Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Forgotten Promise


We may have overlooked a significant promise given us by a prophet of God.
Moroni, writing his own observations in the Book of Ether, had this to say to us, the members of the modern church:

Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.

Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up  from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

 And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed. (Ether 4:14–16, italics added for emphasis.)

In these verses, Moroni seems to be saying that the day will come when John’s enigmatic Revelation in the New Testament, also known as the Apocalypse of John, will be fully understood.

Is that possible? Well, if Moroni is to be believed, it must be.

That begs the question, is it understood now? Some Mormons might be tempted to say yes, that Christian ministers and teachers, including some LDS scholars who say essentially the same things, have managed to wrest the intended meaning from John’s peculiar imagery.

Certainly, numerous efforts have been made down through the years to decipher the message John penned two centuries ago. And despite the seeming unanimity Christian scholars appear to have developed regarding its interpretation—including concepts such as the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon and the Antichrist—the fact remains that the Savior told Joseph Smith in his First Vision that none of their teachings were correct. If that was so then, it is equally true now. Furthermore, consensus should never be mistaken for correctness.

Still, far too many church members have failed to perceive that the Lord’s condemnation of Christian doctrine in that First Vision also includes their popular interpretation of John’s prophecy. Again, if they were wrong about prophecy in Joseph Smith’s day, they must still be wrong today because their interpretations of it have changed little. In this author’s opinion, most of them have been misguided.

I have elsewhere noted that many church members and scholars have imprudently adopted the mainstream Christian or Millennialist view of Revelation. This has taken LDS thinking on the subject down a dead end path. Revelation is therefore as much a “sealed book” for us as it is for any Christian scholar.

That leaves thoughtful Latter-day Saints to wonder when and how Moroni’s prophecy will be fulfilled. Will the time come when we can read and fully understand the meaning behind John’s curious and seemingly unfathomable imagery?

Until recently, no methodology has been proposed that would allow anyone to truly “unfold” John’s enigmatic writings. But a way to do so may now be at hand. Clearly, Joseph Smith understood the book. He called it “the plainest book.”

Let me make this bold assertion: One need not be a prophet to read and understand the revelations of the prophets—both ancient and modern, John’s included—with all their arcane and bizarre imagery. Anyone can read those revelations as easily as they read a newspaper or magazine, given the proper training.

How is that possible, you say? Let’s look at this together.

Curiously, the only way to properly and understandingly read John’s writing is, in this author’s opinion, with a thoroughgoing comprehension of the cosmological metaphors he employs. The very element we see as a stumbling block is the key to deciphering the text. This is my assertion: All the enigmatic imagery John used in his great Apocalypse (Revelation) in the New Testament is based in cosmic imagery, the common denominator in all ancient cultures and religions.

We see this cosmic symbolism everywhere in ancient cultures, from their myths and legends to their sacred traditions and religious iconography. Certainly, it is on display for all to see in their monuments, temples and texts. To our eyes, it looks like paganism, the worship of cosmic gods and goddesses, chaos monsters and world threatening dragons. But a careful parsing of those riotous images and conflicting imagery, looking back into the past at the original archetypes and motifs instead of the later variations and elaborations, we discover a commonality that is otherwise hidden. That commonality became the common denominator for prophetic imagery.

As it turns out, John’s seemingly indecipherable book is a missionary tract, intended for investigators and new converts. John rehearsed all the primary themes of ancient religious lore from his day to illustrate how it fit into the new religion of Christ and to lay claim to ancient roots for the new Christian religion. It was a conversion tool, used to persuade pagans who held these cosmic traditions as sacred that Christianity honored, respected and incorporated their former beliefs and traditions, that they were all intended to point to and culminate in Christ.

Revelation, then, is more of a rehearsal of past catastrophic events and the cosmic images that went with them than it is a prediction of the future. There’s where mainstream Christianity went wrong. We believe John was looking primarily to the future in his tome, when he was, instead, looking to the sacred, cosmic traditions of the past.

So, Nibley was right. “Cosmisim,” as he dubbed it, is a key component of the Restored Gospel, just as it is in John’s Revelation. Upon serious consideration, how could it be anything less? We encounter cosmic imagery at every turn in Mormonism: in Doctrine and Covenants, in The Pearl of Great Price (especially there), in the Book of Mormon, in the teaching of Joseph Smith and on the exterior walls of our modern temples and in our sacred endowment. It is the cosmological side of the Restored Gospel.

Yet today’s Mormons eye the concept of sacred symbolism with suspicion and misgivings. Like their Christian cousins, today’s church members, for the most part, see sacred, cosmological symbolism as either inconsequential, having no real merit, or a satanic effort to distract us from the teachings of Christ, a perversion of truth, foreign to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the antithesis of Christianity.

So in that context, would it be heretical to suggest that the revised view of prophetic pronouncements espoused by this author, using cosmological imagery from hoary antiquity, is the very mechanism by which, as Moroni declared, John’s Revelation will be “unfolded in the eyes of all the people”? There is only one way to know for sure: Put it to the test. Study these concepts and then apply them.

 “And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people.”

Isn’t it a bit curious, in light of Moroni’s words, that most Mormons still do not understand John’s Revelation? Yet, with the cosmological key, the book becomes “the plainest book,” as Joseph Smith declared it to be. It can then be read like any other document, word by word, verse by verse, with nearly complete comprehension.

I know this much: One need not be a prophet to read and understand the revelations of the prophets, with all their arcane and bizarre imagery. Anyone can read Revelation as easily as they read a newspaper or magazine, as long as they employ a knowledge of the archetypes and motifs of ancient cosmological imagery.

There are hundreds of Latter-day Saints who can now do so because they have taken the time and made the effort to master the imagery and symbolism of the ancients and the prophets.

Would you care to be one of them?

20 comments:

In The Doghouse said...

Just wondering what your thoughts are on the four blood moons happening on the Jewish High Holy Days...

Anthony E. Larson said...

In my view, Doghouse, it's another dead end, typical of mainstream Evangelism. Joseph Smith decried such efforts to date future events in his day by William Miller, who started Adventism. Joseph declared him a false prophet. I think Hagee and all his ilk fall into that same category. He knows nothing of the system of cosmic metaphors that a true prophet uses. Thus, he takes them literally or misinterprets them. As I said in my monograph, Christ told Joseph all the Christian denominations of his day were false. In my mind, that includes their interpretation of prophecy. I urge you to read my research and take my online classes to understand the prophetic imagery. Anyone can do it; there is no mystery.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. How does on go about taking the class?

Anthony E. Larson said...

Thanks for asking, Doghouse. You'll find information about the classes here on the right-hand column and on my website (www.MormonProphecy.com) There is a free preview available as well.

Joy said...

Your books have opened up the scriptures to me, and it's been life-changing. I'm sad that I didn't find your writings sooner. I believe that the last days prophecies will happen exactly as you say. I plan to take several of your courses soon. I'd like to know if you're going to reprint your book paralleling the Nephites to our day. I really want to read that one, and can't pay the used book prices. I have all of your other books, though. Would you consider putting your books on Kindle? I'd like to see you get a wider audience.

Joy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anthony E. Larson said...

Thanks for your kind words, Joy. You echo what so many have said about my research, and it's most gratifying. It is for this very reason that I persist in presenting my ideas to Latter-day Saints. I know how learning these things has affected my life and my testimony, and I do all I can to help others do so as well.

I'm contemplating a new version of Parallel Histories, only this time they will return as a separate course in the online classes. The sad part is that there is so little response from church members on these and other topics that I have a hard time justifying the time, expense and effort it takes to mount new lessons or books. In the meantime, I suggest you read all my blog posts on the
"parallel histories" idea. You'll get the basic ideas there. If you have questions, I'd be pleased to answer them personally. Simply send me an email note: anthonyelarson@gmail.com

muchobrento said...

Anthony-

You don't know me. I don't interact very often on your blog. But, I've read it all, and keep a watchful eye out for your new posts.

Keep up the good work. There are people out there who read your work but haven't made themselves known.

Anthony E. Larson said...

I'm pleased to know that, Muchobrento. The sad fact is that there are far too few, in my opinion. I have enjoyed a renewed faith in Mormonism and a greatly enhanced testimony because of my discoveries. So it saddens me when so few of my fellow church members pay attention to this information. I wish it could be many, many more. Perhaps you and other readers could renew your efforts to acquaint other Mormons with these ideas. I hope you will. And thanks again for making a comment. It gets pretty lonely out here on this limb sometimes. (grin)

Warren said...

Your research has left me overwhelmed in a state of near constant awe and opened the black hole that has swallowed the last 4 years of my life(I mean that in a rewarding way) You will never reach all of the "saints", but some of us now have a much greater understanding of the scriptures, a much firmer testimony of Joseph Smiths calling as a prophet of God, a much deeper understanding of the past with a clearer understanding of exactly what is to come. I wish more people were able to suspend their judgment long enough to let the light of truth to penetrate their minds!

Anthony E. Larson said...

Thanks, Warren. Those supportive comments are most welcome. I am pleased to know this information has been as rewarding for you as it has for me. Like you, I wish more Latter-day Saints could suspend judgment long enough to discover the wealth of comprehension and knowledge that awaits them in this research.

Anthony E. Larson said...

One added request, Warren, one I would make to all those who appreciate this line of thought. Help get the word out. It's not easy, I know. Rejection is difficult to take. But it is an obligation that stems from our commitment to service in the church. Help find those who will listen and learn.

Anonymous said...

After April I will have some money to sign up for your online classes, and after that start buying your books one at a time, unfortunately. I am glad there are members such as yourself who are willing to share their knowledge with those who are hungry for more knowledge and deeper doctrines. Thank you! Anon from the Southwest

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that I am sharing your information with my family and any one who will listen. Anon Southwest

Anthony E. Larson said...

Thanks for you kind comment, Anon. But you need not wait until you have the money. We work on the honor system here. If you want the books now, you can have them now. Pay for them later. Send me an email with your mailing address, and I'll send them out. Pay for them when you have the means.

Anonymous said...

From Anon Southwest: Wow. Thank you for the generous offer. You are a great and kind person. It makes sense you have a lot of money tied up in the
publishing of your work (not counting
the years of study and research). I will
check to see if I can purchase one book
for a Christmas present. I do not feel
right taking something without paying,
but, wow, thank you for the offer. I will
email you with more explanation.
I think you would be interested in a site called church-discipline.blogspot.com owned by CD Host. CD is an Atheist who thinks Mormonism is interesting. He wrote on Orson Pratt and Matter, Adam God, and Mormonism as Hermetical Christianity. He knows and understands religion, the Bible and can interpret what Scripture means, and seems well versed in many things. I thought you might like the Orson Pratt article. I enjoy reading CD Host the same as reading your stuff. Both of you are intelligent and understand many things, and want to share knowledge.
Thanks again. And I tell whom ever will listen about your site.

King Kame O'ahu said...

With all the Grand imagery of the past, Brother Anthony has been able to give a Spiritual Hurdle to the Amazing future which awaits the people of this earth-
Lean heavy on Anthony, for he is an instrument of The Lord-

Anthony E. Larson said...

Thank you King Kame O'ahu. But I am but a messenger. Look to the knowledge for understanding.

Anonymous said...

I randomly came across your website when I was doing an internet search on December 4, 2013 and was immediately intrigued. I watched all your little video clips and read your entire blog and all the comments. I just finished reading it this morning. Thank you for putting all this information together! I am going to read your prophesy trilogy next. Oh, and I've shared it with my family who is also enjoying this new/old information.

Anthony E. Larson said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for your interest and your kind words. Keep me posted on your progress. And you might consider taking the online classes as well.