Sunday, January 25, 2009

Prosperity, continued

The late Hugh Nibley, in examining Egyptian papyri concerned with the exaltation of the soul, draws attention to the formula by which royalty is addressed: Health, Life, Prosperity! This formula is also pronounced just before the candidate for exaltation enters the celestial realm, according to the ancient Egyptian Book of Breathings.

But "wd3" ( the transliteration of the word rendered "prosperity") like the Hebrew tsalach I mentioned in a previous post, is more expansive than the English equivalent. It carries the idea of making vigorous, even of all nature flourishing. (Cf. Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, p. 358.)

So how does this all tie together? A righteous people, a people of God, are even a royal priesthood, as we are reminded in I Peter 2, and all nature flourishes under their care, is in harmony with them, as it was in the days of Enoch and as it is in the Master's hands.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Done with Gnosticism!

I have finished.

I can safely say, that the Nag Hammadi Library was the most difficult canon of literature that I have ever read.

Its often fragmentary nature didn't help.

I found myself saying, over and over again as I tried to comprehend notions of Yaldabaoth and Sophia and Barbelo; of aeons and demiurges and First Thoughts and Second Thoughts -- how could anyone make sense of this stuff? Even the Apostle Paul at his most complex, does not approach these writings in obscurity.

And yet, make sense of it many people apparently did. Gnosticism was enough of a threat to the early Christian Church as to occupy some of its best minds in the battle against it.

Gnosticism approached the problem of evil in the world by deciding that the so-called God of the Old Testament was an inferior, lower being who acted out of ignorance at best, malice at worst. Some strains of Gnosticism continued this line of thought with a blacklist of a number of Biblical personages hailed as heroes by orthodox Christianity, even Jesus Christ; and to call Biblical acts of godly vengeance against evil (the Flood, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah) attacks of evil against good.

The true Supreme Being remained esconced in an unapproachable, celestial pleroma and was utterly indescribable and beyond comprehension.

My thought on that would be, that this approach doesn't solve the problem of evil, it just pushes the question to another level: So the God we thought we knew is not really deserving of the title and it is to a higher God that we must look for perfection and to whom the question must be posed: Why did You allow evil in the world if You are perfect? But of course, that God, in the Gnostic mindset, wouldn't answer. He is, in their words, a non-being.

It will be interesting to discover, as I continue to read in Christian history, how much of his Gnostic (aka Manichaean) baggage St. Augustine carried with him into the Christian Church of his day.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On prosperity

Is it naive to believe that a godly life will be a prosperous life?

No, it is not. It is not necessarily the key to heaping sacks of cash in your bank vault, but the godly life is one of order, honesty and diligence -- recognizable attributes for success. In fact, Stephen Covey, in his famous Seven Habits of Successful People, reminds us that lasting success depends upon such deep-rooted character.

The orderly, compassionate, diligent people of the Church described in Alma 1:31, prospered, far more than those who wasted their time and energy in character assassination, disorder and vice.

Of interest: the Hebrew word for "prosper," transliterated tsalach, literally means "to push forward."

So, remembering 2 Nephi 3 and the hymn based upon it, if we as Saints "press forward," we, with God's help, will also "push forward."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A residency question

If God resides at a point within the universe, such that Abraham could be pointed in its general direction (the vicinity of Kolob), then where did He reside when the universe was compressed into the tiny speck from which the universe is believed to have exploded in the Big Bang?

Obviously, neither Kolob nor any other star or planet in our universe was in existence at that time.

It is entirely possible that there are universes beyond our universe and that our God took his place within ours at that time, in the great plan of Eternal Progression.