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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Zion vs the Beast VII: The Holy Order

 Previously: All Things Common

Welcome readers to part seven of this series. It's been quite a journey for me so far... each rabbit hole I go down unearths another layer of substrata that I didn't know existed, yet seems to bring the faint periphery of a bigger picture into partial view. I'm learning that I have been wrong about many of my preconceived notions about the Gospel since my faith crisis a decade ago. Esoteric concepts I thought were of pagan origin, I now believe were first revealed to Adam and then corrupted through apostasy. Rites, ordinances, rituals, initiations, and hidden knowledge I cast off with the proverbial "bathwater" when I learned that my religion lied to me and had been infiltrated by Luciferian conspirators. 

But I've since realized that Satan is anything but original, and can only imitate, corrupt, and mirror the true Order of Heaven. He has created a mere illusion, an image of the true mysteries of Godliness, used to dupe his followers into grasping onto something they think is original and organic; something they believe no one but the highest initiates are privy too. And this deception is at least two layers deep: the first layer ingeniously inserted into a historical narrative as to give the impression that the true religion copied the pagan one, and the second layer insidiously reserved for those who begin to wake up to the first one. As they begin to stir out of their slumber, they are barraged with an intellectual psyop that thunders out the prospect that all ritual is Satanic. "Throw it all out," the logical mind beckons, "God could never be the author of such seemingly occult practices that exclude the unworthy or profane." However, the scriptures assert that God, although He is no respecter of persons, is a favorer of some who are more obedient to His commandments. It is not so much about being "worthy," because we are all unworthy, it is more about being humble, childlike, and curious. Alma declares that the mysteries are off-limits to the hard-hearted, but God desires to share them with us all, if we would just open our minds, soften our hearts, and actually ask Him. However, there are caveats, they are laid under a strict command not to divulge, with certain prerequisites necessary to unlock them. There is, dare I say, an initiatory process that prepares one for higher knowledge, a spiritual gateway so to speak. This initiatory process was practiced by the Patriarchal Fathers, beginning with Adam, and is part of something called the Holy Order. 

I had never heard of the Holy Order (although that phrase appears many times in the Book of Mormon) until I listened to two talks from Denver Snuffer on the subject, one called The Religion of the Fathers, which was made into a book, and the other called The Holy Order Fireside. Shortly thereafter I discovered Zen Garcia and some of his work on obscure apocryphal records, specifically the Book of Elijah, which talks about, you guessed it, the Holy Order, or the Order of the Ancients. This blog post will be a blending of what I learned from both Denver and Zen, who, are far as I know, do not know each other. However, I believe that both men are involved in God's work of preparing the way for the return of the Holy Order and its accompanying Priesthood power, which will ne necessary to protect the New Jerusalem. 

Denver's talk and book The Religion of the Fathers is mostly about the Book of Abraham. Over the last two hundred years that text has been the source of so much controversy and confusion, but as Denver points out, it is not the source of the text that should be our focus (God can choose to reveal scripture any way He chooses, the Book of Abraham was revealed, not translated), but rather the content that is important. Hugh Nibley once said something to the effect that the Book of Abraham was one of the most important and defining texts of the Restoration. Why? Because it is a "discourse on divine authority," and in the very first verse Abraham gets right into the Holy Order and its connection to the Patriarchal Fathers, although he calls it the blessings of the Fathers. He writes:
I sought for the blessings of the Fathers and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same. Having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a Father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a high priest, holding the right belonging to the Fathers. It was conferred upon me from the Fathers: it came down from the Fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning (or before the foundations of the earth) to the present time, even the right of the firstborn (or the first man - who is Adam - or first Father) through the Fathers unto me. I sought for my appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the Fathers concerning the seed. (Abraham 1:1 RE)

Abraham desired to obtain greater knowledge through successive stages of obedience. The first step is to be a "follower of righteousness," the second is to obtain "great knowledge," the third is to be a "greater following of righteous," which leads to "greater knowledge," and so forth. In other words, the process of initiation into the Order is like climbing the steps of a ladder. Joseph Smith explained it this way:

When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave. (TPJS, p. 348)

The Holy Order also contains the rights of government and dominion over the earth. This was given to Adam, and upon his expulsion from the garden, he passed the rights of the Order, along with the Holy Priesthood and the true Gospel of Christ, down through his righteous posterity. This right to govern is devoid of coercion or compulsion, and is overseen by the Powers of Heaven, i.e., those who preside in a Heavenly Council. According to Denver, Adam was the earthly representative of that Council, which position was passed down through each of the Patriarchs, all the way to Abraham:

The Holy Order is not a worldly thing. It cannot be severed from the Powers of Heaven or the Heavenly Council. The presiding Patriarch of the Holy Order is the representative of the Heavenly Council who lives as a mortal on Earth. This is why the Patriarchal head of the Holy Order is the shepherd for the faithful, husbandman for the Creation, and the teacher responsible for dispensing Divine knowledge. That was who Adam was and what Abraham became. (The Religion of the Fathers, p. 31)

The Holy Order represents a link between Heaven and Earth. It is made up of servants who are commissioned by Jesus Christ to assist in the salvation of God's family. In the future meeting at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Adam (who is the steward over the earth) will present the earth to Christ, and hand back the reigns of government to Him, who will rule and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ Himself is that link between Heaven and Earth, it is He who bridges the gap between us and the Father, being Himself the prototype of the saved man. We must become precisely what He is to be saved, as Joseph taught in the 7th Lecture on Faith. But that process takes a long time, a "great while" after we pass through the veil and move on to the Eternal world. I believe, that the Holy Order provides the gateway to that process, the initiation that leads to the first rung of Jacob's ladder. Those called to the Order have a "holy calling" to teach and instruct others in how to enter the path. Alma explained that these souls had already proven themselves in a previous creation cycle. He writes:

And I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests after his Holy Order, which was after the Order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the Order of his Son in a manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. And this is the manner after which they were ordained: being called and prepared from the foundation of the world, according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works in the first place, being left to choose good or evil; therefore they, having chosen good, and exercising exceeding great faith, are called with a holy calling - yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such...

and thus, being called by this holy calling and ordained unto the High Priesthood of the Holy Order of God to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest - this High Priesthood being after the Order of his Son, which Order was from the foundation of the world, or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared form eternity to all eternity according to his foreknowledge of all things. 

Now they were ordained after this manner, being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the High Priesthood of the Holy Order - which calling, and ordinance, and High Priesthood is without beginning or end; thus, they become high priest for ever after the Order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is, Amen. (Alma 9:10, RE, emphasis added)

It is only possible to "exercise great faith" in a mortal existence. Thus, these souls, who were "prepared from the foundation of the world," have already chosen good in a prior experience. Alma is not talking about a "proving" that happened in the pre-existent spiritual realm, because "faith and good works" can only be performed when one is separated from God and in a mortal condition. We know this because the Book of Mormon says as much. Alma said, in a different sermon, that "this life" was the time to prepare to meet God, and that if one procrastinates their repentance until after death, or if we "do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed" (Alma 16:37, RE). Jesus also declared the same thing to the Nephites (3 Nephi 13:2, RE). 

Abraham expounded upon Alma's sermon in the revelation he received about the "noble and great ones." These righteous "souls" were chosen before they were born to be God's rulers (ruler means teacher). The scriptural definition of a soul consists of both body and spirit, which begs the question: did these souls have some kind of physical body? It depends on the definition of matter, which Joseph Smith explained as follows:

There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified, we shall see it is all matter. (TPJS, p. 203)

Whatever Abraham meant by soul doesn't really matter (no pun intended), the important thing, which Alma is proposing, is that these souls condescended to help us ascend. They are part of a Heavenly Fraternity, a Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) who have advanced further up Jacob's ladder and are extending their hands to help us climb up to where they are, and they are trying to get to where Christ is, and Christ has shown us the path to get to where the Father is. This is what I believe Eternal progression looks like.

In a new (and controversial I might add) revelation that Denver Snuffer received called the Testimony of Saint John, a more detailed version of John's gospel is told. After healing a man on the sabbath, the Jews were angry with Jesus, and He rebuked them by saying that the Father works every day. And then He explained to them what the phrase "Eternal lives" means as follows:

In the name of Father Ahman I testify to you, He who hearkens to my testimony, and trusts him who sent me, there is no end to his potential progression. His progress will not cease, for I will demonstrate the pathway of Eternal lives. (TSJ 5:4, emphasis added)

Joseph Smith also explained what Eternal progression looks like:

You have got to learn to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. (TPJS, 346-347) 

Eternal progression can only move forward when one is separated from God and in a mortal, i.e., vulnerable condition. If we have nothing to lose, then we have nothing to gain. God created that condition as part of a test, or simulation if you will, on this telestial world. It is only in such a state that faith can be exercised, and repentance can be performed. Repentance is turning to face God, despite the storms and distractions of mortality swirling all around us. One has to reach upward towards Heaven and call upon God, "crying" unto Him to deliver your soul from Hell, and like Abraham, inquire about Heavenly knowledge. You have to prove to Him that you're ready to take the first step of initiation into His mysteries by being obedient to what He has already given to you. That is what I believe the Gods wants for us, and is the whole reason why They created this telestial world. They wants to share all of Their knowledge with us, but that requires the "sacrifice of all things," as taught in the Lectures on Faith. You have to lay everything on the line, you have to have something to lose. Once you do that, initiation begins. 

That word telestial is an interesting one. Joseph Smith used it in a revelation about the three degrees of glory. It's Greek root, telos, means initiation. According to Hugh Nibley, teleiomai "means to be introduced into the mysteries," and the word teleiotes "is a person who has been initiated into some degree or other of the mysteries." Nibley explains that there is a deeper significance to the three degrees of glory. We live in a telestial state but are striving for the celestial world. Without a sufficient bridge we are stuck down here forever, and thus we need a stepping stone. We need part of Heaven to come down here and meet us in the middle. This middle-world is represented in the temple as the terrestrial, "the in-between world where the rites of passage take place." This world is symbolic of the Savior condescending to lift us up. This is the place, or tabernacle that Christ is always trying to get His saints to build so He can "come to his temple." The temple is where the rites, ordinances, and covenants are introduced to the saints, all of which are symbolic of the real thing; the real ascension we all have the potential to experience. Nibley asserts that "the whole temple represents teleiotes... because the ordinances bridge the two worlds - the telestial and the celestial " (See Temple and Cosmos, p. 28-29).

The word mysteries also has an interesting etymology from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Nibley explains as follows:

In a recent book, just out this year (1973), Morton Smith has shown at great length that the word "mystery," as used by the early Jews and Christians (taught in secret to the apostles), was nothing else than a series of initiatory ordinances, for achieving the highest salvation which today are lost and unknown to the Christian world. He says we don't know what they are; but that is what Christ meant by mysteries of the kingdom. He meant ordinances, which were necessary; and these he revealed to the apostles during his very confidential teachings of the forty days after the resurrection. The purpose of such ordinances is to bridge the space between the world in which we now live, the telestial world, and that to which we aspire, the celestial world. Therefore, the events of the temple were thought to take place in the terrestrial sphere. (Temple and Cosmos, p. 28)

The higher initiates who make up the Holy Order are charged with distributing Divine knowledge to the residue of mankind. According to Denver, some of this knowledge includes the following:

  • Why this creation was organized,
  • Man's position in the cosmos,
  • Who the "hosts of heaven" were,
  • That there was a cosmic rebellion in the heavens,
  • That a cosmic covenant was established that framed the Creation, established conditions for mankind to gain experience, and through which mankind could progress,
  • That all things in nature - including the light of the sun, moon, planets, and stars - were purposefully organized and governed by a covenant with God. (The Religion of the Fathers, p. 46) 

In the same talk Denver goes on to explain that "the Patriarchs used ritual to convey a great body of information (a theatrical revelation) to initiates." He quotes Hugh Nibley describing how the Book of Abraham "appears to be a ritual text":

...the book of Abraham, far from being merely a diverting or edifying history, is a discourse on divine authority, which also is the theme of the three facsimiles. The [explanation] to the three plates make it perfectly clear that they are meant as diagrammatic of formulaic aids to an understanding of the subject of priesthood on earth. (An Approach to the Book of Abraham, p. 178, quoted on p. 47 of Ibid)

The Book of Abraham reveals the process of how Abraham connected back to the Fathers, it also reveals Heavenly knowledge about the stars, and is another account/witness of the creation story (which is in itself a ritual text). It also discloses how Divine knowledge can be corrupted and used by well-intentioned imitators, namely, Pharaoh (this will be discussed in my next post). 

Denver, in the same talk quoted above, moves on to describe another Patriarchal Father whose account in the Book of Moses, (now included in Genesis in the RE), "also appears to be a ritual text." According to Nibley, Enoch was "the great initiate who becomes the great initiator..." He was able to convert enough people to build the first successful city of Zion, which was translated and taken into Heaven. Not only were these people converted to the Gospel, but they lived the higher law of having all things common and one can assume were individually saved and personally knew the Lord. They must've had a temple and performed the same rituals and ordinances that were passed down from Adam from the beginning. Again, rituals that were symbolic of having the real experience with Christ. Denver adds the following quote from Nibley on who Enoch really was:

His [Enoch's] is the independent intelligence always seeking further light and knowledge. He is the great observer and recorder of all things in heaven and earth, of which God grants him perfect knowledge. The great learner, he is also the great teacher: Enoch the Initiator into the higher mysteries of... faith and secrets of the universe; Enoch the Scribe, keeper of the records, instructor in the ordinances, aware of all times and places, studying and transmitting the record of the race with intimate concern for all generations to come. He offers the faithful their greatest treasure of knowledge. He is the seer who conveys to men the mind and will of the Lord. (Enoch the Prophet, p. 19, 21, quoted on p. 47 of Ibid, emphasis added)

I know there are many in post-Mormon/Remnant/Doctrine of Christ and other groups who believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and not a polygamist (and he definitely wasn't) but have thrown the temple out with the "bathwater" after exiting or being excommunicated from the LDS Church. Until recently, I was one of those people. Because I found evidence that that temple ordinances appeared to be copies of Masonic rituals, I figured it was "all of the devil." I assumed that Brigham Young had introduced all those concepts into temple worship because of he and Heber Kimball's membership in York Rite Freemasonry. I now believe that God introduced these ordinances first to Adam and Eve, which were then subsequently corrupted and imitated by their unrighteous posterity. I still believe that the LDS version of temple rites are a corrupted form, but what Joseph was originally trying to reintroduce was the real thing. For anyone searching for answers in this department I recommend Hugh Nibley's book Temple and Cosmos. He shows that temple worship has been a ubiquitous part of past cultures, each one diverse but based on a common thread. Here is just a snippet from his first chapter:

For the Egyptians and the Babylonians, as for us, the temple represents the principle of ordering the universe. It is the hierocentric [sun-centered] point around which all things are organized. It is the omphalus ("navel") around which the earth was organized. The temple is a scale model of the universe, boxed to the compass, a very important feature of every town in our contemporary civilization, as in the ancient world. (Years ago, Sir James George Frazer noticed a definite pattern among ancient religious cult practices: they all followed the same patterns throughout the whole world. He explained that as representing certain stages of evolution in which the mind naturally expressed itself in those forms. But since then the gaps between these various cultures have been filled in, to show that civilization was far more connected.) Civilization is hierocentric, centered around the holy point of the temple. The temple was certainly the center of things in Babylonia, Egypt, in Greece - wherever you go. (Temple and Cosmos, p. 15)

Denver also explains that temple ritual and the religion of the Fathers are interconnected:

The religion of the Fathers cannot be adequately conveyed if it is separated from ritualized knowledge. By using symbol, movement, gesture, dress, architecture, sound, orientation, and setting, it is possible to embed light and truth in a way to engage the mind, spirit, and heart of mankind. The temple can be the house in which it is possible to stretch the mind of man both upward and downward by the things presented there. "The temple itself was but a copy of the heavenly temple, the liturgy on earth as a shadow of the worship of the angels" (Margaret Barker, The Great Angel, p. 118). It is through the covenant-forming ordinances - including rituals - that the power of Godliness has been manifested to mankind. The Order of  the House of God has and ever will be the same, even after Christ comes, and after the termination of the thousand years it will be the same, and we shall finally roll into the Celestial Kingdom of God and enjoy it forever (T&C 117:4). (The Religion of the Fathers, p. 47)

Another way to think of rituals is to consider them as parables. Jesus often taught in parables to deliberately veil deeper truths from those who weren't ready to receive them. Similarly, there are layers of meaning in scripture, as any avid reader of the Book of Mormon can attest, you can read the same verse multiple times and begin to see a new pattern or teaching emerging. Ritual reveals higher knowledge only to those who are prepared to receive it; those who have "eyes" to see and "ears" to hear. The rituals are never ends in themselves, but are always symbolic of real principles and laws that exist in Heaven. Because of the sacred nature of Heaven, and our separation from it, this may be perhaps the only way that God can communicate certain things to us. Remember that Jesus spoke things to the Nephites that could not be "uttered by man." Also consider the fact that Jesus taught certain things to His apostles in Jerusalem and Nephite disciples at Bountiful that were exclusively for them. Prophets like Nephi, Mormon, and others were stopped by the Lord when they were about to write more (the spirit stoppeth mine utterance). 

It certainly appears from the scriptural record that sacred knowledge is guarded from those who would abuse, misuse, or would be prematurely condemned by it. If we were given knowledge faster than we are ready to receive it (by being obedient to certain laws), it would certainly condemn and destroy us. All things have to be done in wisdom and in order. From what I understand, the Holy Order is the buffer between us and Heaven, possessing the rights to distribute sacred knowledge to God's children. Those who are members of the Order have become Sons of God, after the Order of the Son of God, which has no beginning and no end. Those in the Order preside over us but do not demand our adoration or obedience. They are simply commissioned to teach us how to approach God ourselves, and unlike modern Church leaders, they are not servants employed at the gate to create a wedge between us and Christ. However, Adam was given dominion over the earth, and with the Holy Order was given the right to govern this earth. Denver described it this way:

The Holy Order really begins at the point of Adam, the first man, who is called "the son of God" in Luke 3:38. Adam, the first man, obtains the Holy Order in the beginning, and included with it, is the right to preside over all of the human family and then the right to minister to his posterity, and to continue to hold that presiding position until the end of time. (The Holy Order Fireside, transcript, p. 3)

Even though the Holy Order "presides over all the human family," it is not a vehicle for compulsion or control. Denver describes it as more of a burden than a blessing for those who are called into it:

When you think of the Holy Order after the Order of the Son of God, don't think of it exclusively as some sort of status...  Think of fatherhood as an opportunity to nurture, to assist, to provide for, to care for, to bring along, to take what is innocent and malleable, and turn it into something that is God-like, responsible, capable, something or someone who can stand on their own two legs and defend the truth when called upon to do so. Someone that will themselves be a vessel of righteousness. Don't think of a father as a bully with a whip or a belt. What Abraham desired was to be a servant; that was what his ambition to be a father of nations involved. (Ibid, p. 8)

Ultimately, the Holy Order seems to be a symbolic representation of the Godhead. Perhaps that is the way They can reach out to Their children without Their glory condemning or destroying us. They reside in a higher realm, and elements in those higher dimensions vibrate at much higher frequencies. We reside in a lower dimension, where particles vibrate at much slower speeds. According to the laws of thermodynamics, when slow-moving particles come into contact with fast-moving particles they absorb the energy of that higher velocity, and can subsequently be destroyed by pressure and heat. Perhaps that is why a person must be transfigured to stand in the presence of God, so that one's resonance can be brought into harmony with God's. Musical instruments resonate with each other only when they are in tune. For example, if you pluck the E string on a guitar, and there is another guitar in the same room, and in the same tuning, its E string will also vibrate, without being plucked. This is called musical resonance, and the way to get in "tune" with God is by keeping His commandments. Denver explains that the Holy Order is a "surrogate" for the Father and Mother in Heaven, meaning a substitute, and perhaps part of its purpose is to bring God's children into resonance with Him (by learning light and truth and being obedient to it). Denver explained that:

...the Holy Order has, as part of its implication, the right of dominion over all creation. That was what it was established for and it came down from the beginning. It belonged to God. It is why God is God. In essence the Holy Order is to create of flesh and blood a surrogate for the Father and Mother. That's what the Holy Order was designed to accomplish. (Ibid, p, 6)

By now you might be asking what the Holy Order has to do with Priesthood. As far as I understand, it is synonymous with it, or included as a subset of the Order. When Denver introduced the subject in the talk referenced above, he quoted the following passage from the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and inserted "Holy Order" for each time Joseph used the word "Priesthood":

[The Holy Order] was first given to Adam; he obtained the [first presiding position on the Earth], and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He's Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the [Holy Order]; He was called of God to this office, and was the Father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held the keys, first on earth, and then in heaven.

The [Holy Order] is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven, whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from Heaven it is by Adam's authority. 

...He [Adam] is the father of the human family and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe but retains his standing as the head of the human family. (TPJS, p. 157, quoted in The Holy Order Fireside, p. 3) 

As you can see, the Holy Order seems to be the larger fraternal umbrella that encompasses all Priesthood power. In the original quote from the TPJS, Joseph says that "Adam obtained the First Presidency," which Denver calls the "first presiding position." For most of us, that term conjures up images of those who preside over the corporate Church, but the true meaning is something otherworldly. This position has nothing to do with authority over an earthly institution ran by men, it is rather linked to Heaven, as Adam was the first representative of the Heavenly Council as I quoted Denver stating earlier. Those who are called to this position hold keys, Priesthood, authority, dominion, and power. I think it is what the original temple endowment meant when it invited participants to become kings and priests, and queens and priestesses to the Most High God. In fact, the word Melchizedek is a composite of two words, Mulek, meaning king, and Zedek, meaning priest. The most comprehensive definition of the Holy Order I have found is in the glossary of the Restoration Edition of the scriptures. It is a bit long but I recommend reading it. It more clearly defines the relationship between the Holy Order and the Priesthood. Click here to read it in its entirety.

More Clues From the Book of Mormon and the Apocrypha 

The phrase Holy Order appears 18 times in the Book of Mormon text. The first time it appears is in a recorded speech of Jacob, Nephi's little brother. He slips it in casually as he addresses the Nephites, subtly declaring that he and his brother Nephi had been "ordained after the manner of the Holy Order." Does this mean that Nephi and Jacob had both been initiated into the Order? I would think yes, as they both had received angels, visions, and had been visited by Jesus Christ Himself (as in receiving the Second Comforter). Does God use the Holy Order to lead small remnants of His people out of bondage and into promised-lands of their own? This certainly seems to be the pattern that God used when Moses delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Moses also had the higher Priesthood and the sealing power, received visions and revelations, and had seen the Lord and talked with Him face to face. Was he also an initiate of the Holy Order? God told Moses that in consequence of the recalcitrant Israelites, He would "take away the Priesthood of out their midst," and that "the Holy Order and the ordinances thereof" would "not go before them" (See Exodus 18:5, RE). Instead of the higher law, the stubborn Israelites would receive the lower law of carnal commandments, and would forfeit the higher Priesthood and the Law of Consecration. The same pattern existed in Joseph and Hyrum's day. The Church rejected the higher law, and the Prophet (Joseph) and the Patriarch (Hyrum) were taken out of their midst. The Restoration was put on hold, awaiting a future day when others would rise up and seek out the Lord and His Order. 

The Holy Order is mentioned many times in the book of Alma. When I still viewed the Gospel through the lens of the LDS Church I remember wondering how Alma could be the chief judge and the high priest (church president) over the church. What I hadn't realized yet was that the Book of Mormon definition of "high priest over the church" is something totally different than what I was raised believing. There was no corporeal institution called the Church, and there was no office called the President of the Church (or the president of the corporation sole). This was a spiritual institution, and like other early forms of Christianity, there was no hierarchy, there was no paid clergy, and there were no buildings paid for with tithing funds. When Alma resigned from the judgment seat and handed it over to Nephihah, he was not receiving an income as high priest over the church of God. When he set out to reclaim the apostate Nephites, who had started churches with paid clergy, he did so on his own dime. He was acting in the capacity of the office in which he had been called, "the High Priesthood of the Holy Order of God." Is the Book of Mormon telling us that Alma was also an initiate into the Holy Order? It certainly seems so. Is this why, instead of the royal treatment church leaders receive today (six digit salaries, first class plane tickets, catered dinners, and undying adoration), Alma was beaten, spat upon, thrown into prison, and forced to witness crimes against the innocent? He had no worldly authority over the Nephites, and was consequently subject to their abuses. These seem to be risks that those in the Holy Order voluntarily take; it is not a position to be coveted. Like Jesus told Pilate, the Order these men belong to is "not of this world," and like our Lord, they also subject themselves to worldly authority (even though they have the power in their Priesthood to "put at defiance the armies of nations," such power can only be given to one who would never abuse it). 

Alma declared to the Nephites in Zarahemla that he had been called to preach unto them "according to the Holy Order of God, which is in Christ Jesus," and one has to wonder, did they have any idea what he was talking about? I would say most likely not, because Alma would go on to preach an entire sermon on the Holy Order, which I quoted earlier and can be found in Alma 9 of the RE, or Alma 13 of the standard LDS edition. In the next chapter, Alma takes his listeners back to the time of the Patriarchal Fathers, and gives further clarification as to the source of the Holy Order:
Now as I said concerning the Holy Order, or this High Priesthood, there were many who were ordained and become high priests of God. And it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish. Therefore, they were called after this Holy Order and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb...

 And there many, an exceeding great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest. Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same Order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the High Priesthood for ever. And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes--yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his Order, or it being his Order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord. 

Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem, and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abominations--yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness. But Melchizedek, having exercised mighty faith and received the office of the High Priesthood according to the Holy Order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent. And Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore, he was called the Prince of Peace, for he was the King of Salem; and he did reign under his father. Now there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater. Therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention... (Alma 10:1-2, RE) 

Melchizedek was Shem, his father was Noah. Abraham paid tithes to Shem. This has been pointed out by Denver Snuffer and has also been substantiated in apocryphal writings. Denver talked about Shem receiving the new name of Melchizedek on page 6 of this talk. And in the apocryphal Writings of Abraham from the papyri found in Egypt in 1831, we have this verse:

Peleg was the son of Eber who was the son of Eber who was the son of Salah who was the son of Arphaxad the son of Shem, who was Melchizedek, which by interpretation is king priest, for he was a king and a priest to the Most High God. (The Book of the Order of the Ancients, compiled by Zen Garcia, Kindle Version, p. 48, emphasis added)

In the same book, Zen Garcia included The Book of the Order of Elijah the Prophet, the apocryphal writing that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It was supposedly translated from an unknown, ancient source. I introduced it in my last post, but it is a record of Elijah to his son Elisha containing the requirements for entry into the Holy Order. Just like all other apocryphal texts, it probably contains both truth and error, but as Jesus said in regards to apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts, "whoso is enlightened by the spirit shall obtain benefit by their careful study." The mission of Elijah is misunderstood by the LDS Church. He has not yet returned to "turn the hearts of the children to the Fathers," and that statement implies much more than genealogical work for the dead in temples. Elijah is coming back at some future time to create a link to something ancient, to "seal the hearts of the children" to the Patriarchal Fathers. According to the apocryphal book I've referred to above, the Lord said that: servant Elijah shall not die but shall bear with him the keys of his ministry unto the heavenly city until the last days when I shall send him unto one of his seed whom I shall raise up to bear the fullness of this ministry again among the sons of men. (Elijah 1:6, p. 11)

This sounds like Elijah is in the city of Enoch with the Fathers awaiting the time where he will return. In the Restoration Edition of the scriptures the prophecy in Malachi about Elijah reads as follows, notice the word turn is changed to seal:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall seal the heart of the Fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their Fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 1:12 RE, emphasis added) 

Joseph Smith said that word turn in the King James Old Testament should be rendered "bind or seal." There has to be some kind of link between the Patriarchal Fathers and the Latter-Day Zion or the entire world, and everyone in it, will be "utterly destroyed" when the Lord comes again. The mission of Elijah is not to seal us to our dead ancestors in the Spirit World, it is to seal us to the Fathers in Heaven (the Patriarchal Fathers who make up the Holy Order). Joseph Smith spoke about the mission of Elijah in a talk given on March 10, 1844, specifying that the Fathers we needed sealing to were "those who are in heaven." The Spirit World and Heaven are not the same place. To be saved, we need a link to Heaven, without that link, we are all damned, both the living and the dead. In the LDS edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, Oliver Cowdery declared that Elijah came and committed the "keys of this dispensation" into he and Joseph's hands (See D&C Section 110). This supposedly happened in the Kirtland temple in 1836, right after they saw a vision of Christ. It never happened. Joseph Smith never wrote about this occurrence in his journal or any other writings, and he only ever spoke about the coming of Elijah as a yet future event, right up until 1844. Oliver, now known to be a great exaggerator, made it all up, just like he made up the patriarchal blessing to Joseph Smith foretelling his return in the flesh in the last-days to become the "one mighty and strong." Some people currently believe this nonsense. Joseph is not coming back, and Elijah has not yet returned. The history of the Elijah debacle can be found in another talk by Denver Snuffer entitled, The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered, it's 42 pages long and the Elijah stuff starts on page 23, but you should read the entire thing for context (Enoch is a very important part of that context). Denver explains in this talk the reason why he thinks that only Elijah could fulfill the role of linking the future Zion back to the Fathers, because, among other things, he was the last one to be translated and taken into Enoch's city, and not the last one to hold the sealing power:

All of this does involve Elijah. He is not, as we often tell ourselves, the last person to hold the sealing power. That would have been Peter. Or, since we don't have accurate dates for their respective deaths, it may have been Nephi [Helman 10:7 LDS Ed.], on this continent. But you can know for a certainty that it was NOT Elijah. Therefore anyone who teaches Elijah's return is connected only to sealing power used to connect ourselves to our kindred dead, but which does not also include connecting us with the "fathers in heaven," does not understand the truth as yet. Joseph's description of Elijah's mission included a connection using Elijah's seals between the living and the "fathers in heaven." The kindred dead are beneficiaries of that also; but the link, the thing which would prevent mankind from being "utterly wasted" at the Lord's return, was this connection to the "fathers in heaven"...

Here then, we have finally arrived at Elijah's significance as the one who must first return. He was not the last one living who held the sealing power, though he did in fact possess it. Instead, he is vital as the last one to make the ascent from earth to heaven. He rose up through the fiery corridor, and went to God's presence. He joined the "fathers in heaven" who are to return. He last opened the way by his physical ascent. He will be the first to physically descend through the fiery corridor to return from heaven and dwell again on earth. His return will not be a temporary opening. We've had plenty of those. His return will open a permanent, fixed stairway between the "fathers in heaven" and those who are prepared for the return of Zion. Zion will be overshadowed by the Lord's glory. The fiery corridor, or pillar of fire, or ladder of heaven, or conduit into heaven, or chariot of fire, will be opened by Elijah's descent. It will remain over Zion and will be visible there. It will not be temporary. It will be the place from which the first preparations for the Second Coming begin. At that location a small group will be prepared to endure this opening. They, and those called to join with them, will escape being "utterly wasted" at the unveiling of our Lord in glory at His return. It is Elijah who will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children or, in other words, he will reestablish the lost corridor between heaven and earth that connects those in heaven with those one earth. (The Mission of Elijah Reconsidered, pp. 28-29)

Getting back the apocryphal book of Elijah, some of the keys that Elijah held were necessary to organize the "School of the Prophets" and the "Order of Enoch," two phrases used by early Latter-Day Saints. This is found in 1:7 of the book of Elijah, which explains how he left those keys to his son Elisha, who was ordained to the Priesthood by God's voice when he witnessed his father's translation. Denver teaches that keys do not grant someone authority over others, but they do unlock knowledge and mysteries. It seems as though certain keys are given to different prophets who have specific callings, I do not think they are all meant to be passed down. The LDS Church presumptuously assumes that their leaders have received all the keys of this dispensation, but only use for them for their pretended authority "over the flesh," and as any logical thinking person can see they are not unlocking any mysteries (unless you count corporate policy changes). Well, it is my opinion that Elijah's keys have something to do with reestablishing the Holy Order of God in the last days. We are told in Genesis that Adam prophesied by the Spirit that the "same Priesthood which was in the beginning shall be in the end of the world also." That Priesthood is part of the Holy Order, and it has the power to do this:

...break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course, to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God, to do all things according to his will, according to his command subdue principalities and powers... (Genesis 7:19, RE)

Interestingly, these same words appear in the Writings of Abraham taken from the papyri found in 1831. Abraham writes:

For God had sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by Himself  [that] every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power by faith to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course, to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God, to do all things according to His will according to His command, subdue principalities and powers, and this by the will of the Son of the Only Begotten of the Father which was from before the foundation of the world.

And men having this faith and coming up into this order of God could be translated and taken up into heaven. (Writings of Abraham 99:2-3, Kindle version, p. 159) 

Obviously, this Priesthood has not yet returned to the earth, but here we have two witnesses of its powers. No one need say that they are in possession of this Priesthood when it is finally restored, because we will all know by what they accomplish. Similarly, and Denver has also said this, the one who is mighty and strong will never say that that's who they are... because they won't have to. We will know by what they accomplish. That is how you tell the difference between pretenders and the real thing--by their works. The good news is that this Priesthood is coming back, just as Adam foretold, and will be used by the Lord's servants to help His people escape to Zion, and once there, to protect Zion. We have some very exciting--and terrifying--days ahead. 

Requirements For Entry Into the Holy Order

The apocryphal book of Elijah contains a checklist of actual prerequisites for initiation into the Holy Order of God. I find these interesting, but do not wholly subscribe to the text as authentic. Many of them make a lot of sense, and others seem counterintuitive to the idea that we should NOT be obedient to leaders. But as with many apocryphal texts, there will be both truth and error to sort through. Here is the list:
  • The aspirant must love the Lord with all his heart, might, mind, and strength, and he must love others as himself.
  • He must covenant to live the Law of Consecration, which is the Order of Enoch, holding "all things common with his brethren according to the pattern set by" Adam and Eve, the "First Parents." Elijah declares that it was Cain and his people who first desired to have "private ownership of property" and that it was a "teaching of that evil combination" organized by Cain. (This one is a hard pill to swallow for me being a radical libertarian, but I can see how having "all things common" is a higher law). 
  • He must be "dedicated to seeing the face of God and receiving from him the promise of eternal lives" (this one jives with T&C 93:1). 
  • "He must keep the commandments and statues of the Lord his God..." which were give through Moses the lawgiver and other prophets. 
  • He must love what God loves and hate what God hates. He must repent, and be governed by principles of truth, righteousness, and justice. He must have "no more inclination to follow after the dictates of the flesh," expelling selfishness, jealousy, and contention out of his life. 
  • He must unite with others in the Order in "one heart and one mind." 
  • They must love all the "children of light" and hate the works of darkness and avoid intercourse with the "sons of Belial." 
  • "He must order his life according to the patterns which the Lord hath given, observing the hours of worship, the Sabbaths and the Holy Days to do them, neither omitting feasts nor neglecting the fasts of the Lord." 
  • "He must be one whose heart is knit unto the ordinances of God's law, who will strive diligently to preserve them in purity, neither breaking the laws, changing the ordinances, nor neglecting the everlasting covenants of our God." (See Isaiah 7:1, RE)
These are the preliminary requirements, and they can be found in Chapters 2-4 of the book of Elijah. The next set of prerequisites have to do with those who are in "authority" over him. This is where I get a little squeamish, as I have been programmed since my faith crisis to eschew any kind of obedience or deference to other men. However, since I do not understand how the Holy Order really works, I'm open to what Elijah has written here. He states:
  • When such a man cometh forward to present himself as a candidate for admission into the Order, he should be examined carefully by the elders of the community, and having been proven worthy, he must enter into a covenant in the presence of God, the holy angels, and his brethren of the Order by entering the waters of immersion.. [Baptism I presume?]
  • When a man hath entered the into this covenant in the waters of immersion, the elders of the community are to lay their hands upon his head and bless him with the Holy Spirit of God. [Sounds familiar]
  • At the end of each year, every member of the community is to be interviewed... the object of this interview is that every man in Israel may be made aware of his status int he community of God's elect, that he may measure himself against the perfect, eternal society of heaven. 
  •  They are to abide by the decisions of the Presidency of the Order and the Family Council in all matters and be subject to the word of God as it is delivered through his prophets the Patriarchs in all matters doctrinal, economic, and judicial. 
  • Every one who seeketh admittance to the community of the Order must first be approved by the Presidency of the Order. [Does this mean there is a hierarchy?]
  • He must then enter into a covenant of God in the presence of the brethren of the Order, binding himself by a solemn oath to consecrate all of his mind, all of his strength and all of his wealth to the community of God's elect. [Is the common fund controlled by the hierarchy?]
  •  He who is found acceptable shall then enter the Order of Enoch after the Aaronic order where, through obedience to the word of God, and the instructions of those who preside over him in the Priesthood, he may progress from one degree to another until he entereth the Order of the Father, the holiest of all. 
  •  All those who have entered the holy order of God should be obedient to those who have been placed over them in the Priesthood in all matters, as especially those relating to the Order of Enoch. [I definitely DO NOT like how this one sounds] (These can found in chapters 4, 5, 14, 15, 16, and 18 of the book of Elijah)

Obviously, there would have to be some kind of hierarchy in the Holy Order. Recall that earlier in this post in the TPJS Joseph stated Adam was given the "First Presidency." He was given dominion over the earth and the right to "preside" over the human race. This language is similar to what Elijah has written above, but I get uncomfortable with the phrase obedience to those who have been placed over them in the Priesthood... as this triggers those familiar teachings so prevalent in the LDS Church that we must follow the Fifteen and be "obedient" to their council. However, that could be a corruption and an imitation of the true Holy Order, and the authority that those in the Holy Order possess over us probably does not mean what we think it does. As Denver said, it is more of a nurturing father than a bully with a whip. At any rate, we don't know how much of this apocryphal book is true and God will hopefully reveal more about the Holy Order the closer we get to Elijah's return. But in the meantime, I find what has already been given to us quite fascinating. 

Elijah adds a few more caveats and tenets here and there that will resonate with many of you readers who are Remnant-ites. Here is a summary, and many of these are reminiscent of teachings from the Book of Mormon:

  • Those who live after the pattern of the Holy Order must forsake the "vain traditions of his fathers." (See Alma 7:3, RE, and literally a host of other verses)
  • He must acknowledge his weaknesses before God, which weaknesses the Lord would then make his strengths. (See Ether 5:5, RE)
  • He must be "born again, a new creature in the Lord." (See Mosiah 11:28, RE)
  • He must be "cleansed from his sins... through contrition and repentance." (See 3 Nephi 5:23, RE)
  • "Only through obedience to those laws and that holy order which have been handed down from our Fathers who entered into the presence of the Lord and held communion with the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn can a man sanctify his life to commune with the Fathers who have gone on before." (See T&C 69:19)
  • Enduring to the end is a requirement to be redeemed from the Fall. (See 2 Nephi 13:4, RE)
  • Before God created the heavens and the earth, there was a counsel held and a plan "planned" "wherein the spirit of every man should have an appointed role." (See Abraham 6:1-3, RE)
  • "Thus man was made free, even from the beginning to choose for himself the good or the evil..." (see 2 Nephi 1:10, RE)
  • Man must repent when he chooses wrong, and then the Lord, in His mercy, can redeem them from their sins. (See Alma 8:15, RE, we can only be saved from our sins, not in our sins)
  • The Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of acceptance. (See Alma 21:3, RE)
  • Some of the fruits of the Spirit of God are: enlightenment, discernment, humility, patience, charity, vision, wisdom, trust, faith, confidence in the power of God, knowledge, self-mastery, sanctity, pure thoughts, abounding love, love for all who follow truth, purity, modesty, and keeping the mysteries of God to yourself. (See Moroni 10:3, RE, 1 Corinthians 1:48, RE, T&C 139:6)
  • Those who walk in the path of the Spirit of truth shall "receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones and shall find wisdom and hidden treasures of knowledge." (See T&C 89:6)
  • The fate of the "Sons of Perdition" is only known to "those who are partakers thereof." (See T&C 69:8)
  • "Between good and evil there is an eternal enmity; they cannot exist together in peace." (See Genesis 2:18, RE)
  • "Then will truth emerge triumphant and shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." (See Habakkuk 1:8, RE)
  • "...having been made pure and holy they might understand the hidden mysteries of the kingdom of God, those secrets which remain among the sons of Light..." (See Alma 9:3, RE)
  • "...for in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every charge be established." (See T&C 151:2)
  • "For this life is a time of preparation for meeting the Lord..." (See Alma 16:37, RE)
  • "Be ye zealous to carry out every covenant and commandment which ye have received in the ordinances of mine house or ye shall be in the power of the devil..." (This one should sound familiar to some of you)
As you can see, this text resonates considerably with Restoration scriptures and teachings, and I can't help but wonder the source of the ancient scroll or manuscript it came from. It's origins are somewhat of an enigma, but judging on its content alone, it is either a copy-cat of the true Gospel or another witness of it. For those of you who may be interested in reading it for yourself, here is the Amazon link to the Kindle version, it is relatively inexpensive, and it comes with the Writings of Abraham that I have also cited above. 

They Holy Order is not something to be trifled with. It is God's system of government and leadership. Those who qualify to enter into it are personally vetted by God Himself, have already proven their ability to exercise faith, have chosen righteousness in a prior existence, are not ambitious, and seek only to do the Lord's will. The sobering truth is that most of us do not qualify to be initiated into the Holy Order. We are not yet ready to be trusted with power and authority of the Heavenly kind. We get a little bit of authority, as we suppose, like say an Aaronic Priesthood line of authority that we think qualifies us to use compulsion and dominion over our fellow saints, and we lose any semblance of Priesthood power we thought we had. The Powers of Heaven become frustrated with us, and withdraw, leaving us without the Spirit and alone to kick against the pricks. The hard reality is that it may take eons of time before many of us can enter this Order and finally begin our ascent up Jacob's ladder, but in the meantime, we can learn how to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and accept the prophets that God sends to reclaim us by not casting them out and killing them. (Remember that is how the "more righteous" Nephites avoided destruction in 3 Nephi).

It should be humbling to consider that the purpose behind the Holy Order is to save God's children. It was created for us. Those who are initiated into it are, above all else, servants, serving God and their fellowman without expectation of reward or obeisance from those they are called to preside over. Denver Snuffer, in a published compilation of essays called, well, Eight Essays, wrote extensively about the Holy Order, in addition to what he has already stated in the two talks referenced above. Although it is only available in hardback, and kind of expensive, I still recommend it if you want to learn more about how the Holy Order works. Here is a snipped explaining the purposes of the Order:
Among other things, the purpose of the Holy Order is to put in place a mechanism by which God can reveal from heaven what is necessary for the salvation of man on Earth. In every generation when God has provided salvation for mankind, it is the Holy Order used by God to fix what is broken, restore what has been lost, repair, heal, forgive, and reconnect those who are willing to give heed to the message sent from Heaven to enable mankind to become the sons of God. (Eight Essays, pp. 206-207)

At the end of the essay, which is 71 pages long, Denver explains what kind of person is entrusted with the mantle of the Holy Order. He writes:

The Holy Order, including the right to dominion, must return to the earth. It will be fully restored. It will be in the possession of those who will not covet it. Those who will not, like Cain, attempt to influence the conditions of salvation for the souls of men. The right candidates are those who look upon it merely as a burden to be held under the authority of God, belonging to Him, to be returned to Him, so that He can come and fix this broken world and bring wickedness to an end. If an aspiring, ambitious, vain person were to hold such a position, all of the Lord's plans can be frustrated. Therefore, we need to be like our Lord, the greatest of all, the most intelligent of all, who came here to serve, who knelt and washed the feet of others. He gave His life as a sacrifice. Despite His reluctance He partook of the bitter cup, to the dregs. He was slain, and He gave all glory and all majesty to the Father. That is the kind of person who will be trusted to hold the Holy Order. (Ibid, p. 267, emphasis added

The two lines I bolded and italicized above are most interesting. Apparently, If the Holy Order fell into the wrong hands (someone influenced by Satan such as Cain), then the conditions of repentance for this creation could potentially be changed to the agency-destroying plan Satan proposed in the council before this earth was formed. The Great Plan of the Eternal God has the potential to be frustrated. Before learning about the Holy and Order and studying Denver's talks, I had no idea that such a scenario was possible. I thought God had control over those conditions of salvation and they were safe with Him. But this is not the case. Because God has given Adam dominion over the earth and the right to preside over the human race, if someone in his bloodline who was the righteous heir, like say Cain, was entrusted with the Holy Order and then chose to serve Satan, this devastating scenario could play out. Why? Because God is bound by His word. He has literally given a stewardship to Adam and his righteous posterity and has to honor that stewardship. This reveals that God is far more delegatory than perhaps many of us realize. This is why those entrusted with the Order have to be personally vetted by God; they have to be like Nephi (son of Helaman), who was given power over the elements and only chose to exercise that authority according to God's will. Cain failed, he offered up the fruit of the ground, and after his sacrifice was rejected and God called him to repentance, he employed plan B to murder Able for his "flocks," which were something different than mere sheep. According to Denver, the "flocks" of Able were his posterity. Cain wanted to control the seed line through which the Messiah was to be born, well Satan did anyway, so that those conditions of salvation could be changed to the Adversary's plan that was rejected by Father. 

I will get into this in part VIII,  as well as the other "Orders" that Satan has created as an imitation to the Holy Order, and also how Pharaoh (a righteous man), earnestly sought to imitate that same Order but was distraught when he discovered that his line of authority did not measure up. In the meantime, I recommend these two talks given by Denver Snuffer that I've been quoting throughout this post. He explains what the Holy Order is and how Satan tried to "capture this creation" through the attempted subjugation of the Order. We really are in a spiritual war (Ephesians 1:25, RE), the battles have been raging since that Grand Council in Heaven that transpired ages ago. The struggle is real, and it is far from over. I can only imagine that both sides will continue to ramp up before the Lord's return, God and His Holy Order on the one hand, and Satan with his counterfeits on the other. We all must choose what side we will be on, whether we will serve the true God, or the dark god of this world. Here are the talks, stayed tuned for part VIII...

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Zion vs the Beast VI: All Things Common

  Previously: One Heart and One Mind

Have you ever thought about what it really means to have "all things common? Does it mean we have to give up our private property rights and surrender our stuff to a common storehouse? If so, who would control the storehouse? Who would be in charge of doling out the goods? If there is to be no central governing authority in Zion than how would this process work? I'm not sure what this would like look, but again, there are some clues in scripture. In 1831, Joseph Smith received a revelation called "the laws of the church of Christ," in which some interesting guidelines are given. This is what it says in regard to consecration:

And behold, you shall consecrate all your properties, unto me, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken, and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and two of the elders, such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose. And it shall come to pass that the bishop of my church, after that he has received the properties of my church that it cannot be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, inasmuch as it shall be sufficient for himself and family. 

And the residue shall be kept and administered to him that has not, that every man may receive according as he stands in need. And the residue shall be kept in my storehouse to administer to the poor and needy as shall be appointed by the elders of the church and the bishop, and for the purpose of purchasing land and the building up of the New Jerusalem, which is hereafter to be revealed, that my covenant people may be gathered in one in the day that I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people. (T&C 26:8)

The Saints during Joseph’s time failed to live the Law of Consecration, but we can still use this scripture to predict what a future scenario may look like. At first glance it seems like we are required to give all of our property to the "church" under the direction of the bishop. But, the Lord has clarified that His church is not a worldly organization ran by men, but a spiritual entity that exists whenever there are two or more that gather in His name. And giving control of the communal goods to one man, the bishop, seems like an unrighteous dominion disaster just waiting to happen. So what are these versus really telling us? 

If the church is not a hierarchical entity, then who is supposed to assist the bishop in doling out goods to the poor? Well, that'd be us, the stewards. Notice that the bishop is to "appoint every man a steward over his own property." Wait, does the concept of private property still apply here? The word steward, used during the middle ages in England and Scotland, was used in reference to an officer "who manages the affairs of an estate on behalf of his employer." It was also used in reference to an "overseer or workman," and an "officer on a ship in charge of provisions and meals." From this derived the Scottish name Stewart and the French name Stuart, which became associated with royalty. A steward then, is not one who manages his own property, but the property of another. In the context of the scripture above the "employer" is God, not the bishop. It is God that owns everything because He created it all. The bishop is just a man, a common judge in Israel whose job is to help solve disputes between stewards. He is supposed to be a servant, not a master, and in the future Zion, there may not be such a title as a bishop anyway. Maybe that was purely a creation of the New Testament-style Church that Sidney Ridgon and others pressured Joseph into setting up.  

God, being the owner of everything, makes us stewards over our "own property," meaning He gifts the property to us, with His only stipulation being that after we have sufficient for our needs and the needs of our families, we give the rest back to Him. Ideally this surplus of goods goes into a storehouse and is reserved for the poor, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the class distinctions between rich and poor. However, the storehouse always seems to get commandeered by religious leaders, who make sure that the wealth gap is maintained. The famous scripture in Malachi about robbing God of tithes and offerings is NOT directed to the ordinary saints who give tithes. It is directed at the priests who collect and hoard those tithes and refuse to give them back to the poor; they are the robbers. Anciently they were the Pharisees, modernly they are Church leaders who invest tithing funds in real estate, shopping malls, and pharmaceutical stock. 

Scores of societies, both ancient and modern, have endeavored to live such a communal existence, sharing all goods and property in common, but all of them fail. In fact, the only successful societies we know about are the ones recorded in scripture: the cities of Enoch and Melchizedek, and the Nephites at Bountiful. The common denominator of communism failing, whether voluntary or coerced, is centralization under hierarchical leadership. The leaders of these societies always seem to capitulate to the temptation to abuse power, some of them going so far as to equate themselves with the Divine. A little detour into history will illustrate what I'm talking about, so find your favorite chair, make yourself comfortable, and open your mind as we head down yet another rabbit hole. This one will be a blast from the past. 

The Origins of Messianic Communism

Murray Rothbard has brought to light some interesting and obscure history about the roots of communism in his classic two-volume work, An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought. What follows will be a summary of a few sections of that book.

The idea of communism has been around for a long time, but our modern Western concept of it began with Plato. In his famous literary works The Republic and The Laws, he describes a society that is stratified into three classes: the philosopher-king rulers, the guardians (soldiers), and the producers, consisting of laborers, peasants, and merchants. The three classes represent the different parts of each human soul: one that craves, i.e., consumes, one that fights, and one that thinks. Plato is adamant that, the lower classes representing the baser depravities of human nature, must relent to the higher nobilities of human existence. Akin to Manly P. Hall's Atlantean utopia (based off of Plato's writings), the philosopher-priest-kings rule the roost, while guardians defend them from enemies, foreign and domestic, and the producers divide the labor that sustains the civilization; all by force of course. 

Plato's subjects live a communal existence, with no one having private property, and where all things are shared in common, including wives. Marriages (for the elite who are allowed such a privilege) will be arranged by the State, and human children will be raised by the government in breeding facilities. Freedom of speech is frowned upon, higher learning is reserved for the elite who are falsely and purposely touted as semi-divine, and gold and silver are replaced with government fiat currency. There are no inalienable rights to property, including even one's own body, and all economic planning proceeds from one centralized bureaucratic agency. Occupations are divided up into moral rankings, with some being more "essential" than others (where have we heard that before?), and conscious efforts are made by those who run the State to keep the economy "static." This curtailment of economic innovation is motivated, according to Rothbard, by "fear of collapse of the domination of the state by the ruling elite." The economic engine must not be allowed to be revved too loudly by allowing full economic freedom, for paramount to the ruling class is to maintain the gap between rich and poor, between the rulers and the ruled, between the adepts and the profane. 

From Plato's idealism sprang myriad movements and social experiments throughout the last few millennia, all of them failing. However, the idea of messianic (idealism marked by an aggressive crusading spirit) communism was born, with the leading socialists always pining that the system would work "if only the right people were in charge." Failing to learn from hindsight, is unfortunately, a mental state that cannot be remedied by logic, and thus the socialistic agenda is still pushed today. But, for those with minds open enough to actually learn the lessons of history, the truth is painfully obvious: socialism and communism are NOT sustainable. Why then, would the Lord ask us to have all things common? What element present in a true Zion society is the magic ingredient that makes the system work? At present we do not know because it has not been revealed, and we have not been asked to live the Law of Consecration... yet, but if Zion is to come again, we will have to be prepared to live such a law. Perhaps part of our preparation will be to learn why other experiments in communalism have failed in the past, and how to avoid the mistakes made by others. 

In his classic book, Rothbard lays out the history of messianic communism, beginning with Plato and ending with Marx himself. A pivotal figurehead along that path was the Italian mystic Joachim of Fiore (1145-1202), a religious monk who believed that history would unfold in three great successive ages ruled by the Holy Trinity: the era of the Old Testament, ruled by the Father, the New Testament era ruled by the Son, and the final stage, the end of the world, ruled by the Holy Spirit. In this final stage poverty will finally be obliterated, because, according to Joachim, mankind will be liberated from his physical body. With no need to eat or drink, Joachim asserts that mankind will be spending time in monasteries contemplating the mysteries of God, and eagerly awaiting the last judgement. Of course, such a utopia would be easily achieved, as a communal existence without physical needs is the epitome of redundancy. As with many millenarians, Joachim believed that the advent of the Second Coming would happen sooner than later, and predicted that it would come by the beginning of the 13th century. 

Other chiliasts followed suit, namely, the Amaurians, followers of Amalric, a professor of theology from the University of Paris. Amalric was condemned by the pope for his heretical doctrines and died shortly thereafter. The Amarians, Amalric's philosophical progeny, also subscribed to the the three great ages of history ruled by the Holy Trinity, but added the concept of dispensational incarnations: Abraham for the Old Testament age, Jesus for the New Testament age, and wait for it, themselves for the final age. Notice the patterns that begin to emerge as we move through Rothbard's history; the most ambitious religious zealots become obsessed with power and insert themselves as the object of worship and adoration, oh ya... and they take all the goods in the storehouse. 

Another group in northern Europe were known as the Brethren of the Free Spirit. These neophytes subscribed to the idea propagated by the Platonic philosopher Plotinus, namely, that man was part of God in the beginning, separated from God, and then eventually reabsorbed back into God. This metaphysical oneness with God could only be achieved after passing through the veil of mortality - unless of course you were one of the Brethren of the Free Spirit. These adepts, who had spent years stoically enduring training and self-denial, had perfected themselves to the point that they could partake of godly reabsorption while in mortality. In other words, they became self-appointed gods among men. And when you're a god whatever you do is moral and not a sin, or at least that is what you tell your followers, whose most cardinal sin is to disobey you, their masters. And thus it was with the Brethren, who engaged in every kind of debauchery imaginable, while claiming it was impossible for them to sin. 

Their faithful disciples swore oaths of "absolute obedience" to their masters, and provided the communal goods they lived on. The Brethren believed that all the goods of those inside and outside their cult belonged to them. Rothbard says they "regarded all property of the non-elect as rightfully" their own. In fact, their version of "all things common" was that they had the right to steal from the common man, live like kings, and do whatever they wanted. The Brethren of the Free Spirit are reminiscent of the ilk of king Noah and his wicked priests, the Gadianton robbers who ravaged the Nephite society during the time of Helaman, and modern "Brethren" who today are enjoying the wealth, fame, power, and prestige of a 100 billion dollar religious institution, but I won't name any names. 

Rothbard's next group were called the Taborites, and man did they take things to the next level. They were part of the radical wing of the Hussite movement, followers of Jan Hus, who was put to death by the Counsel of Constance for heresy on July 6th, 1415. Hus was a religious reformer who spearheaded the pre-protestant movement in Bohemia, which was then western Czechoslovakia. Veering far afield from Hus, the Taborites added a new twist to missionary work. Instead of converting sinners, they believed they had a duty to exterminate them. Stamping out in sin preparation for the millennium meant stamping out sinners, literally. Rothbard writes that "when sacking churches and monasteries, the Taborites took particular delight in destroying libraries and burning books." Apparently, the Hitlerian idea of ritualistic book burning has been around for a long time. 

These guys, like the others before them, also believed in communism, but like Lenin preferred the violent revolutionary type. They dreamed of returning to "a lost golden age" where there was no private property. But to accomplish this ideal they proposed the scheme to wipe out and exterminate the merchants, landlords, and other capitalist swine that stood in their way. With the free-market curmudgeons removed the Taborites would be free to setup their communist utopia in Bohemia, and from thence unleash it upon the rest of the world. However, the Hussite revolution of 1419 foiled their grandiose plans, and they settled in the town of Usti, renamed Tabor, meaning mount, which they associated with the Mount of Olives. It was here that they began their communist experiment. 

True to their credo, all things were held in common, with private property being viewed as the mother of all sin. Even wives were shared, and monogamy was outlawed, even to the point that a husband and wife could be brutally beaten to death if they were ever seen together. The common store soon began dwindling, as the temptation to consume overcame the necessity to work, which is a common (no pun intended) problem in communal societies. In economics they call this phenomenon the "tragedy of the commons," which happens when a resource is overused because it is not privately owned. The "elect" of the Taborites, to shield themselves from starvation, in the tradition of the Brethren of the Free Spirit, claimed a divine right to the goods of others. Interestingly, less affluent Taborites noted that in such communities the only thought for most was survival, or how to get the most food by doing the least amount of work. Fittingly, they referred to some members of the commune, I can only assume the elite, as "robbers," who undertook "unjust campaigns for the sole purpose of robbing." Needless to say, the Taborites society collapsed and the experiment ended as abruptly as it began. 

The next group to resurrect the Taborite dystopia were the Bohemian Adamites, who like the Brethren, considered themselves "living gods, superior to Christ." This superiority was assumed because Jesus was dead and they were still alive; mind boggling logic to say the least. The Adamites took marital communalism to the next level, not only was marriage outlawed, but "promiscuity was compulsory," at least for the women, the men being more than willing participants.  Rothbard writes that "a man could choose any woman at will, and that will would have to be obeyed." They didn't sugar coat their system like Brigham Young did, claiming that one having a “higher” priesthood could take the wife of another; they just took her without explanation. They wandered about their civilization naked most of the time, simulating the garden of Eden, and were governed by their leader, aptly named Adam-Moses, who was the ultimate authority in granting permission for sex. Akin to the Taborites, they also held the conviction that they were destined to stamp out sin by exterminating unbelievers, believing they were "God's scythe, set to cut down and eradicate the unrighteous." During guerilla warfare with the forces of a Hussite commander the Adamites engaged in genocide, murdering men, women, and children indiscriminately. But an army of 400 Hussites would eventually overwhelm them, massacring every living soul among their community. A decade later in 1434, the Hussites would also crush the remaining Taborites, with the survivors going underground, planting and cultivating the seeds that would lead to history's next great communistic disaster: the Anabaptist experiment in Munster, Germany.  

Thomas Muntzer and the Munster Debacle

The Anabaptists were a sect that rose up throughout Germany as a consequence of Luther's Reformation. They believed in predestination of the elect, or the doctrine of election, and conveniently, they fancied themselves as that elect. They believed in being born again through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and they replaced conventional church membership with a small fraternity of the elect. In other words, they were better than you, and they knew it. As you read what follows you may be reminded of a similar group of people in the Book of Mormon, who brayed on a public Rameumptom with the following prayer:
Holy, holy God!... we believe thou has elected us to be thy holy children..., and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast, by thy wrath, down to hell... (Alma 16:18, RE) 

The Anabaptists broke into two branches: the nonviolent sect reminiscent of the Amish, and the revolutionary sect that wanted to "seize power in the state" by establishing an "ultra-theocracy." The first leader of the violent sect was Thomas Muntzer (1489-1525), a student of theology and German mysticism who studied at the universities of Leipzig and Frankfurt. He was a contemporary and follower of Martin Luther, who recommended him for the pastorate in the city of Zwickau, located on the Bohemian border. Luther later regretted this, as Muntzer grasped onto the old creeds of the Taborites, and began propagating theocratic communism, stamping out sinners through violence, and the idea of spiritual wifery. Muntzer soon began calling himself a prophet, and added the sacrilege that the "living Christ had permanently entered his own soul," going so far as to claim that he "himself was becoming God." As you will see, this guy was a real nut case. 

He was soon expelled from Zwichau, and began wandering around Germany looking for Taborite remnants, and calling himself "Christ's messenger." He settled in Allstedt, became a minister and amassed a small following, eventually forming a group called "The League of the Elect." News of the preacher spread to Duke John, a prince of Saxony, who being alarmed by rumors requested to hear him preach. Muntzer took advantage of the opportunity, and thundered out an aggressive ultimatum that the Saxon princes would have to choose between God and the devil, "God" of course being the choice of joining the Anabaptists. The Saxon princes didn't take him seriously, nor did they take any punitive action against him, and he continued amassing impoverished followers who were ready to take the communal leap. Rothbard describes his proposed utopia as thus:

The poor were the elect, and would establish a rule of compulsory egalitarian communism, a world where all things would be owned in common by all, where everyone would be equal in everything and each person would receive according to his need. (Volume, I, p. 148)

In 1524 Muntzer left Allstedt and moved to the Thuringian city of Muhlhausen, where after failed efforts to incite revolution, he went to Nuremberg, where, after distributing revolutionary pamphlets, was expelled again. As luck would have it, a sympathetic revolutionary group had seized Muhlhausen, and upon his return, they imposed their communist pipe dream. But, as Rothbard recounts, it didn't work, because well, no one wanted to work. He writes:

The monasteries were seized, and all property was decreed to be in common, and the consequence, as a contemporary observer noted, was that "he so affected the folk that no one wanted to work". The result was that the theory of communism and love quickly became in practice an alibi for systematic theft. (Ibid, p. 149)

Whilst Muntzer was enjoying his communist reprieve, the Peasant's War broke out in Germany as a response to the excessive taxation and totalitarian rule of the German Princes. The Princes' armies were sweeping through Germany and brutally exterminating peasant armies without much resistance. Muntzer responded by declaring that God would protect them, and while giving his speech a rainbow appeared in the heavens which the peasants took as a sign. But, it was all in vain, for the princes easily crushed their tattered armies, captured Muntzer, and subsequently tortured and executed him. However, Muntzer's legacy continued on, with disciples endeavoring to the pick up the pieces he left behind, until the perfect opportunity presented itself in the northwestern German city-state of Munster.

Northwestern Germany was ruled by an ecclesiastical aristocracy, with each province electing its own secular bishop. These bishops, representing the clergy who theocratically ruled the city-states, would bargain over taxes with the Princes of Germany. They were able to exempt themselves from taxes, and run their cities through "an oligarchy of guilds, which used government power to cartelize their various professions and occupations." In other words, corrupt local government. The city of Munster had a population of around 10,000, and during the Peasant's War, the bishops lost their stronghold, but regained it later after crushing a rebellion. However, a grass roots movement of common people rose up and re-took Munster, forcing its bishop to relent and recognize it "as a Lutheran city." 

The Anabaptists took advantage of this instability, and began sallying forth to Munster in droves, anticipating the establishment of the New Jerusalem. A young minster, Bernt Rothmann, became an Anabaptist convert, and began preaching that messianic communism was part of the primitive Christian Church, that they held all things common among them, "with no Mine and Thine and each giving according to his need." Thousands of peasants began flocking into Munster seeking reprieve from their abject poverty, while others joined at the prospect of "plundering and robbing the clergy and the richer burghers." Another preacher of communalism, Melchior Hoffman of the Netherlands, moved to Munster, bringing thousands of converts with him, who, calling himself the prophet Elias, was promptly put in jail by the Bishop. But the movement was gaining teeth, and a new prophet rose up, a baker from Haarlem named Jan Matthys, who would become the new leader of the coercive Anabaptist wing. 

He commissioned apostles to go out and baptize new converts, and re-baptize old ones. One of Matthys' converts who would prove influential was one Jan Bockelson, a troubled young man who would be instrumental in the Anabaptist take-over of Munster. After running wildly through the streets of Munster, having "apocalyptic visions," writhing and seething on the ground, and calling on everyone to repent, Bockelson helped the Anabaptists gain enough leverage to seize the town. The wealthy Lutherans, realizing that their worldly goods were on the chopping block, promptly exited, leaving Munster in the hands of the communists. The zealots began preaching that the entire world would be destroyed in less than two months, except of course for the city of Munster, which resulted in another inpouring of converts, this time to the tune of thousands. An Anabaptist majority was soon won in the city council, and Matthys relocated to Munster and assumed absolute, dictatorial control of the town, with the help of his new right-hand man, Bockelson. The stars had aligned for the Anabaptists, and as Rothbard opined, "The Great Communist Experiment could now begin." 

The first order of business was a plan to exterminate the "unclean and the ungodly." This was to be done first in Munster, to prepare the city for the advent of the New Jerusalem, and from thence stamp out sin throughout the rest of the world. However, instead of killing, the zealots decided upon driving out the heretics, who consisted of Catholics and Lutherans. This was done in February, and many women and children were forced to face the remaining winter with no warmth, no food, and no provisions. Eerily, this compulsory exodus is reminiscent of General Sherman's burning of Atlanta, Georgia during the Civil War, who, after killing scores of men, drove the women and children out of their homes and into the wilderness at the onset of winter. The Anabaptists caught the chagrin of the Bishop, who launched what would become a long siege of the city, but despite his onslaughts, the zealots established their communist regime. 

The first property cast into the common storehouse was that of the expelled "heretics," from which the poor were encouraged to take what they needed. However, the "needs" were interpreted by seven deacons appointed to oversee the redistribution. When Matthys met resistance from a Blacksmith who baulked at this new social order, the dictator made an example of him by publicly stabbing, shooting, and killing the poor soul. Other protesting miscreants were thrown in jail, and the loyal Anabaptist rank and file sang a hymn to honor the ritual killing by their new leader. With dissent crushed and fear instilled in the populace, Matthys declared that having private money was un-Christian, and after two months the city government had confiscated all currency from its citizens. All food was seized from the homes of the people, which were declared public, meaning that everyone was "permitted to quarter themselves anywhere," and Rothbard adds, "it was now illegal to close, let alone lock, doors." If citizens wanted to eat they had to meet in "communal dining-halls," where they enjoyed rationed meals while listening to readings from the Old Testament. 

With the communist experiment in full sway, the Anabaptists next attacked the freedom to read, and began a campaign against education and learning. They surmised that since the Bible equated the "unlearned" with the elect of the world, they should destroy every book they could and make possessing them a crime. To celebrate this ignorance, a mob of zealots erected a great bonfire and burned every "book and manuscript in the cathedral library," as well as every book they could lay their hands on from every private home. The only book allowed to be read was the Bible. And of course, this was all designed as a propaganda scheme to create intellectual dependence on the leaders of the Anabaptists, to ensure that their interpretations of scripture were above scrutiny and criticism. 

Matthys took courage at his new dictatorship, being both feared and adorned by his faithful subjects, he decided that God had "ordered" him to take the Bishop's armies on headlong. But, to his misfortune, God did not protect him, and as he "and a few others rushed out of the gates at the besieging army," they "were literally hacked to pieces." With Matthys out of the way, the young and ambitious Bockelson was free to pursue his politico-theocratic ascension, preaching to the people that "God will give you another Prophet who will be more powerful." And one might add more despotic, cruel, and sycophantic. After running naked through the streets of Munster, he collapsed on the ground and remained there for three days, after which he "rose again," feigning to have received visions from God directing him to head a new dispensation. This was enough to fool the trusting masses, and Bockelson was handed the reigns of the city. His first act was to restructure the city council by abolishing all the old positions and appointing a new order in their stead: a council of twelve elders who "were given total authority over life and death." Virtually every act of defiance to Bockelson and the order was now grounds for capital punishment. 

The new order conscripted the citizenry into forced labor and military service, no one was paid for anything, the economic guilds were jettisoned, and consequently, less and less was being produced. Bockelson, facing the prospect of food stores running low, turned his attention to women, and passed a law making polygamy compulsory. The ratio of women to men was three to one, as many of the expelled heretics had left their wives and daughters behind. Bockelson, like so many spiritual wifery proponents after him, cited the patriarchs of the Old Testament for justification of polygamy, and those who would not comply with the new marriage system, were of course, executed. Faithfully putting into practice his new credo, Bockelson soon amassed a harem of over a dozen wives, with his favorite one being Divara, the beautiful widow of the deceased Jan Matthys. The men in town submitted cheerfully to the new order, but many of the women baulked, and it was made a capital crime for wives to complain or quarrel over their husbands taking on new brides. But Bockelson met strong resistance and was forced to relent by allowing divorce, but after seeing his new marital system fail, he decided to scrap the whole business, outlawing marriage altogether and declaring a new system of "compulsory free love." Rothbard describes the irony of the whole matter: "And so, within the space of only a few months, a rigid puritanism had been transmuted into a regime of compulsory promiscuity."

Bockelson was a skilled organizer. His men were more regimented than the bishops irregularly paid mercenaries who were besieging the city. Skilled in rhetorical persuasion, Bockelson offered them money (remember that money was outlawed for the Munsterian citizenry) to desert and join the ranks of the Anabaptists. Many of them came under his employ, and the bishop becoming desperate had pamphlets dropped offering amnesty for the city if Bockelson surrendered. But, if any one was caught reading them, they were punished by death. The bishop, out of resources, was forced to relent on the siege, and Bockelson responded by declaring himself "king and Messiah of the Last Days." His kingship would extend to the entire world, and he was touted as a heir of king David, descending from a line whose right it was to rule (this is also where the Illuminati claims their ruling authority from). This was all confirmed by "revelation," and Bockelson ranted that God had "given him power over all nations of the earth." Despite Jesus coming before him, Bockelson asserted that he was the prophesied Messiah from the Old Testament, and anyone who dared defy him "shall without delay be put to death with the sword." If Matthys was a nutcase, Bockelson was a psychotic sociopath. There was not enough power in the world to satisfy his lusts. 

Exempt from living the forced communism of his subjects, he was free to revel in the fast declining store of goods controlled by his theocratic state. Rothbard explains that he wore the:

finest robes, metals, and jewellery... appointed courtiers and gentleman-at-arms... appearing in splendid finery... this luxurious court of some two hundred people was housed in fine mansions requisitioned for the occasion. A throne draped with a cloth of gold was established in the public square, and King Bockelson would hold court there, wearing a crown and carrying a sceptre. A royal bodyguard protected the entire procession... (Volume I, p. 157)

Bockelson and his ruling elite further ravished the impoverished citizens of Munster, confiscating 83 wagon-loads of bedding and clothing. As starvation and cold settled upon the dejected population, they began to murmur against their overlords who were enjoying luxury at their expense. But Bockelson explained this away, by declaring that since he was the Messiah he was already dead and therefore his sumptuous and riotous living didn't count. But he assured his duped subjects that they too would be enjoying the same luxury at the dawn of the millennium, which would come as soon as king Bockelson had subjugated the entire world. But as dissent ramped up, so did Bockelson's totalitarian terror, and the death penalty was enacted against any who would merely "disagree" with the divine king. Instead of conquering the rest of the world, he used the rapidly depleting treasury to send missionaries, apostles, and pamphlets to surrounding areas, but to no avail. The princes of Europe had had enough of Bockelson's antics, and "all the states of the Holy Roman Empire agreed to supply troops to crush the monstrous and hellish regime at Munster." The city was totally blockaded from the outside, and starvation become a real prospect for the elite, who confiscated the last vestiges of food and provisions from the already-starved citizenry. Rothbard writes that "the masses ate literally everything, even inedible, they could lay their hands one."

But Bockelson fed them more lies, declaring that God would save them by Easter, but when Easter came and went, he recanted and said that he meant spiritual salvation. His violence was ramped up again. Anyone caught trying to leave was beheaded, as well as those who criticized the king. Meanwhile, the Bishop once again dropped leaflets promising amnesty to those who left, and Bockelson was running out of time. Rothbard explains how the saga ends:

Bockelson would undoubtedly have let the entire population starve to death, rather than surrender; but two escapees betrayed weak spots in the town's defence, and on the night of 24 June 1535, the nightmare New Jerusalem at last came to a bloody end. The last several hundred Anabaptist fighters surrendered under an amnesty and were promptly massacred, and Queen Divara was beheaded. As for ex-King Bockelson, he was led about on a chain, and the following January, along with Knipperdollinck, was publicly tortured to death, and their bodies suspended in cages from a church tower. (Ibid, p. 159) 

I think only one verse from the Book of Mormon can sum up the sacrilege and sheer hubris of the Anabaptist debacle. It's surely mind boggling how the antics of one or two leaders can cause so much death, misery, and injustice to transpire among a group of people, especially when they base their iniquity on righteous principles found in God's word. Here is how Mormon summed up what happened with Korihor, which can be easily applied to both Matthys and Bockelson:

And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the Devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell. (Alma 16:15, RE

Early Communist Experiments in Colonial America

According to Manly P. Hall, Sir Walter Raleigh was a pupil, a follower, and an associate of Sir Francis Bacon. Both men were Rosicrusians, the branch of Freemasonry associated with Mystery Babylon, the mother of Harlots, that I've been writing about throughout this current blog series. Bacon was the author of the novel The New Atlantis, in which the plan for the New World Order, based upon Atlantean myth, is spelled out. In Hall's book, America's Assignment With Destiny, he reveals that Bacon and Raleigh, and other prominent men in their secret order (The Order of the Quest) were behind a grand scheme for the colonization of America, where, they hoped that someday the philosophical Atlantis would "rise up out of the sea." This philosophical empire would be ruled by ten kings, in a "democracy" that would be based upon Plato's writings. But anyone who reads all that Plato wrote will find out that he was statist and a communist, and by "democracy" Bacon and his cohorts really meant a one-world totalitarian socialist state.

According to Murray Rothbard (in his book series Conceived in Liberty), the first settlements in America were organized by companies granted monopoly privilege from the English crown. This mercantilist system was the British tradition during the proceeding spice trade frenzy. Merchants who had connections to the crown would petition for grants (taken from the taxes paid by the peasants) for voyages for seeking new trade routes or exploring new lands. The new discoveries of lands and resources would be divided up between merchants and royalty, and this cozy relationship ensured the propagation of the British Empire throughout the world. Sir Walter Raleigh obtained such a monopoly grant in 1585 for exploration and settlement in the new world. Led by painter John White, the settlers landed off the coast of North Carolina, on the island of Roanoke. However, they were cut off from communication from England because of the battle with the Spanish Armada, and upon White's return a few years later, not a living soul was found, and it was assumed they had been massacred by natives. 

Raleigh sold his rights to the monopoly to other merchants, and by 1612 the Crown had granted charters for two more companies: the Virginia Company and the East India Company. These were financed by an increase in taxes, which was protested by Sir Edwin Sandys of the House of Commons, who persuaded Parliament to reject any further legislation to increase taxes. However, the Crown's response was to dissolve Parliament and imprison Sandys. According to Hall, Francis Bacon become a member of the Virginia Company in 1609, and its charter included extending its boundaries to the California coast. The various members of the company ranged from liberals, to patriots, to imperialists, which Hall asserts was the "real source of the Revolution of 1775." Hall reveals that it was Bacon himself who drew up the charters of the proposed government under the Virginia Company, which he called the "germ of the Constitution of the United States." However, the Virginia Colony in Jamestown turned out to be a dire failure, simply because it was an experiment in compulsory communism, with no incentive for its settlers to enjoy the fruits of their labors. 

Rothbard adds that the bulk of the settlers that came with the Virginia Company were indentured servants, bound by seven year contracts of "voluntary servitude." But as Rothbard shows, these servants were actually slaves, consisting of "vagrants and criminals" (taken from English prisons) and even kidnapped children from the indigent. Rothbard explains:
Furthermore, many of the indentures were compulsory and not voluntary - for example, those involving political prisoners, imprisoned debtors, and kidnapped children of the English lower classes. The children were kidnapped by professional "spirits" or "crimps" and sold to the colonists. (Conceived in Liberty, p. 48)

The colony arrived in Virginia in May of 1607, and by that fall over 70% were dead. This alarmingly high death rate continued for several years. The owners of the company were the overlords of the settlers, even though each one was promised a grant of 100 acres of land and a portion of the company stock by the end of the seven years. As the coerced communism failed, the charter would slowly add more incentives to the settlers, but this was a slow process, and Rothbard explains that by 1609:

The colony was still being run on "communist" principles - each person contributed the fruit of his labor according to his ability to a common storehouse run by the company, and form this common store each received produce according to his need. And this was a communism not voluntarily contracted by the colonists themselves, but imposed upon them by their master, the Virginia Company, the receiver of the arbitrary land grant for the territory. 

The result of this communism was what we might expect: each individual gained only a negligible amount of goods from his own exertions - since the fruit of all these went into the common storehouse - and hence had little incentive to work or to exercise initiative or ingenuity under the difficult conditions in Virginia. And this lack of incentive was doubly reinforced by the fact that the colonist was assured, regardless of how much or how well he worked, of an equal share of goods from the common store. Under such conditions, with the motor of incentive gone from each individual, even the menace of death and starvation for the group as a whole - and even a veritable reign of terror by the governors - could not provide the necessary spur for each particular man. (Ibid, p. 49) 

The settlers were ruled by martial law, as exacted on them by the company. Captain John Smith, the "hero" romanticized by the story of Pocahontas, was one of their virtual dictators, exercising "justice" on them by his own decree. Sir Thomas Gates was another of their punitive masters, appointed governor by the company in 1609. Some of the crimes punishable by death included:

trading with Indians without a license, killing cattle and poultry without a license, escape from the colony, and persistent refusal to attend church. One of the most heinous acts was apparently running away from this virtual prison to the supposedly savage Indian natives; captured runaway colonists were executed by hanging, shooting, burning, or being broken on the wheel. (Ibid, p. 49)

The recalcitrant colonists rebelled, as one might expect in such a harsh environment. And after governor Gates was obliged to appoint bodyguards for his safety, they ramped up the strictness. A new rule forced every man and women to attend Anglican church service twice a day (and I thought once a week in a three-hour block was bad). Consequences for absences increased with each truancy; after the first food was withheld, the second come with a public whipping, and the third sent the troublemaker to work in the galleys for six months. In addition to the threats of violence for playing hookey, the settlers were expected to fully submit to ecclesiastical leaders. Failure to subordinate themselves by "placing themselves under the minister's instructions," resulted in more whipping. And worse yet, if one criticized the "Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England," one could be expect to be tortured to death. 

At length, the colony came under the partial Puritan leadership of Sir Edwin Sandys, who in 1619 replaced Sir Thomas Smith as treasurer. Sandys was the same man who had protested taxes and monopoly privilege in Parliament a decade earlier. Sandys began a transformation in Jamestown that led to increased economic freedom and religious tolerance. He also advocated for the abolishment of the "singe plantation" in favor of "private plantations." After a new Puritan governor, Sir George Yeardley was appointed, church attendance requirements decreased to only twice on Sundays, with absences punishable by a small fine of three schillings, and land that was promised at the end of the seven years was immediately granted to the occupants. As one might expect, incentive levels skyrocketed, and as one colonist remarked, their labors were followed with "alacrity and industry, so that":

within the space of three years, our country flourished... the plenty of these times likewise was such that all men generally were sufficiently furnished with corn, and many also had plenty of cattle, swine, poultry, and other good provisions to nourish them. (Ibid, p. 51)

The next great colonial communistic disaster was none other than the Plymouth Colony, inaugurated by a partnership between the South Virginia Company and a few London merchants. The new venture, John Peirce and Associates, received a grant in 1620 from the Virginia Company, and laid out a plan for the pilgrims who signed up with them. Each settler was promised, again at the end of seven years, a share of the joint-stock, along with the opportunity to further invest 10 pounds for each additional share, the profits of which would be divided up among them after the appointed time. Like Jamestown before them, they determined to live in communalism until the seven years was up, "with each settler contributing his all to the common store and each drawing his needs from it - again, a system of from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

The 100 plus pilgrims sailing across the Atlantic on the Mayflower landed in Plymouth in December of 1620. However, a provisional government had to be establishment while the ship was still at sea, as many of the indentured servants were anxious to shirk their contracts and try their luck at freedom in the new land. In this they were repulsed, as a minority of pilgrims were able to form a "body politic" to control the majority, and thus the "first government of the new world was formed," a government that was in no way independent from England. By the end of the first winter the communistic experiment had claimed over half of the lives of the colonists. And by 1621, John Peirce managed to obtained another patent from the Council of New England, granting each settler 100 acres of land. However, the practice of communism continued until 1623, when the settlers were finally allowed to keep the fruits of working their own land. William Bradford, who had governed the colony since 1621, recounts in his own words the results of allowing this new autonomy: 

At length after much debate, the Governor, with the advice of the chief among them, allowed each man to plant corn for his own household, and to trust themselves for that; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. So every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number with that in view... This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been... The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability; and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The failure of this experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times, - that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in the community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men's wives and children, without any recompense. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice...

As for men's wives who were obliged to do service for other men, such as cooking, washing, their clothes, etc., they considered it a kind of slavery, and many husbands would not brook it... If (it was thought) all were to share alike, and all were to do alike, then all were on an equality throughout, and one was as good as another; and so, if it did not actually abolish those very relations which God himself has set among them, it did at least greatly diminish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved among them. (William Bradford Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 116, emphasis added)

Despite Bradford's eloquent summation of the failures of such a communistic system, he still believed that it was the people, not the system, that were responsible for its demise. He writes:

Let none argue that this is due to human failing, rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself. I answer, seeing that all men have this failing in them, that God in His wisdom saw another plan of life was fitter for them. (Ibid, p. 116)

This last comment is interesting to say the least, because, as I will reveal later in an ancient text that has been recently published, the Patriarchal Fathers lived successfully in a communal system of shared property. However, I believe the main difference between theirs and the communist experiments I have written about so far boils down to one thing: free agency. 

Around the time Joseph Smith was consorting with the angel Moroni (or Nephi depending on what source you read), another communistic experiment was being attempted in the town of New Harmony, Indiana, by socialist advocate Robert Owen. This one was also a failure, but for different reasons than Jamestown and Plymouth; the added ingredient of free agency present in Owen's utopia, was by itself not enough to ensure success. Owen had gained his wealth from investing in and managing a spinning mill in New Lanark, Scotland, which he used to purchase a small town in Indiana along the Wabash river. The town, named Harmony, had been previously owned by George Rapp, a German pietist who founded a religion called the Harmony Society, consisting of Lutheran Separatists who believed in Christian theosophy. Rapp and his followers emigrated from Germany in 1804 and purchased land to build a town in Pennsylvania. They established a religious commune with strict requirements, with celibacy being the main tenet. After a decade of economic prosperity Rapp sold the town and purchased new territory in Indiana, which he sold to Owen in 1825. 

Owen had become an advocate for social reform in the early 1800s. He railed against what he considered a tripartite evil: religion, the family, and private property. In his proposed socialistic utopia, he agitated for the abolishment of religion, the rearing of children by the community, or government, and the sharing of all property into one communal pool. He began his social experiment upon the purchase of Harmony, which he redundantly renamed, New Harmony. Owen was not the violent or totalitarian type; those that came to live in New Harmony were not subject to whippings, forced labor or public execution (which would not have been allowed in the state of Indiana). He attracted a cadre of astute intellectuals, artists, and scientists, among them were Thomas Say, Charles-Alexandre Leseur, Madame Duclos Fretageot, and William Maclure, a wealthy Scottish philanthropist who would become Owen's partner. The problem with Owen's society, is that there were too many theorists and not enough laborers. As a result, the experiment ended within two years. But Owen's legacy lived on, and other communal experiments erupted throughout the country, all of them ending with a similar fate. Owen even caught the attention of Karl Marx and Frederic Engels, who mentioned him in their writings. 

Even though Owen had never actually seen a communal society succeed, he continued to advocate for socialism throughout his life. After his return to England, he published a personal manifesto in the early 1840s, in which he described the idiosyncrasies of his philosophic socialism. He became more aggressive in advocating for state-sponsored socialism, in contrast to the voluntary kind he attempted in New Harmony. These later writings are imbued with a kind of messianic aura, painting socialism as a mystical institution that would become the harbinger of human hope and happiness. But like many socialistic theorists before and after him, Owen neglected to include himself as part of the broken system in need of fixing. It is easy to insert your theoretical ideas as the answer for what other people should do, while continuing to live an imperfect life like everyone else. Karl Marx was the ultimate example, he hardly worked a day in his life, incessantly borrowing money from the wealthy Engels, which he used to espouse his ideas while neglecting his wife and children to the point that they were starving. 

The Book of Mormon has the answers for this theoretical dilemma. The text insists that priests are no better than their listeners. A priest can be anyone, not just a member of Christ's church, who promulgates any idea or philosophy, whatever it may be. The priests, after they are done flapping their jaws on their proverbial soapbox, should return to their labors. In other words, everybody works, both priest and teacher, listener and saint. Thus, at least one magic ingredient in Zion is labor, where rhetoric is put into actual practice. No one will be above hard work.  No one will sit and theorize while living on the labors of others. Murray Rothbard would often say that socialism doesn't work, simply because no one is willing to take the proverbial garbage out. There is no incentive to do so. There is no reward. In Owen's society, everyone was so focused on science, art, and philosophy, that they neglected the mundane labor necessary to sustain them. And without proper incentive, that labor will not get done. 

God has decreed that labor is a necessary ingredient for Zion. He has explicitly stated that we should not be idle, for the idler "shall not eat the bread, nor wear the garment of the laborer." In socialism, one builds and another inhabits, one sows and another reaps. Zion will not be a socialistic society, the communalism it will embrace will be based on individual labor and incentive. Only after the needs of the individual and his family are satisfied will the extra goods be pooled into a common storehouse, and they will be placed there voluntarily. Isaiah has prophesied that those in Zion will enjoy the fruits of their own labors, the system he is describing is the opposite of socialism. He writes:

And they shall build houses and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit, they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, my elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. (Isaiah 24:9, RE)

The Failure of the Early Latter-Day Saints

The first attempt by the Mormons to live the Law of Consecration was in the early 1830s. The scripture (T&C 26:7-8) I included at the beginning of this post spells out the requirements. Basically, the gist is that the Lord owns everything, and the people are made stewards over their earthly possessions, which are given to them by God. They were to consecrate this property by deed to the Church, and every year turn in any surplus production (beyond the needs of immediate family) for the benefit of the poor. The system was totally voluntary, and anyone who left the Church, moved away, or was excommunicated was given back their consecrated properties. This was not a communistic system, the private property of the individual was left in his hands as part of the stewardship, and he was free to engage in the market system to increase his yield. Although properties were turned over to the bishop for redistribution, the surplus was controlled by common consent. Edward Partridge explained it this way:
I will tell you that every man must be his own judge how much he should receive and how much he should suffer to remain in the hands of the Bishop. I speak of those who consecrate more than they need for the support of themselves and their families.

The matter of consecration must be done by the mutual consent of both parties; for to give the Bishop the power to say how much every man shall have, and he be obliged to comply with the Bishop's judgment, is giving the Bishop more power than a king has; an upon the other hand, to let every man say how much he needs, and the Bishop be obliged to comply with his judgment, is to throw Zion into confusion, and make a slave of the Bishop. The fact is, there must be a balance or equilibrium of power, between the Bishop and the people, and thus harmony and good will may be preserved among you. (Documentary History of the Church; 1:749) 

By the end of the 1830s, the Saints had abandoned consecration. Many factors led to its demise, ranging from the wealthier families' reluctance to hand over their property to the Church, to the opposition they faced from angry mobs in Kirtland and Missouri. In March of 1840, Joseph Smith announced to the Church that the Lord had rescinded the commandment to practice consecration. The Joseph Smith Papers state:

He said that the Law of consecration could not be kept here, & that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist from trying to keep it, & if persisted in if it would produce a perfect abortion, & that he assumed the wholesale responsibility of not keeping it until proposed by himself. (Quoted on Denver Snuffer's blog here, JS Papers, Documents Vol. 7, p. 215)

I took this quote from Denver Snuffer's blog, who commented that the revelation still applies today, and that "it will require a new command from the Lord to resume the attempt." However, an interesting look into Mormon history reveals that the Brighamite Church attempted to resurrect the Law of Consecration in the 1870s, which became known as the United Order, or the Order of Enoch. 

Brigham Young's sudden infatuation with the United Order was accompanied by some interesting "coincidental" economic factors that were coming into play in Utah. Up until the completion of transcontinental railroads, Mormons enjoyed an advantageous position of trade with gold rushers. Anxious to get to California, they sold their Eastern goods low and paid high prices for commodities produced in Utah. But the coming of the railroads changed all that. The diversity of "Gentiles" flooding into the territory brought new competition into Salt Lake valley. Non-Mormon merchants began thriving as they established businesses that catered to both Mormon and Gentile (I use the word sardonically, ironically, the Mormons were also Gentiles) alike. The leaders of the Church began losing their social and economic stronghold on the Latter-Day Saints.  

Young began making protectionist efforts to keep money flowing between Mormons and thus into the hierarchy of the Church. In the late 1850s, he commissioned apostle Lorenzo Snow and fifty chosen families to hie up to Box Elder Settlement to establish a system of cooperative living. This would later become Brigham City, and by 1864 Snow had established the Brigham City Mercantile and Manufacturing Association, a company starting out with $3K in working capital and 5 stockholders (Snow one of them) to invest in local manufacturing and home industries. Over time the stockholders grew along with the capital, and the investors could draw on yearly dividends. This created an incentive to keep industry in the hands of Latter-Day Saints, and it worked. However, it wasn't a purely "grassroots" company, as obviously it was financed by tithing funds; Lorenzo snow being a paid apostle. In that sense, the cooperative in Brigham City was centralized, but it served as a precedent for the United Order a decade later. 

Another protectionist scheme espoused by Brigham was the creation of ZCMI in Salt Lake City, or Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution, incorporated in 1870. It was established by a vote from the Council of Fifty, funded with tithing funds, and open to Mormon investors who were full tithe payers. Of the 1900 shares of original stock, 1772 were held by just four men, beholden of course to the LDS hierarchy. ZCMI fared sumptuously, and become a market force in the sale of boots, shoes, work clothes, building materials, fabric, needles, food preservation products, furniture, draperies, and even beauty products. Church leaders didn't just encourage Mormons to shop at ZCMI outlets, they demanded it, sometimes with vague spiritual threats. And as you can imagine, this lead to opposition from both Mormons and Gentiles. The leaders were able to stem the tide for a time, but when the Panic of 1873 came they had to raise the ante: it was time to reintroduce the United Order. 

In the October 1873 General Conference, a torrent of talks were unleashed on the hapless Mormon listeners lauding the glorious Order of Enoch. Subsequent speaking campaigns were undertaken by apostles and other leaders in St. George and surrounding settlements. Brigham Young went so far as to even threaten the very salvation of the Saints if they failed to comply, asserting that God had again commanded them to live the United Order, which:

superseded the law of tithing. The Order of Enoch was revealed at an early day, and the Saints being unprepared to enter into it at that time, the Lord introduced the law of tithing as a lower principle or law, which had continued to the present, and now God had again revealed the above Order for our observance, to prepare us for the greater things that were close upon us. (Quoted in The Second United Order Among the Mormons, by Edward J. Allen, New York, 1936, p. 96, emphasis added)

Of course, this was in direct defiance of Joseph's revelation to abrogate the practice 40 years earlier, but Brigham was considered a "prophet" by now, and could use his influence to hint to a revelation by God, which by the way, was never written down anywhere. At the end of his life, which came a few years after the order was reintroduced, he lamented that he'd never seen the Savior or received any revelation from God to direct the Church, but that he was a "Yankee guesser." He surmised that perhaps if he held out until he was eighty, like Moses he would finally be allowed to behold the Savior:

If I am faithful until I am eighty years of age, perhaps the Lord will appear to me and personally dictate me in the management of his church and people... (Brigham Young's Telestial Kingdom, Denver Snuffer; 2012)

That personal appearance never came, but Young wasn't above using his clout to persuade Church members to comply to his whimsical and ambitious leadership practices. He also asserted that God would curse the Saints if they weren't "disposed" to enter the Order:

If we are disposed to enter into the Order of Enoch, now is the accepted time and blessed are the Latter-Day Saints. But if we are not disposed to enter this order the curses of God will come upon this people, I cannot help it. I will not curse them. But the time has come for this work to be commenced. (The Second United Order... p. 50-51)

The Saints complied, voluntary orders sprung up all over the Utah territory, varying greatly in scope. Some towns incorporated farming or industrial cooperatives like Brigham City, and others jumped full-on into voluntary communism. Like the Owen experiment, no one was coerced, and some towns experienced success for the first few years, the most famous being Orderville. 

Orderville was founded by a group of Saints who desired to go far beyond what Joseph and even Brigham envisioned for the Law of Consecration. They wanted a completely communal society with no private property at all. In 1875, a rift broke out in Kanab and surrounding areas between the communalists and those who supported the less prohibitive cooperative system. The debate become so intense in Mt. Carmel that a group of communal dissenters broke off and traveled two miles northeast to a previously abandoned settlement they renamed Orderville. They wasted no time in establishing their communal order, where they enjoyed a common dining hall and uniform clothing and housing. Every activity in town was regulated by a common board elected by the people. This board oversaw farming, manufacturing, entertainment, clothing production, schooling, and cooking for common meals. The board was controlled by polygamous men, and women no longer had the freedom to run the relief society as they pleased. Their service which included cooking, sewing, etc., had to be limited to assignments issued by the men.

Despite centralized control of virtually everything in the town, the Orderville Saints actually prospered economically. They quadrupled the net worth of the town in the first four years, and by 1883 they were worth $80K. But due to external and internal pressures the leaders of the town had to make changes. Wages had to adjusted for sex and age, as some produced more than others. This trend continued, and after a flood destroyed the dining hall in 1880, Erastus Snow advised them to move to a quasi-private system consisting of unequal wages and partial stewardships, which included a plot of land for each family to use for their own economic ends. Orderville began to move from communalism to the cooperative systems that were popular in other Utah towns. And after Church leaders came under the scrutiny of the polygamy banning Edmunds Act of 1882, they counseled members to disband the orders. By 1889, all communal or cooperative ownership in Orderville was ended; the great communal experiment was over.  

Edward J. Allen, writing in 1936 from a non-member perspective, offers this analysis of the Orderville success:

Reports of progress in the Order are almost entirely lacking for this period and after 1880 there is no mention of the Order in the Journal of Discourses. Yet the communistic endeavors of the brethren of Orderville were being blessed with prosperity. From its inception to the close of 1882 the community had been operated as a united family. Each drew upon the common fund and all surpluses and indebtedness were cancelled at the end of each year and all began again on equal footing. This arrangement, coupled with an increasing abundance of goods, assured all of economic security. The stimuli for arduous endeavor were the approbation of one's fellow and the reward of one's conscious. This was sufficient for many of the original settlers, but the young men saw and heard of the progress of successful individuals in the competitive outside world. They and others in the community desired the opportunity of receiving rewards in proportion to their productivity. This problem was presented to Erastus Snow in the quarterly conference at Mt. Carmel. He advised the brethren to disband. (The Second United Order Among the Mormons, by Edward J. Allen, New York, 1936, p. 113)

Allen's commentary brings up some interesting questions. Despite Orderville being centrally controlled by a patriarchy, their voluntary communism was a success, at least for the first four years. Up until 1882, the entire town consisted of one "united family," which could have been a key to their initial success. But the outside temptations of capitalistic endeavor were too great for the young men, those who had the strongest backs and could produce the most labor. As Allen suggests, the original altruistic idealism the community began with gave way to the individual avarice that accompanies market systems. This begs the question: what is the correct balance between these two extremes that worked for Enoch and Melchizedek? There has to be incentive for people to produce goods and services, but in a Zion society there has to be a mechanism for caring for the poor. 

Indeed, for God to call a place Zion there would have to be no distinction at all between rich and poor. How is such a societal status achieved? What makes sense to me, and what Denver has suggested, is that it will take a new revelation from God to find out how to live this order. But in the meantime, also as Denver has suggested, we can practice by meeting in fellowships and pooling tithing money together to help those with the most pressing temporal needs. This is the first step, and will require those involved to have the attitude of what they can give, rather than what they can get out of the practice. And unlike the structure of the early LDS Church, there will be no centralized authority, i.e., a bishop or an elected board, in charge of redistribution. Every soul who contributes will be part of that process, no one will be a leader, no one will take charge. This will take extreme effort, because let's face it, it's easier to place the burden of leadership on one person rather than sharing equally in it. Most people prefer being told what to do, rather they admit it or not, simply because they don't want the responsibility that autonomy entails. 

There is another text we can draw from to learn about how to have "all things common," as prescribed by the Lord. Awhile back a friend of mine recommended that I check out a Christian author named Zen Garcia. He has a YouTube channel and has written over thirty books in the last twenty years, all of which you can find at this website. He is a very humble man, confined to a wheelchair, and is an expert on apocryphal texts. I have to admit, this guy has blown my mind on a number of occasions. I believe he is definitely led by the Spirit, and is making invaluable contributions to the Christian movement. Truth is beginning to poured out on the earth as a flood, and as evil ramps up in preparation for the Beast system, God will bolster His saints with restored knowledge that will increase their faith and steadfastness to resist that system. I believe Zen, Denver, and a host of others are part of that process. Before I close this post, we'll lightly explore one of these ancient texts that mentions having all things common. 

The Book of the Order of the Ancients

Zen Garcia has compiled two ancient texts into one book, The Book of the Order of the Ancients (click here for a hard copy and here for the kindle version) consisting of The Book of the Order of Elijah and the Writings of Abraham. I cannot find the source for the book of Elijah but the Writings of Abraham are said to have been discovered as a papyrus scroll in Egypt in 1831. I read the whole book in just a few hours, I couldn't put it down. It resonates considerably with the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible and Mormon theology in general, in fact, some verses are almost identical. Some of the concepts Elijah and Abraham write about are the Holy Order of God, the Patriarchal Fathers, the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Powers of Heaven, the Order of Enoch, the Schools of the Prophets, the Law of Consecration, Zion, seeing the face of God, the Everlasting Covenants, the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, sons of Perdition, the Atonement, law of witnesses, and more. The language and style of writing is very similar to the Book of Mormon; it is has the feel of a restored gospel text. 

The main theme of Elijah's book (by the way, it says that he has a future ministry) is the Holy Order of God. This is the ancient order of the Patriarchal Fathers beginning with Adam and ending with Noah, Shem (who is Melchizedek), and Abraham. For those who have read and studied Denver's talks and writings over the last decade, this material will resonate with what he has taught. The Holy Order is the ancient religion of the Fathers, it is what Joseph Smith was attempting to restore. It is the only true religion, not an organized institution, but rather a practice confined to families and small groups. In my next post I am going to delve deeper into the Holy Order, and how Satan has imitated it with the orders of various secret societies. For now there are just a few references from the text about communal living that I find interesting. 

Elijah's record is addressed to his son Elisha, and is basically an instruction manual on the requirements to enter into and live the Holy Order of God. One of those requirements is living the Law of Consecration. Elijah writes:

Everyone who desireth to enter the Order of Enoch must be one who loveth the Lord his God with all his heart, might, mind and strength and one who loveth his fellowman as himself, according to the word of the Lord through Moses. 

He must covenant to live the law of consecration and to hold all things common with his brethren according to the pattern set by our First Parents, for when they came forth from the garden they divided not up the land but held it in common until their posterity through wickedness began to lay claim to it for themselves. 

Behold, this private ownership of the property came to pass through the teachings of that evil combination which was organized by Cain that men might get gain for themselves because the love of God and man is not in them. (The Book of the Order of the Ancients, Kindle version, p. 13, emphasis added) 

When I first read that line about private property being a concept derived from Cain and secret combinations, I was shocked. I am a libertarian, to me private property is a foundational tenet of freedom. I must admit that this text is challenging my paradigm, but there is a higher law at play here, and it is not communism, at least not the Marxian type. Elijah goes on to explain that this communal living is a requirement to build Zion:

To live after the order of the ancients means that they must live in the community of God's elect, holding all things common and loving one another as themselves.

Yea, they must unite in one heart and one mind, for only thus can Zion be built up in its perfect order and the name of our God be glorified. (Ibid, p. 13)

Now we already know that holding all things common is a requirement for Zion from the Book of Mormon and the Bible, but Elijah's record is another witness of this, and adds more detail about what it actually means. It has something to do with the land. He says that Adam and Eve did not divide up the land but held it in common for their posterity. Obviously, the land has to be worked by someone to produce its yield, therefore, a person has to be made a steward over a certain parcel of that land, otherwise, chaos would ensue. The revelation Joseph Smith received on the Law of Consecration was probably similar in the methodology to the ancient order. There has to be stewards or no one would know what section of land to work, otherwise, everyone would be tripping over each other.  

In the Writings of Abraham it also mentions having all things common. Abraham tells the story of his childhood, which is also told in the Book of Jasher. His father, Terah, was a big-shot in the kingdom of Nimrod, and when Abraham was born the mystics and sorcerers in Shinar predicted that the child would grow and eventually destroy Nimrod's kingdom. Nimrod ordered Terah to bring him the child so he could kill it, but Terah brought a different child and Abraham left with his mother and hid in a cave. After a decade in the cave he went to live with Noah and Shem and was instructed in the Holy Order and the Gospel of Christ for the next thirty-nine years. Eventually, Abraham is commanded by the Lord to leave and go on a mission to Egypt, where he converts Pharaoh and his entire household to the Gospel. That is why, centuries later, the Egyptian Pharaohs had a semblance of the Holy Order but corrupted it into the Egyptian Mystery Schools. 

Abraham had twelve wives before he met Sarah, which is another part of the record I struggle with. Hopefully it is a mistranslation or an interpolation. From these wives he had 300 daughters but no sons, which sounds a little ridiculous. Nevertheless, he and his family, and extended family lived in communalism, where they shared their flocks, lands, and cattle. Lot, his nephew, was a part of this group. Abraham explains that Lot left the group to have his own property in Sodom where he built his own house. This grieved Abraham, but Lot was still considered a righteous man even though he wasn't obedient to the Order. In fact, he was the only righteous man found in Sodom, and was the only reason God spared it long enough to save him. Abraham writes:

Now after our departure from Egypt, a faction arose among our people upon seeing the great wealth which Pharaoh had entrusted to us, for they desired property which they could call their own. 

Lot also was among them, which thing grieved me greatly, but seeing they would not be reconciled, we gave unto them a portion of the common property and they departed from us under Lot's direction and settled in the Valley of the Jordan River. 

They went from place to place as their flocks needed pasture until they reached the city of Sodom where they mingled with the inhabitants and become one with them. 

Lot also built a house in Sodom and settled there, but of all that company that went out from us, only Lot maintained his integrity and did not violate the covenants of his priesthood nor bow to heathen idol gods. 

Nevertheless, Lot did not walk perfectly in the way of the Fathers for he dwelt not among the people of God but built his own house and he coveted his own property that he should govern it rather than holding all things common with the saints. 

Nevertheless, Lot did continue to serve the Lord and the Lord loved him and his family and his property grew very large. (Ibid, p. 141) 

This is an example of how one can voluntarily choose to leave the Order of Enoch and still be considered a righteous person. It is purely a higher law, never coerced or compulsory foisted upon the followers of Christ. But it is a requirement for Zion, and unless there is a people gathered together living this law in a place called the New Jerusalem, the whole earth will be utterly wasted at Christ's second coming.  I really do not think that the Law of Consecration will diminish freedom or liberty in any significant way. I think the main difference between the Lord's idea of communal living and individualistic private property is that those who enter the Order will choose not let greed and avarice get the best of them. There will still be incentive, those who labor will certainly enjoy the fruits of that labor, as Isaiah has asserted, but the "abundance" that will come will be pooled into a common store to care for the poor. Until eventually, there will be no poor, and no rich, and thoughts of individual pursuit of economic gain will pale in comparison of loving and taking care of each other. Perhaps ultimately, there will be no distinction between his, hers, theirs, and ours, and the very thought of even one person going without will be too much to bear. Maybe the point is that there are no rules of how this system will function, maybe the Lord just wants us to figure it out ourselves. 

I want to leave you with one more verse from the book of Elijah. This is about his future ministry to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. Maybe, just maybe, part of Elijah's mission is to instruct us in how to live the Holy Order, including the Law of Consecration. This is just a hunch, but we know he will be some kind of link between us and the Fathers, and if we want their Zion to come down and meet our Zion, we will have to be living the same law: 

For the Lord hath said, behold, my servant Elijah shall not die but shall bear with him the keys of his ministry unto the heavenly city until the last days when I shall send him unto one of his seed whom I shall raise up to bear the fullness of this ministry among the sons of men. (Ibid, p. 11)

Stay turned for Part VII: the Holy Order.

Postscript: Recommended Videos

Here is a lecture from Murray Rothbard on the history of messianic communism. He covers all that I summarized from his book and some interesting things about Karl Marx at the end:

And here are two videos from Zen Garcia on the Book of the Order of the Ancients, one from six years ago and one from two years ago:

And here are two talks from Denver Snuffer on Zion where he briefly touches on having all things common:

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