Christian Leader: Stand for God

Dinner Topics for Monday

Time to take a stand for our faith

Dallin H. Oaks

February 25, 2014, to students at BYU-Idaho devotional

My fellow students: I have felt impressed to speak to you about the significance of our belief in God. I do so because we live in a world where many deny the existence of God or the significance of His commandments. I hope what I say will help you be more effective in your duty to witness of God and to act for truth and righteousness.

I begin with the first three of our Articles of Faith:

JesusChristresize“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

“We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:1-3).

A great Book of Mormon prophet taught these same truths:

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

“And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you” (Mosiah 4:9-10).

In contrast, today many deny or doubt the existence of a God and insist that all rules of behavior are man-made and can be accepted or rejected at will.

Why do I speak of such basic truths as the existence of God and the reality of the absolutes of right and wrong that govern our behavior? Sometimes the most needed things we can teach are things we tend to take for granted. We can neglect simple basic truths because we assume they are understood by all, but they are not. We must stress the fundamental truths on which our beliefs are based. Ultimately, these include the existence of God and the eternal reality of the truths and the right and wrong defined by His teachings and His commandments.

The denial of God or the downplaying of His role in human affairs, which began in the Renaissance, has become pervasive today. The glorifying of human reasoning has had good effects and bad. The work of science has made innumerable improvements in our lives, but the rejection of divine authority as the ultimate basis of right and wrong by those who have substituted science for God has many religious people asking this question:

“Why [is] the will of any of the brilliant philosophers of the liberal tradition, or, for that matter, the will of the Supreme Court of the United States . . . more relevant to moral decisions than the will of God”?[1]

Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process.

I am grateful to know that there are two methods of gaining knowledge — the scientific method and the spiritual method, which begins with faith in God and relies on scriptures, inspired teaching and personal revelation. There is no ultimate conflict between knowledge gained by these different methods because God, our omnipotent Eternal Father, knows all truth and beckons us to learn by them both.

Prophecies of the last days foretell great opposition to inspired truth and action. Some of these prophecies concern the anti-Christ, and others speak of the great and abominable church.

A.    Anti-Christ

The Apostle John uses the term anti-Christ to describe one who “denieth the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). Today, those who deny the existence of God are called atheists. Some of these ridicule the faith of those who believe in what cannot be proven, even as they aggressively deny a godly existence they cannot disprove.

korihorWe are prepared for such denials of God by the Book of Mormon’s account of a man named Korihor. In terms reminiscent of the most atheistic writings of our day, Korihor, twice called an “Anti-Christ” (Alma 30:6, 12), taught:

“Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.

“Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission [forgiveness] of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so” (Alma 30:15-16).

Korihor also declared “that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men” (verse 17). His description of the consequence of his rejection of the idea of sin and a savior is strikingly similar to the belief of many in our time:

“Every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:17; italics added).

B.    Moral Relativism

Today we call Korihor’s philosophy moral relativism. Two observers describe that philosophy as follows:

“When it comes to moral issues there are no universally objective right or wrong answers, no inappropriate or appropriate judgments, and no reasonable or rational ways by which to make moral distinctions that apply in every time, in every place, and to every person.”[2]

This is the belief applied by many in the popular media and in current peer pressure. “Break free of the old rules. Do what feels good to you. There is no accountability beyond what man’s laws or public disapproval impose on those who are caught.” Behind such ideas is the assumption that there is no God or, if there is, He has given no commandments that apply to us today.

C.    Secular Humanism

secularhumanistThe rejection of an unprovable God and the denial of right and wrong is most influential in the world of higher education. Secular humanism, a branch of humanism probably so labeled because of its strong alignment with secularism, is deliberately or inadvertently embodied in the teachings of faculty members in many colleges and universities.

For religious people, the objectionable element in the various humanist manifestos is their rejection of the existence of God and their denial of the moral absolutes rooted in His commandments. Thus, the 1973 Humanist Manifesto rejected “traditional moral codes” and “traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience.” It further declared, “We can discover no divine purpose . . . for the human species. . . . Humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.”[3]

Of course, adherents of humanism, called humanists, have had many positive effects. For example, they have been supportive of democracy, human rights, education and material progress. So long as these advancements do not exclude believers, our issue with humanists is their rejection of divine authority and values. As BYU philosophy professor Chauncey Riddle has written, “Humanism makes a man to be god, the supreme being, and the educated human mind becomes the arbiter of all that is true, good and beautiful.”[4]

Riddle also reminds us that humanism “enjoys good press in the world today because most of the writers, publishers, scholars and media people are of this persuasion.”[5] Thus, my wife Kristen heard a recent interview in which a prominent figure in a major U.S. university proclaimed that he was a humanist. That was not surprising, except for the fact that he was his university’s chaplain. Whatever his beliefs, it is a regrettable fact that many of today’s Christian ministers cannot truthfully affirm their belief in God.

Many who deny or doubt the existence of God would probably disclaim the philosophy of moral relativism. They would see themselves as having some external standards of right and wrong, though absolute standards not based on belief in God are difficult to explain. Secular humanists, who formally reject “traditional religious morality” and declare their reliance on “the tests of scientific evidence,”[6] seem to fulfill a Book of Mormon prophecy of those who “live without God in the world” (Mosiah 27:31).

D.    The Great and Abominable Church and Other “Churches”

Book of Mormon prophecies describe the “great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil” (1 Nephi 14:17). This “church” is prophesied to have “dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” (1 Nephi 14:11). Called “most abominable above all other churches,” this church is also said to act “for the praise of the world” to bring “the saints of God . . . down into captivity” (1 Nephi 13:5, 9). Since no religious denomination — Christian or non-Christian — has ever had “dominion” over all nations of the earth or the potential to bring all the saints of God down into “captivity,” this great and abominable church must be something far more pervasive and widespread than a single “church” as we understand that term today. It must be any philosophy or organization that opposes belief in God. And the “captivity” into which this “church” seeks to bring the saints will not be so much physical confinement as the captivity of false ideas.

In modern usage and in many scriptural passages the word church usually identifies (1) a house of worship or (2) a particular Christian denomination, including the true church of God. But if we apply either of those meanings to the scriptures describing the “great and abominable church of all the earth” (1 Nephi 14:17), we miss the intended meaning. For example, Nephi was told by revelation that there were only “two churches”: “the church of the Lamb of God” and “the church of the devil” (1 Nephi 14:10; also see 1 Nephi 13:4-6). This description suggests the contrast between those who believe in God and seek to serve Him according to their best understanding and those who reject the existence of God (see 1 Nephi 14:10).

Other teachings in the Book of Mormon also use the word church to signify belief or non-belief in God. The final chapters of 2 Nephi prophesy that in the last days the Gentiles will build up “many churches” that will “put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain” (2 Nephi 26:20). They tell of “churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord” (2 Nephi 28:3), which will “teach with their learning” and “deny the power of God” (2 Nephi 28:4-5). They will “say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today” (2 Nephi 28:5). In the Savior’s ministry among the Nephites, He warned against a church that “be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil” (3 Nephi 27:11). These warnings are not limited to religious organizations. In the circumstances of our day they include a multitude of secular philosophies and activities.

Lehi and Nephi had a vision of this. Those who partook of the fruit of the tree of life were looked upon with scorn and mocked by those who had entered a nearby “great and spacious building” (see 1 Nephi 8:26-33). This building was the “vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men” (1 Nephi 12:18); its occupants were “the multitude of the earth,” and together they represented “the world and the wisdom thereof” (1 Nephi 11:35). Many people who believe in God experience such scorn and mocking from worldly teachings and from the denial of God in many organizations, including educational institutions and media.

I have spoken of prophetic challenges faced by the diminishing numbers of God-fearing people who share our belief in God and the right and wrong that exist because of His commandments. This only repeats what existed at the time of the Savior. The Apostle John wrote that the Son of God, who made the world, “was in the world, . . . and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10-11). So it is today.

Even as we are “troubled on every side,” we are “not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8). We know that our spiritual growth requires “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). We also know that the Lord “seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith” (Mosiah 23:21). But the scriptures also teach that He will deliver those who put their trust in Him (see 1 Samuel 17:37, 45-46; Psalm 34:22; Proverbs 3:5-6; Alma 23:22).

witnessgodBelievers need to be witnesses of God. I will now suggest three kinds of things we can do in response to current conditions, beginning with what is easiest. All of these respond to a great Book of Mormon teaching that we should “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death” (Mosiah 18:9). My suggestions also try to fit within the teaching that our good works should be “done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).

A.    Private Prayers and Greetings

We are taught to “believe in Christ, and deny him not” (2 Nephi 25:29); to “look unto [Christ] in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36); and to “talk of Christ,” “rejoice in Christ,” and “preach of Christ” (2 Nephi 25:26). Two ways we can do this are in our private prayers and in our personal greetings.

In our private personal and family prayers we should ask God to help us and our neighbors and leaders recognize God our Creator and the right and wrong established by His commandments. We should do this for the good of His children everywhere.

We should also assert ourselves against the current trend to refrain from religious references even in private communications. In recent years the inclusion of religious symbols and reverent words in Christmas greetings and sympathy cards have almost disappeared. When we make choices on these kinds of communications, we should not participate in erasing sacred reminders from our personal communications. As believers, we have a duty to preserve the name and influence of God and Christ in our conversations, our lives and our culture.

B.    Publicly Recognize the Blessings of God

churchattendanceA second thing believers can do to stand as witnesses of God is to support public recognition of the blessings of God. This seeks to counter the diminishing mention of religious faith and references to God and His blessings in our public discourse. Contrast current public documents and the current rhetoric of government leaders with the similar documents and words of leaders in the first two centuries of our nation. In that contrast you will have evidence of deliberate efforts to edit out references to God and the influence of religion in our nation’s founding and preservation.

What can we do about this? First, we can set the right example in our family and Church teachings by acknowledging the blessings of the Lord in the establishment of this nation. To do this “in wisdom and order” we should not seem to deny that this nation includes and is blessed by citizens of Jewish, Muslim, atheist and other non-Christian persuasions. But we should speak truthfully of the fact that this nation was founded by persons and leaders who were predominantly Christians and who embodied the principles of their faith in the constitution, laws and culture of this nation.

Our friend John A. Howard, esteemed educator and thinker, explains why this is appropriate. His book Christianity: Lifeblood of America’s Free Society (1920-1945), describes the religious commitments of the heroic founders of this nation. He states:

“It is because a large majority of Americans during the next century and a half tried to lead a life according to the principles of Christianity, and expected others to do the same, that America succeeded so fully in establishing and maintaining a self-governing free society, juster, kinder and more lawful than any other.”[7]

A recent essay by our friend and highly honored teacher and thinker Clayton Christensen insists that religion is the foundation of both democracy and prosperity. He reminds us that democracy and capitalism both depend on large-scale obedience to the unenforceable and that this prerequisite is dependent upon religions that teach such fundamentals as “the equality of people, the importance of respecting others’ property, and personal honesty and integrity.” Secularism, which aspires to displace theistic religion in our country, has no power or program to provide what Christensen calls “the requisite foundation of extensive obedience to the unenforceable.”[8]

We should also contend for the inclusion in textbooks and teaching in school settings of accurate accounts of great historical documents that recognize and invoke the blessings of God in the founding and preservation of this nation. I refer to such as George Washington’s farewell letter to the 13 colonies when he retired as commander in chief of the Continental Army. He ended with a prayer to “Almighty God . . . that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection” and concluded, “Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”[9] Benjamin Franklin’s stirring call for prayer at the Constitutional Convention is well known.[10] Lincoln invoked the blessings of God in many of his formal communications, including the Emancipation Proclamation and his great Second Inaugural Address.[11] Such acknowledgements and pleas are part of our history and should not be omitted from our memories or our culture.

C.    Contend for the Free Exercise of Religion

abinadiMy third suggestion of what we can do to be better witnesses of God is to contend for the free exercise of religion. This is more difficult because it requires cooperative action by believers of various faiths. We should press officials in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of governments to honor the constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion. I am one of many in our Church who have spoken on this subject. Here I will emphasize only two examples of current concern.

The first involves public prayer. Prayer occurs when anyone addresses the Divine Being, whatever their concept of God and however they choose to address Him. Regardless of the content of a prayer, which will vary according to the belief of the one who prays, when a prayer is offered in a public setting it is important as an affirmation or symbol of a group’s common dependence upon and reverence for God. This is the nature of the prayers offered at the beginning of legislative assemblies or council meetings and in oaths administered to precede court testimony or official installations.

This symbol of prayer has been under legal attack for over 50 years, first in public school classrooms, where prayers were outlawed 50 years ago, and now in college graduations, city council meetings and other public settings. Whatever the designated pray-er’s concept of God and whatever his or her religious persuasion or language of prayer, I hope the citizens of this nation can continue to witness their belief in God by the symbol of prayer, wisely and tolerantly administered. That is worth contending for.

justice gavelSecond, we should be alert to oppose the potential significance of the fact that some government officials and public policy advocates are describing the First Amendment guarantee of the “free exercise” of religion as merely “freedom of worship.” But the guarantee of “free exercise” protects the right to come out of our private settings, including churches, synagogues and mosques, to act upon our beliefs, subject only to the legitimate government powers necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare. Free exercise surely protects religious citizens in acting upon their beliefs in public policy debates and in votes cast as citizens or as lawmakers.

We should also use our political influence to resist current moves to banish from legislative and judicial lawmaking all actions based on religious convictions and motivations. A dangerous recent example of this was the opinion of the single federal district judge who invalidated the California Proposition 8 constitutional amendment.[12] The precedent of his decision on the inappropriateness of presumed religious or moral motivations as a basis for lawmaking was used by the lawyers who persuaded another federal district judge to invalidate the Utah constitutional provision and laws affirming the traditional limitation on marriages to one man and one woman.[13] Then, when an eminent lawyer was hired to take the appeal, he was criticized by the Human Rights Campaign for having religious motivations for his decision to defend traditional marriage.[14] Where will this illogical attack on religious motivations end?

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in his powerful address to a nationwide audience of Christian leaders, we Mormons are “eager to join hands . . . to guarantee the freedom of religion that will allow all of us to speak out [and I would add to act out] on matters of Christian conscience regarding the social issues of our time.”[15] We should all agree with the Christian writer he quoted:

“All of our nation’s religious citizens need to develop a respect for other religious people and their beliefs. We need not accept their beliefs, but we can respect the people and realize that we have more in common with each other than we ever will with the secularizers of this country.”[16]

We need to support the coalitions of religious leaders and God-fearing people who are coming together to defend our nation’s traditional culture of belief in God and the acknowledgement of His blessings. As Clayton Christensen’s impressive essay reminds us, religion is essential to our nation’s democracy and prosperity.[17]

In conclusion, I say to my fellow Latter-day Saints — and I suggest to all believers everywhere — that we have a solemn religious duty to be witnesses of God. We must affirm our religious faiths, unite to insist upon our constitutional right to the free exercise of our religions and honor their vital roles in establishing and preserving and prospering this nation.

apostlescrollI remind my fellow Christians of the solemn teaching of the Apostle John:

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3).

The consequence of our failing to speak out as witnesses of God are evident in our Savior’s teaching about the salt that has “lost its savour.” Mixed with other substances — just as we can be diluted by the values of the world — it loses its unique influence on the mixture of the mass. As the Savior taught, it is “thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).

My fellow students, we are the “salt of the earth.” We must retain our savour by living our religion and by asserting ourselves as witnesses of God. When we do so, we associate ourselves with those who will enjoy the ultimate victory of truth and righteousness, when “every knee shall bow . . . and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11) and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we worship and whose servants we are. I testify of Them and invoke Their blessings on all who witness of Them, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

[1] Stephen L. Carter, The Culture of Disbelief (1963), 226. See chapter 11 generally.

[2] Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory Kouki, Relativism (2007), 12-13.

[3] See Paul Kurtz, ed., Humanist Manifesto I and II (1973), 14-16.

[4] Think Independently (2009), 120.

[5] Id., at 121.

[6] Humanist Manifestos, note 3 supra at p. 16.

[7] John A. Howard, Christianity: Lifeblood of America’s Free Society (1920-1945), 51 (2008), 51.

[8] Clayton Christensen, “Religion Is the Foundation of Democracy and Prosperity,” see http://www.mormonperspectives.com/2011/02/08/religion-is-the-foundation-of-democracy-and-prosperity.

[9] Quoted in Howard, note 7 supra at 131.

[10] See Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia (1986), 125-26.

[11] See An American Primer, vol. 1 (1966), 413, 423-24.

[12] Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F. Supp. 2d 921, 938, 985, 1001-02, (N.D. Cal. 2010), aff’d sub nom. Perry v. Brown, 671 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2012), vacated and remanded sub nom. Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S. Ct. 2652 (2013).

[13] Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment at xxviii, 21, 28-29, Kitchen v. Herbert, No. 2:13-cv-00217-RJS (D. Utah Oct. 10, 2013); Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion of the Governor and Attorney General for Summary Judgment at 3, 26-27, Kitchen v. Herbert, No. 2:13-cv-00217 RJS (D. Utah Nov. 22, 2013).

[14] “Why Is Utah’s Hired Gun Fighting Gay Marriage? It’s His LDS Faith,” Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 24, 2014, A5; “Lawyer Accused of Defending Amendment 3 for Religious Reasons,” Deseret News, Jan. 23, 2014, B2. Also see editorial, “Religious Conviction,” Deseret News, Jan. 24, 2014, A12.

[15] “Standing Together for the Cause of Christ” (Governor’s Mansion address to Christian leaders, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 10, 2011), 5.

[16] Id., at pp. 8-9, quoting Tim LaHaye, The Race for the 21st Century (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1986), p. 109.

[17] Note 8 supra.

Easter: Faith, Jesus Christ, and the Resurrection

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a Reality

keyoldGiven the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, doubts about the omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence of God the Father—who gave His Only Begotten Son for the redemption of the world—are groundless. Doubts about the meaning and purpose of life are unfounded. Jesus Christ is in fact the only name or way by which salvation can come to mankind. The grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner. Faith truly is more than imagination or psychological invention.

There is ultimate and universal truth, and there are objective and unchanging moral standards, as taught by Him. ~D. Todd Christofferson

 

jesusforgivemedI Stand All Amazed

Cecil Frances Alexander

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,

Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.

I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,

That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

 

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

jesuswoundhandI think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!

Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?

No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at this feet.

 

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me

Enough to die for me!

Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

 

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

By Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

MarynresJesusresizeJesus of Nazareth is the resurrected Redeemer, and I testify of all that follows from the fact of His Resurrection.

A crushing sense of defeat and despair enveloped His disciples as Jesus suffered and died on the cross and His body was placed lifeless in the tomb. Despite what the Savior had repeatedly said of His death and subsequent rising again, they had not understood. The dark afternoon of His Crucifixion, however, was soon followed by the joyous morning of His Resurrection. But that joy came only as the disciples became eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, for even the declaration of angels that He had risen was at first incomprehensible—it was something so totally unprecedented.

Mary Magdalene and a few other faithful women came early to the Savior’s tomb that Sunday morning, bringing spices and ointments to complete the anointing begun when the Lord’s body was hastily laid in the sepulchre before the approaching Sabbath. On this morning of mornings, they were greeted by an open sepulchre, the covering stone having been rolled away, and two angels who declared:

“Why seek ye the living among the dead?

“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

“Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”1

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

“And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.”2

As bidden by the angels, Mary Magdalene looked into the tomb, but it seems that all that registered in her mind was that the body of the Lord was gone. She hurried to report to the Apostles and, finding Peter and John, said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.”3 Peter and John ran to the place and verified that indeed the tomb was empty, seeing “the linen clothes lying … and the napkin, that was about his head, … wrapped together in a place by itself.”4 John apparently was the first to comprehend the magnificent message of resurrection. He writes that “he saw, and believed,” whereas the others to that point “knew not the scripture, that [Jesus] must rise again from the dead.”5

Peter and John left, but Mary remained behind, still in mourning. In the meantime the angels had returned and tenderly asked her, “Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”6 At that moment the resurrected Savior, now standing behind her, spoke, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”7

Elder James E. Talmage wrote: “It was Jesus to whom she spake, her beloved Lord, though she knew it not. One word from His living lips changed her agonized grief into ecstatic joy. ‘Jesus saith unto her, Mary.’ The voice, the tone, the tender accent she had heard and loved in the earlier days lifted her from the despairing depths into which she had sunk. She turned, and saw the Lord. In a transport of joy she reached out her arms to embrace Him, uttering only the endearing and worshipful word, ‘Rabboni,’ meaning My beloved Master.”8

And so this blessed woman became the first mortal to see and speak to the resurrected Christ. Later that same day He appeared to Peter in or near Jerusalem;9 to two disciples on the road to Emmaus;10 and in the evening to 10 of the Apostles and others, appearing suddenly in their midst, saying, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”11 Then to further convince them “while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered,”12 He ate broiled fish and honeycomb before them.13 Later He instructed them, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”14

Other Sheep

jesuslambmedBeyond these confirmed witnesses in Jerusalem, we have the incomparable ministry of the risen Lord to ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere. In the land Bountiful, He descended from heaven and invited the assembled throng, some 2,500, to come forward one by one until they had all gone forth, thrusting their hands into His side and feeling the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet.15

“And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:

“Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.”16

Christ’s Resurrection shows that His existence is independent and everlasting. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”17 Jesus said:

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”18

The Savior is not dependent on food or water or oxygen or any other substance or power or person for life. Both as Jehovah and Messiah, He is the great I Am, the self-existing God.19 He simply is and ever will be.

By His Atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome all aspects of the Fall. Physical death will be temporary, and even spiritual death has an end, in that all come back into the presence of God, at least temporarily, to be judged. We can have ultimate trust and confidence in His power to overcome all else and grant us everlasting life.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”20

In the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Christ’s victory over death ended the human predicament. Now there are only personal predicaments, and from these too we may be rescued by following the teachings of him who rescued us from general extinction.”21

jesusjusticemedHaving satisfied the demands of justice, Christ now steps into the place of justice; or we might say He is justice, just as He is love.22 Likewise, besides being a “perfect, just God,” He is a perfect, merciful God.23 Thus, the Savior makes all things right. No injustice in mortality is permanent, even death, for He restores life again. No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy.

By the same token, we are all accountable to Him for our lives, our choices, and our actions, even our thoughts. Because He redeemed us from the Fall, our lives are in reality His. He declared:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works.”24

Consider for a moment the significance of the Resurrection in resolving once and for all the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth and the great philosophical contests and questions of life. If Jesus was in fact literally resurrected, it necessarily follows that He is a divine being. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. Because He was resurrected, Jesus cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. Because He was resurrected, Jesus had to have been a God, even the Only Begotten Son of the Father.

resurrected ChristmedTherefore, what He taught is true; God cannot lie.25

Therefore, He was the Creator of the earth, as He said.26

Therefore, heaven and hell are real, as He taught.27

Therefore, there is a world of spirits, which He visited after His death.28

Therefore, He will come again, as the angels said,29 and “reign personally upon the earth.”30

Therefore, there is a resurrection and a final judgment for all.31

Given the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, doubts about the omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence of God the Father—who gave His Only Begotten Son for the redemption of the world—are groundless. Doubts about the meaning and purpose of life are unfounded. Jesus Christ is in fact the only name or way by which salvation can come to mankind. The grace of Christ is real, affording both forgiveness and cleansing to the repentant sinner. Faith truly is more than imagination or psychological invention. There is ultimate and universal truth, and there are objective and unchanging moral standards, as taught by Him.

Given the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, repentance of any violation of His law and commandments is both possible and urgent. The Savior’s miracles were real, as is His promise to His disciples that they might do the same and even greater works.32 His priesthood is necessarily a real power that “administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.”33 Given the reality of the Resurrection of Christ, death is not our end, and though “skin worms destroy [our bodies], yet in [our] flesh shall [we] see God.”34

President Thomas S. Monson tells of a Robert Blatchford who, 100 years ago “in his book God and My Neighbor, attacked with vigor accepted Christian beliefs, such as God, Christ, prayer, and immortality. He boldly asserted, ‘I claim to have proved everything I set out to prove so fully and decisively that no Christian, however great or able he may be, can answer my arguments or shake my case.’ He surrounded himself with a wall of skepticism. Then a surprising thing happened. His wall suddenly crumbled to dust. … Slowly he began to feel his way back to the faith he had scorned and ridiculed. What had caused this profound change in his outlook? His wife [had] died. With a broken heart, he went into the room where lay all that was mortal of her. He looked again at the face he loved so well. Coming out, he said to a friend: ‘It is she, and yet it is not she. Everything is changed. Something that was there before is taken away. She is not the same. What can be gone if it be not the soul?’”35

Did the Lord in reality die and rise again? Yes. “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”36

As the prophesied birth of Jesus drew near, there were those among the ancient Nephite and Lamanite peoples who believed, though most doubted. In due course, the sign of His birth arrived—a day and a night and a day without darkness—and all knew.37 Even so today, some believe in the literal Resurrection of Christ, and many doubt or disbelieve. But some know. In due course, all will see and all will know; indeed, “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him.”38

Until then, I believe the many witnesses of the Savior’s Resurrection whose experiences and testimonies are found in the New Testament—Peter and his companions of the Twelve and dear, pure Mary of Magdala, among others. I believe the testimonies found in the Book of Mormon—of Nephi the Apostle with the unnamed multitude in the land Bountiful, among others. And I believe the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon who, after many other testimonies, proclaimed the great witness of this last dispensation “that he lives! For we saw him.”39 Under the glance of His all-seeing eye, I stand myself as a witness that Jesus of Nazareth is the resurrected Redeemer, and I testify of all that follows from the fact of His Resurrection.

Easter: Passion Flower and Christian Symbolism

Dinner Topics for Friday

Christian Symbolism

MarynresJesusEaster is the Sunday that celebrates the resurrection of Christ, and is one of the most holy days in the calendar of Christian churches. The Easter message is one of hope and victory over death, for it recalls that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter symbolizes the love of God and the promise that man’s soul is immortal.

In many languages, the name for Easter comes from the Hebrew word “pesah”, or passover; in fact, Easter was first associated with the Hebrew festival of the Passover, which falls in the spring. Easter was celebrated at different times by the early Christian churches until 325 A.D., when the Council of Nicaea fixed the day as the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. This always places Easter sometime between March 22 and April 25. It is believed that the council probably set the date of Easter to fall near the time of a full moon so that pilgrims journeying to worship a shrine might have moonlight to help them find their way. (xmission.com)

 

 

passionflowerPassion Flower and Christian Symbolism

by Luba Ambrose

Passiflora, a passion flower [Lat. flos passionis], is an amazing example of beauty of nature created through Divine Intervention. The flower was first discovered in the New World in the 17th century and was presented to the Old World by Jesuit missionary priests. Its unique anatomy, not found on any other flower, symbolically represents the events our Lord and God Jesus Christ went through in His last two days of His earthly life – Passions.

A piece of exquisite yet passing beauty, it comes from a bell-shaped bud to open and live for only one day and then succumb to its fading death in the same bell-shaped form. The tropical vine it grows on is lavished with multiple flowers and draws one’s attention immediately by the flower’s perfect shape and hidden mystery. The colors vary from deep purple (the color of Orthodox priests’ vestments during the Great Lent) to scarlet red, yet the numerical constituents remain the same: 10 petals (5 petals and 5 sepals identical in shape and color), 1 column, 72 corona filaments, 5 anthers, 3 stigmas.

Let’s decipher the numbers above according to Biblical story of Passions:

10 – Biblical account of Christ’s suffering tells us about St. Peter who distanced himself from Christ during His last hours, neither was Judas; whereas, 10 is the number of remaining Disciples of Christ at the time of crucifixion;

1 – Column of flagellation;

72 – Traditional number of thorns on a crown of thorns set upon Christ’s head;

5 – Total number of wounds inflicted to Christ at time of crucifixion;

3 – Nails.

resurrected ChristmedAdditionally, the vine’s leaves are shaped like a spear used to pierce Christ’s side. Some even find representation to Judas’ 30 pieces of silver (dark round spots on the underside of some species). Ominous may it seem to some or not, this flower graciously and quietly speaks of the most inspiring, life-changing and soul-bending story ever told to mankind.

The Orthodox faithful in Columbus area will have abundant services during the remaining days of Holy and Great Week of Christ’s Passion (up until Holy and Great Friday).

He is Risen! View Video

 

Easter Story: Jesus Christ, Israel, and America

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Secrets of a Golden Age

keyoldAnd we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission [forgiveness] of their sins. ~Nephi

 

JesusteachesinAmerica resizeThe Book of Mormon recounts the visit of the resurrected Jesus Christ to Central America, as witnessed by 2,500 souls, among an obscure, scattered remnant of the house of Israel. This ushered in a marvelous 200 year golden age.

The Savior taught them many truths, but two vital principles stand out as powerfully applicable in every society, even today. First, He made clear what is not His doctrine.

There shall be no disputations among you . . . Neither shall there be disputations among you concerning my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:28-30)

Then, He made clear what is His doctrine.

I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is the doctrine which the Father has given me . . .The Father commands all men, everywhere, to repent. . . and become as a little child . . . or ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God. (3 Nephi 11:32,37, 38)

He repeated this teaching three times.

In the fourth generation after the visit of Christ, the people fell away into disbelief. Why? They forgot to repent, and they failed to teach their children to do the same.

Christ compared this doctrine to building on the rock, because even after thousands of years, it is still true, and will always be true.

Jesus and ChildrenChildren of every age long to connect with their spiritual roots— to find something to hang onto throughout their lives. Where can they turn?

To society? To TV? To schools? There is no evidence that these have been sources of lasting family stability.

Children and youth can sink their roots deep at home, where the dinner talk parable is a way of life. As they are trained by daily example to repent, and hold fast every day to the word of God, they are building on the rock, finding an anchor to their soul.

Simply defined, “repent” means to turn from doing wrong and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life. People often become weary of hearing about repentance, which has been the unrelenting message of God’s prophets since the beginning of history. But contrary to popular perception of this little word, it is the hidden manna that will truly feed our children’s spiritual hunger and protect them from the poisonous effects of sin.

After Jesus partook of that unspeakably bitter cup, His personal message to all of us verifies the words of His prophets— adding weight that only comes from experience.

Gethsemane2For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer, if they would repent;

But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit— and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

Nevertheless. . . I partook.

Wherefore I command you again to repent. ~ Jesus Christ, Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-20

And thus we see that “repent” is a message of love, because it is the single key to divine mercy.

As parents pass this loving truth from generation to generation, families and descendants can enjoy a “golden age,” regardless of their circumstances.

This manna, shared, can go on to bless societies and nations, as well.

Dinner Topic Questions

The Author of salvation teaches a nation how to enjoy true and lasting peace. *Repentance, Unity

1. Why did the Savior say that contention must be “done away”?

2. What was the secret of the Golden Age for the remnant of Israel in America, and why did they perish?

3. How does our modern society compare to that ancient civilization?

4. What does it mean to repent?

5. Why is repentance a message of love?

Easter Story: Jesus Christ and Passover

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

The Passover Supper

keyoldThe first Passover prefigured Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and showed what it means to be God’s covenant people.

The final plague that fell upon the land of Egypt in Moses’s day brought death to all the firstborn in the land—even firstborn animals. But God provided a way for His people to be spared from this plague. By performing a symbolic ritual, the children of Israel showed that they were God’s people, and then through the Passover, God saved them from destruction, delivered them from bondage, and sent them to inherit a promised land. (See Exodus 12.)

Here is a brief description of the emblems of the Passover, in which we see many symbolic representations of Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and our covenant with God.

passovermealBitter Herbs

What were they? Possibly endive, chicory, wild lettuce, horehound, sorrel, dandelions, horseradish, parsley, snakeroot, peppermint, or other herbs with a bitter taste.

What was done with them? They were eaten along with the lamb.

What do they represent? Bitterness of slavery and captivity in Egypt; bitterness of slavery to sin; bitterness of Christ’s suffering for our sins.

Lamb

lambWhat was it? A year-old lamb without blemish.

What was done with it? It was killed and then roasted with fire, whole—no bones broken; head, legs, and edible inner parts attached. It was to be eaten during the Passover night, nothing remaining in the morning. If anything did remain, it was to be burned.

What does it represent? Christ as perfect and sinless sacrifice for sins; the sweet experience of coming unto Him, juxtaposed with the bitterness of sin; the complete dedication required of those under covenant to God.

Unleavened Bread

What was it? Bread made, most likely, from emmer wheat, barley, or sorghum without leaven, which makes bread softer but also more susceptible to mold and other decay. In addition, leavened bread takes much longer to make, since the dough needs time to rise.

What was done with it? It was eaten for seven days. Leaven (which was probably some kind of sourdough starter) was to be removed from each home during this time.

What does it represent? Purity; haste of flight from captivity; Christ as the Bread of Life.

Blood on Lintel and Posts

How was it applied? Hyssop (an herb later used in ritual purifications) was dipped in the bowl of blood from the lamb, and then the blood was placed on the lintel and posts of the door.

What does it represent? A sign identifying God’s covenant people, whom the destroying angel was to pass over; purification through Christ’s blood, which was shed to atone for our sins.

Loins Girt, Feet Shod, Staff in Hand, Standing While Eating

What do they represent? Readiness for hasty flight from captivity; desire for freedom from sin.

Significant Passovers with the Savior

jesus-cleanses-the-temple_11st Passover: Purification of the temple (“Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise”)—see John 2:13–17.

 

 

 

Feeding the 50002nd Passover: Miracle of the loaves and fishes (“I am the bread of life”)—see John 6.

 

 

 

The_Last_Supper0023rd Passover: Last Supper (“This do in remembrance of me”)—see Luke 22:7–20.

 

 

 

 

kirtland2April 3, 1836: On Easter Sunday 1836, the second day of Passover, the Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple.

Our Passover

“Do we see [our weekly sacramental service] as our passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption?

“With so very much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is.” ~Jeffrey R. Holland

World News: History, Cuba, and Christian Africa

History Patterns in World News

keyThe Monroe Doctrine was meant to keep Europeans out of Latin America in the wake of regional independence movements from Spain.

History-Clues

NOTE: To find other time lines and patterns in History, enter History-Clues in the search bar of this site.

From Rush Limbaugh radio talk show

“You don’t need to go to the Roman Empire to find out why societies dissipate. You just need to look at Cuba. You just need to look at the Venezuela.”

“It was not inequality and lack of natural resources that doomed the Roman Empire. It’s crazy.”

“Well, here’s a headline that says it all: “Putin Redraws Russian Borders; Obama Unveils Bracket Picks.” Does that not say it all?”

“There are sugar shortages in Venezuela! Do you know who their client state is? Cuba! What’s their number one export in Cuba? Sugar!”

“There are none so blind as those who don’t listen.”

1. Monroe Doctrine

RushKerryMonroe2Depending on your age, you may not have been taught the Monroe Doctrine, because I guarantee you, the leftists in charge of education today hate it.  They thought it was arrogant and we don’t have any right to the Monroe Doctrine, who are we?  We don’t have any right to tell people that.  So they don’t even teach it, or if they do teach it, they teach it as an element of what’s wrong with America, our arrogance and our superiority.

The Monroe Doctrine was meant to keep Europeans out of Latin America in the wake of regional independence movements from Spain. It was later amplified by Teddy Roosevelt with an eye toward making the US the dominant player in the whole region, in this hemisphere.  It essentially was a doctrine which said you just can’t come in here and colonize without dealing with us, because anything you do in this hemisphere threatens us, and you don’t have carte blanche to do that.  Well, the left says, who the hell do we think we are?  We can’t tell people that.  Screw you.  I mean, we go all over the world, and we conquer and we take what we want. This is what’s taught.

They have no concept that we’re the good guys.  They have no concept that we are liberators, not conquerors.  They have no concept that we spread freedom and self-dependence, self-reliance, self-determination.  We liberate people from tyranny.  They don’t see that.

So this is last November, now.  “At a time when the Middle East, Afghanistan and China monopolize US foreign-policy, Latin America hasn’t received much attention. Until today, that is, when Secretary of State John Kerry declared the expiration of the nearly 200-year old,” Monroe Doctrine.  Kerry said in a speech at the Organization of American States in Washington, “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.”

Well, that is powerful.  When you have the secretary of state, you essentially have the president, saying the Monroe Doctrine is defunct, it’s not applicable any longer. Which means, ladies and gentlemen, in the real world our hemisphere is wide open to anybody who wants to move in, and the ChiComs are.  Do you recall all during the debate on the Keystone pipeline and not long after Obama was immaculated, the stories that he wouldn’t allow any domestic oil exploration. He wouldn’t permit it. He was making more and more off-limits, that we were nevertheless helping and paying Brazil to find oil. That we were helping the ChiComs drill for oil with the Mexicans.

There was even a report that the ChiComs were gonna get in bed with the Cubans and drill for oil 90 miles away from the Keys, all the while we are shutting ours down.  So even before Kerry made it official, this administration had sent the signal that this hemisphere’s wide open. If you want to come in, come on in.  You don’t need to go to the Roman Empire to find out what happens and why societies dissipate.  You just need to look at Cuba.  You just need to look at the Venezuela.  You don’t need to go back and understand what happened to the Roman Empire.

2. Kerry vs. Christian Uganda

persecutingchristiansMeanwhile, this is the kind of thing John Kerry, secretary of state, is worried about.  He is sending homosexual experts to Uganda.  The president of Uganda said some really, really politically incorrect things about homosexuals, and this we can’t tolerate.  Putin can do whatever he wants.  He can take over Ukraine, annex Crimea, make a move on Estonia, and we’ll make sanctions.

But you have president of a foreign country say bad things about homosexuals, and we’re gonna send our secretary of state and experts over there to get your mind right.  That’s what Kerry announced yesterday, and he wanted a bunch of gold stars for it.  This is what he called good foreign policy.  This is direct engagement.  This is exactly what we’re trying to do here.  Now, Uganda is probably the lone Christian country in the world that still has its antiquated attitudes about homosexuality.

But every Muslim country is worse than Uganda, and is John Kerry sending any experts there?  Is John Kerry gonna send any experts to Saudi Arabia to talk to the Wahhabis?  Is he gonna send anybody to Syria?  Is Kerry going to go to Chechnya?  Is Kerry gonna go, say, anywhere where there’s a Muslim government that is even worse when it comes to gays and women?  Nope.  He’s just gonna get that Ugandan president’s mind right

RUSH:  You know, Uganda’s the only Christian country that has homosexuality laws, but there are 10 Muslim countries that are worse. Why doesn’t John Kerry send his experts on homosexuality to any of the Muslim countries to get reversals or get their minds right, hmm?

History: Sin vs. Faith in God, Liberty

Dinner Topics for Monday

Consequences of a Refusal to Recognize Our Creator

by Connor Boyack

keyCan an ungodly society be a free society? Those who do not accept the yoke of Christ, as is readily evident, are led to bear the yoke of Caesar. ~Connor Boyack

Does Sin Cause National Bondage?

This question has kept busy both philosophers and pastors for ages. Whether the bondage of sin correlates to, or causes, the bondage of statism is a subject of significant importance. How necessary, really, is a belief in God?

biblereadmeOf course, a belief in God is rather irrelevant without corresponding behavior; actionable belief, or in other words faith in God, is what’s important. Too often faith is treated with tunnel vision, whereby people only consider its influence on their individual lives. But just as faith can move mountains, it can shape societies—and a lack of it can likewise leave a noticeable imprint.

It takes effort not to notice the many stains on society that surround us—news reports overwhelm us constantly with tales of government corruption, societal scandal, depravity, or corporate malfeasance. In systematic fashion, people use their rights in an irresponsible way or have them violated by others acting wrongfully. All of this stems from a rejection of our Creator.

decofindependence1The Declaration of Independence rightly recognizes that our Creator endowed us with unalienable rights. This acknowledgement of a pre-existing source elevates our rights over the state and suggests their importance. Can we ignore or outright reject this Creator without disregarding the endowments he gave us?

Closing our eyes to God’s role in our lives does not just impact our belief regarding, and attitude towards, our birthright of freedom. Abandoning a Creator-centric philosophy impacts our every action; if a person is not concerned about being judged for his behavior, then the natural course is to proverbially eat, drink, and be merry despite a higher, ignored life calling.

The Protestant traditions that influenced the foundations of the New World recognized the self-moderating nature of this future judgment and pointed to it often. Many philosophers of the time, along with the politicians that learned from them, understood the role of religion and morality in influencing civil government for the better—including restraining the abuse of power. Thus John Adams’ first draft of the Massachusetts Constitution stated that “the knowledge and belief of the being of God… and of a future state of rewards and punishments [are] the only true foundation of morality.”

Corrupt figures both past and present concern themselves primarily with whatever they think they can get away with. They take no thought of God’s approbation of their activity, but instead conceal their crime from their peers. They “seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord” and work “in the dark.” When their scandals are made public they consider themselves “caught,” but even then place little importance on the punishment their Creator may have in store for them.

creationhandsDiminishing our Creator’s role in our lives distorts how we understand, value, and exercise our rights. It also removes this future judgment as a factor in our daily decisions. A person who is considering an immoral action might subconsciously perform a cost-benefit analysis, weighing the pros and cons. Getting caught might entail angering the person’s spouse, jeopardizing employment, or risking social status, fines, or jail time. Pride or simple stupidity might give the person confidence that he can evade detection, increasing the likelihood that the action will be performed.

If this same person had faith in God and placed any sort of importance in His judgment, the Creator’s ever-present knowledge of our activities would surely be a factor in that same cost-benefit analysis. Spouses, friends, co-workers, and reporters may never learn of our behavior, but God sees everything and therefore can hold us accountable. This reality can restrain our individual behavior, but more generally, it “benefits society in a dramatic way when adherents engage in moral conduct because they feel accountable to God.”

President George Washington wrote that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” Benjamin Franklin agreed: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Patrick Henry listed “virtue, morality, and religion” as the “great pillars of all government.” He continued: “This is the armor… and this alone, that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed… so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.”

The reason that many of the studious Founders encouraged faith in God was because they understood this concept: as we alienate ourselves from God, so too do we alienate the liberty He bestowed upon us. Contrary to Cain’s misguided claim, we cannot be free while being evil.

persecutingchristiansThis is not to say that we must all share a common theology, or pay tithes and perform service and otherwise engage in the positive behavior most such religions require. What has long been recognized as important and influential, rather, is an allegiance to God—a recognition of our role as stewards and a belief that we will one day be held accountable.

And it is our deficiency in this regard that has led our society to become as it is; sin has contributed to statism. If we wish to be free, we must understand that a future judgment will hold us accountable for our actions, whether or not those actions are recognized and rewarded or punished by our peers in this life. More importantly, that understanding must lead to self-restraint, personal responsibility, and submission to our King.

Those who do not accept the yoke of Christ, as is readily evident, are led to bear the yoke of Caesar.

Thomas Jefferson: Christian Leadership

Dinner Topics for Friday

The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, Part 4-5

keyI hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4 His Presidency

This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.~C.A. Davidson

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Jefferson’s Presidency

“Though we differ on many points, he displayed an impartiality and a freedom from prejudice that. . .were unusual. There was a mildness and amenity in his voice and manner that at once softened any of the asperities of party spirit that I felt. . .No man can be personally acquainted with Mr. Jefferson and remain his personal enemy.”  (Justice William Paterson of the Supreme Court, one of Jefferson’s most inveterate political opponents p.219)

The tone of Jefferson’s presidency was low key. Believing that American political leaders were aping European royalty too much, he led with a simple style. He never used public funds for his social gatherings.

“A Noiseless Course”

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.” (p.225)

Slander

James Callender, one of the victims of the Sedition Act who was pardoned by President Jefferson, became embittered when he didn’t receive a government post he wanted. He made up a series of scandalous stories, the ugliest of which accused Jefferson of an illicit relationship with Sally Hemings, a young mulatto slave at Monticello.

Federalists, jealous of Jefferson’s popularity, took up these false accusations, creating a relentless torrent of slander. Jefferson made no public response to these unscrupulous attacks. “I should have fancied myself half guilty,” he said, “had I condescended to put pen to paper in refutation to their falsehoods, or drawn to them respect by any notice from myself.” (p230)

In the face of it all, Jefferson defended the right of his countrymen to free press. He remained silent all during the calumny and instructed his cabinet to do the same.

Under the guise of “modern scholarship”, some recent scholars have “brought forth a rash of sensational and poorly researched publications designed to discredit America’s Founding Fathers.  Many of the ‘facts’ [Callender] dished up are known to be false.” (pp231-232)

Douglass Adair, one of the most highly respected historians of our era, concluded after examining all of the evidence on this matter which has now come to light: “Today, it is possible to prove that Jefferson was innocent of Callender’s charges.”

One of the recently discovered documents to which Adair referred was a letter written by the nineteenth-century biographer Henry Randall, recounting a conversation at Monticello between himself and Jefferson’s oldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. In this conversation Randolph confirmed what others close to the family had already disclosed: that Sally Hemings was actually the mistress of Jefferson’s nephew, Peter Carr, and that “their connection . .  . was perfectly notorious at Monticello.” He also pointed out that “there was not the shadow of suspicion that Mr. Jefferson in this or any other instance had commerce with female slaves.” (from essays by Douglass Adair, cited by Allison on p.233)

It is virtually inconceivable that this fastidious gentleman whose devotion to his dead wife’s memory and to the happiness of his daughters and grandchildren bordered on the excessive could have carried on through a period of years a vulgar liaison which his own family could not have failed dot detect. It would be as absurd as to charge this consistently temperate man with being, through a long period, a secret drunkard. (Professor Dumas Malone, author of Pulitzer-Prize-winning six-volume biography of Jefferson p.234)

Jefferson wrote privately that he “feared no injury which any man could do me;. . .I never had done a single act or been concerned in any transaction which I feared to have fully laid open, or which could do me any hurt if truly stated.” (p234)

First Term

1801-1805—Jefferson sent American naval ships to the Mediterranean area, where they were victorious over the Barbary pirates, freeing up trade.

1802—Napoleon was threatening to establish a French empire in the Louisiana territory. Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to solve the situation diplomatically.

1803—The Louisiana Purchase. Almost one million acres were purchased for 15 million dollars, nearly doubling the physical size of the United States.

1804—Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory and reach the west coast

These brilliant public achievements were overshadowed by the personal tragedy of the death of his 26-year-old daughter Mary. He deeply mourned her death, but submitted to the will of God. (He was not an atheist!)  (pp. 240-245)

Second Term

Jefferson was reelected by a large margin.

Native Americans

Jefferson was an enthusiastic student of Indian tribes and sought to provide them with instruction in agricultural and domestic arts. He had good relations with Native Americans. (pp250-253)

Aaron Burr

As Vice President in the first term, Aaron Burr often used his tie-breaking votes to favor Federalists. He was replaced as Vice President by George Clinton.

Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. There were warrants for arrest in New Jersey and New York. He lived out the last few months of his term in disgrace and exile. Burr later became involved in a plot to divide the Union. He was arrested and tried for treason.  (pp255-257)

John Marshall

Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr of treason on technicalities. Federalist judges sought to consolidate all power in hands of the federal government.

Judicial Review (pp259-260)

John Marshall established the concept of “Judicial Review”, enabling the federal courts to void Congressional laws by declaring them unconstitutional.

President Jefferson warned that Judicial Review endangered the separation-of-powers principle.

The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislative and executive also in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch.

Jefferson was urged by his friends to run for a third term, but he declined. He recommended an amendment to the Constitution limiting the President to two terms.

Dinner Talk Topics

1. If our young adults are to restore the culture of liberty, why is it vital we seek truthful history from reliable sources? Watch out for Wikipedia versions of history. Its articles on Jefferson give credence to the slanderous Sally Hemings story. The Real Thomas Jefferson was recommended by Glenn Beck. You can find many sources of historical truth and helpful analysis at his web site.

2. Do you think  today’s “Judicial Review” threatens our liberty? Why?

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom

Part 5

Andrew M. Allison

Dear Reader,

This is the final segment of my notes and quotes from this American Classic. The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, is a character education experience that your children must not miss. Truly, Thomas Jefferson was an exemplary epic hero. Not only is this book easy and interesting reading—it is memorable. Bless your children by reading it together with them. You, and they, will be glad you did. And they will never forget it.

C.A. Davidson

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4: Retirement and Closing Years

Character Education, Thomas-Jefferson-style

Awards for foot races were as follows: three pieces of dried fruit—figs, prunes, or dates—to the victor, two to the second, and one to the lagger who came in last. One of his granddaughters described his method of character education.

He talked with us freely, affectionately, and never lost an opportunity of giving a pleasure or a good lesson. He reproved without wounding us, and commended without making us vain. He took pains to correct our errors and false ideas, checked the bold, encouraged the timid, and tried to teach us to reason soundly and feel rightly. Our smaller follies he treated with good-humored raillery, our graver ones with kind and serious admonition. He was watchful over our manners, and called our attention to every violation of propriety. (Ellen Coolidge, p278-279)

In 1820 he received 1,267 letters. He wrote more letters by his own hand than any other public man that ever lived. An invention  by John Hawkins of Philadelphia called the polygraph preserved 19,000 letters by duplicating them. After 1804 he produced a file copy of almost every letter he wrote. He made several improvements on the polygraph. (p 283)

Dr. Benjamin Rush, a good friend of Jefferson, wrote to both Jefferson and John Adams, urging both men to heal a rift caused by political differences. Both of the former Presidents indicated that they wanted to put aside past disagreements and renew their friendship. Adams said, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” (pp284-285)  The two renewed their friendship and wrote letters for fourteen years.

Monroe Doctrine

1823—Jefferson’s successor,  James Monroe, consulted him about European influence in Latin America, which was widely feared. Said Jefferson, “Our first and fundamental maxim should be never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. From this emerged the Monroe Doctrine. (p287)

Missouri Question

Jefferson very reluctantly accepted Missouri’s entering the union as a slave state, because they threatened to secede.

“I can say, with conscious truth, that there is a not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach [i.e., slavery]in any practicable way.” He maintained hope to his dying day of emancipating the slaves. (p 289)

Visitors to Monticello

Jefferson was so loved that he had thousands of visitors continually for eight months of the year, from all over the world. Although Jefferson welcomed the visitors cheerfully and graciously, they often proved a burden to him and to his daughter Martha, who served as hostess. She would often have to prepare for as many as fifty overnight guests.

People even invaded the halls of his home just to get a look at him. One woman actually punched through a window with her parasol just to get a better view of him.

People would gaze at him point-blank as at a creature in the zoo. “They wanted to tell their children, and have it told to their grandchildren, that they had seen Thomas Jefferson.” (pp290-291)

The accommodation of these visitors, the social events in Washington that he paid from his own pocket, neglect of his plantations during his forty years of public service; his enormous generosity to his grandchildren, to local beggars, and to various charitable organizations, all mounted the great indebtedness he struggled with. One biographer wrote, “His contributions to religious, educational, and charitable objects through his life would have made his old age opulent!” (p 305)

University of Virginia

Jefferson spent the closing years of his life establishing a state university. “He believed that these two great purposes—‘the freedom and happiness of man’—should serve as the polestars of all educational programs throughout the Republic. (p 296)  The university opened in 1825, one year before his death.

I am a Real Christian

Another project of Jefferson was to compile in several languages all the New Testament passages which he understood to be the actual utterances of Jesus Christ. He titled this little book, “the Philosophy of Jesus.”

A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus—very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its Author never said nor saw.(p 299)

Jefferson was reticent on the subject of religion. This caused his political enemies to label him as an atheist. During his presidency, he wrote to Benjamin Rush:

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. (pp 300-301)

Many Americans in the early nineteenth century shared the hope of a re-establishment of the Christian religion in its “original purity” in the United States.

Anticipation of the Restoration of Pure and Original Christianity

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Closing scenes of a noble life

Jefferson and his old friend John Adams passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence—that immortal document which he wrote.

He had desired a private interment, but crowds of neighbors and friends waited at the grave to bid farewell and a last tribute of respect and affection.  The “nation’s newspapers and lecture halls overflowed for months with eulogies to honor America’s champion of liberty.  His countrymen of that day seemed to sense, as we do now, that the world is not likely ever to produce another Thomas Jefferson.”

One American declared eloquently, “The grief that such a man is dead may be well assuaged by the proud consolation that such a man has lived.”  (pp 316-318)

Dinner Talk Topics

1. What comment by Jefferson indicated that he looked forward to a restoration of Christianity in its pure form?

2. Discuss the wisdom of the Monroe Doctrine

3. Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

List principles and actions by Jefferson which exemplified, supported, and perpetuated the Judeo-Christian culture of liberty.

 

Quotes by Thomas Jefferson

Historical Note about Jefferson’s contributions to the Great Seal of the United States

Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

Quotations

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example.

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “

“As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it … It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.”

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Mozilla vs. Liberty, Marriage

Mozilla feels stinging backlash over CEO boot

firefox-300x204Mozilla, the company that operates the web browser Firefox, experienced its highest level of negative customer feedback the day after its embattled co-founder Brendan Eich resigned as CEO after gay rights activists objected to his appointment.

On Thursday, Mozilla forced Eich to resign just two weeks after hiring him. At issue was a $1,000 donation Eich gave in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8, a successful ballot initiative which banned gay marriage.

The decision to remove the man who invented the web scripting language JavaScipt did not sit well with many customers — many of them pelted Mozilla’s website with a surge of negative feedback.

On Friday, 94 percent of the sentiments registered on the site were “sad,” while six percent were “happy.” That translates to about 7,000 negative responses, compared to nearly 500 positive responses.

Continue Reading on dailycaller.com

Thomas Jefferson: Champion of Liberty

jeffersontyrannygovDinner Topics for Thursday

key“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.~Thomas Jefferson

Book Reviews: Thomas Jefferson history

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom, PART 1

Andrew M. Allison

Book Reviews: This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson

C.A. Davidson

Thomas Jefferson rarely spoke in government sessions. He never made a political speech.(p.45) He preferred to remain in the background, but he was famous for his “power of the pen.” He said Congress talks too much, but they are all lawyers, what else do you expect? (pp. 112, 150)

During the deliberations of the House of Burgesses in colonial Virginia, Jefferson declared a day of fasting and prayer to try to resolve issues, but, as usual, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, dissolved their assembly. (p.49)

Legislative work

Property ownership.  In October 1776 he initiated and passed bills to end the custom of “entail”, which means that the oldest son automatically inherits all the property, and other siblings receive nothing.

Voting. In those days people had to own property in order to qualify to vote. That custom was not eliminated, but Jefferson created an extremely low property qualification for voting. He believed that an agrarian society of many small landholders was the safest foundation for a republican government.

Education

He believed that the exercise of political power should be based on knowledge, not ignorance.

Quote: Experience has shown that even under the best forms [of government], those entrusted with power have in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and. . .the most effectual means of preventing this would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large. . . (p.82)

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 2

C.A. Davidson

Diplomacy in France

Architecture

The building in Richmond VA is patterned after a Roman temple in southern France. Jefferson did more than any other man to stimulate classical revival in America. He has been referred to as the “father of our national architecture.” P.129

Life in France 

He was critical of the vain and indolent lifestyle of many women in France, and cautioned Americans against European luxury and dissipation.

Maria Cosway was an English artist whom Jefferson befriended in Paris. Some modern writers have tried to call their relationship a “love affair”, but Jefferson was devoted to his deceased wife. Responsible historians  have demonstrated that “there is absolutely no evidence nor reason to believe that the relation became anything but platonic.” P.133

Although Jefferson did not appreciate the morals of Parisian society, he loved the people and,  greatly appreciating French culture, he enthusiastically took in all he could during his stay there. He was a good friend of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolutionary War. P.135

Constitution

Although Jefferson was not physically present for the writing of the United States Constitution, he was highly influential in the creation of the document. From France he sent Madison 200 volumes on various forms of confederate governments attempted throughout history.

He urged proper division of powers: legislative, executive, and judiciary. He disliked the eligibility of the president to be re-elected indefinitely, and the absence of a bill of rights. pp 139-141

Quote

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example. P. 143

Personal character

He never used tobacco, profanity or playing cards. He gave away much to the poor; deer ate out of his hand.

Several of his inventions are familiar in our era—the swivel chair, revolving table top, folding campstool, adjustable music stand. He appreciated comforts and conveniences. pp 178-186

Andrew M. Allison

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 3 The Election

C.A. Davidson

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

The Alien and Sedition acts brought about the permanent dissolution of the Federalist Party.

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “ p 203

 The Truth about Thomas Jefferson

Attacks by the newspapers—(really no different from media attacks of today. C.D.)

Jefferson did not even campaign for the presidency, but he was so much liked that people nominated him. There were many slanderous attacks against him.

The charge of atheism was the most pressed in this campaign: it was not only made in the public press; it was hurled from pulpits in various places. . .As the story goes, the time was approaching when Bibles were to be hidden in New England’s wells.  Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian, pp. 479, 481

Jefferson chose not to defend himself publicly against the many vulgar accusations. To James Monroe he said, “As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it. . .It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.” Pp 203

Those in public office who choose to hurl personal attacks at their opponents, instead of analyzing the policies and principles involved, should pay attention to these words by Jefferson. (C.D.)

On the day that Jefferson’s election to office was publicized, he visited John Adams.

He was very sensibly affected, and accosted me with these words: “Well, I understand that you are to beat me in this contest, and I will only say that I will be as faithful a subject as any you will have.”

“Mr. Adams,” said I, “this is no personal contest between you and me. Two systems of principles on the subject of government divide our fellow citizens into two parties. With one of these you concur, and I with the other. As we have been longer on the public stage than most of those now living, our names happen to be more generally known. One of these parties, therefore, has put your name at its head, the other mine. Were we both to die today, tomorrow tow other names would be in the place of ours, without any change in the motion of the machinery. Its motion is from its principle, not from you or myself.”

“I believe you are right,” said he, “that we are but passive instruments, and should not suffer this matter to affect our personal dispositions.” (Allison, pp 206-207)

Jefferson was the candidate of the party representing republican principles, and also the choice of the people. Aaron Burr was the choice of the Federalist Party. The vote was taken by states, not delegates. The states were equally divided between the Republican and Federalist parties.  Congress was deadlocked for an entire week and for more than thirty ballots. Finally the deadlock was broken on the 36th ballot by James A. Bayard of Delaware, who was the only delegate from his state, Delaware. (p.212)

This procedural problem was corrected by the 12th amendment to the Constitution.(p.207)

Dinner Talk Topics

1. Compare the events of Jefferson’s election to the political scene in our day.

2. In Jefferson’s time the press (today called the media) was irresponsible in its reporting. Do you find similarities in media reporting today? Which media sources do you think are responsible and truthful?