Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Wild World of Innovation: Which LDS Innovations Are Best and Worst?

You can't believe how much I love my new job. I suspect that relatives and friends are getting bored with the regular, "Have I told you how much I love my job?" routine. It's a bit more intense that I imagined, but the excitement level is very high because I get to work with amazing inventors and innovations every day, mapping out strategies for commercialization, intellectual asset development, marketing, etc. From lone inventors to large companies, from California to Florida to Russia and Israel, we get to be involved with innovation at so many levels. And we even have some of our own innovations we are taking to the market, such as a personalized security system to defeat thieves at many levels (check it out: US Pat. Appl. 20070250920 - also on FreePatentsOnline.com - and for those who hate patents of this nature, PLEASE attack it with prior art and intelligent comments at PeerToPatent.org, where I've been accepted for their peer-review pilot!) What excitement!

As much as I love innovation, there are some places where I don't want it. Take my operating system. Every time Microsoft updates things, I'm nervous. What functionality has been lost? Will my drivers still work? Will my computer crash? From XP to Vista - ouch! That's an innovation I've been resisting. Things that were easy in XP seem harder and slower in Vista. And some past upgrades in software products have completely deleted key things that were important to me.

Innovation in religion can also be undesirable. The innovations of the fourth and fifth century in redefining the nature of God, for example, are innovations that leave me a little bewildered. How I miss that good old time religion! Now I know we Latter-day Saints talk about the Restoration of the original Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that's absolutely true for core elements like authority, baptism, knowledge of God, etc., but we should also recognize that there have been many innovations with time as well. Some things we do might be pretty foreign to the early Christians, and visa versa. And some things might seem pretty foreign to Joseph Smith.

So let me ask this: What innovations in modern Mormonism - innovations since, say, 1900, do you find most valuable? And which would you like to eliminate? Because not every upgrade is an improvement, and sometimes innovation can get in the way of real progress, as exciting as it may seem.


Anonymous said...

Mormons wanting to be identified as "Christian." It seems that in the last few years, that we church members are focusing on trying to fit in with the rest of the religious community maybe a little too much. Of course we follow Jesus, and strive to be his disciples, but why do we want be recognized as something we are not. Mormons are different. We are a peculiar people after all.

Anonymous said...

What? The real innovation is that of the antis repositioning Mormons as non-Christian, and claiming that belief in Christ is a modern invention.

Here's my favorite recent innovation: allowing women married in the temple to remarry in the temple again, presumably leaving it to the Lord and the parties involved to work out the final details.

Anonymous said...

Disagree about the "Christian" thing commented above, mostly because the whole mormons-are-not-christian mindset is geared to keep mormons in check politically, these days...sad.

But Jeff...good luck protecting my ideas and algorithms. They're all Creative Commons/GPL licensed and free for the taking. No royalties for me, I guess. I'm concerned about a higher law - keeping our freedoms from being dramatically reduced by greedy men.

Check back with me after you've lost your right to read.


My favorite LDS innovation is Deseret Book. The high prices and restricted, copyrighted material shows a terribly outdated focus on commerce and ignorance of possible applications of the law of consecration.

If the church is going to ask lay member computer programmers to consecrate their programming talent to help the church (heard this year), the lay members who can sing, dance, write, and direct should be producing free and shared content for members to consume. Why keep the poor in darkness? We are a CHURCH.

Unknown said...

Actually, Timelee Tim, the "non-Christian" charge has been leveled against the Church since the days of Alexander Campbell; it's older than the name of the Church!

I'd agree with Anonymous the First: one of the largest recent innovations has been the Millet-izing/evagelicalizing of Church theology. It hasn't really caught on with the average Utah Mormon, but there is an increased emphasis on grace and having a personal relationship with Jesus in General Conference and the BYU Religion Department (which is actually very influential in Church cultural thinking). Thirty years ago that was unheard of (I still wonder what Elder McConkie would think of it all), and I'm still not sure what to think about that.

One of my favorite innovations is a very old one, but one that would have been very foreign to Joseph Smith: the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. It was long after the Church was established in Utah that we saw the ages of ordination lowered from adults to youth. In Joseph's day, they were all adults. Also, Teachers were the only Home Teachers, so I suppose having all priesthood holders above deacons going HT-ing would be an innovation, too.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon, I'd appreciate some meat behind the claims. If you're aware of existing documents that describe systems similar to those claimed in the patent, this information can be shared with the world at PeerToPatent.org or with me directly (jeff at jefflindsay.com) to ensure that it is considered.

The "right to read" doomsday story has me scratching my head about what you think. Do you have a right to read my journal? My email? What gives you that right? If I like what I've written in my journal and wish to share it only on condition that people pay me for the privilege of reading it it, what right do you have to say I can't? Isn't claiming the right to benefit from someone else's work - a benefit obtained against the will of the creator - the essence of theft? Yea, it plays well when tyrants stir up the masses with socialist propaganda about the "rights" of the masses to benefit from property of evil capitalists, but that attitude lacks any basis in justice, equity, or Gospel principles.

I make my Web writings available for free. But they are still mine, and others have no right to reproduce my pages or blog posts and benefit from them as if they owned them. It's my work. Whether it's a house I build, a statue I care, a car I create, a poem or story I write, or a cake I bake, you have no inherent right to use it. What makes you think you do??

Anonymous said...

>Do you have a right to read my journal?

I only have the rights you allow me, don't I?

>What makes you think you do??

That's just it - I don't.

Having a right to read doesn't mean "having a right to read anything I want," it means "having a right to read something, somewhere."

The ultimate worst-case scenario is, all books are protected. You don't have a right to read anything , period. Unless, of course, you have money.

But then, even having money isn't enough. You still can't share the book with friends, for example, if it's an e-book. Also, you don't have the right to resell it when you consider it "used" and no longer wish to own it.


The real problem is, this concept of "property" is not just limited to books. Or music. Or security systems. We live in a society that is obsessed with posession.

To give another example, this is why the open source software movement is having to duplicate efforts made by proprietary software developers tens of years ago.

None of the old code was sustainable. All that old code is still locked up because of restrictive licensing decisions made by people who have long since moved on. So it's being re-written. The open source efforts are why Google can compete with Microsoft. It's why Amazon can offer Linux cluster computing services. It's why IBM still exists. It's why you have a Tivo or a home internet router that runs Linux.

With more restrictive IP laws at the beginning, none of this stuff would be possible - we'd just have a group of information cartels, and no way to for creative entrepreneurs to compete. It's hard enough as it is. We need a sustainable economy, not one that collapses on itself because everybody wants their share.

BTW - I think peer2patent is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, link got truncated...


Anonymous said...

What innovations in modern Mormonism... would you like to eliminate?

The ban on plural marriage is the first that comes to mind.

tatabug said...


Please tell me you're joking :). I can see the need for it at that time, and if it were required, I would likely accept it, but I would not wish for it.

So I guess along those lines, I would have to say that the prohibition of plural marriage is one innovation change I am grateful for. Not so much because the thought of plural marriage is too much for me, but because of the persecution that was and has been leveled against the Church and its members because of it.

Timelee Tim,

About your favorite recent innovation, does that only apply to divorced women, or does it also apply to women who are sealed to husbands who've died? If so, that's amazing news.

Anonymous said...

Worst 20th century innovations
1. Correlation gutting relief society, and MIA and Sunday school
2. Loss of the Principle/Polygamy
3. End of the gathering to Zion
4. Changes in the temple ceremonies
5. Loss of Mormon pamphleteering

Best things
1. Stake Presidencies directly under the twelve
2. More Temples
3. Growth of Mormon arts
4. Growth of Mormon universities
5. Growth of Mormon missionary program--especially the canned lessons and then their outliving their usefulness and getting gutted themselves--still not totally completed.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the 1978 revelation/declaration that opened the way for the priesthood to be given to all worthy males, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Anonymous said...

Best Innovation: Banned plural marriage.

Why? Purely selfish reasons. I can't bear to think about having to share my intimacy with anyone but my wife, for my sake and for hers.

Anonymous said...

Please respond--Nocoolname Tom

I joined the church about 15 years ago. I've never lived out west so some of the Utah/Mormon colloquialisms escape me. Could you please explain your second paragraph to me a little better. I've only read some of Elder McConkie's works. I find in the church people either love him or hate him. Do you have any idea why that is? Just Curious.

Anonymous said...

Innovations in the church often reflect its ability to adapt its programs to stay ahead of societal changes that would weaken its members, one of the signs in my mind of a living church.

I see changes as falling into 2 categories: substance and style.

Favorite innovation of substance: granting the priesthood to all worthy males.

Favorite innovations of style: I couldn't pick just one.

• Publication of the LDS edition of the KJV bible, with amazingly useful footnotes and reference sections.
• Consolidating the meeting schedule. (3 hr block on Sunday vs. potentially 6+ separate trips to church over the course of the week.)
• Family Home Evening & Church welfare programs as they exist today
• Women at the pulpit in General Conference. The role and visibility of women in the church has definitely changed over time, losing much of its original strength and then coming back in recent years.
• Changes in the Relief Society curriculum

That last item makes my point about the church adapting to a changing world.

In the early 1970’s,most of the church was inter-Rocky Mountains and most LDS women were stay-at-home moms living in communities that reflected who they were and what they believed. RS lessons expanded women’s skills and knowledge beyond the borders of their communities with units on Mother Education, Social Development, Spiritual Living and Cultural Refinement.

Today’s RS lessons reflect a much different world. With a diverse world-wide church, increased women in the workforce, greater information availability and a society that embraces and promotes values at odds with gospel principles, LDS women today do not need lessons on the ethnic music of Thailand. (ie, Cultural Refinement). The RS curriculum today consists of doctrinal lessons drawn directly from the source, the scriptures and the words of modern prophets.

Least favorite innovations? I have to say I am flexible and adjust to change well. However, as much as I love the consolidated schedule (and would never go back), I regret that those who serve and teach children and youth on Sunday cannot attend adult classes.

Anonymous said...

Nobody ever mentions the real reason polygamy was dropped.... More than one mother-in-law!!

(actually mine is great)

Bookslinger said...


Nocoolname Tom was referring to a public talk (general conference I think) given by Elder Bruce McConkie in the early 80's, in which he strongly preached against "developing a personal relationship with the Savior".

He (BRM) said something very close to: "we worship the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost. Our relationship is with the Father."

Shortly before that talk, but still semi-publicly at BYU, he also excoriated a BYU professor or teacher for teaching the "personal relationship with Jesus" in a church/BYU/class setting. It was a very public and embarassing personal slam against that teacher/prof.

But, he (the teacher) had promulgated something that the church was not teaching at the time, at least not with those exact words, so BRM felt he needed to correct the misunderstanding in the minds of the many students who had heard the teacher's non-orthodox statements about a "personal relationship with the savior". It was indeed a case where that teacher had borrowed that phrase from evangelical christianity, without the church leadership having first adopted the phrase.

You can find BRM's general conference talk at www.lds.org, and you can probably find references to what BRM said about the BYU teacher and his name on the web.

However, now that the church has adopted some phraseology from other branches of christianity, and "nuanced" what it means, it is now safe to say "personal relationship with the Savior" assuming one also keeps in mind our proper relationship with all members of the Godhead.

McConkie was, and is, still correct. What he said about "worshipping the Father, in the name of Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost" is still the most concise and probably the most accurate way of expressing our relationships with all members of the Godhead.

President Hinckley has merely clarified the semantics. If we speak, act, and worship in the name of Christ, then we may properly say that we do indeed have a relationship with Him.

After all, one of our goals as expressed by Saint Peter in the Bible is to have our calling and election made sure, and that does necessitate a personal event too sacred to talk much about.

Anonymous said...

Of course I'm not joking about polygamy. It's one of the more obvious symptoms of a Church willing to, in Brigham Young's words, "partially slide a little from the path of rectitude, and go part of the way to meet our friends." The last anonymous posting listed a few more symptoms, and I would add timelee tim's favorite innovation as another.

Among my favorite innovations are the ever-increasing use of technology to preach the Gospel (actually, Jeff's webpage is the best example of this, far more useful than official resources, in my opinion), and efforts to consolidate meetings.

tatabug said...


So you are not in favor of a Church guided by revelation? Where in any of the teachings of the Joseph Smith and Brigham Young say there would be no more revelation after them? It would be one thing if changes were made through popular consensus, but when they come as direct revelation through the prophets, that is the basic foundation of the true Church. When you deny that, you deny all that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught. Then you have to assume that any prophet who has been opposed to the practice of polygamy is a false prophet, which leads to the Church being false.

Anonymous said...

I'd either do away with the tea and coffee restrictions (with regard to full-fellowship - like temple recommends) or I'd enforce all of it equally (i.e. morbidly obese people are not living the word of wisdom either)... I think in the world we live in today that alcohol and tobacco use are a no brainer for abstination - but tea and coffee are not... and why do people tell the youth that Jesus drank grape juice? So what if he drank wine (real wine)? We live in a VERY different world... We have cars and MANY MANY MANY more drugs now. Anyhow, I know that the enforcement of the WoW happened after 1900 - so I thought I'd add it to the response to your question. In the meanwhile, I'll respect the WoW oaths I took when I was baptized - but, I don't fully agree with them...


Peter said...

Gday guys,

I thought I would just have to say something about polygamy. Personally I am not against it, I think it would be extremely tough but ultimately I don't have a worry with the idea. I don't believe you should be too worreid about the retraction of this as I believe the principal is still there, but we are following one of the other principals which is to be subservient to the laws of the state/country/whatever.
I am sure more will be revealed to us in the future.


Anonymous said...

I do not like to think that the our ancestors were "redefining" diety in the 2nd and 3rd century. I like to think that they were doing their very best to "clarify" diety.

Anonymous said...

So you are not in favor of a Church guided by revelation?

I am not in favor of the belief that every eternal principle we are taught by the mouth of a prophet is subject to future revision. I am not in favor of the false and manifestly absurd belief that whatever the current President says is unquestionable truth, even if it blatantly contradicts the inspired teachings of the past.

I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is the Lord's ordained prophet, seer, and revelator, but I also know that it would be irresponsible to follow him without question.

As to the specific case of plural marriage, it may very well be that it was the wickedness of the general membership of the Church that led to its ban, similar to the Lord granting Israel a king, or allowing the loss of the Martin Harris pages.

I won't venture a solid opinion about the reason, but since plural marriage is a true principle I do mourn the fact that it isn't officially practiced today.

Anonymous said...

"Referring to a public talk (general conference I think) given by Elder Bruce McConkie in the early 80's, in which he strongly preached against "developing a personal relationship with the Savior".

Now that I know and have a personal relationship with our Savior I will better know the Father when I meet Him. Thanks to you Mormons.

NM said...

Can I throw a question out?

I think the motivation behind my question is simply to determine the 'willingness' of LDS people to follow their prophet.

I know this is a hypothetical situation, but say in the coming years, the LDS prophet (and probably not Hinckley) might state that: Jesus did not atone for all sins, only certain sins.

How might this then be received by the current LDS congregation? I'm not looking for an arguement as to whether or not it might happen; I'm just curious to see much willingness (if at all) there exists in people to change in response to what their prophet has issued.

I ask this in relation to what I seem to be picking up on the issue of polygamy, that: although polygamy, (according to LDS theology) is required for exaltation etc. that people are happy for such practices (as issued by the prophet) to cease, in order to abide by the country's laws.

So, yeah. I'd love to know =)

Anonymous said...

The requirement of attending all meeting to receive a temple recommend comes to mind, after all some of us have a brain chemistry that does not allow us to function well with large groups.

tatabug said...


You said:
I am not in favor of the belief that every eternal principle we are taught by the mouth of a prophet is subject to future revision. I am not in favor of the false and manifestly absurd belief that whatever the current President says is unquestionable truth, even if it blatantly contradicts the inspired teachings of the past.

Then you don't believe in or understand what revelation is. Here are some quotes taken from a talk by Ezra Taft Benson entitled "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet."

President N. Eldon Tanner stated: “The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are…A man said to me after that, ‘You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.’ He said, ‘Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.’ I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep.”

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living prophets and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’
“When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham, I want you to go to the podium and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of god to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation; ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.’”
Orson Pratt has said, “The very moment that we set aside the living oracles we set aside the revelations of God. Why? Because the revelations of God command us plainly that we shall hearken to the living oracles. Hence, if we undertake to follow the written word, and at the same time do not give heed to the living oracles of God, the written word will condemn us…”

Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. "Even in the Church," said President Kimball, "many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday's prophets and mentally stone the living ones."


With regard to your hypothetical, I rather think it is a very poor example of what a true prophecy might contain. It's one thing to say that in one instance plural marriage is required and then in others it isn't, because there is scriptural precedence for certain ordinances, practices, and ceremonies being done away with or required depending on the circumstances. Your hypothetical situation is the same as saying, "Okay, we've been taught Jesus is the Son of God, but now I'm here to tell you that He isn't. Everything you've been taught up to now on that subject has been a lie." There is no precedence for truth being changed. Either Christ is or is not the Son of God.

So I will return your poor hypothetical with another one for you to answer. If Christ himself appeared to you and said, "I did not atone for all sins, only some sins," how would you respond?

I will however, respond to your question by simply saying that if the prophet gave a prophecy/commandment, and it was a very difficult one to understand and accept, I would try my best to understand and accept it. However, I would most assuredly pray for confirmation from God before doing so.

NM said...

Thanks Tatabug. Please know that the hypothetical question was just a off-the cuff kind of question. I appreciate that the question wasn't very well thought out, but I guess I was merely asking to determine this willingness to change, which, it seems, is a central tennet in LDS living, i.e. continuing revelation etc.

So, if such a thing does exist in Christianity, again, I wonder how willing people are to change or ammend their existing beliefs when new revelations come from your prophet?

Might anyone else want to step forward and answer?

Thanks again tatabug.

Anonymous said...

Thanks bookslinger!
That explains so many comments I've heard in Gospel Doctrine Class. I've just finished reading the first book in BRM's Messiah series. At the end of that book he writes extensively about about one of our goals as expressed in Peter's teachings. As a result I've been somewhat confused by some of the comments made about BRM's ideas on Jesus Christ. I think you are right some of it is semantics but we do have to remember our proper relationship with the Godhead. Thanks again! You've helped more than you know.

Anonymous said...

I view modern revelations a part of separating the wheat from the tares. When President Kimball gave the priesthood to "every worthy young man many left the church" Going Back to the manifesto, many people left the church in fact a whole new branch was started. When Polygamy first came to light and the general knowledge of the church many left. Acceptance of revelation from a modern or ancient source take thoughtfulness and prayer and I've found that those who leave are generally not that type. I do not say that all who stay do but a hard revelation is the surest way for God to test the faith of his people. All of Christ's teachings are proof of that. So in general the majority of the church are willing to change whether prayerfully or just with blind faith.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for spelling and grammar I haven't gone to sleep yet.

NM said...

So, the willingness to follow leaders is a sign that one is faithful - and it is something to be celebrated? And disbanding might be seen as a separation of the wheat from the tares? It does make sense when you put it this way...

...it's all very interesting...

tatabug said...


Zera makes some good points. Not everyone in the Church is very flexible when it comes to change. Many people do not completely understand the nature of prophets and prophecy. Some just lack faith and when something difficult arises, they end up in apostasy. Others may be quite willing to accept some changes but not others. Everyone, even within the Church, is different in how they respond to the teachings of the prophets and living the principles of the Gospel. It isn't much different than in any other dispensation when the Gospel has been on the earth. Some are very faithful and obedient, some are lukewarm, and some are full of pride and rebellion. Some people are the type that you might describe as 'fairweather friends.' As long as things are the way they think they should be, they are great, but when something comes along that goes contrary to what they believe, they're gone.

In my own lifetime, the only major change in revelation has been with regard to the priesthood, at which time I was only about 5 or 6, so it wouldn't have had any impact on me personally. So I really can't say how I would respond to any major change, except that I think I would be able to accept it.

At one time, when faced with the question of whether or not I could live the law of plural marriage as a requirement for exaltation, I felt like it wasn't something that I could live and as such would be willing to give up any hope of eternal life because of it, unless I could somehow understand it better. Over time, I've had the opportunity to study the issue and have come to quite a different outlook on the whole thing, to the point that I would probably accept it if it were reintroduced, which is not to say that it would be easy for me. But I do have a testimony of its purposes.

There are just so many different things to consider when it comes to the issue of revelation through the prophets that there really is no way to give you a clear answer about how willing the Church as a whole is to accept new revelation. Different revelations strike different cords with different people in different ways. Ideally, we should all be patient, prayerful, and reflective towards any new revelation, and we should be humbly open to whatever the Lord's will for us may be.

NM said...

Yes, I understand tatabug. To be honest, I think I might have been looking for something mystical, but as you have simply put: it might just be that different people react differently at the prospect of any given change - whatever their culture, religion, ethnicity etc.

Thanks for the clarification.

I love (and impressed) just how blatantly honest people are being with Jeff's call for people to give their opinions about current Mormon theology and its associated practices...

tatabug said...


Regarding your comment, I am going to assume that you are implying that plural marriage may return (which indeed it may) or that it is a principle which will exist in heaven. To that I will refer you to an article entitled On Fidelity, Polygamy, and Celestial Marriage by Eugene England. I will insert a disclaimer that it certainly isn't doctrinal, but makes a very good argument for the case against polygamy as existing in heaven. I've always assumed that it may be a requirement for heaven, and I am still open to the possibility that it will be, but now have good reasons to see why it may not be, and for good cause.

Anonymous said...

I have very specific questions about the modern Mormon (LDS) Church that I have not been abot to find answers to, and I was led to this site. Specifically, what I am looking for is why the Church has steadfastly refused to disavow the teachings of Brigham Young regarding Black's and the "Mark or Cain" and/or the "Curse of Ham".

Would it be possible for the owner of the Blog, or anyone else to be able to guide me in the right direction? Please contact me at black-rocker-chick@hotmail.com

Thanks in advance!

Peter said...

Hi Tatabug,

Thanks for the page. I will read it when it loads. I was wondering if anyone else had wondered about the things in the old testament that said something was forever, then it being changed later in the Bible. Like circumcision... I think that was one. I wish I remembered the exact references that I thought of at the time. Anyway, the point is that a principal may be set as forever and then later changed. I believe that at the time of the giving of the principal it was forever, until/unless the Lord tells us otherwise. So the children of Abraham would still be circumcising (those that don't believe still do, most likely). Pretty good example of a "forever" principal being changed.

NM said...


That is a fantastic question! =D

I of course, as someone who might represent Reformed Evangelical Christianity (as it seems there are no other reformists here) might be able to express our spin on this subject of circumcision! I'll hold back though to see what others might say =)

Anonymous said...

"Eternal covenant" I don't see any where anyone would expect that any ordance would be eternal as they are always changing in the scriptures. Eternal covenant twice in the new testiment and just covenant 11 times in the old testiment. Forever just 10 time relating to land and keeping the commandments and G-d being forever, ect. Thus the need for continuing revelation which would include changes to existing principals.

Peter said...

Gday NM,

I am not entirely sure if you understood what I was trying to say but I would still be glad to hear your "spin" on whatever you have.
I was more pointing out the fact that previous prophets had written forever to a principal because when the Lord gave it, it was forever. The Lord is the only one that can change that.


Anonymous said...

I agree and understand. It is that some get caught up in some things can't change but after seeing all the changes from the old testiment to the new and then the restoration changes I just keep waiting for the next revelation or change that we are in store for.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Seeking Answers, I've got some information that you can search on this blog and also on my LDSFAQ site: Mormon Answers on Blacks and the Church. There are a variety of links there as well that might be helpful.

Anonymous said...

On our desire to be identified as Christian. So many of us are converts to the Church from other Christian faiths, we did not feel we were leaving Christianity when we joined the Church.

Now I have a deeper understanding of the Gospel, the Godhead, the plan of salvation, along with the role of Christ in it, but I am still a follower of Christ and thus, by my definition, I am still a Christian.

Anonymous said...


I don't have the slightest problem with the idea of continual revelation. The issue is how to decide what truly is revelation, and what is opinion.

As President Young said, "What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him."

I don't put much stock in the idea that modern leaders take precedent, especially when that idea was put forth by a modern leader. It reminds me of Wilford Woodruff's claim: "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray." Since Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others taught the opposite principle on numerous occasions, Pres. Woodruff's statement is self-negating.

Listen to the Prophet, but follow the Spirit.

NM said...

Hi Peter,

I'll try and keep my response to the 'circumcision' subject succinct. And I apologise to you now if I go off on tangents...

The study of the Old Testament serves to point to the coming Messiah. i.e. there is nothing new that Jesus brought into light that his contemporaries didn't already know.

What exactly do I mean by this?

Let's take Paul's letter to the Romans (specifically in chapter 11). When we join him in verse 30, Paul is at his peak of his heart-ache for Israel's unbelief. And what exactly was the subject of his heart-ache?

Notice, he says this, "That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it."

Paul was heart-broken because here he is as a witness to the fact that GENTILES (people like me as a non-Jew) were attaining righteousness, left right and center, yet his own people (the Jews) were not! This is a major, MAJOR crisis! The very people that Jesus came down to save (remember that Jesus said, "Salvation is of the Jews") were not being saved!!! They just did not get it!!! Why did the Jews NOT GET IT?!?!

Well, Paul gives us the answer in verse 32:

"Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone."

Do you see this Peter? The GENTILES were getting it, because they knew that righteousness came by faith in Jesus (who has done all the work)...yet the Jews were not getting it, because they were still working for salvation! They MISSED the significance of who Jesus was! What a travesty!

So, to come back to my original point that: the Old Testament, particularly all the ceremonial rites, which were passed on to the people of Israel through Moses, serve only to POINT TO JESUS =D

Again, what do I mean by this? What I mean is: that the old testament people thought that to attain salvation, they had to accomplish such ceremonial tasks in order to attain salvation, thereby thinking it was the way to please God. They thought that it was the mere act of doing such things (i.e. the sacrifice of an innocent animal to atone for their forgiveness) - when God NEVER meant it to be this way!

EVERYTHING that God passed to the Israelites (including the LAW itself) was to show them of the coming Messiah! Again, the people of Israel, when they were given The Law - thought, "Oh, this is what we must DO to attain salvation" WRONG! The Law was given to show the Israelites of their natural sinful state. The Law was given only to HIGHLIGHT man's already sinful state.

Peter, get this: The Law IS the golden standard - and the golden standard is PERFECTION. Who embodied PERFECTION? Jesus! The Law was given to show who Jesus is! It was never God's intention for when He gave The Law, for the people of Israel to then work for it. Do you see?

So to the act of circumcision?

The act of circumcision was meant to be an outward representation of what happened in the heart! The act of circumcision was to show to the rest of the world that the people of Israel are God's chosen. But again, Israel thought that it was in the mere act of circumcision that set them apart! WHEN IT IS NOT!

Of course, as you and I both know, we need to be able to see this IN SCRIPTURE - just to make sure that what I say to you is Biblical and not just something that I have made up! =)

So, let's look again at Romans, but this time in chapter 2! =)

In verse 25 Pauls says this, "Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised."

Ok, so we learn that the act of circumcision is only good IF the person who has been circumcised FOLLOWS the law - and FOLLOWS it without himself sinning. Who has ever followed The Law and ever kept its every letter, without stumbling? Answer? NO-ONE! If we back-track for a moment, notice that in verse 17, Paul addresses his argument to the so-called 'teachers of the law', the Pharisees perhaps. And let's not forget that Paul was also not just a Pharisee, but one who was of the highest order - the Sanhedrin! What does Paul say to these religious people who made a point of keeping the law? He asks rhetorical questions. He says, "Err, so you who teach not to steal? Do you steal? And you who teach not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? And you who hates idolatry? Do you not steal from the temple?" To which the answer is, YES! Each and everyone of you who teach and model what it is not to sin, ALSO SIN! Then Paul begins to lay it in on them when he then goes to say, "So what's the point of your circumcision?! It IS WORTH NOTHING because you DO NOT KEEP THE LAW!"

Circumcision was never meant to be an act in of itself to please God. Circumcision was ALWAYS meant to represent a transformation in the heart.

The New Testament accounts do not show that it 'circumcision' is something that might have happened in the Old Testament, but doesn't happen now...Peter, if you believe what you have said about the subject of circumcision, then I urge you to re-read Romans in the context of the Old Testament! =D

EVERYTHING in the Old Testament points to Jesus - who came NOT TO ABOLISH THE LAW (as if Jesus came to do something completely different to what was already said in the Old Testament), but who IS PERFECTION came to fulfill it. =D

Jeff, I AM SO SORRY ABOUT THE LENGTH. I just hope you can appreciate the passion that I have for the beauty of the seamlessness between Old and New Testaments =)

Sorry for the grammatical errors and what not...I'm not even going to attempt to re-read what I've just written!

Anonymous said...

Another interesting historical innovation within the Church was the implementation of the economic principles of the United Order when the Church was colonizing the American west. The United Order principles were revealed in a largely agrarian society. However, several decades later, the industrial revolution had changed society, even in the isolated Rocky Mountains, and the implementation of the United Order under Brigham Young was much different than under Joseph Smith. In some ways, the post-industrial revolution United Orders looked like modern business organizations.

Peter said...


I'm going to leave that well enough alone. Thanks for the post.


Anonymous said...


Although you have many good points about how the Jews had misinterpeted the meaning of keeping of the law Chirst was also condeming them for adding law upon secular law which they then thought would save them. They had changed the laws and the meaning and added new laws upon laws which was never given by G-d. The laws were given to see if they would comply to G-d and follow Him and from time to time He may change what laws we keep but the meaning a promises, both in this life and after would remain the same.

Unknown said...

I occassionaly pop in here to read the comments, and I was intrigued by the earlier discussion on "prsonal relationship with Christ" and the insinuation that BRM spoke out against it. So I did a search of talks from LDS.org. I used the term searched "personal relationship with Christ McConkie" (no quotes). Turns out that doesn't pull up the author (I'll get to that later) but it did pull up several talks addressing the topic, including one entitled "A Personal Relationship with the Savior," by Elder Faust, from October Conference (in the November issue of Ensign), in 1976. And the talk was exactly on what you'd think it would be. Several other came form the same are. So this is not a "new innovation."

But what I really wanted was the supposed talk where BRM spoke against it. I actually had to google it and got an anti-mormon site to get the quote. It seems clear to me he was primarily advancing the functionality of prayer - that our prayers are too the Father directly, not through the Son, but in his name - and attacking the idea that you can't be saved until you get such a personal relationship. The implication I got was that some others had implied that to get the personal relationship with the Savior, you had to pray directly to Him. But even a cursory examination of some of his other talks indicate BRM had such a relationship with Christ himself, he repeatedly referred to Christ as his Friend. And again... plenty of references to such a relationship, even entire talks devoted to the subject, were made during his lifetime by other General Authorities. So I think his opposition is overstated.

NM said...

Ok Peter. Thank you for taking the time to read it though =)


I agree with you in that it might be probable that the Old Testament Israelites probably even ADDED secular-isms to The Law. Although I don't know enough of it to be able to substantiate the opinion, I can certainly move to assume that what you say could very well have been the case =)

Anonymous said...

Most of the following was taken from the Jewish encyclopedia and show how much pointed to the Messiah and what they missed when Christ came. Much of this remindes me of how people miss the restoration.
A religious rite performed on male children of Jews on the eighth day after birth; also on their slaves, whether born in the house or not. It was enjoined upon Abraham and his descendants as "a token of the covenant" concluded with him by God for all generations, the penalty of non-observance being "karet," excision from the people (Gen. xvii. 10-14, xxi. 4; Lev. xii. 3).Aliens had to undergo circumcision before they could be allowed to partake of the covenant-feast of Passover (Ex. xii. 48)The word "'arel" (uncircumcised) is also employed for "unclean" (Lev. xxvi. 41, "their uncircumcised hearts"; compare Jer. ix. 25; Ezek. xliv. 7, 9);According to Ex. iv. 24-26, the circumcision of the first-born son was omitted by Moses, and the Lord therefore "sought to kill him"; whereupon "Zipporah took a flint and cut off the foreskin of her son, and made it touch [A. V., "cast it at"] his [Moses'] feet," saying, "A bridegroom of blood art thou to me." This accumulation of evidence points to the fact that circumcision in its primitive form was connected with marriage. Other clutures at all events selected for the rite of circumcision after weeks of purification, bearing a new name, is ushered into the bridal chamber. The rite of circumcision signified admission of the boy at the age of puberty into the rank of priesthood, as "web" (the Egyptian for "pure" or "holy"), the mother's presence being considered especially necessary. In Biblical literature the rite is incidental to the recognition of heirship, and to the adoption of a new name (Gen. xvii. 4-14).
Deut. x. 16 (compare ib. xxx. 6 and Jer. iv. 4) says, "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart," thus giving the rite a spiritual meaning; circumcision as a physical act being enjoined nowhere in the whole book (see Geiger, "Urschrift," ii. 79, and Montefiore, "Hibbert Lectures," 1892, pp. 229, 337).
Jer. ix. 25, 26 goes so far as to say that circumcised and uncircumcised will be punished alike by the Lord; for "all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart." And great importance was laid upon the shedding of a drop of blood as a sign of the covenant when a child or a proselyte born circumcised was to be initiated into Judaism (Shab. 135-137b).
Pharaoh prevented the Hebrew slaves from performing the rite, but when the Passover time came and brought them deliverance, they underwent circumcision, and mingled the blood of the paschal lamb with that of the Abrahamic covenant, wherefore (Ezek. xvi. 6) God repeats the words: "In thy blood live!"
The former would admit Gentiles after having undergone the rite of baptism; that is, regeneration by living water (see Sibyllines. iv. 164 et seq.: "Wash your whole stature clean from impurity in running streams, and, with hands uplifted to heaven, ask for forgiveness for your doing; then the worship of God will heal gross impiety").In Gen. R. xlvi. the arguments for and against circumcision are put forth in the form of a dialogue between God and Abraham. Replying to the question why the command had not been given to Adam if it was so dear to Him, God reminds Abraham that it should be sufficient for him that he and God are in the world—a play on "ShADDAI"—and that the maintenance of the world depends upon the acceptance of the commandment. But Abraham objects that circumcision is an obstacle to the conversion of the Gentiles. This trouble, also, is overcome by the declaration of God's sufficiency to protect both Abraham and the world.
The problem of proselytism, indeed, had stirred Judaism to its very depths, and had almost separated Hellenistic from Palestinian Judaism. The former would admit Gentiles after having undergone the rite of baptism; that is, regeneration by living water (see Sibyllines. iv. 164 et seq.: "Wash your whole stature clean from impurity in running streams, and, with hands uplifted to heaven, ask for forgiveness for your doing; then the worship of God will heal gross impiety"). With this view, Josephus relates ("Ant." xx. 2, §§ 3, 4), a Jew named Ananias sought to make converts to Judaism.The issue between the Zealot and Liberal parties regarding the circumcision of proselytes remained an open one in tannaitic times; R. Joshua asserting that the bath, or baptismal rite, rendered a person a full proselyte without circumcision, as Israel, when receiving the Law, required no initiation other than the purificative bath; while R. Eliezer makes circumcision a condition for the admission ofa proselyte, and declares the baptismal rite to be of no consequence (Yeb. 46a).
It was chiefly this rigorous feature of Jewish proselytism which provoked the hostile measures of the emperor Hadrian. And, furthermore, it was the discussion of this same question among the Jews—whether the seal of circumcision, (see Shab. 137b; Ex. R. xix.; Targ. Cant. iii. 8; Hermas, "Similitudines," viii. 6, ix. 16; II Clemens to the Corinthians, vii. 6, viii. 6; Grace at Meals; for heathen parallels of the expression "seal" see Anrich, "Das Antike Mysterienwesen," pp. 123-124, and Reizenstein, l.c. pp. 7-8), might not find its substitute in "the seal of baptism"—which led Paul to urge the latter in opposition to the former (Rom. ii. 25 et seq., iv. 11.
Unlike Christian baptism, circumcision, however important it may be, is not a sacrament which gives the Jew his religious character as a Jew. An uncircumcised Jew is a full Jew by birth (Ḥul. 4b; 'Ab. Zarah 27a; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 264, 1).
These are many important parllels of circumcision to baptism, bridegroom, passover, the giving of the new name, and spiritual circumcision of the heart understood by the Jews of the Old Testiment and drawn to by Christ and his apostles to help understand the change from the Old covenant and the New. These thing will have greater unstanding in the context of the LDS temples.

Anonymous said...

A List of the 613 Mitzvot laws that are a part of Jewish faith.

Will said...

One of my favorite innovations: Small temples, which are enabling the accelaration of temple building across the world.

One of my least favorite innovations:
Scripture chase competitions in high school seminary that turn scripture study into a shame game.

Peter said...

Thanks Anon,

I really wasn't asking about circumcision or the lack of it. I was using it to highlight the other point, of a practice changing after being given forever. Circumcision was the only thing that came to mind when I was writing. Thank you for the information it was quite interesting. Both you and NM.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Peter, I got carried away.

I like the lime green Jello with carrots, TV, hand carts, recored setting national champ in university wrestling.

tatabug said...


I certainly can agree with you that we must try to distinguish between opinion and revelation, and I also agree with the statement by Brigham Young which you quoted about inquiring of the Lord in that regard. I know that prophets put forth both opinion and true revelation. However, the process within the Church for accepting new revelation is a safeguard to prevent any one man from leading the Church astray.

The cessation of plural marriage wasn't determined by any one man. It was decided by many. It was approved by the three prophets involved and the twelve (in the beginning half-heartedly, but in the end fully) and the members of the Chruch in general. It wasn't an easy decision to come to and it took many years for it to finally come to an end, but that was the only solution available which would remove the Church and its members from the jeopardy they were in from the government. The temples and all the Church property and the members rights were at stake. President Woodruff even saw in vision what would happen if they didn't comply with federal demands on the issue, and he did everything he could to put on a complicit face with regard to the Church's position, but did everything he could to allow it to continue in a subversive manner. After all efforts at subversion failed, it finally had to be made binding by Joseph F. Smith.

Joseph Smith himself even received revelation for such a precedent of the discontinuation of a commandment in D&C 124:49 which says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.

D360 said...

TimeLee Tim said:

Here's my favorite recent innovation: allowing women married in the temple to remarry in the temple again, presumably leaving it to the Lord and the parties involved to work out the final details.

I can see changing the style of the Garments and such as that is a style change but the substance is not different. wouldn't this be one of those substance changes and what implications does that have for our whole understanding of eternal marriage? or does it?

thanks for any insight.

Rob Higginbotham said...

Cool Mormonovations? Hmmm...The missionary program, the MTC, the Mc-Temples, The Preach My Gospel instead of the standard 6(though I still find myself after all these years quoting from them from memory), the Seminary and Institute Program, the YSA.

Changing Hymns, ie Away in the Manger, I prefer the old one.
Not-adding Hymns(Do we even do that anymore?)
Two brethren for teaching a primary class(b/c of increased pedophilia...stupid punks)
Changes in Temple Endowment script
The Urban myth of not questioning your leaders(I guess this isn't a Mormonovation, but I have seen it more and more lately)

As for polygamy, geesh, I get enough stress from ONE ANGRY WIFE, why would I subject myself TO MORE??