Archive for April, 2007


The Gospel According to Pinocchio

   Posted by: John    in Atonement, Older Posts

My daughter was watching the old Disney movie Pinocchio this morning.  I happened to walk by about the time that Pinocchio was being talked into going to Pleasure Island, a place where boys could go and do whatever they wanted.  There were no rules, no authority, no responsibility.  They could do things like smoke, drink, destroy a nice house, play cards and pool, go on insane rides, and so on.  Pinocchio allowed himself to be convinced it was the place to by a couple of smooth talking shysters.  The carriage took him and a load of other boys to the ship, they sailed to the island and headed in.  However, once inside this place, the doors were closed so they could not escape.

It was true, there was so much to do on this island.  A boy could cause as much trouble as he wanted and nobody would catch him.  Cigars and beer were free and encouraged.  It was a life of debauchery and depravity.  The only problem was,  after some time, a curious thing happened.  The boys started to turn into donkeys.  First the ears would come out, then the tails.  Then, quickly, their heads would change into donkey heads.  Hands and feet turned into hooves.  Soon their entire body was changed, their voices gone, except for the “hee haw” that comprises a donkey’s speech.  Then they were captured, crated up and sold to the circus or the salt mines.  They were not able to go back and change what they had done to themselves.

As I watched, I considered how this is a great example of life.  As we grow, there are a variety of things that vie for our attention, some good and some bad.  The world would tell us that “Pleasure Island” is the way to go.  Sadly, most of the things that Pleasure Island offers are addictive and offensive.  We try them, enjoy them, but pretty soon we can’t let go of them.  As an example, smoking is portrayed as “cool”.  Even if it can’t be advertised as such, friends and acquaintances can pressure us to be cool like them by smoking.  I know people who smoke that like it, and some that hate it.  The common thing between them is that it is very difficult to stop it.  They become slaves to that habit, and it makes it easier to become slaves to other things as well.  The spirit distances itself from you and your mind starts to rationalize that, well, I’m doing this, I might as well do that.

As we become immersed, we become spiritual donkeys.  Our senses are dulled, our spirit loses contact with our Father in Heaven, and we drift away, slaves to the addictions and so-called pleasures of the world.  We might as well be slaves in the salt mines, driven by masters that control us.

In the movie, Jiminy Cricket manages to rescue Pinocchio before he fully changes into the donkey.  It takes some doing, but Pinocchio manages to escape the things that attracted him to Pleasure Island and, after some difficulty, returns to his Father.

We have the opportunity to take advantage of the Atonement, in which we can take strength from Christ and escape from the things that drag us down and set us on a path back to our Father in Heaven.  We can escape from “Pleasure Island”.  The difference between Pinocchio and the Atonement, however, is that those who are fully slaves to the desires and pleasures of the world, can still escape them, unlike in the movie where done was done.  The closer to being a full donkey you are, the harder it is to get away, but it can be done.

I find it amusing that a Disney film from 50 years ago can carry such an analogy, but the impression was made rather strongly this morning, and I am glad I stopped to watch that 10 minutes of movie.

The Sunday School lesson this week was about Priesthood keys, along with the events at the mount of transfiguration. Brother Miner led a very interesting discussion about what “keys” are and who has them.

One thing we talked about first was the part in Matthew 15 where Jesus asked the apostles what people thought of him.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

During the discussion, we talked about how Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ. It would be easy to say that, well, Christ was there, why wouldn’t they know. One has to keep in mind that Christ was almost as mortal as any other man. He had a body of flesh and blood, as does every other person who lives or lived on this Earth. He was subject to hunger, pain, and any other malady that afflicts man. Thus, being as a “man”, the Holy Ghost still needed to perform the act of testifying to Christ’s divinity, just as it does for us who are not in His physical presence. That is why Christ told Peter that Father in heaven had revealed it to him. This passage of scripture also tells us that man is wholly incapable of providing spiritual testimony. A person can testify of things they know the spirit has confirmed, but the spirit must seal that testimony in the heart of the receiver.

Now, the Savior continues with this:

 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The basis of the Catholic church rests on verse 18, wherein the Savior says “upon this rock I will build my church”. Catholicism says that Peter was the first Pope, and this is where Christ named him as such. This is an error. Jesus was not referring to Peter as a rock (although Peter was destined to be the president of Christ’s church later on, and proved himself to be an unmovable rock in the gospel). Rather, Jesus was talking about revelation. Christ’s church is based upon God revealing himself to man through the Holy Ghost. Revelation is vital to true religion. When the spirit testifies, it is revelation. When a Bishop issues a calling, it is done by revelation. The 5th article of faith, as given by Joseph Smith, states unequivocally that a “man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof”. If there is no revelation and prophecy, a person can not be called of God, nor can he assume ecclesiastical responsibility with any level of validity. Peter was to be given the keys of the kingdom, but was never meant to be the foundation and basis of the church. That role belongs to Jesus, and he reveals how his church must be governed and administered.

Several days after these events, we read, in Matthew 17, this:

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Jesus took his first presidency (although at that time, they were not likely installed as such yet) with him to a high mountain, away from everything. It is likely that they prayed, and then Jesus was transfigured and received two (that we know of) messengers, Moses and Elias (Elijah). One has to ask why Jesus needed to be transfigured before Moses and Elias. He was the Son of God! The answer is that Jesus did not have a glorified body (as he does now). Because he was a man there was no need for anyone to be transfigured to be in His presence. At the same time, because he was a man, he had to be transfigured to stand in the presence of heavenly beings.

The reason for these visits at the mount of transfiguration, according to Bruce R. McConkie, was for Moses and Elijah to pass on the keys which they held to Christ, who then conferred those keys on Peter. (Again, one has to wonder why the Son of God needed these keys to be given to him, seeing as how they belong to him in the first place. However, as with every other aspect of Christ’s mortal life, he did things as an example, to fulfill righteousness, and, I feel, to perfect His role as the perfect man.) Peter, James and John were witnesses to this event, and likely took an active part in it. (As a side note, during this visit, the Father himself took the opportunity to “introduce” himself by proclaiming Christ to be his Son. If, as most Christian churches claim, Christ and God are the same, how could this occur?)

Now, as to the keys themselves, we had an interesting discussion about these keys and who holds them. Again, Bruce R. McConkie becomes very useful, wherein he states that keys are reserved for presidents of their respective Priesthood charges. The only people who hold all of the keys is the president of the church, his counselors, and the twelve apostles. The President is the one authorized to use those keys. He can delegate others to use some of the keys, as he sees fit. The only exception to this rule is when the President dies, and then the quorum of the apostles can use those keys to ordain the next president. At that time, the new president can use those keys and the keys the apostles hold like dormant again.

Brother Miner got the High Priest group leader to stand up in front with him and asked him what keys he held. The answer was “none whatsoever”. And, he’s right. The High Priest group leader is not the president of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the stake. The Stake President is the president of the High Priests, and holds the keys pertaining to that responsibility. The Bishop is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Priest’s quorum, and holds keys pertaining to that office.

Remember that Elder McConkie said that the keys were reserved for the presidents. Counselors to the stake president do not hold keys. Members of the stake high council do not hold keys. Members of a quorum do not hold keys. Only the president does.

At some time after the events at the mount of transfiguration, Christ gave Peter the necessary Priesthood keys, thus designating him as the president of the church. Since the members of the quorum of the 12 Apostles hold all of the keys, either Christ or Peter bestowed those keys on the rest of the Apostles. As these Apostles were killed or imprisoned, the keys were removed from the earth, making it impossible for Christ’s true church to remain intact.

It is interesting to look at how these keys were restored to Joseph Smith. The period of time covers years, starting in 1829, when John the Baptist restored the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. Then, also in 1829, Peter, James and John restored the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood. However, it should be noted that Peter, James, and John did not restore all of the priesthood keys. Some were reserved for others.

In 1836, in the Kirtland temple, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to confer keys to Joseph Smith. It is interesting that these same prophets appeared on the mount of transfiguration to confer the same keys. I find it fascinating to think of the ancient apostles, who held these keys, are the ones honored to give them. From the foundation of the world, they were ordained to carry the keys of the kingdom, had those keys given to them, and are instrumental in returning those keys to the earth when they have been lost.

What a blessing it is to us to have these available to us. President Hinckley carries them and uses them daily as part of his duties. My Stake President and Bishop carry the keys of their offices, rightfully given to them by men who, holding the priesthood in righteousness, have those keys and are authorized by God to give them to other righteous men. What other church in the world can claim to call men by revelation and prophecy and the laying on of hands? None, as none others have the priesthood.

Along with the keys now on the earth, I have also learned this last week that there are many more Priesthood keys that we do not have, but will be available to those who move on to the next world in righteousness. I learned from the Bishop (and it was further expounded upon by a talk I listened to later that same evening by Phillip Allred) that there is a Priesthood key of resurrection. We do not have this key, but righteous resurrected beings in the next world can have it, and use it when it is needed. Brigham Young talked about this key in some of his addresses, and mentioned that there were many others, like the key of creation, that are part of God’s holy Priesthood. The reason we do not have them, or even know much about them is because they are not directly related to our salvation in this life and therefore are not necessary for us to have at this time. Fascinating, isn’t it, to know that this life is just a portion of our journey toward becoming like God. He has given us what we need, along with some tidbits of things to come, just enough to whet our appetites and help us understand what our true eternal potential is.

So, as a conclusion to this rather long essay, this has been an incredible subject to delve into. Truly, this topic can be listed as one of the mysteries of God, but one that will be understood and used by those who are worthy to move forward in the next life.