Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#4: FLAGS*

false prophets[†] always arise to oppose the true prophets[†] and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones” (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 365);
then, shouldn't this caution move us to “prove ALL things” when a new voice arises claiming to be from God?—except somehow it seems we attach ourselves as readily to the legitimate complaints and proven truths of these new voices as to their unproven insights, revelations, and interpretations—which brings me to the interpretation of “soul.”

What are we to do with this word soul? Denver Snuffer1 has taken these verses:
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:21-23)
and interpreted them as follows:
... Christ, as well as the “noble and great” were all embodied and therefore resurrected beings before this world. They were “souls” (Abraham 3:23). The definition of “soul” given through Joseph years prior to his translation of the Book of Abraham was the “spirit and the body” together. (D&C 88:15-17.)2

These souls have already been the beneficiaries of a “preparatory redemption” given before the world. They were redeemed before, and then resent for ministry and service here. … They knew if they condescended to serve in this world they would be redeemed by Christ. They exercised faith in Him by returning to this stage of creation to serve others.3
But before we read “soul” exclusively in the strict sense that Snuffer does (D&C 88:spirit AND body), let us consider other references to “soul” in scripture:
Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets. The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame. (Book of Mormon | Alma 40:22-23)

I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself. (Book of Mormon | Alma 41:2)

For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 19:7)

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (New Testament | Matthew 10:28)

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (New Testament | 1 Thessalonians 5:23)

(For additional “soul” references see footnote 4.)
Obviously, “soul” is not always used in scripture in the strict sense of D&C 88:15-17. As noted in other Déjà Vu posts, words (without images) have severe limitations for comprehensive communication,5 so when we find a word being used in seemingly conflicting, confusing ways, perhaps we should hold off final judgment as to a strict, singular meaning.

Further concerns relate to: 1) Snuffer's belief that the Savior and the “noble and great ones” were embodied, resurrected beings before this world and condescended to return to mortality; and 2) his “prototype of the saved man” wherein he seems to teach that:
For us “to attain the resurrection of the dead” requires us to have the power to resurrect, not only ourselves, but also those who are dependent on us. This is what the prototype of the saved man did. This is Who we worship. This is who and what we must precisely and exactly become.6
But how does this possibly work? How do resurrected, immortal souls become mortal again?—die again in order to do “exactly” what the Savior did?! And what of these scriptures? (All bold emphasis added.)
Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.  (Book of Mormon | Alma 11:45)

And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel. O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect. Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe ;of righteousness. And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.  (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 9:12-15)

They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened. Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.  (Doctrine and Covenants 88:28-32)

Now it came to pass that when Alma had made an end of speaking these words, the people began to be more astonished;  But there was one Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state that the soul can never die? (Book of Mormon | Alma 12:19-20)

Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death. (Book of Mormon | Alma 42:9)

(See additional scriptures at footnote 7.)
Granted, there is much that God has yet to reveal about man's origin and destiny, yet my concern about some of what I read in Snuffer's works is his seeming propensity to ignore scriptures that do not support his interpretations.

As humans, we all manifest “motivated reasoning” and “hard priors”8 which seem to blind us to the counsel to “prove ALL things.” Thus, when reading Snuffer, we might be well-advised to run everything “new” through the entirety of scripture and to remember that most of us (especially lawyers;-) have developed the skill of presenting the best (one-sided?) “case” possible to convince others that our interpretation / understanding of “facts” or evidence is the most believable and reasonable.

If ever there was an apt description of our tendency (persistent déjà vu) toward “motivated reasoning” and “hard priors,” it might be this observation by the Savior:
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel (New Testament | Matthew 23:24);
Does this not describe every one of us, to some degree or other, as we try to grow in the way of knowledge, understanding, truth, and discernment? Nonetheless, we are counselled to “prove ALL things” through scripture and the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, so when things seem to conflict with scripture, perhaps we should proceed (or not) with great caution.

*This is the fourth in a FLAG series intended to encourage us in these last days to apply these words of wisdom and warning:
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
(New Testament | 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
▪ Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and also in the Father. … These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. (New Testament | JST 1 John 2: 24, 26)
▪ I preached to the Saints, setting forth the evils that existed, and that would exist, by reason of hasty judgment, or decisions upon any subject given by any people, or in judging before they had heard both sides of a question.  (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 118.)

[] Note: I am not purporting to make judgment on who is false or true in this latter-day. That is a matter of witness, testimony, and proving by the Holy Spirit. We have always been warned about the “arm of flesh,” so I have a lot of questions that I don't have sure answers for yet, but generally speaking, I believe when the prophets in scripture agree on matters, we can use their words to measure the words of others who claim to speak for God.

1. Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Preserving the Restoration, Mill Creek Press, Salt Lake City, UT, © 2015. For another post relating to his interpretation of “The Fathers” and of the need for only one temple, see http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2016/03/3-flags.html
2. Preserving the Restoration, p. 304 at footnote #796; bold emphasis added.
3. Ibid, pp. 317-318; bold emphasis added. Additional quotes relating to this theory are: “[God] intends to give us immortality and eventual eternal life. How long it will require depends on how long it takes us to become like the prototype of the saved man. How long we delay attaining to the resurrection is in our control” (p. 323). See also pages: 304, 322, 371, Without using the word reincarnation, Snuffer seems to teach this concept—that we will be re-embodied (recycled?) till we get things right and fill the measure of the “prototype of the saved man.” (See particularly pp. 295-348.)
4. Other interesting soul references:
Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:23 ~ And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Bold emphasis added to show that the verse Snuffer uses to set forth his “soul” interpretation is not itself definitive by the very use of the word spirits. Thought: If our past, present, and future is visible to God, why could He not see the mortality of the good souls (spirit and body) of His noble and great ones, while at the same “time” be able to record: “These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits ...”?)
Old Testament | Isaiah 1:14 ~ Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
Old Testament | Isaiah 10:17-18 ~ And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.
New Testament | Matthew 22:37 ~ Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
New Testament | Acts 4:32 ~ And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
New Testament | 1 Corinthians 15:44-46 ~ It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
New Testament | Hebrews 4:12 ~ For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 14:3 ~ And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 1:22 ~ That ye may not be cursed with a sore cursing; and also, that ye may not incur the displeasure of a just God upon you, unto the destruction, yea, the eternal destruction of both soul and body.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 2:38 ~ Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.
Book of Mormon | Alma 36:15-16 ~ Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds. And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
Book of Mormon | Alma 40:11-23 ~ Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.  And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection. Now, there are some that have understood that this state of happiness and this state of misery of the soul, before the resurrection, was a first resurrection. Yea, I admit it may be termed a resurrection, the raising of the spirit or the soul and their consignation to happiness or misery, according to the words which have been spoken. And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Now, we do not suppose that this first resurrection, which is spoken of in this manner, can be the resurrection of the souls and their consignation to happiness or misery. Ye cannot suppose that this is what it meaneth. Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ. Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in other words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ. Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven. But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works. Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets. The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.
Book of Mormon | Alma 42:16 ~ Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.
Doctrine and Covenants | Section 25:12 ~ For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
Old Testament | Genesis2:7 ~ And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
5. http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/2014/02/here-and-there.html or the entire label Communication: http://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.ca/search/label/Communication
6. Preserving the Restoration, p. 304.
7. Book of Mormon | Mosiah 16:9 ~ He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
New Testament | Revelation 21:4 ~ And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Doctrine and Covenants | 63:49 ~ Yea, and blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth, when the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after, and shall receive an inheritance before the Lord, in the holy city.
Doctrine and Covenants | 93:33 ~ For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
Doctrine and Covenants | 101:29 ~ And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death. [All bold emphasis added in this footnote.]
8. The science writer Sharon Begley gives insight into such motivated reasoning: “If you have a strongly held belief with an emotional component, the brain defends information that reinforces those ‘priors’ and is skeptical of information that challenges them. … People who hold these hard priors filter information to support their perceptions.” (Bold emphasis mine.) These observations are from the work of political scientist Hank Jenkins-Smith of the University of Oklahoma as quoted, in Newsweek, October 13, 2010, pp. 29-30 by science writer Sharon Begley about voter tendencies—observations that seem applicable to almost everything that requires choice or discernment. We all do it, (even this writer) and without awareness of a “priors” bias, are we not all more prone to biased judgment—whether pro or con? Shouldn’t 360° honesty in dealing with all the facts help control that bias?