The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ


A “god” is the idea of a god — the idea of a god is a god:

The most basic meaning of the Hebrew “elohim” is that of “powers“.  The human mind names, personifies, and maps-out these various “powers” and their interactions, but ultimately the “gods” are the culturally-appropriate manifestations or mental vehicles for a given power/energy/idea.

The demons, angels, pantheons of deity, Gods and Goddesses — they are all the impulses that inspire and guide You — unpackaged and unfolded as poetry and story-form.  They are personifications of the “powers” arising from nature and found within human-nature, externalized and examined in their most potent and purest symbolic form.

They all exist in our right-brain — as the warring desires in our minds, which battle for dominance in our decision-making.  It is we who make the “gods” real by the ones we choose to be guided by and the ones we “make flesh” by our actions.

Thus — if my “guiding power” is violent, then my actions and worldview will be contentious and hostile.  If my “dominant god” is compassionate, then I will experience my life through the lens of acceptance, mercy, and forgiveness.  Etc.

The long-standing human tradition of myths, religions, mystical experiences, etc. — is the essential activity of differentiating yourSelf from the unconscious forces of existence by personifying them, and then bringing them into a relationship with yourSelf consciously.

“Gods” are the set of ideas and perspectives through whom we view our world and ourselves.  They are but a name for someone’s mode of being — relating to their inner-self and their external interactions.  Our beliefs are our reality tunnels — and every one of them is an individual and culturally-appropriate manifestation of the Singular God.

Which is why it’s not entirely respectful to comment on the specific beliefs of another religion/culture to which you do not belong — because God gives the portion of his Word that is expedient and culturally-tailored to the specific conditions found among the community of the seers/prophets who received it [not to your conditions or culture].

The revelation of God in Jesus Christ:

The “God” whom I follow is the story of Jesus Christ.  A belief-system which commits me to the basic concept of servanthood and compassion.

I have voluntarily bound myself to Christ and his Word by my covenant to obey his every commandment.  This voluntary servanthood [or yoke] binds me to the fundamental reality that “God” is found in being under the most, serving the most, and being connected to the most [instead of vice-versa].

The revelation of God in the scriptures is that the most basic fabric of all existence is “chesed” — the loving-kindness and compassion of a God who relates to the universe with the level of intimacy that is the result of “beriyth” — or a covenant.

God is not “self-existing” — for He does all things through covenant [including creation] — which actually binds Him to all things.  A “self-existing” Being is independent and cannot be bound.  This is why God could “cease to be God” if He acts in certain ways — because the power and unity of God is a product [not a starting point] — and He is God because of the covenant He’s bound Himself to.

Thus — faith is not a stop-gap measure, or transient state-of-mind that we can drop once we’ve crossed-over and are “with God”.  All things [including gods] must have and keep faith, for it is the necessary element of the trusting engagement and active cooperation that is “existence”.

God’s covenant relationship with all of creation means that He exists for us — not Himself.  Likewise, all things exist because they are bound in covenant with God as well.  That is why any damned thing in the created universe can return to outer-darkness [“return again to their own place“], where there is no existence.

Neither the elements of the universe nor God are self-existing or independent entities — because the existence of both parties is a covenantal relationship.

Belonging to the “true church” of God has no meaning or value

There is nothing special that I get for having joined the latter-day church of Christ.  In fact, it gives me nothing special or noteworthy — and that’s the point.  There is no advantage to being LDS, to having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, to holding the rights of the priesthood, or having access to temples, etc. — for me.

You can’t “pass the test” of Life — or “solve the problem” by aligning yourself with the “right religion” on earth before you die — thereby securing your “salvation”.  Life is not a bank you can rob — and “get out” of it with eternal treasure.

Things don’t “get solved” — they comes together and fall apart, and come together again.  “Salvation” or “Enlightenment” comes from letting-go and allowing there to be room enough of all of it to happen — without fearing failure or desiring success.

We naturally desire the immortality of our ego, our beliefs, our group, etc.  God reaches into human history through the person of Jesus Christ to extend immortality to all — on the condition that they accept it unconditionallyalone, meaning by abandoning the hope of securing it for “You” or your “in-group”.

When our “god” is not Jesus Christ — when we do not deny ourselves, cease to identify with this skin-encapsulated center-of-will in the universe, and take up the yoke of Christ — then our fundamental allegiance will always be to Self-preservation, Self-reliance, and Self-centered survival.

We can never be One with God or with others — because we constantly experience God and neighbor as something inherently “Not-Self”.

Having the “mind of Christ” in you means you pour yourSelf out, in love.  Because, in love, surrender is victory.

Instead of falling into Self-centered separation and sin — fall in love, into Christ-centered connectivity and intimacy.

And not just with God — but with your family and your neighbors, your enemies and those who would despitefully use, hate, and persecute you — and this love won’t leave out the animals and plants, the earth and the stars — because deep-down and far-in, it’s all one energy flowing from them, through us, and back out again.

One thing [a uni-verse] that we experience coming through in individual waves.

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Seeking the Good of Others


Meat Sacrificed to Idols:

One of the issues in the first-century church that was addressed in writing by Paul concerned meat that had been sacrificed to idols.  Debates over what to eat might seem strange within a church established by a man who said:

Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

However, as formerly pagan/Roman converts began joining congregations of the church of Jesus Christ, an issue arose concerning the eating of meat.

Pleasing the Romans gods thru animal sacrifice resulted in temples having more meat than their priests and priestesses could eat.  So, as a source of income, the temples would sell the extra meat to vendors — who would in turn sell that meat in the marketplace for general consumption.  Thus, it was common for meat sold in the marketplace to have been previously consecrated as a sacrifice to a Roman god.  The Jews stayed away from such meat because they were wary of the chances encountering the “unclean” food-handling practices and they believed that to partake of consecrated meat was to give second-hand approval of idol worship.  The Gentiles did not believe that meat could be tainted by a sacrifice they did not participate in.  Both parties brought these preconceived cultural views on the subject with them into the church of Jesus Christ — thereby making the matter a point of contention within the church.

The council recorded in Acts 15 urged Gentile converts to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols.  In essence, the council sought to assure that at the next church sacramental meal a formerly-Jewish believer could eat meat he was served with confidence — knowing it had never been part of a sacrificial cow, and a formerly-Roman believer could not be accused of participating in idol worship.

Applying the Matter to Ourselves:

Whenever I read Paul’s writings on the subject of members of the church of Jesus Christ eating meat that had was considered “unclean” by some — I can’t help but think of the current LDS views on things like meat, caffeinated drinks, beer, and wine.  So last week, I read thru 1 Corinthians 8-10, imagining that Paul was writing to church members today on the subject of the Word of Wisdom.

Paul’s Law of Offense = Seek the good of others instead of being concerned for your own good:

The following was taken from 1 Corinthians 8-10.

Some people might think that all things are lawful for them because of justification by faith or because of all the knowledge they have on the issue.  While the freedom in Christ or the knowledge you obtain may make you feel important, it is love that strengthens the church of God.  If you claim to know all the answers, then you don’t really know very much.  However, the person who loves God – the same is known by Him.

Whether or not everything is lawful for you – not everything is expedient or constructive.

You may be able to consume any food or drink without raising questions of moral conscience within yourself because you understand that everything from the earth comes from the Lord.  Why should your freedom be limited by what someone else thinks?  If you are capable of enjoying all things that come from God, then why should you be condemned for it?  We can’t win God’s approval by what we eat – you won’t lose anything if you abstain, and you won’t gain anything if you partake.  So whether you eat or drink – whatever you do – do it all to glorify God.

However, not all believers understand this.  Some are accustomed to thinking that words of wisdom concerning diet are commandments – and their weak consciences will be offended.

Should a non-member ask you over to his or her house, by all means go if you want to and eat whatever is offered to you, out of respect for their hospitality.  But then should a member there point out that the food or drink served ought to be considered morally objectionable to you because of your religion – don’t consume it out of consideration for the one who told you.  For you must be careful that your freedom doesn’t cause another of a weaker conscience to stumble.

If your superior knowledge on a subject were to encourage a believer to do something they believe is wrong, then you would be sinning against Christ because he died for that person too.

If my dietary choices would cause another believer to sin, then may I never break the “commandments” outlined in any words of wisdom concerning diet so long as I live.  I do not desire another believer to stumble.  Don’t give offense to Jews, Gentiles, or the church of God.  Try to please everyone in what you do.  Don’t just do what is best for yourself – do what is best for others, so that many may be saved.

When you are with those who are weak, you should share their weakness because you have a desire to bring the weak to Christ.  It is best to try and find common ground with people, doing everything you can that you might save some.

Even though you are a free person, with no earthly slave master, you must become a servant to all people to bring them to Christ.  When you are with Jews, live like a Jew to bring them to Christ.  When you are with members who strictly adhere to Church™ teachings, live under that law – even though you are not subject to that law, do so in order to bring Christ to them.  When you are with Gentiles who are without the law, then also live apart from that law for the purpose of bringing them to Christ.  But you must not ignore the law of God – always obey the law of Christ.

Questions:

  • Is my characterization of Paul’s teaching on offense accurate?
  • What lessons can be drawn from his teaching?
  • Is my connection of his teaching on eating pagan meat with the Word of Wisdom™ fair?
  • Is this teaching consistent with the rest of the Scriptures?
  • How can we balance Paul’s law of offense with spicing up your church experience, rebelling against body modesty, or cheerfully doing all things?

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The Keys to Prophecy X: What Joseph Taught


784 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2005

 The Keys to Prophecy X:

What Joseph Taught

Certainly, some will say that discussions of ancient myths, gods, goddesses and pagan beliefs have little to do with the restored gospel.  To others, perhaps all this analysis of prophetic symbols, planets, stars, beasts and dragons seems a bit removed from core gospel principles.

Most Saints pay little heed to such things in their gospel study, seeing it as irrelevant and therefore largely valueless.

After all, if reading the scriptures and praying are sufficient to understand the gospel, why not leave the study of planets and stars to the astronomers and analysis of pagan gods and goddesses to the mythologists?

The reply to such dismissive notions is the evidence that Joseph Smith taught these things.

It was Joseph who first wrote and spoke of planets and stars in connection with both ancient and prophetic events.  It was Joseph who placed the Egyptian documents alongside modern revelation and then included explanations.  It was Joseph who gave the pattern for those icons collocated on modern temple walls-not as mere décor, but as teaching tools.

Isn’t that incentive enough to look into these keys?  Indeed, the fact that Joseph taught these things makes it incumbent upon every Latter-day Saint to learn all they can about them.

If he deemed them important enough to reveal, we ignore them at our own peril.

These keys bear directly upon otherwise arcane aspects of the restored gospel, successfully explaining what has heretofore remained a mystery to most Saints-things such as temple symbols, the Pearl of Great Price facsimiles and a uniform system for interpreting prophecy.

Who would have thought that a systematic approach to the symbolism of prophecy would also explain such divergent elements as temple icons and Egyptian facsimiles?

A few examples that amplify one theme should suffice to convince us.

We have already seen Joseph’s “planet, comet” description of the “grand sign” of the last days and the second coming, recorded in his own journal, History of the Church.  That puts cosmic phenomena squarely under the prophecy heading.

In keeping with Joseph’s statement, in a 1951 General Conference talk, Elder LeGrand Richards reinforced the concept, saying that the latter-day signs will be caused by “some great phenomenon in the heavens, (a) misplacement of planets ….”

An interview with Homer M. Brown, a past Patriarch of the Granite, Utah, Stake, father of Elder Hugh B. Brown and grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Brown, who gave Joseph Smith sanctuary from a mob in Nauvoo one evening, more fully explains the role of this misplaced planet and its effect on our Earth.

According to Patriarch Brown, these are Joseph’s words to his grandparents regarding a future encounter between a rogue planet and our Earth.  “Now, let me ask you what would cause the everlasting hills to tremble with more violence than the coming together of the two planets?

“Now, scientists will tell you that it is not scientific, that two planets coming together would be disastrous to both.  But, when two planets or other objects are traveling in the same direction and one of them with a little greater velocity than the other, it would not be disastrous because the one traveling faster would overtake the other.”

Corroboration comes from the journal of another early Saint, Samuel Hollister Rogers.  He paraphrases the prophet thusly:  “Not that the planets will come squarely against each other, in such case both planets would be broken to pieces.  But in their rolling motion they will come together … which will cause the earth to reel to and fro.”

Further confirmation is found in the Charles Walker journal, wherein he recounts learning from Eliza R. Snow that Joseph had taught her “the coming together of these two bodies or orbs would cause a shock and make the ‘Earth reel to and fro like a drunken man.'” 

The prophet obviously elaborated on this theme on many occasions, as we learn from yet another journal.

Wandle Mace described the same planetary conjunction scenario, adding this anecdote from the prophet:  “Some of you brethren have been coming up the river on a steamboat, and while seated at the table, the steamboat (ran) against a snag which upset the table and scattered the dishes.  So it will be (when these planets come together).  It will make the earth reel to and fro like a drunken man.”

Without the keys presented in this series, such remarkably consistent statements, attributed to Joseph Smith by early church members, have been discounted as extravagant and speculative by LDS scholars and all but forgotten in recent years by church members.  Yet, when seen as corroborative, they argue eloquently for Joseph’s view of the role that a vagabond planet will play in our future.

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