Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Treasures in the Heavens I 77 more than a figure of speech; "the heavenly waters ... important for life on earth/' to be effectively used must be "gathered in and assigned ... to particular treasure-houses."7 We are introduced to that physical part of the heavenly Treasure in a grandiose scene in which we behold a great Council in Heaven being held at the Creation of the World; there God, enthroned in the midst of his heavenly hosts, explains the Plan of Creation to them,8 and then opens his treasure-chest before them to show them the wondrous store of stuff that is to be used in making a world;9 but the new world is still in a preliminary state "like unripe fruit that does not know what it is to become."10 It is not until we get to the Doctors of the Church, wholly committed to the prevailing teachings of the schools, that we hear of Creation ex nihilo.11 Before then, Creation is depicted as a process of imposing form and order on chaotic matter: the world is created for the specific purpose of carrying out a specific Plan, and the Plan, like the Creation itself, requires strict organization—all creatures have their work assigned them in the coming world, to be carried out at predetermined times and places.12 When the Plan was announced to the assembled hosts, and the full scope and magnanimity of it dawned upon them, they burst into spontaneous shouts of joy and joined in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving, the Morning-song of Creation, which remains to this day the archetype of all hymns, the great acclamatio, the primordial nucleus of all liturgy." The Creation drama, which is reflected in the great year-rites all over the ancient world, does not take place in a vacuum but "in the presence of God," seated in the midst of "His holy ones" with whom he takes counsel, they being his mind and mouth on the occasion as he is theirs.14 Though the Plan from first to last is entirely God's own, he discusses it with others, "consulting with the souls of the righteous before deciding to create the world," not because he needs their advice, but because the Plan concerns them and requires their maximum participation in it. The discussion was a lively one—apart from those rebellious angels who rejected it entirely, there was a general protest that the Plan would be too painful for some parties and too risky for all; it was the generous voluntary offering of the Son of God that settled the question.15 Those who embrace the Plan wholeheartedly on this earth are the Elect, "the people of the Plan," chosen "from the foundation of the world";16 they form on earth a community dedicated to "the faithful working out of God's Plan" in close cooperation with the heavenly hosts;17 they alone have access to the heavenly hidden Treasure, because they alone covet and seek it.18 What most thrills the Psalmist of Qumran as he sings of the bounteous fountain of God's hidden treasures is the thought that he is not only a beneficiary of God's Plan, but was actually taken into His confidence in the making of it—he was there!19 When Clement of Alexandria recalls that "God knew us before the foundation of the world, and chose us for our faithfulness," he is attesting a well-known teaching of the early Church.20 The recurring phrase, "Blessed is he who was before he came into being," is not a paradox but refers to two states of being:21 if (following Baruch) "we have by no means been from the beginning what we are now," it does not follow that we did not exist, for it is equally true that "what we are now we shall not afterwards remain."22 We are dealing here not with existence and non-existence but with a passing from one state to another, sometimes explained as a passing from one type of visibility to another.23 It is common to speak of the Creation as a renewing,24 even as a reorganizing of old matter, nay