Anyone who does not follow God’s chosen prophets is not following God’s chosen prophets. I will not apologize for that.
God has chosen, called, ordained, and sent forth his anointed servants to do His work on earth, to act in His stead, and to say the things the He would say if He were here. They are His representatives, and act in vicarious authority as if they were Christ here in person, and if we don’t stand close to what they say, we are not following the One who sent them ((Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, p. 256)). For He has put into their mouths the things which they should say ((D&C 100:5-6, 24:5-6)).
When Paul was converted and called he was told, [Read more…]
A reader emailed me last night and introduced me to the work of Dr. Andrei Orlov, a professor at Marquette University, who has done much work on Enoch pseudepigraphal material. As I was perusing some of his research I came upon one of the excerpts from his book The Enoch-Metatron Tradition that interested me. It is an account from the book of 1 Enoch which tells of Enoch’s vision of his ascension to the throne of God:
And I proceeded until I came near to a wall (t[eqm) which was built of hailstones, and a tongue of fire surrounded it, and it began to make me afraid. And I went into the tongue of fire and came near to a large house (be4t (a3biy) which was built of hailstones, and the wall of that house (was) like a mosaic (made) of hailstones, and its floor (was) snow. Its roof (was) like the path of the stars and flashes of lightning, and among them (were) fiery Cherubim, and their heaven (was like) water. And (there was) a fire burning around its wall, and its door was ablaze with fire. And I went into that house, and (it was) hot as fire and cold as snow, and there was neither pleasure nor life in it. Fear covered me and trembling, I fell on my face. And I saw in the vision, and behold, another house, which was larger than the former, and all its doors (were) open before me, and (it was) built of a tongue of fire. And in everything it so excelled in glory and splendor and size that I am unable to describe to you its glory and its size. And its floor (was) fire, and above (were) lightning and the path of the stars, and its roof also (was) a burning fire. And I looked and I saw in it a high throne, and its appearance (was) like ice and its surrounds like the shining sun and the sound of Cherubim. ((http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/enochpriest))
I believe I’ve come across this reference before, perhaps in Nibley’s writings, but it was good to go over it again. This type of psudepigrapha is full of symbolism and can be intimidating unless we have a guide. Dr. Orlov helps us in this regard:
Commenting on this passage, Himmelfarb draws the readers’ attention to the description of the celestial edifices which Enoch encounters in his approach to the Throne. She notes that the Ethiopic text reports that, in order to reach God’s Throne, the patriarch passes through three celestial constructions: a wall, an outer house, and an inner house. The Greek version of this narrative mentions a house instead of a wall. Himmelfarb observes that “more clearly in the Greek, but also in the Ethiopic this arrangement echoes the structure of the earthly temple with its vestibule (Mlw)), sanctuary (lkyh), and the Holy of Holies (rybd).” ((ibid.))
So in order to reach the highest level of the heaven, Enoch had to pass through three stages or levels of progression on his ascent. As Dr. Orlov notes, this has also been shown to follow the very structure of many ancient temples themselves, that of three levels of separation or partition from the most sacred interior, the Holy of Holies, where God dwells. Such a structure can be seen in Moses’ tabernacle, as well as Solomon’s temple and those that followed its pattern.
Every once and a while something comes along that strikes you as absolutely remarkable. The Joseph Smith Papers that will be published by the Church is one of those things. The Church announced the establishment of The Church Historian’s Press today, the first publication of which will be a 25-30 volume series of all extant documents written by or about Joseph Smith. It will be one of the greatest historical projects that has ever been conducted by the Church. This should help lay to bed our critics’ charge that the Church hides its history. All the documents that the Church has found that have been written by Joseph Smith or about him, including journals, revelations, minutes, history, or otherwise will be published in this series, beginning in 2008 and which will take years to complete. The publication will include copies of the actual documents themselves, textual annotation, and contextual annotation. In other words, you will be able to read Joseph Smith’s words and revelations as they were written by the Prophet himself.
These documents will be invaluable to scholars studying Mormonism and its singular history, and strengthen the faith of members learning more about our faith. More particularly, it will also help us learn more about the development and revelation of the temple principles, ordinances, edifices, and importance throughout Church history. I can’t wait.
The website introducing this new publication project is similarly remarkable. See it at www.josephsmithpapers.net.
This morning I heard an excellent 50-minute interview on KSL News Radio on the program “People of Faith with Carole Mikita.” Today, Mikita interviewed Professor Andrew Skinner, Excecutive Director of The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, on his recent publication of the book entitled Temple Worship: 20 Truths That Will Bless Your Life available at Deseret Book.
The interview spanned a wide range of subjects relating to Skinner’s new book, including what temples are, their purpose, ancient temples throughout the world, the restoration of temples in the latter days, temples in Church history, and many other points of interest from his new book. While I have not yet read the book, this interview has peaked my interest substantially. There is a great introduction to the book at this link.
I highly recommend this interview. You can listen to it here on the website (you’ll have to scroll to about the 8 minute mark to get to the beginning of the program):
There was an article published yesterday on Beehive Standard Weekly by Emerson Chase on the subject of “The Sacred Garment of Mormon Theology.” I think that the author is generally sincere in his object of attempting to combat the barrage of criticism and ridicule that the members of the LDS Church receive for what the world has nicknamed “Mormon underwear.” Chase gives an overview of the process by which a member of the Church becomes converted to the gospel, a process by which one continues to receive higher ordinances of the gospel until they come to the temple where they partake of the most solemn and binding covenants that man can make with God. These highest and most sacred covenants are symbolized by the wearing of the garment. As Chase says:
In essence, the garment reflects the promise to each other [husband and wife] and to God to obey God’s laws for their own benefit, for the benefit of their marriage and ultimately for their families. . . .
The Mormon Garment is not worn in such a manner as to display the covenants made by the individual to the world. Where a pastor or preacher might wear a white collar or robe to indicate authority and covenants to God, Mormons are very personal with their commitments and wear the garment under their clothing. In short, it is a statement that the covenants established are between that person and God and the opinions of others don’t count. There is no show-and-tell because the covenants are sacred, and because of their personal nature, secret. It is somewhat like medical records or financial information. It is not something that is considered appropriate for public discourse or disclosure.
However, referring to his own counsel, where much direct discussion of the garment is not considered appropriate, and where the object of the address was to combat the criticism members receive because of it, I believe Chase may have been somewhat overzealous in explaining and describing the culture and idiosyncrasies which surround this sacred symbol of our worship.
We are told to “Trifle not with sacred things” (D&C 6:12). While it is entirely appropriate to talk generally about what the garment is for and what it means as a symbol of our promises to God, we must always maintain the utmost respect in our dialogue of such sacred subjects and not bring it to the level of humor, dating games, and how to spot a Mormon. Indeed, such talk can unknowingly fuel the fire of scoff from our detractors, instead of helping to extinguish it.
As Chase points out, the garment is used by Latter-day Saints similarly to the way other religious traditions have clergy that wear special robes or other unique identification as symbols of their solemn obligations to God. As these things are not treated lightly by other faiths, so should we be very careful and considerate in our discussions about the garment.