Why does the LDS Church ask for 10% tithe considering what is written in the Book of Mormon?

Why does the LDS Church ask for 10% tithe considering what is written in the Book of Mormon?

Question

 

Hey Gramps!

Could you explain why the LDS Church asks for 10% of members income considering what is written in the Book of Mormon chapter 8:32-33.

 32 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.

 33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled.

I’m confused.  Many thanks.

Shell

Answer

 

Dear Shell,

The scriptural importance and benefits of a person’s paying tithes and offerings, are well-established (see. e.g, Malachi 3; Luke 21:1-4; D&C 64:23; D&C 85:3).  That, in this dispensation, it is the Church’s prerogative to receive and administer those tithes, seems equally clear (see D&C 119; D&C 120; D&C 97).

Mormon 8:32-33 does not strike me as being directly applicable to the LDS Church (or any church, for that matter), unless one can first establish at least one of the following:

1.  That the church purports to offer forgiveness of sins in exchange for nothing more or less than monetary payment;

2.  That the church has been built up for the specific purpose of getting gain; or

3.  That the church has “transfigured the holy word of God”.

I do not believe that any of those three conditions applies to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

What if Adam had never partaken of the forbidden fruit?

What if Adam had never partaken of the forbidden fruit?

Question

 

Gramps,

What would have been the outcome, had Adam not partaken of the forbidden fruit as Eve had already done?

Michele

 

Answer

 

Michele,

The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a representation of important and very real events. However, we do not know exactly what those events were or exactly how they transpired. Satan is presented as a “serpent”, though we don’t think Satan was actually slithering around the Garden, talking to Eve out of his snaky mouth. Rather, we are provided the gist of important events and decisions, with only enough context to make the story comprehensible. We know few or none of the particulars.

Without knowing these particulars, it becomes almost impossible to speculate on “What ifs?”. Simply put, our doctrine does not tell us what would have happened had things gone in the direction you describe. But we can review what we do know and see if we find anything of use.

I will tell you my own interpretation of this topic, with the understanding that what I write is just that — my own interpretation, not settled LDS doctrine.

Adam and Eve were given commandments in the Garden, doubtless many. We know of two of them. The first (Genesis 1:28) was to multiply and replenish the earth. This was their great charge: To be the parents of the human race. The other (Genesis 2:16-17) was a commandment to avoid eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (While the scriptural accounts seem to say that Adam was given this commandment before Eve had been created, other prophetic teachings provide us sufficient reason to believe that Adam and Eve both received this commandment.)

Once Eve had been deceived by Satan and had broken the commandment not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she had become subject to the consequences — she would surely die. But Eden was a place of life, not death, and so Adam and Eve both knew that Eve could not remain there. Their primary charge remained: To multiply and replenish the earth, and be the primal parents of the human race. Thus, Adam was faced with a choice: Was he to lose his wife and the possibility for completing the purpose for which he had been created, or was he to disobey God, partake of the fruit, and stay with Eve, thus enabling the plan of salvation to come about? We know which he chose.

We may ask why Adam didn’t just counsel with God before making such a momentous decision. Many possible answers suggest themselves — Satan tempted or rushed him, Eve’s predicament was dire and muddled his thinking, Adam himself impetuously rushed into the situation — but our ignorance handicaps us. The fact that we don’t know the particulars means that we can’t do anything but speculate on this point, and such speculation has little chance of giving us much insight.

 

Gramps

 

 

What was the breastplate worn by the Levite Priests used for?

What was the breastplate worn by the Levite Priests used for?

Question

 

Gramps,

What was the breastplate worn by the Levite Priests used for?

Karen

 

Answer

 

Dear Karen,

The Lord Himself dictated that the “holy garments” made for Aaron, the first Levitical high priest, were largely ceremonial in purpose “for glory and for beauty” rather than utility (Exodus 28:2).

The breastplate proper, known as the breastplate of judgment, was designed to be integrated with other articles of the sacred vestment. The ephod (a sort of tunic or shirt) had a stone on each shoulder with fasteners. On these stones were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel in order of birth, six on each stone, for a “memorial unto the children of Israel: … [the high priest] shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial” (Ex. 28:9-12). From each fastener came a gold chain that connected to two ends of the breastplate. The breastplate had two more gold chains which bound it to the ephod, and two blue ribbons (or laces) which also bound it to the ephod (Ex. 28:22-28). Both the breastplate and the ephod bore the same four colors: gold, blue, purple, and scarlet (Ex. 28:15). The breastplate had another parallel to the ephod in that it also had attached stones bearing the names of the twelve tribes. In the case of the ephod, however, each tribe was engraven on its own stone in four rows of three. The names are not scripturally indicated, but some later Targums (Jewish commentary and tradition inlined within the scriptures themselves – see, for instance 2 Nephi 27) fill them in with differing orders (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan Section 20). And just as the shoulder stones served as a memorial, so also did these serve the intention that the high priest “bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually” (Ex. 28:29).

The breastplate was cloth that was twice as long as it was wide (like the Holy Place of the tabernacle), but was folded to a square (like the Most Holy Place, or Holy of Holies of the tabernacle) to form a pocket for the Urim and Thummim. Because of this special function, Josephus calls the breastplate “Essen, which in the Greek language signifies the Oracle“, signifying that this was the place to receive revelation (Antiquities of the Jews 3.7.5). In fact, he describes the breastplate as showing divine favor in battle. “God declared beforehand, by those twelve stones which the high priest bare on his breast, and which were inserted into his breastplate, when they should be victorious in battle; for so great a splendor shone forth from them before the army began to march, that all the people were sensible of God’s being present for their assistance” (Antiquities 3.8.9).

As a symbol, Josephus recognized that the tabernacle was a microcosm of creation, and that the high priest’s holy garments served the same function. “Now the vestment of the high priest being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denoted the sky, being like lightning in its pomegranates…. And for the ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four elements; and as for the gold interwoven, I suppose it related to the splendor by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breastplate to be placed in the middle of the ephod, to resemble the earth, for that has the very middle place of the world. … Each of the sardonyxes [stones on the shoulders] declares to us the sun and the moon; … And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call the Zodiac,we shall not be mistaken in their meaning” (Antiquities 3.7.7).

Additionally, the clothes served as a physical reminder of judgment and responsibility. The anointed high priest served in the temple with the twelve tribes weighing on his shoulders and heart. If he served faithfully he would find that he was endowed with power equal to the charge, because his breast was now a receptacle of light and truth through revelation.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

What are the responsibilities of the 12 Tribes?

What are the responsibilities of the 12 Tribes?

Question

 

Dear Gramps

In Patriarchal blessings, we are told to what Tribe of Israel we hail from, so that we can get an idea of what blessings we are promised. But there was never a blessing which didn’t have a corresponding duty or responsibility. I always wondered what these were for the Tribes other than Ephraim. Could you please help? Thanks!

Elliot

 

Answer

 

Dear Elliot,

The blessings and duties of Ephraim have been given more detail in these latter days, because that is the tribe we find most prominently participating in the restored covenants. Elder Eldred G. Smith, the patriarch to the Church, explained “Joseph [son of Israel and father of Ephraim] received a special blessing which we are most interested in because we are his descendants, the most part of us, and the blessings of the gospel have come through this line, for Joseph Smith, Senior, was a true descendant, through Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph” (General Conference, April 1952). Ephraim has been tasked with gathering in these last days (Deuteronomy 33:17, see 13-17), so it’s not surprising to see him receive the covenant blessings first (almost like a birthright (see 1 Chron. 5:1-2 and Gen. 48:17-20)).

In the Mosaic dispensation the tribe of Levi (Moses’ tribe) had the most well-defined duties surrounding temple worship, including a specific role for descendants of Aaron. Levi’s responsibility in the modern dispensation has had little revealed about it. We do know that the day will come when “the sons of Levi [will] offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness” (D&C 13). Additionally, there is a specific duty for the Levites tracing a high priest lineage. A “literal descendant of Aaron has a legal right to the presidency of this [the Aaronic] priesthood … to act in the office of bishop independently, without counselors” (D&C 107:76). Joseph Fielding Smith clarified the limited scope of this obligation:

“It has no reference whatever to bishops of wards. Further, such a one must be designated by the First Presidency of the Church and receive his anointing and ordination under their hands. The revelation comes from the Presidency, not from the patriarch, to establish a claim to the right to preside in this office. In the absence of knowledge concerning such a descendant, any high priest, chosen by the Presidency, may hold the office of Presiding Bishop and serve with counselors.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:92.)

Turning again to the Mosaic dispensation, we find a duty for the descendants of David in the tribe of Judah. This was the king-line for united Israel until the schism with the 10 tribes. This regal responsibility continued over the remnants. While David’s royal line can be viewed as an analog to Aaron’s high priest line, we have no indication of a general responsibility for others in Judah towards governance in the same way that others in Levi held priestly responsibilities generally. Additionally, we have little knowledge regarding Judah in this dispensation (except that there will again be a king of davidic descent over Israel).

Even less is spoken of regarding the blessings and work of the other tribes. In the absence of further light and knowledge on the subject, we acknowledge that the little noted here is vastly incomplete and needs to be filled in, clarified, and corrected through revelation.

 

Gramps

 

 

Were all people vegetarians until Noah and the flood?

Were all people vegetarians until Noah and the flood?

Question

 

Hiya Gramps,

Maybe this is a silly question, but were Adam and Eve (and everybody else) vegetarians until Noah and the flood? I have been reading an autobiography of a well known Christian and he notes that before the flood we were peaceful with all animals and ate only what we could grow. After the flood, Heavenly Father gave the ok to eat them.

I’d never heard anything like this, but the scriptures in Genesis he points out seem logical.  Thanks!

Jen

 

Answer

 

Dear Jen,

We know that when Adam and Eve were found naked in the Garden of Eden, God made garments for them of skins–in other words, parts of animals that either Adam and Eve, or God Himself, had killed.  (Genesis 3:21).  He then commanded Adam to sacrifice the firstlings of his flocks (Moses 5:5), a commandment that remained in place in some form until Jesus’ own great and last sacrifice.  We also know that the righteous Abel was a “keeper of sheep”, and that his sacrifice also included “the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof”.  (Genesis 4:2-4).  God seems to have had respect to this bloody sacrifice, but not to Cain’s offering which was decidedly vegan in nature.

While these scriptures may not be proof positive that Adam or Eve–or even Abel–ever ate animals; it does indicate that antediluvian humans couldn’t accurately be called “peaceful with all animals”.  They seem to have been quite willing to kill animals when it served their purpose.

 

Gramps

 

 

Why was Oliver Cowdery chastened by the Lord?

Why was Oliver Cowdery chastened by the Lord?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

In D&C 8, the Lord gives Oliver Cowdery the power to translate the Gold Plates.  The Lord directs him four separate times in verses 1, 9, 10 and 11 to ask Him for the translation he needs.  In D&C 9, we find out that Oliver was perfectly obedient to these directions to ask, yet he failed and is chastened by the Lord because he did not “study it out in his mind”.  Why would the Lord tell him four times in section 8 to ask, and yet say nothing about studying it out in his mind?

Robert

 

Answer

 

Robert,

The answer to your question is found in Section 9:

5 And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.

Now it seems very likely that before Oliver Cowdery asked for permission, he did ponder it and study it.  When he asked, the Lord gave him the missing pieces; permission and instructions to ask in faith.

Apparently Oliver, like many of us focused on the new stuff and neglected the actions and behaviors that got him there in the first place.  This can be an all too common failing.

Of course God, being God, knew that this would happen, so why didn’t He intervene to correct it?  That is simply another form of the question of ‘Why does God not stop bad things from happening?’  We simply have to have faith that God knows what He is doing, and what He is doing is for the best.

That leaves us with speculation.  In this case I would speculate that God did not need Oliver to translate (Joseph was called for that), but he did need to teach Oliver how to receive answers from God.  Now, God is a master teacher, and I know that sometimes I learn the most from my failures, and not necessarily as much from my successes.  Maybe that is what Oliver needed in order to to learn?

Also Oliver was a School Master by trade who shouldn’t have needed to be advised that some measure of intellectual rigor would be necessary to undertake the work of translation. Hence the absence of any “study-it-out-in-your-mind” injunction in D&C 8.  It’s what I perceive to be a general, gentle tone of “you-should-have-known-better.” In D&C 9 it becomes clear that whatever process Oliver used lacked any real intellectual effort on his part.

I do know that because of Oliver’s request and struggles we have Doctrine and Covenants sections 8 and 9.  This allows all of us who read and ponder the words and instructions to also learn the lessons that God was teaching Oliver.  How many hundreds or thousands of people have also been taught because of these events?  While my thoughts are speculative, it is not really that hard for me to think of some very good reasons that God might have had to let this happen.

Anyway, for those interested, the Church has posted an article covering the events in question here.  You can read here.

 

Gramps

 

 

Why is 2nd Nephi word for word with Isaiah in the Bible?

Why is 2nd Nephi word for word with Isaiah in the Bible?

Question

 

Gramps,

Why are the Isaiah chapters word-for-word in 2 Nephi if Joseph Smith translated the Gold Plates which had not been tampered with, like the bible?

Kristen

 

Answer

 

Dear Kristen,

In your next reading of The Book of Mormon, I encourage you to slow down and take the time to read some of the headers and footnotes. For instance, once you get into the Isaiah chapters in earnest (after the initial primer in 2 Nephi 7-8) you find this in the footnote: “Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same wording as KJV” (2 Nephi 12:2a).

If you’re looking for some adventure and insights in your scripture study, I encourage you to follow the directive in the header for the Isaiah chapters (also the Malachi and the Sermon at the Temple chapters) and “Compare Isaiah 2” or whatever the relevant chapter is. It’s quickest with a partner (unless your scripture buddy wants to discuss the differences – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but it can be done alone as well. I’ve edited the chapters in my scriptures so I can quickly see the differences – coloring in the removed words or phrases and adding in the new words or phrases in the margins. Some are inconsequential with respect to meaning, but do show that Nephi was working with a different version than our King James translators; some magnify and intensify the meaning; others reverse the meaning completely; while others still change the persons referred to from plural to singular (and vice versa).

I recommend performing this comparison in the order of the chapters in The Book of Mormon. It will be straightforward enough until you get to 2nd Nephi 27 (compare Isaiah 29). By this point you’ll realize Nephi is working with something completely different. Either the version we have in our Bible has been heavily redacted, or Nephi has been inspired beyond any previously recorded prophet to comment on the text. I have yet to find a good system to capture the comparison between these two chapters in my scriptures. If any readers have found a good system for this study, I’d love to hear it in the comments, so others may benefit as well.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

Is there a promise in Isaiah 54 to those women unable to have children?

Is there a promise in Isaiah 54 to those women unable to have children?

Question

 

Gramps,

As a woman who was not blessed with children I was comforted by reading Isaiah 54 and that I would have so many children I would need to enlarge the tent. Also that being refused by the Lord as  a young wife would be for a short time and in time I would forget this. I was told that this is symbolic–having something to do with Israel. Is there anything in this to actual barren and childless women?

Shasta

 

Answer

 

Dear Shasta,

It is indeed symbolic. Isaiah uses the image of a childless woman suddenly surrounded by so great a posterity that she needs a larger tent to hold them before they overflow into the neighboring ghost towns and make them thrive.

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

 

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

 

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:1-3).

 

Victor Ludlow explains the symbols:

“The desolate woman and her relationship to the wife can be understood in two ways: (1) The desolate woman represents the gentiles, and the wife Israel; thus the gentiles will bring forth greater spiritual fruits than Israel has delivered; (2) the desolate woman is Israel in her scattered condition, while the wife is those people remaining in the Holy Land. Thus Israel will bring forth more children (both physically and spiritually) outside the land of her original inheritance than in it. (See Gal. 4:22-31; Rev. 12:1-6.) In either case, Isaiah uses these images to symbolize the relationship of the Lord to Israel; those who join with covenant Israel are the children of that relationship.” (Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet, pg. 459).

In modern times, the Lord extended the metaphor, but has Zion portrayed as both the tent whose “stakes must be strengthened” and the woman who “must arise and put on her beautiful garments” (D&C 82:14). This explains then why a very consistent Jesus quotes Isaiah 54 when preaching to the Nephites on the establishment of the New Jerusalem (3 Nephi 21-22). Donald Parry, Jay Parry, and Tina Peterson took the Nephite lectures into account for their interpretation of the symbols. They see the barren woman as “Israel, who … has never travailed with child but will rejoice to have children (meaning the blessings of the covenant) as a result of another’s travail, that of Christ ([Isa.] 53:11)”. They identify the married wife as “both the Church and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 9; D&C 109:73-74). … [T]he children of the married wife appear to be those who first build up New Jerusalem, and the children of the desolate are those who are gathered later ([Isa.] 62:4). It seems clear that the children of the desolate are greater in number” (Understanding Isaiah, pg. 480).

So we are dealing with a passage that the Lord has consistently used for symbolism. But is it also literal? Latter-day Saints are fond of using the highly-symbolic Revelation as a proof-text that Moroni was destined to restore the gospel (Rev. 14:6). Ezekiel describes the process of resurrection as a symbol of Israel’s eventual restoration (Ezek. 37:1-14). Jesus may have intended for us to learn general principles when teaching about the Good Samaritan but that doesn’t mean that men weren’t really beaten on the way to Jericho, nor does that absolve his disciples of doing their Christian duty should they come across someone in that exact predicament. In the case of this illustration in Isaiah I think it is a symbol, but I wouldn’t limit it to that. I’ve used these verses in the past to comfort the childless and think it falls in line with the teachings of our modern Apostles:

“We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. In addition, some women who desire to be full-time mothers and homemakers have been literally compelled to enter the full-time work force. But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right” (Oaks. The Great Plan of Happiness, General Conference Oct. 1993).

 

Gramps

 

 

 

Is Cain alive or dead?

Is Cain alive or dead?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

On March 29, 2013, you posted that the story of David W. Patten in Miracle of Forgiveness mentions Cain and you indicated the individual that Elder Patten met was Cain.

On March 8, 2006, you posted an extract from Hugh Nibley, where Cain is said to have died in his house.

On July 4, 2010  you posted that Cain was not alive anymore.

So I am confused about your position, are you saying he is alive, as in David Patten’s story or that he is dead?

Stuart

 

Answer

 

Dear Stuart,

What I’m saying is that Gramp’s Cain sits rather uncomfortably in a box with Schrodinger’s cat. We have the authoritative scriptures (which I reference in two of my answers cited) which are silent as to the death of Cain. Then we have other sources that claim his death (The Book of Jasher disagrees with my earlier-cited Jubilees/Nibley on the manner of his death) and some modern second-hand accounts of a living Cain sighting. Who am I to believe? I don’t think the evidence is conclusive. As with so many things that remain unrevealed, we must learn to live with the uncomfortable silence until God speaks on the matter.

I think this speaks to a larger issue, which is that I am ever a student and learning new things each year. Sometimes this means I’ve changed my mind as I’ve learned new information. Other times, this means I’ve found new sources or approaches to commonly asked questions (why do I really need to address Cain’s fate three times?). The most exciting thing that happens is when the Lord addresses an issue through His servants the prophets.

The name of the game for Latter-day Saints is progression. Even our life in heaven is properly described as eternal progression. Our critics (including our common adversary) would prefer us to stagnate, as that makes for an easy target. For us to really come off victors we have got to grow in light and truth by living the commandments and revelations we’ve already been given and accepting the new ones as they come in the same manner.

 

Gramps

 

How many references in the Book of Mormon refer to the name of Jesus?

How many references in the Book of Mormon refer to the name of Jesus?

Question

 

Gramps,

How many references in the Book of Mormon refer to the name of Jesus besides “The Great I Am.”

Lynne

 

Answer

 

Dear Lynne,

Great question.  I don’t think the answer is written down anywhere, but I recall hearing that there are over 100. It’s not a search that one can simply do by checking a search engine.  Some of the Savior’s names are not obvious.  For example, if you study Christ’s names you will learn one in John 1:1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In the chapter heading it says: Christ is the Word of God.  So “Word of God” is one of His names.  Now consider 1 Nephi 11:25:

25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

Could this mean that Iron Rod is also one of Christ’s names?  We think of the “word of God” as being the scriptures, but what is the purpose of the scriptures if not to testify of Christ?   Christ wants to lead us to the fountain of living waters (Living Water is also one of His names), and to the tree of life.

This is just one of the wonderful mysteries to ponder as you search the Book of Mormon to learn more about Christ.  So you see, Lynne, even if I could list the references for you I wouldn’t because this is one of those situations where the joy is in the journey, and you will benefit so much more from seeking for the answer yourself than if someone were to tell you.

Now, go, search and feast on the words of Christ.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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