The Battle of Zion’s Hill: Part 2

Being Zion

Audio File: MP3 (15:43)

We have clearly before us two paradigms with two distinct themes. 

The paradigm with the most familiar theme is that of authority powered by coercion. It is the theme of battle, with winners and losers. It is the paradigm within which are those in authority ruling over those who are not, in a theme of all or nothing. It is the dominant theme of Telestial mortality.

The theme could be most easily described as a light switch mentality. There are no degrees of illumination, only on or off. In the case of the church, you either agree to be ruled or you are an apostate and subject to execution, or in modern terms, excommunication, since fortunately that is all secular law currently allows.

This paradigm could be characterized as a community of authority.

The second paradigm presented to us is that which is best characterized by the famous quote by Joseph Smith as spoken on two separate occasions by both John Taylor (JD 10:pg 57-58) and Erastus Snow (JD 24:pg 158−159). The John Taylor discourse is particularly detailed:

“When you get the Spirit of God, you feel full of kindness, charity, long-suffering, and you are willing all the day long to accord to every man that which you want yourself…What is it that will enable one man to govern his fellows aright? 

“It is just as Joseph Smith said to a certain man who asked him, ‘How do you govern such a vast people as this? Oh,…said Joseph, it is very easy, for I teach the people correct principles and they govern themselves;’ and if correct principles will do this in one family they will in ten, in a hundred and in ten hundred thousand. 

“How easy it is to govern the people in this way! It is just like the streams from City Creek; they spread through the valleys and through every lot and piece of lot. So it is with the government of God; the streams of life flow from the Great Fountain through the various channels which the Almighty has opened up, and they spread not only throughout the world, wherever there are any Saints that have yielded obedience to the commandments of God. The fountain is inexhaustible, and the rivers of life flow from the fountain unto the people.

“We have had a great deal of talk about Republican Governments, and look what a specimen we have before us. Look at the desolation and destruction that prevail through this once happy land. I ask the question, can man govern himself? No, he cannot…and in fact nothing but the light and intelligence of the Most High will enable us to progress in the things of the kingdom of God…What will enable you, brethren and sisters, to govern yourselves? The Spirit of God; and you cannot do it without the Spirit of the living God dwelling in you, - you must have the light of revelation, or else you cannot do it.” JD 10:57, John Taylor, May 18, 1862

(Remember, the War of Aggression of the Northern States Against the Southern, began in 1861. You may call it the Civil War if you like, however, there was no attempt to take over any government. It was, simply, 11 states desiring to leave a voluntary union and being stopped by tyrannical unrighteous dominion that resulted in at least 600,000 dead. This was the beginning of the end for our beautiful republic. Why we honor the imperious despot Lincoln is a complete mystery to me.)

I have before quoted Joseph Smith on the topic of liberty but it bears repeating:

“I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be trammeled. It doesn't prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine." (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 183-184)

The theme of this second paradigm is vigilant support of agency and liberty. In this paradigm, each stands equal before God because He is “no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34; D&C 1:35; 38:16) Agency is the ability to make choices based on individual opinion and spiritual intuition and revelation from the Lord. This is a gift from God and an integral part of our mortal journey. Without agency and its attendant choices, there would be no life. 

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” (2 Nephi 2:11)

“Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” 2 Nephi 2:16

Liberty is the ability to freely use our agency. Coercive authority is the antithesis of liberty. In the 121st Section (verse 39) of the Doctrine and Covenants this is known as “unrighteous dominion.” It is disguised, sometimes, by sincerity and the assertion of “keys” of authority. Those professing such keys and its associated authority revel in their ability to issue orders with the power to control their “flock.” This is, of course, couched in the sentiment that it is “for their own good” because the brethren know best and cannot lead astray. Tell that to Joseph in Liberty Jail. 

Pride is at the heart of such that wield this kind of ineffectual dominion. They may get their way but at the expense of the liberty of those they coerce. These are they who delight in those who rise to their feet at their mere entrance into a room. Their dominion becomes celebrity and even rock-stardom. They may publicly eschew the idea but will never stop the practice. Even those who speak from the podium in the LDS Conference Center, our modern Rameumptom, chillingly bring to mind the following scripture in Alma:

“Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.” Alma 31:21-22

We can only marvel at the audacity of the modern, correlated (or "selfsame") LDS tradition which glories in its being the “only true church” and, whose members are, therefore, “chosen of him” and the 15 brethren who insist they cannot lead the people astray. Furher, because of the church's purposeful ignorance of, and its lack of preaching about, the events to come which lead to the Lord’s coming in glory, we cannot but marvel at the accuracy of scripture. How can a choice be made to prepare for Zion if the subject never comes up?

Agency and liberty are the enemy of those who seek to practice unrighteous dominion on others. They forget that the Lord has condemned such practice using those who plotted against Joseph Smith as the example to which Joseph was referring in this Section of the D&C. These famous verses in the 121st Section were aimed precisely at the highest leadership who apparently were perfectly capable of leading the people astray.

These were they who had their hearts set so much upon the things of this world, cared deeply for the honors of men, sought to cover their sins and “hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark.” (Isaiah 29:15; 2 Ne 27:27) These were they who sought to gratify their pride and vain ambition, and to exercise unrighteous compulsion upon the souls of the children of men. It is authority only as they suppose and it continues to this day. It is doubtful that Joseph Smith would be welcomed today in the church he and the Lord organized. This begs the obvious question: Is the Lord welcomed in that church today?

In our second paradigm no such dominion exists. There is only the exercise of agency and liberty as each participant allows others their equally valid opinion based on their spiritual intuition. Revelation from the Lord is the key factor. Without it there can be no consensus where each strives to gain the word of the Lord on each matter. As each has differing experiences, each may gain a slightly different perception of the answer. This brings color to the canvas of the experience of the group. The Lord gives one a little red, another green, another blue, and before you know it you have a beautiful flower garden.

We return to the circle concept from our last post. With each member standing shoulder to shoulder in a precise and firm circle, the whole is protected from outside influences of evil. With the Savior in the middle of the circle guiding each to a consensus of truth, the whole gains peace and tranquility while accomplishing productive ends. 

No one needs to take a position of authority with coercive direction. If each takes a position of meekness where the desired goal is always to please the Lord and His will is always the desire of every member, then He will be the guide. Coercion is unnecessary where faith in the Lord abounds and is driven by great love for Him and the realization of His will.

This theme is characterized by cooperation where there are only winners. There are no battles here, only common consent. Everyone has equal authority and equal respect for others. There are no contentions and disputations where all opinions are valued and none is, by default, correct. Gracious civility rules the day where each is grateful for every breath and each recognizes the source of that breath.

This paradigm can be characterized as a community of peace.

This second paradigm is unfamiliar to us and has no realization in our current world. We have no clue as to how to implement such an environment. Only faith that the Lord knows the path to implementation can move us forward to its realization. He will accomplish it. No man will.

We can prepare by becoming less quarrelsome and more pliable in our relationships. To value each relationship more than we value being right, is a good start. Becoming more forgiving is essential. Giving up our prideful attitudes and envies will free us to become able to serve and care for those less fortunate.

Rather than the focus being on what we can get, we will focus on what we can give. We cannot feign this. Our love and desire for righteousness must be genuine. The desire of our heart must be first and foremost to following the will of the Lord. Our willingness to eschew mortal credit and recognition creates an internal container which the Lord will fill with His Love. And His love is the fuel that powers everything.

These intangibles may not be a blueprint for Zion but they will bring us closer to being the kind of people with whom the Lord can work to bring forth Zion. And that’s all we can hope for now; to be tools in His hands to build and bring together His work. It is His work and His work alone. We are simply elves in the Lord's workshop. If there is one central theme to remember, that is it.

And so, we come to the end of the battle and you must choose. Which will it be? Will you choose a community of authority or a community of peace? The former we have now. The latter is yet the Lord's to build but we can be an integral part of that construction, if we choose. Sincerely cry unto the Lord to find your part and He'll direct your efforts to His ends. Could we ask for anything more worthy or glorious in these last days?

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