Here are my conclusions after lengthy study of the submission process surrounding the Lectures of Repentance. First: a review. Here are some of our past statements about our involvement with the Lord on these lectures:
“We testify that He has asked us to write these lectures and share them this way,” Lectures of Repentance, Preface.
This statement holds true. Only, take note of exactly what we said:
“These lectures have been prepared carefully through the application of the spirit of prophecy and revelation as best as we have been able to do so through fasting and prayer, but I could not have written them without having so complete a framework from which to draw from, as laid down by the Prophet and Seer, Joseph Smith, Jr. I do not count myself his equal. I haven’t seen the Lord. I see through a glass darkly at this point, but through the assistance of the “Lectures on Faith,” which have acted as a Urim and Thummim, or lights and perfections, the “Lectures of Repentance” have developed in the most natural way, like the dews on the grass in the morning. There was given line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, oftentimes only one or two phrases or paragraphs being produced in a day, and it caused me to marvel.” Preface, Lectures of Repentance
The way which the Lord asked me in answer to my prayers was through impressions (not personal visits), and to write that I see through a glass darkly. The process was a careful application, but not devoid of human weakness.
Next, here are the answers I gave to the scripture committee:
Scripture Committee Submission Criteria Question and Answers:
- Have you gone to the Lord to verify that what you received is from Him? Yes.
- Have you asked the Lord if what you have written is correct? Yes.
- Have you asked the Lord if what you have written is intended for you/your family only or is for a wider audience? If it’s for a wider audience, who is that audience? Yes, the world.
- Have you asked the Lord if you should submit this to be added to the scriptures? Yes. See explanation of how I received them above, and the future vision in my mind’s eye that I had of their inclusion before the scripture project was even contemplated.
Those are a sufficient portion of the questions that deal with the most controversial aspects. They are still true as well in the context of how I presented information in the Preface:
“Judge for yourselves if the thoughts contained in these lectures are from the mind of God or not. Test them point by point. If the ‘Lectures on Faith’ give us the springboard from which to know about God, and then advise us how to begin to know Him in reality and not just in theory, then it will be as easy to test if these lectures are good or not, as it is to tell the day from the night. They testify of Christ, and I testify of Him by the small portion of the Holy Ghost within me, and from what limited knowledge I have of God at this point in my life as I have conversed with Him through a veil only. If there are mistakes in the ‘Lectures of Repentance’, then it will be proven in time by others who have more of the mind of God than I do, but it won’t be by peer review or endless debate. If what is written is sufficient to outline the true points of Christ’s doctrine concerning repentance, as it follows the inspired conclusions and expounds upon the ‘Lectures on Faith,’ then so be it.”
Someone on the scripture committee read the line, “If there are mistakes in the ‘Lectures of Repentance’, then it will be proven in time by others who have more of the mind of God than I do, but it won’t be by peer review or endless debate,” as very confrontational. It wasn’t intended to be. It was an honest remark and expectation that chosen vessels of the Lord would have to vet what I’ve written and make corrections to parts I don’t have experience with. Those who know the Lord personally, who have seen Him, and have a commission to determine the correct tests for what is scriptural and what is not can more accurately judge those parts I wrote to the best of my ability as an unredeemed person. My efforts on these lectures equate more to Sidney Rigdon’s contributions to the Lectures on Faith than to Joseph Smith’s, and I freely admit that in the tenor of the comments in the preface. My answers to the above four questions to the scripture committee about my thoughts on the Lord’s answers to my prayers are also seeing through a glass darkly. Here is what I have learned since.
John Pratt’s article as a sign on my submission:
“Today is 1 Dog on the Sacred Round, the day on which the laws of Moses found in Deuteronomy were given. It is also one of the holiest days this year, being holy on 8 sacred calendars. To celebrate, an article identifying the laws we are supposed to be following has been posted at http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2017/laws_of_god.html .
Enjoy (or repent, whichever applies),
“Wow! I just submitted the Lectures of Repentance for consideration to be included in the new restoration scriptures project and I had no idea of the significance of the day!”
The above interaction shows the anecdotal signs I believe in that prove to me that I did the right thing in submitting the material for consideration in the scriptures. But, I do not pretend to know all the reasons why, nor do I assume more about their meaning than the simple idea that I should take note and ponder their meaning. The scripture project is an evolving thing, and we all needed to go through this process to get to the point we are at now in discovering the scope the Lord wants on the project. My submission was part of that learning process, and it was good to bring these things to the light to be scrutinized.
Negative Reactions and My Response:
One commenter wrote that the language and style were off-putting, and found it contradicted scripture. He didn’t get around to mentioning exactly how. I wasn’t persuaded. Others have read it, including children, and been benefited. Perhaps it needed the benefit of presentations like I have started on this blog, explaining my motivations, and relating the scriptures and the message. Many have had the same reaction to the Lectures on Faith until they have become more popular of late, but the style is more like a teacher’s manual than it is simple statements. The message is plain, but it covers a lot of area in a small space. My use of older language (although it is not thee’s and thou’s, but similar technical sounding theological arguments), was before Denver Snuffer’s Testimony of John project highlighted that it was ok to cast scripture in modern language that wasn’t more formal, but in addition to that, the format of the lectures is instructive for providing a familiar layout.
A close friend of mine had some thoughts settle on him overnight after I mentioned the request for feedback about submitting them. He thought the format was clumsy, but he read through the material. He felt the timing was off, and more important parts of the scripture project needed to be focused on. I took his input seriously. He has since asked me to elaborate on the meanings in the Lectures in video / audio presentations, and I will continue to do that. I wasn’t persuaded about his comment that it could seem like I was being presumptuous. I think the Lord can speak for his own involvement in the Lectures and I never intended to be presumptuous. I just know God was involved in some way, and as I said, I see through a glass darkly on exactly how and why. All I can do is expound on a teaching level with the best of my understanding.
Which brings me to the scripture committee and the scope of the scripture project: They have been kind and I think we have learned similarly that less is more at this point in providing a set of scriptures that the Lord can accept, and in return give us a covenant in relation to it. I do not believe that seeing the Lord is the only criteria for judging if a person is a valid source of revelation. So, it is possible that the Lectures belong in the scriptures in some format, whether just as I have written them, or in a corrected form. But, we don’t have a good set of criteria that we have all learned as a group for what qualifies. Seeing the Lord is important in some way in relation to scripture writing, but he sometimes gives words to many different people in different ways. I don’t know to judge what rises to a level of scripture beyond saying it should conform to God’s character and attributes as outlined in the Lectures on Faith. But, who but those who really know God face to face can say they understand enough of God’s character to write legitimate scripture? For someone like myself, I can write by applying the spirit of prophesy and revelation as best as I can, but it takes someone more knowledgeable of God than me to judge if I did that well enough.
Impressions from Answers to Prayer
In conclusion, I haven’t been persuaded by the naysayers. Their arguments have some validity, which I have weighed out, but in the end, something was off in each of their arguments against the Lectures. They are just as blind as I am on these points, it seems. I have labored to try and dispel misunderstanding and ambiguities.
However, neither have I been persuaded by the praise I have received. Inspired teaching has reached the level of scripture at times. These lectures could be that. But, just because I am outside of the scripture committee circle, and just because I have taken long efforts to write this, doesn’t mean it ought to be in the scriptures on those points alone. Both of those praises have been advanced by some who have not even read what I wrote yet.
Later, I was talking to a friend about the process of submitting them, and he didn’t take a stance on the Lectures. While we were talking, I distinctly felt impressions in my mind about my lack of qualification to say whether these Lectures should be in the scriptures or not. They may be worthy of that designation, but in keeping with my preface that I see through a glass darkly, I am still a blind guide. I just don’t know if they should be, and I’ve only ever said I believe they should, and I envisioned them that way. I have fulfilled the obligation I had with my best impressions that I should submit them, and I have learned a little bit more as I’ve gone along. The Lectures seem to be outside of the scope of this scripture project, although not for the reasons I have heard from others so far. I can even answer the recorder’s questions positively enough to think they should be admitted on those grounds, but given the other impressions I’ve had about my lack of ability to say they should be accepted, I wonder if I am flawed in my judgment of those areas as well, or those criteria are insufficient (on their own) for determining scripture. I think we all still have a lot to learn, and these are interesting questions worth deep pondering for sure. God bless. Below are the answers to the recorder’s questions (which were put in the area on his site designated as his personal, non-official, thoughts), but again, I am not persuaded to take those answers and use them to promote the inclusion of the Lectures of Repentance in the scriptures.
Recorder’s Personal Writings about the Criteria, and My Answers (But Still Not Sufficient)
. Does the scripture emphasize a hierarchal or institutional structure rather than an equality among individuals? If the answer is yes, cast it out.
No, the lectures don’t do that
. Is the scripture to or about an individual without any other relevance to the body of the church as a whole? If the answer is yes, cast it out.
No, the lectures are for a general audience, as all mankind that is accountable needs repentance.
. Is the scripture revelatory or doctrinal in such a way that advances the reader’s knowledge of Jesus Christ and his desire to keep His commandments? If the answer is yes, keep it in.
Yes, the desire to keep his commandments is clearly evident in the intent to believe in God’s character and attributes and the connection that is made in the lectures between how keeping his commandments is a natural outcome of believing in the perfections of his character and attributes.
. Is the scripture historical without revelatory or doctrinal content? Nephi had two books; one on which he wrote the heads of the things given of the Spirit, which he should teach the people, and the other which contained the more part of the doings of the people and their wars and contentions. Same principle here. If the answer is yes, cast it out.
No, the lectures are based on scriptural teachings and the doctrine of Christ concerning spiritual matters.
. Does the scripture teach Terrestrial and Celestial principles, practices, and doctrines? If the answer is yes, keep it in. We need all this we can get.
Not sure what the exact differences are, or what definitions this question includes.
. Does the scripture contain anything pertaining to a covenant of land for the development of the New Jerusalem? If the answer is yes, keep it in.
. Does the scripture develop understanding of the Patriarchal Order? If the answer is yes, keep it in, because that which was in the beginning concerning government and priesthood will also be part of this covenant.
. Does the scripture develop a more complete understanding of the ordinances of Baptism, Sacrament, Marriage and Priesthood Ordination applicable to this new dispensation?
Yes, Keith in fact said there would be more revelation on the two types of baptism and Lecture 14 speaks on this topic and references Keith’s post on that idea. The approaches to baptism and sacrament are consistent with all that Denver Snuffer has mentioned expounding scripture on those topics.
To recap, I won’t be advocating that these lectures be included in the scriptures. They were submitted, but it may be wise to exclude them from the voting list. I just don’t know. That is out of my hands. Maybe someone who knows the Lord better will vet them and make corrections if needed. Maybe they are just useful teaching lessons. Maybe there is a better way to present the material. I will continue to do presentations on them to aid in understanding the message that includes things the Lord helped in illuminating for me. At this level, I still have a right to teach, preach, expound, and exhort all to come unto Christ, which is done through weak people like myself. There are also those who are chosen beyond that level to convey Christ’s words and put His name on it, and we are learning we want those messages in the scripture set for this project to take back to Him for approval. I do not know if these lectures rise to that level. That will be for others to determine, or improve them so they can be claimed as such.