A friend of mine gave an excellent talk last week in his ward about the Zoramites. His humble prayer was that his audience might see some of the parallels between them and us as Latter-day Saints. Sadly, the message fell upon deaf ears.
I ask the same question my friend posed in his talk: Are we like the Zoramites of old time? If so, how?
In Alma 31 we find the account.
13 For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person. (Is this so different than our “stand”? Set above the congregation, whereupon only the most faithful sit and speak?)
14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:
15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. (Surely this was not what truly displeased Alma — the Zoramites were simply expressing their acknowledgement of God’s holiness. And to say He is Spirit is also not a contradiction to our beliefs. Remember Ammon’s response to the Lamanite king asking if God was the Great Spirit? Ammon’s response was “Yes!” Of course Mormons will emphasize that God is also flesh and bones, resurrected, etc. BUT to say He is also Spirit cannot be what angered Alma.)
16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. (Now is where I think Alma becomes truly upset. But as LDS we too often speak of how blessed we are to be “set apart” from everyone else — the only true and living church — elected and foreordained to come forth in these the last days as God’s most valiant spirits. With Holy Prophets, Seers, and Revelators — rejecting the Childishness of our Gentile Fathers who, per Bruce R. McConkie, not only had it all wrong, but who worshipped Satan and were members of the Church of the Great Whore who sat upon the Waters. Truly WE are a chosen people. Now on the issue of there being ‘no Christ,’ this would have upset Alma too, IMO, BUT are we any different if we do not know how to speak of Him or if we do not properly worship Him? Do we, like the Zoramites, accidentally deny Christ because we believe that “God has given his power to men” so that He is no longer needed here?)
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. (Much of the same. Elected, special, most valiant, set apart, better than all others. But I will say that our ‘damning to hell’ of other faiths has softened over the years. As a young man I recall a much greater urgency to preach the gospel because we feared that any who rejected or did not accept the gospel in this life would go to hell. BUT today us Mormons teach a much nicer message. As funny as it may sound, the Zoramites actually may have been more correct than today’s Mormonites who teach that there is no hell. Just glory for everyone. Oh and by the way, we will do your work for you when you die, so no worries.)
18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen. (We do this a lot too. ‘Thank you Lord that we are chosen and that we live in this blessed Valley, away from all the Gentiles, set apart able to teetotal without anyone making fun of us. White shirted and long skirted. I.e. Special.’)
19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.
20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers. (Do we offer the same vain and repetitive prayers? Let’s be honest. I say the answer is yes. ‘Please help us to get home safely and bless all those who are not here that they can come next week and bless these cookies to nourish and strengthen our bodies. We’re grateful that we are so blessed, that we have the truth and that we cannot be led astray by our holy prophets.’)
And so I ask again, are there parallels between us and the Zoramites? Would Alma and his brethren be impressed or saddened and angered by what they would observe in our meetings? Or would they be more likely to agree with Joseph Smith who said:
How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.137)
Today in fast and testimony meeting, I think there was only one testimony that even spoke of Christ. But, even that testimony ended in how blessed we are to have a prophet to guide our Church that can never be led astray. All the other testimonies were about our bishopric and about the leaders of the Church, especially Thomas S. Monson. Funny enough the comment in one of the last testimonies said it best: “There has been a good spirit here today.” What does that even mean? Is it a confession that THE Spirit was not present, but that some Casper the Friendly Ghost spirit was in fact, in attendance? Who made us feel sleepy and happy and warm?
Bruce Almighty, aka Zeus McConkie
The god of Mormon Doctrine is no other than Bruce R. McConkie. He not only “wrote the book” on doctrine but he was also the son-in-law to Joseph Fielding Smith, a man also known for his “doctrinal prowess.” Surrounded by other great Mormon scholars and academics such as Hugh Nibley, Eugene England, Mark E. Petersen, and N. Eldon Tanner, Bruce set himself apart and became the doctrinal go-to-guy of his day.
This last week I read a great blogpost about McConkie’s beliefs on Jesus Christ. Keep in mind as you read this that this is the same man who said only two weeks before he died:
And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
And yet in McConkie’s talk he warned us that we should NOT worship Christ or seek some special relationship with Him! Here is a part of that talk as quoted in the blog titled, Peace in Paradise:
The Mainstream of the Church
Now I know that some may be offended at the counsel that they should not strive for a special and personal relationship with Christ. It will seem to them as though I am speaking out against mother love, or Americanism, or the little red schoolhouse. But I am not. There is a fine line here over which true worshipers will not step.
It is true that there may, with propriety, be a special relationship with a wife, with children, with friends, with teachers, with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the sky and the lilies of the valley. But the very moment anyone singles out one member of the Godhead as the almost sole recipient of his devotion, to the exclusion of the others, that is the moment when spiritual instability begins to replace sense and reason.
The proper course for all of us is to stay in the mainstream of the Church. This is the Lord’s Church, and it is led by the spirit of inspiration, and the practice of the Church constitutes the interpretation of the scripture.
And you have never heard one of the First Presidency or the Twelve, who hold the keys of the kingdom, and who are appointed to see that we are not “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14)—you have never heard one of them advocate this excessive zeal that calls for gaining a so-called special and personal relationship with Christ.
You have heard them teach and testify of the ministry and mission of the Lord Jesus, using the most persuasive and powerful language at their command. But never, never at any time have they taught or endorsed the inordinate or intemperate zeal that encourages endless, sometimes day-long prayers, in order to gain a personal relationship with the Savior.
Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.
I am well aware that some who have prayed for endless hours feel they have a special and personal relationship with Christ that they never had before. I wonder if this is any or so much different, however, from the feelings of fanatical sectarians who with glassy eyes and fiery tongues assure us they have been saved by grace and are assured of a place with the Lord in a heavenly abode, when in fact they have never even received the fullness of the gospel.
I wonder if it is not part of Lucifer’s system to make people feel they are special friends of Jesus when in fact they are not following the normal and usual pattern of worship found in the true Church.
Let me remind you to stay in the course chartered by the Church. It is the Lord’s Church, and he will not permit it to be led astray. If we take the counsel that comes from the prophets and seers, we will pursue the course that is pleasing to the Lord.
Would it be amiss if I reminded you that Jesus maintained a reserve between him and his disciples and that he did not allow them the same intimacy with him that they had with each other? This was particularly true after his resurrection.
For instance, when Mary Magdalene, in a great outpouring of love and devotion, sought to embrace the risen Lord, her hands were stayed. “Touch me not,” he said. Between her and him, no matter what the degree of their love, there was a line over which she could not pass. And yet, almost immediately thereafter, a whole group of faithful women held that same Lord by the feet, and, we cannot doubt, bathed his wounded feet with their tears.
It is a fine and sacred line, but clearly there is a difference between a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord, which is improper, and one of worshipful adoration, which yet maintains the required reserve between us and him who has bought us with his blood (my emphasis added).
Okay, I’m sorry but this is where I become a little unhinged. Ironically a large part of this talk was written to rebuke George Pace for having written about our opportunity to develop a personal relationship with Christ. Much like the time when McConkie reprimanded Brother England with a letter that said in part:
It is my province to teach to the Church what the doctrine is. It is your province to echo what I say or to remain silent.
I shall write in kindness and in plainness and perhaps with sharpness. I want you to know that I am extending to you the hand of fellowship though I hold over you at the same time, the scepter of judgment.
I say it’s Elder McConkie who deserves to be rebuked. For teaching false doctrine. And the Brethren who never corrected his false doctrine openly. (A committee found almost 1100 errors in Mormon Doctrine, very few of which were corrected)
I hope any reading this will have the courage to stand with me against such unrighteous dominion.
Since Elder McConkie is now on the other side of the veil, he can answer to the true Holy Prophets who said the following things in scripture that contradict his words that we should NOT worship Christ:
And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God. (It almost appears that McConkie’s statements on behalf of the Gentile Church were foreseen by Nephi — He obviously needs to be convinced that Jesus is GOD and is worthy of our worship!)
And then there’s Jacob 7, where Sherem calls out the Nephites for “the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence.”
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins… And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.
There are so many more scriptures that contradict McConkie. You can read them in Jacob 4, Mosiah 18, Alma 7, Alma 15, Alma 21, Alma 22, Alma 31, 34, 44, 45, 3 Nephi 2, 11, 21, 4 Nephi, and in many other places in the scriptures.
The example in 3 Nephi when those in attendance prayed to and worshipped Him. Or in the New Testament when while still in mortality, women and apostles and others bowed down and worshipped the King of Kings, with their tears and their oinments and kisses. Jesus did not rebuke them as did the angel when John bowed to “his fellow servant.” There was no fine line as McConkie warned — just worship of the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Now, in fairness, I am not a doctrinal go-to-guy. I admit that I don’t know exactly who it is we pray to. I don’t know exactly how to worship God the Father and His Son. But the scriptures tell me, and my heart tells me to seek this God Jesus who died for me. To fall down at His feet and to praise Him. He is my God and I want Him to be my Father.
As for Zeus and the Zormonites, I invite you to repent of your worship of men. Of your idolatry. Of your vain repetitions. Your holy pulpits and your teleprompters. Of your fine twined linen — your nice suits – that which you call the uniform of the priesthood. Of your grinding upon the faces of the poor by building up your fine sanctuaries with funds that should be consecrated to bringing meat into the the Lord’s storehouse.
May we repent together and come unto Him.