Monday, February 08, 2016

Spacetime, Causality, and Atonement

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity states that the speed of light is measured to be 2.998 x 10^8 m/s in any reference frame. The significance of this is when you measure the speed of laser beams inside spaceships or satellites traveling in opposite directions relative to each other. (GPS satellite time correction)

Unlike bullets on trains, Special Relativity correctly predicts that observers on each spaceship will measure the speed of light on their spaceship and the opposite spaceship to be traveling at the same speed.  To make this happen, the observers will disagree about the time, distance, and even sequence of events (simultaneity). This is the relative part of relativity.  However, while the observers disagree on details of space and time, what they will agree on is causality or the interaction or non-interaction of objects. 

I am not an astrophysicist but I was thinking about how these ideas may or may not apply to God (the Great Cause), the idea of covenants and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. First, God has revealed that He is timeless.  God dwells in eternity or the "Eternal Now" where past, present, and future all present before Him.  Joseph Smith taught:

“The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, ... the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now'" (Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, p.220; History of the Church, 4:597)

Second, we know that that covenants like the Atonement of Christ are timeless and because they involve God, have effects even before they have happened yet.  The Bible says that Enoch walked with God and that Elijah was taken up into heaven.  These 2 prophets were still subject to the Fall of Adam and could not dwell with God unless they also had faith in and applied the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.  But how could they accept and apply the atonement of Christ before it happened? Because, with God, it had already happened.  The New Testament teaches that Christ was the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8).  The Book of Mormon teaches the same principle:

"And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:13)

Lastly, the significance of the timeless nature of covenants and the Atonement of Christ is that we can begin to be blessed by the atonement of Christ and the covenants of the gospel by living up to them even before we have made them. What I mean is that my children can commit now to dress modestly amd live a clean and virtuous life and be blessed now knowing they will enter into these covenants to live clean in the future.  My daughters should not have to change their wardrobe when it comes time to go to the temple.  And, marriages are blessed by individuals who keep themselves virtuous and chaste even before they commit to do so at covenant marriage.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Dam is Breaking on Book of Mormon Evidence

This article talks about Ron Meldrum's explaination of how John Wesley Powell, Ephraim George Squier, and Lewis Henry Morgan are responsible for the most sinister archeological coverup in world history.  Powell, Squires, and Morgan are responsible for labeling the Native Americans "ignorant savages" and promoting the federal government policies of manifest destiny which denied Native American rights of life, liberty, and property. 

Also, these 3 suppressed, concealed, mischaracterized, and destroyed Hopewell Culture archaeology sites and artifacts to hide the fact that the Native American's decended from a culturally advanced civilization in the American heartland. 2 of the 3 men are sons of Methodist ministers who lived and preached in Palmyra, NY in 1830 at the time of the discovery of the Book of Mormon.  No doubt, part of their motivation was to discredit the Book of Mormon.

The dam is breaking with regard to Book of Mormon historical and archaeological evidence. DNA evidence proves a major pre-Columbian east-to-west migration of a middle-eastern population.  This population became the Hopewell and Woodland Cultures and are the principle ancestors of the Great Lakes Algonquin Tribes.

However, at this point, the Heartland model is a model and this is still a theory like the meso-American theory. We should beware to become too invested in the physical evidence of the Book of Mormon that we mistakenly believe that the physical evidence is more important to our testimonies than the spiritual evidence.  If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is true, there is no substitution for reading it yourself and prayimg to our Heavenly Father in the name of Christ if it us true.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Divine Potential of Man

LDS do not accept the Catholic Nicene Creed which characterizes the Godhead of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in a mysterious relationship as 3 distinct persons who are somehow also 1 being. The Nicene Creed says the Trinity are "homoousious" or "the same substance".  The Nicene Creed does this to prevent any possible belief in multiple Gods. The mystery and purposeful incomprehensibility of the Trinity doctrine is to satisfy the seeming discordant scriptures which sometimes speak of the oneness of God and at other times the distinctness and three-ness of God.
Yes, LDS understand the problem of polytheism which destroys absolute thruth.  LDS believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  These three are 3 distinct persons and 3 distinct divine beings, unified in power and purpose.  Because the LDS Godhead are perfectly and completely unified in purpose, truth is not only preserved but magnified. 
I would not characterize LDS as polytheistic. Maybe the best term is "monolaterism". LDS recognize that there are other gods (eg. God the Father, God the Son), but we only worship The Most High God. LDS only worship and pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Worshipping God the Father in the name of God the Son is precisely how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have both directed us to worship.  
Justin Martyr in his conversation with Trypho attempted to convert Trypho (a Jew) to a belief in Christ.  Trypho's hypermonitheism prevented him from accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ. Justin referred to Genesis and the creation of man when God said "let us make man in our image" as proof of the distinct and seperate divinity of God the Father and God the Son.
The Most High God is the God of gods, King of kings and Lord of lords. When you complement a doctor, you say he or she is a the doctor's doctor, or we say a man is a man's man. God is not a God of jellyfish but the God of gods. The divinity of God's children adds to His glory.

The belief in the divine potential of man is not a belief that man could even replace or supplant the Most High God as Satan sought to do. Even as man realizes our divine potential, Our Father in Heaven will eternally remain the Most High.  The divinity of man involves being empowered by God to participate with Him in His divine work of creation and eternal parenting.
Will is the essense of our existance, distinctness, individual nature. It is imperative that we understand that Jesus Christ had a distinct will from the Father and is a distinct personage from the Father.  Christ came to Earth to do the will of the Father in all things and  subordinated His will to the Father's in all things.  Through that subordination of Christ's will to the will and purpose of the Father, Christ was empowered with all the powers of Heaven.  
If we say the Christ is the Father, then we say that Christ acheived all that He achieved by the strength of His own will which is the doctrine of Satan: "do as thou wilt". Christ's doctrine is "not as I will, but as Thou wilt". In this way, Christ set the perfect example for all mankind.
But some say, wasn't it Satan's plan to be like God?  Let's read Isaiah 14:13-14 "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
I don't necessarily see a problem with Satan aspiring to "ascend into heaven".  Don't we all desire to return to heaven?  The evil was Satan's desire to "exalt [his] throne above the stars of God".  Jesus Christ, on the other hand, sought the glory of the Father by desiring the exaltation of man instead of our eternal relegation. Scripture teaches that God's work and glory is to "bring about the immortality and eternal life of man".  Satan only desired the eternal slavery of man by denying us our agency.
God is honored by the exaltation of His children. God is glorified not by being a God of jellyfish, but instead is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and even the God of gods.  All of God's children are to be set apart, annointed, ordained, exalted and enthroned; our Heavenly Father being the Most High God and the Most High Priest.
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (New Testament, Revelation 3:21)
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (New Testament, Romans 8:16-17)
The Constitution of the United States enthrones its people to govern their own lives.  Free men via self-determination and free exercise of conscience can govern themselves and do not require a king or ruling authority to control their lives. Likewise, the LDS Temple endows and enthrones its members through the atonement of Christ and via covenants of virtue to be kings and priests to rule and reign over ourselves temporally and spiritually. True Christians disciples become agents to act for ourselves in righteousness and not need to be "commanded in all things."  This is not a "too many chiefs and not enough indians" problem.

"Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward." (Doctrine and Covenants, 58:27-28)

The empowerment and enthronement of God's children is seen in the Church of Jesus Christ. The LDS Church does not have a professional clergy. Every member  has the right and potential to pray, teach, expound, exhort, testify, and prophesy.  We are not a church of a few priests governing a large body of parishioners.  LDS member teach one another the doctrines of the kingdom, bare solemn testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and enjoy the rich blessings and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Effigy Pipe: Ancient Warning

The Hopewell people lived in North America about the time of the Nephites and built an advanced civilization of millions in the heartland of the United States. The Hopewell culture flurished in North America for over a millennium and then suddenly vanished about 400 AD. All that is left of this great civilization are massive earthworks and mounds filled with bones and artifacts. The burial mounds are why this culture is often referred to as the "mound builders".

One way archaeologists identify and verify a Hopewell burial site is because effigy pipes are characteristly found with Hopewell remains. Effigy pipes were used by Hopewell to smoke a mixture of medicinal herbs and bark called kinnikinnick. But it the end, kinnikinnick was replaced by Nicotiana rustica, a tobacco with more powerful and hallucinatory effects than our Nicotiana tabacum. This fact says something to me.

The mounds and artifacts of thr Hopewell give us a snapshot of their culture right before their complete annihilation. If drug abuse and smoking was a major part of their culture leading it to destruction, do we want to be following in their footsteps?

The Book of Mormon and the Bible illustrate the pride-cycle of mankind.  Civilizations rise based on faith, temperance and industry.  Eventually, because of technology and specialization, food is produced for a large population by a small minority of the  population.  The general population stop being self-reliant, and tend to seek neuro-chemical rewards via drugs instead of productive behavior and spiritual fulfillment.

The weak, dependant, addicted population is then vulnerable to be destroyed by their enemies. When their enemies simply disrupt the food production, the society collapses and the dependant population just plain starve because they do not have the skills to feed themselves except by reverting to being a hunter-gatherer.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Repentance Matters

I was having a conversation with a colleague about why we teach repentance in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and why our doctrine is more repentance focused as opposed to the customary evangelical grace-only focus. God commands in LDS scripture, "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation" (D&C 6:9).

Disciples of Christ receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  When we go to church we continually hear accounts of members listening to the still small voice of the Comforter prompting them to visit someone who is sick, or to avoid tragedy or accident.  We hear stories of persons who were prompted not to do this, or not to go there and they have through their obedience, witnessed the miraculous preservation of their lives.

You cannot be living in willful sin and be as receptive to the Lord's voice.  Sin drowns out our spiritual sensitivity.  We have to be clean to be empowered to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in His work.  The more purified we can become, the more in-tune we can be to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

In Hollywood, the hero is often depicted as being immoral and that the immorality usually doesn't matter and may even contribute to His or her success.  The truth is that the greatest heroes and people that have made the biggest difference in this world have been men and women of faith in Christ and also virtue and integrity.

"Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord."(Old Testament, Isaiah 52:11)

My friend likes to quote CS Lewis that all Christian groups are living in different rooms in the same house and our similarities are more important than our differences.  This point of repentance proves that the differences do matter. When it comes to being receptive to the the "still small voice" of God's Holy Spirit, repentance and being clean matters.  Because of the Great Apostasy, traditional Christianity are unfortunately living in the wrong house.