Carnal man wants everything spelled out to him. Well, it is, but carnal man can't read. -- PoTai
New Perspectives of the Book of Mormon
by Eleazar, October 2006
The purpose of this narrative is to suggest a new way to look at the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It will be one of several in a series which will include looking at specific Book of Mormon stories as parables and how these apply to each of us in personal ways.
The Book of Mormon is popularly believed to be a historical record of the former inhabitants of the Americas who are the principle ancestors of modern American Indians. The ancestors of the Indians are believed to be genealogical descendants of Israel. However, scientific evidence does not support this view. Recent DNA studies of modern Indians as well as ancient Indian skeletal remains show beyond a reasonable doubt that American Indians are East Asians rather than Israelites by genealogical descent. Clearly a new perspective of the message and meaning of the Book of Mormon is needed. This narrative will suggest a newer perspective, one that is more personal and relevant to the reader, yet less-flattering to the ego than popularly-held notions of those who claim to be devout believers in the Book of Mormon..
The ideas presented here do not come with any claims of authority, completeness, or accuracy. Readers might ultimately come to the realization that a definitive perspective is impossible to convey in writings such as these, nor is it productive to do so if it were possible. It must be like this. Understanding why may not be clear at the present time. But understanding why has everything to do with comprehending the purpose of the Book of Mormon. At a more personal level, the Book of Mormon has everything to do with comprehending ourselves.
The Book of Mormon serves a great purpose, otherwise it wouldn't exist. What is that purpose? What role does the Book of Mormon or similar scriptural records play in our lives? How is the Book of Mormon true? In spite of our failure to understand, the answers have always been hidden in plain sight. Hopefully, this narrative will help seekers gain a bigger and more profound perspective that will assist them in their desire to discover more.
Eventually, we all discover anew, coming to the realization that what we arrogantly thought we knew, we didn't understand at all. For many, this can be a traumatic experience. Rightly so. It is a part of a renewal which begins with getting caught up in the whirlwind and having all things turned upside down. Ironically, we come to realize how our failure to understand was told us in the very book we mistakenly thought of as a witness to our success in understanding. We will begin to see ourselves with a new perspective and comprehend how we once believed in a lie. Do not despair at this proposition, because it will ultimately be-come an experience to be cherished. Eventually, we will come full circle to comprehend that everything we once believed was true, despite our former belief in fallacies. This idea may sound confusing at first. Hopefully, it will become clearer as one considers new perspectives.
The Book of Mormon is believed by many to carry an eternal message. This is a true statement, but is as misunderstood by devout Mormons as is all things that are eternal. The devout belief in the eternal message of the Book of Mormon is held concomitantly with a belief that everything that has a beginning has an end. Does the Book of Mormon (with it's message) have a beginning (therefore an end) to it, or not? What does eternal really mean?
Devout believers will rarely consider it a possibility that the Book of Mormon came into our lives, thus it will eventually pass out of our lives. Why must this be and how can it be so? It's because all things created serve a purpose, otherwise they would not exist in the first place. Again, the Book of Mormon exists, so it must serve a purpose. But, when something is no longer needed, it is discarded (passes away), or more accurately replaced with something more appropriate that fulfills newer needs. It's like having an old pair of shoes that become too small to fit comfortably. These are put off and exchanged for bigger shoes that are a better fit. Ultimately, one might put off their shoes entirely and choose to walk on holy ground without shoes. This, of course, is a profound parable that is put forth in the Old Testament story of Moses on the Mount. What you might not realize is that this parable is individually and personally relevant to you and your relationship with the Book of Mormon as well as a lot of other things you haven't yet fathomed are all about you.
Book of Mormon is destined to pass away in much bigger way than it
came to us. Few consider that the purpose of the Book of Mormon
will eventually be fulfilled with the coming of the Christ, here
again borrowing from scriptural metaphor. When that occurs, a
bigger and profound picture will emerge and the world will make more
sense than it ever did before. We will have arrived at a newer
perspective of the Book of Mormon and we will see it for what it
truly is. In doing that, we will have seen (ie.
comprehended) ourselves as we are. This is a thrilling experience
that we are all destined to receive. With that said, let's go on to
considering fresher perspectives of how the Book of Mormon is true.
In order to comprehend the message and meaning of the Book of Mormon, it helps to first familiarize oneself with the language of creation which is the language of symbolism. The existence and significance of symbolism is often overlooked by those of us who are compulsive materialists and thereby consumed by literalism. Other narratives by this author have included comments on the importance of noticing symbolism in the world about us, therefore it is not essential to discuss this in great detail. Two narratives that might be helpful are 'Temple of God: Carnal vs Spiritual Understandings' (part of Temple Book II: Narratives on a meaning beyond the LDS endowment ceremony) and 'Parables and Paradoxes -- Meanings Hidden, Yet Obvious' (part of this compilation of narratives: 'Reflections in Mormonism: Seeing beyond the image').
Basically, the idea is that symbolism is the language of creation that speaks to us in everything in that's about us including dreams. Symbolism is God's language, so to speak, one that utilizes parable and metaphor to convey messages. The presence and meaning of these symbols goes unnoticed by those of us who sojourn as Fallen man, or those of us who are imprisoned in the outer world of the carnal senses. In this outer world of the senses, what is seen (experienced in the creation that surrounds us) is unseen (it's meaning is unperceived; not comprehended). Stated differently, we do not see (comprehend) what is all about us (the creation), even though it is plainly there for us to see (perceive). It's appropriate that it's like this and it has a great purpose, despite the failure of who are trappped in illusion to see what this means. In a way, creation is like a great mirror in which we are able to see ourselves in a reflective way. This plays a foundational role in our purpose for being or, rather, the purpose and meaning of life itself.
As carnal and Fallen beings, we enter a nightly sleep period where we are prone to dream in symbolism. Yet, how many take time to consider the existence, meaning, or significance of these symbols? Going further, who will consider the possibility that our (so-called) waking lives are also filled with parables and metaphors in the same way as dreams? Appropriately, carnal man gets things backwards. Our obsession with the material world of creation, or the world of the outer (carnal) senses, leads us to believe it is the only type of reality. If not the only reality, then it is the supreme reality, or so we believe. To carnal men, what is spiritual is often believed to be both separate and inferior to what is material. That's because the real world, we believe, is what is tangible to the five (carnal) senses. As carnal and Fallen beings, we erroneously believe that truth is conveyed best by what's literal (carnal) rather than by what's spiritual (figurative/symbolic).
It may be important to mention that symbolism itself is part of the carnal world of the outer senses. In order to begin to comprehend the message and meaning of the Book of Mormon, we will first need to recognize the presence of symbols, their existence, and then try to see what is beyond symbol. As we move from materialism and worldliness, we start to concern ourself with the meaning and message of symbolic parable. When first discovering symbols, try to understand that this too can be a great trap for the carnal mind and it is here that many bog down and remain spiritually dead rather than find (Eternal) life. To emerge from (spiritual) death, one must go beyond the symbol to comprehend and live what is meant by them. That is, it is not symbols that are important, but what the symbols re-present. Try to remember that infatuation with symbols can be an extension of carnality and a failure to find life Eternal. This is admittedly confusing to many of those who are reading these words. That's all right because you are on a journey of your own choosing and it's the journey that is important rather than the end. Understanding symbols is not the way, so to speak, but rather a means that may help to enlighten a darkened mind. Thus, for now, we will speak of symbols and where they point. But try to remember that ultimately you will want to go beyond them.
Devout Mormons tend to view the Book of Mormon as a literal history of the ancient inhabitants of the America's rather than a book of parables. This is despite scientific evidence to the contrary disputing the Book of Mormon claim of it being a factual (literal) record of history. After all, we have a testimony (which we appropriately call Knowledge) of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, right? We will discuss Knowledge in a separate narrative. Our belief in the Book as a factual history must be right, we believe, therefore there must be something wrong with the scientific evidence. Some adopt a state of denial in regard to these controversies and others go to great lengths in offering up spurious scientific evidence in favor of Book of Mormon historicity in order to shore up their vain belief systems. In this atmosphere of denial, myth and rumor grows and spreads like cancer. Still others in the Mormon community are completely unaware of the scientific controversies at all. So, what will come of this? As is always the case in prison societies, history will be rewritten by the taskmasters so as to accommodate what one learns in the future. And, as usual, those who are sleeping now will not be paying attention to what is going on in the present. The world will go on turning round and round as it's done since creation.
One might ask why it is so important that the Book of Mormon be a literal-factual history book rather than a religious-philosophical text? If it's both, then why is it necessary that the former reign supreme over the latter? Stated differently, why is the Book of Mormon, as a literal-factual historical document, essential?
In spite of our vain beliefs, there might be truth in these mistaken beliefs of ours that's worthy of noting. Perhaps the Book of Mormon can be considered history if we look at the meaning in fresher way. Perhaps what is wrong with us is our understanding, our perception, and our point of view. There is another point of view embodied in the very symbols (words) we use to describe our beliefs
This narrative proposes that there is more to the story than the materialist (carnal) point-of-view. That is, the Book of Mormon can indeed be a true history when viewed differently than in the popular way. The word history can be broken down into two common words, 'his' and 'story', his-story. As consummate carnal beings, we view our world in terms of past, present, and future. His-story, of course, is a story of someone else in another time and place, the past. We might ask ourselves why the scriptural records like the Bible and the Book of Mormon are histories? Most will reply that it is because these histories are relevant to each of us. Yes, exactly. But, do we really comprehend what that means?
Let's try to consider the Book of Mormon as history from a different point of view. What if the Book of Mormon is our own history in a more important and personally-relevant way than we now imagine? What if the Book of Mormon contains a hidden message that is more profound than we once believed? What if the so-called history in the Book of Mormon comprises parables that are relevant to us in the present time and present place such that it is really our-story, a reflection of who we are and what we are doing? If so, then the message could be much more profound and relevant to us than we've ever considered. His-story contained in the scriptural records is really our-story. It might be helpful to stop viewing the Book of Mormon as a record about the past, but rather as a book of parables that is about the present.
There is something exceedingly humorous about this that might be worthwhile to mention. In life, we seem to be great comedians playing the best jokes on ourselves. Ultimately, we might come to see that a funny thing about the Book of Mormon (and all scriptures) is that we once erroneously believed them as history when they really weren't history at all, but after we realize our mistaken notions, they will be-come history. That is, after we've come to fully comprehend it's purpose and meaning, the Book of Mormon will have fulfilled its purpose and thereby pass away, becoming history or a thing of our past. Ultimately, the Book of Mormon will no longer apply to us nor be about us. In one of the great ironies of life, that is when the Book of Mormon be-comes a historical record.
Try not to be bothered if seems confusing. For now, it might be better to consider the Book of Mormon as our own story because it is relevant to us in the present time. But when the bigger picture is comprehended, it will amuse you as will all things you've experienced. One begins to find that life is truly wonder-full. As it is comprehended for what it is, life increasingly takes on a newer and fuller meaning.
These ideas are not just relevant to the Book of Mormon, but also about the Bible and other scriptural records as well. These ideas are also relevant to all of our rituals, ordinances, and cultural habits. For example, there is the LDS Temple endowment experience that is popularly believed to be a pinnacle experience for those who have arrived as spiritual beings on the Mormon path. But, we might first notice that the Temple endowment presentation, or at least the start of it, comprises a historical parable which is the story of Adam and Eve. Patrons of the endowment may notice that the ceremony begins with patrons acting as spectators who watch the story of the Fall played out in front of them. As the endowment progresses, patrons begin to act in the place of Adam and Eve with increasing frequency such that, by the end of the endowment, Adam and Eve have disappeared from the scene and are replaced by full participation of the patrons. The message here is that the patrons are Adam and Eve. That is, the Adam and Eve story is about the patrons individually and personally. This is what reflective symbolism is about. In terms of this reflective symbolism, everything that we see and experience in our daily lives is equally relevant to us in the same way as the Book of Mormon or the endowment experience. This has everything to do with what we are here for.
Before going on
to consider other ideas, it may be important to remember that the
Book of Mormon can be understood more profoundly as a book of
parables rather than a literal-factual historical record conceived
after the image of the world. These parables are not so much
literal history of another people in another time and place, but are
meant to be relevant to each reader individually in the present.
Try not to miss the important implications of this idea. Contrary
popular belief and teachings, the Book of Mormon is meant
to be a message to those who read it rather to those who don't.
as the archetypal Fallen and carnal being, appropriately gets
things mixed up and backwards. This is what we do. As
Mormons, we tend to go out into the world acting out a form of
playing-God role where we try to spread the Book of Mormon and it's
message to the world. In doing this, we try to get others to read
the Book of Mormon so they can find the truth like us, yet the
reality is that we don't know the truth. All that time, the Book
Mormon was specially for us, the ones that possess it, yet don't
comprehend what it means.
Most devout Mormons are familiar with the story of the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. According to the historical record, Joseph Smith was allowed to translate one third of the golden plates while the other two-thirds were bound (sealed) with bands so that they could not be opened. It is appropriate that the carnal interpretation of what sealed portion means is in direct contradiction to the well-known James 1:5 Bible passage that says God gives liberally and upbraids not, since withholding information as a sealed portion is upbraiding. This apparent contradiction should call our attention to asking further about what sealed portion really means, but few seem to do that.
At this time, I am aware of at least five sealed portions of the Book of Mormon that's emerged since Joseph Smith claiming he had it, but was not allowed to translate it. One sealed portion was brought forth recently by Terrill Dalton who maintains a website at www.sealedportion.com, another is from Chris Nemelka who has a website at www.thesealedportion.com, another is from Davied Israel (aka. Gilbert Clark) in the form of the Oracles of Mahonri, another was from Christopher Warren with The Olive Branch, and a claim to have the sealed portion was made by James Strang when he brought forth the Book of the Law of the Lord over a century ago. Devout LDS will likely find these claims to be highly disturbing and incredible because of questions raised about legitimacy of the Salt Lake LDS church leadership that are popularly revered as prophets, seers, and revelators, yet lack anything comparable. If you are so disturbed, why and how are the wonderful questions you should be asking yourself.
Are all or any of these sealed portions of the Book of Mormon? I submit that the answer to this question is that all of them are. The answer would have to be in the affirmative if it is true that we believe all things, right? But, what does this mean? I submit that all of these carry messages that are redundant with the true message and meaning of the Book of Mormon. What is that? Well, it may help to go to the last paragraph in the prior section (The Language of Symbolism) and read it again.
Again, it may help to consider the entire story of a sealed portion of the Book of Mormon in the context of a parable which is relevant to us as individual beings. Much can be said of the parable of a book, any book. Like us, a book has it's physical embodiment which resides in the covers, pages, and writing. However, that is not what the book truly is or, rather, what is really important about the book. The book contains ideas. That is what's important about a book, the information contained therein. The ideas existed prior to the physical manifestation of the book in the form of its writings, pages, and cover. An author of a book creates the physical form when he creates the symbols conveying the ideas in the form of writing. A publisher can go on to create the book itself (an outer thing), another re-presentation of the (hidden) ideas of the author. What is important part of the book, the ideas, are hidden beyond the image/manifestation (writings). What is important about the writings you are reading now is not the words themselves, but the ideas beyond their manifestation. If someone can't read the writings, the ideas are invisible/unknown to their understanding or, rather, sealed. If the book is destroyed or lost, the ideas remain. The ideas were before the book and will remain after the book is destroyed, lost, or sealed up.
Books can be seen as parables about us. Like a book, we have our outer physical manifestation (physical bodies), yet the most important part of us is unseen and often sealed from our view (perception or understanding). We are often judged outwardly by carnal man by our appearances because that is what carnal man does, which amounts to judging books by their coverings. And like books, we as individuals and people remain after our bodies are destroyed (though we as spirits are unseen).
As in the parable
of a sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, in us is a sealed portion,
so to speak. It is significant that the sealed portion of the
of Mormon comprised two thirds and what became the Book
of Mormon was one third. This symbolizes that the greater message
in the gold plates was sealed from the understanding of devout Book of
Mormon believers of the time. This parable would mean that a
greater part of us than is outwardly manifest is sealed from our
understanding. What is it that we fail to comprehend?
In speaking of
thirds, you might also be thinking of the parable of a trinity.
God is said to be made of Spirit,
mind, and body. Spirit is first. The last is
the physical body or that which is manifest into
Carnal man foolishly puts the body first and, appropriately, uses the
vernacular of body, mind and spirit
over it's true order. Again, to carnal and Fallen
man, the meaning of the (inner) two thirds is sealed
to his understanding.
The idea of man being compared to a book which he can't read (or understand) is found in a variety of other places in the scriptural record. In Revelation (5:1:5), John describes a book in the right hand of one who sits on the throne. This book "...written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.... which no man on earth, or in the earth, nor on the earth was able to open... (but) the Lion of the Tribe of Judah... hath prevailed to open the book and loose the seven seals thereof." The parable of the sealed book in the Bible is synonymous in meaning with the LDS idea of a sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. This parable of a sealed book is about each of us. We are the book spoken of. The scriptures take on an entirely new meaning when we consider them as symbolic parables that are individually and personally relevant to each of us here and now.
It might be noticed the apparently co-incidental symbolism in the Revelation passages of the book being contained in chapter 5 and verses 1-5. There is no such thing as coincidence. No, this is no accident. Five is the symbolic number of the outer (five) senses signifying carnality. The Revelation passage describes a book (the book is you) written on the inside (the sealed portion) and on the backside (the outer part). And who said things are not perfect and wonderfully profound? Adam, as carnal man only sees the backside, after all, the book (contents; inside part) is sealed to him. Appropriately, carnal man gets things backwards or, to use the common vernacular, bass-ackwards. In the end, only the Christ within you is able to remove the seals that bind you down into captivity. The message here is a redundant one. Where does one look for truth? Truth comes from the Christ within you which is sealed from the carnal mind. To find the Christ within, we must first yield up all of our false notions that Christ is found outwardly.
There is much more in considering the parable of the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Again, two thirds were sealed and one-third unsealed or, rather, translated into the Book of Mormon record. Translated? That's an interesting term that might be worthy of brief consideration and there are several meanings of translation that are relevant to us. Our bodies are manifestations of the Spirit and Mind. Our bodies are therefore translations, so to speak. We can say that our bodies are translated now in the present moment of time, in spite of our confusion of what that really means.
But, there are other meanings to translation that may be worth discussing. Joseph Smith is popularly revered as the translator of the Book of Mormon. Scribe may be more accurate of a term here, since Joseph Smith clearly didn't comprehend the meaning of what he wrote down. In reality, translation will come from within you, not from without.
Devout LDS claim
that the Bible is true as far as it is translated correctly, a true
and profound statement that is relevant to many other things besides
the Bible. How many devout Mormons will consider the implication
the Bible phrase that the Book of Mormon is the same, true as far as
it is translated correctly? This has a lot to do with the parable
of the sealed portion. The Book of Mormon contains a hidden
portion that is unseen (not perceived; not understood) by the carnal
mind. Joseph Smith wrote down the words, but the
true meaning was sealed to him as symbolized in the parable of the
sealed portion. Joseph didn't get it. That is what the
symbols proclaim. The greater part of the Book of Mormon is
also sealed from most of us for the same reason. As carnal
men, we are unable to read a sealed book. As carnal men, we
are unable to translate what it means.
An important point being made here is that the
sealed portion resides within the pages of the Book of Mormon
itself. None need run about looking high and low in the
world for the
sealed portion because it's right here. It's been (t)here
all along. Please don't miss the meaning of this
parable. Translating the sealed portion is not about getting more
books like the Book of Mormon or finding new messages within the
existing Book of Mormon, but about finding what is sealed up from your
own understanding within yourself. We
might examine this idea further in subsequent narratives. We
should not to get the symbol mixed up with what it
Again, only one third of the gold plates became
manifest as the book of Mormon; Two-thirds of the plates were
sealed. There are more connections to the symbolism of
thirds that might be worth noting. Again, God is said to be
a trinity of Spirit, Mind and body of which body is the
image. Symbolism in this last and outer third is synonymous with
third who rebelled and were cast out of heaven (those who Fell).
There's much more and it all connects. How much sleep do we
every day? One-third (about eight hours). Going to our beds
sleeping is symbolic of death. All of this is meaningfully
and conveys the same ideas through redundant means or re-presentations.
It all leads back to who we truly are and who we think we are. You might ask yourself what are you and what is important about you? Well, devout LDS appropriately believe that the physical body is essential and required part of Godhood and that any of us would be naked without it (the body). One of the great truths of Mormonism is believed to be that God has a body of flesh. But, is this body essential to Godhood? That is, is God (Spirit, Mind) naked without this body (covering)? The truth is played out right in front of us, yet we don't seem to see it.
In the creation parable, Adam eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and thereby Falls under illusion. In the LDS endowment version of this same parable, Adam believes a lie by Lucifer that he's naked, so he vainly attempts to cover his nakedness using an apron. Appropriately, the apron is a symbol for the physical body which is a covering for the spirit body. Later, Adam is given a garment of skins that also purposed to cover his nakedness. There is redundancy here. The garment of skins is also a symbol for the physical body that our spirits wear as an outer garment and is redundant with the symbolism of the apron. That is, the apron and the garment are redundant symbols representing the same ideas. Few recognize this nor ask the question of why Adam thinks he is naked in the first place. Few others will ask themselves the same question put to Adam of why they believe in the lie of their own nakedness. Almost none will go on to ask from where they got this idea of nakedness they so religiously believe in. The answer is easy. It's because we've eaten of the fruit of Knowledge and thereby Fall under an illusion where we end up following the wrong one(s).
readers might get caught on the idea that the garment (of skins) is
given to Adam by Elohim, so it must be good, useful, and true. It
may help to consider that Adam (patron) has (parable coming next) eaten
from the fruit that brings him under an illusion of
Knowledge. One might ask who it is that Adam listens to
when he decides to make himself an apron? It might also be
asked if it is appropriate that Adam receive a garment as a covering
for his (supposed) nakedness rather than (or addition to) an
apron? Who is the God that Fallen man worships? And
who says these parables are not perfect in their reflection (of Adam;
of the patron)? Please try not to take offense at these
suggestions. The purpose here is to try to see new perspectives.
In the endowment ceremony, the symbolism seems so obvious that it's almost comical. Even the church leaders are oblivious to what it means, appropriately so. At one point in the ceremony, Eve asks Lucifer who he is, to which Lucifer replies that he is Eve's brother. After Adam and Eve fall under illusion, Lucifer panics them into making aprons with the statement: "See, you are naked. Take some fig leaves and make you aprons. Father will see your nakedness. Quick! Hide!" Right after this occurs, the loud voice of the narrator (who symbolizes the custodians of the endowment.... the church leaders) booms out over the loudspeaker to the patrons: "BRETHERN AND SISTERS, PUT ON YOUR APRONS!" Appropriately, there is a short recess where all of the patrons take time to obediently put on their aprons. Like Adam, the patrons don aprons without questioning what they are doing and why they are doing it. Appropriately, the endowment continues with Elohim coming to the garden and asking questions of Adam (who re-presents the patron) such as: "Adam... Where art thou?" (which might be rephrased as: 'Where did you go... did you get lost?') and "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" (possible rephrase: 'You might re-consider what you do.') Carnal man is prone to not consider what he does. After all, he has Fallen under an illusion. The hidden meaning is sealed from Adam's carnal mind.
The bottom line is that the parable is about us. Like the Fallen man, Adam, we think we are naked without the apron or the garment given to us in the Garden of Eden that we mistakenly believe covers our nakedness. Are we really naked without the apron or the garment (symbols of the physical body)? Well, we believe we are. Then there's the sealed portion. Two-thirds is waiting now to be unsealed. That is what the parable is about. You are the book that is to be unsealed. The sealed portion is in you. That is what the symbols say.
A Second Witness
Devout Book of Mormon believers proclaim it as a second witness to Christ. This is a correct statement, but few seem to realize what second witness really means. In truth, all things in creation bear witness of Christ, therefore all things are second witnesses. The Bible is also a second witness rather than the first (witness) as popularly believed. In the pre-1990 LDS Temple endowment, the ceremony at the veil including receiving the name of the second token of the Melchizedek Priesthood on the five-points-of-fellowship. The five-points-of-fellowship symbol is also redundant in meaning with the second witness, as is the entire Temple ceremony itself. Again, the number five is a universal symbol of the outer (carnal) senses.
So, what is second witness all about? To understand that, it may help to first see a bigger picture about the scriptures and their message as well as what first witness means. What is the first witness? That should be easy, but it seems that the idea is commonly missed by carnal and Fallen man who is imprisoned by the illusion which he believes wrongly to be real. The first witness is the Christ that is already and always within you. Again, the message of the scriptures is a personal one. Ye are the Temple of God. Christ lives within (the Temple) and that is where the door is (in the Temple) that is to be opened. However, carnal man doesn't understand this. Carnal man has yet to have something revealed to him. What is it that will someday be revealed to carnal and Fallen man? Well, whatever it is precedes the coming of Christ per the profound parable written by Paul:
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2Thess 2:3-4)
Again, consider this to be a parable that is personally relevant. Consider symbols and what they might mean. The temple spoken of is you. Ye are the Temple of God. In you sits a man of sin, so to speak, the son of Perdition, the very beast which exalteth himself and shews forth he is God. The message here is a redundant one that tells us that we are the beast spoken of. The Old Testament theme of sacrificing beasts is meant to be about this same idea of sacrificing the beast within us, not about needless killing of innocent animals as believed by carnal men. As usual, carnal and Fallen man gets things turned upside down.
Ye are the Temple built without hands. But, what does carnal and Fallen man do? He runs to a temple built with hands, mistakenly thinking that is what is meant. This error in judgment is what carnal means. Carnal is sensual (of the five outward senses) and devilish (cf. Mosiah 16:3). Carnal and Fallen man is spiritually dead and this is why he does work for the dead. The dead always do the work for the (spiritually) dead or, put another way, the (spiritually) dead do their own work. When carnal man finally begins to comprehend the meaning (ie. it is revealed to him), then he will cleanse the temple (which Temple ye are) and the Christ (within) will return to the rightful place (in you).
There is a popular notion that the falling away spoken of in Paul's parable is a reference to a great apostasy of the church. LDS leader James Talmage even wrote a popular book of the same name which contained a carnal interpretation of what Paul was speaking of. Do we really believe that there were none who could (or would) speak to God during an earth time of nearly two thousand years? Such is the carnal interpretation that makes little sense except to the Fallen. To the contrary, the falling away spoken of by Paul refers to the time of restitution, a time of consecration, the time where those living the preparatory gospel abandon it in frustration. The falling away occurs after one comes to sufficient frustration at the failure of the preparatory gospel to live up to what it promises. Falling away refers to an abandonment of ones most precious, but binding, of possessions: Knowledge; It is both a consecration (yielding up) of ones old notions and a restitution (restoration) of what should be. It immediately precedes the return of the Christ to the Temple. It is truly 'that day', as Paul puts it, for it is the only day, the present. Prior to that, we walk in darkness.
In a way, there is only one first witness, but a legion of second witnesses. Again, all of creation is a (second) witness. Second witnesses are for those who are sensual and devilish. Devout LDS rightly teach that the reason the Jews did not recognize Jesus as Christ during his first coming is that they (Jews) were looking for a worldly leader who would free them (using force) from their worldly slave-masters. It is taught that Christ came the first time in humility to free the people spiritually and that is why they (the Jews) didn't recognize him (Christ). The Jews were looking for the wrong coming, the second one.
Yes, exactly. Stop here a moment. Do you see how this is personally relevant as a symbolic parable about you individually? Who are the Jews spoken of? Do we rightly consider that they are us and that this parable is all about us? Do we see how it is we who have not recognized the Christ because we look for the wrong coming? Do we listen to ourselves when we proclaim that Jesus will come again as a fearsome warrior to make great war on the wicked and destroy them (the wicked) using force and destruction, thereby acting as a redeemer to free us from our earthly slave-masters? It seems that we aren't listening to the symbols. It may help us to realize that the popular belief of Jesus coming a second time as a great warrior who will rule and reign upon the earth following cleansing it by force and destruction better fits a description of the anti-Christ, the same one that the Jews looked for anciently. Unfortunately, few consider these parables as present-time stories.
One might ask why a second coming is even necessary? It's only necessary because the first coming supposedly failed. But, did it really fail?
In truth, we might say that there is only one first coming (of Christ), but many second comings. When is Christ to return? Yes, you heard it right, though probably misunderstood what it means. The return of Christ will happen in the last days and also in this (the present) generation. The last days is when we become frustrated enough with our failures to begin to throw off the chains that bind us. It always happens in the present generation of now.
But, there's more that might be worth considering. It's not really a return of Christ per the popular phrase because Christ has always been present. A legion of religionists are heard to proclaim with loud voices that "Christ will come... Christ will come!" But, do they really understand what they are saying? For them, the coming of Christ happens in the future rather than right now. The popular proclamation of a future advent occurs despite the scriptural record saying differently, that it's now. It is not that Christ will come, but that Christ IS come. Christ stands now and knocks at the door, so to speak. That door is in the Temple. It is in you. The time is now. The place is here (where you are right now).
Scriptural His-stories and Those Who Fail to Understand
Devout Mormons tend to hold to a popular notion that the scriptures contain stories of those who were favored of God because they understood and obeyed. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Nephi, Brother of Jared, Mormon, Moroni and a legion of others are highly revered and popularly believed to be great men worthy of emulation. We might consider the possibility that the scriptures are not so much about the great spiritual successes of the star players, but rather about their failures. In a way, the scriptures are like a mirror in which we can, but often fail to, see ourselves.
To illustrate the basic idea, we might briefly look at a few of the stories or scriptural parables from the Bible. Subsequent narratives are intended to cover parables from the Book of Mormon such as the parable of Nephi failing to understand what was meant by his (mistaken) killing (murder) of Laban.
One thing that is important to realize is that scriptural parables are meant to be reflective. What this means is that at higher levels of symbolism, the parables can be applied to each individual in the present time and place. In a way, these parables are like a mirror in which we look to see ourselves as we truly are.
As we look at these reflections, we should remember that we should not be too amazed at what we see. Like the old story of Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection in Echo's pond, carnal man also succumbs to worshiping the image, failing to see it for what it really is, an illusion. This is what the metaphor of the vanity of image worship in the scriptures is all about. All of creation is an image or manifestation. Image-worship and carnality are synonymous in meaning. Those who find themselves worshiping the Book of Mormon for what it contains might consider that they too are missing what is in front of the image, so to speak, what it is that is before the reflection or what it is that is and was before creation.
As Fallen beings, the reflection we should be seeing in the mirror is not a pretty sight and not one to fall in love with. The true refection of carnal man is that of someone who misses-the-point. Appropriately, carnal man fails to see what the image really means. In a way, scriptural parables are the image spoken of that contains a reflection of carnal and Fallen man. The image is a reflection that carnal man mistakenly falls in love with. Carnal man foolishly mistakes the image as a testimony (a verification) of his righteousness rather than his unrighteousness. Carnal man is unable to comprehend the image that is his own.
Adam, Eve and the Fall. The creation story in Genesis is a profound story that is truly reflective of what we are and do. Temple endowed LDS will recognize that the creation parable comprises much of the endowment ceremony. Unfortunately, few patrons understand what it means. If they truly understood the endowment, they wouldn't need to be in the wrong temple taking out a carnal endowment in the first place. Nor would the endowment be an accurate reflection of anyone who's present as an endowment patron. It is those who don't understand who must attend the outer temples which do nothing except point to (symbolize) what is going on in the (true) temple (which Temple ye are).
The creation parable tells the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden who partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and are thereby expelled in a Fallen condition into the lone and dreary world which is the one in which we live now. After the Fall, Adam is tries to right things and vows to correct his errors with new oaths. However, Adam seems to continue in his misunderstanding because he fails to re-enter the Garden paradise from which he came. After Adam eats from the Tree of Knowledge, he afterwards speaks all kinds of nonsense, but can't fathom what he is doing wrong. One of the great keys to comprehending the symbolism of the endowment ceremony is in first considering how everything Lucifer says is a lie and how everything Adam and Eve say in the endowment after they Fall is also a lie. Narratives on this topic by this author can be found in Temple Book II: Narratives on a meaning beyond the LDS endowment ceremony. This author once had a conversation with a high LDS leader where the leader asserted that Lucifer doesn't speak lies in the endowment ceremony. Interesting view, isn't it?
A point being made here is that the creation parable tells the story of Adam (and Eve) who Fall under an illusion. This story is not about their great success at understanding, but their failure to understand. This is also how the creation parable is fully reflective of the endowment patron as well as any and all individuals who fail to understand what's going on. Like Adam, the LDS Temple patron is Fallen, having eaten of the Fruit of Knowledge. That is what the symbolism in the story says.
Again, the foundational message of the LDS temple endowment is that it is the patron who Adam re-presents . Prideful patrons are prone to mistakenly see Adam as having been redeemed from the Fall, but nowhere in the endowment is this taught with the possible exception of Adam passing the veil. Appropriately, that is where the endowment ceremony ends and the patron (Adam) returns to his life in the outer world. Interestingly, the patron leaving the Celestial room and returning to the carnal world outside of the temple is reminiscent of Adam leaving the Garden and going into the lone and dreary world that just played out right in front of the patrons earlier on. The failure to understand is also symbolized by the continual wearing of the apron throughout the endowment ceremony and the wearing of it's street counterpart, the garment, upon returning to the world. The garment is believed by the patron to cover his supposed nakedness. Like Adam, the patron doesn't question why he believes that he is naked in the first place. This is fully appropriate. The wearing of the apron (or garment) by itself should signal the endowment patron that he remains as a Fallen being rather than redeemed from the Fall.
The Fall of Israel. The Biblical story of Israel is a central Bible theme and occupies a cornerstone position in Mormon symbolic iconography as well. Those who have been to the LDS temple to do baptisms for the dead, for example, will have noticed the baptismal font in the basement that rests on the backs of twelve oxen, representing the tribes of Israel. It is significant that the font is located in the basement and that it is used to do work for the dead. This is also profoundly connected to baptism itself or, rather, what baptism re-presents. Here again, what is being reflected is not flattering. Contrary to what is popularly believed, these symbols do not speak about a success in understanding, but a failure in understanding. Baptism in the temple font is for (work for) the dead. One might ask why must there be work for the dead in the first place? In truth, the dead always do the work for the dead and it's spiritual death which is relevant. Emerging from spiritual death is what baptism is about. Baptism is necessary because of the Fall. The failure of Joseph Smith and company to understand baptism is why there is a church today (cf. D&C 22).
Basements are below the level of the ground and represent a state of being dead. Emerging from the waters of baptism symbolizes moving from a state of death to that of resurrection. Water is a symbol of the Spirit. To be cleansed from being Fallen, we are immersed (baptized) in the Spirit, so to speak, emerging as a new being (a resurrection). Symbols all. Carnal men are oblivious to the idea they are now immersed in Spirit. esurrection is part of the promise Israel has yet to receive as symbolized in the type of baptism performed. Oxen are beasts, more specifically beasts of burden. Water of baptism is also said to wash away sin. The font resting on the backs of the twelve oxen in LDS temples symbolizes the burden of the sins of the world on the backs of the oxen and the burden of living under the preparatory gospel. Most importantly, twelve oxen symbolize the tribes of Israel. Tribe is also an important symbol representing separation, disunity, and a failure in understanding.
Ten of the tribes are said to be lost, having been carried away into captivity, which symbols (lost; captivity) are redundant with the meaning of tribe. Symbols of being lost, being in captivity, and separated into tribes represent a condition of (spiritual) death which is the state of Israel today. And they are us or, rather, we are them, the ones spoken of. This is what the parable is about. Again, it's important to notice that the story of Israel is the story of the failure to get it right, rather than the opposite. That is why the Old Testament contains so many scathing indictments of Israel's failure to be-come holy (whole). If you've never noticed this, try reading Isaiah or others books like Hosea. Israel fails to re-member God and becomes a whore (cf. Hosea 9:1). The symbolism in whore is synonymous with the whore of Babylon in the book of Revelation (cf. Rev 17:1). The term re-member is a symbolic term about healing that which is broken, finding that which is lost, and (re)uniting that which is separated (dis-membered). There is great redundancy in these symbols.
The name Jacob
(who be-comes Israel) means supplanter and is appropriate for one who
has stolen the birth-right from his brother, Esau. The meaning
is synonymous with the same in the story of Lucifer, the brother of
Jesus, who is also a supplanter of the birthright of the Christ.
consider these parables to be personally and individually
relevant to you, yourself. The new name of Israel is part of the
promise to Israel that also is about the promise to each of us.
you are interested in further considering the parable of
Jacob/Israel, you might want to take a look at a narrative on the
subject that is included in the same compilation as this one. The
relevant narrative is titled: Israel: The allegory of man's
journey towards self-realization.
Jesus and the Twelve Disciples. The Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament, the latter of which contains the story of the Christ re-presented as Jesus. Some will notice that the Book of Mormon is also a re-presentation of the Old and New Testaments. The book of Third Nephi contains the story of Jesus in much the same way as found in the Biblical gospels.
It is significant that Jesus symbolizes someone who understands. Jesus is the universal symbol of the Christ who is both a symbol for us as well as a symbol for what is in us. Jesus has twelve disciples. Why twelve? Why not fourteen or nine? It's because of the connection to the same symbols that embody the lost tribes of Israel. Twelve is a number of being lost. You might notice that n the number itself, 12, one is followed by two (1 -> 2), symbolizing separation and division, an opposite of unity.
In the New Testament, the twelve disciples (understudies; students) of Jesus do not understand him, at least when Jesus is with them. In the same way, carnal man does not understand the Christ that is come (already come; already present). That is why disciples are disciples in the first place... because they don't understand. The leader of the twelve disciples, Peter, denies Jesus thrice when asked if he knows him. You might consider that Peter told the truth on that. No, Peter didn't know the Christ. At least not then.
One important point being made here is that these stories are parables that are personally and intimately relevant to each of us in the present place of here and the present moment of now. A second point being made is that these stories are reflective which means that they re-present us in a reflective (symbolic) way. A third point is that what is being represented has two aspects to it, the first of which is not flattering to us or what we are doing. The failures of Adam, Israel, and Jesus's disciples contains a story of us failing to get it, that is, failing to understand what is meant by all of it. At the same time, these stories contain a promise that is very positive which is that we will eventually come to a comprehension of what is meant. When that happens, the old world (the old you) will have passed away and a new heaven and earth (the new you) will emerge. When that happens, you will not be needing to read narratives like this one because you will understand what is meant already. You will no longer need second witnesses. The Book of Mormon will have become history, yours.
Closing comments. To comprehend the meaning and purpose of the Book of Mormon, one needs to see beyond the image. The Book of Mormon is indeed a second witness of the Christ as popularly vocalized, yet rarely understood. Only those who fail to know the Christ have need of second witnesses and only those who fail to recognize the Christ in coming have need for a second advent. It is not that Christ will come again, as popularly believed, but that Christ is (already) come. It is rightly written in the scriptural record that Christ stands at the door and knocks and that it is you who must open the door. The door spoken of leads to the holy place in the Temple of God. Ye are the Temple spoken of. The coming of Christ is not a worldly event, but a personal one.
The last days are
not about the turmoil in the world surrounding the falling of our
(so-called) great cultures, but about the inner turmoil that
accompanies the realization of our own errors and the yielding up of
failed old ways. The restitution of all things is about the
cleansing of the Temple and the return of the Christ to the rightful
throne. Again, these are personal things. It occurs in this
generation. Until that happens to you, it is appropriate that you
have second witnesses.