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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Dialogue: Vol 35 No 1
The Weeping God of Mormonism
The Weeping God of Mormonism1 Eugene England In the book of Moses, revealed to Joseph Smith in 1830 as part of his revision of the Bible, we learn of a prophet named Enoch, who is called to preach repentance to his people. He succeeds so well they are called "Zion" and are translated into heaven. Then, despite his obviously great knowledge of the Gospel, Enoch has an experience that shocks and amazes him and completely changes his concept of God: He is "lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father" and given a vision of those he had taught who resisted evil and "were caught up by the power of heaven into Zion." Then, "It came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?" (Moses 7:24, 28; my emphasis). Enoch is able to focus his surprise at God's unexpected emotion into questions which disclose, even after his previous visions and his achievements as a prophet, what is for him an entirely new understanding of the nature of God. The answers to Enoch's questions reveal a concept of God which, I believe, is the essential foundation of all Mormon theology, one that makes our theology radically different from most others. However, it is also a concept which many Mormons, like the younger Enoch, still have not understood or quite accepted. Enoch asks God in amazement, "How it is thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?" (Moses 7:29). In other words, Enoch wonders, how can an absolute and, thus, all-powerful being do such a human thing as weep? Humans weep in response to tragic events they cannot change; God can change or prevent them, so why should he weep? Enoch even sounds a bit put out with God because of this surprising challenge to his traditional understanding as he goes on to remind God at some length of his infinite powers. God patiently responds with an ex- 1. This essay is previously unpublished.