The Interpreter Foundation sponsored a conference on November 9, 2013, entitled “Science & Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth & Man” in Provo, Utah. It was filmed. Videos of each of the presentations are now available for free viewing on The Interpreter Foundation’s YouTube channel, or at MormonInterpreter.com. They are also embedded below. [Read more…]
A column in the Deseret News last Friday by Professors William J. Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson explains the meaning of esoteric and exoteric. Their article describes the roots of these terms, and their use in antiquity. Particularly insightful is the use of esōteros in the New Testament, which has reference to the veil of the Temple. They note,
“Esoteric,” then, in its original biblical meaning, refers to the teachings and practices done within the Temple. This concept helps us understand that in the Israelite world view there were public, exoteric rites and teachings performed in the outer court of the Temple in view of all the people, including Gentiles. There were also esoteric rites and teachings performed within the temple building and restricted to the priests or even to the High Priest alone.
That Christ taught esoteric teachings is clear from his use of a similar term mustērion, or “mystery” – “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:10, Matthew 13:11).
A presentation given by Professor Hamblin goes into greater depth on this subject.
Read the full article at the Deseret News.
The conference “Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition,” which took place on October 29, 2012 in Logan, Utah, was filmed, and some of the videos are now available for free in 1080p HD resolution on the Academy for Temple Studies YouTube channel, the Academy’s TempleStudies.org website, as well as embedded below here. The rest of the presenters’ videos are forthcoming. [Read more…]
Some criticize the Church because of one doctrine we hold most dear, which is exaltation. This has also been referred to at different times and places as godhood, deification, divinization, taking upon the divine nature, making divine, or theosis (also theiosis, theopoiesis, theōsis; from the Greek Θέωσις). It is, in its most basic description, that man may become like God. Many of our fellow Christians see this as the ultimate blasphemy and heresy. How could man ever become like God? Why would he want to do so? Doesn’t this go against everything God has taught through his holy word? The reality is that this concept has been a fundamental part of Christian thought since early Christianity, found throughout the Bible and in early Christian writings. Unfortunately, this Christian teaching has been largely lost over the ages.
God restored the doctrine of exaltation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, as part of the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. Some have thought that Joseph’s teaching of this concept was a rather late invention of the prophet, near the end of his life. However, the doctrine can be found even in the Book of Mormon, which was published before the church was formally organized.
I recently came across two great articles that were published that discuss this topic.
- Daniel C. Peterson, “Defending the Faith: Exaltation isn’t a new doctrine,” Deseret News, 8 November 2012. Peterson shows in this article how the doctrine of exaltation, or theosis, was not a late revelation in the restoration of the Church, but is found throughout the teachings of Joseph Smith.
- Elder Tad R. Callister, Presidency of the Seventy, “Our Identity and Our Destiny,” BYU Devotional Address, Campus Education Week, 14 August 2012. Elder Callister fantastically presents five witnesses of the truth of the doctrine of deification: the testimony of the scriptures, the witness of the early Christian writers, the wisdom of poets and authors, the power of logic, and the voice of history.
I highly recommend these two articles. If you want even further in-depth study, then I also suggest William J. Hamblin’s excellent recent publication in the Interpreter journal, “‘I Have Revealed Your Name’: The Hidden Temple in John 17,” where Hamblin discusses the chapter of John 17 in fine detail, revealing the strong temple concepts embedded in the text, including theosis. He also includes an appendix with a bibliography of twenty-three recent scholars’ books on the subject of deification, published just in the last decade, all of them Christian, that you may dive into to learn more about this very Christian teaching.
I have been through quite a range of emotions the last few weeks. I’ve felt utter despair, grief, and sorrow, as well as bitterness, confusion, and great disappointment. Through it all I’ve been blessed with comfort from our Heavenly Father beyond measure, and by experiences too sacred to share. It’s been a roller coaster of a time with everything that has happened at the Maxwell Institute. I make no bones about it—FARMS had an immense impact on my life, most particularly as it relates to my testimony and faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Recently one of our dear readers asked me what so inspired me about Hugh Nibley, what so captivated me emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually about his scholarship and writings? Here was my response: