Posted 05 June 2009 - 12:18 PM
I just finished reading this book. I'm almost inclined to take personally all the bashing done here of this book and its author, because I personally love this book and believe most of it to be true or at least very highly probable.
Furthermore, some of the heated language I see being used to condemn it (decidedly NOT too strong a word to describe what I'm perceiving) reminds me quite strongly of the kind of un-Christlike language I see used by the inhabitants of the proverbial "great and spacious building" or "Babylon", which we see around us today -- the worldly people who lack the virtues taught by Christ, and revel in their abilities to insult, offend, and defile. Long story short, we, as members of the Church, ought to be capable of expressing our dislike of something like this book without resorting to acting like we're auditioning for a spot in the Sanhedrin.
Ask yourselves, what if your grandfather or father had written this book? Would you still heap such strident criticism upon it and the author? The author of this book IS someone's father, someone's grandfather. Bare that in mind when you choose your words.
And now back to the book itself.
For some time now, I have known that the world where my Heavenly Father resides is located at the center of this galaxy. I say KNOWN. This was revealed to me. I didn't really ask for this knowledge, but it was given to me as I pondered such things, and for such revelations I am always grateful. This book's author confirms what I had already known, which gains him a measure of immediate credibility with me. From that point on, I have considered everything else he admittedly theorizes in this book, and while some of it I don't see being certain truth, I find none of it to be the sort of heresy that requires me to saddle up and ride for Damascus, if you get my meaning. There were a few parts in this book where I did not see the logic behind a theory. Such parts of the book may possibly be true or untrue. Need we remind ourselves that the book is clearly labeled as a theorem (theory)? Maybe those parts I don't believe (yet?) ARE true. Maybe later on down the road I'll learn something that will make the pieces fit together and it will make sense. I have yet to hear of a General Authority stating that this book is untrue or doctrinally unsound. If the day ever comes that one does, we would all be obligated to heed his counsel. But unless that happens, this book is not heresy. Most of it resonated strongly with me, explaining things I already knew, or fitting with such knowledge naturally and comfortably, like interlocking puzzle pieces. This is how the Holy Spirit has manifested the truth of the Gospel to me, through reasoning and logic, in addition to a certain kind of "quickening" often referred to as a "burning within" by others. If it passes Moroni's muster, it's good enough for me.
As a convert, I can attest to the value of an open mind. If you're worried that a book like this will make us seem "unhip" to the Protestants, Catholics, and other sects of Christianity, or the rest of the world, for that matter, I can assure you that this book is unnecessary for that purpose. Some of our most basic beliefs seem like heresy, when misunderstood, to good people of other religions. And some of them only appear that way because of the smokescreen that Satan has spent the millenniums building. On the other hand, some seem born to hate and distrust. Some seem born cynics and skeptics. They will scorn you for your faith regardless, and their approval should not be inordinately, if at all valuable to you. People like that counseled me not to join the Church, but I didn't listen to them. The "wisdom" of the world is nothing compared to the Gospel. Should I have listened to them? No. I kept an open mind. I accepted that maybe I did not actually know everything. I accepted that maybe some things I had been led to believe by worldly philosophies, superstitions, and sectarian fallacies were wrong. I let the Holy Spirit decide what was true and followed His counsel, not the world around me.
Maybe some of you believe you feel the Holy Spirit telling you this book is heresy. I cannot argue with what you perceive, especially on a spiritual level. Your relationship with Heavenly Father is your private business. But you would do well to show that same consideration to others, especially in the Church. It is folly to condemn what you don't understand, and call it untrue on that basis alone. Ask yourself, if you were not born into this Church, would you have an open enough mind to at least consider the doctrines we teach? Are you humble enough? Are you willing enough to take some things on faith, to accept that they may not make sense at first, or to realize that in a thousand years you will know things that today might make your head spin? Can you really condemn those things today? If you are not ready to believe, just leave it at that.
Some of us find the deeper doctrines, such as what is contained in the Pearl of Great Price, to be truly amazing and faith building. I for one am greatly attracted to such things, as long as they are true. This book has not been proven untrue, to the best of my knowledge, and my conscience leaves me free to accept it. The fact that it hasn't come from a General Authority does not rule out its veracity. We are all capable of receiving revelation. A General Authority is uniquely anointed to declare doctrine to be true or untrue, to function as judges in God's Kingdom, and to tell us what is needful to know, declaring revelation meant for the entire Church. This book is not necessarily needful information or revelation necessary for the whole Church at present. If it doesn't strengthen your faith and inspire your mind and soul, put off this portion of your eternal progression until the day you are able to handle it. There is nothing wrong with not running faster than you are able. But some of us are rejuvenated and feel closer to our Father in Heaven when we read things like this. I would not have completed the discussions if it weren't for the amazing flood of information and the resulting surge in faith I got from it. The Church has made my Heavenly Father a real person who knows and loves me, whereas before, the sectarian beliefs I had been taught were absolute truth presented Him as a creator but not Father, who viewed me as an experiment and not a son, and who existed in some alternate universe or plane or dimension.
No offense to anyone who believes in such things, but I personally think that is a bunch of hoo hah and science fiction. The way I see it, there is only one universe. And if Father has His own Father, they share this universe. The universe is organized into galaxies, so it makes perfect sense that each Heavenly Father would have His own galaxy, wherein He would have plenty of room and material to bring to pass the salvation of His children. So if I could live long enough, or travel fast enough, and if I could abide the glory of a celestial kingdom, I could actually come face to face with Heavenly Father in mortality and of my own accord. But He has organized things in such a way that this is impossible. He has hidden the center of this galaxy, and placed veils between us, so that I can be forced to rely on my faith to find Him, as I should be. This does not mean He isn't there, just beyond those veils. Have we not learned to believe in things we can't see? Figuratively and literally? The Gospel of Jesus Christ has taught me to do so. I believe that is its purpose, in addition to teaching us how to be Christlike.
Some very good and noble people believe that if a doctrine doesn't have what they recognize as practical value to help them become more Christlike, than it is of absolutely no use to them. If this works for them, it is their prerogative as a child of God. Eventually we will all have to learn how to build a planet, star, galaxy, etc., if we make it to the celestial kingdom. Some of us are driven to learn what we can now. That too, is our prerogative as children of God. As long as we make sure we are doing all that we can to learn how to consistently live and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be among the wise virgins with extra oil for their lamps, we have seen to the most important of our duties. But this is not the end, and our eternal progression is not limited by anyone but ourselves.
Don't be like the sectarians of the 19th century who condemned the Gospel just because it didn't gel with their superstitions and prejudices. Keep an open mind and stay true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We ought to be able to do both at the same time. In Joseph Smith's day, those who couldn't manage that left the Church. They left over "new" things such as the law of eternal marriage (which also deals with plural marriage), and the law of consecration. Some members left when they heard that Joseph Smith was retranslating the Bible. B.H. Roberts has said that there is much of our own Church History which, if we are not sufficiently mature to understand it, can challenge our faith enough to cause us to leave the Church. If we are not mature enough to understand the law of consecration, for example, than we should wait until we are before we let our doubts on the matter drive us from the Church. But that doesn't mean the law of consecration doesn't come from God. It only means we are not ready to receive it.