Most LDS have a testimony by the method of the Holy Ghost, as it’s called. They haven’t seen Jesus Christ or God in their own personal first vision. On the other hand, Joseph Smith did witness to the world that he had beheld God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. Every LDS apostle since him has been called as a "special witness" (early on as a witness of Christ, and now to the name of Christ). Since members aren't special witnesses, they must rely on trusting that the 12 apostles (actually 15 with the first presidency) have seen and witnessed the reality of God. Instead, lay members must trust and verify using the method of the Holy Ghost, which is given in the LDS scripture, D&C 9:8-9.
“study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong”The burning bosom is known well in LDS circles, and most members feel it is unique to them. However, other people the world over have felt a burning heart and enlightened mind when studying and pondering or meditating over their particular doctrines. Just like the Mormons, the Hindus have the chakras, some of which have manifestations of elation, lifting and pure knowledge while meditating. For example, during mediation/mantra recitation (prayer), a flame is felt inside of the heart (part of the heart chakra), from which the mantra rings out; and this cooperates with the brow and crown (mind) chakras for realizing the "Clear Light". Islam has the "hajj experience" and Islamic transformation that are essentially just as strong or more than the Mormon burning, as exampled by those who feel so emboldened as to commit suicide for their testimony. Other Christian churches have spiritual manifestations in feelings, tongues and miracles.
So if Hindus can have a heart chakra about polytheistic gods like Vishnu that burns so bright and large it feels like a flaming basketball, and if an Islamic fundamentalist can feel so sure of his bosom swelling experience to detonate himself (talk about a burning in the bosom!), how sure can a Mormon be that his experience is truth and the Hindu or the Muslim's experience is false?
To assume you know your feelings are superior to all belief systems across the globe is very prideful. Most people have many strong feelings all through life. Some even lose a lot of money because of deep-seated gut instinct and good vibes. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost in financial scams because investors had a really really good feeling worth slapping tens of thousands of their hard earnings on the table of future payback. Everyone of them felt they were onto something most others were missing. And interestingly, Utah is rated one of the highest states with per-capital financial scams. Good feelings or not, they've been steered wrong to the tune of a lot of hard cash.
Religious feelings garner even stronger reactions than the anger of being financially taken. Wars, terrorism and a boat load of door-knocking irritations have occurred in the name of religions.
If the Holy Ghost method is working in all various world religions and testifying of contradictory beliefs, then what can one trust?
If such strong feelings and visions can testify of such diverse and opposing beliefs, how can you trust them?
For that matter, food can alter mood, and medical science routinely alters mood, perception and even the experience of reality with drugs ranging from Prozac to LSD. It doesn't require pharmacology to alter perceptions. Mental illness, brain injury or even just depression does it often without the victim's awareness. How can you believe or trust your feelings to tell you any truth? No, spiritual experience based on warm chests and stupid thoughts are not truth meters.
Mormons are sure their feelings and spiritual experiences are more real, and their special witnesses more trustworthy. After all, the apostles have literally seen Jesus, right?
Without belaboring it, most of my readers know that there is credible and frustrating controversy surrounding claims made by the first witness, Joseph Smith, regarding the first vision, how he translated the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham, and how he practiced plural marriage with teens and married women. However, most members dismiss them because they feel strongly that the history is muddled with discrepancies that they feel leaves them a gap large enough to allow the Holy Ghost to work through. The muddle is a way for God to test faith.
If you have to muddle through your own history, how can you claim your faith is better than the history and faith of Hindus or Muslims or other Christians? If your burning bosom is no more powerful than the heart chakra, the hajj or the burning tongue/flame of other religions, how can you feel secure the muddled history is really witnessed by the Holy Ghost? All your elated, out-of-body spiritual experiences included, you’re not that special. And neither are your 15 special witnesses.
Trust them? Let’s study it out in our mind to see if we get a stupor or a burning. Ok?
Last December I asked: If it is shown that the prophets, apostles, seventy or mission presidents are paid even one senine (whatever that is), would this mean they just might have ulterior motives?
I'll ask it differently: If the 15 living special witnesses were found to be subsisting very nicely off the benefits of the highest office of their calling, would the Holy Ghost bear witness to that pay-off they get?
Alma ensured that when Korihor protested his doctrine and that Alma preached it only to get rich, then Alma insisted he did not in the least ever get a single senine (dime?) from the church. This was important to dispelling the anti-mormon Korihor, who raised a huge red flag to the people listening.
Well, I will challenge the 15 modern day Almas to dispel the following information about their wealth, typically at 3x or more than the median family in Utah, and which has left many feeling a stupor and uneasiness about what exactly these witnesses focus their minds and energies on.
These are only in UT. There could be houses owned in Hawaii, CA, ID, AZ, FL and elsewhere.
Here are a few of the homes owned by a cross-section of senior and junior apostles.
• 4125 Carter Circle SLC ... Worth: $441,700
(search parcel 22-04-202-080-0000 image )
• 6742 North Fairfax Dr, Sundance ....Worth about ~$193,623
(Parcel 540370053007 image Market valuation image )
• 140 W FARM RD. Midway, UT ... Worth: $383,734
(Parcel 00-0001-3776 image )
3 homes...Total: $1,019,057
(Recall, Monson has been nearly a life-long church employee)
For comparison, the average home in Salt Lake runs about $260,000 in 2013. That's rougly a quarter of the total value of Monson's three homes. Sundance and Midway are swanky resort areas. The common family would be happy with any one of Monson's three homes.
• 1813 Yale Ave SLC ... Worth: $636,700
(Parcel 16-09-428-014-0000* image**)
• 40 N. State St. unit #5d ... Worth: $538,200
(Parcel 09-31-385-064-0000 image1 image2)
* the Yale home was held for Oaks by LDS company Suburban Land Reserve Inc when it was sold this year. SLRI is involved in land grabs all along the wasatch front. Why is Oaks' property held by the church?
**The parcel info image above is from late 2012, and no longer matches the current SLCO website, but shows the transition from Oaks to SLRI.
See below for even more interesting connections on LDS ownership/transfer to Oaks.
• 1850 Forest Bend Dr #1 SLC ... Worth: $1,292,490
(Parcel 22-28-478-001-0000 image )
• 1850 Forest Bend Dr #2 SLC (adj land parcel) ... Worth: $422,200
(Parcel 22-28-476-006-0000 image )
(Recall, Packer was a seminary teacher)
Dieter Uchtdorf (details and photos given here)
• 399 S Aerie Cir, N SLC ... Worth: $778,000
• 242 N Red Ledges, Heber .... Worth: $637,274
(Recall, Uchtdorf was a pilot)
All of these men are living in the safest, cleanest and best served neighborhoods on the Wasatch Front. Not one of their multiple homes, vacation estates or lodges can even be considered a starter home.
Later on, I will include more Apostles, such as Eyering, Andersen, Cook, Holland and more. But one of the most interesting of the list above is Dallin Oaks. A wealthy attorney by former trade, Oaks wouldn’t need anyone to buy him a house or pay for his expenses. However, records clearly indicate that his 40 N State Street Apartment, worth $538,200 (not even half of his estates combined value) was deeded to him by the LDS church’s Property Reserve Inc. (See also this Bloomberg Report on PRI.)
The document was obtained by a SLC County insider, and the scan of it is provided here. A Church Office Building Finance worker who will remain unnamed confirmed to me that the transaction shown was apparently a gift under a Special Warranty Deed transfer of church owned condo to Mr. Oaks. There are more disclosures coming later.
On 9/8/2010, LDS Property Reserve Inc transferred ownership of condo 5D to the Dallin H Oaks Trust (DHO LV TRST)
Between 2010 and 2012, Oaks held over $1M in real estate. The condo had been owned by LDS owned PRI and transferred to Oaks. The Yale home was taken over by LDS owned SLRI just late last year. Why is the church giving and taking land from Oaks?
Dallin H. Oaks taught only last April (2013) at General Conference:
In following this teaching of our Savior, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members...make generous contributions to charities and give personal service and other gifts to the poor and needy...Using funds donated by generous members, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends food, clothing, and other essentials to relieve the suffering of adults and children all over the world. These humanitarian donations, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade, are made without any consideration of religion, race, or nationality. Our massive relief effort following the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami provided $13 million in cash and relief supplies. In addition, more than 31,000 Church-sponsored volunteers gave more than 600,000 hours of service....Truly, the people called “Mormons” know how to give to the poor and needy.
Several concerns are raised when we see the wealth amassed by these few senior and junior apostles, and at the same time they are patting themselves and members on the back for their donations to the needy.
The spiritual witness promise in the Book of Mormon says that those who exercise it faithfully and fully will receive the countenance of Christ in their image (Alma 5:14,19). Even though the physical appearance of the 12 varies (from balding to droopy double chins and from ringed eyes to dim eyes behind glasses) the image of Christ usually is of a hero that defends the down trodden, the poor and the sick against the power and authority of wealth and politics. Said Jesus: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Not a place, especially not 2 or 3 estates. A quorum of men whose lives have been dedicated to business, law and wealth gathering hardly seems like the countenance the prophet of Alma 5 or of Alma 30 had in mind. You can very well bet that, like Mission Presidents, the apostles get more than 2 or 3 estates. They get maids, gardeners, tuition for family, cars and more--all tax free. (See the mission president handbook of instruction for details.) If only it was limited to nice homes. The perks of their office include more than homes, cars, tuitions, gardners and more; it includes a guaranteed book-reading fan club to buy Monson's children's book (or this one). Even if one ignores the ample evidence the church pays for all these niceties and one argues they get the wealth through book sales, none of it would be possible if they didn't exploit their God-given calling for wealth.
Forget for now the controversial history, doctrine and practices of Joseph Smith. Study in your mind the facts and truths about the modern Q12. Plead with the HG to tell you the truth about them. If you have even the slightest doubt, rest assured that there are indisputable financial histories and documents about their activities regarding taking loans and property transfers from LDS owned corporations and banks. These modern financial histories and bank doctrines are not muddled like the early church documents. They're just purposely hidden. The 15 sit on the boards as directors and trustees of LDS owned corporations, and they will not open the financial books of the church corporation activities to the members. They do an internal audit with church paid auditors who sign very strict non-disclosure agreements about all of these transactions. They could open these histories up if the members demanded it loudly enough. But members are sheep, just as they leaders ask them to be.
Surely a whistleblower, you might say, would have uncovered the ongoings at the church office building financial dept? Well, one just did open it up a little for you, and some of the data and information is being leaked here. It’s up to you to decide how you will act. Perhaps you've dismissed the historical and doctrinal troubles surrounding founder Joseph Smith and other early leaders. Will you also just wave off the modern controversies of the 15 special witnesses? Which would you prefer an answer to--the truth behind Joseph Smith, or the truth behind Dallin Oaks or Jeffrey Holland or other apostles? If you can really wave this off without digging deep into your inner integrity, then indeed, you are just the kind of sheep televangelists and apostles are looking for.
The LDS church is about to publish answers to difficult doctrinal questions. I say forget that upcoming project for now and ask your first presidency to answer the questions about their own actions and transactions. If they ignore the membership, then perhaps the spirit of truth will reveal what’s really up to each member in personal testimony. Most of us only need to study it out and we've got our answer. Others need a feeling, good or "stuporously" suspicious, to lead them to the truth.
To the Quorum of the 15: You have some explaining to do.
Mr. Oaks, you're an attorney. Please, release all the documents and tap the legal dance for us.
Then maybe you can answer this version of Alma's question: I say unto you--Mr. Oaks, Mr. Monson and Mr. Packer--can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of Jesus helping the poor engraven upon your countenances?
It must be nice to live in the heavenly homes of apostles.