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The Temple should be the focus

It is wonderful to read things that you already know, but find clauses and/or phrases that you have glanced over your whole life that only confirm certain unconventional truths to you.

For example (caps added for emphasis):

"Yea, and I also remember the captivity of my fathers; for I surely do know that the Lord did deliver them out of bondage, AND BY THIS DID ESTABLISH HIS CHURCH; yea, the Lord God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, did deliver them out of bondage." (Alma 29:11)

This verse is Alma the Younger recounting the events of his father who helped deliver the Nephite people out of captivity and bondage from the Lamanites. These events take place from Mosiah chapter 7 through chapter 25.

When the word 'bondage' or 'captivity' is used before the book of Mosiah it is always in reference to the deliverance of the Israelites in Exodus and/or prophecy concerning future events. In other words, the bondage being referred to in Alma 29:11 is undeniably referring to events that happened in the larger portion of the book of Mosiah. The people of Limhi are delivered from bondage about 3 years AFTER King Benjamin gives his landmark address. We read about the establishment of the Church among the Nephites in Mosiah 25:19-21 which all begs the following question: What kind of religious establishment did the Nephites have before this?

Elder Christofferson answers this in a conference address he gave over 2.5 years ago:

"Beginning with Adam, the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached, and the essential ordinances of salvation, such as baptism, were administered through a family-based priesthood order. As societies grew more complex than simply extended families, God also called other prophets, messengers, and teachers. In Moses’s time, we read of a more formal structure, including elders, priests, and judges. In Book of Mormon history, Alma established a church with priests and teachers." (Why the Church, October 2015 GC)

This "family-based priesthood order" was centered in the temple and is referred to in the Book of Mormon as "the Holy Order".

This all suggests a few things:

1. We gain a proper understanding of what the Lord's ecclesiastical church is. It is NOT the greatest truth or one of the greatest truths of the gospel. The ecclesiastical church is an organization the Lord establishes to tutor and raise up people so that they may eventually enter into the "family-based priesthood order". It is NOT an eternal institution. I personally find it somewhat troublesome when people get up and want to declare that the Church is true, which it is, as if it is the greatest truth. I always ask in my own mind, what would Adam, Nephi, King Benjamin, Noah, and a host of others think about that? They didn't have a church but had the fulness of the gospel. Understanding this would do a lot to soften people's concerns about obvious fallibility in the church among its members and leadership.

2. The following is a theory expressed by Joseph Spencer who takes the establishment of the Church among the Nephites as a similar event to the Israelites rejecting the Higher Law and therefore having to have a more soteriological gospel preached among them. He uses as evidence the use of Isaiah used throughout the book of Mormon. When the Church is established, quoting from Isaiah stops completely in the Book of Mormon but is resumed again when Christ visits. In other words, the Church specifically teaches what is called "the preparatory gospel". With that in mind, this wonderful quote from Bruce R. McConkie takes on increased meaning:

"As is evident from the pure meaning of the words themselves, the fulness of the everlasting gospel has always existed and will continue to endure forever; the preparatory gospel, on the other hand, is not eternal in nature, but is something that goes before and makes people ready for the receipt of the fulness of saving truth." (The Promised Messiah, p.404)

Understanding that replaces the Church as our focus with the Temple. The church is true, but not eternal.


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