Sunday, June 22, 2008


The second word in the Bible transliterates to "bara."

Create, in English.

Bereshit bara. When/in the beginning [God] created ...

The footnote to my LDS version provides also the synonyms "shaped" and "fashioned."

Those would be more conducive to the LDS concept of "bara" being carried out with pre-existent matter, not "ex nihilo."

I'm no expert on the whole ex nihilo (from nothing) doctrine or why "traditional Christianity" weds itself so tightly to the notion.

Richard Hopkins, How Greek Philosophy Corrupted the Christian Concept of God, finds no direct Biblical support for ex nihilo. (p. 290).

Ex nihilo is a purely Platonic concept, based on the idea that the universe was created from illusory matter having no being. (p. 295).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In the Hebrew ...

For about two years now, painstakingly, I have been trying to learn Hebrew, to understand the Tanakh (the "Old Testament") in the original tongue.

It has not been easy, of course. No language ever is. But I am enjoying the process.

Of course, the Bible begins with a beginning, the famous "In the beginning."

Transliterates to "bereshit." I'd love to reproduce the letters here but blogger doesn't seem to have the Hebrew font.

In his own studies of Hebrew, the Prophet Joseph Smith at one point suggested that the "be" was unnecessary and that the "resh" or "rosh" meant "head," as in head God, which he expanded to "the head God of the Gods brought forth/called together the Gods."

However, he never offered up this suggestion to be canonized as revelation and in the parallel accounts in the Pearl of Great Price, the closest to it is this:

Abraham 4:1: At the beginning, they, the Gods organized/formed the earth.

The JPS Tanakh translates "bereshit" as "When [God] began ..."

Strong's Concordance seems to agree with the Prophet at least as far as in deriving "bereshit" from "rosh," to which the "be" is a prefix.

Linguistics aside, it is when we consider the concept of time, beginnings and endings, that we become most conscious of our mortal state, even of our nothingness in this vast universe. We can dam up the biggest rivers on the planet. We can prevent polio. We can walk on the moon. But no man can call back one measly minute of time or speed it forward or hold to life after the sands of his hourglass have run out.

Look out upon the vast universe and contemplate how long it would take even the fastest spacecraft simply to reach the nearest star to our own.

Consider that paradox that Einstein suggested about the twin who hypothetically travels at the speed of light somewhere into space and comes back to find that on Earth, a completely different measure of time has elapsed.

Bereshit. The beginning. Before which was nothing but God, in traditional Jewish/Christian theology. Before which, were we, with Him, according to LDS doctrine, spirit children, in time indefinite.

Bereshit. And the super-dense marble-sized lump that contained all the matter in the universe exploded, the Big Bang, and creation began.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The seven habits of highly unoriginal critics, number one

It is a well-worn tactic of the critics of the Church to try to use our own Book of Mormon against us, to suggest that its claims about the nature of God are different from what the Church now teaches.

They state that the Book teaches the Trinity, the uncreated status of God and His eternal, unchanging nature, things, they say, that Mormonism came to deny, along with ancient heresies such as Sabelianism, that Christ is the Father.

But this alleged discrepancy never seems to have troubled the Prophet Joseph Smith or the vast majority of Church members, then or now. Was he and are we all just blind and stupid?

The truth is, we DO teach the Trinity. The Father is God. Jesus Christ is God. The Holy Spirit is God. They are one.

We DO teach the uncreated status and eternal nature of God. More detail on that later.

We just differ in certain ways in HOW we believe these things, what they mean, where the line is drawn.

Let's take one example: In a sense, Christ certainly is our Father, as the Book of Mormon teaches. We are reborn spiritually because of His atonement and we take upon us His name. That does not mean that we confuse him with the person of our Heavenly Father, who created our spirits in the first place. The latter is Sabellianism.

Now, was that so difficult to understand?

I have neglected this blog ...

... I have neglected this little blog lately and I resolve to do better.

The theology of the Restored gospel is so beautiful and the lifestyle it advocates is so intuitively attractive, at least to one not blinded by lusts and addictions! Even such a one, though enslaved, though sunk in a pit, will often still sense the higher way of living that the Restored gospel offers and long for it -- but, wrongfully, think it to be out of their reach.

It is amazing how in a few simple, almost casual words my grandmother relates in her 1975 journal, that my parents were preparing to join the Mormon church. In truth, a seismic change was taking place in their lives, a rebirth.

Difficult habits had to be given up. The Sabbath became a different kind of day. Callings of service were offered and accepted.