One oft-quoted scripture on the topic of consensus is this:
“I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” D&C 38:27
I’ve heard this quoted many times to support the idea that people should agree on doctrinal matters, including interpretations of geography of the Book of Mormon and Church history. And that’s fine, provided the agreement is on something that is true.
But look at the first part of the verse:
“Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”
What is the Lord referring to here?
Verse 26 is the parable, but it refers,in turn, to the preceding verses.
Verse 26: “For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?”
In the preceding verses, the Lord explains that he created the Earth, that he has taken “the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom,” and that “all flesh is corrupted before me, and the powers of darkness prevail upon the earth.”
Then the Lord says, “And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons. And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it…. And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.”
This principle is so important that the Lord repeats it twice, right before giving the parable of the unjust father.
In my view, Section 38 teaches about the basic Zion principle of equality; i.e., it is not just that some people are rich while others are poor. The Lord clarifies that he has made the rich; they may think they have “earned” it and therefore “deserve” it, but it is God who has given them the gifts and opportunities to become rich.
A few months later, on June 15, 1831, the Lord explained further.
“Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!”
The parable of the unjust father who tells one son to be clothed in robes while the other must be clothed in rags applies to the Latter-day Saints who seek to establish Zion.
The Lord has told us that he has made the rich, and he has told the rich that they must give their substance to the poor. Enabling some of his children to create wealth is the Lord’s way of providing for the poor. As D&C 104 puts it, “this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.”
This is what D&C 38 means.
And to the extent that we fall short of becoming one in terms of wealth, we are not His.
Source: Book of Mormon Concensus
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