"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
December 18, 2007

Where’s the fight?

Important in the record of the dispensations is that when men to depart from God’s way and substitute their own ways in its place they usually do not admit that that is what they are doing; often they do not deliberately or even consciously substitute their ways for God’s ways; on the contrary, they easily and largely convinced themselves that their way is God’s way. “The apostasy described in the New Testament is not a desertion of the cause, but a perversion of it, a process by which the ‘righteous are removed and none perceives it.’” The wedding of the Christian Church and the Roman state was a venture in political dialectics, a restatement of the age-old political exercise of demonstrating that our way is God’s way….the Lord told the Apostles that in time “whosoever kills you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). The horrible fiasco of the Crusades went forward under the mandate of the Deus Vult — God wills it: it is His idea; the Inquisition was carried out by selfless men “for the greater glory of God.” In every age we find the worldly powers hypnotized by the image of the world as a maidan, a great battleground, on which the forces of good and evil are locked in mortal combat. True, there is a contest, but it is within the individual, not between ignorant armies; that solution is all too easy. Recall the statement of Joseph Smith that “every candid man [must] draw [the] conclusion in his own mind whether this [any political system] is the order of heaven or not.” Banners, trumpets, and dungeons were early devised to help men make up their minds. But God does not fight Satan: a word from Him and Satan is silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are especially told that all the power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. “We will allow Satan, our common enemy, to try Man and to tempt him.” It is man’s strength that is being tested–not God’s. Nay, even in putting us to the test, “the devil,” to quote Joseph Smith, “has no power over us only as we permit him.’” Since, then, “God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not,” it is up to us to decide how much power Satan shall have on this earth, but only in respect to ourselves; the fight is all within us. That is the whole battle. But how much easier to shift the battle to another arena, and externalize the cause of all our misfortune.

It is easy enough to see how a world willingly beguiled by the devil’s dialectic is bound to reject God’s way and continue with its own. Even the Saints are guilty: “Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed.” As in every other dispensation, the world will continue to go its way, which is one of progressive deterioration:….After all is said, there is nothing for it but to accept God’s way–nothing else will work. (Hugh Nibley, on the Timely and Timeless, Beyond Politics, pages 310-311)

September 29, 2007

Choose ye…

…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 87)

September 12, 2007

Meaningful Experience

What did Adam and Eve know after they returned to God’s presence that they hadn’t known when they were originally with him in the Garden?  What can we know after our own return to God that we didn’t know in our premortal life? The scriptures explain that God expected and desired that Adam and Eve’s children would have the same kind of mortal experiences as their first parents had, which suggests that the redemption of Adam and Eve was not just a convenient way to erase the effect of an unfortunate error.  Rather, it was an intentional element in a course of instruction designed by God himself for their preparation, if they freely chose to accept it.  Without that course of instruction, they would not have developed the capacity to live a meaningful celestial life.  So it is with our experience as their children: Mortality is not mere estrangement from God — it is the crucible through which the possibility of truly meaningful life becomes real.  (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart, pg. 39)

July 20, 2006

Humility?

“I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone. As we say, ‘I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.’ And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble.

“But this is the fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like? You see, He has already made us something very different from what we were. Long ago, before we were born, when we were inside our mothers’ bodies, we passed through various stages. We were once rather like vegetables, and once rather like fish: it was only at a later stage that we became like human babies. And if we had been conscious at those earlier stages, I daresay we should have been quite contented to stay as vegetables or fish — should not have wanted to be made into babies. But all the time He knew His plan for us and was determined to carry it out. Something the same is now happening at a higher level. We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or meglomania; it is obedience.” — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

While ‘Brother’ Lewis, not being afforded the Plan of Salvation ‘lectures’, erroneously surmises that we never intended to be like Heavenly Father, he rightfully asserts that perfection is what He intends.  I enjoy this thought so very much because he astutely points out how - if left to ourselves - we would settle for something way below ‘our privileges.’  Thankfully, and unlike ourselves, He has not forgotten premortal promises.

May 11, 2006

Don’t Look at Me…

“Does not one person need repentance more than another? Ezra and Baruch protested to God that while Israel had sinned, the Gentiles had acted much worse, and asked why they should be let off so much more easily. But God was not buying that argument. You can always find somebody who is worse than you are to make you feel virtuous. It’s a cheap shot: those awful terrorists, perverts, communists—they are the ones who need to repent! Yes, indeed they do, and for them repentance will be a full-time job, exactly as it is for all the rest of us.” — Hugh Nibley, “Great Are the Words of Isaiah,” CWHN 1:217

This is a Test

“God does not fight Satan: a word from him and Satan is silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are expressly told that all the power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. “We will allow Satan, our common enemy, to try man and to tempt him.” It is man’s strength that is being tested—not God’s”. — Hugh Nibley, “Beyond Politics,” 288

Dichotomy?

“The true rule, in determining to embrace or reject anything, is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more of evil than of good.  There are few things wholly evil or wholly good.  Almost everything … is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.”  –  Abraham Lincoln

April 14, 2006

Individual Repentance

“Prophecy tells us that things are going to change and that there is nothing we can do to stop it. Certain things are going to happen. Must we therefore resign ourselves to our fate? Not at all. There is a vital rule that leaves the door wide open to effective individual repentance and escape. We have Professor Heisenberg to thank for that. He found that though you can predict with absolute certainty how masses of particles are going to act, you can never predict how any one particle is going to behave. That is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which used to be called the ‘free will of the atom.’ The single particle is unpredictable; only the mass is absolutely bound to behave according to the unimpeachable laws of physics. In the same way one can prophesy with absolute certainty what a nation of people or society is going to do: you can talk about aggregates and predict the behavior of the masses, but you can never deny any individual the freedom to repent and go the other way. ‘Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.’ The prophets and Professor Heisenberg show us the way out. You do not have to wait for the group to change. for the society to repent, nor do you have to change your ways to comply with theirs; the individual is free to ignore the multitude, and only he is free. Only an individual can repent. Repent is reflexive verb — you can’t repent someone else or force somebody else [to repent]; you just repent…” — Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, pp. 416-417

April 4, 2006

What Does Egypt Represent?

“What does Egypt represent?  This world, and the bondage of the world.  What are you taught in the temple.  How does Satan control people?  By the economy.  The closer you get to the Coming of the Lord, the more and more hours are required to eat, and to survive.  Satan keeps you busy so you don’t have time to go worship.  The Prophet tells you one thing, and the devil tells you another, and you are caught in between.  What is it that some tell the prophet?  Go away, leave us alone.  It gets tougher and tougher as we move to the Exodus.   Also, who goes after those who try to leave the world and go after God?  Satan (Pharaoh).  He doesn’t let go easily. If you have been in his employ, he goes after you.” — Robert J. Norman

March 28, 2006

With Every Choice

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain on which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity