One of the criticisms often leveled at the Church and the restored gospel, and even more broadly at Christianity in general, is that it is “behind the times” with regards to science. Critics point to past teachings that coincide with creation, evolution, genetics and DNA, archaeology, paleontology, geology, neurology, and other areas to show how “out of touch” and “out of date” the Church is in these areas. These criticisms are even pointed toward teachings we find in the temple, particularly those regarding the creation of the Earth and of mankind. Some have lost their faith over what they view as the “incompatibilities” of modern science and the gospel. This need not be. [Read more…]
I recently came across an issue that has troubled some members of the Church. It is simply that some scriptures and the words of some Church leaders seem to indicate that the Earth is only about 6000-7000 years old, and that there was no death before the Fall of Adam and Eve. This causes significant cognitive dissonance for some because it seems clear from geologic and biologic evidences that the Earth has been around for much longer than that, with birth and death throughout. Because of the conflict between these two thoughts, it has caused some to even lose their faith and leave the Church. Let’s explore these issues some more and see if there is a reasonably plausible solution or reconciliation of these views. [Read more…]
If you have not had the opportunity to read David Bokovoy’s inaugural article in the new Interpreter journal, I recommend it. It discusses Nephi’s experience in 1 Nephi 11 when he was caught away to “an exceedingly high mountain” where he had a question and answer exchange with the Spirit of the Lord, and thereafter was given higher spiritual knowledge.
High mountains have always been traditionally associated with temples, and as sacred spaces. Indeed, their physical height and altitude alone contribute to this symbolism; ascending the mount gets one closer to God on high. Many times throughout the scriptures, the prophets ascend high mountains to seek spiritual refuge and converse with God. Such is the case with Moses ascending Mount Sinai, for example. Whenever a prophet or other individual in the scriptures goes to, or is taken to, a high mountain, it is well to pay careful attention to what is taking place, as it is almost always a sacred temple-type experience.
The question and answer exchange format that precedes an endowment of further light and knowledge is also a pattern often found within these scriptural accounts. Bokovoy explains that these exchanges were often to consider the worthiness and faith of the individual who had approached God, and so that there could be a divine witness, or seal by the Holy Spirit of Promise, of such righteousness before higher mysteries were given by God to that individual. At the ancient Israelite temple, such question and answer exchanges also preceded even entering a temple, when those ascending to the temple would encounter the priests at the gate, and be interrogated as to their worthiness to enter there.
I’ve been impressed for some time by the many prophets we read about in the scriptures who have apocalyptic visions of the history of the earth, the creation story, it’s purpose, the reason for our mortal lives, and concluding with visions of the heavenly temple and God’s throne. I’ve often wondered if these prophets were, in fact, witnessing the same heavenly ascent vision, as it almost always includes the same or similar elements. It would be interesting to compare further these accounts.
What were some of your impressions of Bokovoy’s article? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
It’s been a long time coming, since September 2008 to be exact, and I’d like to finally complete this series of posts on the seal of Melchizedek. It is probably one of the most trafficked series of posts on this website. It’s drawn a lot of attention, and may have even been part of what compelled a BYU scholar, Alonzo L. Gaskill, to publish an article about it in The Religious Educator at BYU in 2010, which article I’d like to talk about.
But first, there are a few other artifacts related to the symbol that I’d like to share. As I pointed out in Part 2, this seal is most prominently found as displayed in the mosaics and iconography in the basilicas of Ravenna, Italy. Indeed, this is very likely where Hugh Nibley saw this symbol originally, as perhaps did Michael Lyon, and where he may have coined the name the “seal of Melchizedek.” The symbol is shown on the altar cloths in these mosaics, shown next to Melchizedek, Abel, and Abraham, in making sacrificial offerings to God. The altar cloth also shows gammadia in the corners, right-angle marks like the Greek letter gamma, which is also very interesting, and worthy of a study in and of itself.
To begin, I want to note again that to date I have not found any evidence for this symbol being called the “seal of Melchizedek” by any other scholar, historian, or historical figure in recorded history before Hugh Nibley and Michael Lyon. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it is likely a conception that began with the Latter-day Saints, making a logical connection between the symbol and the Biblical figure found adjacent to it in the mosaics. [Read more…]
A couple months ago I was approached by Brandon, author of the blog Latter-day Sustainability, with a proposal to team-up on administering an informal survey about the environment to Latter-day Saints and those familiar with Latter-day Saint teachings. The goal and objective was to learn more about Latter-day Saint members’ views on the environment, including how the LDS Church informs those views. I thought it was an interesting project, and so I agreed. Peter, a member of the LDS Earth Stewardship group, also joined our team.
Over the last couple months we have been engaged in compiling, editing, and reviewing a survey to be taken by anyone who is familiar with the LDS Church or its teachings. We split up the task of producing questions, and of editing them. We also each sent out a test survey to several people to get their feedback. We believe we’ve come up with a good survey which will help us gather good data on LDS views on the environment. There was no cost to us in administering this survey.
The survey will be open until November 15th. Comments are intentionally closed to help prevent discussion before taking the survey. Please feel free to share the link of the survey with your family and friends, or anyone who is familiar with LDS teachings. After the survey closes we will analyze the results and post those we find most interesting for discussion. Results will also be available to anyone with a reasonable request. More information is available on the introduction page of the survey. To contact the administrators with questions or comments about the survey, please email ldssurvey at gmail dot com.
To take the survey, please click the following link: