-Angels
And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him; and by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the holy ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.
It seems like it should be relatively easy to distinguish between the Father's own works manifest inside a Church vs the works of men and the devil.

Other scriptures teaching about the works of the Father.

3 Nephi 9:11-12

And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place, that I shall gather in from their long dispersion my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion. And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign: for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you — and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself and by the power of the holy ghost, which shall be given unto you of the Father — shall be made known unto the gentiles, that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them, verily, verily I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father and shall come forth of the Father from them unto you — for it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel — therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the gentiles unto your seed which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity — for thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the gentiles, that he may shew forth his power unto the gentiles for this cause, that the gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel — and when these things come to pass, that thy seed shall begin to know these things, it shall be a sign unto them that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths, for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
For in that day, for my sake, shall the Father work a work which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them, and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them
Christ says a sign will be given.  The gentiles will bring a message from Christ to the dispersed of Israel.  The Father's work will be disbelieved. A man is going to declare it, but people will not believe.  This is all unto the fulfilling of covenants God made with Patriarchal fathers unto the people who are of the house of Israel.   The Father's works are covenantal.  It leads to Zion.

Continuing with Christ's words to the Nephites: 3 Nephi 10:1
But if they will repent, and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance. And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city which shall be called the New Jerusalem. And then shall they assist my people, that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the Powers of Heaven come down among them, and I also will be in the midst. And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name. Yea, and then shall the work commence with the Father among all nations, in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. And they shall go out from all nations, and they shall not go out in haste nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.

The Father's work from scripture stands in stark contrast to the works of men and the devil.  Moroni tells us the way to judge is plain.  So much so we can know between them as clearly as telling the daylight from the dark night. It's through the spirit of Christ.

NC Moroni 7:3
Wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the Devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil. And the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge as the daylight is from the dark night. For behold, the spirit of Christ is given to every man, that they may know good from evil. Wherefore, I shew unto you the way to judge. For everything which inviteth to do good and to persuade to believe in Christ is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ. Wherefore, ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the Devil, for after this manner doth the Devil work; for he persuadeth no man to do good, no not one, neither doth his angels, neither do they who subject themselves unto him. And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge, ye shall also be judged. Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil. And if ye will lay hold upon every good thing and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.