Sunday School Lesson 35

July 30, 2005 | 20 comments
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Lesson 35: Doctrine & Covenants 4:3-7, 18:10-16, 52:40, 81:5-6, 138:58

The historical relevant to this week’s lesson is the experience and rescue of the Martin and Willie handcart companies. As you read the scriptures for this week, ask yourself what they have to do with that event. As you think about that event, recall this from President Hinckley:

Stories of the beleaguered Saints and of their suffering and death will be repeated again and again. [. . .] Stories of their rescue need to be repeated again and again. They speak of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (October Conference, 1996; Ensign Nov. 1996, 86)

President Hinckley might say the same thing or something very similar about many of the events of early Church history. Why do we need to repeat those stories? A friend of mine recently wrote a short tongue-in-cheek essay about the stupid things his ancestors did. The point was to wonder why we glorify the Willie and Martin handcart companies when their story is a story of what happens when people make bad choices. Why is that story and the other stories like it important to us?

Section 4

Verse 3: Why is having the desire to serve God enough to make us called to the work? What is “the work”?

Verse 4: Why is the work of the gospel often compared reaping a field? How does the image in this section compare to other, related images in the scriptures? For example, how does it compare to the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3-8) or the Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26-29)? Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 says that the spirit and the body of man are the soul. Is that the definition that applies here? If so, what does this verse promise?

Verse 5: Why does this verse speak of both charity and love? In most cases, they mean the same thing? Are they distinct things here or is the Lord repeating the same thing in different ways in order to emphasize it? What does it mean to have one’s eye single to the glory of God? When is my eye not single to his glory? Compare this qualification with the promise made in Doctrine and Covenants 88:67.

Verse 6: As we did with Doctrine and Covenants 107:30-31, compare this list to 2 Peter 1:5-9. What does that comparison tell us about the qualifications for the work and about the goal of the work? Why do you think the Doctrine and Covenants implicitly refers to these verses in 2 Peter so often?

Verse 7: How do you square this verse with the fact that all of us have had the experience of asking and not receiving what we asked for? What does it mean to knock and to have “it” opened? In other words, what is promised and how do we obtain that promise?

Section 18

What do these verses have to do with things like the rescued of the handcart companies?

Verse 10: How do you think we should understand the word “soul” here? Why is the worth of souls great in God’s sight?

Verse 11: This verse begins with the word “for,” as if what follows explains what was said in the previous verse. Does it explain that verse or does verse 10 explain verse 11? Why does this say “suffered death in the flesh” rather than “suffered death”? Why is Jesus called by his title “Redeemer” in this verse? Does “suffered the pain of all men” mean “suffered all the pain of each person” or does it mean “suffered the pains that all men suffer”? How would you justify your answer? Does Christ’s behavior when he suffered in the Garden and on the cross give us a type of what our relation to our fellow human beings should be?

Verse 12: We often speak of the resurrection making possible our resurrection. Here, however, we are taught that the resurrection makes possible our return to the Savior. What is the connection between these two teachings? Does the necessity of resurrection tell us anything about why ministring to the poor and the afflicted is so important in the Gospel?

Verse 13: If we understand the word “soul” to mean “body and spirit,” how do we repent bodily?

Verse 14: How do we cry repentance to others?

Section 52

Verse 40: In what ways did Christ remember the poor, the needy, the sick, and the afflicted? The word “disciple” and “discipline” have the same verb as a root, meaning “to learn” or “to understand.” As a noun, the word first meant, “someone who puts his mind to something.” What does it mean that we are the disciples of Christ? How does helping those who are poor, needy, sick, or afflicted demonstrate our discipleship?

Section 81

Verses 5-6: How are being faithful, standing in our appointed offices, and succoring the weak parallel to each other? What do these things have to do with being faithful to the end?

Section 138

Verse 58: What does this verse have to do with the theme of our lesson?

20 Responses to Sunday School Lesson 35

  1. Samuel on July 31, 2005 at 1:17 am

    “In what ways did Christ remember the poor, the needy, the sick, and the afflicted?”

    Yes, Jesus ministered to the poor and downtrodden. That is why the Church is investing $1billion dollars in building a shopping mall.

  2. Robert C. on July 31, 2005 at 12:03 pm

    Which helps create many jobs, many of which are for minimum wage workers, which could be considered part of the poor and downtrodden. Is that where you were going with your comment Samuel?

  3. Samuel on July 31, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    The church spends its money on real estate schemes, with no open books, no transparency, no accountability. And tax-free status. And requires tithing without identifying where the funds go.

    We are told that “no tithing funds” were used. 1) How did they get the investment capital to start with? – (tithing). 2) How would we know if it were used?

    A church isn’t an investment vehicle, it is an organization that ministers, openly and transparently, to those who need help. Instead we have a corporation run by MBAs.

  4. Julie in Austin on July 31, 2005 at 5:31 pm

    “Schemes” is such a neutral word, Samuel.

    Seriously, though, the scriptures speak frequently of our need to develop trust. I think the lack of transparency in handling Church finances (especially by contrast with a world where we expect to get on the net to find out the gory details of every politician and corporation’s financial situation) may be an occasion where the Saints have an opportunity to determine if they trust their leaders.

    There was a comment once, somewhere, in the bloggernacle that resonated with me: the commenter said that his duty was to pay his tithing, and if the GAs wanted to use 100$ bills to heat the temple, well, that was their business. He’d still pay his tithing because he was commanded to, and he’d leave it to the Lord to judge any mismanagement. I think this is an important idea: even if we knew our money was wasted, we still are obligated to pay tithing.

    In this case, though, I don’t think it is wasted, for the reasons mentioned above.

  5. Samuel on July 31, 2005 at 6:44 pm

    “even if we knew our money was wasted, we still are obligated to pay tithing.”

    So the Lord is happy for you to have your money wasted? You are under no such obligation to pay tithing to any organization that doesn’t use it in a manner consistent with its spiritual mission.

    What a frightening thing to say. It also is the recipe for, yes, corruption. That is the way of the world. Blind obedience is not what the Lord wants.

    If the church has nothing to hide, then open its books so that the membership can decide if the money is being spent properly. And I don’t think shopping malls will be on the top of the list.

  6. Julie in Austin on July 31, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    Samuel–

    Can you show me the scripture or other authoritative statement that teaches that our duty to pay tithing ends if the managers of the funds are corrupt?

    As far as shopping malls, let’s be clear that the Church is spending the money ON malls, not IN malls. Malls seem like bastions of bubble-gum consumerism, so maybe we wouldn’t want to spend our money there (I don’t), but they provide the low-skilled starter jobs that mean a lot of young people, immigrants, etc. In this case, the mall also helps keep a downtown area vitalized; if allowed to fall into disrepair, a downtown area will suck a lot of marginal people into poverty as it takes down property values and service jobs disappear (or, more accurately, move to the burbs, where there is less public transportation). So I reject the assumption that spending money on a mall is evidence of corruption.

  7. Eric Russell on July 31, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    Samuel,
    Even if the church were using tithing funds corruptly, to what end? We don’t see the GA’s living it up in palaces, so it can’t be for their own benefit. What would be the incentive?

  8. Samuel on July 31, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    Eric – you have no idea, and neither do I, what the money is spent on. If the church has nothing to hide, then why not open its books?

    You don’t know what GA’s make, how they travel, etc. I do know that the church has close to $30 billion in assets, and brings in close to $6 billion in investment income/tithing each year (per US Today and Time magazine, uncontradicted by the Church).

    And yet Utah leads the nation, again, in family bankruptcies. The church gets richer and richer, with no accountability or transparency, building real estate investments!!, while the families of Utah scrape by at the bottom.

    Think what $1 billion could do to eliminate poverty, malaria, AIDS, cancer, etc. But Julie thinks she’s living the gospel because she doesn’t care where the money is spent. This is rot at the foundation of our church.

  9. Julie in Austin on July 31, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    Samuel–

    Can you show me the scripture or other authoritative statement that teaches that our duty to pay tithing ends if the managers of the funds are corrupt?

  10. Robert C. on July 31, 2005 at 9:42 pm

    Poor Jim Faulconer, he starts such inspiring threads and they so frequently degenerate into… well, less inspiring discussions…. Nevertheless, I do think it’s possible to discuss in an enlightening way reasons perhaps why the church invests its money rather than just spending it on current humanitarian projects (as Samuel suggests), and why the Church doesn’t open it’s books to everyone. President Hinckley addressed explicitly the question of what the church invests in and why (SLC shopping malls in particular) in the priesthood session of General Conference in October 1999. I’ll try to post the relevant passage in a later post.

    But personally, I don’t think it’s too hard to think of good reasons why the church saves rather than spends, esp. given the financial difficulty of the restored church in its first 100 years. And, as any good MBA knows, saving via sound financial investments is much smarter than locking the funds up in a zero-interest bearing vault.

    But why not open the books? Obviously, keeping closed books runs the risk of arousing suspicion and/or corruption, as Samuel’s posts attest. First, I think it’s important to remember that only publicly traded corporations keep their books open–so that the shareholders who actually own the company can fire the CEO if they don’t like how it’s being run. I think following this corporate model would send the wrong message, that church leadership follows public opinion rather than divine inspiration.

    Also, I think a lot of …lets call them fundamentalists… would either find nit-picky objections to the way the church invests its money (e.g. the church owning a congomerate firm that makes a small portion of its profits from selling or renting objectional videos), or would duplicate the Church’s portfolio claiming it was divinely inspired, or maybe lose their testimony if the Church’s investments didn’t perform in what’s deemed a divinely inspired way.

    I’m sure I’ll think of other possible reasons, but enough from me already….

  11. Robert C. on July 31, 2005 at 9:44 pm

    President Hinckley, October 1999:

    Now, the next question: “Why is the Church in business?”

    We have a few business interests. Not many. Most of these were begun in very early days when the Church was the only organization that could provide the capital that was needed to start certain business interests designed to serve the people in this remote area. We have divested ourselves long since of some of these where it was felt there was no longer a need. Included in these divestitures, for instance, was the old Consolidated Wagon and Machine Company, which did well in the days of wagons and horse-drawn farm machinery. The company outlived its usefulness.

    The Church sold the banks which it once held. As good banking services developed in the community, there was no longer any need for Church-owned banks.

    Some of these business interests directly serve the needs of the Church. For instance, our business is communication. We must speak with people across the world. We must speak at home to let our stand be known, and abroad to acquaint others with our work. And so we own a newspaper, the Deseret News, the oldest business institution in Utah.

    We likewise own television and radio stations. These provide a voice in the communities which they serve. I may add that we are sometimes embarrassed by network television presentations. Our people do the best they can to minimize the impact of these.

    We have a real estate arm designed primarily to ensure the viability and the attractiveness of properties surrounding Temple Square. The core of many cities has deteriorated terribly. This cannot be said of Salt Lake City, although you may disagree as you try to get to the Tabernacle these days. We have tried to see that this part of the community is kept attractive and viable. With the beautiful grounds of Temple Square and the adjoining block to the east, we maintain gardens the equal of any in the world. This area will become even more attractive when the facility now being constructed on Main Street is completed and the large Conference Center to the north is finished.

    Are these businesses operated for profit? Of course they are. They operate in a competitive world. They pay taxes. They are important citizens of this community. And they produce a profit, and from that profit comes the money which is used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation to help with charitable and worthwhile causes in this community and abroad and, more particularly, to assist in the great humanitarian efforts of the Church.

    These businesses contribute one-tenth of their profit to the Foundation. The Foundation cannot give to itself or to other Church entities, but it can use its resources to assist other causes, which it does so generously. Millions of dollars have been so distributed. Thousands upon thousands have been fed. They have been supplied with medicine. They have been supplied with clothing and shelter in times of great emergency and terrible distress. How grateful I feel for the beneficence of this great Foundation which derives its resources from the business interests of the Church.

  12. Samuel on August 1, 2005 at 1:19 am

    Robert C

    “Millions of dollars have been so distributed.” – no accounting, no open books. A brief Google search gets me these corporations:

    Deseret Management Corporation – http://www.deseretmanagement.com/
    Beneficial Financial Group – http://www.beneficialfinancialgroup.com/
    Bonneville International – http://www.bonnint.com/
    Bonneville Communications – http://www.bonneville.com/
    Bonneville Interactive Services
    Bonneville Satellite – http://www.bonnevillesatellite.com/
    35
    Radio Stations
    1 Television Station (KSL)
    Deseret Book – http://deseretbook.com/
    Excel Entertainment – http://www.xelent.com/
    Deseret Morning News – http://deseretnews.com/dn
    Hawaii Reserves – http://www.hawaiireserves.com/
    Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) – http://www.polynesia.com/ and http://www.polynesia.co.jp/
    La’ie Shopping Center
    La’ie Park
    La’ie Cemetary
    Hukilau Beach Park
    La’ie Water Company
    La’ie Treatment Works (sewer)
    Mstar.net – http://www.mstar.net/preportal/index.asp
    Temple Square Hospitality – http://www.htsc.net/ and http://www.hoteltsc.com/
    Weddings (JSMB and Lion House)
    The Inn at Temple Square – http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
    Lion House Pantry – http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
    The Roof Restaurant – http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
    The Garden Restaurant – http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
    Passages Restaurant – http://www.diningattemplesquare.com/
    Zions Securities Corporation – http://www.zsc.com/

    Farm Management Corporation (commericial farms and agricultural properties)
    Deseret Land and Livestock
    200000 acres of land in Rich, Morgan and Weber counties (Utah)
    Sun Ranch (Martin’s Cove)
    Deseret Ranches of Florida (Orlando)
    Deseret Farms of California
    Rolling Hills (Idaho)
    West Hills Orchards (Elberta, Utah)
    Cactus Lane Ranch (Arizona)
    (more)

    Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (CPB)
    Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    Deseret Trust Company
    LDS Family Services
    Property Reserves Inc. (PRI)
    Ensign Peak Advisors – http://www.imno.org/articles.asp?qid=123

    Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA) – http://www.dmba.com/

    Brigham Young University (BYU) – http://home.byu.edu/webapp/home/index.jsp
    BYU – Idaho – http://www.byui.edu/
    BYU – Hawaii – http://www.byuh.edu/index.jsp
    LDS Business College – http://www.ldsbc.edu/

    There would be nothing wrong with the First Presidency opening the books of our tithing expenditures and the business interests. You don’t need scripture to know it is the right thing to do.

  13. A. Greenwood on August 2, 2005 at 1:18 am

    Not to interrupt the in-progress accusation of the Lord’s Anointed of corruption, but I’d like to respond to Jim F.’s post.

    One reason we remember the Martin and Willies people, despite the fact that their own negligent decisionmaking brought on their disaster, is that they had the faith to go into dangerous and unfamiliar circumstances for their faith. Doing so made it more likely that they’d make a bad decision and that the bad decision would have disastrous results. I’m not expressing myself well, but I guess what i mean is that one of the risks one ran in crossing the plains is that you’d make a bad decision and suffer horribly as a result, so its not untoward to honor the Saints for running those risks and suffering them.

    Perhaps someone can decipher what i mean and explain it?

  14. Bob Wilde on August 28, 2005 at 11:40 pm

    Samuel;

    Have you discussed your thoughts with your bishop?

  15. Mark Patterson on September 5, 2005 at 10:25 am

    Samuel– If you believe those in authority have misused tithing money, would a public disclosure of expenditures truly restore your testimony of their calling? It seems that if you do not trust that Church leaders have spent tithing money in accordance with God’s will, asking God about your doubts may be a better way to restore faith in Church leaders than a public audit.

  16. Carlos on September 5, 2005 at 11:52 pm

    Samuel- I feel sorry for you, I`m not an American and for thay I know YOU ARE NOT MEMBER for the Church, I hade that kind convertion with Guys like you, that truth is you are one those individual that expend our time search in other Church Webside to destroy with good Spirit that we share, because YOUR Church do no have tha same previlege that We have,do you know why? Because the tithing that you pay in you Church go direct to your Priest!! As I wrote to begin I`m not American,I`m Brasilian and I`m not polite as my others Brethers, You should try waste your time and doing something goog for your community,because people like you in the Bible were those who was around Christ to see if He make any kind mistake. Comment By Carlos.

  17. Julie in Austin on September 15, 2005 at 11:36 pm

    If anyone out there is working on this lesson, below is a fabulous article about the Willie and Martin handcart companies from BYU studies (full text online):

    http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cgi-bin/docviewer.exe?CISOROOT=/byustudies&CISOPTR=22033&CISOSHOW=21341

    Also, the Church history website has links to sources (again, full text) about the companies:

    http://lds.org/churchhistory/library/pioneercompanysources/0,16272,4019-1-319,00.html

    I’m not a Church history buff, but this makes fascinating reading, even if you don’t have a Sunday School lesson looming over you.

  18. Brenda C on September 17, 2005 at 10:29 am

    Samuel, It seems you need to develop your own personal testimony of tithing. I know that I have been truly blessed by my obedience to this principal throughout the years. I have personally become “rich”, maybe not as the world sees it, but as I feel it! I have more than enough to take care of my needs and wants, and I know that has come from being obedient to tithing my entire life. I trust my church leaders to make wise use of the funds, and I don’t call this blind obedience but faithful obedience. The church has never led me astray! I believe Carlos from Brazil, you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing at best. Thanks for all the wise comments from the others on this list!

  19. Larry on September 18, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    It’s a shame that Samuel hijacked a terrific post by Jim.

    Samuel, if you are indeed a member, as Carlos has questioned, then you would be paying attention to General Conference where an auditor reads the fact that all Church records are audited by an independent body and that they conform to standard accounting and other procedures.

    You must be labouring under a “woe is me” attitude that yearns to get his grubby little hands on some of that money and spend it on yourself.

    To others, forgive the over the top comment, but people like Samuel ruin it for everyone, the giver, as well as the receiver.

    Now back to a fabulous post on Lesson 35.

  20. LaMar on October 6, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    Samuel could never have hijacked an otherwise extremely important subject if we had not felt a need to respond to such foolishness. If irrelevent comments were ignored then this post could be used as intended. Keep our eyes on the goal and these posts will be beneficial to all who seek ideas.

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