Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


On Sunday, 25 Jan 1987, four months after Jesus' visit (seemingly another testing period), Elisha is preaching the Bible to the people of Bangued (~30,000 people at the time) 130 miles north of where his story began in Dagupan. He stops to take a rest by the Abra River, which flows next to the city and is approached by three men. One thing that is interesting here is that Elisha takes time to describe them as taller than him but doesn't label them as American, as he had with Oleeha. I don't know if this is mere oversight on his part or if it means, in the absence of this label, they did not seem to be foreigners (e.g., dress, speech, physical characteristics, etc.) and could've even appeared Filipino.

In any case, they ask his name but cannot reveal their own, which Elisha finds curious. (We'll talk more on Elisha's reactions to the events recorded in the Book of Visions in a later post.) This is similar to and has parallels with other stories of threesomes of heavenly messengers sent by God to someone for a specific purpose yet remaining unnamed or unable to reveal their true character (e.g., Abraham's visitors in Gen 18, those presented in the LDS Endowment ceremony, etc.). The mission of these particular three this time is to find Elisha and aid him in his mission by administering the ordinances of baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and priesthood conferral.

Now Elisha, being a believing, life-long Catholic doesn't understand why he needs these ordinances since he was already baptized as an infant and is unfamiliar with priesthood distinct from that held by ordained clergy. The men give a clear, concise answer to his concerns. First, the priesthood is the authority and power used in preaching the word of God. Second, the baptism of infants is a Catholic tradition that didn't originate from Christ's teachings in the Bible. (The first traditions and writings of the practice date to the 2nd-3rd centuries AD.) Such a baptism is not sufficient to manifest faith in Christ, and the ordinance and the covenants associated with it must be entered into of one's own free will and choice as the fruit of faith and repentance. It seems this is all that is necessary to convince Elisha, and he accepts their explanation. They also could've expounded further on infant baptism like Mormon does in his letter to his son, Moroni (Moroni 8) (e.g., little children are incapable of committing sin; the curse of Adam is removed from them through the Atonement; they need neither repentance nor baptism; etc.), but don't.

Elisha is asked to go down into the river, where one of the men baptizes him by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Coming out of the water, he kneels down on the bank, and feels the light, warmth, and power of the Spirit as he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from the second of the three. This rush of the Spirit and power of God compels him to speak in a language he doesn't understand, but his visitors comprehend and confirm the truth of what he'd said. (I was going to discuss the manifestation of the spiritual gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues here, but I'll save it for the next post.) In the same manner (by the laying on of hands), the last of the three confers upon him the holy priesthood of God. The men conclude their visit by instructing Elisha in many important things pertaining to the Gospel and leave him to ponder the immensity of these events into the night.

Addendum 1: One last thing to think on. According to the current LDS understanding of priesthood authority, any ordinance performed must be done under the direction of one holding priesthood keys. Priesthood holders can't just go around willy-nilly baptizing, confirming, etc.; they must be assigned and delegated to perform that ordinance by those in authority to do so. From the LDS Guide to the Scriptures:
Keys are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God's priesthood on earth. Priesthood holders called to positions of presidency receive keys from those in authority over them. Priesthood holders use the priesthood only within the limits outlined by those who hold the keys.
Latter-day Saints believe that the President of the Church, then, holds all necessary priesthood keys on earth, the same as Peter when Christ gave him the "keys of the kingdom" (Matt 16:19). So, for this to all fit within an LDS (or possibly even traditional Christian) paradigm, these three men normally would've been sent by one holding the keys to preside over Elisha's baptism, confirmation, and ordination to the priesthood, namely, at least the local bishop, stake president, and/or mission president (h/t Bruce). However, you'll notice that these men simply state they are sent by God, and Elisha neither names the specific priesthood or office received nor mentions being confirmed a member of any church. In this case, it seems more likely that Christ himself, under the direction of the Father from whom all priesthood power, authority, and keys are derived, sent and authorized these special messengers to perform ordinances for Elisha outside of any Church authority or even knowledge. This is in keeping with Christ's calling of Elisha as a special apostle to the isles of the sea separate and apart from the Twelve overseeing His established Church.

Addendum 2: Joseph Smith had this to say about ministering angels and ordinances:
[Jesus] set the ordinances to be the same for Ever and ever and set Adam to watch over them to reveal them from heaven to man or to send Angels to reveal them. Are they not all ministring spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of Salvation. These angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam who acts under the direction of Christ.


  1. I wanted to share an experience I had today at Church. During my Gospel principles class in which we were discussing baptism, I felt inspired to share a teaching that I remembered from the Aklatan, though I did not mention the book to the class. It was about what the three messengers taught Elisha about his prior infant baptism. Elisha wrote, "They said that my prior baptism was not sufficient to manifest my faith in Christ, but rather I should be baptized of my own will. Such baptism is the fruit of faith and repentance." I haven't read from the Aklatan in a while, and it was cool to have the Spirit direct my thoughts to that and share it with the class.There were some who privately approached me because they found what I said to be very insightful. One brother specifically was very impressed and said, "That just makes sense." I'll have to start reading through this book again. There is truth to be found in its pages.

    1. That's awesome, Shawn! I've had many similar opportunities in teaching lessons, discussing in class, or talking with others. I've found a lot of clarification and new perspectives on Gospel principles throughout the Aklatan. With your case, it's not simply the performance of the ordinance that justifies us; rather, it's the manifestation of our faith and the sealing of the Holy Spirit of Promise.