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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78 I Dialogue as the building of a world from materials taken from the dismantling of older worlds.25 Pre-existent man had been around a long time before it was decided to create this earth: the whole thing was produced, when the time came, for his benefit; and though he was created last of all to take it over, "in his real nature he is older than any of it."26 He is the child of an earlier, spiritual birth or creation.27 Nothing could be more gratifying to the ego or consoling to the afflicted spirit of mortals than the secret intimation of a glorious past and an exalted parentage.28 The exciting foster-parent illusion was exploited by the Gnostics for all it was worth;29 but the idea was no invention of theirs: it was the thought of his pre-existent glory that was Job's real comfort—"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth . . . when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" is not a rhetorical question. For it was the recollection of that same Creation-hymn of joy and their part in it that sustained the Sons of Light in the midst of terrible reverses.30 "If you could see your real image which came into being before you/' says a Logion of Jesus, "then you would be willing to endure anything!"31 The author of the Thanksgiving Hymn is simply drunk with the idea of his own pre-existent glory.32 Such glory, according to the Johan-nine writings, belongs not only to the Lord but to all who follow him.33 But why leave one's heavenly home for a dismal earthly one? To that question, constantly reiterated in the Mandaean writings, the Gnostic answer was that we were forced to make the move as a punishment; but the "Treasure" doctrine was the very opposite—we are here as a reward, enjoying an opportunity to achieve yet greater things by being tried and tested, "that each one might be promoted, according to his intelligence and the perfections of his way, or be retarded according to his wrong-doings."34 This is the well-known doctrine of the Two Ways: "For this reason the world has existed through the ages," says the Clementine Recognitions, "so that the spirits destined to come here might fulfill their number, and here make their choice between the upper and the lower worlds, both of which are represented here."35 In what has been regarded as the oldest ritual document in existence, the so-called Shabako Stone from Memphis we find the concept fullblown: To him who doeth good will be given Life and (lit. of) Salvation (htp). To him who doeth evil will be given the Death of the Condemned (criminal) . . . according to that decree, conceived in the heart and brought forth by the tongue, which shall be the measure of all things.36 The element of opposition necessary for such a test is provided by the Adversary, who in the beginning openly mocked God's Plan and set up his own plan in opposition to it.37 Being cast out of heaven with his followers by main force, he continues upon this earth during the set time allowed him by God's Plan (for the irony of his situation is that he is Mephistopheles, unwillingly if not unwittingly contributing to the operation of that Plan) attempting to wreck the whole enterprise by drawing off as many spirits and as much material as possible into his own camp.38 The Devil and his hosts claim the Treasure for their own and attempt to pirate the treasure-ships that cruise between the worlds, and use the loot in the outfitting of their own dark worlds.39 A neglected Leitmotif of the New Testament is the continuation on earth of the personal feud between the Lord and the Adversary begun at the foundation of the world: from the first each recognizes the other as his old opponent and rival;40 they are matched at every point—each