Replies to Thomas

Tag: heaven

Heavenly Mother

Born in Heaven long ago, a daughter;
Taught on a mother’s lap to love the right,
She vowed not to forget her alma mater,
For war came to the door mid dark and light.

While siblings fell from home, her choice was made
To follow Father, God, who gave his plan:
To birth on earth, be mortal; he gently bade;
Female forever, a goddess began.

Born of a sister, through a veil of tears,
She too brought forth both sister and brother;
Loving truth and light through all of her years,
She also became Heavenly Mother.

To her you were born as spirit eternal;
The path you now tread is pattern maternal.

Happy Mothers Day

Annie Henrie _ paintings

Painting by Annie Henrie Nader

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The Postman

Dear Joseph,

I haven’t been able to devote as much time as I’d like towards reinterpreting my world view, as you’ve suggested. I mean, I find it hard to be grateful for things in my life when I’ve spent so much time waiting for things to be grateful for and instead have received things I believe manifestations of either God’s lack of care or God’s lack of existence.

I feel like I maybe I could better appreciate praying to Jesus instead of the father because I know something about him—he’s just more relatable. You know, there’s a whole book out there about him called The Bible. You’d think the father of our spirits would make more than a couple casual cameo appearances in there. Sounds like another thing to be “thankful” for.

—Thomas


Dear Thomas,

I want to address the important concept of the Godhead in a way that I think will help you more fully and appropriately approach the Father. I’ve already written to you about the fact that God, our Heavenly Father, is a real person—a being of flesh and bones. But with that said, it’s important to note what else He is and what else He is not: He is a man, a human, like you and I, but enthroned in glory; He is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, two other separate individuals.

By way of analogy, let’s say that you are a farmer in the middle ages (perhaps not a pleasant thought). The Father, then, is like the king in the castle, the Son is like the postman who goes between your home and the castle, and the Holy Spirit is like the town crier (this is a fairly loose analogy). As you can see, these are obviously three separate individuals, yet their duties and roles are complementary and their mindset is perfectly unified. As one, they flawlessly represent the king.

Now, I would be surprised if the bodily separateness of the godhead wasn’t one of the first things the missionaries taught you when you first began meeting. So why do I bring it up now? Let me ask another question to lead up to that answer. Why do we pray to the Father yet go to a church named after His Son? Wouldn’t it make more sense to go to the church of the Father since he’s ‘the king’ of the castle? It may serve to make Him more ‘relatable,’ right? The saints in America during the time just following Christ’s resurrection asked a similar question:

“And [the disciples] said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.
“And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
“Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day; […]
“And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. […]
“And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it” (3 Nephi 27:3-5,8,10, emphasis added).

I’m not pretending to have received revelation on the specifics of the so-called ‘disputations’ that these people faced concerning the naming of the ancient church, but I have a hunch based on the last verse I quoted up there: the people then, as now, were taught to pray to the Father for all things as the giver of life and blessings—and they were taught these things by none other than The Son of God, Himself—”So,” they thought, “maybe the church should be the church of the Father, you know, because it’s Him we’re being taught to seek after in our communications with Heaven after all.”

But, as the scripture above shows, The Lord says that the church He established is clearly not the Father’s church but Christ’s church, so call it after His name. Hence we have The Church of Jesus Christ established originally and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints re-established in, as the name says, the latter days. But that doesn’t answer the burning question:

If our prayers are like letters addressed to the king, why do we worship the postman?

“…I come quickly; and my reward is with me…” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:34).

Universally throughout the scriptures, when a revelation (a return letter) was received by a prophet, it was curiously signed by the postman and not the king. For example, in the Doctrine and Covenants, the book of scripture that accounts the revelations of God to the newly restored church in the prophet Joseph Smith’s day, there are at least eleven instances wherein a revelation includes the identifying phrase of the sender of the answer, “I am Jesus Christ.” In the Book of Mormon and the Bible there are similar examples. But despite the postman signing return letters in behalf of the king, He insists that we continue to address the letters directly to the king:

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (3 Nephi 13:9-13, which is similar to Matthew 6:9-13, emphasis added).

The point is that the scriptures make it abundantly clear that the postman wants us to write to the king, just as the postman himself does. In fact, whatever we do should be done as just as the postman himself does (see 3 Nephi 27:7, and 27). Why should this be? Because the postman is the only person in the kingdom who knows how to get into the castle, what the scriptures call receiving of the “fullness” of the Father.

“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
“And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
“And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
“And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
“And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first. […]
“I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness” (John 14:5-6; Doctrine and Covenants 93:11-14,19, emphasis added).

Will there be those who the postman will not admit into the castle? The scriptures again provide the answer. Speaking in a parable concerning the time when He would finally take others into the castle, the postman declared that:

“…They that were ready went in with him… and the door was shut.
“Afterward came also the [others]… saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
“But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matthew 25:10-12).

The postman will only admit those who are ‘ready’ into the presence of the king (remember, the king resides in the highest degree of glory in Heaven). I will now reveal the the key of this whole analogy, which is the key to getting ‘ready’: the postman doesn’t just take our letters when He comes to our door, He knocks quietly to give us a personal invitation from the king:

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:20-21, emphasis added).

The whole point of the postman’s mortal life was to prepare and show us the way back to the king—He ‘overcame’ and went from ‘grace to grace’—it is how the postman became the postman, and thus it is only by Him and His grace that we could ever get a letter—or ourselves—through the castle doors.

Do you see that if we desire to communicate with the king, we must go through the postman; if we desire to worship the king, we must worship through the postman; if we desire to go to the king, we must go through the postman? The church bears the postman’s name not because we are not to worship the king, but because the church is but another conduit through which man must go to approach Him. If it were not so, it would called by some other name.

So, Thomas, Heavenly Father—our king—may yet be a stranger to your heart and mind, but I exhort you to look to the postman. He is the very likeness of His father insomuch that “he that hath seen [the Son] hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Next time you have a letter to put in the mailbox, wait a moment and listen for a knock at your door. It won’t do to yell “it’s open” or “come in”; you must let Him in from within. Go to church, pray vocally on your knees, read the scriptures daily—these simple things open the door for that unassuming post man.

And when you come to know Him, know that you are also coming to know the Father through Him. You may find that the Father is a lot more ‘relatable’ than you once assumed.

—Joseph

Mother Earth: Eternal, Geographical Inheritance

Dear Joseph,

I can’t help but wonder if my insistence on trying to solve my mental dilemmas with God’s nature is just a by-product of having been raised to believe in him. My psyche can’t let go of something that has been so deeply-ingrained into it from such an early age. I look around to find His holiness at work and all I can see is that blessings and cursings seem to be scattered about all over the earth, independent of anyone’s religious tendency.

I feel like God ought to take more responsibility for the world He gave us and the people He populated it with.

“Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen.”

The missionaries and I talked briefly about what faith really means. I told them I’m not holding out for the clouds to part and ethereal light to descend from the Heavens before God Himself alights on a mountain top to proclaim the truth of His existence to me personally. If you have proof of something, that’s not faith, that’s knowledge. What I would like, what I think I am waiting for, is just a feeling, the awareness of some sort of connection to something—anything—when I pray. Then I can exercise my free agency and choose to have faith that it is God on the other end of that connection.

I was once certain I had the love of God and then when I reached out for it, it wasn’t there.

I’ve felt like God’s a general and I’m a soldier, but were of two different camps, and even though I’m not under his command, our two armies still fight the same foe. I feel like I can respect His position without feeling like I have to serve under Him.

For me, It’s the implied obligation and debt of servitude to God that causes so much of my anger and turmoil. Like that marathon runner analogy I wrote you before: just because He finished the race first shouldn’t mean I owe him my unflinching obedience.

—Thomas


Dear Thomas,

You have many seemingly scattered thoughts to address in your letter to me, but I think there’s a common thread I can touch upon that will help answer all of your questions at once. But first I need to quote you:

“… Blessings and cursings seem to be scattered about all over the earth, independent of anyone’s religious tendency.
“I feel like God ought to take more responsibility for the world He gave us and the people He populated it with.”

To our limited, mortal perspective, the world does seem to be in turmoil no matter where we look or what groups of people we look to. After all, God “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). But part of the test of life, is not to see if God will take care of the world, but if we will. He gave dominion to Adam, and that responsibility passes to us (Psalm 8:6). We just happen to be failing miserably, and the earth, a living thing with a spirit, cannot abide our wickedness upon her face without herself revolting and dying.

Old Alexandrian notions of matter being evil led to the eventual loss of the original Christian teaching that God organized the world from unorganized matter that already existed (you remember my letter on the correct Hebrew of Genesis 1:1, right?). These same false notions thought that if God dwelt in “Heaven” it was necessarily high above the earth in a place free from the ‘evil’ matter of the earth. Hence Hell was seen as being even lower than the earth—deep down beneath it in an underground pit of fire, to be exact.

But this is simply not the case. The truth is much more ennobling and wonderful to comprehend: the earth herself is to become the abode of the celestial—the celestial kingdom, the third heaven, the greatest of mansions—whatever you would like to call it, it is the destiny of the earth to become such. This place where we now live is what some are destined to inherit (see Mathew 5:5, for example, where it is said that “the meek… shall inherit the earth;” see also Doctrine and Covenants 88:25-26, 130:9; and see Genesis 15:18-21 for an example of someone actually inheriting their portion in eternity).

The issue, then, is not for God to ‘take more responsibility for the world,’ but for us take the responsibility to tend and beautify it, like God, the eternal gardner, did when Eden was still upon its face. This is done both through physical care and spiritual righteousness.

When wickedness abounds upon the face of our planet, as it does now, she reels in pain. It is only a matter of time before our pollution (and I don’t mean just physical pollution, but spiritual pollution) causes the earth to act strangely and in a manner inconsistent with the predictions of science. The prophet Enoch saw the spirit of the earth mourn with sadness at the wickedness of man in his day:

“And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” (Moses 7:48).

What Enoch here observed was prior to the great flood of Noah’s day, an abnormal world event spurred by the wickedness of her ‘children.’ If in our day we look about for physical segregation of curses and blessings into geographical camps that delineate the location of false and true religions, respectively, then we will come up to the conclusion that all is for naught and no one religion contains the whole truth. But what would then be observed is not the lack of a people who worship the truth, but the result of great spiritual pollution blocking the light of Christ from nourishing the world so that even the righteous, who are themselves scattered about the globe, cannot be known by their crops and their sunshine.

Earth: “notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again… and the righteous shall inherit it.”

In dark times as these, the ability to recognize truth by one’s spiritual senses becomes paramount. As the prophet Brigham Young taught:

“… Man can be deceived by the sight of the natural eye, he can be deceived by the hearing of the ear, and by the touch of the hand;… he can be deceived in all of what is called the natural senses. But there is one thing in which he cannot be deceived. What is that? It is the operations of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit and power of God upon the creature. It teaches him of heavenly things; it directs him in the way of life; it affords him the key by which he can test the devices of man, and which recommends the things of God.”

You, Thomas, have been presented with the Gospel in its restored fulness. Many things in the world will appear to contradict its message and to testify that it is false. But you have a feeling heart, that is where you may sense the Spirit of God, and it is there that you must plant the seeds of belief (see Alma 32:27-34 and Matthew 13:1-23). It is not with the outward senses that you must judge the truthfulness of anything; instead, by the spirit of God you can “know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5, emphasis added), including the nature of God, which you believe to be somewhat imperious.

Joseph Smith said, “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God….” I believe you have every right to reach out to Him in faith and feel His love in return. Your expectations seem very level-headed, and your concept of faith versus knowledge (the former not requiring proof) is also very agreeable.

But faith contains a component often overlooked that goes beyond just the hope in the unseen: faith must also be in something that is true. The Book of Mormon phrases it thus: “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21, emphasis added). So I would posit that if you have not yet felt a connection to a being who you view as your ‘general,’ it is perhaps because there is no such being with whom you ought to be connected.

As an Apostle has noted:

“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part…. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”).

One of God’s true characteristics is that He does not imply an ‘obligation and debt of servitude’ to Him, as you say. If He wanted it, He should have sent us here without agency to get it; instead, He desires for His children to willfully choose Him as their Father (reread my letter to you about Satan’s alternative plan of coercion for our lives). If we will be ‘under’ God in eternity, it is simply in the way a son is under his father: it is nature and the one who came before paved the way for the one who came after.

To return to the marathon runner analogy, you said:

“… Just because He finished the race first shouldn’t mean I owe him my unflinching obedience.”

You’re right: our Father in Heaven did in fact run His race long, long ago, and we owe Him nothing for it—not even obedience. It is and always will be our choice to run the course after He shows us how. The fact that you are here on this earth, however, shows that you started the race already—and with the intention of finishing, I would imagine. In other words, It’s too late to consider if you will run the race; now you must consider if you will finish it. Unfortunately, neither you nor I can possibly run the race to the finish: we’re too weak on our own! This is where Jesus Christ comes into your incomplete picture. He is “the way… and no man [could possibly run the race back] unto the Father, but by [Him]” (John 14:6). We must take His name upon ourselves and follow the instructions He has provided (the Gospel) in order to successfully run the race.

Thus it is not the Father to whom you owe your unflinching obedience, but the Son, if you desire to be where God is.

To re-quote Joseph Smith, “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God… and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did.”

God’s earth, when He was a man like us, became His celestial abode because He pierced the smog of spiritual darkness that once presented Him with a choice: have faith in what is unseen yet true, or have faith in what is seen yet untrue. Likewise, this earth will become your celestial abode, as a joint-heir with Christ, if you too can see with spiritual eyes to a greater truth than what you have heretofore believed: God is your Heavenly Father and He loves you perfectly, and He is not a domineering, cigar-smoking authority figure who wants you to bend to his will.

Remember, “no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). You cannot pray to both a true God and a false one. You must plant the seed of belief of the former in the soil of your heart now: your eternal, geographical inheritance depends on it.

—Joseph

Wild Beasts That Are Past Feeling

Dear Joseph,

“The murder discussion will be a lengthy one to pursue at the moment. But suffice it to say—again, for the moment—that our conscience is God-given. The first time you do something that is even minutely wrong, you can feel it, but if you ignore that feeling and continue to sin more and more, that feeling will become numb to you.”

I’m thinking of cultures with human sacrifice as a part of their religious rituals. The Aztecs, for instance. By all accounts, even the sacrificial humans themselves were honored to be chosen as a sacrifice. A person born into this culture and trained in the priesthood (or whatever they called it) would have no compuctions against taking a human life under the right circumstances. And I don’t think the concept requires that extreme an example. Take, instead, the Hashashin (the organization from who’s name the modern word “assassin” is derived). These assassins were trained from childhood into an ideological belief system wherein killing specific people for specific reasons was considered a god-mandated assignment. Having not been raised in such a way, I can only take a guess, but it seems to me that if one were trained to murder by professional murderers, that one wouldn’t have the usual hesitations about taking human life.

In my Psychology 101 class oh-so-many years ago, we learned about an illegal study that was done by an self-proclaimed scientist who raised his own child from infancy in his attic without ever allowing the child any human contact at all. I Googled for the specific case, but there were a shocking number of similar stories and, without being able to recall names, dates, or locations, I had no idea which one was the one we were told about in my class. Anyway, by the time he was arrested and the then-adolescent child rescued, the poor kid was irreparably psychologically damaged. He was no different from a wild animal, but without the benefit of the more advanced instincts most animals are born with. So, the point is, very much of what we take for granted about our human nature is actually learned from those around us. If those around us are teaching us that typically taboo things are not just okay but even encouraged, it would be almost certain that we would not have any inner-turmoil over doing those things.

You know, nobody around here wants to talk theology with me because they assume I’m implacably opposed to it just because I dare to ask questions that cast doubt. And if they can’t save my soul, they figure there’s no point talking to me about it. Well, how’s “because it’s fascinating” for a reason? So, thank you again for taking the time to actually write to me about things others dare not approach. It’s been fun! Why don’t we continue our discussion around the theology of the creation? That one there’s a tricky one to approach without finding loop holes at every turn of God’s thinking.

For example, I saw a humorous meme recently that depicted God as a cartoonish caricature with the caption: “Create the entire universe out of nothing; need Adam’s rib to make one more thing.” That made me wonder, how can God get away with that one? Can’t exactly say that Genesis had a typo there.

—Thomas

P.S.

I like that Smith quote, I’ve never heard that before.


Dear Thomas,

We have a lot to cover here, and it would be perhaps better to split the content I have in mind into two letters, but I really cannot wait to broach the subject of the creation, so I might just touch upon it at the end of this letter.

“[There was an] ideological belief system wherein killing specific people for specific reasons was considered a god-mandated assignment…. If one were trained to murder by professional murderers… one wouldn’t have the usual hesitations about taking human life.”

This may be true, but I am sure that the first murder committed by an apprentice of such a society would still be accompanied by instinctual remorse. This is the light of Christ being extinguished by the mind raised to ignore it. In The Book of Mormon, the entire society of the Nephites (the people who once considered themselves to be the people of God) descends into a pitiful shadow of its former self. In their wickedness, these Nephites become a murderous and blood-thirsty people. The prophets of God, who once could preach with great efficacy to call the people to repent from their sins, found themselves unable to even stir the hearts of their audiences, who naturally proceed to try and kill these holy men. The term one prophet uses to describe the state of these people is “past feeling,” in other words, they collectively extinguished the Light of Christ.

I guess that the point I want to bring up here is that the topics of judgement—as in final judgement—and wickedness may be two slightly different topics. Let me elaborate: are the criteria by which God will finally judge our hearts the same as the criteria by which His standards and commandments are measured? The answer is actually yes, so far as one is aware of the criteria. This means that though a man may not be held accountable for the laws he did not receive in his life, those laws still exist to define happiness and wickedness; and wickedness never was happiness.

With this understanding, a society of murderers that raises little murderers is truly a wicked society if murder is a sin, but at the judgement bar they will not be judged for that wickedness like those who knew murder was sin. In this assassin society’s case, the greatest condemnation will be heaped upon the heads of those who started the society since they made the decision to break away from a standard of righteousness (assuming they were exposed to such, as these kinds of societies often are [again, this kind of thing is in The Book of Mormon]).

But there’s a another issue at hand:

When the judgement is passed and the time to return to God’s presence has come, will the society of murderers feel very comfortable in the Celestial Kingdom, where no unclean thing can bear to remain? Not unless they repent—and I don’t mean in an accountability kind of way, but in a change of heart kind of way. This re-emphasizes the need to be taught God’s principles and laws during this life when it is easiest to prepare for the lifestyle of Heaven (you can repent after this life, but it is much harder to do without your body as it turns out).

The subject here then becomes one of paradisiacal culture shock. A quote from the famous writer C. S. Lewis may serve to explain this idea further:

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

It is easier to be lustful and appetite-satisfying than it is to reign in those passions. Those passions are part of what makes our bodies powerful tools to the soul, when harnessed appropriately. As I wrote to you a while ago, part of what separated us before this life, as spirit children, from our Heavenly Father was the fact that He had a body and we did not. He has perfect control of His body, and if we are to have the ‘infinite joy’ He experiences, we are required to learn how to control our bodies like He does.

Unfortunately, God’s enemy, the devil, knows all too well what we are capable of experiencing, and he seeks (as he has ever sought) to use the tool of our very exaltation to bring about our damnation. Simply put, his strategy is to keep us out of Celestial glory by getting us to let loose of the reigns of the body, to go from being ‘half-hearted creatures’ to full-hearted wild beasts. The devil’s secret weapon is the fact that he can easily confuse us to recognize all pleasure as happiness. This is Hollywood’s message: letting loose the reigns feels good; wickedness is happiness.

“… Very much of what we take for granted about our human nature is actually learned from those around us. If those around us are teaching us that typically taboo things are not just okay but even encouraged, it would be almost certain that we would not have any inner-turmoil over doing those things.”

Inner-turmoil aside, you’ve hit the nail on the head here. The question to consider then is this: if our environment can totally affect our lives, what can save us from becoming ‘full-hearted wild beasts’ that are ‘past feeling’? What can save us from becoming finer society for the devil and his angels than for gods?

I have heard of cases of total child neglect similar to the one you mentioned in your letter. I can recall a case or two of children who wandered into the forest as toddlers and wandered back out as adolescents but, like you said, almost “no different than a wild animal.” It is absolutely true that an environment can dictate, to a great degree, who someone may become as a person. I don’t think it will affect every part of a human’s nature, but the evidence is there to show us that environment is pivotal to human development.

What comprises environment then? Among many things, and perhaps foremost among them, is parenting. You may recall my words at the end of my last letter, but now add to it the emphasis of the evidence you bring to witness here: “The responsibility to raise children in righteousness is one of the most important charges God has put into the hands of mankind” for without it mankind would descend into a savage state. A state where murder becomes acceptable, as also, like you said of the Aztecs, offering human sacrifices to idols (which the Nephites in their depraved and wicked condition did also).

Though a man in such society may somehow avoid all contact with truth and God’s laws all of his life, it cannot be said that in the end he is righteous according to Heaven. He will not be judged for breaking a rule he didn’t know, but he will still have to set aside his ‘mud pies’ if he is to go on to that great ‘holiday at the sea’ with God. And he will have the opportunity to do so if he desires it. That decision may look like a no-brainer from here, but approaching God requires sacrifice (not the Aztec kind), and it’s much easier and much more appealing to stay in the mud when faced with true, sanctifying sacrifice (a great topic for a future missive).

“You know, nobody around here wants to talk theology with me because they assume I’m implacably opposed to it just because I dare to ask questions that cast doubt. And if they can’t save my soul, they figure there’s no point talking to me about it. Well, how’s ‘because it’s fascinating’ for a reason?”

That’s as worthy a reason as any if you ask me. Lucky for you, I do like to ‘talk theology,’ as you know.

“Why don’t we continue our discussion around the theology of the creation? That one there’s a tricky one to approach without finding loop holes at every turn of God’s thinking.”

As I said at the start of this letter, I will only dip into this subject for the length and the heaviness of the topic so far. Nevertheless, let’s take a short peak at the beginning (if there is one…):

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

Mormon theology correctly recalls the seldom recognized fact that the original Hebrew word for ‘created,’ as found in the verse above, does not actually mean “to make” as we often assume it does. It means “to organize” (see the Wikipedia article for Genesis 1:1 and look under “bara”). As such, it is important to first recognize that there is no such thing as a creation “ex nihilo” but that such a notion is a man-made concept, and that it is not true to say that God ever made something from nothing.

—Joseph