Chapter 5: The Plan of Salvation

“In the beginning” there was a plan – God’s plan for man. There was a desire in God the Father for all of His children to become like Him and sealed together, as one family, for time and eternity. There was a council of the gods to set this plan in motion. Particulars of the plan were settled. Disagreement and, ultimately, dissension occurred. A Savior was chosen. The rules of mortality for the practical exercise of the plan were established. His children freely chose to accept and adopt His plan or not. read more

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Chapter 4: Opposition and Conflict

Without conflict, choice is largely functional. Conflict makes a choice real. Choosing between an apple and an orange is not a conflict. Choosing between keeping God’s commandments or not represents pure conflict. In other words, mortality alone does not bring opposition in all things. But mortality combined with God’s plan for man sets the stage for conflict. This is opposition.

Mortality without purpose is life driven by instinct alone and our choices narrow to things that give us pleasure or pain. Driven by instinct, we are drawn to pleasure and repelled by pain. This “utilitarian” view of life is not God’s view. This utilitarian view is myopic and focuses on immediate gratification or what momentarily “is.” God’s view is eternal, focused on futurity or what “ought” to be and what we “ought” to become. read more

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Chapter 3: Moral Agency

In a vision of Adam and Eve’s experience in the Garden of Eden, during their conversation with Heavenly Father regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Moses teaches us about moral agency:

And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat,

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Moses 3:16-17) read more

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Chapter 2: Order

As faith precedes the miracle, order precedes freedom. There is no freedom without first establishing a transcendent moral order. Freedom requires virtue, personal and public – it requires us to be our better selves in our private lives and in the public square. Bad behavior diminishes both personal and societal freedom. Order is thus the framework of freedom. Comprised of numerous influences – more often freely expressed, typically encouraged privately but sometimes necessarily imposed publicly – order is both prescriptive and proscriptive in the human experience. read more

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Chapter 1: Purpose and Identity

What does it mean to be a human being? In the understanding of faithful Latter-day Saints, it means we are the literal offspring of our Heavenly Father. We have His spiritual DNA in our mortal bodies. Every human being is a child of God and that identity defines our freedom. Hence, to be truly free means to match our will to His. If freedom is our goal, our purpose every day we wake should be to strive to conform our lives to His – our desires to His, our thoughts to His and our actions to what He would have us do in this mortal existence. read more

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Freedom Series: Introduction

Freedom In 300 Words Or Less: For Faithful Latter-day Saints

I think that it is impossible that ye should be ignorant of the things which have been spoken concerning the coming of Christ…yea, I know that these things were taught unto you bountifully before your dissension from among us…prepare your minds…the word is in Christ unto salvation. – Amulek to the poor and outcast in Antionum, Alma 34.

Introduction

I wrote this series beginning in 1978, the year I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and every day thereafter. From the opening prayer of the Fall General Conference in 1978 to today, more than 40 years later, the words of the living prophets echo in my mind and press upon my heart. While tone and style ebb and flow according to the circumstances of the day and the needs of the Church, doctrine never changes. read more

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How to lower prescription drug prices without government intervention

Prescription drug prices have skyrocketed and the immense harm to families and businesses is leading some public officials to propose outrageous “solutions.” For example, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, now a 2020 presidential candidate, suggests the federal government get into the business of manufacturing medications. And that begs one to ask, how’s that going for Venezuela where the government controls all aspects of business?

Extreme interference in the private sector isn’t right for Utah. Fortunately, our state legislators are considering their own ambitious, market-based measures to bring down prescription drug prices and if the legislation passes, Utah will become the leader in solving this urgent problem. read more

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Sen. Mike Lee urges Utah governor to drop state defense of ‘unconstitutional’ law

While most of the comments on Lee’s post were sympathetic to his opposition of SB54, some questioned the purpose of a U.S. senator communicating with the state’s governor through social media.

Paul Mero, president of Next Generation Freedom Fund and former president of the conservative Sutherland Institute, wrote that the question of SB54′s constitutionality should be settled by the courts. But Lee’s post, Mero said, was “stirring up the crazies” who have made support or opposition to SB54 a litmus test. read more

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Utah needs a child-centered approach to fighting poverty

Utah is proud to be a data-driven state. Our policymakers want to make good decisions based on good data. But new research focused on teenagers living in intergenerational poverty (IGP) seems to reveal that Utah’s long-standing approach is outdated and missing the mark.

New multi-state research commissioned by the Georgia Center for Opportunity and Utah’s Next Generation Freedom Fund suggests it’s time to reevaluate state IGP policy goals. The new research, conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies just this fall, interviewed teenagers (12-18) living in IGP and their parents. The study’s objective was to really know and understand the IGP “customer” from the inside out. read more

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Who Speaks for God?

Secularists have an odd way of arguing with people of faith – odd in that they even try. Their frames of reference are too different. A secularist telling a person of faith what God thinks in the very same breath the secularist decries a person of faith for proclaiming what God thinks is, well, absurd. But it happens time and again and, in Utah, typically within the esteemed pages of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Most recently, George Pyle and, to a certain degree, Robert Gehrke have risen in defense of people of faith for whom they feel have been slighted, insulted or oppressed by other people of faith. This week’s offender before their secular court of justice is President Dallin H. Oaks, a prominent leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His crime? Telling people of the same faith what God thinks about His plan for His children.

The secular premise in play here is that regardless of what God may or may not think, He certainly does not hurt people or make them feel uncomfortable. Pastor Gehrke knows what God thinks. He knows God thinks that Dallin Oaks pretends to love Jesus and feigns piety while condemning as satanic a family with a transgender son – because, of course, Jesus never would look to hurt anyone’s feelings about how to live and behave (except for Dallin Oaks). Pastor Gehrke is the true saint. He is “not going to disparage Oaks.” He’ll allow the father of the transgender boy to do it.

Preacher Pyle simply wants to ensure that everyone, especially people of faith, do not fall “for the argument that someone who seeks to tell you what to think or do is really telling you what God wants you to think or do.” After all, there is no difference between Pope Francis, Russell M. Nelson and Brain David Mitchell, the latter having kidnapped and brutally raped Elizabeth Smart. Don’t they all claim to speak for God, Preacher Pyle wonders aloud?

In their secular church, Preacher Pyle and Pastor Gehrke will not “pound the Bible” to foment “institutionalized cruelty.” But they will speak for God about Dallin Oaks, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its plan of salvation and its doctrinal understanding of gender and sex. Be clear: God does not condone anything perceived as hurtful to others from the mouths of these Mormons.

I like and respect George Pyle and Robert Gehrke. They have been true to their secular faith and never have given me offense. I do not ascribe to them ill motives. I understand how difficult it must be for them to reconcile ideas, words and behaviors from people of faith that seem to them to be irreconcilable. They see illegitimate or false paradoxes from people of faith such as Dallin Oaks. What does he mean by conjoining love and law?

But neither good man should kid himself about their Latter-day Saint problem. Either somebody speaks for God or nobody does. They choose nobody – the only possible choice for them as they so freely associate a prophet, a pope and a pedophile rapist. Meanwhile, millions of people of faith know the difference between a prophet and a pedophile.

Just because my friends do not believe in my God does not mean my faith is incorrect. It simply means we don’t agree. I no more impose my will on other people than they do. They choose the private behaviors and public laws they want for the reasons they champion and so do I. The fundamental difference between us in these matters is that I think they are merely wrong, while they think I, and my kind, are intentionally insolent.

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