Notes on the 2016 Temple on Mount Zion Conference

I’m live blogging this conference at BYU today–this post will be updated throughout the day, after each address.

TEMPLE ON MOUNT ZION CONFERENCE, sponsored by the Interpreter Foundation

Saturday, November 5, 2016
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

 

9:30 – Jeffrey M. Bradshaw: “By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified”: The Symbolic, Salvific, Interrelated, Additive, Retrospective, and Anticipatory Nature of the Ordinances of Spiritual Rebirth in John 3 and Moses 6

Temple themes in Joseph Smith’s translation of Moses 6:59-63 and Genesis 17:4-7. Jesus and Nicodemus–a change of heart is needed to see the kingdom of God. “Marvel not” isn’t a scolding, but an invitation to greater spiritual learning. “Born again” can mean “born from above.” Double meanings–the serpents in Moses’s staff story to heal bitten people represent sin and salvation. “No man cometh to the Father but by me,” like the seraphim who guard the gate to the temple or to heaven.

Jesus was “lifted up,” and we can and should be, too, in resurrection and ascension (3 Ne. 27). “Second birth from above” is reflected in some early Jewish thought (see also Ezekiel 37 and 16–temple imagery).

“Born again” isn’t ended with baptism, just started–the goal is exaltation.

Moses 6:60–three clauses: water, spirit, blood.

WATER: baptism, sacrament blessing. “Stage 1” of temple (1st floor in SLC)= Moses 4 themes, 2= Moses 5, 3= Moses 6. Circumcision is close to baptism in JST Genesis. Genesis 17:3-7 in JST re: Abel and ordinances, clarifies doctrine, has ancient parallels. See David A. Bednar on priesthood ordinance being salvific, interrelated, additive. Truman Madsen: washing and anointing is like a patriarchal blessing on the body itself.

SPIRIT: D&C 20:37 explains that the Spirit cleanses, not baptism itself, which is symbolic. Justification and sanctification are twin blades of scissors–C.S. Lewis. Telestial room / baptism = justification, terrestrial / additional ordinances & consecration = sanctification, celestial = exaltation. D&C 20:30-31 teaches that justification and sanctification both come from the grace of Christ. Blood / anointing makes one both our and royal in ancient settings. British ceremony to initiate a new monarch has echoes of all this old temple symbolism. C.S. Lewis–become “a little Christ.”

BLOOD: Exodus 24 shows symbolism of blood needed to sanctify. Isaac is a substitute king before the ram–a symbol of a symbol. Neal A. Maxwell–we must put the animal *in us* upon the altar and burn it. Endowment depicts multiple births through the grace of Christ. C.S. Lewis- God turns tools-servants-friends-sons. Psalm 2:7 reflected in Moses 6 with Adam. Mosiah 2-5 has same symbolism–disciples are to become “little Mosiahs.” Alma 13 teaches high priest is symbolic of Christ. Moses 6, last verse also teaches of exaltation, leading to Enoch’s ascension in Moses 7. Nibley: scriptures aren’t platitudes, they’re things of eternity. Water in sacrament goes beyond beginning discipleship to a consecrated life: accepting prior blessings and continuing to exaltation; like Christ, must suffer, even unjustly, to serve others and lead to God.

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Mormon Interpreter Vs. Maxwell Institute: Year One

It’s been about a year since the ancien régime of BYU’s Maxwell Institute (née FARMS) was unceremoniously given the boot, as the program looked to move from apologetics more towards promoting cultural and historical studies.  There was much of Sturm und Drang about the shakeup and the outcasts’ subsequent reformation as the Mormon Interpreter, but now that the dust has settled, we can look back at the last year of each organization’s work and assess which has made a greater contribution to LDS scholarship.

Let’s see how they each stack up.

PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS

PUBLISHED ARTICLES
Interpreter: 45          Maxwell Institute: 11

I got 45 for Interpreter by counting the articles here (and not counting Peterson’s editorial introductions, excellent as they always are).

The total for MI was harder.  They just don’t publish much, so I had to hunt around to find these eleven.  They include the five articles in the second of two Journal volumes published last year (the only volume published since The Great Unpleasantness), the four articles in last year’s lone volume of Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, and the one sourced article with an author named in each of the two issues of Insights, the Institute’s newsletter, published in the latter half of last year (here and here).

How sad is it that I had to pump up their total by including items from a newsletter?

PUBLISHED ISSUES OF PERIODICALS
Interpreter: 5          Maxwell Institute: 2

The five Interpreter issues are listed here.

The two MI issues are both mentioned above: last year’s only Studies issue and the second of two Journal issues.  I don’t count their newsletter as a serious periodical.

The periodical at the center of the brouhaha last year was the FARMS Review / Mormon Studies Review.  Though an announcement last July explained the change to the public, a new volume has yet to be published.  A newer announcement now says that the first issue from the new management will be out “next winter.”

None of the MI periodicals have published any volumes yet in 2013.  Not even the newsletter.

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The Decline and Fall of FARMS?

In short, it seems that a bureaucrat at BYU has railroaded out a whole generation of scholars from their formerly-fine Book of Mormon studies publications.  The era of faithful apologetics at BYU may be over, replaced by some vague desire to go in an as-yet undefined direction.

Daniel Peterson, a great advocate of the Book of Mormon, has been unceremoniously given the boot, apparently along with a host of other scholars. I don’t want to rehash the whole sordid affair here, but here’s a brief intro from a longer and excellent summary:

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NCAA Tournament Brackets

My NCAA Tournament brackets are at left.  A little early, perhaps, but I think they’re all solid. 

I have my local team, UNLV, beating Illinois this Friday, but then falling to Kansas on Sunday (much like last year).  For that matter, I think Kansas will take the championship this year, beating out defending champ Duke in the final. 

BYU will make it to the sweet sixteen, where I predict they’ll fall to Florida.  Mountain West Conference winner San Diego State will do a little better, getting to the elite eight before Duke takes them down. 

I got my chart here, by the way.  Steve, you got your brackets to put up here?

Grading the UNLV-UNM Game

Boy, am I glad I went to this game last night!  45-10.  What fun.  Here’s my breakdown of how it went:

UNLV Offense: B+.  I’m tempted to call it an A- here, but I don’t want to be overenthusiastic.  We played above average ball, exploiting most opportunities given us and pressing our advantages to the fullest. 

QB Omar Clayton was dependable in moving the ball down the field; he’s consistently strong at it.  Most of the time, when a quarterback can’t find a receiver and tries to bolt for what it’s worth, it doesn’t go well, but Clayton usually makes it work. 

Junior Michael Johnson was on fire tonight, showing up everywhere at once.  He didn’t quite carry the team, but on a bad night, his performance still could’ve.  He’s going to make a name for himself at this rate. 

On another note, one of our wide receivers is in one of my English classes, and that penalty call against him was CRAP. 

UNLV Defense: C+.  Look at tonight’s stats–we dominated in every category, but New Mexico wasn’t too far behind in first downs.  That smells like sloppy defense to me.  We’ve gotten a little better over these first few games, but we still have a ways to go–if we’d played like this against a decent team, we would’ve lost. 

The highlight here was a second half sack of UNM’s QB that practically snapped the guy in half, and the subsequently dropped ball was picked up and run in for a touchdown. 

UNM Defense: C-.  Swiss cheese puts up a better net than this. 

UNM Offense: F.  This is where they were just unforgivably awful.  Their receivers often seemed to be purposely trying to run into the thickest pockets of our defenders that they could find.  They lost the ball so many times that I lost count–one of their many turnovers resulted from a throw that literally bounced off the intended receiver and right into our arms.  It looked like a scene from a slapstick comedy. 

New Mexico decided to experiment by putting in a freshman as their starting quarterback.  Big mistake.  At one point, he threw the ball into the ground so obviously on purpose that the crowd didn’t boo so much as collectively roll its eyes. 

Verdict: it was fun to see us win (for a change), but beating a bad team having an especially bad night doesn’t count for much.  Still, it gave us a chance to hone some promising skills. 

UNR beat BYU at Provo yesterday, which, no matter what your conference or ranking, is hard to do.  This doesn’t bode well for our rivalry game next weekend, and history is already on Reno’s side.  If we play the way we did last night against them the way they played yesterday, who would win?  Hard to say for sure, but I can’t favor UNLV.  But, it would be one heck of a game.  That’s what I hope to see.

UNLV Beats BYU 75-74

unlv_rebels_200I got to see Saturday night’s sold out game at the Thomas and Mack, courtesy of my father-in-law.  The Rebels have had only a so-so season, often playing, as R-J columnist Ed Graney said, like “a koala on Quaaludes.”  Saturday night’s game started out in a familiar fashion, with BYUoutplaying on offense and UNLV looking less like a team than five random guys all playing on their own, actually seeming confused when they tried to work together. 

But things clicked soon enough.  By the end of the first half, the momentum was strong and the second half saw a real treat for UNLV fans: Wink Adams had a great night, at the line and all around.  Mo Rutledge got more indomitable the closer he got to the net, growing practically unstoppable inside the key.  Tre’Von Willis also stood out, scoring solidly and sinking his fair share of UNLV’s many three pointers.  Though BYU brought it up to only a one point loss, UNLV was ahead by as much as 12 at one point in the second half. 

This bodes well for the next stage. 

And so as not to write a post without any dreary social commentary, on my way home I saw a police officer texting on his cell phone.  While driving.  Arrrgh!

Idolizing BYU

As in worshipping a false idol.

Several years ago, a mother and daughter came into my school office for help resolving a conflict: mom wanted her daughter to go to BYU, and the daughter just wanted to go to a school as far away as possible, a school that was not BYU.  Mom’s argument was simply that BYU was where you send your kids so that they’ll finish growing up spiritually safe.  I didn’t overtly contradict her naive perception, but I definitely worked them towards a compromise. 

Her simplistic devotion to what she’d assumed BYU stands for is not an individual error: it is a deep-seated error in thinking among the Latter-day Saints that BYU is not only a special school but a better school, and the one for which good Mormon kids and families should strive. 

In the earliest days of the Church, converts were encouraged to gather into the main body of the population, but as the 20th century progressed, “the First Presidency specifically admonished the missionaries to cease preaching emigration; the converts in foreign countries could do more to build the kingdom if they would remain in their own lands.” (“Growing With A Living Church,” Arnold K. Garr, Ensign, October 1996).  Or, as Bruce R. McConkie put it, “we have gathered, from their Egyptian bondage as it were, the dispersed of Ephraim and a few others, initially to the mountains of America, but now into the stakes of Zion in the various nations of the earth.” 

If that principle is true of where we physically build our homes and raise our families, why would some assume that it isn’t true of where we send our children to school?  Where does anyone find in the teachings of any Church leader–anywhere–ever–the idea that righteous families should set BYU as the goal for their children?  Has the Church set up and sustained an awe-inspiring system of global Institutes of Religion at hundreds of college campuses because they would prefer people to ignore them? 

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