Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fruit of the Tree of Life - D&C 88:24

I received for Christmas (Thanks Ryan, Jamie, and Sterling) a “Revelations and Translations” version of the new Joseph Smith Papers (JSP). I feel as though I should apologize because as soon as I opened the book, within five minutes I am correcting the Doctrine and Covenants.

Now there may be back-story that I don’t know about, and perhaps Joseph Smith corrected it, and it is correct as it currently reads in the scriptures. But, from the information I currently have, it appears a correction is in order for Section 88:24.

From page 294 of the JSP which is a copy of the handwritten original text written by John Whitmer we read:

“...Therefore he is not fruit [and then a little arrow pointing up] for a kingdom of glory...”

[Click on Graphic Above To Inlarge]

But above and a little to the left of the word “fruit” there is a “revision” by John Whitmer in Parenthesis. The “translation” provided by the JSP says the words are “(or meet)” By it look much more like “(or meat)” to me.

Again from the information I currently have, it looks to me as the “meat” is a better translation, both by direct observation, of context.

First, the entire section uses the Tree of Life as a backdrop, it is the imagery used for the ascension doctrine being conveyed. In the section heading it announces itself as the “olive leaf...plucked from the Tree of Paradise.” So the fact that “fruit” was written in the original text seems to be more at home than most alternatives. 
"Fruit” is at home in a tree motif.

At some point it was decided to drop the word “fruit” completely and use the words in the parentheses. The word “fruit” does not appear in our current scriptures.

Now if you go down the road of dropping the word fruit, then the whole tree-fruit motif is gone, and no longer a factor in understanding the words in the parentheses.

Again, the JSP translates the words as “or meet.” But if you use the context of the tree-fruit motif the word “meat” fits better. Plus as I observe the word, and the letters “e” and “a” as used here, compared to the rest of the text, I am convinced the word is “meat.”

Also, the text is discussing the Telestial glory of kingdom, which is a definition of salvation, each kingdom above that is sanctification, not salvation. The fruit of the Tree of Life is salvation. However, from a cabalistic point of view we each eat from the tree at one of the three levels that correspond to resurrections of glory.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Luke's Going On a Mission

My youngest son Luke is going on a Mission!

He recently received his mission call to the Johannesburg South Africa Mission. He will report in April 2010.

It's a great thing for a young man to serve in this way. He has already had some great missionary experiences going out with the missionaries in the ward.

His mother is a bit worried, but I am confident he will be fine. It will be the adventure of a lifetime. I understand he may have the opportunity to learn some of the "click" language.

This is a sharp kid. In the last year he as read the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Temple In Cosmos, Approaching Zion, Mormonism and Early Christianity, Lectures on Faith, and a bunch more. I wonder what I could have achieved on my mission if I was half as prepared?

We expect to see great this from this young man!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Sons Of Perdition?

I was invited last Sunday to read the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This invitation was an attempt to reclaim me from my false ideas regarding who the son of perdition are.

Admittedly I have some minority views on a few Plan of Salvation matters. I will here attempt to defend the views I have that are associated with identifying the sons of perdition.

The question was asked “what happens to a good gentile man who rejects the gospel and Christ in this life, and in the spirit world?”

First, there is a logical fallacy within the question itself. What makes one thing or person “good?” By definition, if one would reject Christ in the spirit world, he would not be “good.” There Christ is revealed unto every person. Nobody is condemned for choices they make in ignorance. The beauty of LDS theology is that everyone gets a fully informed choice to accept or reject the gift of Christ.

But since that is the way the question was asked, I responded the best I could, “that person would be a son of perdition.” To which a light roar of disapproving comments were made. This surprises me a bit. Is it not clear in LDS theology that without Christ, there is NO SALVATION?

Salvation, in LDS theology, is clearly a resurrection to any degree of glory. While we hope to be saved into the Celestial Kingdom, a Telestial resurrection is still salvation.

Second, we can not atone for our own sins. We may suffer for them, but that suffering is unto repentance, but does not atone one bit. The penalty for sin is eternal separation (forever) from God. When would a sinner ever complete the punishment? The answer is “never.” Only Christ’s atonement can meet the demands of justice.

“Behold, he [Christ] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Nephi 2:7)

I believe Christ died for the world.

“41 That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

42 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;

43 Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.

44 Wherefore, he saves all except them…” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:41-44)

Before every person’s final judgment, the Father will “reveal” Christ, in some way. We qualify as son’s of perdition if we reject Christ with a fully informed decision, after He has been “revealed,” whether in this life, the spirit world, or the resurrection.

The gift of Christ is offered to all.

“And they [son’s of perdition] who remain shall also be quickened [resurrected]; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.”

“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (D&C 88:32&33)

So, upon conclusion, pursuant to my invitation, I did again read Doctrine and Covenants section 76 and remain of the opinion that salvation cometh only through Christ.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Congradulations Sterling!

Congratulations to Sterling Beck!

Sterling recently fought a hotly contested race for a seat in the Provo City Council and won the election (shown here with Jamie). He takes his position on January 5, 2010.

Not bad for a young man of his tender years. He also recently graduated from BYU.

He is very talented, we expect to continue to see great things from Sterling.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mormon Mysticism - The Book - Newest Version

I wrote my second book “Mormon Mysticism” back a couple years. When preparing to write the book I was listening to the radio program “Dennis Prager” and he said something to the effect that any book worth writing should be written in under 100 pages. So I was determined to trim my thoughts down to 100 pages. But many of my readers thought the book was not complete and there were to many holes, and things left without explanation.

I worked up a second addition still trying to keep the size down.

I have just finished my final writing, it’s now 290 pages. I have to admit I am proud of this work. It’s the book I wish someone would have given me 15 years ago (I was not ready for it till then).

You can see it online in html form HERE (free). Some of the formating is funny in html, but it’s good for references.

Or, you can download a pdf HERE (free).

I have not yet updated, where you can buy paper back copies, or I will let you know when the latest version is available there.

NOTE: If you purchased an earlier version in paperback, and would like an updated copy, send me an email, and when I get my first batch of paper backs I will send you one for free.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mark is Home!

My son Mark Littlefield arrived home yesterday from the Columbia South Carolina Mission.

It's nice to have him home. It's a great thing for a young man to serve. Besides the benefit to the young man, and the converts he finds, the church creates a population of capable leaders.

And Marks brother Luke just put his papers in and will likely leave at the beginning of the year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Anointing - Oil and Blood

There is a theme in Old Testament and other religious writings of that day regarding anointing. There are many instances of sacred anointings from Adam seeking to be anointed with the oil from the tree of life, to Moses anointing the implements of the Tabernacle and so on.

Baptism is usually and rightfully thought of as the initiation ritual of ancient Israel, with symbolic stories of Adam standing in the Jordan River for forty days as his repentance and baptism. We know as Latter-Day Saints that Adam was actually baptized. (Moses 6:64&65)

Ancient Jewish converts had to be baptized, circumcised, and perform sacrifice as initiatory rites. Ancient Israelite thinking about anointing was also associated with these introductory rites.

“The solemn setting apart of a person or thing to a special use or purpose. According to Fleischer (Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." ii. 206), the word "hanak" (to initiate) is derived from the "rubbing of the throat" of an infant for the purpose of cleansing it and enabling it to take the mother's milk, and is therefore applied to every form of initiation. It appears, moreover, that the "rubbing" remained for a long time an essential feature of the rite of initiation, for "every consecration in Biblical times was accompanied by rubbing or anointing with oil the object to be consecrated. Thus the pillar at Bethel was anointed (Gen. xxviii. 18; compare the "dedication" of Nebuchadnezzar's image, Dan. iii. 2 et seq.). The priests and the vessels of the Tabernacle were anointed with oil (Ex. xxviii. 41, xxx. 26; Lev. viii. 10-12; Num. vii. 13), and by this rite they were "hallowed." "Mishát Adonai" is, therefore, "consecration to the Lord" (Lev. x. 7).”

In temple symbolism; sacrifice, baptism, and anointing were all contiguous in their area of the temple, which represented the Telestial Kingdom.

"Teleiomai [relating to the telestial kingdom] means to be introduced into the mysteries... [a] teleiotes is a person who has been initiated into some degree or other of the mysteries, and the completion of the degree qualifies him as complete..." (Temple and Cosmos, Hugh Nibley, Deseret Book, Pg# 28)

Initiation into some degree of the mysteries is analogous to being initiated into some level of the temple worship system.

There is a relationship between oil and the blood of the sacrificial victim. In gospel themes the two are sometimes interchangeable.

In a temple setting, relating to sacrifice, a “filling of the hand” is closely related to the anointing. A priest “fills his hand” with his sacrificial offering, and that demonstrates his part in the sacrificial system. Aaron filled his hand with the sacrificial meat and burnt it upon the altar. (Leviticus 9:17)

Anointing is for “consecration.” What we read in the King James as “consecration” is often “fills the hand” in Hebrew, as in Ezekiel 43:26. The Hebrew word MLA (mala) is defined in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (word 4390); “ fill be ordained... consecrate... to unite together... ‘to fill the hand’ means to ordain or consecrate for service to God... consecrated...”

In Hebrew, covenant (brit - BRYT) literally means“cut-where-blood-flows.” When a sacrificial victim would be cut the blood would be caught in cups and passed from one priest to another, not to be sat down. In this way the the priests' hands were filled, and the people were consecrated and sanctified by the sprinkling of the blood upon the people.

And what did blood represent? Messiah, or the anointed one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mark Paredes - Jewish / LDS Classes


Our friend Mark Parades will be teaching a few classes over at the American Jewish University (Los Angeles). Two are identical lectures (one morning, one evening) on Jewish themes in LDS theology, and the other is a series of interfaith theological dialogues with Conservative Rabbi John Borak.


They are wonderful opportunities to promote LDS-Jewish understanding, and I hope that you will encourage interested friends and contacts to attend.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Question of 1 Nephi 2:6-9

This post is more of a question than a explanation.

Learning to study patterns in scripture can be a great tool to see associations between passages. These associations provide clarification, or additional insight into each other.

To me, a most prominent example of common patterns between scriptural motifs is the idea of ascension. The scriptural references to ascension that I would easily associate would be:

Genesis 2, where the Tree of Life is described, and from it flows a river that flows into the world and breaks into four parts.

Ezekiel 47, where the temple is described, and from it flows a stream goes into the world and expands into four levels.

Nephi 8, where the Tree of Life is described, that has a river that flows from it through the world and become polluted as it proceeds.

Now the above are the main anchors of this thought, but I would also associate the Parable of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5-6), The True Vine (John 15), Tree of Faith (Alma 32:40), Revelation 22, Jacob’s Ladder, The Parable of the Sower, and so on, But the point is easier to make with the anchors.

So we see the pattern of the temple, or the Tree of Life being the place or origin. And this is all clearly a temple setting, with a water flow descending from the source into the world.

When we begin to notice a pattern we need to use restraint and not make association that are not there. But this is where my question starts.

I see the pattern of ascension described above in 1 Nephi chapter two verses 6 through 9. I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed this out before.

It is usually not seen as any great revelation, but a simple teaching example used by a father to teach his sons.

Lehi and his family camp beside a river, and from there he builds his example.

In verse 7 Lehi builds an altar that I would contend is a place of covenant and has an ideological equivalence or at least an association to a temple or Tree of Life.

“And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.”

This imagery is a little more difficult to reconcile, but we have in 1 Nephi 2 an altar, a river, a valley, the sea, and a connection to the “fountain of all righteousness.”

(see 1 Nephi 11:25, Ether 8:25, 12:28, 1 Nephi 8:20, 32, Ps 36:9, 68:26, prov. 14:27, Jer. 2:23, 17:13, Joel 3:18, Rev. 7:17, 21:6)

I am unsure of the importance, but I can’t shake the idea that this imagery was purposefully incorporating aspects of other ascension vision. Now was this being used to get them in the mindset to receive the Tree of Life vision that would follow? Or just pure coincidence? Or for some other reason?

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

David Larsen - Ph.D. Program

Dear Friends:

I don’t sell books on this site, I don’t do google ads, and I haven’t asked for money, until today!

I want you to consider an investment into the education of my friend David Larsen, of He is just starting his work on his Ph.D. in Religious Studies at St. Mary’s College in Scotland.

It’s expensive, and he could use the help.

David Larsen has a fantastic insight into the deeper things of Mormonism. He has a rare combination of raw talent and professional training.

Check out his web site for his impressive full bio here:

Email David Larsen here:

Donate HERE.

Thank you!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jewish & Mormon Fireside 7/19/09


There will be an Interfaith Dialogue Fireside with Rabbi John Borak, and LDS Stake President Robert Keeler.

The topic is: Interpreting Isaiah (Specifically Ish. 6:1).

Evidently we have become good enough friends to mix it up a bit. This is one of a continuing series of dialogues.

The dialogue will be presented as the monthly mid-single adult fireside sponsored by the LA and SM stakes. The public is welcome.


Sunday, July 19 at 7:00 p.m.
LDS Westwood Chapel
10740 Ohio Avenue in Los Angeles.

Special thanks to Mark Paredes.

Check out our Jewish friends visiting Utah here.

See You There!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th. of July!

I just finished my short talk I am giving for our ward pancake breakfast tomorrow, and decided I would share it here too:

From before, when the foundations of the earth were laid, our Father in Heaven, looked forward, and foresaw the day when religious and governmental tyranny and darkness would grip this world.

When the first century Church of Christ left the earth, she took with her certain underpinnings of civilization, which left humanity groping for truth, freedom, opportunity, free agency, and fairness.

During what is commonly called the Dark Ages, not only was the gospel absent from the earth, governments reigned with blood and horror. People, families, tribes, and nations were looked upon by governments, as chattel to be enslaved, and disposed of as would benefit the pretended sovereigns.

A light began to break out in that age of darkness, heroic souls chosen by God, struggled to reform the false religion of their day, and to re-insert the underpinnings of equitable government. This struggle was long and hard. The blood of good and innocent people covered the lands of Europe.

This bloody struggle called the Reformation, eventually created a small and rare opportunity for real and lasting change.

Those seeking religious freedom fled to the New World.

Those seeking political freedom came to the New World.

Many came seeking riches and prosperity.

And, some came in chains.

Some came in obedience to dreams and visions, believing they were part of some great work that was taking place in this New World.

To simplify a more complicated history, the New World began to thrive.

As the principals of righteousness were progressively instituted in the new land, it became a shinning beacon of hope to the rest of the world.

From the nations of the world came the good, in wave after wave. Yes, we get the cream of the cream.

But this was not by chance; it was instituted from the pre-existence. When God showed Abraham the righteous spirits, God said that from among these He would make his rulers, or priesthood holders. And God promised that from Abraham’s prosperity all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

As Latter-Day Saints we know that the gathering of the cream of the cream, was in fact part of the plan, the great vision, for the call of Israel to gather for the last time.

As we gathered into the New World, the tentacles of the Old World refused to let us go, but attempted to institute those old way, here in our new land.

But, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them…” a separation or independence becomes necessary.

For a separation to have the meaning sought by the pilgrims, it had to be built upon righteous principles.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is these principals that eventually brought freedom to all people in America, even those brought here in chains.

The idea that God granted certain unalienable rights to each and every individual is central to good government, and the plan of salvation. In LDS parlance we call this “Agency.”

And, I quote: “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

In July of 1776 a new government was formed, the United States of America.

She has been an island freedom in the world from that day until now. Good men have sacrificed to make our nation live up-to our first national creed.

This creed, the Declaration of Independence created the framework that allowed the restoration of the gospel.

As Latter-day saints we know this land is a promised land, and has become a land of inheritance for you and me.

With freedom, and blessings come responsibilities.

The Pilgrims fled the old world for the blessings of America.

Immigrants came from around the world for its blessings.

And, Mormon Pioneers came west to realize America’s blessings.

But as Elder James E. Faust said:

“So now we find ourselves in a situation where, unlike the Pilgrims, the Mormon pioneers, and others, we have no where to go in order to escape a new civil de facto secular state religion that continually limits public religious expression and fosters secular values and expressions. How do we preserve the essence of our humanity?” (Finding Light In A Dark World, Elder James E. Faust, Deseret Book, pg 67.)

America is the last stand of freedom, there is nowhere left to go. We must stand here with the heroes of the past, and help America realize her full potential, as the land of freedom.

So today, enjoy the pancakes, the BBQ’s, and the fireworks, but keep a place in your heart for the vision, which is America.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can We Suffer For Our Own Sins?

Today’s Sunday School lesson was on one of my favorite subjects, the “Plan of Salvation.” This topic is thought by many to be elementary, but I find it deep and riveting.

When we got to the point of discussing the three kingdoms of glory I asked the question; are those who inherit the Telestial or Terrestrial kingdoms fully forgiven of their sins, or just partially cleansed? I always ask that question at that point to anchor the discussion should a debate ensue (which is not uncommon for me on this topic).

As the discussion continued, the view was shared by a couple brethren that those who go to the Celestial kingdom enter by the atonement of Christ. But, those who enter the two next kingdoms do so by suffering for their own sins.

I reject this idea. I know why they believe that, it is based upon a misunderstanding of a few verses, however, it flies in the face of the rest of LDS theology. Yet this idea is not unheard of.

Let me first state my views on these issues, which surprisingly I find controversial among my fellow members.

I believe that Christ died for the world.

“41 That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

42 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;

43 Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.

44 Wherefore, he saves all except them…” (D&C 76:41-44)

Salvation is the redemption of the soul, or in other words the spirit and the body. In fact, Christ redeems the bodies of all men pursuant to the primordial covenant of creation.

I suggest that the resurrection of the dead is the redemption of the soul, body and spirit, of all men, even the son’s of perdition.

“And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.

And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.

And the redemption of the soul is through him [Christ] that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the dearth shall inherit it.” (D&C 88:15-17)

In other words, all are saved, body and spirit in the resurrection (OK, calm down, you don’t need to call my bishop).

The son’s of perdition are in the process of redemption in the resurrection, but until the final judgment, post-resurrection is given, the crowns of the kingdoms are not given. The son’s of perdition reject the gift of redemption at the final day.

Speaking of the resurrection of the son’s of perdition we read:

“And they [son’s of perdition] who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (D&C 88:32-33)

The gift of redemption is given to all, but is not received by the son’s of perdition.

These son’s of perdition can’t reject the gift of Christ, and pay for their own sins, and receive a kingdom of glory, nor can anyone else.

The punishment for sin is endless separation from God. We can never pay for our own sins! We can never come to a point at which the penalty has been fully paid without Christ.

“Behold, he [Christ] offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” (2 Nephi 2:7)

To overcome sin and its consequences, the price paid must be an infinite atonement, see 2 Nephi 9:7. Men can’t provide that. Without a savior we will languish forever in separation from God.

“…[T]here is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” (2 Nephi 2:8).

The 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 35 lays out the ways people can be saved.

Mercy – But unless we accept Christ, how can we receive mercy? Mercy is given through Christ. Otherwise law and justice are frustrated.

Justice – But we all fall short and have broken the law, so law only brings death to us sinners.

Judgment – The same problem as justice.

No matter what else we have done, without Christ, we remain filthy still. There are not several, competing, or parallel ways to be saved, there is only one way. This is basic Mormon doctrine.

The people who inherit the Telestial Kingdom suffer the wrath of God in this life, are cast down to hell after this life to suffer Gods wrath in spirit prison, but in the end accept Christ.

Christ paid for the sins of the world, and salvation is free. What determines where we spend eternity is what law we are willing to live.

“All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the son’s of perdition.” (Joseph Smith, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg 119)

It's a great plan!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Olive Leaf - Doctrine and Covenants 88

The restoration, through the Prophet Joseph Smith is an interesting study. Joseph grew up in a protestant family and community, and certainly assimilated some of those understandings of religion, some for good, and some that needed correcting. The progression and order of the truths that are revealed are worthy of note.

The first thing that is established is the basic nature of God at the First Vision. Then through the translation of the Book of Mormon and the Bible the Prophet confronted a number of issues, and truths were revealed. Many of these revelations are found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Certain truths, when revealed had associated ordinances that were simultaneously revealed, authorized, and administered.

In the First Vision the nature of God is revealed. In the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Plan of Salvation (Plan of Happiness) is revealed (restored the knowledge) with the three degrees of glory and the promise that God will “reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom…” someday in the future.[D&C 76:7]

Then in the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants Joseph was given the promise of the Celestial Kingdom:

“This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;” [D&C 88:4]

It appears to me that the “promise” of the celestial kingdom is associated with ordinances, and these things are the point of the temple. We don’t ascend to exaltation outside of or independently from the temple.

The LDS Guide to the Scriptures define the “Holy Spirit of Promise” as:

“The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit of Promise (Acts 2: 33). He confirms as acceptable to God the righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants of men. The Holy Spirit of Promise witnesses to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept.”

“They who are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise receive all that the Father has, D&C 76: 51-60 (Eph. 1: 13-14). All covenants and performances must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to have force after this life, D&C 132: 7, 18-19, 26.” [REF.]

I believe it is probable that what we have in the Doctrine and Covenants, the 88th section is an outline of teachings Joseph received as he received his endowments. That when understood represent the finest and deepest section of canon we have.

Further, that Doctrine and Covenants 88 is akin to Moses’ vision of eternity, to Abraham’s vision of Eternity, to Jacob’s vision of the Ladder, or to Ezekiel’s vision for the temple.

And further still, that it should be used as a supplemental handbook to the temple experience. Most of us are not going to see the heavens open in this life, but we can attend the temple and receive the ordinances of ascension, and apply the teaching of an almost contemporary description of a Merkabah experience, the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

We can know the mysteries of God.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Holy Kiss

We read in the King James New Testament five times the exhortation to “Greet one another with a holy kiss..” (Ref.) In the Joseph Smith translation the prophet changed “kiss” to “salutation.” I don’t know if that means there was not a kiss involved, and the translation is a transliteration (actual word meanings), or a true translation where the intent of the text is presented. I suspect the latter. Ancient Mediterraneans commonly greeted each other with a kiss. Still today, many people great each other with a kiss to the check. (Ref.)

We know that many of our social gestures have their genesis from a temple setting.

“One could even say that the handshake greeting is also of biblical origin: it is mentioned in Galatians 2.9d: ‘They gave me and Barnabas their right hands of fellowship.’" (Ref.)

A ritual embrace in the Catholic “Tridentine Mass” likely has its roots in the temple, where the embraced is told “Peace be unto you.” Which in theological terms could mean “be reconciled.”

In Todd M. Compton’s paper “The Handclasp and Embrace as Tokens of Recognition,” he associated the kiss with the embrace.

“The kiss of peace of the New Testament apparently always included the embrace. Sometimes the kiss and the embrace were both specified: Cyprian writes, "Holding to this faith, and meditating thereon day and night, let us too aspire to God with all our heart, disdaining the present and thinking only on the things that are to be, the fruition of the eternal kingdom, the embrace and the kiss of the Lord [complexum et osculum Domini], the vision of God." A specific example appears in Luke 15:20: "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Sometimes the kiss disappeared, leaving only the embrace: "The kiss or pax was eventually reduced to a mild embrace occasionally accompanied by a touching of the cheeks." 95 John Chrysostom writes of the holy kiss (1 Corinthians 16:20) exchanged by Christians that it "unites and makes one body." He tells us that when we exchange the kiss as a symbol of love with our neighbors the Lord wants our souls to kiss and our hearts to embrace. The kiss was used in baptismal initiation and in the mass (cf. fig. 5).” (GospelLink, pg 24, The Symbolon: Unity, Separation, Unity)

What I am suggesting is that handshaking, embracing, and kissing in certain social situations, while the meaning is largely lost to us today, come from antiquity, where they represented at-one-ment, pointing to temple activities. An outside symbol of that which happens inside.

Hugh Nibley has many references to the “Ritual Embraces” among several ancient civilizations.

Quoting Mayassis about the Egyptian initiation rites, Nibley said:

“The ritual embrace is ‘the culminating rite of the initiation.’" (Hugh Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, Part VII)

Nibley goes on to explain; “But by far the most significant embrace is that of the Father as he appears under various names already in the Pyramid Texts. The rites of Unas reach their culmination when at the center-niche of the Serdab on the far side of the "celestial room" "the Creator Himself" embraces the candidate to represent "the fusion of the heaven-bound deceased with the Sungod Re."

The embrace is the act of at-one-ing fallen man with the Gods. It is becoming one with God, the act of true consecration.

In Bishop Cyril’s “Lecture on the Mysteries” he gives a very insightful, mid initiation, teaching about higher ordinances.

Starting with “On The Mysteries,” lecture 5 a call is made to “Receive ye one another; and let us kiss one another.” Which I take as a cryptic reference to the ritual embrace. Delineating this “kiss,” salutation, or embrace from a common meeting the text continues:

“Think not that this kiss is of the same character with those given in public by common friends. It is not such: but this kiss blends souls one with another, and courts entire forgiveness for them. The kiss therefore is the sign that our souls are mingled together, and banish all remembrance of wrongs” (Ref.)

Meaning an act of forgiveness, and unification.

Cyril then draws upon a New Testament temple text to explain what this kiss does:

“For this cause Christ said, If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there rememberest that your brother has anything against thee, leave there your gift upon the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift . The kiss therefore is reconciliation, and for this reason holy: as the blessed Paul somewhere cried, saying, Greet ye one another with a holy kiss…”

I speculate that Cyril’s sometimes vivid, and sometimes cryptic description of an initiate’s trip to the Holy of Holies that describes the “holy kiss” is a reference to the sacred embrace. That the holy kiss of New Testament times is an allusion to a final act of reconciliation of the temple.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Four Corners of the Earth

In Sunday School this week we were discussing the “gathering” or the "gathering of Israel." The question was asked about the “four quarters” of the earth, or the “four corners” of the earth.

I did not volunteer my answer because I thought it too complicated for a one-sentence answer, and concluded it would be better not to appear as the crazy guy in the back of the room, again.

I see these phrases as part of a larger, and mostly lost understanding of Israelite theology and imagery. In Kabalistic thought there are really only two things in physicality; “Creation” (existence, dividing, and scattering), and the “Chariot” (gathering, uniting, at-one-ing).

The imagery of the Tree of Life first shown in Eden has a river that flows from it, and it flows to the entire physical universe. It is the blessings of God. It is the power that maintains existence, it’s the laws of physics, it is the knowledge that saves, it is the power to exalt, it is covenants, it’s our gospel heritage.

This river immediately divides into four parts. These parts correspond to the four estates of man, or the Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial Kingdoms, and Outer Darkness (non-redeemed state). All of these, even outer darkness is maintained by this flow.

Some would argue that tribes of the earth generally, as a group, adhere to one of these kingdoms.

Going to the four corners of the earth, would be analogous to following one of the four rivers to where that tribe exists, and preaching the gospel there. This is associated with the prophecy that the gospel would go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (tribe).

Going to every tribe is a fairly new phenomenon. It was not always so. Even Jesus resisted teaching the gospel to those of questionable breeding. This latter-day process of taking the gospel to all four quarters is associated with the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is the means of salvation and exaltation. You can’t be a child of God and reject the Abrahamic Covenent.

The seed for this covenant is inserted by the blood of Israel being planted into each tribe by the scattering of Israel (intermarrying)(linage), or by individuals accepting the covenant and being adopted. (see Israel, LDS Topical Guide)

This idea of the four rivers is demonstrated in Ezekiel 47 where the river coming from the Temple exists in four depths. Nephi saw the river coming from the Tree of Life in levels of purity (REF). This water is also associated with final things as we see in Revelation 22. This idea can also be soon in many simple teachings and parables such as the Parable of the Sower, with its four outcomes.

Through this process, all the world will be blessed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Believe all Things

You may have noticed I have been a bit preoccupied lately and have not been attending to my blogging as I should have. But I have been saving up topics to write on.

Today I did have a few minutes to spend browsing blogs, and one blog really caught my attention. I have seen it before, but did not fully appreciate it. Most of you have probably been there before, but in case you missed it, “Believe all Things” is really a great web site. It covers a wide variety of topics of interest to LDS folks, from What is an Endowment? to IG Farben and Hugh Nibley.

I found this little political clip there:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New LDS Web Site!


We have a new and welcomed addition to the LDS world of blogging.

This is a great little site to introduce people to the church. It explains what you may forget to tell them to prepare them for a new church experience. It has some basic entertaining videos, and more on the way. Welcome, Doug & Laurel!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Levels of Learning

I have been contemplating last week’s Sunday School Lesson. It was about receiving revelation, and the class started with a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them…” (HC 3:379-80.)

In my spiritual journey I have observed with great interest this process of receiving knowledge, and the importance of knowledge. We are taught:

“1st key: Knowledge is the power of salvation. 2nd key: Make your calling and election sure.” (HC 5:403.)

“It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” (D&C 131:6)

So knowledge is associated with salvation, and I would suggest the knowledge we are willing to receive is directly connected to the kingdom we inherit.

“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified. For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.” (D&C 88:38-40

Knowledge is associated with wisdom and law. What is the knowledge we are required to receive to progress? It is the Wisdom of the temple. This is the key to exaltation. Margaret Barker has pointed out a number of times in her writings that "Wisdom" is associated with an anointing, and the temple. (Barker, Temple Themes in Christian Worship - See the index for "Wisdom")

If we keep the same law as Joseph or the Twelve, the same knowledge will be revealed to us. The same ordinances will be sealed upon us, the same mysteries will show themselves, and we will be crowned with the same kingdom. God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34)

Not keeping the law is what prevents us from acquiring knowledge. We may receive the form, but not receive the law upon our hearts, hence we then lack the Holy Spirit of Promise.

In my personal journey I can look back and see things I did not know, and can usually pinpoint why I did not know them, why I was not “able to bear them.”

I suggest one reason we resist learning is because we defend what we think we know against further truth. For example the bible teaches us that Christ went and preached unto the spirits in prison. (1 Peter 3:19) While that scripture is true, it is really only true on one level. A fuller understanding of that topic is almost contrary to the original understanding:

“But unto the wicked he [Christ] did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised; Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face.” (D&C 138:20 & 21)

Sometimes by clinging to strongly to what we think we know prevents us from understanding things at a deeper level. The Zohar teaches us:

“There was a man who lived in the mountains. He knew nothing about those who lived in the city. He sowed wheat and ate kernels raw. One day he entered the city. They offered him good bread. The man asked “What is this for?”

They replied, “it’s bread, to eat” He ate, and it tasted very good. He asked, “What is it made of?”

They answered, “Wheat.” Later, they offered him thick loaves kneaded with oil. He tasted them, and asked, “And what are these made of?”

They answered, “Wheat.”

Later they offered him royal pastry kneaded with honey and oil. He asked, “And what are these made of?”

They answered, “Wheat.”

He said, “Surely I am the master of all these, since I eat the essence of all of these: wheat!”

Because of that view, he knew nothing of the delights of the world, which were lost on him. So it is with one who grasps the principles but is unaware of all those delectable delights deriving, diverging from that principle.” (Matt, Zohar Vol. 2, pg 176)

My suggestion, let’s clear away our pathology as quickly as we can, and learn what we are able to bear as soon as we can. (Healing)

My Wordie

I did not want to be left out, everyone is doing it, so I thought I would get one too!

Here is a visual representation of my blog from Wordie.

Click Here To Enlarge

Friday, January 2, 2009

Light Divided by Darkness

Ancient Hebrews sometimes thought of the creation as beginning in a spiritual realm (Ein Sof) and the our physical creation as being an extension of that “world” (Keter is the gate to that world), and as that power extended downward to make creation it was divided. This divided power can be likened unto images of Solomon’s Temple. The Holy of Holies (Celestial Room) was a cube, the Holy Place (Terrestrial Room) was a larger room representing the expanded, divided, or dilution of the law. Then the Outer Court (Telestial Room) which was even larger.

In Ezekiel 47 the imagery is extended into the world in three degrees of salvation, where a trickle starts at the temple. At thousand cubit lengths the trail of water expands, or divides until it becomes a rushing river. (see HERE)

The same idea is present in Nephi’s river, see my post on: ”Filty Water”.

I know this idea may be foreign among many LDS folks. Think of it this way. We know that the imagery of the Tree of Life is central to the LDS view of the creation, it is there at Eden and heals the nations of the world during the Millennium.

In the Garden of Eden this overwhelming symbol, the “Tree of Life” was shown to Adam. But there was another tree there, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” This latter tree had no power on man until he partook of the fruit. It appears the partaking of this “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” is what divides or dilutes the influence of the Tree of Life, at least as it now effects man. It is man’s choice to partake of the forbidden fruit that causes the levels or degrees of creation. In a nutshell, it is what law we live that creates the purity of the water, and the corresponding kingdom.

The powers of the Tree of Life are divided or split to the level we wish to partake at. Within the thinking of ancient Egyptians, regarding the creation and redemption of man this idea is played out over and over. Hugh Nibley teaches us about this teaching as found in the Book of the Dead.

“The custom is mentioned in the Book of Breathings: ‘I am the one before whom Atum [Adam] has announced the Annals under the noble Ished-tree of Heliopolis’ … When the initiate ‘witnesses the splitting of the Persea-tree in the midst of Rostau,’ in the B.D. version, that, according to Thausing, represents the Creation, among other things the ‘splitting of 'good' and 'evil' ’…, the law of opposites set forth in the Shabako Creation text.” (Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, Hugh NIbley, Deseret Book, 2nd addition, pg. 290)

The pillars of Jachin and Boaz stood in Solomon’s Temple representing these trees. The temple is a playing out in ritual form of these ideas of healing and death, justice and mercy, law and choice.

The choices of man have created an inequality in the universe. Things are at odds, there is no reconciliation, things are dying or running down to destruction.

It is the atonement of Christ that heals this splitting or dividing. It is in him that we must trust.

“I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.” (Ecclesiates)

It has long been held by some that this splitting or dividing is what is being spoken of in a symbolic way when God divides the light from the darkness during the creation narratives. This Idea has support from a reading of the Book of Abraham. In Abraham chapter 4, through 5:3 the seven creative periods (days) are described. The first act of creation is the creation of light (good) and it being divided by the darkness.

“And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light. And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.” (Abraham 4:3&4)

Then verses 5 through 13 describe two more periods of creation. But then in verse 14 forward is when actual lights in the heavens are set up, which is the FOURTH CREATIVE PERIOD.

“And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.” (Abraham 4:15)

So the first day of creation can be thought of as the dividing of light and darkness, which in gospel terms is good (law) and bad (wrong choices), And the fourth day of creation is the placing of the actual luminaries in the physical heavens. (1)

What amazes me is when we learn more about ancient understandings of the plan of salvation, even as they come to us in fragment and corrupted condition, they can cause epiphany after epiphany when we read modern text such at the 88th. section of the Doctrine and Covenants where we are taught about light, law, choice, mercy, and kingdoms.
1.) In actuality the fourth chapter of Abraham is the spiritual creation, it is not until a few verses into the fifth chapter that the physical creation is described. However, the spiritual creation works as a template to aid our understanding.