Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mark Paredes (again!)

There will be a presentation on LDS theology to a Jewish congregation on December 20, 2007. Last time I did not give you much advanced notice.

The last such event that I attended was very pleasant. The Rabbi (sorry I forgot his name) at the Wilshire Temple (Los Angeles) was a most gracious host.

The Speakers will be:

Bro. Mark Paredes (link)


Sis. Rachel Vincent, Santa Monica Stake Director of Public Affairs.


TOPIC: LDS Theology
DATE: 12/20/2007 - Thursday
TIME: 7:00 PM
PLACE: The Santa Monica Synagogue (aka, Sha'arei Am)
ADDRESS: 1448 18th. Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 (Directions)
COST: Free
OPTIONAL: Kosher meals available for $10.

Let’s show up and be gracious guests.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hebrew Book of Mormon

I came across an interesting site for those who love all things Jewish like I do.

Here is the first part of a transalation of the Book of Mormon in Hebrew: Download PDF

Here is the Web Site

And more on the topic here at Common Consent.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Are Mormons Christians?

The Olive Tree represents the Tree of Life. Exactly when that imagery began, I don’t know, but it was a very long time ago. There was an Old Testament prophet only mentioned in the Book of Mormon named “Zenos” (Holy Enos?). This is the earliest use of the olive tree imagery, and interestingly it is also called a vineyard (Jesus is the True Vine), and appears to be the root (or source) of both uses of the imagery in both Book of Mormon and biblical records. This imagery is used in Old Testament, and New Testament times. And in-fact is a major theme throughout scripture.

The olive tree represents the salvation of families, tribes, and individuals (macro and micro).

Olive oil represents the anointing of the Christ or The Anointed One, by it we are healed. It represents the Holy Ghost.

In The Gospel of Phillip we read:

“…it is from the olive tree that we get the chrism [anointing oil], and from the chrism, the resurrection [total healing]… for it is from the word ‘chrism’ that we have been called ‘Christians… For the father anointed the son, and the son anointed the apostles, and the apostles anointed us. He who has been anointed possesses everything. He possesses the resurrection, the light, the cross, the holy spirit. The father gave him this in the bridal chamber… This is {the} kingdom of heaven” [1]

When we call for the Elders of the church to anoint us, it is a re-application of each blessing up to, and including, the Bridle Chamber.

[1 - The Gospel of Phillip, The Nag Hammadi Library, Harper Collins, Pg. 153-4.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Great Returning

{Click To Enlarge Graphic}

In Moses 4:30 is says:

“For as I, the Lord God, liveth, even so my words cannot return void, for as they go forth out of my mouth they must be fulfilled.” [Also see Isaiah 55:11]

In the scriptures, and even more prominently in Jewish Mysticism, there is a principle about this “returning” of God’s words. But, what does this mean? How does a word return? And, what is the purpose of this returning?

First, God’s words are commands.

Second, to understand this, we need to understand the Plan of Salvation [Alma 42:5] and the creation. The Book of Creation gives us some good information (from Chapter 1):

“These ten Sephiroth which are ineffable…” Which describes creation, “whose appearance is like scintillating flames…”(Flames… Or lightning. This imagery reminds us of “everlasting burnings.” Joseph Smith, King Follett Sermon, 7-DHC 6:302-317. See Ezekiel 1:13-14.), “have no end but are infinite.[1] The word of God is in them as they burst forth,” [2] This bursting forth is the creation. “and as they return; they obey the divine command, rushing along as a whirlwind, returning to prostrate themselves at his throne.”

This “returning” is part of a whole theological understanding of things. The cabalistic thinking is that God set into motion the Sefirot, or laws, or powers, and they cause the “whirlwind” (from the opposing forces) or motion necessary to bring about Gods work and glory. When the creation is finished, and every man and woman has come to earth, there is a great “returning” to God at which time they (Sefirot) bow before the throne to report. This returning begins with Adam-ondi-Ahman and ends up with Christ presenting the worlds to the Father before His throne.

“Then cometh the end, when he [Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." [1 Corinthians 15:24 & 25]

“At this great gathering, the modern prophets will return their priesthood keys to the apostles and prophets from whom they received the keys. The ancient prophets, in turn, will return the keys to their predecessors until all keys are delivered to Adam himself. Adam, as the Ancient of Days, will then restore the keys to Christ, who will use them to personally establish his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.” [Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel, Deseret, Chapter 37]

“…before the Son of Man can present His kingdom to His Father. This work has got to be accomplished before the Son of Man can come and receive His kingdom to present it to His Father. Every son and daughter of God will have the opportunity necessary for exaltation and glory, either by themselves or by their friends. ...These and other ordinances are absolutely necessary for exaltation and glory…” [Lorenzo Snow, April 6, 1895, Gen. Conference]

Inanimate mater does what it must, but man has agency. We come to this life to see if we will do whatsoever the Lords commands us to do.

This prostrating themselves before the throne is the final reporting, and the final returning. We will all give a report. While there is a great returning, individually we begin our personal returns one at a time.

[1] Infinite… They, the Sefirot, come from God who dwells outside of time, in the infinite, or in another dimension where time is not a restrictive force. The Sefirot were with God, or Ein-sof , the infinite, before the creation of our current habitation. Part of the creation was the inserting of the power of God into this universe and splitting His power into the Sefirot.

[2] The word of God is in them… As the powers or emanations of God are sent forth from heaven they created this physical existence in which we live. “... [T]he spirit of the living creature was in the wheels [sefirot].” Ezekiel 1:20. They are the laws. Christ is the center (Tef’eret) of this power of creation and sanctification. “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” Ephesians 3:9, “ In the beginning [pre-existence] was the Word [Jesus, see verse 14], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life ; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We are in the sixth creative period

Over at The Back Yard Professor (a fantastic sIte), Kerry Shirts was kind enough to give me a plug.

On that posting Ranger Dave also wrote some very kind words. He inquired about my view regarding the creative periods, and the fact that I believe we are currently in the sixth period, waiting for the seventh. But, I realized that that idea is in my book, Mormon Mysticism, but not on a post, so I am posting that short chapter here. I have omitted the footnotes, but you can find them here in my html version [link ]

Many truths of creation are taught in the temple and in scripture, yet many of those teachings are misunderstood among Latter-day Saints.

Jewish mysticism teaches us that the creation is still in progress. But, what does that mean?

Some Mormons walk around with a vague understanding of the creation that goes something like this, with some variations:

God planned the creation (spiritual creation). Then God created the earth through Christ, in six creative periods. Man was created during the sixth period, which ended creation. Somewhere in this sixth period Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. God rested upon the seventh period. And now here we are.

Superficially this sounds alright, but it is fraught with many logical problems. Besides that, this outline is in conflict with scripture, the temple, and Jewish theological tradition.

Words have meaning. We are taught that the heavens and the earth were created in six days. These days are creative periods, not twenty-four hour days. Trying to determine the age of the earth is beyond the space available to use here, but it most likely is billions of years old. Some will reject this proposal, so, for our purposes here, let’s use a lower number (because our point is still made with a fraction of the billions of years). We won’t even use millions of years. Let’s use a thousand years for each creative period. The creative periods must be close to being equal periods, otherwise the description of days becomes non-sense. If one period is a million years, and another period is an hour the description of “days” has no meaning.

One problem is; if Adam was created in the sixth period, and was expelled from the garden during the sixth period, then the thousand years of rest happened (seventh period), then the mortality of the rest of us begin (when Adam left the garden), how do we reconcile that with the life-span of Adam (Adam was less than a thousand years old)? It does not work.

Starting in Abraham chapter three, verse 22, God shows Abraham the pre-existence with the spirits. Abraham is then shown the spiritual creation and the planning of the physical creation, as ordered by God. The above spans from Abraham 3:22 through 5:5. This process was seven periods long, in the likeness (or pattern) of what was going to take place in the physical creation. At the end of these seven periods there was still no physical creation, as the scripture states there was no “rain upon the earth” because there was no earth yet, and God had not yet “formed a man.”

Then in the remainder of the Book of Abraham Adam’s spirit is placed into a body, and then he is introduced into the Garden of Eden.

Which means we have a more detailed description of the spiritual creation and planning. This is a pattern that the physical creation would follow. Then when describing the physical creation the description is truncated, we just jump to the point where Adam is in the garden. And we see that Adam and all the children of Adam will be created before the end of the sixth (physical) creative period.

“[And] thus we will finish the heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them…” before the seventh period of rest begins. The “hosts” of heaven are the children of God that come to earth.

In other words, all the children of God that are going to come to this earth (Adam included), will come during the sixth creative period.

These seven creative periods should not be confused with the seven thousand years of the temporal existence of the earth (that starts with Adam leaving the garden at about 4,000 B.C.).

We now live in the sixth creative period. When all the spirit children of God that are coming to this earth (and most likely many earths in this eternity, since the creation described is of heaven and earth or perhaps earths) have processed through mortality, been resurrected, and have entered kingdoms of glory, then the sixth period will come to an end. And then there will be a seventh period of rest.

You live in the sixth period of creation, and the creation is continuing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Power of Godliness

Are the ordinances of the temple really necessary? Could we not just conform our lives to good principles and achieve the same ends?

Let’s start in the 84th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 19:

“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” [D&C 84:19]

The “key of the mysteries” is the right [keys] to administer the mysteries, meaning, the right to administer the ordinances. Hugh Nibley said:

“…but that is what Christ meant by the mysteries of the kingdom. He meant ordinances, which were necessary; and these he revealed to the apostles during his very confidential teachings of the forty days after the resurrection.” [1]

If you accept what Nibley is saying, Doctrine and Covenants 84:19 is equating the ordinances with the ability to know God. As is plainly stated in the next verse:

“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.”

What is this “power of godliness” that is given in the ordinances? Power to do what? Verse 22:

“For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”

If we ever wish to see God, the ordinances must be done, because that is where the power is manifest. That is where the pre-earth covenant is renewed, and salvation is dispensed.

[1 - Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Deseret Book, pg. 28.]

The Tree of Life in the Book of Revelation

Continuing on with the discussion of the four kingdoms (three of glory, and one not of glory), let’s discuss the Tree of Life in the Book of Revelation. With the understanding that the New Testament Books are not in chronological order, it is interesting to note that the Bible begins with the Tree of Life in Genesis, and ends with the Tree of Life in the Book of Revelation.

We see the image of the water with the source being God and Christ, which is associated with the Tree of Life:

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” [Revelation 22:1-2]

We see that the tree (the leaves) was for the “healing of the nations.” And, in the next verse we see this is all somehow associated with the removal of the curse that was put upon man in the Garden of Eden at the fall. This is the healing of all the wounds of mortality (the role of the Anointed from the pre-earth life Plan of Salvation) .

In verse 11 and 12 we read:

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

Or, four divisions of men:

1.) Holy
2.) Righteous
3.) Unjust (the description of telestial beings)
4.) Filth (Son’s of Perdition)

“Filthy still” is a perfect description of the Son’s of Perdition.

“And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.” [D&C 88:102 also see 88:35]

There is no getting around it, whether we are reading from the Old or New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Peril of Great Price, a major theme is the Tree of Life, and the kingdoms of glory.

This imagery is the icon of salvation and sanctification (like a symbol to the entire plan of salvation). Understanding this will bring many other parts of the scriptures alive.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mark Paredes - What Makes A Mormon - 11/13/07

I am attending today (November 13, 2007) a presentation by Mark Paredes (invited by The Center For Religious Inquiry) at a Jewish Temple.

The topic is, “What Makes A Mormon.”

If you love all things Jewish, like I do, this should be good.

Hope to see you there!

Date: 11/13/07
Time:7:30 PM
Address: 3663 Wilshire Blvd. , Los Angeles, CA
COST: $10
Link: 11/13/07
Map: Click Here For Map

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Temple and The Tree

Click To Enlarge Kircher's Image

We discussed in a recent post that in Ezekiel’s temple the water running from under it into, or even creating, the three kingdoms of glory, is the same imagery that Nephi used, but Nephi exchanged the Tree of Life for the Temple.

In ancient Hebrew thought, they were the same thing (another home run for the prophet). In Jeannette Miller's paper she says: "I will equate the tree of life with the temple." [Link]

Click to Enlarge Image

If the imagery of both the temple and the Tree of Life are depicting the same thing, could we overlay the two images and see a pattern?

Actually the bottom row of three sefira on the second image should probable be outside the temple, being law (which creates creation) and agency (man’s interaction with creation) is not redeemed creation. It is not until justice and mercy are mediated that we enter the court, or the telestial kingdom.

The Great Pyramid - Cheops

Click to Enlarge Graphic

Here are a few points about Abraham and Cheops, you decide.

1.) Abraham went into Egypt after he received his ascension ritual.

2.) At the time of Abraham, the Pharaoh was a descendent of Ham, and not then eligible to hold the priesthood. [1]

3.) The Hyksos (Shepard kings) ruled Egypt part of the time, and were kin of Abraham (if not Abraham himself and/or his descendents). As such they were candidates to hold the priesthood. [2]

4.) To at least a great degree, the Egyptians had knowledge of the ascension ritual at some point and passed it along, in degrees of corruption. To the degree of the corruption that was passed-on, I will leave to the reader to decide.

The Great Pyramid (of Pharaoh Cheops) was built sometime around the period that Abraham was in Egypt. The pyramid was permanently closed with a plug, and there was never a body interred there.[3] The pyramid included all the necessary symbolism for use in ascension rituals. It had three basic levels. At the bottom, which was subterranean (representing the telestial kingdom), is found a pit that could have been used to store water for washings. The next level up is called the Queen’s Chamber, representing the terrestrial kingdom. It was higher in the structure and larger. You then ascend to the King’s Chamber (representing the celestial kingdom). It is larger and grander. There are two basic sections. The first could be used for teaching and initiation, then, as you go through a section meant to divide the two rooms, the final room is entered. There was a box (or ark) in the room. It does not take much to assume this ark contained the law, and that the initiates would kneel at this ark or alter.

[ 1 - Abraham 1:27]

[2 - See Joseph of Egypt, Elder Mark E. Peterson, Deseret Book, The Land of the Nile. See Improvement Era, 1923, Elder J.M. Sjodahl, Tut-Ankh-Amen and Sun-Worship.]

[3 - “Two air vents (M, N) passing through the entire body of the Pyramid ventilate the King's Chamber. In itself this is sufficient to establish that the building was not intended for a tomb.” Manley P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages.]

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Filthy Water?

Building upon my most prior post, The 4 kingdoms of Ezekiel, I will here discuss the waters flowing from the Tree of Life in Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life.

It has long puzzled Book of Mormon readers how first the river running from the Tree of Life is pure, then later in Nephi’s vision these waters are recognized as the “filthiness” of the world. [1 Nephi 15:26-27]

How could this be? Were there two rivers? Nope! Just one.

Why are these living waters later, or farther down the river filthy? In short, because they run through lower worlds.

The symbolism of the Tree of Life spans the three degrees of glory, and so the blessings that emanate from the celestial kingdom, they flow like water through the terrestrial kingdom, and on into the telestial kingdom. This is the stepping down of the powers of God, to the inhabitants of each kingdom of glory. In each descending kingdom the manifestation of the blessings are coarser and weakened. Clearly the waters become less pure as they travel through this telestial world. As man defiles the world with sin, he pollutes the very blessing (waters) God pours out to him. The blessings of God become the “depths of hell.”

The Tree of Life has ten sephiroth or emanations/powers of God, and that among these is justice (Din or Gevurah - resulting from law). Nephi describes how the filthy water works as an “awful gulf” between the wicked and the righteous, he tells us that the “ justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous.” [1 Nephi 15:28-30]

This would be all very apparent to an ancient Israelite, but is a little harder for us to see.

A little more on the Living Waters can be found here.

The 4 Kingdoms of Ezekiel

In Ezekiel chapter forty-seven, the prophet is shown what is believed to be the millennial temple in Jerusalem.

The imagery is of water proceeding from under the temple, and flowing to the Dead Sea, and healing the sea. This is often thought to be a literal event to happen. I submit that focusing on a literal event, correct or not, can cause us to miss the more important imagery.

The Temple is like the Tree of Life, it is the love of God. It is the symbolism of thePlan of Happiness.

The water is measured at one thousand cubits from the temple and the depth went to “…the ankles.” Then at another thousand cubits the water came to his “loins.” At the next thousand cubits the waters were so deep they “…could not be passed over.”

Finally the river flowed into the sea. And eventually even the sea was healed.

I suggest the following:

Each of the three levels correspond to the three degrees of glory which exists in all true temple imagery. These are levels of salvation.

That the sea represents the non-redeemed (the world), those who are dead, not alive in Christ. When my Hebrew becomes a little more proficient I will discuss this more with the Hebrew "MM" (or mem), including John’s use of the sea imagery in Revelation 13:1.

This is the same imagery Lehi and Nephi saw of the river. Ezekiel saw the temple, Lehi and Nephi saw the Tree of Life, which in ancient Hebrew imagery are the same exact thing. And, that Nephi said the waters and the Tree of Life both represented the same thing. Or, you might say the waters are how salvation is extended to man, or flow to him.

These ideas all depict the ascent of man. They correspond to Jacob’s Ladder, and Paul’s Sun, Moon, and Stars.

That a study of the thousand cubits in Hebrew imagery could be an interesting study itself (how 1,000 cubits separate each glory – Abraham’s 1000 yr solar boat).

More on this to come!