I recently was prompted to re-read the sermon of King Benjamin found in the book of Mosiah. This time, however, I started at the beginning of the first chapter where I found this interesting aspect. King Benjamin was teaching his three sons of the value of the scriptures described in the first chapter of Mosiah:

My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.

For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.

I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.

O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true.  And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes.

And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers. (Mosiah 1:3-7)

In the first verse, King Benjamin tells his sons that the scriptures contain a record of God’s interaction with men and secondly, they contain the commandments. Then he makes what is, to me, in interesting statement; that without the scriptures they would have been in ignorance, ‘not knowing the mysteries of God.’

We know from Alma, chapter 12 that we are to seek the mysteries of God:

And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction.  Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)

We are all to seek the mysteries of God, or in other words, we are to seek His word which I believe to be personal revelation. We can only receive a ‘portion of His word’ if we rely on others to supply it because God only will make in known based on the ‘heed and diligence’ demonstrated by the people.  If we continue to strive in seeking this personal revelation, we can receive the mysteries of God in full, in a complete form.

I would suggest that the scriptures play a vital role in leading us to the mysteries of God. It is through diligent study of the scriptures that we are able to form the questions that will lead us to the answers that enlighten us as to these mysteries. Are we, individually and collectively, demonstrating the necessary heed and diligence, to receive the portion of His word that is available to us? Are we seeking, through the words of the prophets contained in scripture, to understand the veiled references to His mysteries? If not, we are allowing ourselves to be captured by the chains of hell. Not seeking to know the mysteries of God is placing us in the grasp of the adversary.

I also found another interesting item as I read the things that King Benjamin taught to his sons. Let me again state the quote:

…our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct. (Mosiah 1:5)

Let me paraphrase King Benjamin from this verse, in our context today. There are modern day people who suffer from the same malady as the Lamanites. They know nothing of the scriptures and do not believe them when they are taught from the scriptures because they prefer to hold to the incorrect traditions of their fathers.

What incorrect doctrines and practices do we have among us today that are a result of the traditions of our fathers? I would suggest that the key test is to determine if these doctrines or practices or rituals have foundation in and are consistent with the scriptures. The scriptures should be the rudder of our boat. They should be the lens through which we view our chosen mechanism of devotion to our God. Without the reliance on the scriptures to be our guide and our source, we would be as the Lamanites and left to flounder in what we incorrectly believe was delivered by those who came before us.

You might say that we are led by prophets, seers and revelators and, therefore, the scriptures are of lesser importance than the current dogma. You might even suggest that modern revelation trumps the scriptures. To that assertion, I would respond with the caution given by the Lord Himself. We have been warned several times not to add to or remove from that which we are taught. For example, when Christ described His doctrine to the Nephites, He ended with this warning:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. (3 Nephi, 11:39-40)

What aspects of our doctrine have been added to our sacred regimen by traditions within the church? Does our day-to-day worship contain aspects that are not founded in scripture? Is  the LDS church, today, governed by the scriptures or by the traditions of our fathers, better known as the Church Handbook of Instruction? We are told here explicitly that our adherence to the defined doctrine of Christ is necessary if we are to avoid evil.

The ‘chains of hell’ await those who do not use the scriptures to seek the mysteries of God. The ‘gates of hell’ stand open to receive those who add to or take from the doctrine of Christ as defined in the scriptures. We must, individually and collectively, ensure that we are in line with the direction received from the Lord. We must understand that any modern revelation should not contradict with, but find support in, the scriptures.

What think ye?

13 Responses to “The Traditions of Our Fathers”

  • Log:

    “We must…!”

    Must we? Is that not a value judgement for each to make? And as it is a value judgement, maybe persuasion on that point is in order, rather than declaration?

    Just thinkin’.

    • Spektator:

      Would you feel better if I said, “I strongly suggest that we consider this as an important element in our process of gaining knowledge?”

      I stated my concerns based on the scriptural content of the post and the message that came to my heart and my mind.

      • Log:

        Well, that would be better. Eventually, one really wants to hear “if you go this way, this is where you will be.” For that is the voice of experience.

        “If you want thus-and-thus outcome, this is what you should do.”

        Like this:

        Alma 22:16
        16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

  • sfort:

    The “must came from Christ’s declaration in 3rd Ne. 11:39-40. I am sure Spek takes no position other than by persuasion. His passionate urgency is noted because of philosophies of men mingled with scripture as declared by the same organization that has fulfilled the phrase. The declaration I visualize is the need to cling to the records of the Lord’s annointed throughout the history of the earth.

  • George:

    The Lord speaks more clearly to me, in words I can understand, review, analyze, and study, if I’ve been studying the scriptures faithfully. If I’m non-committal in my scripture study, the Lord’s words to me, if any, are vague and transitory.

    • Spektator:

      So..in essence, the better your are able to comprehend the words of the prophets (see 1 Nephi 2:13), the better able we are to hear and understand the word of the Lord (1 Nephi 2:3). Makes sense to me.

  • Adam:

    What incorrect doctrines and practices do we have among us today that are a result of the traditions of our fathers?

    First off I loved this post Spek. This is getting to the heart of the matter. Yes, if we don’t seek the mysteries we’ll be brought into bondage by satan. The mysteries are plainly talked about by the prophets in the scriptures, but because of the precepts of men many plain things have been changed or corrupted.

    The doctrine of Christ and what his church is is plainly given in the scriptures. First lets look at Christ’s doctrine.

    31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.

    32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

    33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

    35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

    36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

    37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

    38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

    39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

    40 And WHOSO SHALL DECLARE MORE OR LESS THAN THIS, AND ESTABLISH IT FOR MY DOCTRINE, THE SAME COMETH OF EVIL, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

    This is it. This is all that is needed for salvation. The scriptures are clear that if we repent, believe in him and are baptized and received the Holy Ghost we will be saved. Anything more or less than this is not the straight and narrow. It is not of God.

    Mormon 9:23
    23 And he that believeth and is baptized SHALL BE SAVED, but he that believeth not shall be damned;

    3 Nephi 11:33
    33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same SHALL BE SAVED; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Moroni 7:34
    34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye MAY BE SAVED.

    Take notice there is no mention of work for the dead, sealings and temple endowments in the doctrine of Christ. He said clearly, anything “more” was not of him and cometh of evil. The scriptures are clear that salvation comes by his doctrine and nothing else.

    When Jesus ministered among the Jews and when he visited the Nephites he never mentioned the building of temples, church buildings, work for the dead, marriage sealings or anything else. Why? because it is NOT part of his doctrine.

    His doctrine is simple and given openly and freely to all. He does NOT work in secret or in darkness.

    Ether 8
    19. For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations

    2 Nephi 26
    23. I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness

    Work for the dead and temple ordinances are a tradition of men. It is against Christ’s doctrine and is NOT of God.

    When Moroni visited Joseph Smith he said his name would be had for good and evil among all nations.

    JSH 1
    33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

    Take notice that is says “all nations” this is and end-time statement when the Father will do his work among all nations. So why would Joseph name be had for evil? Because he introduced “more” than the doctrine of Christ. The Book of Mormon is clear that plural marriage is an abomination, yet Joseph introduced it. The Book of Mormon is clear that secret signs and works in the dark are NOT of God, yet Joseph introduced Masonic rituals. His name will be had for evil because of these things. For his translation of the Book of Mormon his name will be had for good.

    Now lets look at men’s tradition of the “church.” What we have today is a massive, money-making corporation with hierarchies of leadership that seek to control and compel men. Priestcraft is openly practiced and the gifts and powers of God are wanting.

    Let’s see how the Book of Mormon describes the Church of Christ.

    Mosiah 18

    17 And THEY were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.

    Mosiah 25

    21 Therefore THEY did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called churches; every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma.

    3 Nephi 26
    21 And THEY who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.

    The “Church” of Christ is a group of believers that repent and come unto Christ. Anything “more” than this is NOT his church.

    D&C 10

    67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

    68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

    There are tons more traditions that I could go into, but let this suffice for now.

    • Spektator:

      Adam,
      Thanks for stopping by. I had half expected someone to catch the irony in my post. I was asking people in the same breath to, one, seek the mysteries and, two, use the scriptures to set boundaries on what we should deem as acceptable. At least I see some irony in that. As you know, I fully agree that we should be fixated on the doctrine of Christ, no more, no less.

      The initial coveragein the Book of Mormon, that captured by Nephi as expounding on the doctrine of Christ, speaks of the necessity of receiving the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost which cleanses us and can make us a conduit for the words of Christ. I hold that we can receive all the mysteries through obedience to that path.

      As far as Joseph Smith is concerned, we, apparently, do not share the same perspective. Joseph Smith was doing one of two things during the Nauvoo period. He was either uniting the family of God through the sealings of both men and women to him as the patriarch of the dispensation. Or he was introducing plural marriage. I believe he was doing the former. I believe that Brigham Young ran with the latter idea and did what he felt he needed to do to justify the action. I think Brigham and his successors saw the need to make the Saints a peculiar people; something he accomplished by introducing polygamy.

      As to the introduction of Masonic actions into the temple ceremony. I think Brigham Young carried this much further than Joseph intended. I see what became the temple ceremony as something that went beyond the original symbolism of our need to individually approach the veil and seek to speak with the Lord.

      Perhaps we could talk off-line on these topics.

      Joe

    • Dan Whitcomb:

      Are you the author of the blog the great and marvelous work?

      • Spektator:

        That would be a ‘no.’ With all of life’s complexities which swirl around me, I can hardly manage this one blog…

  • Andi:

    The first example that comes to my mind of how church and American cultures can trump scriptural truth…

    We love to share the story of Daniel and his 3 friends who refused the king’s wine and MEAT, and nod sagely about how the Word of Wisdom tells us to abstain from ALCOHOL. Even as a young Primary teacher (I was 20 years old, and had been a member of the Church for 2 years), I gave a Word of Wisdom lesson, and did a picture diagram with all sorts of different foods and drinks. The kids were to circle the healthy ones and discuss what the Word of Wisdom said.

    The thing is… I struggled with where to put meat. In the end, I left it out of the diagram. I couldn’t bring myself to teach them that meat is BAD for you… because I believed the Almighty Food Pyramid, which declares meat to be an essential food group! It is SO ingrained in our culture to believe that meat is a superior food, when it turns out that the opposite is true.

    It wasn’t until a few years ago that I began to hear people testify about eating vegan, like Daniel. Their muscle mass would endure CRAZY LONG despite having to miss workouts due to injury. I re-read the Word of Wisdom, and came to realize that the use of meat for food is actually mentioned THREE times… VERY delicately, so as to allow people to miss it who are not ready to see… advising simply that it “pleases the Lord” that meat not be used, or that it be used in very small amounts, or only if we are struggling for food or to keep our bodies sufficiently warm with adequate fat for insulation.

    It’s there in the scriptures, plain as day, but for those who aren’t ready to even consider change, culture prevails.

  • Etta:

    I agree with what you have shared.
    It is true that we are told in the church, all the time,
    that “the living are more important than the dead prophets.” It’s like they
    are saying, “look at me. Don’t look back at them. What they said is of no
    account.”
    The thing that is wrong with that is that they do not qualify that statement by saying that the
    revelations from God, giving through living prophets are more important only in the particulars for direction in our tumultuous times, for our unique situations.
    That is all.
    Not that living leaders are more important and are more worthy than ancient prophets.
    Living prophets are supposed point to the words of the dead prophets. Jesus quoted Isaiah and other prophets all the time. He didn’t say he was more important. He added to, not detracted from what had been said formerly.

    The words of scripture should mesh with any later revelations.
    There is not suppose to be a contest between ancient prophets and latter-day prophets.
    It’s not an either/and/or mandate.
    God’s words will verify each other. If the living supposed prophets’ words contradict what the dead prophets have said, we can now who is out of line.
    If dead prophets have warned of our day when there will be those who cry all is well, and we hear those words coming from our leaders, then that is a red flag to
    take note of who is out of line.
    And there are many ways of saying “all is well,” without even saying those words.
    By not warning of conditions around us, and of a need to repent, people are led to
    believe that there is nothing to repent of.

    God has told us that way to know who is a true prophet or not is if their words
    mirror what God has already said to past prophets.
    All God’s words mesh together and support each other, whether they were said in the past or are said today.
    It is taking the Lord’s name in vain to say God has spoken to them today, if he has not. It is vain belief on the part of the hearers, if they believe by their silence of saying “thus saith the Lords” , that God has still spoken to them.
    It is vain for leaders to allow those they lead to presume that their positions of authority are a guarantee that all their words they speak come from the Lord. It is vain to speak empty and ear-tickling words which do not feed the sheep but only draw attention to themselves.

    If people do not study the scriptures they will not know when they are being falsely led. They will trust in lying words. Isaiah says that latter-day prophets are
    dumb watchdogs, lolling seers, fond of slumber, among other derogatory pronouncements. This does not give us the excuse to throw out all words from modern leaders as of no account. For all truth, whether spoken by God or by men inspired by the Holy Ghost are of value. The bad thing, though, is to believe them when they tell followers that their words are more important than what God has caused to be written by former, ancient prophets.
    For some reason, God has caused those things to be recorded for our day. They are not empty sayings of no worth, but are our standard to judge the living leaders by.
    Truth is truth, whether uttered anciently or today.
    There is no either follow the living and throw out the words of the dead, or
    follow the words of the dead and throw out the words of the living–unless such words be false.
    God’s truths are eternal.

    When the “emperor” has no clothes of revelation, he will be known,
    but only if followers are cognizant of the truths which have been written
    to see their present times by.
    Those who are afraid that that their image will be tarnished, or that it will be revealed that
    they have no clothes are the ones who urge you only look at them, not the words
    of the prophets of the past.

Leave a Reply