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Latest revision as of 00:00, 29 October 2012

This page allows you to see in one place all the commentary pages for the reading assignment for this Doctrine & Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson. Click on the heading to go to a specific page. Click the edit links below to edit text on any page.


D&C 89:18-21

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 89 > Verses 89:18-21
Previous page: Verses 89:10-17                      This is the last page for Section 89


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Relationship to Section 89. The relationship of Verses 89:18-21 to the rest of Section 89 is discussed at D&C 89.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 89:1-3 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 89:21: Destroying angel shall pass by. It is perhaps peculiar that among the promises associated with the Word of Wisdom, one finds this one: "that the destroying angel shall pass by [those who keep and do these saying], as the children of Israel, and not slay them." The promise makes reference, of course, to Exodus 12, the institution of the Passover just before the Israelites escaped Egypt to flee into the desert. There are in Exodus 12 two distinct presentations of the institution of the Passover—one attributed by scholars to the Elohist writer, and one attributed by scholars to the Priestly writer. Both are of potential importance to the interpretation of this text.
In the first, the Lord speaks with Moses and gives him instruction. Each household is to take an unblemished male lamb of less than a year old, "and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it" (Ex 12:6). At that point, "they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the house, wherein they shall eat it" (Ex 12:7). The meal (other details regarding the menu are outlined in the text) is to be eaten "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste" (Ex 12:11), all this because Israel was to be ready to flee Egypt at any moment. And then comes the explanation of the blood applied to the doorposts: "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt" (Ex 12:12-13). And then Moses is told to make this into a regular event, "a feast to the Lord throughout your generations" (Ex 12:14).
What might be learned about the reference in D&C 89:21 from all this? A few questions might be asked:
In the second account of the Passover's institution, Moses is described as giving instructions to the elders of Israel. His instructions are different in some important ways from the Lord's: "Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you" (Ex 12:21-23). Further, Moses gives some instruction about how the annual feast of the Passover, to be held in subsequent years, would be used to teach each generation: "And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses" (Ex 12:26-27).
What might be learned about the reference in D&C 89:21 from this version of the Passover? A few additional questions might be asked:

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 89:19. How does "finding wisdom" manifest itself? What does it mean? If one doesn't follow the Word of Wisdom, are they denied access to revelation?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Verses 89:10-17                      This is the last page for Section 89

D&C 93:1-5

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 93 > Verses 93:1-5
Previous page: Section 93                      Next page: Verses 93:6-20


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Relationship to Section 93. The relationship of Verses 93:1-5 to the rest of Section 93 is discussed at D&C 93.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Verses 93:1-5 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 93:1-20: Outline. The key to understanding these verses may be verse 19 (discussion), which provides a basic outline for the first twenty verses of this revelation, and indicates that these first twenty verses teach us three things: (a) "how" to worship (93:1), (b) "what" we worship (93:2-18), and (c) "why" we worship (93:19-20).
  • D&C 93:1: How to worship. This first verse describes five things that one does in worship, five things that describe "how" one worships. Each deserves careful attention.
(1) Forsake sin. To forsake is to totally abandon, leave behind, renounce, move away from. The first step in worshiping is to renounce our sins and to leave them behind.
(2) Come unto Christ. We often read this as meaning something like "be good" or "do His will," etc., but it can also be read quite literally: to come unto Christ by personally, physically, and really approaching him and entering his presence. We most obviously do this through partaking of sacred ordinances--such as baptism, the sacrament, and temple worship--all of which require us to forsake sin before fully participating. When we abandon or forsakes our sins, we turn away from them and move toward Christ. These first two parts of worship, then, constitute a kind of movement away from sin and towards Christ.
(3) Call on His name. This can simply refer to the act of prayer, but might more explicitly refer to the act of citing or summoning someone's authority: in an argument, one can call on the name of this or that thinker or scholar. If calling on the name of Christ refers to an act of prayer, it might be understood as a prayer spoken in Christ's name, rather than to Him. In our worship we worship the Father in the name of the Son, and that seems to be what it means to "call on His name."
At the same time, there is certainly merit in understanding "call on His name" as a direct summons. After we leave sin and physically come to Christ, we call on His name as we arrive. This second way of reading this phrase need not oppose the first: might one come to Christ and address Him directly so as to approach the Father in/as the Son? That is, might one call on His name (summon Him) by calling on His name (praying as authorized by Him)? Ultimately, it seems one does precisely this in many acts of worship: in the sacrament, one physically experiences Christ and calls on Him for salvation, but only by addressing "God, the Eternal Father" in the name of His "Son, Jesus Christ."
A third and related way to read this might be to call on His name as an authorized servant performing saving ordinances in His name. In this sense, we worship Him by helping to perform saving ordinances for others.
(4) Obey His voice. Is there a difference between obeying His voice and that which follows--keeping His commandments? Obeying the Lord's voice seems to evoked here an actual encounter, the reality of communing with the Savior--either directly in person, or through the Spirit. Obeying His voice would seem to refer to obeying the whisperings of the Spirit, which is promised to us after baptism, and which Nephi taught would teach us all things what we should do.
(5) Keep His commandments. Rather than obeying the whisperings of the Spirit, keeping the commandments may refer to the day to day living of those commandments that have been recorded for us through the scriptures or through the teachings of the prophets. While we worship by doing what the Lord tells us personally through the Spirit, we also do so by walking uprightly in obedience to the commandments, and treasuring them in our lives (see lexical note above). In Judaism, each commandment (mitzvah) is an obligation or responsibility that forms the basis for maintaining a relationship with God. We worship by keeping the commandments, by living in a way that maintains our relationship with the Lord. Sacred ordinances form the foundation for this worship by requiring us to commit to keep the commandments. By doing so, we follow through on that personal commitment and maintain our relationship with to the Lord.
Conclusion. In the end, these five points convey a story: one leaves off sin in order to come physically to Christ, where one calls upon His name, hears His voice in response, and then leaves the worship experience with specific commandments to obey. This pattern is present in most any worship experience in the LDS tradition. To participate in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, one begins by forsaking one's sins in advance, and then one comes to the table to experience Christ physically through the tokens of the bread and water/wine, where one calls upon His name (even takes His name); then through the Sacrament Meeting speakers who are, ideally, blessed with the promised Spirit one hears His voice, before leaving the meeting with specific commandments to obey. The same can be read into the temple experience: certainly one must forsake sin to enter the temple, and there one comes to experience Christ quite directly, and even to call on His name (to take upon His name in the most amazing way possible, but also to learn to pray for the first time); finally, at the veil and in the celestial presence, one hears His voice, and then one leaves the temple with very specific commandments (covenants) to keep.
In short, these five points beautifully describe the process of worship.
  • D&C 93:1: Two promises. Finally, this first verse also makes two promises to those who worship this way: they will see His face, and know that He is.
The first promise points to the manifest "power of Godliness" in the ordinances of worship, especially in the temple where this phrase might be taken quite literally (D&C 84:22). Since the glory of the Lord is so bright, it can be difficult to actually see His face. To see His face we have to share the same glory or have Him unveil it to us (D&C 88:68). Otherwise his countenance is so bright (Rev 1:16), that we can't actually see His face.
The second promise is a bit more nuanced, but it might be read in terms of the Old Testament name for Jesus: YHWH ("He is"). It is one thing to see the face of the Lord, it is another to know that he is YHWH ("He is"). The following seventeen-verse stretch outlines some of what that means, by describing characteristics of the Lord--the "what" of worship.
  • D&C 93:2. The double promise of verse 1 is extended and clarified in this and the following verse. This is ultimately quite important to the structure of the first twenty verses, because verses 4-18 function almost as a parenthetical explanation of verse 3. Thus verses 19-20 ultimately pick up from verse 3, continuing the discussion that is at work in the extended promise of verse 1.
It is of course significant that this extension of the promise (and the second extension in verse 3) is a fleshing out of the same second promise of the first verse: to know that He is. That His "being" is now clarified and extended is doubly important because it confirms the importance of the "I am" of verse 1: His "is-ness" is of the utmost importance. But the point of the present verse is to take things beyond that simple "is-ness": He is "the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." This certainly calls for comment.
This verse undeniably echoes John 1:9: "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." But as soon as one draws the connection, one recognizes how suddenly such a rich statement is thrust upon the reader in the present revelation: the "light" business in John 1 is built up over the course of several verses, giving it a richer context and meaning. This suddenness could be read in two different ways: on the one hand, it may be that the Lord is simply highlighting the Johannine text, perhaps suggesting that the present verse should be read as approval of the Johannine text, though as will become obvious only a few verses later in the revelation, the Lord seems to be alluding to or quoting a text still more original or primary than the text in the KJV of John 1; on the other hand, the suddenness might be connected—and this seems to be the better reading—to the future fact of the promised revelation, or, in other words, because one is only to know that He is the true light inasmuch as one worships, the present verse is hardly meant to be some kind of definitive statement of what it means to say that He is the "true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
But if the second of these two readings is the better, it nonetheless presents a difficulty: if this promised revelation is, for the moment, simply unreadable, why would the Lord bother to say anything about it all, especially in light of verse 19, where the Lord explains that there is some purpose to explaining all of this. But perhaps it is precisely verse 19 that opens up the possibility of interpreting the present verse: verses 19-20 make worship (in its purpose) a question of grace. In other words, there may be reason to read this verse in terms of grace, rather than in terms of John 1.
And as soon as this is said, it becomes clear how this verse might well be a curious way of stating the very idea of grace: the light comes as a gift, and one that seems here to be universally given. But, in light of the above, if it is universally given, it is nonetheless not universally known: only those who worship in truth and Spirit will know that the Lord is this light. In other words, only in worship can one come to know how universal and how broad the grace of Christ is. This sets up a kind of irony: the light by which one sees is something one can only grasp in the act of worship. But even to state things this way is to begin to clarify the meaning of this verse: worship is essentially an act that allows one to see, for the first time, how it is that one sees.
Perhaps here then the word "true" ought to be highlighted: the occurrence and placement of this word in this verse makes it sound as if one must come, in the act of worship, to recognize that light has always been, to that point, misunderstood. In a sense, there seems to be implied that in worship one forgoes the "scientific" for the "religious," the "temporal" for the "spiritual": in worship one recognizes how limited one's take on the world has been.
It might be worth mentioning, then, in all of this that a rather pre-scientific (or simply non-scientific) understanding of light may well be at play here: in the Bible (as in other ancient cultures), the eye was believed to be the "light of the body," often called a lamp (the seven burning lamps of the menorah were refered to, in fact, as Jehovah's seven eyes). If this way of thinking is read into this verse, one can recognize in it the difference expressed elsewhere in the scriptures between one's "natural eyes" and one's "spiritual eyes." In worship (which must be in truth and in Spirit), one sees for the first time with one's spiritual eyes, and so seeing, one is able at last to recognize what the light really is, and that that light is available to all, that it "lighteth every man that cometh into the world."

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Section 93                      Next page: Verses 93:6-20

D&C 130:16-20

Home > Doctrine & Covenants > Section 130
Previous section: D&C 129                         Next section: D&C 131


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Historical setting[edit]

  • Received:
  • Prior section in chronological order: D&C 129
  • Next section in chronological order: D&C 131

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 130:8. In verse 8 we learn that God dwells on a giant Urim and Thummim. Verse 9 tells us that our own earth will become a Urim and Thummim to those who live on it when it becomes glorified. It will allow the inhabitants to see the knowledge and truths of the lower kingdoms: the telestial and terrestrial.
  • D&C 130:11. Verse 11 tells us that each person who comes to the celestial kingdom will receive a white stone. This stone will allow them (as indicated in verse 10) to learn things "pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms." Some have interpreted this to mean that it is through this stone that they will learn how to become as God is.
  • D&C 130:16. Joseph is "left ... without being able to decide." This curious experience deserves close attention, perhaps provides a kind of model for doing theology in the face of revelation. What, then, is at stake here?
  • D&C 130:20-21: Law. What is the "law" mentioned in verse 20? I have at times heard people discuss verses 20-21 as though it describes a set of laws which correspond in some cause-and-effect fashion to the various blessing people receive. Yet these verses (or at least verse 20) seem to talk of only a singular "law." So what is the law? Who irrevocably decreed it? God? Somebody else? A group of beings? Nobody at all? And what is meant by irrevocably? Does it mean that this particular law is going remain in force through all the eternities? Why is that so? How is that so? Could "irrevocably decreed" imply that this law was not pronounced by a particular being, but in some way stands above and apart from human and divine action and intentionality? Perhaps that is why the verse begins rather straightforwardly "there is a law." It is simply there, and there isn't much anybody can do about it. Another possibility; does "irrevocably" simply mean that the decreeing of the law is now a past event that can no longer be undone?
Moving on, what about the mention of "this" as opposed to "the" world? Often in scripture, "the world" is mentioned, but "this world" seems to mean something different. Mother Earth, that particular celestial sphere we're all on right now. Does it follow that perhaps this law upon which all blessings are predicated was decreed before the foundation of this world but after the foundation of other worlds? Is it a law specific to this world alone? If so, what on earth does that mean?
Now, what about the relationship between this law and blessings? First, we know that blessings (in fact, all blessings) are "predicated on" the law. But it's not at all clear what "predicated" means here. But verse 21 complicates the picture quite a bit: whatever the relationship between the law and the blessings, it appears that we only obtain those blessings from God by obedience to the law. It remains unclear whether we can receive those same blessings from some source other than God, whether or not we are obedient (and of course, it is another question entirely whether it makes sense to talk of receiving a blessing or being blessed in a way that is disconnected from God's grace). So then, given that these verses don't give any content to this law, what does it mean to be obedient to it? Does the law have multiple parts? Can it be partly obeyed? Can the law and its predicated blessings be charted out on a diagram, as though there are one-to-one correspondences to some divine sets of rules and rewards? Is the law the same thing as the sum total of all of God's directives to us, is it equivalent to God's law, or is it something else?
It is also worth noting that these verses don't in any way guarantee that obedient people will actually receive blessings of any kind. Verse 21 merely lays out a general condition: when we obtain a blessing from God, it is always by at least some measure of obedience to this practically indefinable law. The first question that arises is whether us obtaining a blessing from God is the same as God giving us a blessing. At first blush, the verse seems to suggest that God is in some way confined to blessing us only in proportion to how obedient we are to the irrevocable law. When we are blessed, it must have been preceded by some kind of obedience. However, is this the only reading? Obtaining something and simply being given something are two different things. Obtaining something involves seeking after it. Being given something requires no such thing. The verse may only be saying that when we actively seek a particular blessing from God, we only obtain it from God if we have been obedient to the law on which the blessing was predicated. But that is an entirely different proposition than saying that blessings only come as the result of obedience. Just as the verse doesn't seem to bind God to not bless when there is no obedience, it equally doesn't seem to bind God to bless when there is obedience. The verse merely says that when blessings are obtained from God, it is by obedience, but it doesn't say that such obtaining ever necessarily will happen, no matter how much obedience is going on.
  • D&C 130:22: Personage. Webster's 1828 definition for personage lists three definitions. The first one is "exterior appearance; stature; air." Based on this definition, we might think that the "exterior appearance" of a spirit is the shape and form that a spirit takes on when it "appears." So we might think of a spirit as having a material body, though of “a finer matter,” matter that can be seen by spiritual eyes. The other two definitions for personage in Webster's are "character assumed" and "character represented." The definition for "character" in Webster's 1828 Dictionary is given here. If character is taken to refer to qualities or properties that are being represent or assumed, then the Spirit in this verse might be thought in terms of representing or assuming the qualities of God.
  • D&C 130:22. Verse 22 is the only scriptural source that clearly teaches that the Holy Ghost is a personage. It also purports to give a reason why a member of the Godhead does not have a body of flesh and bones, so the the Holy Ghost can "dwell in us". However, the source of this teaching is not only not from a prophet, but actually contradicts the prophetic teaching that the rest of the scriptural passage is based on.
The source of this teaching is Joseph Smith's corrections to a talk by Elder Orson Hyde at a conference in Ramus, Illinois on April 2, 1843. In the morning, Elder Hyde had preached that "it is our privilege to have the father & son dwelling in our hearts." After the morning meeting, at Joseph's sister Sophronia's house for dinner, Joseph indicated that he would correct Elder Hyde, who indicated his willingness to accept correction. Joseph then taught what we have in D&C 130:1-3, that "the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false."
When they returned for the evening session of the meeting, Joseph referred the congregation back to Elder Hyde's statement to give them the correction as well. This time he additionally taught (emphasis added):
The Father has a body of flesh & bones as tangible as mans the Son also, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. --and a person cannot have the personage of the H G in his heart he may receive the gift of the holy Ghost. it may descend upon him but not to tarry with him (Joseph Smith diary as recorded by Willard Richards)
The Holy Ghost is a personage, and a person cannot have the personage of the Holy Ghost in his heart. A man receive the gifts of the H. G., and the H. G. may descend upon a man but not to tarry with him. (William Clayton diary)
(Source for these documents is The Parallel Joseph; see the April 2, 1843 link below, footnote 1.)
Joseph's teachings as recorded by Willard Richards and William Clayton that the personage of the Holy Ghost cannot dwell in us are changed in the Doctrine & Covenants to state that he is a personage of spirit precisely so that he can dwell in us. This came about as follows:
Orson Pratt was given the assignment to select teachings of Joseph Smith for inclusion in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants (see the December 1984 Ensign article The Story of the Doctrine & Covenants). In doing so, he relied on the compilations of Joseph's diaries and teachings by church historians (see link below) for details on who these historians were and when they wrote). Joseph himself wrote very little of his diary; it was actually kept by various people assigned to do so. Church historians compiled these various accounts into a cohesive whole (changing the text to the first person to appear as though Joseph had written it) and it formed the basis of the volumes of History of Church eventually edited by B.H. Roberts -- the ones most of us are familiar with.
Leo Hawkins was the historian who compiled the account that includes this scriptural passage from D&C 130. He added the sentence in question about the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, which contradicts what Joseph taught as recorded contemporaneously by his secretary.
Further sources for this information:
  • Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, p.341
  • George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p. 97
  • The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], entries for 2 April 1843 (see particularly footnote 5)

Complete outline and page map[edit]

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Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • D&C 130:7. What might it mean for "all things...past, present, and future" to be "continually before the Lord"? Does that place God outside of time?
  • D&C 130:10. What kingdoms might be "higher" than the Celestial Kingdom--or at least the celestialized earth? Why don't we know more about these kingdoms?
  • D&C 130:18. What can "principle" mean? What of "intelligence"? How would such a principle of such intelligence rise with us (does this imply objectivation?)?
  • D&C 130:22: Flesh and bones. Do Old Testament scriptures such as Gen 2:23, 2 Sam 19:12 and 1 Chr 11:1 suggest this description is not just about the composition of God's physical body, but also an expression of his kinship with humans?
  • D&C 130:22: Tangible. If one of the definitions of this word is "capable of being handled or touched or felt," then why does this verse depart from the Mormon tradition of privileging the visual sense when it comes to personally interacting with God (e.g., Job 19:26 and 1 Jn 3:2)?
  • D&C 130:22. Why do you think this verse emphasizes the tangibility of the Father's body rather than, perhaps, its visibility?
  • D&C 130:22: Dwell. Is this a poetic way of saying that the Holy Ghost can take up residence in our body if we treat it like a temple?

Resources[edit]

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Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 130 is __.
  • D&C 130 was first published in __.
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  • Changes to the text of D&C 130:

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 130.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

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Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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D&C 130:21-23

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Summary[edit]

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Historical setting[edit]

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Discussion[edit]

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  • D&C 130:8. In verse 8 we learn that God dwells on a giant Urim and Thummim. Verse 9 tells us that our own earth will become a Urim and Thummim to those who live on it when it becomes glorified. It will allow the inhabitants to see the knowledge and truths of the lower kingdoms: the telestial and terrestrial.
  • D&C 130:11. Verse 11 tells us that each person who comes to the celestial kingdom will receive a white stone. This stone will allow them (as indicated in verse 10) to learn things "pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms." Some have interpreted this to mean that it is through this stone that they will learn how to become as God is.
  • D&C 130:16. Joseph is "left ... without being able to decide." This curious experience deserves close attention, perhaps provides a kind of model for doing theology in the face of revelation. What, then, is at stake here?
  • D&C 130:20-21: Law. What is the "law" mentioned in verse 20? I have at times heard people discuss verses 20-21 as though it describes a set of laws which correspond in some cause-and-effect fashion to the various blessing people receive. Yet these verses (or at least verse 20) seem to talk of only a singular "law." So what is the law? Who irrevocably decreed it? God? Somebody else? A group of beings? Nobody at all? And what is meant by irrevocably? Does it mean that this particular law is going remain in force through all the eternities? Why is that so? How is that so? Could "irrevocably decreed" imply that this law was not pronounced by a particular being, but in some way stands above and apart from human and divine action and intentionality? Perhaps that is why the verse begins rather straightforwardly "there is a law." It is simply there, and there isn't much anybody can do about it. Another possibility; does "irrevocably" simply mean that the decreeing of the law is now a past event that can no longer be undone?
Moving on, what about the mention of "this" as opposed to "the" world? Often in scripture, "the world" is mentioned, but "this world" seems to mean something different. Mother Earth, that particular celestial sphere we're all on right now. Does it follow that perhaps this law upon which all blessings are predicated was decreed before the foundation of this world but after the foundation of other worlds? Is it a law specific to this world alone? If so, what on earth does that mean?
Now, what about the relationship between this law and blessings? First, we know that blessings (in fact, all blessings) are "predicated on" the law. But it's not at all clear what "predicated" means here. But verse 21 complicates the picture quite a bit: whatever the relationship between the law and the blessings, it appears that we only obtain those blessings from God by obedience to the law. It remains unclear whether we can receive those same blessings from some source other than God, whether or not we are obedient (and of course, it is another question entirely whether it makes sense to talk of receiving a blessing or being blessed in a way that is disconnected from God's grace). So then, given that these verses don't give any content to this law, what does it mean to be obedient to it? Does the law have multiple parts? Can it be partly obeyed? Can the law and its predicated blessings be charted out on a diagram, as though there are one-to-one correspondences to some divine sets of rules and rewards? Is the law the same thing as the sum total of all of God's directives to us, is it equivalent to God's law, or is it something else?
It is also worth noting that these verses don't in any way guarantee that obedient people will actually receive blessings of any kind. Verse 21 merely lays out a general condition: when we obtain a blessing from God, it is always by at least some measure of obedience to this practically indefinable law. The first question that arises is whether us obtaining a blessing from God is the same as God giving us a blessing. At first blush, the verse seems to suggest that God is in some way confined to blessing us only in proportion to how obedient we are to the irrevocable law. When we are blessed, it must have been preceded by some kind of obedience. However, is this the only reading? Obtaining something and simply being given something are two different things. Obtaining something involves seeking after it. Being given something requires no such thing. The verse may only be saying that when we actively seek a particular blessing from God, we only obtain it from God if we have been obedient to the law on which the blessing was predicated. But that is an entirely different proposition than saying that blessings only come as the result of obedience. Just as the verse doesn't seem to bind God to not bless when there is no obedience, it equally doesn't seem to bind God to bless when there is obedience. The verse merely says that when blessings are obtained from God, it is by obedience, but it doesn't say that such obtaining ever necessarily will happen, no matter how much obedience is going on.
  • D&C 130:22: Personage. Webster's 1828 definition for personage lists three definitions. The first one is "exterior appearance; stature; air." Based on this definition, we might think that the "exterior appearance" of a spirit is the shape and form that a spirit takes on when it "appears." So we might think of a spirit as having a material body, though of “a finer matter,” matter that can be seen by spiritual eyes. The other two definitions for personage in Webster's are "character assumed" and "character represented." The definition for "character" in Webster's 1828 Dictionary is given here. If character is taken to refer to qualities or properties that are being represent or assumed, then the Spirit in this verse might be thought in terms of representing or assuming the qualities of God.
  • D&C 130:22. Verse 22 is the only scriptural source that clearly teaches that the Holy Ghost is a personage. It also purports to give a reason why a member of the Godhead does not have a body of flesh and bones, so the the Holy Ghost can "dwell in us". However, the source of this teaching is not only not from a prophet, but actually contradicts the prophetic teaching that the rest of the scriptural passage is based on.
The source of this teaching is Joseph Smith's corrections to a talk by Elder Orson Hyde at a conference in Ramus, Illinois on April 2, 1843. In the morning, Elder Hyde had preached that "it is our privilege to have the father & son dwelling in our hearts." After the morning meeting, at Joseph's sister Sophronia's house for dinner, Joseph indicated that he would correct Elder Hyde, who indicated his willingness to accept correction. Joseph then taught what we have in D&C 130:1-3, that "the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man's heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false."
When they returned for the evening session of the meeting, Joseph referred the congregation back to Elder Hyde's statement to give them the correction as well. This time he additionally taught (emphasis added):
The Father has a body of flesh & bones as tangible as mans the Son also, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. --and a person cannot have the personage of the H G in his heart he may receive the gift of the holy Ghost. it may descend upon him but not to tarry with him (Joseph Smith diary as recorded by Willard Richards)
The Holy Ghost is a personage, and a person cannot have the personage of the Holy Ghost in his heart. A man receive the gifts of the H. G., and the H. G. may descend upon a man but not to tarry with him. (William Clayton diary)
(Source for these documents is The Parallel Joseph; see the April 2, 1843 link below, footnote 1.)
Joseph's teachings as recorded by Willard Richards and William Clayton that the personage of the Holy Ghost cannot dwell in us are changed in the Doctrine & Covenants to state that he is a personage of spirit precisely so that he can dwell in us. This came about as follows:
Orson Pratt was given the assignment to select teachings of Joseph Smith for inclusion in the 1876 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants (see the December 1984 Ensign article The Story of the Doctrine & Covenants). In doing so, he relied on the compilations of Joseph's diaries and teachings by church historians (see link below) for details on who these historians were and when they wrote). Joseph himself wrote very little of his diary; it was actually kept by various people assigned to do so. Church historians compiled these various accounts into a cohesive whole (changing the text to the first person to appear as though Joseph had written it) and it formed the basis of the volumes of History of Church eventually edited by B.H. Roberts -- the ones most of us are familiar with.
Leo Hawkins was the historian who compiled the account that includes this scriptural passage from D&C 130. He added the sentence in question about the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, which contradicts what Joseph taught as recorded contemporaneously by his secretary.
Further sources for this information:
  • Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, p.341
  • George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p. 97
  • The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], entries for 2 April 1843 (see particularly footnote 5)

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • D&C 130:7. What might it mean for "all things...past, present, and future" to be "continually before the Lord"? Does that place God outside of time?
  • D&C 130:10. What kingdoms might be "higher" than the Celestial Kingdom--or at least the celestialized earth? Why don't we know more about these kingdoms?
  • D&C 130:18. What can "principle" mean? What of "intelligence"? How would such a principle of such intelligence rise with us (does this imply objectivation?)?
  • D&C 130:22: Flesh and bones. Do Old Testament scriptures such as Gen 2:23, 2 Sam 19:12 and 1 Chr 11:1 suggest this description is not just about the composition of God's physical body, but also an expression of his kinship with humans?
  • D&C 130:22: Tangible. If one of the definitions of this word is "capable of being handled or touched or felt," then why does this verse depart from the Mormon tradition of privileging the visual sense when it comes to personally interacting with God (e.g., Job 19:26 and 1 Jn 3:2)?
  • D&C 130:22. Why do you think this verse emphasizes the tangibility of the Father's body rather than, perhaps, its visibility?
  • D&C 130:22: Dwell. Is this a poetic way of saying that the Holy Ghost can take up residence in our body if we treat it like a temple?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Previous editions.

  • The oldest surviving copy of D&C 130 is __.
  • D&C 130 was first published in __.
  • D&C 130 was first included in the Doctrine & Covenants in the 18__ edition.
  • Changes to the text of D&C 130:

Related passages that interpret or shed light on D&C 130.

Doctrinal references cited on this page.

Historical references cited on this page.

Other resources.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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