Saturday, August 4, 2007

Lawsuits and Motivations

From Cecil:

The topic of the day which seems to be occupying many on the Centerplace message boards and the Restoration generally is the lawsuit against the Raytown branch. The principal questions regard the motives for the C of C to pursue this action. Many have offered, or at least speculated, various reasons for the suit. Some are well reasoned and some are fanciful.

One of the strongest issues deals with financial liability. Justifiably, some in the C of C might anticipate, since they own the RLDS name, they would be the target of any suit against a body using the name. Anticipating this possible jeopardy would be sufficient to bring suit. The suit does not seek monetary damages but rather an injunction against the use of the name. As any corporate official will tell you, lawsuits disrupt corporations at many levels. They require time and resources to defend. They interrupt the timing of achieving stated objectives within the company. Suits also encourage disputations among employees (members?) whose energy would be better directed to the goals (Zion?) of the organization. Some assert that this is the actual goal.

Should we “follow the money?” Although, with our lack of record keeping, it is virtually impossible to reckon accurately what the collective worth of our various churches might be, I believe we are probably far better off than the CoC on a per member basis. Their responsibilities to real estate combined with support of a far greater leadership corps and missionary effort has left them short on funds. Despite not seeking money from the suit, some believe somehow this is their goal.

Now let’s drop the other shoe. This may well be a carefully orchestrated effort on the part of the collective hierarchy in Independence to relieve the CofC of the burden of the name. Since they have chosen to ignore the spiritual bonds which the historical RLDS represents, the name has become an anachronism. To the average member, the possibility of retaining the name which we all had come to love so much would be exhilarating beyond belief. To restore the name to the RLDS would represent a trophy on the shelf for the leadership. Would the membership then assign some special significance to those who were a party to recovering the name? To those who pay attention to such things, it is well known that the hierarchy and the CofC are in contact and have been for some time. Some committees have been devoted to reconciliation. Apparently others have discussed the use of the name.

To emphasize that the two groups have been in contact on the matter of the name please read the following which is in an email from Rudy Leutzinger to Joy Muir which was on the Centerplace message board in June 2007 and posted there with permission:

“We began using the name two weeks ago. There have been two
advertisements in the paper so far. The POZ have drafted a new
advertisement that has been forwarded to the branches that incorporates
the name in it. It will probably appear sometime in June.

The CoC has not granted permission but they have not disputed our claim
that we have a right to use the name. If there is a law suit, they will
initiate it. (I, for one, hope that there is some kind of legal action.
Our case is very strong.)

We are looking to negotiate several things with the CoC including the use
of the name. These talks will begin in earnest this summer. I do not
care to say more at this point but will be happy to keep everyone advised
as news comes.

Why claim the name? In two court cases, the RLDS church was recognized as
the successor to the original church of 1830. I was baptized in that
church and ordained under its authority. Twenty years from now, people
will look back on this time in the history of the church and realize that
RLDS is still the legal and spiritual successor – especially after the CoC
revelation of 2007. Any other organization will viewed as a faction.”

This is not a bolt from the blue. This matter has been on the table (or under the table) between these groups for some long time. If it is the will of our Heavenly Father, then, it will take place. Do remember please that modern courts are duty bound to abide by points of law and are rarely concerned with matters of the Spirit. If the plaintiffs mount an energetic plea in the secular atmosphere of the court they could very well prevail. If the court is sympathetic to the lines of succession and the articles of faith then we could very well win this suit.

Brother Rudy is certainly on the right track in encouraging the lawsuit. This matter cannot be settled with a “howdy and a hand shake.” It must bear the legal imprimatur which can only be obtained in a court of law. This is not “Court TV.” Many suits are initiated on a non-adversarial basis to clarify issues so that both parties can proceed with the business at hand.

My skeptical nature suggests that this is all preordained and will follow the script giving back the name to those who believe its principles. Meanwhile, I sincerely pray that we are not distracted from our goals and the wishes of our Heavenly Father.

Cecil Moon

Hot Weather Activities

It's a temptation to jump right into the middle of the Center Place debate on the CoC lawsuit against the Raytown branch. But it probably wouldn't be very productive. When the thread gets deleted you all can always come over here and continue it. I know there's a lot of anger and I understand it. Righteous anger is good. Spinning-your-wheels anger is not. I've done enough wheel spinning in the past few months to last a lifetime. I've also seen enough indifference and inertia to lead me to wonder why I bother.

Cecil is busy hammering out a post addressing the rite of Baptism For the Dead. I'll steer clear of that. Meanwhile, watch how the lawsuit, the reconciliation committee and the CoC all play out. It's all been planned, orchestrated, cast, and choreographed.

Try to stay cool through all of this.



Friday, August 3, 2007

Taken Literally

Revelation 14:20

This verse came up in Adult Sunday School yesterday and properly scared everybody to death. Well maybe not “to death” but at least shocked everybody by the immensity of the image. During the harvest of the world, the angel “gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine press of the wrath of God (verse 19.)”

Verse 20: "And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horses’ bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”

This is a scary proposition. How much blood would that be to occupy that space? To make the concept easier to embrace, herein is rendered the number crunching to establish a more visible view.

To make this more reliable we have to establish definitions. The reference work “World Almanac” is the source book for the descriptions. The Inspired Version of the Bible is the source of the quotations.

A cubit is 21.8 inches
A furlong is 1/8th of a mile
1 gallon equals 231 cubic inches
The body’s blood content is normally 1/11th of body weight
Average weight for humans is roughly 150 lbs.
A horse’s bridle is generally about 60 inches (5 ft.)
The generally accepted population of the earth is 6,000,000,000 (and growing.)

An assumption (possibly not reasonable) is made that this blood letting in the wine press is applicable only to those non-believing persons currently living on earth. It was amazing that the processing of the numbers resulted in some very “even” conclusions. Since the furlong is a lineal measurement, I choose to see it as “square furlongs” rather than the more difficult to envision, linear furlong. The result, assuming the complete exsanguinations of every sinning soul comes down to a lake of blood five miles by five miles and five feet deep. I’m not sure what to extract from the numbers. It came to 5-5-5, and not 6-6-6.

When all was said and done, the conclusion was, like much of Revelation, not entirely clear. However,one would be well served to conduct his life in such a manner, in concert with God, to avoid this fate. This is, after all the final harvest of the souls of men and the residue would be free to ascend and join their Father in Heaven being freed of their earthly existence. Still, it is more likely that this is reserved for those who, in total, have achieved the maximum level of sin which God finds intolerable. Here, it would appear, the sickle is the tool used to separate the wheat from the chaff. Fifty years ago I would have no doubt. I knew everything then. Today I have time for consideration and the conviction to dispel nagging doubt with prayer. We all also have access to the omnipotent knowledge of the Almighty for direction.

The Book of Revelation has probably inspired more scholars and the learned to write more lengthy tomes than any other book of the Bible. Do you find it interesting that they require 10, 50 or 100 times more words to describe the Revelation than the book itself contains? I am guilty as well. I have just used well over five hundred words, so far, to discuss the forty nine words in the previous quotes. Perhaps we should just keep it simple. God is! Love Him, work for Him, pray to Him for everything, keep the covenant and expect a glorious result.

May God bless you all.

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fact or Fallacy?

In the Book of Revelation the word "like" is used 16 times, according to Strong's Concordance. I realize it is not a Restoration concordance, but it's all I have for the time being. I understand the word to be used as a simile, utilizing everything from gemstones to frogs in the case of the Book of Revelation. I understand it. I have no problem with it. What I have a problem with is Rev. 1:13 and 14:14.

I'm no Bible scholar. But I do like to search and research. A year or so ago I was the recipient of a declaration from the mouth of a fellow saint. The person who is referred to in Rev. 1:13 (And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. Italics added) and Rev. 14:14 (And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. Italics added) is Joseph Smith. Yes, it's a run-on sentence, but I needed to get it all in here.

When I disagreed, stating it is Jesus Christ, I got a pitying look and the question, "Can't someone be like the Son of man?" I said , "No," and it went downhill from there.

The reason I'm bringing all this up again is that the issue was raised in Sunday School this past Sunday. I did my "I disagree" thing, stopping short of screaming blasphemy, and got some more pitying looks and a few condescending remarks. However, I did hear a few say they agreed with me.

Now I'm confronted with Hebrews 7:3. For this Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually. (Italics added)

So, where am I going with this? To whom do the two passages in Revelation refer? Are they in any way connected to the passage in Hebrews? If the Son of man in Rev. is Joseph Smith where does this leave Jesus Christ? Is it dangerous to venerate Joseph Smith? If any of you out there are still speaking to me I would love to hear from you.

In His love


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Barrier to Zion—Self-Interest

I frequently tally up the magnificent gifts I have received from God. He has been very, very good to me. He has provided every needful blessing, and as frosting on a cake, a loving, faithful spouse. He has blessed my physical needs and healed me of very serious medical problems. He has led me to the association of caring and concerned Saints here in the Ozarks. He has also provided the tools of self-preservation.

After experiencing His abundance, one might be tempted to believe God favors one over another. That is simply not true. We of the covenant have equal opportunity to share in His gifts. From a scriptural perspective (I Corinthians 12:4 - 12) we should be aware that all do not receive every gift. For example, at least two former pastors have testified frequently of seeing personages present in various venues where large groups of believers who were present took no notice. Another one has often shared prophetic dreams. It is said that we all dream but I can’t remember any of them. These two examples don’t make me feel less blessed but just different. Although being the recipient of miraculous healing, I do not resent that I am apparently not in a position to encourage God’s healing of others. Oh yes, I pray sincerely for their healing but they sometimes continue to experience chronic extensions of their maladies. It seems I need considerably more study and prayer if I hope to understand the mind and will of God.

In the first paragraph, I mentioned the tools of self-preservation. This is, perhaps, the most nearly universal gift of all. To a greater or lesser degree, we all share this one. If we do not exercise this very needful blessing, and ignore dangers, we may meet Him much sooner than we planned. In possession of this wonderful inheritance are we then subject to transference from self-preservation to self-interest. I submit that we are.

I freely acknowledge self-interest. I do not do so with personal pride because I realize that it is not in concert with the will of God. This trait seems to constantly intrude in our lives and interrupt our goal of establishing Zion. It is difficult to pursue His aims if our every action is tempered by our own priorities. Dare we go forth “without purse or script” to pursue that which God has directed? Our family will soon go to Odessa campground for fellowship with the Saints. I anticipate we shall make lengthy preparations, selecting proper clothing and adequate funding, including miscellany far in excess of our actual needs. This is self-interest in a benign form. Once there, will our prayers be shaped from the heart or will they also have concern for form, substance and proper grammar? This level of self interest is, I believe, more serious, because it courts pride. If none of this sounds familiar, I salute your humility.

Self-interest in individuals is unseemly; in leadership, it can be a disaster. I readily recognize the temptation of leadership in all organizations to allow personal agenda to sublimate the greater goals. We see this everywhere from the local school board to the halls of Congress. In the church, we must be constantly be on the alert for those who would allow self-interest to circumvent the will of God. Is this an accusation? No, it is a warning. I recently read in a review by Andrew Suttaford, something which I choose to paraphrase: Leadership relies on God, but does God rely on leadership? If God does not rely on leaders, what does He have to say about the rest of us?

Cecil Moon

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Old Information, or, A Day Late and a Dollar Short

It's all been said before.

As I look back at the information I have before me I’m amazed at what I’ve missed over the past two years. Granted, I haven’t always been diligent, and until recently, have been unaware of what was really going on within the church, right under our noses, with the exception of a few quiet meetings that no one knew about until after the fact. Then when I began inquiring I got the most convoluted assortment of platitudes that I'm still shaking my head in bewilderment. But I’m getting better at sorting through the muddle and gradually piecing together the big picture.

I’m going to keep this personal, referrring only to what I have in front of me in terms of the black and white printed page and not rumors. I am also going to attempt to adhere to Ephesians 4: 29 (Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.) I ask your indulgence as I again march some of these puzzlements before all of us. And no, I do not ask that you who do agree with me go to the trouble of attempting to answer for others. I’m looking for truth, and truth can only come from those to whom these questions were and are posed.

On February 17, 2007, in reaction to the “Peace Committee” web page I stumbled across on the CoC site, I asked this question on the JCRB website: Is the JCRB still meeting with the CoC and making plans for a reconciliation? What progress is being made?

Answer: Some Restorationists (not thru the JCRB) meeting with some members of the CoC's Peace & Justice Committee early on identified that "reconciliation" did not mean "reunification." The idea was that these groups could sit down in a non-confrontational setting and dialogue with each other. One of the actions to come from this informal committee was a resolution that was submitted to the 2006 JCRB that would officially recognize the committee. The resolution did not come up for discussion last year and is still pending. The resolution has been modified a bit and will be resubmitted to the JCRB and submitted for the first time to the CoC. The outcome will be dependent upon the respective conferences.

Resolution TM-1 was not taken up at Conference this year. Yet on May 31, 2007, Brother Leutzinger wrote the letter to Stephen Veazey with the good news that a committee of seven had been picked by the Logistics Committee of the JCRB for the purpose of reconciliation with the CoC. For those who would say the reconciliation process is only for addressing the use of the RLDS name, and use of buildings, etc., let me remind you that those of us who have not chosen to take back the RLDS name and stand with the JCRB will be considered factions. Now we know what's in a name.

By whose authority?

As Brother Everett and others have so wisely observed, the Powers That Be of the JCRB seem to believe they speak for the whole church. But I'm not sure if they really believe that. I believe they don’t really care, and that they are speaking for themselves and to their own agenda, pushing aside common consent and the wishes of the church at large.

The wheels of the JCRB have been turning for years, and the reconciliation with the CoC has been in the works at least since the retreat at Odessa Hills Campground in 2005, probably long before that. Why all the secrecy and denial? Is this what we’re about? I have heard from many of you who are associated with the JCRB, and some of you I quite honestly believe are being misled. You people are godly men and women and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have nothing but what’s best for the church at heart. But secrecy and deceit in any quantity and at any level of an organization causes confusion and, ultimately, devastation. (Gal. 6:7) God wants more both for and from us. Why must we become embroiled in a power struggle among those who seek to exploit the office of priesthood, when it has nothing to do with who we really are and where we’re going? Why this race to the finish when the rules have been set by men and not God, and God gets left in the dust?