Help me love the Lectures on Faith again

August 9, 2006    By: Jacob J @ 11:54 pm   Category: Scriptures,Theology

I used to love the Lectures on Faith, but I must admit that I soured to them several years ago and every time I pick them up I remember why. I know there are some pretty smart people out there who like them, so I’m hoping one of you will set me straight and restore my faith in the Lectures.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the history or authorship of the Lectures, but I should say that I don’t think Joseph Smith was the principal author. I know he was on the committee that approved publication and he may have been involved to some extent in the development of the Lectures (it is unclear to what extent), but textual and historical analysis convinces me that we have Sidney Rigdon to thank for the Lectures on Faith.

One of my biggest complaints is against the Lecture’s description of faith as the “principle of power.” Lecture 1st says:

15. By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith as it existed in HIM.

This lecture describes faith as an attribute of God by which all created things exist. God’s power of creation is said to be faith. “By it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God.” Clearly, the author believes that faith is a power by which God imposes his will upon his creation. Thus, “God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in HIM” (1st). The idea here is that God forces chaos into order with his faith-sort of like “the force” from Star Wars. The closest the Lectures come to explaining the mechanism behind this principle of power is here:

3. We ask, then, what are we to understand by a man’s working by faith? We answer-we understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith. God said, “Let there be light: and there was light.” Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. …Faith, then, works by words. (7th)

But, what does it mean to work “by words”? It is tempting to account for the mechanism by saying faith works because things obey God’s words. Thus, one could argue that what the first lecture actually meant was that “God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of [chaos’s] faith …in HIM.” However, the Lectures don’t allow for this interpretation. They speak of working by “mental exertion,” analogous to physical force, but on a mental plane. It is clear that God is the one mentally exerting himself. Further, all attempts to interpret it as chaos’s faith in God shipwreck on the following statements:

It is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist (1st)

Take this principle or attribute-for it is an attribute-from the Deity, and he would cease to exist. (1st)

If faith is “an attribute,” then it is God who has faith. My trust in and obedience to God are not attributes of God. Also, notice that faith is described as being logically prior to the existence of all created things. This could not possibly mean that God creates things using the faith of those things, because it says those things would not even exist in the first place without the prior attribute “faith” which existed in God.

I find this description of faith totally unworkable. Faith is not power. The constant equivalence drawn between man’s exercise of faith and God’s exercise of faith is very problematic. Does anyone think that the mental exertion required of Joshua to perform a miracle is the same as God’s mental exertion creating the world? Does anyone think that the faith exercised by Joshua is primarily a mental exertion in the first place? We have faith in God, so what does God have faith in? (Please don’t get into some explanation involving a plurality of Gods because this was written in 1835.) I see no way to make these ideas either coherent or compelling.

I have other problems with the Lectures, but I’ve already gone on too long. Quickly though, I totally disagree with the forth lecture when it says we could not have faith in God (and God could not save anyone) if he did not have knowledge of all things. Also, the fifth lecture portrays the Holy Ghost as the shared Mind of the Father and the Son, rather than as a separate personage, which I find very hard to reconcile to current Mormon theology in a satisfying way:

The Only Begotten …possessing the same mind with the Father; which Mind is the Holy Spirit. ….The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power, and fullness; filling all in all -the Son being filled with the fullness of the Mind, glory, and power; or in other words the Spirit, …being filled with the fullness of the Mind of the Father, or in other words, the Spirit of the Father (5th)

So, where am I going wrong in all of this? Help me love the Lectures on Faith again.

[Associated song: Faith No More – Falling To Pieces]


  1. Regarding your first issue, I think this may be a case of evaluating celestial physics through a telestial lense. There may indeed be a power behind the spoken work, when coupled with pure and complete faith in the outcome. A power strong enough to organize the chaos in the universe. Being celestial in origin, this power may be beyond our ability to explain properly.

    If you take the definition of faith in Alma 32:21, all things organized from chaos were unseen before the organization, yet true in the sense that God knew that he could and would organize them to be.

    So, by combining a perfect knowledge with the ability to cause action by mental exertion, I think you come up with the perfect faith that God must have.

    Comment by JM — August 10, 2006 @ 5:42 am

  2. On the HG as the mind of Christ, David Paulsen did a good job clarifying that for me in This article. You’ll have to search for the right words, since it’s long and the HG is not the main thrust of the article.

    Comment by Ben — August 10, 2006 @ 8:22 am

  3. I see no way to make these ideas either coherent or compelling.

    Me either. The Lectures on Faith weren’t de-canonized for nothing.

    I think the LoF have some wonderful gems that can and should be mined for our use today. But many of the theological ideas/speculations in them were replaced/superceded but later actual revelations and more enlightened ideas/speculations by Joseph Smith and succeeding prophets. So I think if we use them judiciously they can be a useful resource, but that we shouldn’t put too much stock in them. In other words, I think your current level of love for the Lectures on Faith doesn’t need to be fixed. I’m right there with you.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 10, 2006 @ 8:50 am

  4. JM,

    I agree that there is a power behind God’s spoken word, but I don’t think this power should be called faith. You made mention of Alma 32:21: “And now as I said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” How can this be reconciled to the idea of God having faith again? According to the scripture, God’s perfect knowledge precludes him from having faith.


    Thanks for the link. The relevant passage is on pg 135-139. The clarification offered by the article isn’t a very good defense of the Lectures. Basically, they acknowledge that the Lectures on Faith do say the Holy Ghost is not a personage, but counter that by saying the every other piece of evidence goes against this as being Joseph’s view. They also try to make sense of the idea that the Holy Ghost is the mind of God by saying he merely conveys and executes the mind of God. They say this is a more likely interpretation given “external evidence,” but I would challenge that. The internal evidence certainly doesn’t go very well with that interpretation. The most likely interpretation to me is that the Lectures simply disagree with all of that external evidence they refer to.


    Glad to hear I am not the only one. I respect Millet and I know he feels the Lectures on Faith are misunderstood and under-appreciated. He used to teach a class on Lectures on Faith at BYU, not sure if he still does. In Blake Ostler’s first book he praises the Lectures for their careful distinctions and nuanced views which have been overlooked (he goes for something like the “chaos’s faith” interpretation). So, I keep wondering if I am just missing something.

    Comment by Jacob — August 10, 2006 @ 11:11 am

  5. Jacob: The Lectures actually teach a profound lesson in my view. There is power in words. “In the beginning was the Word…” Have you ever asked yourself why? Why do we give blessings by speaking? Why do we perform ordinances by speaking? There is power in the Word — words order our world for us and give us a way to interact with each other. So the power of faith is expressed in the word. I am a lawyer, so I know that the right words at the right time create change and inspire and bring about results. So the Lectures actually pickup on a very valuable insight into the nature of human and interpersonal reality.If you believe that the entire universe is interpersonal in some sense, as I do, then the word may have power beyond your wildest dreams.

    Notice also that it is not merely your faith in God — the trust that you place in Him so that when he speaks everything in reality immediately aligns itself with his words out of trust — but God’s trust or faith in himself that the is the ultimate. So in this sense God has faith in himself as an attribute — it is part of who he is to trust himself in this way.

    In a real way our worlds are ordered (and in this sense created) by the faith we have in words and the way they shape our reality and categories of thought. I see a world different than an atheist or pure naturalist because of my faith. I interact with it as a sacred space rather than a thing.

    As for the HG — the HG was not yet a personage for the writer(s) of the Lectures. Interestingly, wordprint studies suggest strongly that Joseph Smith was the author of Lecture 5. It relies heavily on Mosiah 14-16 and D&C 93 for its view of the Godhead which is, in my view, sublime tho incomplete. However, shared mind is a feature of co-omniscience. So there ya go.

    Comment by Blake — August 10, 2006 @ 11:54 am

  6. I always like to read a few of William James famous lectures and then read Lectures on Faith. There’s always an uncanny resemblance to me.

    Comment by Clark — August 10, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

  7. You will find little help from me, I am afraid. There are a few passages in the Lectures on Faith I beleive are inspired, but much of it is hum drum, and some of it (notably much of Lecture the First) is largely without foundation, especially in the context of Joseph Smith’s teachings about the the nature of divinity and exaltation.

    If we really wished to speak of a principle that makes the world go around (metaphorically speaking) we should first speak of love, rather than faith. Of course they are related in the question of whom or what do we have faith in. In this context what in the world does God have faith in? Himself? In a manner of speaking yes.

    However, of his own person only thing that God can have faith in is his children, and rather conditionally at that. And if he did not love us, his faith in us would largely be in vain. Righteousness is not exactly a leading attribute of the natural man, but of the unnatural, the man of the spirit.

    So no doubt there is a great mystery here, but my general opinion is that God’s power is completely contingent upon his love – that if he ceased to love his power would be non-existent. As I have a hard time understanding how an electron can feel his love, I tend to think that whatever power he has over electrons is social in nature, not a matter of superior concentration, or a positive mental attitude, but rather the power of spiritual unity, where if necessary a host of angels sustains his every command, lifting up particles of a mountain and moving them to yonder place, one at a time if necessary. More likely, however, that there are non-linear returns to spiritual unity that makes certain classically impossible things possible, like quantum tunnelling on a macro scale.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 10, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  8. No doubt there is also an extensive degree of what we cannot avoid calling technological superiority to Christ’s lesser body as well. (cf. Philip. 3:20-21) Surely the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself is not an accident of nature.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 10, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

  9. Jacob #4 regarding God’s perfect knowledge of things: I haven’t read this part of Blake’s first volume very carefully, but I think I have a similar view: I think there is an important difference between a perfect knowledge of things as they are to come and a perfect knowledge of things as they are (D&C 93).

    I think Alma 32:21 even suggests this difference in the second half of the verse you didn’t quote: “if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” I think Alma’s description of faith becoming perfect knowledge is importantly a process (a loaded term now I guess) that God participates in. So even if you have a perfect knowledge of the future, that doesn’t mean you can see (in a physical, literal sense) the future until it comes to pass. So, in that sense, God has to exercise faith to bring about the future even though he has a perfect knowledge that it will come to pass. He still has to exercise faith until what is going to happen happens.

    It’s been quite a while since I’ve looked at LOF very carefully though, I’m just trying to address one of your concerns about it….

    Comment by Robert C. — August 10, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

  10. Sorry. I bought LoF about a year ago. I got through the first but did not continue. Still sitting on the shelf.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 10, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  11. I think absolute foreknowledge makes just about as much sense as absolute power. Suppose God sat down to write the plan of salvation, in detail. Where did his information come from? Did it come from looking off into the distance and copying what he sees down on paper? Or was the plan of salvation of his own authorship? Suppose he had two options, say to have Joseph Smith to be the prophet of the last dispensation or to have Parley Pratt.

    When he made the selection did what he saw off in the distance change? If yes, then his foreknowledge is not independent of his will, and his will was not absolute. If no, then he never had the power to choose Parley Pratt to be the prophet of the last dispensation in the first place. Absolute foreknowledge is incompatible with divine power. It is doubly incompatible with the doctrine of exaltation. Practically the only thing it is compatible with is a determinist nirvana where all that ever was, is, and will be is strictly a cosmic throw of the dice.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 10, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  12. The first couple of lectures can probably be skipped. The later ones are the interesting ones.

    Comment by clark — August 10, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

  13. Blake,

    I have to make two separate responses to #5, one to say why I don’t find any of the ideas you are expressing in the LoF and one to discuss the substance of your ideas. I’ll start with the former.

    You started by saying there is power in words. From the rest of what you said, I think you are saying the this power stems from the fact that words allow us to communicate. You said: “So the Lectures actually pickup on a very valuable insight into the nature of human and interpersonal reality.” This seems to be a totally different “power of words” than what is described in the LoF. I made some arguments in the post about why I don’t think they can be interpreted as referring to interpersonal relationships, where do those arguments fail?

    Re faith as an attribute of God, you said that God must trust in himself that he is the ultimate. I have no idea what this means. Worse, I have no idea what to do with this if I apply the LoF directive to equate God’s exercise of faith to my own exercise of faith. Am I supposed to trust in myself that I am the ultimate? It seems that I should not, but the LoF consistently and overtly equate God’s way of having faith to man’s way of having faith. This one thing really makes it hard to salvage the LoF with a creative interpretation.

    There were a couple of wordprint studies on the LoF. The first one by Phipps did assign Joseph Smith as the author of lecture five, but the later study had it as nearly a tie between WW Phelps and PP Pratt (Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1982], 184.). The authorship of lecture five was the one with the least agreement between the two studies, so I am not ready to say it was written by Joseph Smith.

    Comment by Jacob — August 10, 2006 @ 11:44 pm

  14. Clark (#6),

    Which papers by William James do the LoF remind you of? I would never have put the two together.

    Comment by Jacob — August 10, 2006 @ 11:47 pm

  15. Mark: my general opinion is that God’s power is completely contingent upon his love (#7)

    How do you explain God’s power over Satan?

    Comment by Jacob — August 10, 2006 @ 11:49 pm

  16. Robert (#9),

    I like the creativity in your explanation. I don’t think Sidney Rigdon would have shared your view that God does not know the future, which means I can’t really accept it as a viable interpretation of what the LoF had in mind. More to the substance of your comment, the definition of faith that comes out of your explanation is so vague as to be useless in a religious context. The most wicked person on earth exercises the kind of faith you describe (trying to actualize his desires without having seen the future).

    Mark (#11)

    I totally agree.

    Clark (#12)

    I almost agree. I think I like the lectures in this order: (best) 6, 2, 3, 4, 7, 1, 5 (worst). Seven builds on a lot of stuff from one which I don’t like, but it is longer and does get into some pretty good points.

    Comment by Jacob — August 11, 2006 @ 12:08 am

  17. Jacob #16: Though I’d need to dig into the LOF again to make a stand on what Rigdon had in mind, I’m only arguing that there is a difference between knowing the future as what will (even necessarily) be and knowing the future once it is actualized. I think that at least resolves the tension in Alma 32.

    Regarding wicked faith, I think a (possible) key difference is that wickedness entails eternal frustration. That is, the righteous can bring about their (righteous) desires b/c they are consistent with true principles, whereas the wicked cannot. That’s not to say the wicked can’t “thrive for a season,” just that such desires are unwhole in an intertemporal sense. Thus their faith is not faith: they (and many times “I”) do what they please now, but become frustrated eventually when the consequences catch up with them. Righteous faith, on the other hand, is true/whole in an intertemporal sense—we become one with God and ourselves and our own future (and our own past) etc. The creative process that allows this to happen is divine (and the creativity aspect of faith is what makes it such an interesting and complex concept) and is what differentiates actual faith (“things that are true”) from the wicked’s attempt at faith (that is, Satan is ultimately controlled by God, in practical terms at least).

    Comment by Robert C. — August 11, 2006 @ 3:38 am

  18. Jacob: I was somewhat surprised by your response. I see a deep truth in the LonF and you see a logical problem. So let’s see if we can’t make some head-way (with emphasis on the head-i-ness).

    You assert that there is a “constant equivalence drawn between man’s exercise of faith and God’s exercise of faith.” Because you think that the faith God has is univocal with the way we have faith in the LonF, you have missed the point entirely. God has, among others, attributes of power, knowledge, and a character of absolute honesty and love (as the LonF make clear) that humans don’t have but must have to be like him. Thus, his power resides in the absolute faith he has in his own trustworthiness and steadfast character (also explicit in the LonF). He knows he can be trusted. So your primary error is equating God’s faith and trustworthiness with our own. In fact, the LonF are explicit that God’s faith differs from ours because of the perfection of his attributes and character (in fact, that is what Lecture 3 is about):

    “We do observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fulness and perfection dwell… In him every good gift and every good principle dwell, and he is the Father of lights. In him the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings centers for life and salvation.” (LonF 1:2)

    Lecture 3 discusses at great length how it is that God’s attributes make him trustworthy and the center of faith for those who trust him. “Let us here observe that three things are necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God unto life and salvation … a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.” (LonF 3:2-4) Further, the nature of God’s honesty, fairness and steadfastness are characteristics necessary for faith (which obviously entails “trust”). (LonF 3:12-18) The faith that God has in himself is not interpersonal (or relationally dependent) but ours is because it is not independent but dependent on him – so that should be enough to show that your argument misses the distinction between the faith that God has in himself and the kind that we have in God. The latter is interpersonal of necessity; the former is not of necessity. Faith in God is necessarily interpersonal because we must trust him and his character and attributes make him absolutely trustWorthy. So your argument that the LonF are not interpersonal misses the entire point of God’s independence and self-trust, and our faith in God which is necessarily interpersonal.

    Second, your proof-texting and isolating of the statements of the 1st lecture in your post is unjustified and misleading. The faith that “chaos” has in God is obviously not logically prior to its existence. The chaos is ordered by faith in God because it obeys him when he speaks. However, the “things” exist as such only because the order has been brought about by faith of chaos in the first place. However, those “things” that emerge from the chaos as ordered “things” also order their world by faith in God. As I noted in my discussion of the LonF, the notion of “things” is a term referring to ordered things that arise out of prior chaos. So your argument that the LonF are inconsistent (or logically circular perhaps) because they adopt faith as a first principle and prior to existence of anything and yet something must exist to have faith is based on a tendentious reading of the text which ought to be rejected.

    Finally, you completely ignored my disucssion of how speaking words equates with exercising power. Because God is trustworthy, when he speaks and says “this is the way it is,” everything trusts him so much that it immediately aligns itself to be that way. This notion of power is the simple notion that trust begets trust and action. Let me give an example. Suppose I induce a state of something like faith or trust in my child by hypnotizing her. I tell my child that she can sing like a star. I then say, “sing.” Because of the absolute trust engendered by the hypnotic state, trust me, she will sing like a star. Her trust in me brings about the very state I say exists. Without that trust, she can hardly sing at all. (Admittedly hypnotism may not be the paradigm of trust we want, but I wanted some example that would atually approximate the kind of trusting and faith without doubt that the LonF have in mind). So trust leads to action. Moreover, when speaking of human faith, the LonF are clear that every action we do is based on faith that the intended result will be effected (like planting a seed).

    You also ignored that words order the way we see and interact with the world and thus empower us to act in the world. I believe that the LonF are profound in this respect. There is power in the Word. (However, I agree that most of the 1st lecture is just non-sense. At SMPT two years ago, Noel Reynolds explained why the LonF focus on a geneology, but it isn’t something that makes any sense to me).

    Comment by Blake — August 11, 2006 @ 7:12 am

  19. As a rule I think the faith that God has in himself is interpersonal, but that is probably a tangent best to be avoided.

    Jacob (#15),

    I understand God’s power over Satan having to do with the honor among the hosts of heaven that comes because of his love. Jesus said of mine own self I am nothing. I say the same of any strictly personal individual. Ultimately the victory of good over evil seems to have to do with the following factors: non-linear returns to spiritual unity, the nature of evil (pride, selfishness) being contrary to unity, and the long term persuasive power to attract/entice the vast majority of all souls into a heavenly unity. The effective power of the devil is destroyed through repentance. In temporality the devil is a real threat. In eternity his threat is minimal (cf. Alma 48:17, D&C 29:29-36).

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 11, 2006 @ 7:13 am

  20. I mean a Pauline sense of the body, and not a Pratt-onic sense, of course.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 11, 2006 @ 7:31 am

  21. Jacob: What is your source that leads you to believe that Sidney Rigdon believed in God’s absolute foreknowledge? Isn’t that question seperable from a fair reading of the text of the LonF? Do you subscribe to the “authorial intention” view of hermeneutics?

    Comment by Blake — August 11, 2006 @ 7:53 am

  22. Jacob: it seems to me that Mark has a point. God has power over evil when those beings who have faith in him cease to give their power to Satan. All of Satans power is a power derived from our willing submission to him; and his power is destroyed when we repent and refuse to give him that power. So when all repent and refuse to submit to him, Satan is bound. However, I don’t believe that notion is present in the LonF; tho I do believe it is implicit in 2 Ne. 2.

    Comment by Blake — August 11, 2006 @ 7:58 am

  23. Mark: regarding God’s faith in himself — I can see how you could say that at least derivatively or proximately God has the attributes he does because we honor and have faith in him and thus he derives his faith in himself from our faith in him. In a sense, I agree with that. However, the LonF explicitly say that God’s faith in himself is indepenent and based only on himself. In fact, we honor and have faith only because God is the kind of being worthy of such honor and faith in the first place. We wouldn’t honor and have faith in Hitler, for instance, because he is not worthy of our trust and faith. In this sense, God’s worthiness of our faith is necessarily prior to faith.

    Comment by Blake — August 11, 2006 @ 8:03 am

  24. Blake, The ambiguity here seems to be due to a sense transformation between God as a person as God as a Person. For example:

    “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)

    “Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior.” (D&C 76:1)

    “For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.” (Ether 4:12)

    The doctrine of exaltation is incompatible with these scriptures if God is seen as a lower case P person. Therefore we must understand the one true and living God as an uppercase P Person, with the Most High at the head and the Saints as the body.

    “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12).

    So the Most High’s faith in himself is difficult to comprehend (Why have faith, just do it), but God’s faith in Himself is the essence of exaltation, in a manner of speaking.

    “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself” (Heb 13:13)

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 11, 2006 @ 8:31 am

  25. I am so glad, Glad, GLAD! that the LoF are no longer canonized. And I know a fellow personally who did some research for FARMS on the subject–can’t reveal his name here–who also believes that Sidney Rigdon is likely the foremost author of the LoF.

    glad, Glad, GLAD!

    Comment by Jack — August 11, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  26. I don’t see what the big deal is about God having faith. All action is preceded by conviction of the results. God could create nothing and command nothing unless He first held the conviction that it would be so.

    I don’t find the assertion that Faith is the first principle of power to be particularly problematic either. Unless you’re confusing “Faith” with mere belief.

    This is understandable since the scriptures tend to confuse the distinction between belief and faith quite a bit. But saying that Faith is the first principle of God’s power isn’t even remotely close to saying that God is out there throwing paint at the wall and hoping for the best.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 12, 2006 @ 6:58 am

  27. Certainly, faith is the first principle of all action. However, the faith that matters is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And God can only have faith in Christ in a most peculiar way.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 12, 2006 @ 7:50 am

  28. Hey, I want to apologize for being MIA on my own post. It is not from a lack of interest or desire, it is just that I have been trapped under a heavy rock. I am going to try to catch up on responding by tonight.

    For the moment, let me ask one quick follup question on the “power over Satan” discussion since responding to Blake’s #18 will take more time.

    Mark (#19) and Blake (#22),

    I generally agree with your assertions here that God’s power derives from love and that Satan will be bound as we choose to reject him and obey God. That said, I am still not sure how you are dealing with God’s ability to command Satan to depart, or to throw evil spirits into swine. Those examples of his power don’t obviously derive from love, so I just want to figure out how you are dealing with them (I have had some thoughts on this in the past and want to compare notes, so to speak).

    Comment by Jacob — August 12, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

  29. Correction Mark,

    Faith that matters FOR YOU. There’s no reason that “Faith” per se need be limited like that for God.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 12, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

  30. Seth (#29),

    The critical question here is how did God get to be God? How did the divine society get to be a divine society? I think infinite backward recursion is question begging, not not mention contrary to the scriptures in fundamental ways. I do not think the Most High came to preside over the hosts of heaven by having faith in his lesser person. I am inclined to think that the Most High cames to his position by being humble, submissive, charitable, easy to be entreated, so that the hosts of heaven wanted him to preside over them. So I say that the relevant faith of the Most High is faith in those who follow him. He loves them and serves them, and they love and serve him back, because he seeks not his own will, but the will of the concert, the welfare of all, blessing them according to their needs and their wants. The ideal leader.

    Jacob (#28),

    D&C 29:36 quotes the Lord as saying his honor is his power, so one way he can have power over the devil is by force of numbers, the same way any charismatic leader has – due to the willingness of his followers to obey his words. Jesus could call down a legion of angels right? So any acting legitimately in the name of Jesus Christ likewise taps the same power, which the devil obeys when pressed rather than be literally dragged out by as many angels as necessary.

    Also evil spirits do not seem to take to the presence of the true Spirit very well – it seems to be incompatible with their adopted nature. Note that the scriptures imply that many will not survive into the temporal terrestial (the Millennial era), because they will not be able to abide a terrestrial glory, i.e the brightness will consume them – the Spirit quickens and preserve the righteous, and accelerates the decay and corruption of sin.

    That is why God is known as a consuming fire – not because he is an arsonist, per se, but because the wicked cannot abide his presence. Even the priests could not abide to be in Solomon’s temple when the glory of the Lord descended upon it. Now as I understand it the power of the spirit is social in nature, i.e. the Spirit is not the glory of one man alone, but reflects the glory of the heavenly host (the greater body), through the lesser body, a tabernacle designed for precisely that very purpose, i.e. our bodies are designed to be spiritual commun-ication systems, so that if we follow the Spirit, we come into communion with the whole body, the greater body of Christ, the heavenly host. Note the symbolism of the sacrament here.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 12, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

  31. Mark: So God became God by a democratic decision process? Show me that in the scriptures.

    Comment by KR — August 13, 2006 @ 9:31 am

  32. Blake (#18),

    You make a good point about the LonF’s distinction between God and man in saying that God is the only one in whom the principle of faith dwells independently. The reason I am reading the text differently has to do with the way I am see the LoF using its two definitions of faith, as explained in lecture first:

    (def 1): Faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. No one would try to lift their hand if they didn’t think they could do it, no one would plant a seed if they didn’t think something would grow, no one would keep the commandments if they didn’t think it would actually lead to salvation, etc (LonF 1:10-11).

    (def 2): Faith as the principle of power in all intelligent beings. It is by reason of this power existing in the Deity that all created things exist(LonF 1:15). “By it all things exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, and by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and with out power there can be no creation nor existence!” (LonF 1:24)

    The first thing to internalize for someone just reading the LonF for the first time (not you obviously) is that these are the only two definitions of faith operating in any lecture. I have observed that people tend to read their own ideas of faith into the lectures by not carefully mapping all the statements back to one of these. I find the lectures to be very consistent in sticking to their own definitions.

    I think the first definition is described much more clearly and understandably than the second. The lectures make the “principle of action” very plain. It is simply the idea that our belief in consequences is what motivates us to action: “Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion in order to obtain them?” LonF (1:11). When we get to faith as the principle of power it is much less clear.

    Notice that it is when discussing faith as power (def 2) that it speaks of faith as an attribute (LonF 1:16). This is the context for the statement that “all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in HIM” (1:15). You said:

    Thus, his power resides in the absolute faith he has in his own trustworthiness and steadfast character (also explicit in the LonF). He knows he can be trusted. (#18)

    Again, I don’t know how his faith in his own trustworthiness leads to power. I understand how other people’s faith (def 1) in his trustworthiness gives him power over them, but I don’t see how his faith in his own trustworthiness makes any sense at all. It seems you are saying something like, “he knows he is trustworthy and he knows he will continue to be trustworthy, so he can have confidence that he will remain powerful in the future.” However, that is not a description of a principle of power–it is just the principle by which God knows he will be powerful in the future. Huge difference. It seems to my your statement above still assumes that God’s power is derived from the exercise of def-1 faith by lesser beings, which means faith (as power) is not an attribute of God as the lectures claim.

    To deal briefly with the rest of the lectures (since your #18 implied I was reading the first lecture out of the context of the second and third), let me outline how I see the reasoning of the lectures unfolding.

    Synopsis of the Lectures on Faith

    They begin by offering the two definitions of faith listed above. After that, they focus almost entirely on def-1 until lecture seven when they talk about working by mental exertion. Lectures 2,3,4 are building toward lecture 6, where it says that the end goal is to have enough faith to sacrifice all earthly things so that we can be saved. Faith, in the lectures, is roughly equated with obedience, as one would expect if faith is, by definition, a principle of action. The central idea of the lectures is that we need to do a bunch of stuff to get into heaven, and (because we wouldn’t plant a seed unless it we thought it would grow) we would not do those things unless we thought they would lead to salvation. This is the key.

    Lecture two says we have to know there is a God to have faith in him–simple enough. Lectures three and four focus on the character and attributes of God which are necessary for us to believe that he really can save us if we do all the things he asks (because, if we didn’t believe this we wouldn’t do anything). They go through all the attributes and characteristics one by one and each time they describe that the reason the attribute is important is that without it we wouldn’t be sure that our efforts would lead to salvation. Everything seems to be very carefully tied into definition 1 from lecture first. As a couple of example:

    For if he did not in the first instance believe him to be God, that is, the creator and upholder of all things, he could not center his faith in him for life and salvation; for fear there should be a greater than he, who would thwart all his plans; and he, like the gods of the heathen, would be unable to fulfill his promises. (LonF 3:19)

    for without the idea of the existence of [judgment] in the Deity, it would be impossible for men to exercise faith in him for life and salvation, …for if God were not to come out in swift judgment against the workers of iniquity and the powers of darkness, his saints could not be saved; for it is by judgment that the Lord delivers his saints out of the hands of all their enemies, and those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (LonF 4:14)

    It is always about knowing that God is willing and able to save us if we do what he says, so that we will be motivated to action based on def-1 version of faith. Lecture six says we have to know we are pursuing the course according to the will of God or we will have some doubts that our actions will lead to salvation. But, it says, if we know we are doing what God asks then we can be sure that we will be saved (because of lectures 3,4) which enables us, through faith, to endure to the end (LonF 6:10), while those without this knowledge “grow weary in their minds” (LonF 6:12).

    Lecture seven goes on to discuss the effects of faith, at which time it starts talking about faith as power again. It seems to me that it jumps trains of thoughts to a large extent to talk about working miracles and such whereas the previous lectures (except the second half of lecture one) are focused on the way def-1 faith leads to our salvation by works.

    end of synopsis

    So, I don’t think I am being tendentious. The text seems to treat the two separate kinds of faith differently and it does not make a great effort to tie them together. I appreciate your attempt to do so, but it seems to be thwarted by the language the lectures use with respect to faith as power. Faith as power is spoken of as an attribute of God which is hard to reconcile with the idea that his power derives from the trust others place in him. Again, it does say that those other’s faith is enable by attributes of trustworthyness, power, mercy, etc. in God, but this is different than saying that God’s power (faith) itself is an attribute of God.

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  33. KR (#31),

    Here it is from the scriptures:

    41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
    42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-
    43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
    44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
    45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
    46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 10:51 am

  34. Seth (#26),

    I think it is quite possible to make sense out of various ideas in the Lectures if you divorce them from other statements the Lectures also make. So, you can work up a sense in which faith is the principle of power and it may hold together quite well. I am arguing that after you do such and exercise, you will no longer be able to make your explanation compatible with the LonF.

    But, incidentally, I would also say that if I were putting together a series of lectures on the topic of faith, the primary definitions I would choose for faith would be much much different than the two offered by the LonF. So, the other reason I don’t like the lectures is that they have an odd focus in my opinion. The central message in the scriptures concerning faith does not seem to me to be that faith is the cause of action in the sense that we plant because we think things will grow.

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 10:57 am

  35. Mark (#30),

    A big crowd of angels would carry off Satan by force. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but I kind of like the idea, I’ll mull over that for a bit. Thanks.

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 10:59 am

  36. Jack (#25), Me too!

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  37. Blake: What is your source that leads you to believe that Sidney Rigdon believed in God’s absolute foreknowledge? Isn’t that question seperable from a fair reading of the text of the LonF? Do you subscribe to the “authorial intention” view of hermeneutics? (#21)

    I have no source. Do you disagree with my assumption that Sidney Rigdon believed in absolute foreknowledge, or are you asking for a source just to point out that I don’t have one?

    If a text inspires a new thought in us that was not intended by the author, that is fine. I think it is generally a good idea to try to understand things people say in the context of what they believe. The place we generally depart from that is in art (where the author might not even know what they mean) and in scripture (where we assume God is sneaking things in). When I read your books, if there is a point I am unsure of, I would go to you to see what you really meant, and then I would interpret the statement in the book in that context going forward. I think it is wise to interpret things in line with authorial intent when possible, unless we just want to say that the text, itself, does not lock one down to a particular view. In this case, I am trying to figure out what the text means, so taking authorial intent into account seems appropriate.

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 11:09 am

  38. Jacob, it’s impossible to know what the scriptures really think about faith because they constantly keep changing the terminology. Basically, you’ve got three words here:




    And the scriptural authors seem to feel free to mix-and-match meanings that are attached to these words freely. So what “knowlege” means really depends on which author you’re reading at the moment. And sometimes “belief” and “faith” are completely interchangable.

    So really, the LoF are simply breaking new ground where the Bible dares not tread. Now, if you wish to say that the Lectures use some questionable “proof-texting” from the Bible to prove their assertions, I’ll grant you that. But the basic theological ideas don’t seem to be either confirmed or debunked by reference to the Standard Works.


    Who says that God’s faith need be directed at any “other?”

    Comment by Seth R. — August 13, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

  39. Seth,

    Faith in righteous others as a principle of power is straightforward. Faith in oneself is not. Why should mental concentration or a positive attitude give one the power to move mountains? D&C 29:36 says that God’s honor is his power. Same idea is taught more fully in the last few verses in D&C 121. Why should any (small p) person have any extraordinary power at all, in and of themselves.

    According to Joseph Smith, our personal Heavenly Father is an exalted man just like us. The only difference is his position (mantle) and his body. The power of position or mantle is derived from honor. That leaves his body – why should it require extraordinary faith to make one’s body do whatever it can do, all by itself, without aid from the spirit of others?

    Somewhere in the LoF it talks about faith being a matter of words. Now why should a mountain listen to God’s words, unless it is concious (which I rather doubt)? On the contrary it is angels and others who listen to the word of God, and follow, in a sense acting as one true and living God. The LoF author seems to think that God was some sort of magician, that his words took automatic effect in nature, without any effort on anyones part whatsoever.

    I think that is naive. So did Brigham Young. He said if heaven has streets paved with gold, it will because we dug up the gold ourselves, and paved them. None of this magician stuff. Same deal with the Atonement. Why should God suffer, if he can just say the right words and make it all go away? Magic makes nature more powerful than God, where in reality, nature has no power at all, it just does what it does. Inanimate things only move when they are impelled by some force – now God has some extremely advanced “technology” to create spiritual forces upon things, but snapping his fingers to bring things in and out of existence, or make any instaneous change whatsoever is not one of them. Look at how long he took to create the earth. Several billion years, six hundred million for most life forms.

    The fossil record is extraordinary evidence that God doesn’t just say a couple things, and then nature follows along. More likely God sub-contracted out the work to an army of spirits, who took a *long* time to prepare this earth for human habitation.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 13, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

  40. Seth (#38),

    I agree–the scriptures are remarkably equivocal when it comes to faith. There is a lot of definitional mix and match as you point out. So, I think you are right that if the concepts explained in the LonF hold up as good theology, there is no reason we should reject them because of various definitions used in scriptures. To this point, I think we are in agreement.

    The only question, then, is whether they are good theology. As I pointed out in #32, when the LonF introduce faith as a principle of power, they do it while describing faith as an attribute of the Diety. It becomes hard to figure out what to do with a statement like this one:

    22 We here understand that the sacred writers say that all these things were done by faith. It was by faith that the worlds were framed – God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order, by reason of the faith there was in Him. So with man also – he spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed, prisons fell, lions’ mouths were closed, the human heart lost its enmity, fire its violence, armies their power, the sword its terror, and death its dominion; and all this by reason of the faith which was in them.
    23 Had it not been for the faith which was in man, they might have spoken to the sun, the moon, the mountains, prisons, lions, the human heart, fire, armies, the sword, or to death in vain! (LonF 1:22-23)

    God and man are both described as working by faith in the same terms. In both cases, things obey them because fo the faith which was “in them.” So, if I ignore the whole thing about faith being an attribute and just accept a Blake-style interpretation which says that chaos had faith in God, then I am left with this statement where the same wording is applied to man working by faith. Does the last statement in 1:22 (above) mean that the sun, moon, and mountains had faith in man? Well, no one wants to have it mean that (I don’t think) so just after interpreting it that way to make sense of God working by faith, we have to say something like “well, the sun, moon, and mountains really have faith in God and obey man as a proxy.” But, if that is true, then what did it mean when it said this happened due to the faith which was “in them” when referring to man? Neither of the two definitions of faith offered by the LonF seem to fit once I get to here and I start to feel the distinct impression that I’m working very hard to make the text more reasonable than it is.

    Comment by Jacob — August 13, 2006 @ 7:33 pm

  41. Jacob: As I read the scriptures, when it speaks of it being “so with man also,” what it refers to is that we both exercise faith and receive results by speaking words. We baptize by speaking, we heal by speaking, we perform ordinances such as the sacrament, ordinations, endowments and so forth by speaking. We inspire faith by speaking. I think that we resist this view because we don’t believe that just speaking speaks any “thing” into existence and we don’t believe that just be speaking we alter the world. But we do.

    What I love most about the Lectures is the teaching so central to it that to have faith we must be like him. We are like God by doing what he does and being perfected in him by becoming one. The teaching on how and why it is that we become one in God and this like God are it cental core. There are aspects of the Lectures that I really don’t believe make good theology like the geneologies, and their teachings regarding the Holy Ghost are incomplete at best, but the focus on the scriptural statements about becoming like God through loving unity are sublime.

    Comment by Blake — August 14, 2006 @ 6:08 am

  42. Oh I get it Jacob,

    You think it’s saying that “death and chaos” “had” the attribute of faith, which allowed them to move when God said so.

    No. I think you’re misreading the passage. “which was in them” does not refer to the mountains. It refers to the MEN who spake in God’s name (in the final sentence). It refers to the independent attribute of faith that God possessed (in the second sentence). Mountains moved, chaos obeyed, etc … because GOD possessed the independent attribute of faith. “So with men also.” The mountains obeyed THE MEN, because those men also possessed the attribute of faith.

    It’s simply a matter of sloppy grammar on the author’s part, but I don’t think it really says that chaos exercises faith in God.


    You throw out a lot of ideas there, but none of them directly address what I said. Essentially, I asked why God’s own attribute of faith need be directed at something outside Himself at all, to which you responded:

    “Faith in righteous others as a principle of power is straightforward. Faith in oneself is not.”

    This doesn’t answer my question. All it says is: “because I said so.”

    Then you try to back this up by citing scriptures that are solely directed at the idea of faith, as applied to imperfect mortals, then you try to extrapolate our own experience of faith to describe the sort of faith that God has. But I have no reason to believe that is so. Scriptures that are solely meant as directives for mere mortals do not necessarily tell us anything about the particulars of God’s own “power converters.” You speak as if those scriptures are dispositive in describing God, but there is no reason for me to think that they are.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 14, 2006 @ 8:32 am

  43. Seth,

    The fraction that you quoted is an implicit question. If you think that God’s power is not his honor, and wish to persuade others of that fact, than it behooves you to give an explanation to us, preferably an explanation beyond the realm of magic. The mode of faith I described is straightforward and is described in detail in D&C 121. Magic isn’t.


    Same thing here. Why should words have any magical power, beyond the honor given to them by the persons involved (extended to the whole host of heaven)?

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 14, 2006 @ 9:03 am

  44. Mark, I really don’t get how your argument addresses mine, as I already explained.

    Name-calling (“magic”) doesn’t score points either. I don’t view my argument as advocating any sort of “magic.” I don’t see why you do. Neither did I ever try to argue that “God’s power is not his honor.” I really don’t know where you’re pulling this from.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 14, 2006 @ 11:06 am

  45. Seth R.,

    I have to call what I am complaining about something, and magic is the most general term. It is a critical part of Mormon theology, starting in the Book of Mormon, that God cannot violate natural law, otherwise why should he suffer, or how could he be God (retain his honor) while being neither merciful nor just (e.g. if he hated us instead of loved us).

    So whatever you want to call it, I do not see how it explains anything unless it is consistent with natural law. Why does it take time for God to accomplish his righteous objectives? What about righteousness gives normative content to the idea? And why shouldn’t God be able to exercise his faith and make even his own suffering go away, let alone the suffering of good people everywhere? Why is sacrifice necessary for at-one-ment? The at-one-ment is not a matter of faith per se, it is a matter of action. Faith motivates action, but never substitutes for it.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 14, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  46. Blake,

    Well said. I agree with your sentiments in #41 and you point out some of the best aspects of the Lectures.

    I could add another thing I like about the Lectures, which is what drew me to them originally and which I still enjoy today: the lectures make a valient effort at saying something precisely and clearly.

    Comment by Jacob — August 14, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  47. Seth (#42),

    Ok, we are making progress. I think the interpretation you are suggesting is the one I actually believe the LonF intended. The other interpretation about chaos having faith is Blake’s interpretation, which is what I thought you were advocating before.

    You are saying that mountains obey God because God himself has faith. Likewise, they obey men because those men have faith. My question is: What does the word “faith” mean in the sentences above? Why do mountains obey people who have faith? If you can use one of the definitions from LonF that is best (see top of #32) but even if you need to offer your own definition that is fine. That will help me understand your view of this.

    Comment by Jacob — August 14, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  48. Alright Jacob, since you asked, I’ll give it a shot. But be aware that I’ve only read the LonF once (finished it a couple weeks ago, actually).

    I don’t see definition #1 (faith as a “principle of action in all intelligent beings”) as problematic in any sense. As mentioned, who would sow without faith in the harvest?

    But my own view of Faith is more inclusive than that and doesn’t see definition #1 as excluding definition #2 (Faith as a principle of power).

    Faith is more than a mere assurance of an end result, it is an affirmative state of mind that manifests in action and motivates both mind and matter to certain ends, by design. The way I conceive of it, Faith is itself an act of creation.

    If Faith be the foundation of all action, it must also be the foundation of Acts of God. The foundation of the the Earth was only possible because God first conceived of its formation and spoke with conviction that it would unfold according to his word. God possesses Faith in its most ultimate sense. Thus, when He speaks, He knows of the power of the words. And so do we, being sensitive to the power of Faith ourselves. Faith is the first step toward giving form and substance to the realm of mere probability and possibility. It is more than data we assent to or passively agree with (“belief” encompasses that state of mind). It is knowlege that we add our devotion to. Belief that impells action.

    Unlike the scriptural dialogue, my general sense of Faith is, in one sense, morally neutral. Any being can excercise some species of Faith, regardless of whether that Faith is directed toward righteousness or not. And Faith can have power, independently of righteous ends.

    For example, Napolean saw a greater unified Europe. He believed in the vision certainly. But his convictions went beyond mere passive belief in a unified Europe, or mere knowlege of what the particulars of such a Europe would be. His vision transcended into the realm of faith. That faith gave him power over the hearts and minds of his countrymen, inspired his soldiers to heroic acts, and at once inspired and terrified the minds of thinking men throughout the civilized world. I speak not only of the power of an idea, but the power of an idea when someone really “gives legs” to it. The power behind the great ideas of world history has always been Faith.

    Pick your character: Lenin, George Washington, Martin Luther, Ammon, Elijah… All exercised their own brand of faith and shaped the world in the image of the ideas they represented or adhered to.

    That is true power. And it transcends mere data points and wishful thinking. As my choice of characters indicates, faith can be morally neutral. Faith has potency in the hearts of humanity even when it is directed toward terrible ends, such as war, conquest, and nihilism. Lenin BELIEVED in what he was about, to be sure. But it wasn’t mere belief, it transcended passiveness into the realm of becoming a motivating force. That is faith.

    I haven’t capitalized “faith” in the above examples, because I believe that there is a higher form of “Faith.” That is “Faith” that is directed towards God – the embodiment of all correct principles. Thus the scriptures do not concern themselves with the convictions of a Lenin, or a Genghis Khan, or even a George Washington. The only faith that the scriptures care about is the capitalized “Faith.” But that doesn’t mean that the true nature of things can’t be found among the “mammon of unrighteousness.”

    God possesses this capitalized “Faith” in its fullness. The nexus of intelligence, wisdom, and capacity are so developed within Him as to enrich and finish His Faith to an extent incomprehensible to us. He can speak, and it is so.

    But note that I do not put any of God’s attributes before His Faith. It is not “intelligence, wisdom, and capacity” that provide God with Faith, it is Faith that leads to the acquisition of intelligence, wisdom and capacity. Or rather, Faith is the life-force that enlivens all other attributes. Before great deeds, come great ideas. Before great ideas, come great convictions. God is no exception.

    All creation is an Act of Faith, whereby that which did not exist, or was mere possibility was first embraced by the mind of God, and brought to pass through the force of His will (which I term Faith).

    This is why we must perfect the attribute of Faith in ourselves. If we cannot excercise Faith in that which is unseen, but which is true, how can we have the Faith necessary to shape planets? How can we give home to human identity?

    To summarize, I believe that Faith is the first principle of power precisely because it is also the first principle of action. One leads to the other.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 14, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  49. I do not have any general problem with that most excellent description, Seth. My point is that the road from faith to results always passes through action – the action of one or more persons / intelligences. In the case of words – it is faith -> words -> action -> results. The apparent consequence of this is that if a mortal priesthood holder has power over the wind and the waves, it is because there are some number of angels / spirits out there with what has to be considered “technology” to control them. The only apparent alternative is that all matter is animate, which I consider exceedingly unlikely on quantum mechanical grounds.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 14, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

  50. Well, perhaps it’s going to be one of those chicken-and-the-egg kind of things…

    Also, my wife doesn’t like this sentence I wrote:

    “Before great deeds, come great ideas. Before great ideas, come great convictions.”

    She pointed out that ideas exist independently of convictions and that the two could be more accurately pictured as two seperate atoms colliding and influencing each other. Then she rolled her eyes at this whole debate (she’s never been much for philosophy – science major you see…). I don’t know, maybe she’s right.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 14, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

  51. No moral idea exists independent of conviction, and certainly not independent of mind, in the general sense. Nature pertains to all ideas and ideals, but all ideas and ideals do not pertain to nature. Nature could care less about most of them, even as it is being radically recast in their image.

    Nature, pretty much by definition, is care-less. Configuration is incidental to nature. All states of affairs are created equal so far as her laws are concerned. Usually, it is not until we start to discriminate that some states become more probable (let alone preferable) than others, by grouping perceptually similar ones together.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 15, 2006 @ 9:29 am

  52. Actually, I think she meant within the context of the mind. That the idea and the conviction are seperate from each other, within the mind – until they collide and influence each other.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 15, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

  53. Seth (#48),

    Your view might very well be what the author of the LonF had in mind. I can’t be sure, but it seems to fit the lectures as well as any view of faith I’ve heard.

    However, I think your view has some serious problems. It seems very much like you are saying that faith is the power of positive thinking. There is nothing wrong with positive thinking, but I just don’t think it is what faith means in a gospel context.

    When a person says to a mountain “remove hence to yonder place” I don’t think it obeys or not based on how clearly the person has conceived of and pictured the mountain in a new place with a conviction that it would obey. When someone gives a priesthood blessing and says that their cancer will go into remission if they have enough faith to be healed, I don’t think this “faith” required has anything to do with the kind of charisma and vision exhibited by Napoleon.

    Despite the Lecture’s claim to the contrary, I don’t think the scriptures talk about God working by faith at all (someone please correct me). The LonF use a questionable interpretation of Heb 11:3, reading it to say “we understand that the worlds were framed by God’s faith” when I suspect the verse actually means that it is we who exercise faith in order to understand that that God framed the world. “By faith we understand,” not “we understand that by faith…”. Maybe Mogget will swing by to tell me if I am on track with my interpretation of Heb 11:3. That would be lovely.

    So, all this talk about God and man working by faith in the same fashion seems to me to go off in the wrong direction entirely. All the same, I appreciated your description.

    Comment by Jacob — August 15, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  54. Jacob,

    I think it makes some sort of sense for God (as a man) to have faith in God (as a concert), even if the former is in a position of nominal authority over the latter. I can’t imagine how comforting it must be to the Most High to know that the concert of heaven could get along without him.

    I am with you completely on the problems with the positive thinking thing. I understand Hebrews 11:3 in terms of God giving instructions to others. God created the world through the agency of his Son. And in this case his Son is surely in part a metaphor for a host of sons (and daughters) operating under the direction of the Prime Contractor, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am inclined to think that much of the detailed design work was delegated, as in any good size architectural firm. Isn’t that what author-ity is after all?

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 16, 2006 @ 12:31 am

  55. Mark,

    I’m not saying there is no sense in which we could say God has faith. Rather, I am claiming that the scriptures don’t talk about him having faith or working by faith, so any definition of faith that makes this a central is not likely to capture the primary senses in which faith is spoken of in the sciptures.

    I like your interpretation of Heb 11:3, especially if this creating the world through the word of God (delegation) is not equated with working by faith due to a misreading of the first half of the verse.

    Comment by Jacob — August 16, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  56. Jacob, When I read “working by faith” I generally interpret it as working through others. e.g. Purpose->words->others->actions I see as the primary mode that God works by faith. Now certainly God has some considerable effect on inanimate matter via the medium of his Spirit, but I see that also generally as Purpose->words->others->spirit->effect.

    Once you reach the level of the inanimate you are really talking about superior technology, not faith, in my opinion. The body is the greatest technology in the universe. We say that God dwells in everlasting burnings, I interpret that has he is filled with the spirit in a way cross coupled with the hosts of heaven, the divine concert, unto the consuming of the flesh of those who are not transfigured to abide his presence. That kind of spirit, even if it is socially derived (via the unity of the concert), has got to be directable to have quite an effect on inanimate matter, even if it takes a host of thousands or millions to organize a world (let alone a galaxy) according to his purposes.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 16, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

  57. Jacob, I’m talking about a lot more than “positive thinking.” But just the same, the “positive thinking” label applies more to lower-case “faith” than to upper-case “Faith.” I did make that distinction.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 16, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

  58. As Jacob noted, Seth’s #48 doesn’t really provide any explanation how “faith” or “Faith” could make a mountain move. It seems to me that the author(s) of Lecture First treat Faith (in the second sense — a principle of power) as being synonymous with God’s power. But they don’t provide any explanations of that power so this claim is not very theologically useful in my opinion.

    People have tried to answer exactly how God might move mountains in the past: Cleon Skousen preached that all matter was intelligent in some way so the particles that make up a mountain could literally obey God and get up and move at his command. Of course that requires a level of animism of all things that most of us wouldn’t buy. Mark Butler has been preaching that God has all sorts of angels that he delegates mountain moving duties to at his command (plus that he has advanced technological tools that he uses to get the job done.) I like that version better, but I hardly would call that “Faith” in the sense described in Lecture First…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 16, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

  59. My own half-baked theory is that a perfected and exhalted being is actually able to shape and impact physical reality via mere thought. Of course, I can’t prove that. But once you start talking about logically proving or scientifically explaining God, you’re venturing into “Tower of Babel” territory in my book. Half-baked and open to correction is about the best I have to offer, I’m afraid.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 16, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  60. Seth,

    My intention is not to demean your view by calling it “positive thinking.” It actually seemed to me that your description says faith works on basically the same mechanism that positive thinking works.

    Your distinction between faith and Faith is simply that faith can be directed toward any goal (moral or otherwise) while Faith is directed toward God and toward Good goals. Did I read you correctly?

    If so, then there is nothing substantively different about faith and Faith in terms of the mechanisms by which they work. Is there more to the distinction than I am understanding?

    Comment by Jacob — August 16, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

  61. Actually, on reflection, I’m willing to accept the “positive thinking” description, since it does seem to accurately encapsulate what I’ve put forth here.

    My only quibble would be that too often “positive thinking,” as used by pop culture, is simply code for “wishful thinking” or an attempt to psyche ourselves into accomplishing something that, deep-down, we know we have no right to accomplish.

    But, if you jettison all that self-esteem-movement-baggage from the word “positive,” I’m willing to take it up.

    So yes, I do think you’ve, more or less, got it Jacob.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 16, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

  62. I read the argument above and it seems you are missing the mark and over analyzing. The LoF were designed to help us be like Christ and do the things he did. We are to have confidence in God and use faith with the guidance of the Spirit. Faith is the key, the first princilple of revealed religion, the foundation we work from, and the force that drives us to be like God.

    I think it is important to understand L2.2 where it says that – “…in him [God] the principle of faith dwells independently, and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings center for life and salvation.” Man’s faith is dependent upon God. It has not been perfected yet.

    The LoF help show us the way and give the reasons why we should have perfect confidence and trust in him. It also says in L1.17…This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavouring to teach to man.

    The LoF are not easy reading. Like the scriptures, you must read and study and when you come to a difficult part, ponder and pray. Put yourself back in 1834. Ask yourself what Joseph and the other brethern were trying to say and teach. I have done this, and that is why I love the LoF just like the standard works.

    Comment by Rick — August 26, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  63. Rick,

    You started by telling me I am missing the mark and over-analyzing; you ended by telling me to read and study, and ponder and pray over the difficult parts. Not sure those go together very well.

    I can appreciate that you think I’ve missed the point, but since you didn’t really tell me where I am going wrong, I am not sure how to respond to you substantively.

    Comment by Jacob — August 26, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

  64. Jacob,
    I thought I did a good job answering your question, but it seems it came out muddy water. Lets start over. Joseph Fielding Smith said this about the LoF: “I suppose that the rising generation knows little about the Lectures on Faith. . . . In my own judgment, these Lectures are of great value and should be studied. . . . I consider them to be of extreme value in the study of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This is from the preface of the LoF published by Deseret Book in 1985. An additional footnote reference is – Joseph Fielding Smith, Seek Ye Earnestly (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1970), p. 194. So, as far as I’m concerned, the LoF are on the up and up.

    Again, what is the purpose of the LoF. L 1.1 – it is part of a “…course of lectures which are designed to unfold to the understanding the doctrine of Jesus Christ.” Or, a major theme of all seven lectures is to, help us to become like God by exercising and learning about faith. Your basic question is that you don’t understand that faith is a principle of power.

    You said, “The idea here is that God forces chaos into order with his faith.” I don’t like this. How about saying that God commanded and chaos obeyed. Why, because he is the supreme being. And, as revealed to the early brethren, it was by faith. The force has no part here. You say, “The closest the Lectures come to explaining the mechanism behind this principle of power is here” L1 Question 35. Small scale examples by man are prison walls being commanded to fall and obeying. Mt. Zerin being commanded to move and it obeying. On a larger scale, Joshua commanding the sun to stand still and it obeying. Here is where I think you start over analyzing. These examples are of men that are further down the road than you are because I feel confident by the teachings of the LofF you could do none of these things. You are fighting what is being taught.

    All things that exist in God are perfect. If the lectures say that faith is an attribute in God, then it is and it is perfect just like his love, mercy, knowledge, justice, judgment etc. are. You say, “My trust in and obedience to God are not attributes of God.” That is correct, are you perfect? No. You are still learning, and when you profess to become wiser than God or his prophets, then you err and there is no humility in you. It still blows me away in L7.3 where it is stated that, “…when a man works by faith, he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words….” I feel blessed to have this knowledge now, but do I understand it completely? No! It is fine to reason things out like you have, but when it causes you to lose ground and doubt, you need to stop and reexamine your hypothesis. Isaiah 28:9-10 states, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Be patient and don’t even begin to think that you must understand right now. I suggest you change your question. Instead of saying this don’t work, try asking why and study and ponder more or take another break. In time you can figure it out with the help of the Spirit. I know this may not answer your question the way you want it answered, but this is the way things are sometimes. Maybe one day I will tell you about what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me about the “mind” issue. Good Luck my Brother.

    Comment by Rick — September 1, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

  65. Rick,

    It is clear you approach the Lectures on Faith as a revelation and I do not. I think history sides with me on that front, since they were written as an attempt at systematic theology rather than as a revelation (compare any revelation and you will see the difference quite easily). You said:

    when you profess to become wiser than God or his prophets, then you err and there is no humility in you.

    You seem to overlook the fact that it was God’s prophets who found the LonF to be objectionable on some doctrinal points and saw fit to de-canonize them. By attempting to re-canonizing them, you could be accused of thinking you are wiser than God’s prophets just as easily as you accuse me of the same. The fact that JFS said LonF are “of great value and should be studied” is a far cry from your approach that “if the lectures say that faith is an attribute in God, then it is.” “Valuable for study” does not imply “inerrancy,” as you seem to think.

    Now, onto your arguments about the text. You said:

    You said, “The idea here is that God forces chaos into order with his faith.” I don’t like this. How about saying that God commanded and chaos obeyed.

    In the post, I address this interpretation specifically. While it is tempting to interpret it as you do (and I used to interpret it in the same way), the Lectures do not support this interpretation. They specifically say that faith (as a principle of power) is an attribute of God, not an attribute of chaos. This reasoning undercuts your interpretation and shows that the author did not understand his own statement they way that you understand it. It is not a matter of me being imperfect (of course I am imperfect, and so was the brother of Jared when he moved Mt. Zerin for that matter). Even if I were perfect, it would still be true that my trust in and obedience to God are not attributes of God. My trust is an attribute of me, which is why it is called my trust in the first place. So, you are just missing my point entirely with your response.

    If, as the Lectures say, “It is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist,” then your idea that it is choas that has faith in God makes no sense. How can their existence depend on their faith in God? Did chaos suddenly appear into existence when it (but wait, it didn’t exist yet) started having faith in God? Would choas poof out of existence if it stopped having faith? Certainly there seem to be people on earth who have no faith in God and they continue existing just fine. If you read the Lectures carefully, it is clear that the author intended it to mean that it was God who had faith, not chaos.

    Comment by Jacob — September 2, 2006 @ 10:15 am

  66. Jacob: First, the Lectures were not decanonized, there as no decision by a prophet to do so and they were considered the “Doctrine” of the Church for at least 90 years.

    Second, certainly the Lectures state that all other things do anything that they do because of faith in God who does what he does in virtue of faith in himself. So I don’t believe that your assertion that faith is merely an attribute of God — it is also something that we and all other realities exercise in God. Further, your assertion that “existence” means that things come from non-being or ex nihilo imports unwarranted assumptions into the text. Things exist as such only after chaos is organized. Chaos wouldn’t poof out of existence if it didn’t exercise faith, it would just remain chaos. Further, if there were no faith absolutely, then we wouldn’t feed ourselves or even get up — and we would die. So when you say it is “clear that the author intended it to mean that it was God who had faith, not chaos,” I suggest that not only isn’t it clear, it isn’t even consistent with the text.

    That said, I don’t like it when Rick suggests that you must be faithfless because you see it differently. You seem to me to be quite faith-full.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

  67. Blake,

    I’ll grant your point that my use of “existence” may use the word in a different way than was intended. I am honestly unclear as to whether it was intended as I interpreted it above or the way you suggest, but I am open to the interpretation you offer.

    I have never asserted that faith is merely an attribute of God. I acknowledge that the LonF also talk about our faith in God. Indeed, this is one of the major points of the Lectures. My comment #32 (which is not as clear as I would like as I reread it) tries to make the point that the lectures talk about two distinct definitions of faith and that the logical thread running through lectures 1,2,3,4,6 is based on the first definition. It is when they speak of faith as a principle of power that they talk about it being an attribute of God. According to my understanding of the lectures, when men work by faith it is because faith is an attribute of men. So, I have never intended to convey that the LonF only talk of faith as an attribute of God.

    As to canonization, I am very surprised by your remark. I think there are two reasonable views that can be held on this:

    1. The Lectures were never canonized in the first place so they could not have been decanonized.
    2. The Lectures were indeed canonized and later decanonized in 1921.

    Scholars disagree to which of these is the case, but I don’t know of anyone who holds a third view. Perhaps you can break me into a new view.

    I should point out that a prophet did indeed make a decision to remove the Lectures on Faith from the published scriptures of the church. In 1920, the First Presidency established a committee to composed of several apostles (including Joseph Fielding Smith, which might be of interest to Rick) to work on a new edition of the BofM. This committee ended up recommending the removal of the LofF from the D&C and obviously the final decision was made by the First Presidency. When the new edition was published in 1921, the introduction to the D&C stated that the Lectures “were never presented to nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons.” So, those preparing the introduction to the D&C appear to have sided with view (1) from above, that the Lectures were never officially canonized.

    Since they were never presented to the church for acceptance by a vote, any canonization which they did enjoy was because of their being included in the D&C. It follows, then, that when they were removed from that publication they were essentially decanonized to the extent that they were ever canonized in the first place. This is my view of the canonization problem.

    Two excellent resources are available online, from which I take some of the historical information above (I’m sure you are aware of these Blake, but others may not be):

    For the link above, the relevant paper is on pg. 71 (link above only takes you to the correct issue of Dialogue)

    Comment by Jacob — September 2, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

  68. Jacob: As you suspected, i am well aware of both sources — and take issue especially with Noel Reynolds’ attempt to devalue the LonF. First, I stand by what I said. There was no revelation, no action by any prophet and no vote of the Church to decanonize anything. The notion that the D&C which included the LonF were not canonized is incorrect. The D&C was accepted by a vote of the Saints, and as the Dialogue article expressly states, the LonF were the “doctrine of he Church” and included within the D&C in 1835 for that reason. So why were they removed? A committee of apostles decided not include them in the 1921 edition of the D&C which is now really just the C or Commandments.

    So could you show me the action by the prophet to remove the LonF — other than appointing a committee that made that decision? I would point out that Joseph Smith expressly directed the publication of the LonF in the 1835 edition of the D&C by revelation. The early saints saw them as an expression of official doctrine.

    So I am a scholar who believes that the LonF were expressly made a part of the LDS canon and were never decommissioned by revelation. I don’t believe that they have ever been decanonized, just removed from a compilation. As the Dialogue article mentions, if the same criteria used by Joseph Feilding Smith to justify removal of the LonF from the D&C were evenly applied, sections 107, 134 and 135 should have been removed as well.

    However, I don’t believe that we ought to value the LonF based on some authority derived from being included in a compilation of writings, but on the meaning of their teachings and the value placed on them by Joseph Smith and earliest saints as the official statement of LDS doctrine published as such and given to the world as such. I don’t believe that a committee of apostles in 1921 trumps that at all.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  69. Very interesting Blake, I did not know this was your view of the Lectures. So, now that I know, I am curious to know what significance you feel should be attached to something based on its canonical status. Are other churches or scholars justified in quoting the fifth Lecture as an official and binding statement of the Church’s view of the Godhead? Are these views binding upon members of the church? Should I view the statement that there are two personages in the Godhead in the same way I would view a scripture which stated the same?

    I recognize that they were published as an official statement of LDS doctrine for many years, but it seems clear to me that they were never understood to have been given by revelation. This puts them in a very different category for me. I wonder how the First Presidency would answer today if they were asked if the LonF were part of the Church’s canonical writings?

    As to your point that there was “no revelation, no action by any prophet and no vote of the Church to decanonize anything.”

    First, there was no revelation to include the LonF in the first place so it seems unwarranted to require a revelation to remove them.

    Second, the committee of apostles only made a recommendation to remove the LonF. They made their recommendations to the First Presidency, who made the final call. It is worth noting that not all of the recommendations of this specific committee were followed, so I think it is quite clear that the First Presidency are ultimately responsible for removing the LonF from the published canon. I count this as an action by a prophet (several prophets to be precise) and also an action by the Prophet.

    Third, your requirement that the Prophet refute the LonF and put such a refutation up to a vote in order to decanonize the LonF makes good sense from a legalistic standpoint, but it doesn’t seem very practical. Obviously such an action would be unnecessarily embarrassing to the Church for no tangible benefit. Also, given the fact that many people thought the Lectures were written by Joseph, this would have been upsetting to them (earlier, John Taylor kept them in out of respect for the fact that Joseph included them). Much better is to remove them and let their demoted status take full effect over time, which is the course which was actually pursued. Again, the statement in the 1921 intro that they “were never presented to nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons” shows us exactly how the First Presidency wanted to spin the removal. Rather than putting the removal to a vote and making the decanonization “official,” they took the softer route. Clearly the LonF were at one time considered more than just “theological lectures or lessons,” which makes it transparently obvious what the FP was trying to accomplish by making this statement. You may argue (correctly) that they never took the full legal route of decanonization, but their intent, and the practical effect of their actions could not be more clear.

    Comment by Jacob — September 2, 2006 @ 8:35 pm

  70. Jacob: A simple question. Do you view the actions of committees or anything done by the First Presidency as reflecting the divine will and revelation? Your position seems to demand it; but I don’t believe that such a view can be maintained.

    I asked for something from a prophet and you cite the committee and conclude that the prophet or First Presidency must have directed it because not everything they suggested was not accepted. What wasn’t accepted? Where is the action of the prophet? Assuming the prophet was involved (which is quite doubtful) why should we regard his action as either inspired or revelation?

    I don’t believe that the LonF are revelation — but they are the best attempt that the First Presidency of 1835 could make of clearly expressing the doctrine of the Church for popular inspection at that time. And yes, you should accept Lecture 5 because it closely follows the lines of Mosiah 14-16 and D&C 93 which it both quotes and paraphrases extensively (and I believe these scriptures are just the right place to go to elucidate the LDS view of the Godhead and the relation of the Father to the Son — admittedly the nature of the HG as a seperate personage came later but that only shows that the scriptures themselves were incomplete until later revelation was received and I don’t believe that there is anything at all wrong with that).

    So do you put D&C sections 107, 134 and 135 in the same category as the LonF since they don’t claim to be received by revelation either? It seems to me that much greater weight ought to be given to the statement of LDS doctrine sustained by a vote of the saints and recommended expressly by the First Presidency as the clearest statement of the doctrine of the Church that they were able to give. For a similar assessment of the LonF you might want to look at McConkie and Craig Ostler (my older brother) in Revelations of the Restoration, pp. 806-859.

    My assessment of the LonF is the same as the Preface to the 1835 D&C: “There may be an aversion in the minds of some against receiving anything purported to be articles of religious faith, since there are so many now extant; but if men believe a system and profess that it was given by inspiration, certainly the more intelligibly they can present it, the better. It does not make a principle untrue to print it, neither does it make it true not to print it… We have, therefore, endeavored to present our belief, though in few words, and when we say this, we humbly trust that it is the faith and principles of this society as a body. WE do not present this little volume with any other expectation than that we are to be called to answer to every principle advanced, in that day when the secrets of all hearts will be revealed and the reward of every man’s labor be given him. With sentiments of esteem and sincere respect, we subscribe ourselves your brethren in the bonds of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Joseph Smith, Jr.; Oliver Cowdery; Sidney Rigdon; F. G. Williams.

    That statement and the authority of those who subscribed it pretty well tells the story.

    Comment by Blake — September 2, 2006 @ 11:17 pm

  71. Blake,

    Do you view the actions of committees or anything done by the First Presidency as reflecting the divine will and revelation? Your position seems to demand it; but I don’t believe that such a view can be maintained.

    You have not read my position carefully enough. I don’t suggest there was a revelation to remove the LonF. I expressely said in my previous that since “there was no revelation to include the LonF in the first place …it seems unwarranted to require a revelation to remove them.” You express above that you don’t think the Lectures themselves are revelation. On top of that, there was no revelation to make them part of the canon. So, why are you so stuck on there being a revelation to remove them?

    So do you put D&C sections 107, 134 and 135 in the same category as the LonF since they don’t claim to be received by revelation either?

    No, I don’t put them in the same category, because those sections are still published in the D&C. I do put the “Article on Marriage” in the same category however. This case of decanonization is very similar. It was written by someone other than Joseph Smith, added to the D&C, kept in the D&C for subsequent printings under the direction of Joseph Smith, and later removed in the 1876 printing of the D&C, after the death of Joseph, to be replaced by section 132. Although it was presented to the church and sustained by a vote and later removed without a revelation or a vote, I don’t consider the “Article on Marriage” to be part of our canon. Do you?

    By the way, Joseph Fielding Smith’s letter 20 years after the fact does not necessarily reflect the reasoning of the committee or of the First Presidency’s reasons for accepting the recommendation to remove LonF. Surely you’ll agree with me on that.

    I asked for something from a prophet and you cite the committee and conclude that the prophet or First Presidency must have directed it because not everything they suggested was not accepted. What wasn’t accepted?

    The First Presidency was responsible for organizing the committee. The committee made recommendations. The First Presidency approves or rejects recommendations of committees it organizes. The Dialogue article linked to above says that George F. Richards wrote in his journal that the committee intended to recommend 20 additional revelations to be included in the D&C. The article concludes that: “The First Presidency apparently did not approve these suggested additions, for no new revelations were included in the 1921 edition.”

    Where is the action of the prophet? Assuming the prophet was involved (which is quite doubtful) why should we regard his action as either inspired or revelation?

    First, note that every member of the committee is sustained as a prophet by the church. Second, the idea that a committee can remove things from the D&C without the approval of The Prophet seems outlandish to me. I don’t doubt for a minute that the Prophet made the final call. Your doubt on this point surprises me.

    And again, I don’t think you must view the decision as inspired or revelation, since he was removing a text from the D&C that was not a revelation and which we have no reason to believe was added by inspiration. You are requiring that there be “action by a prophet” and “revelation,” but these requirements are of your own making. Show me the place that says by what criteria something is canonized or decanonized.

    Comment by Jacob — September 3, 2006 @ 9:10 am

  72. Jacob: It seems that we are speaking past each other. First, we agree that the LonF were not revelation. We do not agree that they were not added by revelation or that they were not scripture. The vote of each quorum seperately in both Kirtland and seperately in Missouri accepted the LonF as the “doctrine” of the Church as best as it could be expressed at that time. That makes it scripture. Note that scripture need not be revelation (which I took to be your criteria for including or excludiing something as scripture) so I pointed out several “scriptures” that are not revelation (heck, most of the OT and NT are not revelations). Not all revelation is scripture and not all scripture is revelation — see your criteria regarding the LonF are not adequate.

    We don’t fully know the criteria of the committee to remove the LonF, but we do know that the fact they thought they were incomplete or could lead to misunderstanding jsutified that move. By that criteria large swaths of the Book of Mormon (esp. Mosiah 14-16) and the D&C would have to be removed as well. Further, your criteria are not adequate for the same reasons — that is all that I am saying.

    I see no evidence that the First Presidency did anything — the conjecture that the “recommendation” for additional revelations was not accepted is just that. But I add for good measure that I see no more revelation or justification for that move even if the First Presidency were somehow involved. The D&C should now be called the “C” because the doctrine portion has been removed.

    The LonF were added to the “Commandments” by Joseph Smith and the First Presidency. As I stated (and you haven’t responded or acknowledged yet) I give the LonF no more credit (and no less) than Joseph Smith and his counselors did — they were their best attempt to explain the beliefs and doctrine of the Saints based on revelation to 1835. We have more now, but that hardly justifies not giving the LonF their due. The fact that we have more revelation after 1830 did’t mean the BofM was removed, that the revelations in the D&C were removed, that the non-revelatory statements of the D&C were removed or that the Book of Moses ought to be removed. It seems that the LonF were removed because the “doctrine” of lecture 5 on the Godhead was not complete — but then by parity of reasoning Mosiah 14-16 (and a large number of other parts of the Book of Mormon), parts of the Book of Moses and so forth ought to be removed.

    Jacob: So, why are you so stuck on there being a revelation to remove them? I’m not. I pointing out that your criteria and the criteria of the committee for not including the LonF were not rationally adequate and there was no reason based in revelation or inspiration to do so. That said, I don’t disagree with the decision not to include the LonF in the later editions of the “C” — the revelations were already bulky enough. However, I believe we ought to continue to to give very high regard to the LonF as the clearest statement of official “doctrine” that Joseph Smith aided by his counselors could give in 1835.

    Comment by Blake — September 3, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  73. Ahhh, I see that we were indeed talking past one another. Your last comment clears several things up for me, thank you. Let me see if I can do a similar thing for my view that you have done above for yours.

    I don’t disagree that the LonF were scripture. Else, I would never have referred to them as being decanonized. Until this discussion, I was unaware that there are scholars who still view the LonF as canonical. So, I have learned something, which is always good.

    It never crossed my mind that you would think I was offering my own standards for decanonization, so your reference to my “criteria” above surprised me at first. Now I see the disconnect. When I stated “my view of the canonization problem” (#67) I was talking about why I had concluded that they were decanonized. I was not trying to give hard and fast rules which could be applied to a text to see if it should be included or discarded from the canon.

    I have merely inferred from their removal from our published scriptures that they were decanonized. From papers like the one in Dialogue (see especially the title) I find that I am not alone in this inference. However, I agree with you that the reasons given for removing the LonF would not work well as a generally applicable set of rules for decanonization. I gather (in retrospect) that this is one of the major points you have been driving at, and I agree with you on that point.

    As you point out (by citing Mosiah 14-16), there are passages of scripture that could cause confusion on a first-pass reading. If those chapters had been removed from Mosiah in 1921, I would almost certainly refer to them as the decanonized chapters of Mosiah. This would not prevent me from studying them, it would not mean they were uninspired, and it would not mean they were incorrect. As you say, not all scripture is revelation and not all revelation is scripture. I have taken the same approach with the LonF and I have studied them despite their being removed (as I hope I have made clear). The LonF make some good points and there are some passages in Lecture 6 that I have always loved and which I still find to be excellent. So, it is the deliberate removal of a text from the standard works that looks to me like decanonization. As I said at the end of #69, it seems obvious to me that decanonization was the intent of the removal, despite the lack of an official refutation.

    In your comments above where you argue that the First Presidency and committee of prophets who removed the LonF did so based on faulty reasoning, you seem to be excluding the possibility that the decision was made after prayerful consideration and inspiration. I have no evidence of prayer or inspiration on the part of the First Presidency or the committee in this matter, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I choose to assume such an action would not be taken lightly, that the Prophet would make the final decision, and that all involved would approach such a decision prayerfully. I hope you hold open that possibility as well.

    Lest I finish without acknowledging your comment that ‘you give no more credit to the Lectures than Joseph Smith and his counselors did’, let me say something about that. I have no idea how much credit Joseph Smith gave to the LonF. I am convinced that he did not write them. I am unaware of him quoting them. I know he approved their inclusion in the “standard works.” As to how much credit he gave them–especially on the specific points I find to be troublesome–I have no idea. You stated that you think they were added by revelation. I think you’ll be hard pressed to point to said revelation. Joseph’s attitude toward the LonF and the circumstances surrounding their inclusion is historically ambiguous, as evidenced by the lack of consensus in scholarly work on this topic.

    Joseph Smith said in the KFD:

    I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. (Bullock Report, KFD)

    As Noel Reynolds points out, this could be used as evidence that Joseph never believed Lecture 5th precisely as written. Others, notably Vogel, use this as evidence that Joseph changed his view of the Godhead. You seem to have a similar position to that of Vogel on this issue. You could be right, but I am open to Reynolds’ view as well.

    By the way, does the “C” stand for “Commandments” or for “Covenants”?

    Comment by Jacob — September 3, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

  74. I must say that I think the idea that doctrine and theology are indistinguishable to be highly misguided. The D&C is a more concentrated source of doctrine than any other book of scripture. But Church doctrine is simply a collection of statements of what we believe. It is not some sort of systematic exposition about the exact and proper semantics of all those terms and how all they all fit together in precise detail. That is what theology is about, or as described in the scriptures, what the mysteries of godliness are all about.

    Theology is precisely the practice of using scholarly analysis plus whatever revelation and inspiration can be brought to bear to discover and understand the mysteries of godlines in precise analytical terms. Since no one to date has ever been able to do it, indeed considering that it is borderline impossible to do correctly using our mortal language and understanding, any attempt to canonize a partial understanding of the mysteries of godliness (which is what most theology is) is strictly speaking an abomination.

    And it is an abomination for exactly the same reason that most of the Protestant and Catholic creeds were abominations – they legislated a partial and incorrect understanding of God, shutting of the channels of revelation. Instead of people asking God for situtation specific guidance about principles they did not understand, they referred to their scholarly creeds, which led them into the most serious errors – errors often with fatal consequences. That is why the Lectures on Faith should not be canonized, any more than the Journal of Discourses, the Westminster Confession, or any other systematic or approximate explanation of doctrine be canonized.

    Canonical systematic theology is practically beyond mortal capacity. There is no faster way to obliterate a great many crucial mysteries than to engage in the insufficiently inspired pursuit of it. Joseph Smith had something to say about that.

    Comment by Mark Butler — September 3, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

  75. I think that’s a very good point Mark.

    Comment by Jacob — September 3, 2006 @ 10:31 pm

  76. Thanks, Jacob.

    Comment by Mark Butler — September 3, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

  77. Jacob, I tried anyway. I have used the LoF as a guide and they have been very helpful. As I said before, good luck my brother on finding your way.

    Just as a side note, the LoF have found there way back into the scriptrues we have. Have you read the entry on faith in the Bible Dictionary? Except for the Godhead, it is a summary of the Lectures on Faith. It even contains this line, “Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements and/or heal the sick, or influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants.” Since this HAS been approved by the church, but not as a revelation, I think it carrys some weight.

    Comment by Rick — September 4, 2006 @ 5:47 am

  78. Rick, the question is not whether faith is necessary to command the elements or heal the sick, the question is whether it is sufficient.

    In particular the question is if you take Christ out of the equation, is there any manifestation of divine power at all? i.e. I am sure that faith per se has some influence on the healing process, but where does the quickening power of a miraculous healing really come from? I say it comes from the Spirit, also known as the Light of Christ, which proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.

    A subtly, but significant irony here is that Jesus’ own power is not of himself. He said that of his own self he was nothing. He received of the fulness of the Father grace for grace. It is true that in him dwells the fulness bodily. The question is the conditions under which that fulness remains. Considering that he also said that his honor is his power, I suggest that the fulness of grace in Christ is dependent upn a voluntarily spiritual coupling with the Eternal Father, or the divine concert (Elohim).

    In short Jesus Christ has power not because he seeks his own will, but because he seeks the will of the Father who sent him. And it that sense Jesus has no power in and of himself. Divine power is contingent on spiritual unity, apparently of a rather large number of heavenly beings.

    Comment by Mark Butler — September 4, 2006 @ 8:21 am

  79. Rick,

    Despite our disagreement, I appreciate your efforts. I hope you’ll keep coming around, your perspective is appreciated. Usually we try to be a little bit heavier on argument and a little bit lighter on call-to-repentance around here, but you seem like the kind of guy who would pick up on this quickly.

    By the way, as you alluded to, the Bible Dictionary contains this important disclaimer in the preface:

    It is not intended as an official or revealed endorsement by the Church of the doctrinal, historical, cultural, and other matters set forth.

    So, despite its being published in your quad, it has not made it back “into the scriptures we have” as you stated.

    Comment by Jacob — September 4, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  80. Jacob: Re: # 73. Joseph Smith said in the KFD: I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods. (Bullock Report, KFD) As Noel Reynolds points out, this could be used as evidence that Joseph never believed Lecture 5th precisely as written. Others, notably Vogel, use this as evidence that Joseph changed his view of the Godhead. You seem to have a similar position to that of Vogel on this issue. You could be right, but I am open to Reynolds’ view as well.

    From my perspective, the entire argument is simply bogus. First, it is demonstrable that Joseph Smith had not always claimed that the Holy Ghost was seperate. It wasn’t even an issue until he later clarified it in an off-hand comment to Joseph Noble that made its way into D&C 130. However, it was seen as an innovation at that time. Further, Joseph Smith clearly oversaw the publication of the LonF and signed his name to them. He surely was more than fully aware that Lecture 5 called the Holy Ghost the shared mind of the Father and Son and that his name and his approval sat at the beginning of the LonF in every edition published and given to the world in his lifetime. Certainly Mosiah 14-16 and D&C 88 and 93 make no such distinction and the seperate nature of the HG is quite unclear to me in any of the pre 1842 scriptures or revelations or other statements by Joseph Smith.

    During 1834-35 the LonF were delivered to the School of Elders. “During the month of January [1834] I was engaged in the school of Elders, and in preparing Lectures on theology for publication in the book of Doctrine & Covenants, which the committee appointed last September were now compiling.” (HC 2:18). The LonF were prepared for the School of Prophets “to make preparations for the School of Elders, wherein they might be more perfectly instructed in the great things of God, during the coming winter.” (HC 2:169) On 1 Dec. 1834 Joseph said: “Our school for the Elders was now well attended, and with the lectures on theology, which were regularly delivered, absorbed for the time being everything else of a temporal nature. The classes, being mostly Elders gave the most studious attention to the all-important object of qualifying themselves as messengers of Jesus Christ, to be ready to do His will in carrying glad tidings to allthat would open their eyes, ears and hearts.” (HC 2:175-76) If Joseph didn’t agree, then pray tell what the heck was he doing all those months while they were constantly studied as the means of preparing Elders to preach the gospel?

    Finally, the notion that JS’s views changed over time with greater revelation is something I must imagine that you accept. Thus, my view is far from Vogel’s (thank goodness). I believe that Joseph grew in his views from greater revelation; Vogel believes the change is indicative of JS being a fraud. Thus, the comparison is not only one that I reject, it is one that fails to make a lot of very important distinctions.

    Comment by Blake — September 4, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  81. Maybe Elder Packer was off and the intellect is greater than the mantle. It is hard to keep up with you guys. Smile, bye.

    Comment by Rick — September 4, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  82. Blake,

    I apologize for taking so long to respond to #80. You make some good points and your response to Reynolds’ argument in #73 is compelling to me. As I said in #73 I am aware that Joseph Smith approved the publication of the LonF in the standard works along side his revelations. It does seem unavoidable that Joseph Smith, being well aware of the content of the Lectures, did not have serious doctrinal disagreement with Lecture 5. So, I think you win me over on this point.

    It also seems reasonable to consider the LonF as the best effort of those brethren at that time to expound their views on faith and the Godhead. I can embrace that view of the LonF.

    I have a harder time embracing the idea that the LonF are part of the canon. I think the best argument for removing them from the D&C is that they were never put forward or accepted as revelations and it is a bad practice to canonize theological works (Mark’s #74 is excellent on this point). I wouldn’t want Key to the Science of Theology canonized, or Joseph Smith as Scientist canonized, or The Truth, The Way, and The Life canonized. It just seems unwise to canonize efforts at systematic theology. That said, I know that even if we limit the canon to revelations (which I don’t endorse), we would still have to consider each revelation in historical context and that sometimes later revelations would override previous ones.

    By the way, I didn’t mean to imply anything by comparing your view to Vogel’s. I only said it that way because Reynolds was using his argument against Vogel and you were disagreeing with Reynolds on that point. No offense intended. Certainly I was not trying to compare you to Vogel.

    Comment by Jacob — September 9, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

  83. Faith is a principle of action and a principle of power.
    Man acts in accord with his beliefs as to outcomes.
    Therefore, it is a principle of action.
    If God reveals knowledge to man, he may act thereon with complete assurance as to the outcome.
    Therefore, when acted upon the principle of faith becomes one of power to man.
    God has all knowldege and therefore to God faith is power, because His actions are in total cognition as to what shall happen, and He has the power to accomplish His purposes.

    Hebrews chapters 11 and 12 give examples of faith. One of these is that the parting of the Red Sea was accomplished by faith. However, Doctrine and Covenants section 8 states that the same was effected by means of the spirit of revelation. Thus, revelation and faith as exercised by man, go hand in hand.

    Since the object upon which the principle of faith rests is God, when God reveals knowledge, this becomes the basis of the exercise of faith by man. This revelation is more than mere knowledge, but includes the assurance or testimony as to its truthfulness. Man can therefore act in confidence.

    Accordingly, we may act in obedience to the commandments, true doctrine, the prophet’s inspired directions, and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and other revelations to us.

    Having the idea that God exists, learning of His divine attributes and the perfect degree to which He possesses those attributes, and knowing that we cannot understand fully, until we become like Him, we begin where we are, with these ideas and progress from grace to grace, intelligence to intelligence, until we, as His children, through obedience, become as He is.

    Comment by Mark Smith Bryce — November 26, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

  84. I largely concur with Blake in 72. I see the LoF not as revelation in the complete sense, but as an effort to parse out the doctrine, which was later exceeded by better or “fuller” revelations. Interestingly, this seems to mirror Jacob’s argument in the discussion of Mormon’s take on the salvation; namely, that he spoke with less knowledge when compared to later understanding. Thus, taking the scripture (not revelation, but scripture) in terms of the current knowledge of the writer is a valid way to look at individual scripture claims.

    Comment by BHodges — September 25, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  85. I also really appreciate Jacob’s 2 distinct division of the different usages of “faith” in the LoF.

    Comment by BHodges — September 25, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  86. Sorry to be a comment hog, but viewing the lectures as insightful and important, while still keeping in mind their limited nature,this discussion has succeeded in its original intent to help me (though perhaps not Jacob J?) love the lectures on faith again. And of course, Rick never had any love lost for them, so he was good to go from the start. ;)

    Comment by BHodges — September 25, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  87. I love this thread.

    I see the LoF not as revelation in the complete sense, but as an effort to parse out the doctrine, which was later exceeded by better or “fuller” revelations.

    I agree with this. However, for me this mostly serves to justify my profound disagreement with many of the ideas advanced in the LoF. I still think Lecture 6th is fantastic in many respects, but I don’t think I will ever love the LoF the way I once did. I think what I have learned is that I was originally drawn to them because they were making an effort to make logical sense of a difficult theological concept. While I have come to thing that they failed in this attempt, I am still inspired by the effort and drawn to other such attempts.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 25, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

  88. Jacob,

    Although I own a copy of the LoF, it belongs in the category of started and never finished. Notwithstanding, may I share a few opinions?

    Faith as power. I see this at work in my own life. I reach for the light switch because I have faith that it will result in the same condition which has happened before. I act because I have that faith. It is doubtful that I would act otherwise.

    In the D&C it speaks of the adversary seeking the Lord’s honor, which is His power. Perhaps that is the honor/faith, which His creations have in Him. Perhaps it is their trust that He knows what He is doing and that He will protect them and that their greatest joy/growth will come by submitting to His will.

    I know in the past when I have had situations which demanded greater than usual faith, it was a mental effort on my part to gear up my faith, center it and to cast out all doubt.

    Faith in words is an interesting concept. The first idea that came to mind was that of the Word. Christ is the perfect embodiment of the Father’s will, thus perhaps “The Word” is a perfect title for Him. Also when we are pronouncing blessings, do not our words provide a focal point to the faith backing them?

    Also I don’t see where if faith centers in Deity – if He has it in Himself first – that this negates faith being also in His creation? Would creation have faith in a being who had self doubts?

    I do believe that at least certain exercises of faith do require mental exertion, such as operating a seer stone or translating by virtue of it or the Interpreters. Concentration is often spoken of as a requirement in prayer or meditation too.

    The part about having faith in God because He knows all things – does that not refer to the quality of our faith? If we knew that there was the chance that He could not do all things to ensure our salvation, that there might be forces or beings that could overpower Him, would our faith be sufficiently strong to enable us to do all things which He commanded?

    Regarding the same mind being in the Father and the Son. I’ve been reading from John lately and I’ve noticed a theme in which there is a portion of the Father which dwells in the Son, and there is a portion of the Son which dwells in the Father. And Jesus prays that the same condition might exist between Him and His disciples. I speculate that once a person reaches a certain level that there is a sharing between such exalted beings, a sharing not only of intent, but also of their very being. Perhaps this is facilitated through this Spirit of which he speaks.

    Anyways, don’t know if any of this helps or is totally correct, but thanks for bringing it up and allowing me to share.


    Comment by Steve Graham — September 26, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

  89. Although I own a copy of the LoF, it belongs in the category of started and never finished. Notwithstanding, may I share a few opinions?

    Seriously, you could go read LoF in the time it took you to write your comment here. I discern in your random musings a heavy influence (i.e. ideas taken directly) from Cleon Skousen’s atonement theory and Bruce R. McConkie’s Seven Deadly Heresies. Your thoughts on power, words, and mental exertion are strikingly similar to the ideas advanced in the LoF, so I predict if you take time to read it, you will like it a lot.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 26, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

  90. Maybe I will. I took a BoM class from Skousen and liked him for other reasons. Didn’t know I had that much in common with McConkie.

    Thanks for recommendation. Perhaps my partial reading of it has already taken root.


    Comment by Steve Graham — September 26, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  91. Didn’t know I had that much in common with McConkie.

    Here is the part I was refering to. Compare your comment here:

    If we knew that there was the chance that He could not do all things to ensure our salvation, that there might be forces or beings that could overpower Him, would our faith be sufficiently strong to enable us to do all things which He commanded?

    with BRM from Seven Deadly Heresies:

    Will he one day learn something that will destroy the plan of salvation and turn man and the universe into an uncreated nothingness? Will he discover a better plan of salvation than the one he has already given to men in worlds without number?

    Right after that in Seven Deadly Heresies, he quotes the Lectures on Faith and we come full circle.

    If you are not familiar with Skousen’s atonement theory, it is in many places on the web, but here is one from our old friend rcronk.

    He advances exactly this idea from your #88:

    In the D&C it speaks of the adversary seeking the Lord’s honor, which is His power. Perhaps that is the honor/faith, which His creations have in Him. Perhaps it is their trust that He knows what He is doing and that He will protect them and that their greatest joy/growth will come by submitting to His will.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 26, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

  92. Thanks, Jacob.

    Comment by Steve Graham — September 26, 2008 @ 8:08 pm


    This helped me a ton.

    Comment by Kimberly — February 21, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

  94. One of the earliest comments in the list talked about the faith of God and referenced Alma. The notion was the author did not see how God could hope for something unknown etc. (Go back to the gensis of the list to get the exact words). I will also admit I have not read every post so this simple idea that follows may have already been discussed.

    Alma’s discussion of faith is relative to this world which is characterized by time events or sequencing of events – something happens before or after something else. However if you think of eternal as being without time or without sequence I think you can have faith and hope it is just not the same as we think of it because of the sequence issue.

    The phrase – through time and all eternity would at least to me seem to indicate two different stages with one being a subset of another. Or that time is contained within eternity but eternity is not bound by time hence no beginning or end.

    Comment by John — March 2, 2009 @ 7:50 am

  95. Welcome John. I have written about my reasons for not believing eternity is “without time” in this post.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 2, 2009 @ 9:53 am

  96. Thanks for the link. I reviewed much of the material and the people in that thread have thought a lot more about time and timelessness than I have. I would not dare challenge the arguments they presented.

    I am sure there is a difference between eternal time and my time. I think if you look at time as the mechanism that allows for change then the notion that truth is eternal and perhaps all encompassing might suggest that as you come closer to truth the less likely you are to change (time requirement). And with fewer and fewer changes required there is a loss of the sense of urgency.

    Sometimes this all seems a little silly and like I said most of the other poeple have thought a lot more about this than I but it is helpful just to think about stuff. So thanks…

    Comment by John — March 3, 2009 @ 9:42 am

  97. Another thought that relies on an old formula. Rate * Time = Distance. You can also solve for various elements. So what happens if you set distance to zero?

    Comment by John — March 9, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

  98. So what happens if you set distance to zero?

    Ummm… then either the Rate or Time is equal to 0? I am lost on this one. Are you suggesting that God never moves?

    Comment by Jacob J — March 10, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  99. God moving is interesting. If you assume He does not move that he is present everywhere you would end up with issues of how can a body be everywhere. If you assume He does move then you have the problem of where God is not. If you assume there is no beginning and there is no end hence eternity, you are then not bound by sequence (time) in the same sense that we in mortality might view it.

    It is impossible for me to get my arms around anything that has no beginning and no end. I just don’t know how it is. But it is!

    Comment by John — April 14, 2009 @ 6:30 am

  100. Hi John,

    how can a body be everywhere

    Agreed, this doesn’t work out too well. He must not be everywhere.

    the problem of where God is not

    He’s not lots of places. For example, he’s not here in my cube right now. Not physically.

    you are then not bound by sequence (time) in the same sense that we in mortality might view it

    I don’t follow. Why would the sequence of time be undermined or incompatible with an eternal past and an eternal future? You might enjoy this thread about God and time.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 14, 2009 @ 11:17 am

  101. Your big problem is that you are reading that the faith IN the Deity means that it is in Him, as in his attribute rather than faith in him as we as humans have faith in Him and thus act upon it. Listen to or read Cleon Skousen’s talk on the Atonement and maybe that will help you understand a bit more. God’s power comes from us, the intelligences, upholding Him as God and obeying Him. If he ceased to be God it would be because He had lost the trust and faith of those He is over…we would stop obeying. The intelligences obey Him because of our faith in Him. And yes, he has faith as well, faith in us, faith in other things. In the D&C it talks about the pre-existence, and Satan says to God…give me thine honor, WHICH IS THY POWER. God’s power comes from us honoring Him…that is our faith in Him. I think its sad that some of you would poo poo this great works just beccause it might have come from Sidney Rigdon, or call it hum drum because you think you’ve learned more than the Prophet Joseph Smith. It doesn’t matter the author…Joseph Smith…the smartest man the church has EVER seen in our dispensation approved them, whether he wrote them or not. Let us have more faith in him and study these things in a more respectful and understanding way…yes, we may disagree with some things, but there are no definite answers on many of these things and its silly to think that we know more than these great men who put this together. If we don’t understand it or think we know better, we should probably study more and try to understand it better.

    Comment by Jonathan — October 22, 2011 @ 4:42 am

  102. Hi Jonathan,

    Your big problem is that you are reading that the faith IN the Deity means that it is in Him, as in his attribute rather than faith in him as we as humans have faith in Him

    I read it that way because the Lectures on Faith say that specifically. As quoted in the original post:

    Take this principle or attribute-for it is an attribute-from the Deity, and he would cease to exist. (Lecture 1st)

    Comment by Jacob J — October 23, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

  103. Jacob J,
    Clearly you need to read ol’ Cleon more often…

    It’s so simple:

    Understanding Cleon = understanding Joseph = understanding truth.

    Comment by Riley — October 23, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

  104. Indeed Riley.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 23, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

  105. I’ve been listening to the BYU professors (Millet, Skinner, Matthews, Dahl, Marsh and Fronk) discuss these lectures. I don’t understand all they say or how faith works exactly, but they do and greatly value the lectures. The spirit that attends these discussions is quite amazing. That’s enough for me to spend the time to understand them, to study with a respectful attitude, and to be grateful for them.
    Joseph Smith spent a lot of time working over the lectures for publication and was satisfied with them. He, being the head prophet for this dispensation, set the doctrine for this dispensation. There’s nothing taught in the lectures that Joseph didn’t teach before they were written (quoting Robert J. Matthews on the last statement). Joseph felt they were good and so do the BYU professors mentioned above. That’s enough for me to happily continue my study of them.

    Comment by Joanne — July 17, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

  106. The Lectures are scripture, edited and vouched for by the prophet Joseph, who communed with Jehovah and had the heavens opened to him many times. It was voted on and accepted by the church. (See JS Papers, Revelations and Translations, vol. 2)

    It contains the “leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe” and “the important doctrine of salvation” and “we are to be called to every principle advanced” – Preface to 1835 D&C.

    The Lectures were removed in 1921 by committe, without the common consent of the church, by persons who had not communed with Jehovah.

    Joseph knew what he advanced.

    Comment by stephen — October 10, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

  107. Glad someone finally came along to clear that up.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 11, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

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