Christian Books: CS Lewis, and Mere Christianity

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyExpert Children’s Book Reviewers tell us there is a great dearth of good literature for children and young adults. They are not being taught about God in schools, or even the Universal Morality that Lewis refers to. If we want our children to have good character, which is founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, we need to teach them ourselves. C S Lewis’ work  will bless families for generations to come.  Let’s start today to strengthen our families—turn off the TV and reach for these timeless classics.  ~C A Davidson

Related post on moral compass

From Wikipedia

C.S._Lewis,_BelfastClive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly called C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack”, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, Ireland, he held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 1925–1954, and Cambridge University (Magdalene College), 1954–1963. He is best known both for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and both were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings“. According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptized in the Church of Ireland (part of the Anglican Communion) at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England“.[1] His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

In 1956, he married the American writer Joy Davidman, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45. Lewis died three years after his wife, from renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal; he died on 22 November 1963—the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis will be honoured with a memorial in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.

Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularized on stage, TV, radio, and cinema.

Christian apologist

In addition to his career as an English professor and an author of fiction, Lewis is regarded by many as one of the most influential Christian apologists of his time; Mere Christianity was voted best book of the twentieth century by Christianity Today in 2000.[58] Due to Lewis’s approach to religious belief as a sceptic, and his following conversion, he has been called “The Apostle to the Skeptics.”

Lewis was very interested in presenting a reasonable case for Christianity. Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles were all concerned, to one degree or another, with refuting popular objections to Christianity, such as “How could a good God allow pain to exist in the world?”. He also became known as a popular lecturer and broadcaster, and some of his writing (including much of Mere Christianity) originated as scripts for radio talks or lectures.[59][page needed]

According to George Sayer, losing a 1948 debate with Elizabeth Anscombe, also a Christian, led Lewis to reevaluate his role as an apologist, and his future works concentrated on devotional literature and children’s books.[60] Anscombe, however, had a completely different recollection of the debate’s outcome and its emotional effect on Lewis.[60] Victor Reppert also disputes Sayer, listing some of Lewis’s post-1948 apologetic publications, including the second and revised edition of his Miracles in 1960, in which Lewis addressed Anscombe’s criticism.[61] Noteworthy too is Roger Teichman’s suggestion in The Philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe[62][page needed] that the intellectual impact of Anscombe’s paper on Lewis’s philosophical self-confidence should not be overrated: “… it seems unlikely that he felt as irretrievably crushed as some of his acquaintances have made out; the episode is probably an inflated legend, in the same category as the affair of Wittgenstein’s poker. Certainly Anscombe herself believed that Lewis’s argument, though flawed, was getting at something very important; she thought that this came out more in the improved version of it that Lewis presented in a subsequent edition of Miracles – though that version also had ‘much to criticize in it’.”

Lewis also wrote an autobiography titled Surprised by Joy, which places special emphasis on his own conversion. (It was written before he met his wife, Joy Gresham; the title of the book came from the first line of a poem by William Wordsworth.) His essays and public speeches on Christian belief, many of which were collected in God in the Dock and The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, remain popular today.

His most famous works, the Chronicles of Narnia, contain many strong Christian messages and are often considered allegory. Lewis, an expert on the subject of allegory, maintained that the books were not allegory, and preferred to call the Christian aspects of them “suppositional“. As Lewis wrote in a letter to a Mrs. Hook in December 1958:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim’s Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?’ This is not allegory at all.[63]

“Trilemma”

Main article: Lewis’s trilemma

In a much-cited passage from Mere Christianity, Lewis challenged the view that Jesus, although a great moral teacher, was not God. He argued that Jesus made several implicit claims to divinity, which would logically exclude this:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[64]

This argument, which Lewis did not invent but developed and popularized, is sometimes referred to as “Lewis’s trilemma“. It has been used by the Christian apologist Josh McDowell in his book More Than a Carpenter (McDowell 2001). Although widely repeated in Christian apologetic literature, it has been largely ignored by professional theologians and biblical scholars.[65]

Lewis’s Christian apologetics, and this argument in particular, have been criticized. Philosopher John Beversluis described Lewis’s arguments as “textually careless and theologically unreliable,”[66] and this particular argument as logically unsound and an example of false dilemma.[67] Theologian John Hick argues that New Testament scholars do not now support the view that Jesus claimed to be God,[68] New Testament scholar N. T. Wright criticizes Lewis for failing to recognize the significance of Jesus’ Jewish identity and setting – an oversight which “at best, drastically short-circuits the argument” and which lays Lewis open to criticism that his argument “doesn’t work as history, and it backfires dangerously when historical critics question his reading of the gospels,” although he believes this “doesn’t undermine the eventual claim.” [69]

Lewis used a similar argument in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when Digory Kirke advises the young heroes that their sister’s claims of a magical world must logically be taken as either lies, madness, or truth.[61]

Universal morality

right-wrongsignOne of the main theses in Lewis’s apologia is that there is a common morality known throughout humanity. In the first five chapters of Mere Christianity Lewis discusses the idea that people have a standard of behaviour to which they expect people to adhere. This standard has been called Universal Morality or Natural Law. Lewis claims that people all over the earth know what this law is and when they break it. He goes on to claim that there must be someone or something behind such a universal set of principles.[70]

These then are the two points that I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in.[71]

Lewis also portrays Universal Morality in his works of fiction. In The Chronicles of Narnia he describes Universal Morality as the “deep magic” which everyone knew.[72]

In the second chapter of Mere Christianity Lewis recognizes that “many people find it difficult to understand what this Law of Human Nature … is”. And he responds first to the idea “that the Moral Law is simply our herd instinct” and second to the idea “that the Moral Law is simply a social convention”. In responding to the second idea Lewis notes that people often complain that one set of moral ideas is better than another, but that this actually argues for there existing some “Real Morality” to which they are comparing other moralities. Finally he notes that sometimes differences in moral codes are exaggerated by people who confuse differences in beliefs about morality with differences in beliefs about facts:

I have met people who exaggerate the differences, because they have not distinguished between differences of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, “Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?” But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did – if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbours or drive them mad or bring bad weather, surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did. There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house.[73]

Lewis also had fairly progressive views on the topic of “animal morality”, in particular the suffering of animals, as is evidenced by several of his essays: most notably, On Vivisection[74] and “On the Pains of Animals.”[75][76]

Legacy

Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.[77] Readers of his fiction are often unaware of what Lewis considered the Christian themes of his works. His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations.[78] In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis will join some of Britain’s greatest writers recognized at Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey.[79]

Lewis has been the subject of several biographies, a few of which were written by close friends, such as Roger Lancelyn Green and George Sayer. In 1985 the screenplay Shadowlands by William Nicholson, dramatising Lewis’s life and relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, was aired on British television, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne in 1989, and made into the 1993 feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 2005, a one-hour television movie entitled C. S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, starring Anton Rodgers, provided a general synopsis of Lewis’s life.

Read more about C.S. Lewis

 

Advertisements

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

History Facts vs. Censorship of Thanksgiving History

Why the Pilgrims matter

Jordan Chamblee

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

Painting above, The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscomb, 1914

November 2016 – Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and all the trimmings. It’s almost here – the national holiday America takes pride in, and one that is intricately woven into the very fabric of American identity. But in recent generations, it seems the substance of the holiday has been watered down or replaced altogether in order to appease perceived social sensitivities.

In general, public school students are taught an entirely different Thanksgiving narrative than the one their grandparents grew up understanding. In today’s progressive version, the Pilgrims are no longer staunchly faithful pillars of Christian ideals, nor are the Wampanoag natives helpful and willing friends of the Pilgrims in times of trouble.

Stephen McDowell, president of Providence Foundation and prolific author, speaks to this decline in honesty and watering down of the true story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

censhorship-1st-amendmentAFAJ: What is the greatest threat today to the truth about the Pilgrims and their history?
McDowell: While some books and educators directly lie about the Pilgrims and their primary Christian motive for starting a new colony in America, the greatest threat to the truth about their story is what is left out when their story is told.

Revisionist history gives a false picture of these devoted Christians. For example, one elementary public school textbook gives 30 pages to present the story of the Pilgrims without once [making] any reference to religion; thus at the end of [the Pilgrims’] first year, they “wanted to give thanks for all they had.” But there is no mention it was God they were thanking.

Teaching about the Pilgrims without referencing God causes people to think that Christianity was not important to them. Revisionist history is a primary reason for the secularization of America. People are taught our history without mentioning Christianity, or if it is cited, it is often presented in a negative light, when in reality it is the most important influence in the birth, growth, and development of the nation.

AFAJ: Why do some contemporary educators revise U.S. history, particularly the story of Thanksgiving?
McDowell: Most teachers in our schools today are ignorant of the true story of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. They never learned it in school and few search out primary source documents so as to get to know the Pilgrims via their own writings.

William Bradford

William Bradford

William Bradford, governor of the Pilgrims for 33 years, wrote their history – Of Plimoth Plantation – which is one of the great historical and literary works of all American history, but few teachers have even heard of it, much less read it. You only need to read a few pages to see the sincere and deep faith of these men and women who served as “stepping stones” for those who would follow.

Some educators who know the history yet ignore it, evaluate the Pilgrims through their own secular bias – that is, the Pilgrims may have had a deep faith, but God is a construction of the human mind and consequently is not relevant, so they do not need to mention God when recounting their story. Or they have such a dislike for God that they do not want to give Him any place in history.

AFAJ: Why is it important that we remember and pass on the truth about the Pilgrims?
McDowell: The Pilgrims’ story teaches us many lessons. We learn of the great sacrifice they paid to exercise their freedom of religion and to plant the early seeds of our nation. Half of them died the first winter after arriving at Plymouth, and most of the others suffered from sickness and hunger. At one time, only six or seven could get out of bed, but they toiled night and day to assist their brethren.

In the words of Bradford they “fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed their meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, they did all the homely and necessary offices for them which queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named – and this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least.” Their care for one another reveals their Christian character and practical love, “a rare example and worthy to be remembered.”

Their motive to spread the gospel is evident from Bradford’s words (which are inscribed on his monument in Plymouth): “A great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.”

Mayflower-compact-hero2-AThe Mayflower Compact, a document the Pilgrims drafted and signed before going ashore, shows their ability to reason biblically regarding civil affairs: “Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith … [we] do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic.”

Learning the unique covenant nature of our founding political documents is an important lesson in understanding why America was founded as the freest nation in history.

AFAJ: What is the most important aspect of the Thanksgiving story that parents can teach their children?
pilgrimprayingresizeMcDowell: The most important thing parents can teach their children about the Thanksgiving story is the most obvious: We call it Thanksgiving for a reason. Our Pilgrim forefathers, who are reflective of most of the founders of America, were firmly devoted to Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ. In recognition of His gracious hand upon them, they set aside regular public days to give thanks and glorify Him.

This was not done merely once or twice but regularly throughout their entire lifetime. They set an example that was followed by those who came after them, even up until today. Throughout most of our history, Americans understood thanksgiving days were to thank God. The Pilgrims’ love and devotion to God, and their reliance upon Him in abundance and lack, are evidenced not only by their private lives but also by their public days of thanksgiving.

McDowell recommends:
Of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford
Available at online and retail booksellers
Monumental, Restoring America as the Land of Liberty by Stephen McDowell
Available at providencefoundation.com
America’s Providential History by Stephen McDowell
Monumental, documentary DVD hosted by Kirk Cameron
Available at afastore.net or 877–927–4917

Culture Wars: Trump Accomplishments restore Patriotism, Judeo-Christian Culture in America

Culture Wars:

Trump Accomplishments restore Patriotism,  Judeo-Christian Culture in America

“I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph. So, together, let us all fight . . . for family, for freedom, for country, and for God. Freedom isn’t a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God. ~President Donald Trump

Trump Restores the America Tocqueville Saw

Rush Limbaugh

Jean Yarbrough [article on Trump and Tocqueville] is saying that what really is happening here since Trump was inaugurated — it began during the campaign — is that Americans are once again demonstrating the capacity to govern themselves both directly and through elected representatives. In other words, Americans are now turning away from government as nanny, government as Santa Claus. Now, not everybody, obviously. There are still a lot of people that hate Trump.

But we’re talking about a trend here, and what Ms. Yarbrough is actually getting at is an explanation of why Trump is succeeding and why nobody can separate his supporters from him, and what that means in terms of what’s happening in America. It’s ultimately all good that Americans, a number of Americans (enough to win a presidential election) are turning away from the idea that every problem in life must be and can only be solved by government, that people are grabbing hold of their own lives again.

They are utilizing self-determination, which is causing a rising instance of confidence in a burgeoning number of Americans, a rising amount of satisfaction with their lives because there is much more control over those lives being exercised by people who are living them, as opposed to anointed administrative state people in bureaucracies in a far-away and distant capital. This is what she thinks is happening.

America Founded on Christianity

She writes, “Tocqueville had been struck by Americans’ love of country.” He hadn’t seen that anywhere else in the world: Love of country. As such, Tocqueville “would not be surprised by the appeal of Trump’s full-throated patriotism, especially when set against his critics’ championing of multiculturalism and globalization. For Tocqueville, national identity was bound up with religion, which, in the United States and in Europe, meant Christianity.”

Tocqueville said that that was the foundational base of the greatness of America — and don’t forget the First Amendment. People talk about freedom of speech and so forth. The freedom of religion clause is why our founders fled Europe. They were denied the ability to worship as they pleased. It’s why the Pilgrims came and began it all. And when America, as constituted began to grow with that as the foundation, there was no stopping its greatness.

Christianity an Obstacle to Democrat Goals

Because of the virtue and the morality that were contained inside of everyone’s religious beliefs. And this is what Tocqueville was literally blown away by. He had not seen it anywhere in the world. “Long before the 2016 presidential election, though, Democrats had clearly come to regard Christianity as an obstacle to their goals.” Now, why do you think that is? ‘Cause I think she’s right.

Why would Democrats think Christianity is an obstacle to their goals? Because it all relies on who is God. They want government to be God. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s not to be flippant. They will never say it. You have to ascertain this by looking at the way they live and what they consider to be inviolate. You cannot violate the tenets of climate change, for example. You cannot violate the tenets of much of their beliefs. Their beliefs are their religion. But Christians of course look to the God of creation, the God of the Bible.

So there’s a competing God, and the Democrats and leftists everywhere, not just in America, leftists everywhere, communists especially need to wipe out God, the God of the Bible, because there can only be one God, and that will be the state. The old Soviets had all kinds of games they played with young kids to prove there was no God. And one of the simplest things they would do in a class of a bunch of sixth graders or the equivalent, first graders, too, bring in two potted plants.

One of them they would ignore for a period of a week or so. The other they would water and nurture and care for, and they said the one they were ignoring they were leaving it up to God to protect and grow. And of course that flower, that plant died. It withered away. But the other potted plant grew and flowered and bloomed, and so the little kids were shown that there was no God. And if there was a God, look at how he didn’t care about that poor plant. If he didn’t care about that plant, he probably doesn’t care about me. But my state cares about that plant.

It was this kind of subtle and if that didn’t take, it wasn’t so subtle, psychological games that were played. And it’s always been one of the fundamental differences between — well, not always. The Democrat Party’s abrogation of God of the Bible is, in terms of our founding, somewhat recent. Meaning in the last 50 to 75 years.

“Trump’s campaign promise,” she writes here, “to ‘drain the swamp’ — by which he meant scaling back the administrative state that had risen up alongside America’s three constitutional branches of government — can be understood as an application of great-party principles. It represented an attempt to limit the power of government’s unaccountable, irremovable, and self-interested bureaucrats.”

City-Journal: Trump—and Tocqueville? For All His Bluster, the President has Championed Values that Built America, as Tocqueville Saw It – Jean M. Yarbrough

Trump Restores the America Tocqueville Saw

History Heroes: Columbus and the Israel Connection

Dinner Topics for Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus—the History Hero who revived Judeo-Christian heritage in America

History Facts

Columbus and the Connection to house of Israel

keyLittle known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ.

Columbus Day, October 12, has been observed as an official U.S. holiday since 1934. The year 1992, marked the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World.

columbus5Since then, many of the epic stories that make up our great American history have been purged from the schools. The rising generation is growing to adulthood with little or no knowledge of their rich heritage of liberty and their Judeo-Christian roots. October 12, if observed, no longer has much to do with the far-reaching significance of Columbus’ discovery. Like the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, Columbus Day is being overshadowed these days by the new state religion: Islam.

Even those who did study some basic history during the 20th century, however, did not have the opportunity to know the epic hero who was Christopher Columbus. Little known is the fact that Columbus may have been a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and that he sought to gather the lost tribes of Israel to the fold of Jesus Christ. Following are excerpts from an article by Shirley Heater which documents inspiring facts about this nearly-forgotten hero. Truly this is a story to save in your personal “Treasury of Epic Stories”, to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Christopher Columbus: Man of Vision and Faith

by Shirley R. Heater

Was the discovery made by accident, or was Columbus led by God? The Book of Mormon says he was led by the Holy Spirit, and now we have confirmation of this in Columbus’s own words, as well as additional new insights. An authentic Columbus manuscript has gone virtually unexamined until recent years. In Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, translated into English in 1991, he provides his own answers about Divine influence in his accomplishments.
Christopher Columbus, as he is known to English speakers, was born Christopher Colombo in the seaport of Genoa, Italy, in 1451.
His sailing career began when he was about 13 or 14 years old. He became a skilled seaman and navigator on merchant ships which traveled the Mediterranean Sea. In 1476, he joined his brother Bartholomew in the Portugal city of Lisbon, where they worked together on map-making. His Portuguese name was Cristovao Colom.

During his eight years in Lisbon, Columbus expanded his sailing experience into the Atlantic Ocean. He married, became the father of a son, Diego, and shortly thereafter was widowed. It was also during this period that his “vision” of sailing to new lands and saving lost souls germinated. He sought backing for his proposed venture from King John II of Portugal who turned him down.

columbusreachesamerica2Undaunted, he went to the port city of Palos de la Frontera in Spain, taking his young son with him. They were befriended by the friars of the monastery at La Rabida and then at Las Cuevas in Seville, who embraced and encouraged his ideas. His name took on the Spanish form, Cristobal Colon.

The magnitude of his intended enterprise soon opened the doors to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Their interest did not wane even though other matters kept them from following through with their approval for seven years.

During that prolonged period, he made his home in Cordoba (Cordova) where he met a young woman who became the mother of his second son, Ferdinand. [Note: He is still known throughout the Spanish-speaking world as Cristobal Colon Christopher Columbus, the English form, comes to us by way of the early colonists. Whatever the version of his name–Cristoforo, Cristovao, Cristobal or Christopher–the meaning is the same: “Christ bearer” (Sale 1990: 254n)].

Isaiah and the Isles of the Sea
 
Columbus and Nephi [from the Book of Mormon] had special regard for Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet most often quoted or referred to in both Columbus’s Book of Prophecies and the Book of Mormon. More intriguing is the fact that Nephi and Columbus selected the same portions of Isaiah and that each saw himself fulfilling those prophecies.

The Book of Mormon identifies the seed of Lehi as a remnant, a branch broken off which will be restored to the knowledge of their covenant and their Redeemer (e.g., 1 Nephi 4:15-17). Nephi and his brother, Jacob, are the only Book of Mormon writers who crossed the ocean, and they uniquely view their promised land as an island. Nephi, who delighted in the words of Isaiah (2 Nephi 11:8), “likened” them to his people (2 Nephi 8:3) in their literal fulfillment.
When Columbus was led to the “isles of the sea,” the door was opened to the lands occupied by the remnant of the Book of Mormon people. This set events in motion for the eventual restoration of the knowledge of the covenants.

columbuslandingLost Tribes and Other Sheep

Through Columbus’s writings, it is obvious that he fully expected to find the lost tribes of Israel (Wiesenthal 1973:61). He saw himself as “Christ-bearer” (the meaning of his name Christopher), God’s messenger to bring a knowledge of the Savior to the lost tribes
Particularly noteworthy is Columbus’s inclusion of John 10:16 in his Book of Prophecies: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen [fold], and I must bring them also; they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (Brigham 1991:264-265). It is with great foresight that he believed that the “flock” would not just be “Israel after the flesh” but that a “spiritual Israel” would be formed of all who would come to Christ (208-209).

When Jesus visited Lehi’s descendants, he told them that they were the other sheep of which he had spoken and that he had still other sheep (3 Nephi 7:20, 24-26). He also told them that those Gentiles who repented would also be numbered among his people (v. 37). There are specific promises in the Book of Mormon to restore the Lamanites to “the knowledge of their Redeemer, … and be numbered among his sheep” which are yet to be fulfilled (Helaman 5:104). This restoration was set in motion when Columbus was led to the New World, followed by Gentiles who brought the “record of the Jews” 0 Nephi 3:155-161). It will culminate when they receive the Book of Mormon and the two books “grow together” (2 Nephi 2:17-23).

The Jewish Connection 

columbuslandsWas Columbus Jewish? There are several proponents of Columbus’s Jewish heritage, with varying viewpoints. Some believe “What there is abundant circumstantial evidence that Columbus was of a Jewish background, at least on one side of the family” (Fuson 1987:16).
The description of Columbus in the Book of Mormon as “a man among the Gentiles” could be interpreted either as a Jew or a Gentile (1 Nephi 3:145).

Columbus is seen either as a converso, a converted Jew (Madariaga 1949:54-65,119-135), or a marrano, a professing Christian who was still a secretly-practicing Jew (Wiesenthal 1973:124-133). Whether or not he was of Jewish ancestry is an interesting proposition. Columbus’s writings are abundantly interwoven with professions of faith and belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior (Brigham 1991:179-181), and he affirms his faith in a letter to the king and queen of Spain (182-183):

Columbus’s mission was permeated with a “Jewish flavor.” Many Jews supported his venture, providing maps, instruments and finances. Many crew members are believed to have been Jewish. In anticipation of finding the lost tribes on his first voyage, Columbus took along a converso, Luis de Torres, an experienced interpreter who “knew how to speak Hebrew, Chaldean, and even some Arabic” (Fusan 1987:100-101).

columbusUpon arrival in the New World, Hebrew was probably spoken in an attempt to communicate with the natives. In the log of his first voyage, Columbus linked the beginning of his voyage to America (early morning of August 3rd) and the expulsion of all professing Jews from Spain (effective at midnight of August 2nd) (Fusan 1987:52). The Jewish people were hopeful of finding a new place of refuge (Wiesenthal 1973:88). The New World was to become a haven for Jews and a new promised land. In fact, the first refugees came in the late fifteenth century; many were marranos (Sachar 1992:10).

Columbus also desired to free Jerusalem from the Muslims and restore the Holy Land to the Church. This could only be financed by discovering new lands and gathering enough gold, silver and precious stones (Fusan 1987:34). However, he knew that his desire to bring freedom to the people of the Old Testament could ultimately come only through their conversion to Jesus Christ.

Part 2: Columbus, Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit

Gospel Teachings: Sabbath Worship, Discipleship, and Small Acts of Faith

Gospel Teachings:

Sabbath Worship, Discipleship, and Small Acts of Faith

Sabbath Worship Drop by Drop

By Ariel Szuch

Sometimes when the topic “keeping the Sabbath day holy” comes up in church, I squirm in my chair a little. There has been a lot of emphasis placed on the Sabbath day lately, and I know it’s not meant to be guilt-inducing, but sometimes I can’t help but think, Here we go. Another way I’m not measuring up to expectations. After all, I don’t always make it to church on time. I don’t always feel like my focus is in the right place ALL DAY LONG. I don’t always feel the Spirit super strongly at church. And I may or may not doze off for a few minutes in sacrament meeting about every other Sunday.

It can be easy to feel like we’re falling short on keeping the Sabbath day holy when not all of our Sundays look like the picture-perfect, peaceful, restful, Spirit-filled day we have in our heads as the standard. I know I can get it in my head sometimes that truly keeping the Sabbath day holy requires colossal effort—everything has to be clean, I always have to be well-rested, I need to have “holy thoughts” the full 24 hours, I should read my scriptures for at least an hour, and so on.

But I don’t have to do that. And neither do you.

Heaping high (and honestly, often arbitrary) expectations on ourselves for keeping the Sabbath day holy—or keeping any other commandment—beyond what God and our leaders have counseled us to do weighs us down and robs us of the joy of obedience. The Lord’s pattern does not center on massive efforts powered only by our own sheer grit and determination. Rather, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise” (Alma 37:6). Just like it does to keeping every commandment, this principle applies to keeping the Sabbath day holy as well.

Drops of Holiness

Instead of these huge efforts, I have found it helpful to think of my Sabbath day worship as filling a lamp—one that needs oil to burn, like in the parable of the ten virgins. Drops of holiness, if you will, that accumulate week after week and year after year. Thinking about what I’m grateful for in the shower while getting ready? Drop. Taking three minutes to read over the sacrament prayers before church? Drop. Saying a prayer of gratitude for the Savior as I take the sacrament? Drop. Drops of holiness are small, simple things that fuel the flame of my faith in Jesus Christ and my desire to turn my heart toward Him on the Sabbath day, and every effort counts.

On a recent Sunday, I walked into church after missing sacrament meeting the Sunday before. As I came through the doors, I felt a little rush of anticipation, and it hit me—I’ve missed this. I had missed the opportunity to add oil to my lamp, to fill up my spiritual tank. Looking back over the previous week, I could tell that my spiritual reserves had been low. I hadn’t handled stress as well and had been quicker to get frustrated and take offense. Coming back to church was like getting a drink and realizing how thirsty I had been, and I could feel the warm welcome of the Spirit envelop me.

As I reflected, feeling a little guilty for missing the previous week, I thought about how the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy gives God an opportunity to bless us. He doesn’t give us commandments to set us up for failure, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to punish us if we fall short of perfection. Instead, the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy gives us an opportunity every week—drop by drop—for our entire lives to practice turning toward Him and becoming like Him. Each effort, regardless of perceived past failures, is rejoiced in by a loving Heavenly Father. With that realization, taking the sacrament was especially sweet that week.

The Sabbath is a day to listen to God’s voice, not the voices in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough and we’re not measuring up. We offer up our little part, our small drops of oil, each week, knowing that God accepts even the smallest effort to turn toward Him. The sacrament cup is a beautiful reminder of that. Jesus drank the entire bitter cup, paying the price for our sins, pains, and sorrows so we can return to God’s presence. He didn’t do it to shame us into obedience (“Look how much I did for you! Quit whining and shape up!”). Instead, all He desires is for us to drink our little cup—to do our small, day-to-day and week-to-week efforts to keep the commandments and keep the Sabbath day holy—with gratitude, knowing that in the end, it is His efforts that make everything possible.

Mother Theresa: Christian Service

Dinner Topics for Monday

keyAlways give without remembering; always receive without forgetting. ~Brian Tracy

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany

MotherTeresa_094Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta,[1] born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (Albanian: [aˈɲɛs ˈɡɔɲdʒa bɔjaˈdʒiu]) and commonly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was an Albanian-born Indian Roman Catholic nun. “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”[2] In late 2003, she was beatified, the third step toward possible sainthood. A second miracle credited to Mother Teresa is required before she can be recognized as a saint by the Catholic church.[3][4]Mother Teresa was very fluent in speaking Bengali, the local language of the people of Calcutta(Kolkata).[5]

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries. Members of the order must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give “Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor”. The Missionaries of Charity at the time of her death had 610 missions in 123 countries including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counselling programmes, orphanages and schools.

For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Her beatification by Pope John Paul II following her death gave her the title “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”.

She was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192,000 funds be given to the poor in India. Her awards include the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize, the Philippines-based Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Pacem in Terris Award, an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia, the Order of Merit from both the United Kingdom and the United States, Albania’s Golden Honour of the Nation, honorary degrees, the Balzan Prize, and the Albert Schweitzer International Prize amongst many others.

Mother Teresa stated that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world’s needy. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered “Go home and love your family.” In her Nobel Lecture, she said: “Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society-that poverty is so hurtable [sic] and so much, and I find that very difficult.” She also singled out abortion as ‘the greatest destroyer of peace in the world’.

During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was named 18 times in the yearly Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll‎ as one of the ten women around the world that Americans admired most. In 1999, a poll of Americans ranked her first in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In that survey, she out-polled all other volunteered answers by a wide margin, and was in first place in all major demographic categories except the very young.

Continued

History Heroes: Amazing Grace, Liberty and Slavery

Dinner Topics for Thursday

wilberforceAmazing Grace: William Wilberforce

If you have not seen the movie “Amazing Grace” by Walden Media, I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful portrayal of Wilberforce’s heroic achievement. Note that his law made slave trade in Britain illegal, but total emancipation in the United States was not achieved until January 1, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, after the United States fought a bitter civil war over this issue.

~C.A. Davidson

Wilberforce headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780, eventually becoming the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.

 

In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt.

 

Conversion

In February 1785, Wilberforce returned to the United Kingdom temporarily, to support Pitt’s proposals for parliamentary reforms. He rejoined the party in Genoa, Italy, from where they continued their tour to Switzerland. Milner accompanied Wilberforce to England, and on the journey they read The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul by Philip Doddridge, a leading early 18th-century English nonconformist.[36]

Wilberforce’s spiritual journey is thought to have begun at this time. He started to rise early to read the Bible and pray and kept a private journal.[37] He underwent an evangelical conversion, regretting his past life and resolving to commit his future life and work to the service of God.[7] His conversion changed some of his habits but not his nature: he remained outwardly cheerful, interested, and respectful, tactfully urging others towards his new faith.[38] Inwardly, he underwent an agonising struggle and became relentlessly self-critical, harshly judging his spirituality, use of time, vanity, self-control, and relationships with others.[39]

At the time religious enthusiasm was generally regarded as a social transgression and was stigmatised in polite society. Evangelicals in the upper classes, such as Sir Richard Hill, the Methodist MP for Shropshire, and Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon were exposed to contempt and ridicule,[40] and Wilberforce’s conversion led him to question whether he should remain in public life. Wilberforce sought guidance from John Newton, a leading Evangelical Anglican clergyman of the day and Rector of St Mary Woolnoth in the City of London.[41][42] Both Newton and Pitt counselled Wilberforce to remain in politics, and he resolved to do so “with increased diligence and conscientiousness”.[7] Thereafter, his political views were informed by his faith and by his desire to promote Christianity and Christian ethics in private and public life.[43][44] His views were often deeply conservative, opposed to radical changes in a God-given political and social order, and focused on issues such as the observance of the Sabbath and the eradication of immorality through education and reform.[45] As a result, he was often distrusted by progressive voices because of his conservatism, and regarded with suspicion by many Tories who saw Evangelicals as radicals, bent on the overthrow of church and state.[24]

Abolition of the slave trade

Initial decision

The British initially became involved in the slave trade during the 16th century. By 1783, the triangular route that took British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then brought slave-grown products such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, represented about 80 percent of Great Britain’s foreign income.[49][50] British ships dominated the trade, supplying French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and British colonies, and in peak years carried forty thousand enslaved men, women and children across the Atlantic in the horrific conditions of the middle passage.[51] Of the estimated 11 million Africans transported into slavery, about 1.4 million died during the voyage.[52]

The British campaign to abolish the slave trade is generally considered to have begun in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers‘ antislavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783.[53][54] The same year, Wilberforce, while dining with his old Cambridge friend Gerard Edwards,[55] met Rev. James Ramsay, a ship’s surgeon who had become a clergyman on the island of St Christopher (later St Kitts) in the Leeward Islands, and a medical supervisor of the plantations there. What Ramsay had witnessed of the conditions endured by the slaves, both at sea and on the plantations, horrified him. Returning to England after fifteen years, he accepted the living of Teston, Kent in 1781, and there met Sir Charles Middleton, Lady Middleton, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More and others, a group that later became known as the Testonites.[56] Interested in promoting Christianity and moral improvement in Britain and overseas, they were appalled by Ramsay’s reports of the depraved lifestyles of slave owners, the cruel treatment meted out to the enslaved, and the lack of Christian instruction provided to the slaves.[57] With their encouragement and help, Ramsay spent three years writing An essay on the treatment and conversion of African slaves in the British sugar colonies, which was highly critical of slavery in the West Indies. The book, published in 1784, was to have an important impact in raising public awareness and interest, and it excited the ire of West Indian planters who in the coming years attacked both Ramsay and his ideas in a series of pro-slavery tracts.[58]

In early 1787, Thomas Clarkson, a fellow graduate of St John’s, Cambridge, who had become convinced of the need to end the slave trade after writing a prize-winning essay on the subject while at Cambridge,[56] called upon Wilberforce at Old Palace Yard with a published copy of the work.[63][64] This was the first time the two men had met; their collaboration would last nearly fifty years.[65][66] Clarkson began to visit Wilberforce on a weekly basis, bringing first-hand evidence [67] he had obtained about the slave trade.[65] The Quakers, already working for abolition, also recognised the need for influence within Parliament, and urged Clarkson to secure a commitment from Wilberforce to bring forward the case for abolition in the House of Commons.[68][69]

Following Pitt’s death in January 1806 Wilberforce began to collaborate more with the Whigs, especially the abolitionists. He gave general support to the Grenville-Fox administration, which brought more abolitionists into the cabinet; Wilberforce and Charles Fox led the campaign in the House of Commons, while Lord Grenville advocated the cause in the House of Lords.[118][139]

Lord Grenville, the Prime Minister, was determined to introduce an Abolition Bill in the House of Lords rather than in the House of Commons, taking it through its greatest challenge first.[147] When a final vote was taken, the bill was passed in the House of Lords by a large margin.[149] Sensing a breakthrough that had been long anticipated, Charles Grey moved for a second reading in the Commons on 23 February 1807. As tributes were made to Wilberforce, whose face streamed with tears, the bill was carried by 283 votes to 16.[144][150] Excited supporters suggested taking advantage of the large majority to seek the abolition of slavery itself but Wilberforce made it clear that total emancipation was not the immediate goal: “They had for the present no object immediately before them, but that of putting stop directly to the carrying of men in British ships to be sold as slaves.”[151] The Slave Trade Act received the Royal Assent on 25 March 1807.

Continued

Gospel Teachings: Foundation of Faith

Gospel Teachings:

Foundation of Faith

Foundation of Faith

By Quentin L. Cook

My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If there is one preeminent objective of general conference, it is to build faith in God the Father and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

My remarks address the foundations of that faith.

Personal foundations, like many worthwhile pursuits, are usually built slowly—one layer, one experience, one challenge, one setback, and one success at a time. A most cherished physical experience is a baby’s first steps. It is magnificent to behold. The precious look on the face—a combination of determination, joy, surprise, and accomplishment—is truly a seminal event.

In our family, there is one event of a similar nature that stands out. When our youngest son was about four years old, he came into the house and gleefully announced to the family with great pride: “I can do everything now. I can tie, I can ride, and I can zip.” We understood he was telling us that he could tie his shoes, he could ride his Big Wheel tricycle, and he could zip his coat. We all laughed but realized that for him they were monumental achievements. He thought he had truly arrived and was grown up.

Physical, mental, and spiritual development have much in common. Physical development is fairly easy to see. We begin with baby steps and progress day by day, year by year, growing and developing to attain our ultimate physical stature. Development is different for each person.

When we watch a great athletic or musical performance, we often say that the person is very gifted, which is usually true. But the performance is based upon years of preparation and practice. One well-known writer, Malcolm Gladwell, has called this the 10,000-hour rule. Researchers have determined that this amount of practice is necessary in athletics, musical performance, academic proficiency, specialized work skills, medical or legal expertise, and so on. One of these research experts asserts “that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything.”1

Most people recognize that to obtain peak physical and mental performance, such preparation and practice are essential.

Unfortunately, in an increasingly secular world, less emphasis is placed on the amount of spiritual growth necessary to become more Christlike and establish the foundations that lead to enduring faith. We tend to emphasize moments of sublime spiritual understanding. These are precious instances when we know the Holy Ghost has witnessed special spiritual insights to our hearts and minds. We rejoice in these events; they should not be diminished in any way.

But for enduring faith and to have the constant companionship of the Spirit, there is no substitute for the individual religious observance that is comparable to physical and mental development. We should build on these experiences, which sometimes resemble initial baby steps.

We do this by consecrated commitment to sacred sacrament meetings, scripture study, prayer, and serving as called. In one recent obituary tribute for the father of 13 children, it was reported his “loyalty to daily prayer and scripture study profoundly influenced his children, giving them an immovable foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”2

An experience I had when I was 15 years old was foundational for me. My faithful mother had valiantly tried to help me establish the foundations of faith in my life. I attended sacrament meeting, Primary, then Young Men and seminary. I had read the Book of Mormon and had always prayed individually. At that time a dramatic event occurred in our family when my beloved older brother was considering a potential mission call. My wonderful father, a less-active Church member, wanted him to continue his education and not serve a mission. This became a point of contention.

In a remarkable discussion with my brother, who was five years older and led the discussion, we concluded that his decision on whether to serve a mission depended on three issues: (1) Was Jesus Christ divine? (2) Was the Book of Mormon true? (3) Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration?

As I prayed sincerely that night, the Spirit confirmed to me the truth of all three questions. I also came to understand that almost every decision I would make for the rest of my life would be based on the answers to those three questions. I particularly realized that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was essential. In looking back, I recognize that, primarily because of my mother, the foundations were in place for me to receive the spiritual confirmation that evening. My brother, who already had a testimony, made the decision to serve a mission and ultimately won our father’s support.

Spiritual guidance is received when needed, in the Lord’s time and according to His will.3 Just as repetition and consistent effort are required to gain physical or mental capacity, the same is true in spiritual matters.

Faith is a Principle of Power

Faith is a principle of power. Let me illustrate: When I was a young missionary, a great mission president6 introduced me in a profound way to the scriptural account found in Luke 8 of the woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years and had spent everything she had on physicians who could not heal her. It has remained to this day one of my favorite scriptures.

You will remember that she had faith that if she could but touch the border of the Savior’s garment, she would be healed. When she did so, she was healed immediately. The Savior, who was walking along with His disciples, said, “Who touched me?”

Peter’s answer was that all of them, walking together, were pressing against Him.

“And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

The root word for virtue could easily be interpreted as “power.” In Spanish and Portuguese, it is translated as “power.” But regardless, the Savior did not see her; He had not focused on her need. But her faith was such that touching the border of the garment drew upon the healing power of the Son of God.

As the Savior said to her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”7

I have contemplated this account all my adult life. I realize that our personal prayers and supplications to a loving Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ can bring blessings into our lives beyond our ability to comprehend. The foundations of faith, the kind of faith that this woman demonstrated, should be the great desire of our hearts.

However, initial foundations of faith, even with spiritual confirmation, do not mean that we will not face challenges. Conversion to the gospel does not mean all our problems will be solved.

Like the ancient Apostles on the day of Pentecost, many members experienced marvelous spiritual experiences in connection with the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.8 But, as in our own lives, this did not mean they wouldn’t face challenges or hardships going forward. Little did these early members know they would be faced with a United States financial crisis—the panic of 1837—that would test their very souls.9

One example of the challenges related to this financial crisis was experienced by Parley P. Pratt, one of the great leaders of the Restoration. He was an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the early part of 1837, his dear wife, Thankful, died after delivering their first child. Parley and Thankful had been married almost 10 years, and her death devastated him.

A few months later, Elder Pratt found himself in one of the most difficult times the Church has experienced. In the midst of the national crisis, local economic issues—including land speculation and the struggles of a financial institution founded by Joseph Smith and other Church members—created discord and contention in Kirtland. Church leaders did not always make wise temporal decisions in their own lives. Parley suffered significant financial losses and for a time became disaffected with the Prophet Joseph.10 He wrote a stinging criticism to Joseph and spoke in opposition of him from the pulpit. At the same time, Parley said he continued to believe in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.11

Elder Pratt had lost his wife, his land, and his home. Parley, without telling Joseph, left for Missouri. On the road there, he unexpectedly met fellow Apostles Thomas B. Marsh and David Patten returning to Kirtland. They felt a great need to have harmony restored to the Quorum and persuaded Parley to return with them. He realized that no one had lost more than Joseph Smith and his family.

Parley sought out the Prophet, wept, and confessed that what he had done was wrong. In the months after his wife, Thankful’s, death, Parley had been “under a dark cloud” and had been overcome by fears and frustrations.12 Joseph, knowing what it was like to struggle against opposition and temptation, “frankly forgave” Parley, praying for him and blessing him.13 Parley and others who remained faithful benefited from the Kirtland challenges. They increased in wisdom and became more noble and virtuous. The experience became part of their foundations of faith.

Adversity should not be viewed as either disfavor from the Lord or a withdrawal of His blessings. Opposition in all things is part of the refiner’s fire to prepare us for an eternal celestial destiny.14 When the Prophet Joseph was in Liberty Jail, the words of the Lord to him described all manner of challenges—including tribulations and false accusations—and conclude:

“If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”15

The Lord, in this instruction to Joseph Smith, also made it clear that his days were known and would not be numbered less. The Lord concluded, “Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”16

What, then, are the blessings of faith? What does faith accomplish? The list is almost endless:

Our sins can be forgiven because of faith in Christ.17

As many as have faith have communion with the Holy Spirit.18

Salvation comes through faith on Christ’s name.19

We receive strength according to our faith in Christ.20

None enter the Lord’s rest save those who wash their garments in Christ’s blood because of their faith.21

Prayers are answered according to faith.22

Without faith among men, God can do no miracle among them.23

In the end, our faith in Jesus Christ is the essential foundation for our eternal salvation and exaltation. As Helaman taught his sons, “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation … , which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”24

My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gallery

History Facts: Judeo-Christian Culture Pushing Back against Globalization in European Union

This gallery contains 6 photos.

History Facts: Judeo-Christian Culture Pushing Back against Globalization in European Union “I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph. … Continue reading

History Facts: Founding Fathers supported Judeo-Christian Values

History Facts:

Founding Fathers supported Judeo-Christian Values

Words from Our Nation’s Founders on God and Government

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

This Independence Day we should strive to remember the Christian underpinnings of this nation, which helped give freedom to all, regardless of creed.

Barely a week goes by without some challenge to our nation’s Judeo-Christian roots in the name of the separation of church and state. But as another Fourth of July is upon us, it’s interesting to note what the founders said in their own words. Consider the following sampling:

  • Thomas Jefferson, author of the first draft of the Declaration, said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time” (Virginia delegates to Congress, August 1774) and “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just” (Notes on Virginia, 1782).
  • Samuel Adams, the lightning rod of the American Revolution, signed the Declaration in the summer of ‘76: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.
  • John Adams, Samuel’s distant cousin, wrote, “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite….And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.” (Letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813).
  • When General George Washington first received a copy of the Declaration of Independence on July 9, 1776, he made George Washingtonan order to hire chaplains in every regiment. These were to be “persons of good Characters and exemplary lives.” Washington said, “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.”
  • Congress regularly called for days of fasting and prayer throughout the war. For example, they declared one on May 17, 1776, as a “day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer…[to] confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.” (Source: Library of Congress website, loc.gov).
  • John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress which declared independence and adopted the Declaration, later served as the governor of Massachusetts. On October 5, 1791, he declared a day of thanksgiving to God for many blessings, including “the great and most important Blessing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ: And together with our cordial acknowledgments, I do earnestly recommend, that we may join the penitent confession of our Sins, and implore the further continuance of the Divine Protection, and Blessings of Heaven upon this People…that all may bow to the Scepter of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and the whole Earth be filled with his Glory” [emphasis his].
  • James Madison championed the cause of the Constitution. In his “A Memorial and Remonstrance,” an essay on

    James Madison

    religious liberty from 1785, Madison stated: “It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time, and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

  • Ben Franklin signed the Declaration and the Constitution. He called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention, when things were slow going. A variation of his request was adopted when the founding fathers attended a July 4th worship service at a Christian church in Philadelphia. Franklin said, “In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered….To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” (June 28, 1787).
  • Alexander Hamilton, a key proponent of the Constitution, wrote: “Let an association be formed to be denominated ‘The Christian Constitutional Society,’ its object to be first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.” (Letter to James Bayard, April 16-21, 1802).
  • The first Chief Justice of our country was founding father John Jay. His Last Will and Testament begins: “Unto Him who is the Author and Giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His merciful and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by his beloved Son.”

This Independence Day we should strive to remember the Christian underpinnings of this nation, which helped give freedom to all, regardless of creed.