Recently I’ve been pondering the place of the temple in the Christmas story. Last week my wife and I attended the Conference Center performance of Savior of the World which was very well done and depicted the birth and resurrection of Christ. One of the first scenes involved the temple at Jerusalem. As I have read through the Christmas story in the book of Luke I found that the temple holds a central theme in the account. Here are some of my thoughts: [Read more…]
I had a conversation a few months ago about this question. Those that I were discussing this with made the argument that the “heathen,” the term my correspondent used for those who’ve never heard a part or portion of the gospel in mortality, are without the gospel law in mortality, and therefore they will be judged very much like little children, and will most likely all be exalted. Here is a followup that one of them recently emailed me:
I finally found the scripture I was thinking of when I wrote that “the heathen” who “died without law”, (that is, without having heard any form or portion whatsoever of the gospel) are still likely to be saved (and most likely even exalted) in the Celestial Kingdom.
In his discourse to his son about infant baptism, Mormon throws in those who “without the law” and puts them in the same category as those who die as infants, Moroni 8:22:
“For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing— ”
I’ll admit that there is still room for interpretation in light of Section 76, and of course Christ is the final judge of every individual.
I disagree with this interpretation of Moroni 8:22 (a similar scripture can be found in 2 Nephi 9:25-26). I believe this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel, which has serious repercussions to our understanding of God’s plan of redemption, and the work we do in the temple. [Read more…]
My wife and I had our second child, a baby boy, this last Sunday – 7lbs, 6oz., 20 inches. Mom and Baby are all doing great! We couldn’t be more happy. Here are some pictures:
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalms 127)
The scholarly world is aflutter over the latest discovery of a 3-foot tall tablet being called “Gabriel’s Revelation,” “Hazon Gabriel,” or the “Vision of Gabriel.” It contains 87 lines of Hebrew text written in ink on stone, and has been dated to the first century BCE. The tablet was found near the Dead Sea in Jordan around 2000, and has been associated with the Qumran community who produced the Dead Sea Scrolls. For this reason, it has been called a “Dead Sea scroll in stone.” An exciting discovery, indeed.
The discussion has been primarily about a certain line of the text which tells of a messiah dying and resurrecting in three days (line 80). Many scholars are pointing to this as evidence of a resurrection theology in existence in Judaism before the coming of Jesus Christ, therefore raising questions of the conception among some that a messianic 3-day resurrection was a uniquely novel Christian principle. This is not news to Latter-day Saints, who already firmly believe that Christianity has been known and practiced since Adam (see Moses 5:6-8).
But I want to look at this text from a different angle than that which is making the headlines. Since this text has been categorized as an apocalyptic text, the Greek apokálypsis meaning “lifting of the veil” or end of days, delivered from the angel Gabriel, it is likely that we should find temple imagery here too. And we are not left wanting. [Read more…]
(Continued from Part 1)
Some of the best studies of the early Christian practice of baptism for the dead have come from Hugh Nibley and John A. Tvedtnes. Both of these LDS scholars have written extensively on the topic. I hope to analyze some of their excellent work and provide examples of the practice of baptism for the dead which have been discovered in many different apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts.
The Shepherd of Hermas
The first text we’ll look at is called the Shepherd of Hermas (also called the Pastor of Hermas). This was a very popular work in early Christianity, and several early Christians considered it scripture with other New Testament texts, combining them into the same canon. It was written in Rome in the second century, and was written in Greek, though a Latin translation was also soon made. Two English translations are now available for reading online at Early Christian Writings, here, and here. If you’re up to it, you can also read the Greek directly. [Read more…]