Abide #8.2: Doctrine and Covenants 93

  • We will be discussing each week’s block of reading from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ “Come, Follow Me” curriculum. We aren’t here to present a lesson, but rather to hit on a few key themes from the scripture block that we believe will help fulfill the Maxwell Institute’s mission to inspire and fortify Latter-day Saints in their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and engage the world of religious ideas.”

  • Welcome to Abide, a Maxwell Institute Podcast. The Joseph Smith Paper says that few contemporary sources shed light on the background of Doctrine and Covenants section 93. Newel K. Whitney summarized the revelation this way, “A revelation to Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Newel K. Whitney. A chastisement and also relative to the Father and Son. 6, May 1833.” While Whitney was clearly focused on the reprimand they received from the Lord in relation to their families. The majority of the revelation was relative to the Father and Son. The text of the revelation appears to be closely related to the first chapter of the Gospel according to John but was likely not the direct result of Joseph Smith’s work revising the New Testament, the Joseph Smith Translation, since the revision on that portion had been completed some three months earlier in February.

     

    But, as historian Steve Harper writes in making sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, “Historical records may not tell us anything about why Doctrine and Covenants 93 was received, but the Lord tells us why he gave the revelation in verse 19, ‘I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship and know what you worship that you may come unto the Father in my name and in due time receive of His fullness.’” The revelation directly challenges several prevailing Christian beliefs of the time including doctrines regarding the nature of Jesus Christ, especially as humanity and divinity that most Christians beliefs had been settled by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 C.E. The revelation also addressed humankind’s relationship with God. We don’t know what conversations Joseph and the early Saints had about these early Christian creeds. We do know that Sidney Rigdon had been a follower of Alexander Campbell, a religious movement that denied that a belief in traditional Christian creeds were necessary. And the proximity of Shakers and their specific beliefs on the nature of Jesus Christ, likely led to questions on the subject.

     

    My name is Joseph Stuart, I am the Public Communications Specialist at the Maxwell Institute. Janiece Johnson, a Willis Center Research Associate at the Institute, and I will be discussing each week’s block of reading on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Come, Follow Me curriculum. We are not here to present a lesson but rather to hit on a few key themes from the scripture block that we believe will help fulfill the Maxwell Institutes mission to inspire and fortify Latter-day Saints and their testimonies of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and engage the world of religious ideas.

     

    Joseph Stuart: Today we have the good fortune to be speaking with Jim Faulconer, senior research fellow at the Maxwell Institute who has written extensively on philosophy and scripture. Jim, welcome to the podcast!

     

    Jim Faulconer: Thank you very much. It’s great to be with you. I’m looking forward to this discussion.

     

    Joseph Stuart: Jim, you’re a philosopher, but you’re also a theologian and many Latter-day saints don’t necessarily think of themselves as doing theology. Why should theology matter to the average Latter-day saint?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Well, I would say a number of things in response to that. The first thing is, I think that it’s important to recognize that at one level it doesn’t matter at all because after all the Church doesn’t have an official theology like some of the other Christian churches and in fact perhaps, most of the non-evangelical ones. We don’t have an official theology but what that does mean then is that in another sense, we are always doing theology. When we try to think about what do the things we receive from the scriptures and the prophets mean, when we think about that, we are doing theology. So, I think it’s difficult to say anything except we need to do theology in this broader sense. I’ve tried to talk about why we need to do that in a little book of mine called, Thinking Otherwise, exploring the revelations of Joseph Smith. And in that book what I try to argue is that in fact the drive to create an official theology is a product of a kind of misunderstanding of ourselves, of our world, and of our Heavenly Father. It’s been common in Christianity since the beginning and that we have inherited without even thinking about it, and the alternative to that is to think productively about scripture.

     

    Joseph Stuart: Marvelous, and I know that you’re one of the authors in the Maxwell Institute’s, Brief Theological Introductions to Latter-day Saints Christology, and when I heard that my first thought was, “What is Christology?” How would you explain that to me Jim?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Christology is the theological term for thinking about Christ. So, what is the relationship of Christ to the Father? What does it mean for Jesus to be Christ? How is it that Jesus could be the God of the Old Testament and then also a human being? All of those kinds of questions center around this broader question, who is Christ? What is Christ? And if we think about those questions, we are doing Christology.

     

    Janiece Johnson: My favorite definition of theology is from Rosemary Radford Ruther who says, “Theology is just God talk.” It’s us talking about God and we certainly have a lot to talk about when we get to section 93. Section 93 has a very direct relationship to the first chapter of John. Nick Frederick has written most extensively on the expansion of John in restoration scripture. Now, often we have the King James text that is alluded to in restoration scripture. It’s echoed, it’s  paraphrased and reworked in various ways in the revelations. Frederick explains that some of the clearest of these quotations and allusions––over 300 in all in the Doctrine and Covenants––come from the Gospel of John, the Gospel most filled with unique language and imagery. Moreover, we also have a further developing of Book of Mormon ideas, building a new mosaic with the language of scripture. With just one example, Jacob 4:13 tells us that, “The spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not, wherefore it speaketh of things as they really are and of things as they really will be.” Here in section 93 verse 24 says, “And truth is knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come.” We’ve got a lot of similarities here, but also some significant differences which we’ll talk about later. Section 93 builds on section 76, 84, 88. Richard L. Bushman calls all of these sections, the “four exaltation revelation.” So, let’s get into this. As we examine 93, we have a prelude which includes a rewriting of John’s birth of Christ. I call it that, it’s not an infancy narrative like we get in Matthew or in Luke, but John goes to a different beginning of Jesus and as he focuses on Christ and the personhood of Christ. Jim, what do you think about with this first section?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Well, I think that the first part of the section and its relationship to John is really an interesting question because, as you mentioned, John is a rewriting of the origins of Jesus. You know, where does he begin? What makes him who He is? It looks like it’s a rewriting of an early Christian hymn. But not so much a rewriting of it as using that as a text around which to organize what he has to say, so he’ll quote the hymn and then comment on it and quote from it again and comment on it and so on. And so that for one thing it’s evidence that early Christians, very early, were already thinking about the kinds of questions that come up in thinking about Christology––who is Christ, what is his relationship to the Father, and so on––and that they had sophisticated answers. It’s also though, it’s pretty obviously a rewriting of Genesis 1 where God creates the earth and when he creates the earth, the first thing he creates is light. And so here we have Jesus is described as the logos who is with God in the beginning, and who is the light of the world. So, you have these things all going on. I see parallels as well to what Paul says in the 1st chapter of Romans when he says that the people of the world don’t receive the light, that which is known of God has been made manifest to them. God is shown unto them, but they have ignored it. So, this is a theme of John, it’s a theme of Paul. So, this is a manifestation of God’s wisdom, God’s son, to the people of the world and then our ignoring of it.

     

    Janiece Johnson: So, if the word, the logos is the revealer of God, people have to actually receive that revelation. It’s not just self-evident. They have to choose to see the light.

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, as John says, the light shines in darkness and the darkness doesn’t receive it. But it can be received, it’s given. If I have a flashlight and I turn it on, and I shine it on things. They don’t have any choice about whether I light it up or not. But unlike that, the light that Christ gives us, it lights us up but we don’t have to receive it, we can stay dark if we want.

     

    Janiece Johnson: Is this literal light?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Well, there are lots of Latter-day Saints who I think thought in that direction. I wouldn’t say it’s not; I just don’t know how to understand that. I understand it to mean the light of understanding, the light of truth. This is the kind of light that’s being talked about and that literal light is being used as an analogy or metaphor here. That’s at least––for me that’s the easiest way to read it. As I say, I don’t understand how to think about it in any other terms. But I also think that for John, and also here, and in the Book of Mormon the connection between light and life is really important. That there are made equivalents. To have light is to have life. So, I would say we are dead if we don’t have the light. And so, to live in a fallen world is to be dead, to have not yet been made alive. And what we have to do is receive the light we’re given, which is to receive the life that Christ has to offer. I think that’s the theme; a theme of John 1 and also a theme here.

     

    Janiece Johnson: So, in a real sense the light animates us and enables us to function in the world.

     

    Jim Faulconer: Oh yeah.

     

    Joseph Stuart: That’s something that I find really productive in my academic work. I study the nation of Islam and they talk about those who have not yet accepted the message of the nation of Islam as people who are spiritually dead or asleep. So that’s interesting to hear that in another context. Now, something that I admire that you said there Jim, is that you don’t know. You’ve been a professor for more than four decades. I think that it’s really refreshing to remind listeners as well as Janiece and I, we don’t have to know all of the answers but that doesn’t mean that we don’t benefit from noodling around with some of the questions that come up through reading scripture. Like in verse three, what does it mean to you, Jim, to be in the Father. This is something as Latter-day Saints that we don’t believe in the Trinity as spoken of in Christian creeds. So, what does it mean for Jesus, the Son, the Logos, to be in the Father?

     

    Jim Faulconer: That is another one where my answer has to be, I actually don’t know, but I have an idea. An idea that I got from reading a Protestant theologian named M.T. Wright. And Wright argues that––because this is a New Testament phrase as well––Christians outside of the Latter-day Saint church don’t understand. Wright says it is based on a Hebrew metaphor, that to be in another person is to be a member of that person’s family, to be joined with them in a familial way. I think that’s what it means. It means the Father and the Son are related to each other as Father and Son and that the Son remains true to that relationship. And so that the rest of us live in a fallen world, we have separated ourselves or been separated by our birth from our Father. From the very beginning, He has been related to the Father and remained that even after his birth.

     

    Janiece Johnson: So, is that continued in verse four? “The Father because he gave me of his fullness.” When did Jesus receive that fullness? What are we talking about? Fullness functions in so many different ways in scripture. What do you think about that here?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, you keep asking me questions I can’t answer. But it does seem to me that the fullness of the Father must mean something like the fullness of his authority, the fullness of his power, something like that. He must have received that from the very beginning. I mean if we think about Abinadi’s sermon and we think about what’s being said here, it appears to me that scripture says that unlike the rest of us, for whatever reason, Jesus received the fullness of the Father from the very beginning of his existence as a person. And I don’t know when that began.

     

    Janiece Johnson: How would you think about that in relation to verse 12? “I John, saw that he received not of the fullness at first,” and again that “first” is subjective. I’m not sure what “first” we are talking about, “but received grace for grace.”

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, that’s a huge problem for me because it seems to me that the fullness in verse 4 is talking about a fullness received at the beginning before creation and the fullness in verse 12 is a fullness received at the time of his birth or not received at the time of his birth. But I don’t know what it means to be a being who has the fullness of the Father and then is born without it and receiving it grace for grace. That remains, for me, something to think about, to try to understand; I don’t have an answer.

     

    Janiece Johnson: So, do you think it’s possible that with a physical birth that some of that fullness is taken away?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Well, it seems to me that that’s what John is saying, right? And in Doctrine and Covenants too––that he didn’t receive, I mean somehow taken away, I don’t know, repressed? I don’t know what the right verb is. But somehow he had to start over again. It seems to me that with Jesus’s birth, in some sense or another, he had to start over again.

     

    Joseph Stuart: That’s something that sticks out to me as a question of ontology and ontology being a branch of philosophy to think about the state of being or how something came to be, how something came to exist. And ontology again, one of those big nerd words that we talk about in academic context, but nevertheless has value for Latter-day Saints. As you all were demonstrating, we can think about, “How did Jesus come to be who he is and when did that arrive and how did his mortal experience affect that?” Janiece, I know that you’ve given a lot of thought to ontology. Why do you think it matters for Latter-day Saints?

     

    Janiece Johnson: Well, I think that this is really what section 93 is trying to get us to, right? To think about the person of Jesus. John is always teaching us of Christ but the personhood of Jesus and who that is. Verse 19, I think Joey mentioned it in the introduction, “I give unto you these sayings that ye may understand and know how to worship…” and I want to bracket that for a second, but “know [what you] worship.” So, the lectures on faith talk about that in order to worship God we need to have a correct idea of the characteristics, perfections, and attributes of God. And I think this is part of that process, right? That this is part of that revealing of the character of God. But I’m wondering about what that means about how we worship, do we just instantly get how we worship? Jim, what do you think?

     

    Jim Faulconer: That phrase has also been a difficult one for me. I have a speculation to offer but it’s obviously not anything more than that. I wonder whether it is a way of reminding us that if we know who the Father and the Son are and that that’s who we are to become like that worship entails more than what we do in the temple or in sacrament meeting. Those are obviously very important things to do, where we recognize who the Father and the Son are, and we give them our loyalty, we pledge our loyalty to them, and we recognize them as the supreme beings of our existence. But, when we do that, I mean, we are worshiping, but I think this suggests that we are also worshiping when we live in such a way that we are becoming more like the Son, and therefore also more like the Father. That maybe knowing the ontology there, knowing who they are will help us to understand better what’s expected of us in the way that we live and worship in that sense.

     

    Joseph Stuart: That makes me think about the ways that I act as a Latter-day Saint, that aren’t Latter-day Saint specific but nevertheless help me to feel like I am living my religion the right way. One of those is going and helping with yard work when there is a ward activity or when I take a meal to someone who just had surgery or had a child. It’s something that deep down I think that worship that sort of ontology, that my sense of being a latter-day saint has to do with not only serving in the temple and in the ward but doing those informal things that I am choosing to do of my own volition that no one has asked me to do specifically, I haven’t been called specifically to do it and I think that opens up a lot of ways for us to recognize, we are doing the right thing. We are on the right track so long as we are trying to serve in the way that Jesus taught us to serve and we can stand confident before God. We can ask, “Have I been a good and faithful servant in this regard?”

     

    Jim Faulconer: I think that’s a very important way to put it, thank you. You put it much better than I did.

     

    Janiece Johnson: And I like that connection to thinking of this process of becoming. And for me, those actions are Perhaps part of learning of the character of God is also learning about us ontologically, how we are related to God and where we stand. And this is how I read section 93, is this first section we have focused on the character of God, particularly Jesus, and then we shift to our character- those ontological questions about us. And as I read it there are four things that really stand out to me. We are eternal, that man was also in the beginning with God, intelligence is co-eternal with God and that it denies the idea of ex-nihilo creation. These are all ideas that Joseph is going to continue to build on. This is not just a one and done. These are pieces that continue to be built on through the end of Joseph’s life. Intelligence or the light of truth was not created or made, neither indeed can be. It points to the primacy of agency and the eternal import of relationships.

     

    Jim, I suspect that this is too neat and tidy of a list for you, let’s look at these individually. What do you think about these things? Let’s look at verse 20, “For if you keep my commandments ye shall receive of his fullness and be glorified in me as I am in the Father,” what do you think about that? What’s this relationship of keeping my commandments and having the same will as I?

     

    Jim Faulconer: I think it’s a good question because it seems to me that this is commonplace; that there are two ways one can keep commandments. One can keep them just rote, as a matter of rote, “This is what I do,”, “This is what we all do,” “It’s  kind of a cultural or social thing that I feel like I have to do.” Or one can keep them because this is the right thing to do and I love the Father and He has asked me to. And that difference, it seems to me, marks the difference between, at the time of Jesus, the pharisaical way of keeping commandments and Jesus’ way of keeping the commandments. Jesus didn’t see himself as not following the law. He disagreed with the Pharisees about what it meant to follow the law but he thought, you know, he said, “I didn’t come to destroy the law.” Paul later on makes it very clear that he thinks that the law hasn’t been done away with. The question is, how do we understand keeping the law and the focus is on having one’s will in harmony with the will of the Father and the Son. So that, it seems to me, is an ontological question. To be a person is to be someone who can come to have the same will as the divine being that we worship and to keep commandments means to have that direction of my will. It doesn’t mean paying attention to every little jot and tittle, so much as paying attention to my heart.

     

    Janiece Johnson: Do you think that the last phrase in verse 20, “Therefore I say unto you ye shall receive grace for grace,” In terms of us, that nicely describes that process of becoming. It’s not this checklist but it is an all-encompassing sort of process.

     

    Jim Faulconer: And it’s a nice comparison of our life with that of Jesus’. If even the Savior, even if Jesus Christ himself had to receive grace, from grace to grace, then we shouldn’t be surprised that we receive grace in that way, as a gradual thing. Now I mean, I have been disobedient in ways that He was not, but nevertheless, that’s not what’s an issue here. The issue is, “Am I receiving the grace that He offers? And letting that grace grow in my life as I go forward?”

     

    Janiece Johnson: Now verse 21 says, “I was in the beginning with the Father and am the Firstborn,” and then 23 says, “Ye were also in the beginning with the Father.” What’s the beginning?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Well, whatever the beginning is, it just means before the physical creation of this earth I think. I think you mentioned unlike most of these Christian traditions we don’t believe in ex-nihilo creation, or creation out of nothing. And so, we came into existence before- as persons- we came into existence before the world was created or we were there before… I shouldn’t even say we came into existence. That is not clear. It is clear we were there before the creation of the earth. How we were there that’s another issue that has to do with how we understand intelligence. We can talk about that in a bit. I’ll save that for you. But it seems to me that that’s-  the beginning there means the beginning before creation.

     

    Janiece Johnson: Now, as verse 23 continues there is a semicolon after Father so it reads, “You were also in the beginning with the father;” semicolon, “that which is the spirit, even the spirit of truth.” I know you have some strong feelings about that semicolon.

     

    Jim Faulconer: I don’t know whether it’s in the original manuscript or not.

     

    Janiece Johnson: It’s not.

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, this is an editor who fell asleep at the wheel. So, whoever was editing it, I don’t know what they were thinking. It seems to me there should be a full stop there and the beginning of a new verse. As it stands it just doesn’t make any grammatical sense. I can’t understand it.

     

    Janiece Johnson: Well and I think that that’s one of those things, punctuation. We’ve had more punctuation changes than anything in the scriptural text and thinking about the role that punctuation plays. Sometimes with students I would take a paragraph from the Book of Mormon and try to have them punctuate it and initially they are like, “Why does this matter? Why are we doing this?” And very quickly realize, wait, this can be really difficult and it makes a lot of difference how this punctuation ends up. I’m with you. If I were the copy editor here I would put a period.

     

    Jim Faulconer: And I’m with you. I think one of the best pieces of advice that I have for students, well, I recommend several things when people are having difficulty with a passage. But one of the very first things I recommend is, just look at the passage and ask yourself, is there another way to punctuate it that changes the meaning? And is that better than what I’ve got now? It very well may be that exercise itself clears up whatever difficulties that you’re having with the passage. It doesn’t always but I think often it’s surprising how much you discover well, if I just put a period here or a comma here or whatever that it now makes sense and it didn’t before.

     

    Joseph Stuart: And that happily makes me think about Hamilton in the correspondence between Angelica and Alexander Hamilton about the comma after dearest. Moving to verse 24, “Truth is knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come.” This sticks out to me. Truth is not a static thing. I think about this in the context of the true and living church. The idea that the church is always going to adapt to the needs of the world in which it is on. It’s going to adapt to the needs of its members. We are a church of continuing revelation and we need to expect and embrace continuing revelation. Now some may say, “that is a really loose definition of truth if there can be something different in the past, and in the present, and in the future. But as I think about it, I think about my patriarchal blessing and about how I understood different aspects of my patriarchal blessing different when I was 18 versus when I was 28 versus now. And it makes a difference to me that when I was 18 those spiritual experiences that I had were perfectly valid. That was what I needed at the time. When I was 28 and I saw a passage of scripture or my patriarchal blessing differently, that was still right for that time. God was speaking to me in the way that I needed to hear at that point. It’s something that I return to again and again in thinking about Heavenly Parents who love us. They will reach us however they can in the ways that we understand. But recognizing that there is a lot of stickiness there. Jim, do you think that in verse 24 it’s a definition or a description of truth?

     

    Jim Faulconer: I think that’s a good question. Again, it’s another one of those questions that perhaps I learn more by thinking about it than by coming to a definitive answer. It’s a very strange thing, at least for a philosopher, it’s a very strange thing to say that this defines truth. It is not clear how you can say truth is knowledge. We say, I know this, I have a knowledge of that. Truth is something that we know but it is very strange to say truth is my knowledge. It seems to reverse the situation quite a bit so at least we know by looking at this, as you pointed out I think, it’s clear that there’s a temporality to truth, it has  a temporal dimension in time. And that is another major shift in understanding. If you follow Plato or someone like that then there is this truth outside of all time and space. That is what eternal means in theological discourses. There is truth out there and it’s just out there for you to gather and not get. And this says no, truth is actually in time with us, again in theological terms there’s the term sympeternal which means it’s true at every moment, but it’s not true outside of time. And I’m not sure that makes any sense to people who aren’t theologians. But there is, there is the truth of –

     

    Janiece Johnson: You might be right.

     

    Jim Faulconer: It’s true now and it’s true then and it’s true then and so on but it’s not true independent of time I guess I would say.

     

    Janiece Johnson: So, the context is essential for truth, for truth to be true.

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, even if it’s always the same truth- it’s not the context of it being with us in the world- that’s a part of what it is. So, there may be those kinds of truth, but whatever we think of truth, it has this temporality to it. And I think that Joey was right to say, think about it in contextual terms. When I joined the church I would’ve been willing to say in my testimony, I know the church is true. And now, 60 years later I would be willing to also say I know the church is true. But that sentence doesn’t mean the same thing today that it meant 60 years ago. It has grown. It has changed. So, I have a knowledge of then and now and I assume that I can even begin to have a knowledge of the truth as it will be. But I think that it is at least a growing thing if not also a changing thing.

     

    Joseph Stuart: Precept upon precept and knowledge grows grace for grace as well.

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah.

     

    Janiece Johnson: That’s really lovely. And I think that closely related to that, when we get to 29 and 30 addressing this concept of time and the eternal nature, are we eternal? Of ourselves. “Man was also created in the beginning with God. Intelligence or the light of truth was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere which God has placed it to act for itself as all intelligence also. Otherwise, there is no existence.” So, what’s intelligence?

     

    Jim Faulconer: There’s a tremendous amount going on in those two verses, right?

     

    Janiece Johnson: So much.

     

    Jim Faulconer: In the history of the church, there have been two ways of thinking about intelligence. And there was an earlier way which was dominant – I mean both ways have been there all along, but one way dominated up until the early 20th century and then there was a shift and another way has dominated since then. And the church has gone out of its way not to not take a stand on which one of these it is. So, the earlier way that was dominant was that intelligence was like primal matter, it was just stuff. It was the stuff out of which we were created as individuals, when we became spirit children of God. So that when we became spirit children was when our individual existence began. That was the one version. Toward the end of the 19th century and early in the 20th, B.H. Roberts, among others, argued that no intelligence itself is individuated, each of us has an individual intelligence that has always existed. And that seems to be today the dominant way of thinking about intelligence in the church. Though, as I said, I think it’s important to recognize that the church has never said, “One of these is the right view and the other is not.” These are still two view ways of thinking about intelligence and you can find people arguing for both positions.

     

    Janiece Johnson: There’s something that I really latch onto about that idea that there is a part of me that has always been. But I also wonder how much of that comes from my context. That ringing true to me because of my context as an American who highly values individual agency and choice and selfhood. Is that why that rings truer to me than this idea of kind of primal spirit matter? That we are all the same.

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, I think there’s something to that. I think it also plays out in thinking about agency. When Latter-day Saints talk about agency, we almost always do so in terms of free will, even if we don’t use that term anymore, now that we’ve sort of learned to avoid it. We still talk about it as if that’s what we really mean. And free will is a concept in philosophy that has been developed over quite some time and philosophers have argued about it, but it’s a very individualistic thing and we think about it in terms of this ability to make myself who I am and so on. But there have been other cultures, Confucian cultures for example, who think about agency quite differently than that. Obviously they think persons can choose, they are not so foolish as to say that doesn’t happen, but they think about the way in which agency occurs in relationship with other persons so that when I exercise my agency I am doing so as a part of a family, as a part of a town, or a community, as a part of a religion. And when I choose, I choose not just for myself, I choose also for those whom I am in covenant with, as we can say if we are Latter-day Saints. And I think maybe we have something to learn from trying to think about agency in these other terms. Not to give up the notion of individuality and the importance of individual choice but to augment it by saying, “Isn’t there also this communal dimension to it?”

     

    Janiece Johnson: I really like that in thinking about- rather than thinking about these two schools of thought about intelligence just oppositionally because I think there are benefits and problems with each of them but if we can learn from the benefits of both of them that does something really nice theologically, right?

     

    Jim Faulconer: Yeah, very good point.

     

    Janiece Johnson: – To think about those different aspects and those different necessities that we need to really try and grow and let both of those aspects flourish. Not just focus on one or the other.

     

    Now, since we’re at BYU we certainly can’t leave section 93 without talking about verse 36, “The glory of God is intelligence or in other words light and truth.” So, what is intelligence here? Is it intelligence IQ or the pursuit of knowledge? Or is it us?

     

    Jim Faulconer: I might actually go for some other option and that is, I mean this latter phrase, “in other words light and truth.” So, we have already seen that truth is being thought of in temporal terms and light is thought of as that which opens us up unto life with Christ. So, I think intelligence here has to do with what we might call in other terms, we might say something like our ability to understand and to come to be like Jesus Christ and that’s what intelligence is. It’s this capability that we have as a person and which also makes me think that I tend to want to think of intelligence individually- that’s partly, I was raised that way in the church since I joined it. But this pushes me in that other direction as you’re saying. It makes me think, well maybe there’s something to that other direction of thinking about intelligence as this capability more than as in my individuality. And it’s the capability that I have to become like the Savior.

     

    Janiece Johnson: Well and I wonder if that also points us to a connection between both BYU’s focus on the glory of God is intelligence but also the “enter to learn, go forth to serve” that we go out into the world. The last verse that I want to talk about today is verse 45. As Joey at the beginning talked about the context here and Newel K. Whitney’s assessment he was most focused on these last verses because they got chastened. The Lord had some kind of harsh, “Go home take care of your families, fix those things that aren’t, that you have not been attending to.” But it’s prefaced with verse 45, “Verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph Smith Jr. or in other words I will call you friends, for you are my friends and ye shall have an inheritance with me.” Joseph later is going to say, “friendship is a grand fundamental principle of Mormonism.” And for Latter-day Saints all of our relationships should be elevated. I love this opportunity to sit here with my friends and talk about truth and ask questions even if we don’t have all the answers. But this is a beautiful truth that we need to really think about its weighty implications.

     

    Joseph Stuart: I can’t think of a better way to close the podcast than that. Thanks, Janiece. Thanks, Jim. Have a blessed week y’all.

     

    Thank you for listening to this episode of Abide: a Maxwell Institute podcast. Head on over to iTunes or your preferred podcast provider to subscribe, rate, and leave a review, each of which are worth their weight in podcast gold. You can receive show notes, including references to the sermons and articles referenced in this episode by signing up for the Maxwell Institute newsletter at mi.byu.edu. Please also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for more content from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Thank you.