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 yg claims identical gifts, ordinances, signs and wonders, each has his doctrine and his glory and his plan for the future of the race.41 Above all, each claims to possess the Treasure, the Lord promising Treasures in the heavens while the Adversary offers a clever, glittering earthly imitation: it is the choice between these treasures (for no man can have both) that is a man's real test here upon the earth, determining his place hereafter.42 It is the "Poor" who recognize and seek the true treasures, since they who are "rich as to the things of this world" have deliberately chosen the fraudulent imitation.43 In coming to earth each man leaves his particular treasure, or his share of the Treasure, behind him in heaven, safely kept in trust ("under God's throne") awaiting his return.44 One has here below the opportunity of enhancing one's treasure in heaven by meritorious actions, and also the risk of losing it entirely by neglecting it in his search for earthly treasure.45 Hence the passionate appeals to men to remember their tremendous stake on the other side and "not to defraud themselves of the glory that awaits them" by seeking the things of the world.46 To make the "treasure" test a fair one, the two treasures are placed before us on an equal fooing (the doctrine of the Two Ways), their two natures being mingled in exactly equal portions in every human being.47 To neutralize what would otherwise be the overpowering appeal of the heavenly treasure, the memory of its former glories has been erased from the mind of man, which is thus in a state of equilibrium, enjoying by "the ancient law of liberty" complete freedom to choose whatever it will.48 In this state, whatever choice is made represents the true heart and mind of the one who makes it. What conditions the Elect to make the right choice is no unfair advantage of instruction—for all men are aware of the issues involved—but a besetting nostalgia, a constant vague yearning for one's distant Treasure and happy heavenly home. This theme, akin to the Platonic doctrine of anamnesis, runs through all the Apocrypha and Scriptures; it is beautifully expressed in the Hymn of the Pearl from the Acts of Thomas. In this classic tale, a king's son has come down to earth to find a pearl which he is to return to its heavenly depository; here below he becomes defiled with the things of the world until a Letter from Heaven, signed by all the Great and Mighty Ones, recalls to him his true heritage and his purpose in coming to earth, whereupon he casts off his earthly garments and with the pearl returns to the waiting arms of his loved ones in the royal courts on high and to his robe of glory that has been carefully kept for him in the Treasury.49 Our various "treasure" texts consistently refer to going to heaven as a return, a joyful homecoming, in which one follows the steps of Adam "back to the Treasury of Life from which he came forth."50 A great deal is said about a garment that one changes in passing from one stage to another, the final garment of glory being often equated to the Treasure itself.51 This garment introduces us to the very important ritual aspect of the treasure story, for it is generally understood that one can return to one's heavenly treasure only by the careful observance of certain rites and ordinances, which provide the means both of receiving instruction and demonstrating obedience.52 In the Mandaean economy the ordinances are the Treasure, the knowledge of the proper procedures being the very knowledge by which the elements are controlled and the spirit of man exalted.53 The other sectaries are hardly less concerned with ordinances, however, the paradox of Qumran being that a society which fled from the rites of the Temple at Jerusalem should