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This One Will Annoy Some Saints

September 24, 2021

This post is for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. You might know them (us) as Mormons, but the president of the church, Russell M. Nelson has revealed that God is not pleased if we fail to use the full name of the church. Mormon and LDS are both terms that have fallen out of favor with the church.)

If you are not a member of the Latter-day Saints, you are welcome to read along. And you are welcome to comment. But, as you will see, this post really isn’t directed at you.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in 1830. It was a restoration of the ancient church. And just as the church anciently has been led by apostles and prophets, the modern church is also led by a modern prophet. Russel M. Nelson is the 17th man to lead the church since it was founded almost 200 years ago. And each of those men was a literal prophet of God, as capable of receiving revelation from God as Adam, or Noah, or Moses or Peter or Paul. Or any of the special witnesses of Jesus Christ.

This is the theology of the church. If you are not a member, I don’t expect you to believe that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet, seer and revelator. Just know that members of the Church of Jesus Christ DO believe he is a prophet, seer and revelator.

30: And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31: Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
. . .
34: Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kills and crucify; and some for them ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.
— Matthew Chapter 23

Members of the church believe that we still, today, have those prophets and wise men sent to us. We also, I think mostly believe that had we lived in the days of the ancient prophets, we would not have been in the group that stoned the prophets.

The prophet, commonly called President Nelson since he’s also the president of the Church recently released a statement about members who want to attend services that happen inside temples. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not attend Sunday services inside the temples. They are sacred buildings for marriages (called Sealings) and other ordinances for both the living and the dead.

Here’s what the prophet and president of the church said on September 22, 2021:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We are grateful that in recent months, some level of ordinance work has resumed in every temple. Our desire is to keep temples open.

As cases of COVID-19 increase in many areas, we want to do everything possible to allow temples to remain open. Therefore, effective immediately, all temple patrons and workers are asked to wear face masks at all times while in the temple. These safety protocols are temporary, based on COVID-19 conditions, and will be rescinded as soon as circumstances permit.

Our urging Church members to be vaccinated and to protect themselves and others from the spread of disease has precedent. Prior First Presidencies shared similar messages in 1900 about smallpox and in 1957 regarding polio. Please do all you can to protect yourself and others so the work of the Lord on both sides of the veil can move forward.

Sincerely yours,

Russell M. Nelson

Dallin H. Oaks

Henry B. Eyring

(Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring are assistants to President Nelson)

Now, you might be thinking, “Okay, great that the leaders of the Mormon church are finally getting on board with the mask and vaccine push, but September 2021 seems a little late.”

And you’d be correct. Except that here’s what that same prophet said over a month ago:

To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.”

Okay, so the prophet has twice in six weeks urged members to get vaccinated. But, he’s a religious figure, right. Not to disrespect him at all, but what does the leader of a church know about the field of medicine?

In Russell M. Nelson’s case, quite a lot. Prior to being asked to become an apostle in the church, DOCTOR Nelson was a world famous heart surgeon. The man is certainly qualified to hold forth on masks and medical practices.

So, members of the Church have a man they revere as a prophet of God, who ALSO just happens to have spent a career wearing a surgical mask urging them to be vaccinated.

You’d think that would be the end of it, right? Chapels across Utah and the world must be filled with people wearing masks, don’t you think?

Not so much. Many members are choosing not to wear masks. They are choosing to not go to the temple. They are choosing to exercise their “free agency” to not get vaccinated, despite a literal prophet of God telling them to.

In the Book of Mormon an ancient prophet talks about the ancient Israelites. When the Israelites were beset by poisonous snakes, Moses created the image of a brass serpent.

9: And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived

— Numbers Chapter 21

Alma provides additional details. Seems that not everyone looked on the brass serpent.

19 Behold, he was spoken of by aMoses; yea, and behold a btype was craised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live.

20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would aheal them.

— Alma Chapter 33

Seems crazy doesn’t it? The idea that someone would not do something as simple as look at a brass serpent if it was the different between living and dying.

How simple is wearing a mask? Or getting a vaccine shot? Alma went on:

21 O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in aunbelief, and be bslothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?

— Alma Chatper 33

But, did President Nelson REALLY command it? I mean was it really like Moses? Except that nowhere does it say that Moses commanded people to look. I would imagine he urged people to look at the brass serpent.

Earlier I put “free agency” in quotes. It’s a concept in the Gospel that people have a choice. No one is compelled. The Gospel would not be the Gospel without freedom. And if you read the news site stories about the current “encouragement” they quote many people saying, “I have my choice. We don’t need a one size fits all strategy.”

Yes, choice is important. In fact, our first parents, Adam and Eve had a choice.

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

17: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eaters thereof thou shalt surely die.
— Genesis Chapter 2

So, sure you have a choice. I have a choice. Everyone has a choice. And President Nelson, God’s prophet didn’t say, “We urge you to get vaccinated or you shall surely die.”

But then neither did Moses.

Those saints who have read President Nelson’s messages should consider the words of Jesus. If you will not follow modern prophets, chances are good you would not follow ancient prophets.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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