“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; He said: 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.” -Avahr 6:33-36
When Joseph Smith Jr. walked into the grove to pray, after reading James 1:5, he had a miraculous experience. We do not know exactly what occurred, but we do know that he had a revelation. The different versions of this vision or revelation may be studied in Appendix 1 of the Book of Avahr. The thing they all have in common is that he was told not to join any of the denominations he had explored. Why not? And does this revelation mean that all churches were evil? And if they were, are they still today?
Their Creeds were an Abomination
Looking at the churches Joseph Smith Jr. encountered, we can see right off the bat the biggest problem:
“…notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased. Yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued, priest contending against priest and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.” Avahr 4:14-17
While this fits well with Jesus’ disciples fighting with other followers of Jesus that were not with them in Mark 9:38, the Savior rebuked them:
“But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” -Mark 9:39-41
And Mormon expands on this, asking us to seek unity, inviting one another to seek that which is good:
“Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him is inspired of God… For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that they may know good from evil; wherefore, I show 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.” -Moroni 7:10-11, 13-15a RAV, 7:12-13, 15-16 OPV
Notice he’s not calling us to a denomination but to a perspective, an outlook on life. What was the abomination then? The biggest one must be the spirit of strife and contention, spreading ill will rather than God’s love for our fellow men and women. They are drawing near with their lips, but with contention in them, their hearts were far from God. We must find the Christian perspective of unity regardless of denominations or theologies.
Denying the Power Thereof
The second thing we must look at is the power of God being denied. There have been many claims about what this means. To me it is best understood by the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is said to contain the everlasting gospel. Yet it doesn’t contain anything special the Bible doesn’t have. In fact, it quotes the Bible rather extensively. Do we really need another copy of Isaiah or Luke? The stories and commentaries on things in the Bible are wonderful, but did we need an ancient record for these? Many of the truths Lehi shares in 2 Nephi, for example, have existed for thousands of years in the teachings of Kabbalah. They aren’t new.
The power then must be something more than scholarly or intellectual wisdom. And we can discover what is meant be the Everlasting Gospel in the title page of the Book of Mormon:
“…written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of Prophesy and of Revelation. Written, and sealed up… to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof …the interpretation thereof by the gift of God”
This then, from my perspective, is to say that the Everlasting Gospel is the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. The Book of Mormon was written by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. It was divined or “translated” by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. It can only be understood by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. If the creeds of the churches in Joseph’s day were “corrupt” it might be because they rejected the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation, creating man made creeds based on human wisdom, negotiation, and palatability for the masses.
Looking at the Latter Day Saint movement today, things are not very dissimilar to Joseph’s time. While the Protestants have learned to get along better, we still see much “Lo here!” and “Lo there!” from the various Latter Day Saint denominations. In fact, if one looks at the temple lot in Missouri we can see many different Latter Day Saint buildings around the empty hole where the temple of God should be, resembling the Protestant churches across the street from one another in Palmyra, New York.
How do we become one? The answer lies in the question: How much are we resting on our theologies rather than turning to and teaching one another by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation? Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants Section 162, and Section 163 teaches us much about being a people of the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation.
“Listen, O people of the Restoration—you who would become a prophetic people, embodying in your life together the ministries of the Temple. Listen to the Voice that speaks from beyond the farthest hills, from the infinite heavens above, and the vast seas below… As a prophetic people you are called, under the direction of the spiritual authorities and with the common consent of the people, to discern the divine will for your own time and in the places where you serve… the challenge before a prophetic people is to discern and pursue what matters most for the journey ahead.” -CoC DaC 162:1a, 2c; 163:11b
I will boldly declare that these revelations were not for Community of Christ alone, but for all of the Latter Day Saint movement; all of us in every denomination. We are the ones called today to bring the work of the Lord forward.
A Prophetic People
To continue the work of the restoration we must forgo our Egos and the mistakes of the past. If we are to be Israel, we must remember the four things the Lord has asked of us:
” And thus, I shall ask of thee once again: Who is the House of Israel? Who are my Covenant Peoples? And behold, I say unto thee that these are the people of Israel: these are those of Yashar-El, the path Straight to God; these are those that shall seek my face, and turn not from me; these are they that shall taste the fruit of the Tree of Life, and it shall taste sweet, and these shall not turn away; these are they who shall love the Lord their God with all their hearts, minds, and strength, and this they shall show by their love for their fellow man, and their care for the Earth and her creatures. These are they that shall do my works, and shall bring to pass the oneness of the Heavens and the Earth; these are they that to whom I shall say: Well done, my good and faithful servants.” Revelation of David November 30, 2019 vs 20-26
- All that walking the path of teshuvah to God
- All that seek the face of God, and will not turn from God
- All those that show their love for the Lord by their love for others
- All those that will do God’s works
Notice that God doesn’t say some of those, or those in one denomination or another, or only Latter Day Saints. God said, “they are those,” all of those. With this understanding, we must not fight one with another, but love each other in Christ. We must not fight over theologies, but respect our differences. We must learn to speak spirit to spirit one with another, by the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation. And, if we can do these things, the Lord has told us that we will be the ones unto whom He will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”