Saturday, August 11, 2007

In the End . . .

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It’s a fascinating quote. It’s also from a very famous man who had enemies by the millions and friends in even greater numbers. It seemed to resonate from several different angles.

Of late, I have difficulty viewing anything beyond the issues which face the Restoration. This is as it should be. Staying focused keeps the edge on to identify those who, for whatever reason, work to thwart the aims of the Lord. It is also important to identify those faithful who valiantly strive for Zion. As a result, the biggest task is to separate the two. As a man, I can in no way be certain of the intent within the hearts of all the Saints I know. I hear the pleas and prayers of some and infer their desire to serve the cause of Jesus Christ and the ultimate gathering by labor and sacrifice. Others offer nearly the same pleas and prayers but there is a hint of self before the outright commitment. Thank God I am relieved of the responsibility for the final judgment; it is His and His alone. It is not my province.

Is it my business to even be listening that carefully to separate the wheat from the chaff? More important, is it yours? I submit, with the full knowledge that it would be sinful for me to infringe upon that which God has declared as his own, it would also be sinful for me to ignore obvious breeches of faith in those around me. Why does this concern me? Here, the old history thing rears its ugly head. If we pay no attention to those who would corrupt the faith with words ever so subtle we silently endorse their plans by silence. By not insisting that organizational changes be meticulously explained and approved by the consent of the greater body of Saints we risk taking a course of action not in concert with God’s laws.

One of the characteristics I detect frequently is impatience of leadership at all levels. Please allow me the liberty of paraphrasing a quote I heard recently from a very wise old man who holds a very high post in God’s army on earth. He observed the impatience of elders who were bused to Kirtland, parked, entered the temple, offered prayers and sat and waited for the Lord to appear and share His wisdom. While they claimed to have the good spirit (and I don’t dispute that) he believed that they were disappointed that God did not manifest Himself in a much stronger way. Did they not go all the way to Kirtland to hear from Him? I believe they sincerely wanted to hear from Him. I also believe that He was there but simply did not choose to share, for whatever reason, any further instructions. It is His will we all seek but we often want it on our timetable.

As I read reports of the earliest days of the church I seem to remember that Joseph Smith, Jr. did certain things in concert with the Lord and followed the instructions given by the attending personages. Then the procedure was abruptly halted. Then, further instructions were given and then the process resumed. Do we remember evidence that Joseph was impatient for progress and somewhat piqued by the delay?

The same speaker shortly after asked when we should get started building Zion. Should we wait for the Lord’s instructions? He suggested we have had the direction and the general plan for a temple and asked when that project should begin. The answer on both counts is now. We have the answers to all of this in our hands. We do not require a committee to approve either one.

“Oh we must wait for the Lord to appear and lead us.” There is a great old, oft repeated story among Catholics which illustrates the point. The young priest while puttering around the altar between masses looks up and senses the presence of Jesus. He rushes back to the vestry where the older priest is relaxing and says, “Father, Father, Jesus is here, what do I do?’ The older priest looks up and replies, “Look busy.”

I believe I recognize a great deal of Restoration Church in what should be a joke. Who wants to be the first on hand to point out to the Lord on His return those things which we have accomplished for Him? Can he forgive the “progress” we have made? When He asks about the great number who have been baptized in His name are you prepared to report? When He asks to see His temple do you want to be the one to show Him? When He observes the poor among us, do we have a ready explanation?

I firmly believe that there are those who project a Godly outer shell for public consumption who would impede the works we are challenged to accomplish. I also believe that some of them actually believe some of the rubbish they dispense. Our salvation does not lie in our ability to sing “Kumbaya.” It lies in our faith in Jesus Christ and our adherence to His will by works. The rub comes in having two separate entities inhibiting the works. One is dispensing the false doctrine influenced by a desire for their own manmade outcome. The other, and this is serious, is the one who stands silently and tolerates that which he knows is wrong. These deceivers come clothed in an attractive wrapper preaching glib words to a ready audience who can later stand in the vestibule and say, “Oh, I just loved your message.” Well, that’s dandy. Did Jesus Christ appreciate the message as well? You know Him well enough to answer that question yourself if you really try. As he spoke, did you offer a silent request to God for verification of the message? He has offered to help you if you have doubts, if you will only ask.

I have mentioned previously that thirty five years ago when the church was being usurped by clever men with a false doctrine I was too busy ruining my own life to care all that much about the outcome. My repentance came with a promise to God to not repeat those things which so grievously wounded His heart. Part of my covenant is not to remain silent.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”—Martin Luther King

God’s work awaits,

Cecil Moon

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fragmentary Scripture

When we moved here three years ago, our adult Sunday school was reading the New Testament, studying, and discussing the text. We finished up about a year ago and started our reread of the Inspired Version with Genesis. In addition, one of the elders conducts a Book of Mormon class on Sunday afternoons.

One of the recurring themes in the classes is how often a reference is made to a substantiating scripture either in the same book or the other. Often, the cross reference is to the Doctrine and Covenants and frequently the idea is supported by all three books and more than once in each. The classic example is Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where each gives a biography of Christ. Yes, they tell the same story with some variations but the nuts and bolts of His teachings remain pretty much the same. The real differences are His life as seen by four different sets of eyes. As Christians, we are reassured by these men who were so close to the Master and shared so many common experiences.

We have all, at one time or another latched on to a particular bit of scripture and used it as a lamp to guide our way in a very dark world. As a former alcoholic, I treasure the words found in James which assure me that upon repentance, my sins were not only forgiven, but God “remembers them no more”. It resonates with me and I’m sure some other particular bit of wisdom or assurance from our scriptural canon resonates with you. In most of these, the meaning is very clear and more than likely supported by similar passages elsewhere. I love reading the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon which are virtually word for word repetition of his utterances in the Inspired Version. It contributes duplicated testimony and sometimes, further enlightenment, on the message from our Savior. I welcome these additional passages as verification of the pertinence and importance of the subject matter. I take great joy in locating these repetitions.

I have observed that some are willing to isolate a few words or an entire verse and form a life style without regard to the context of the surrounding chapter. So then, would it be possible for me in good conscience, as a recovering alcoholic to “enjoy a little wine for thy stomach’s sake?” I think not! To isolate this verse and use it as a guide would be ridiculous, as well as dangerous for me and for others. To brush off “the appearance of evil” and “moderation in all things” does no service to the first quote. One does not sit down and “read” the bible as you might a page turner novel from Tom Clancy. To extract the true meanings of scripture involves not just reading but study, contemplation and prayer.

It matters who said it. To whom it was addressed. Is it backed by additional scripture? What was taking place in the preceding chapter and the conclusions drawn in the following verses are both important to drawing any conclusions. The Bible is not a series of sound bites. It is a narrative with a beginning and an end. As you follow the early books and the travails of the Jews, how can you not wonder why these folks just didn’t get it. They can hardly wait for God to get out of their sight so they build yet another idol. Their disobedience is astonishing. It’s almost as bad as ours. But, I digress.

One of the best examples I can think of to illustrate taking a few words from one verse and failing to understand its meaning is I Corinthians 15:29. The chapter opens with Paul giving the Church in Corinth a bold testimony of witnessing the resurrection. He is self-deprecating in his role as an apostle but gives God all the credit for being the man he has become. We know from historical investigation that many of those Greeks he addresses are Gnostics of a Coptic cult. They have “come” to Christ but still retain some strange practices. He is trying with all his power to get them to understand the resurrection and the possibilities it offers them. In reasoning for the reality of the resurrection he poses a rhetorical question: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all. Why are they then baptized for the dead?” He is making an argument for understanding the resurrection without which death would hold no future. He is not endorsing the practice but rather, using a logical rhetorical question, to pursue his point. It is clear from the parable in Luke 16:24 through 36 that we are accountable in heaven for those activities which we have engaged in on earth! No baptism after death will separate us from those records.

To search for supporting scriptures of this doctrine throughout the canon is fruitless. The Book of Mormon does not even vaguely hint at it. Section 107 was relegated to Appendix status due to lack of acceptance by the RLDS and finally removed entirely by conference action. This practice is an integral part of the temple rites in the LDS, but for us, absent a temple and any solid scriptural injunction, it would be impossible to perform. And – given the above mentioned parable in Luke – it would be an exercise in futility anyway. It is alleged that Joseph Smith preached to this in a funeral oration shortly before his death. The records of this event were supposedly recorded and were to be included in the Book of Commandments. With the sacking and razing of the print shop, the pages of the Book of Commandments were scattered and mostly destroyed by a mob. One pauses to wonder what ever else might have been intended for print. The remnants were then printed after his death and therefore not subject to review by the prophet.

I choose this example to illustrate the point because it represents a sterling example of following fragmentary scripture to attempt to justify a questionable practice. The contribution made by Joseph Smith toward establishing God’s true church took courage, strength, and the ultimate offering of faith as exemplified by his death. He was a special man for a special time. I do not believe that he was selected at random by the Almighty for the duties he was assigned. He had the God given talents and spiritual condition which were required for the tasks he faced. Does he belong in the company of Moses, Paul, Isaiah, John the Revelator and others? I am easily convinced that he does. Like those saints, was he first a man? Yes! Like all the others he shared faults, foibles and occasional imperfections which mark the separating line between God and man. To deny this is not to study the prophet’s life to any degree. This denial would also imply a lack of understanding of the perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith’s inspirational rendering of the story of Enoch isolates that rarest of examples of a man who has achieved that degree of perfection which removed a man to sit at the right hand of the Father.

What this should demonstrate is the futility of hanging one’s hat on fragmentary scripture. Please don’t rely on the opinion of men, but rather pursue our God given resources (the three books) for the redundancy so readily provided to establish the veracity of every position taken. He has given us the tools to expand our knowledge of His will. The entire matter simply underscores the need for further study, contemplation and prayer.

Cecil Moon

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Saints Orthodox Reunion

I was only able to escape my responsibilities locally for about forty hours total. I drove up Tuesday am and returned just before midnightWednesday. How to tell of this glorious experience?

I have rarely been in any gathering of people, for any purpose, short of some military assignments, where the focus was so intensely centralized. It was was centered on Jesus Christ, His mission for us all, and to verify the avenues available to us to achieve our goals.

With no insult intended for the planners, speakers, and organizers, the real accomplishments were realized in the small groups sharing testimonies and the gospel outside the formal settings. Let me re-emphasize the point that the formal programs were extremely well done. The personal interchanges were exceptionally valuable. The setting, Odessa Campground, although Spartan in amenities, is ideal for our group. The food service was excellent, especially if you like “brown” food, and I do. In the final analysis, I enjoyed the opportunity to become acquainted with and share with other like minded Saints.

I confess that my only complaint is probably my own fault. In retrospect, I didn’t really have or take the time to be with many younger people. I believe this is my loss. There seemed to be a lot of kids and any contact I had found them to be well behaved, courteous, helpful and eagerly
pursuing their own activities. Next time I promise to make more effort in that regard. Given their observed deportment, they will probably be long suffering and tolerate a geezer in their midst.

If you read this in time and are anywhere close to Odessa you still have the chance to take advantage of this marvelous opportunity. Please do. Do it for you. Do it for your family. Do it for our Lord.

Thank you,

Cecil Moon


Many of you feel that Cec and I are preaching to the choir. I suppose we are, and I must admit the positive feedback is heartening. Then there are the trolls who believe that every blog in the universe was created exclusively for their entertainment. Trolls will always be among us. That's fine. If they have no life I guess blogging is better that holding up C stores.

However, there are two other groups out there, and there may be only one or two in each group whom I wish to reach at some level. The first group contains those who are walking the narrow line between truth and fiction, who may have been sucked into the feelgood, do-gooder atmosphere of the greater number. "Let's all stick together and get this church going again." It all looks just and holy and worthy. Consider the tactics. As I said in an earlier post, watch your backs. Please continue reading this blog. Comments are optional; diligence is mandatory.

Lastly, you who lurk in the shadows, feeling vastly superior to all of us, but who may visit Zion Beckons to see what the great unwashed are up to. It gives me great pleasure to be the burr under your saddle. Please know that there are those of us out here who are onto you.

I have a tendency to come off either nasty or melodramatic. It's been pointed out to me more than once. Oh well. I'm not looking for the Miss Congeniality Award, although I'm really a very nice person. But don't mess with my church. Don't change the doctrine, don't remove the Epitome of Faith, don't sneak around and meet with those who fell into apostasy decades ago. Don't pretend your are speaking for all the Saints when you have your little closed-door sessions. Our little rag tag group—to borrow the delightful expression from my friend Steve—will prevail because our Lord will prevail. God hasn't changed. Neither should His church.

We're not looking for large numbers. We're hoping to reach a few and this seems the best way to do it. Cec is back from the Odessa reunion and has a lot to say. He'll be posting later.

One final note to you trolls and lurkers: please don't use specific names when firing your darts. Your comments will be rejected. We're more lenient than many, but naming names is not appropriate. You may direct your comments to someone if you feel the need, but please don't talk about someone. Thank you.

God bless all of you. Please pray for each other.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007


As I was writing yesterday's post I began thinking about how watered down some so-called Christian religions have become. One church "claims Jesus Christ." Claims Him as what? A prophet? Nice guy? Saint? Someone to take out of the box a couple times a year? Then I remembered a little thing I wrote several months ago and sent off to family and friends because I was feeling incredibly self-righteous. I stuck it in my documents and present it here today, not because I'm feeling self-righteous but because I want to share my experience. It's a true story. I reworded it a little so as not to make it appear too much of a political statement; this is not a political blog. Here it is:

A few days ago I was going through my saved pictures on my computer and deleting those for which I had no more use. I tend to hoard and wonder why my computer is so slow. For example, I had a picture of an animal paw, done in stars and stripes—cute, but not something I use every day. Then there was the one of a well known politician and Howard Stern, who bear an uncanny resemblance to each other. I was thinking at one time of creating a photo shop monstrosity, but decided I could spend my time in wiser endeavors. Well, you get the picture (no pun intended.)

I brought up a few pictures I had been using in putting together our church address and activity book for 2007. One of them was a picture of Jesus, which I had labeled and saved as “Jesus.” I right clicked on the file name and then clicked on “delete.” Immediately the little box appeared with the question: “Are you sure you want to send ‘Jesus’ to the recycle bin?” My mouth dropped open, my breath came out in a gasp, and I stared at the monitor for a while until I remembered to inhale. Then I clicked on “no” and felt only marginally better.

It seems to me that, in many ways, that’s exactly what we’ve done with Jesus. Remember when Jesus used to be the “reason for the season?” When it was okay to say, “Merry Christmas” instead of ‘Happy Holidays?” Or to acknowledge the cross as a symbol of our risen Savior at Easter, instead of parading bunnies and baby chicks and colored eggs around our homes and churches?

I know I may sound preachy, and we’ve probably lamented all of this before, and I am aware I’m way out of season. But am I really? This little experience made me stop and think. Have I sent Jesus to the recycle bin? If so, what has He been recycled into? An artificial tree decorated and lit up with cheap baubles? A wind-up Santa, who says, “Ho ho ho” until you want to scream and tear your hair out? Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” ONE MORE TIME? A shelf of 25% off Holiday cards at Wal-Mart (or Barnes and Noble, for others of you?”) An icon to which we pay lip service on Sundays and, carefully, a couple of holidays, if we’re politically correct about it?

Okay, so I’m old. When I was in first grade I was an angel in the Cooperstown Central School Christmas pageant, and I’ll admit it was back in the dark ages. One of the local businesses—it may have been a bank— presented an annual display of a living manger scene, in which many local residents joyfully participated. They always managed to come up with a real baby for authenticity. There was a newness and a freshness and a sense of wonder that I could perceive even at my tender age. All that is gone now in our urgency to neutralize the very basic principles upon which our society was founded.

If we haven’t recycled Jesus, I’m afraid that we as Christians surely have diminished His significance by knuckling under to those who want to run our lives and take away our liberties. I am speaking to Christians, not to non-Christians, to whom this whole endeavor would make no sense. I assume it is permissible for me to address my fellow Christians without translating this into several languages or re-wording it so as not to offend our brothers and sisters of unlike persuasion, and to refer to Jesus as a male and not some androgynous being which may or may not have existed.

I don’t want to send Jesus to the recycle bin. If I am guilty of having done so I can only ask God to forgive me and to help me to focus on the Jesus of the Scriptures: the only way to salvation, our redeemer, who sits at the right hand of God. God hasn’t lowered His standards; neither should I.


Monday, August 6, 2007

By Definition

I lifted this idea from a thread on a discussion board. A question came up and has been tossed about by some Restorationists and some CoC priesthood types. Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Yes? No? Don’t know? Some of the answers are right out of early Sunday morning talk TV.

One answer was all three, but it really depends upon who the questioner is and in what context the question falls. This poster (CoC) also implied the question was a trap. What?

Another poster skirted around the question by demanding "Proof" of what our answer is. He absolutely did not give a definitive answer. If the answer is yes and we are not leading an exemplary life, that doesn't count. He goes on to say that some of those who say no are "good" people, and that does count. Politically correct to the max.

Folks, the question is not that difficult. It's not even as difficult as the one posed to then President William Jefferson Clinton, which he also refused to answer. Unless, of course, you are unable to define the words "yes" and/or "no." I'm always a little suspicious of people who are not capable of answering questions about Jesus Christ.

Question at baptism: "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?"

Answer: "Well . . . that depends on what you mean by 'do.' And what exactly do you mean by that? And are you qualified to ask this question?"

Or, how about: "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?"

Answer: "Yes."

Reply: "So go out there and prove it and then I'll baptize you."

Is Jesus Christ the only way to salvation?

Yes, as evidenced by all of scripture (Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.)

No. So what are you doing hanging around a church named after Jesus Christ? Go be a Buddhist. Or find yourself a politically correct, feelgood church. Oh, I forgot. You already have one of those.

Don't know. Have a nice life and if you ever want to know, come to me and I'll tell you about salvation through Jesus Christ. He's not called our Savior for nothing.

I don't have much luck with message boards. I keep getting deleted. That's why I started this blog.

The Lord's blessings on you all, and may He guide us through all of this.