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What is Truth?

Let's examine some of the statements made by Mr. Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency in 
the January 2013 CES Devotional (local copy).

"Satan is the great deceiver ... The adversary has many cunning strategies for keeping mortals 
from the truth ... For those who already embrace the truth, his primary strategy is to spread the 
seeds of doubt. For example, he has caused many members of the Church to stumble when they 
discover information about the Church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously
".

Is Mr. Uchtdorf saying that if evangelicals tell Latter-day Saints that Joseph Smith taught that 
God was once a man who became a God, they are actually acting like Satan because they are 
planting doubts in Mormon people about whether they are worshipping a false God or not?

"In the Book of Mormon, both the Nephites as well as the Lamanites created their own “truths” 
about each other
. The Nephites’ “truth” about the Lamanites was that they “were a wild, and 
ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people,” never able to accept the gospel. The Lamanites’ “truth” 
about the Nephites was that Nephi had stolen his brother’s birthright and that Nephi’s 
descendants were liars who continued to rob the Lamanites of what was rightfully theirs. These 
“truths” fed their hatred for one another until it finally consumed them all
".

2 Nephi 5:20-21 says, "Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, 
saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the 
presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. And he had caused the 
cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they 
had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as 
they were white
, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto 
my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them
".

Alma 3:6-7 says, "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which 
was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and 
their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who 
were just and holy men. And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed
and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of 
Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women
".

I wonder if Mr. Uchtdorf believes that these Book of Mormon statements are 'truths' created 
by the Nephites.

If you look at the Book of Mormon, the word "birthright" is not found and no mention is ever
made about Nephi stealing any birthright.  

The LDS Church associates the birthright with the priesthood. "It is Ephraim, today, who holds 
the priesthood. It is with Ephraim that the Lord has made covenant and has revealed the fulness 
of the everlasting gospel. It is Ephraim who is building temples and performing the ordinances in 
them for both the living and for the dead. When the "lost tribes" come - and it will be a most 
wonderful sight and a marvelous thing when they do come to Zion - in fulfilment of the promises 
made through Isaiah and Jeremiah, they will have to receive the crowning blessings from their 
brother Ephraim, the "firstborn" in Israel
" (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:252–53, Religion 
430-431 - Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, p. 66).

The LDS Church's Bible Dictionary for "Ephraim" says, "Ephraim was given the birthright in 
Israel (1 Chr. 5: 1-2; Jer. 31: 9), and in the last days it has been the tribe of Ephraim’s privilege 
first to bear the message of the restoration of the gospel to the world and to gather scattered 
Israel
".

"Under the patriarchal order, the right or inheritance of the firstborn is known as birthright. This 
generally included a land inheritance as well as the authority to preside. The firstborn of flocks and 
of human families was considered as belonging to the Lord and was expected to be dedicated to 
Him. This dedication could be either literal or by the payment of redemption money (Ex. 13:11–
16).

From time to time certain prerogatives, opportunities, and blessings have attended those who 
were born of a particular lineage. Thus the office of high priest (of the Aaronic order) and the 
office of the patriarch to the Church (in the Melchizedek Priesthood) are hereditary in nature. 
Lineage alone does not guarantee the blessings or spiritual power of the office, but the 
opportunities are offered to the firstborn of the selected lineage. There are several instances 
in the scriptures of the one who was the firstborn losing his birthright because of unrighteous-
ness and his office being given to another; such is the case with Esau (Gen. 25:24–34; 27) 
and Reuben (1 Chr. 5:1–2; Jer. 31:9)
(LDS Bible Dictionary for birthright).

This is incorrect. The opportunities for the priesthood were not offered to the firstborn 
according to the Old Testament - the Levites were chosen in place of the firstborn.

Numbers 3:12 - "And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel 
instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore 
the Levites shall be mine
".

Numbers 3:41,45 - "And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the Lord) instead of all the 
firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings 
among the cattle of the children of Israel
". 

Numbers 8:14-19 - "Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: 
and the Levites shall be mine. And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the 
tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering. For 
they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every 
womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me. For 
all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote 
every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself. And I have taken the Levites for 
all the firstborn of the children of Israel. And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to 
his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the 
tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there 
be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the 
sanctuary
".

Mormon President Uchtdorf does not understand this.

In the patriarchal order, the firstborn son is the heir and inherits the leadership of the family 
upon the death of the father. This is often spoken of in the scriptures as birthright (Gen. 43:33). 
Under the law of Moses, the firstborn son was regarded as belonging to God, and special 
ordinances were provided for his redemption (Ex. 13:12–15; 22:29; Num. 3:45; Luke 2:22–23). 
The eldest son received a double portion of his father’s possessions (Deut. 21:17); and after his 
father’s death, he was responsible for the care of the mother and sisters
(LDS Bible Dictionary 
for firstborn).

In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 1:29 is linked to Doctrine and Covenants 68:17. "For the 
firstborn holds the right of the presidency over this priesthood, and the keys or authority of the 
same
" and Abraham 1:3. "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 foundation of 
the earth, down 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
".

Before there ever were priests of Aaron, there already were priests of Israel. 

Exodus 28:1 - "Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among 
the people of Israel, to serve me as priests--Aaron and Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar 
and Ithamar
".

These were the precursors to the Aaronic Priests. 

Manasseh and Ephraim did not rule over the other tribes of Israel. It was actually Judah who 
would hold the sceptre. And Jerusalem was the place where God chose to put His name. These 
two tribes did not hold the priesthood in the Old Testament so their 'birthright' (or Nephi's) 
could not be stolen.

"We simply don’t know all things—we can’t see everything. What may seem contradictory now may 
be perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information. Because 
we see through a glass darkly, we have to trust the Lord, who sees all things clearly
".

Is this similar to what Jehovah's Witnesses teach? ... that new light comes to correct previously-
given false light? Or does it imply that we can go the grave believing and acting upon false 
teachings without consequences in the resurrection?

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