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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 6th Sermon

I find it incredibly amazing when a simple sermon from an educated and understanding Christian crushes what I was taught as an LDS member. In one sermon, my pastor crushed two major Mormon concepts without even realizing he was doing so.

The first thing he did was describe the three heavens, based on what the Bible describes and references. The first is the heavens as in space and stars--its a physical heaven. The second is a spiritual heaven--where angels dwell, etc. The third is the abode of God, and this is our ultimate goal. Only three Biblical accounts exist of the third heaven--One in Isaiah, one in Revelations, and a very brief and vague mention by Paul where he doesn't even clarify well whether it was him or someone else who saw it and he says that's its too inexpressible to tell.

So, the three heavens do not refer to the Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial glories of LDS beliefs.

Also, Pastor Nate put into perspective the dimensions of the New Jerusalem as taught in Revelations:
21: 16 "The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long."

Some versions use the word "furlong" instead of "stadia" but the equivalent is about 1/8th of a mile either way. Basically, when you do all the math, this city (the city of heaven, after the old heaven and earth has passed away, etc) is over 2 million square miles.

This is very interesting because Joseph Smith said that the New Jerusalem would be in Missouri:
D&C 57
1...in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
 2Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
 3And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.

D&C 84
2Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.
 3Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

 (Interesting note: Revelations also said there will be no temple in New Jerusalem, and that the city will descend already prepared {as opposed to being built  by people} Also interesting to note, the temple prophesied of was never built even though D&C 84 and D&C 115 make it clear that it was to be built in the generation of the 1830s.)

So, if we look at the size spoken of in Revelations, and then look at Joseph Smith's prophecies about it being built it Missouri, we hit a huge snag. Missouri is way smaller than 2.25 million square miles. In fact, the New Jerusalem will be about 65% of the size of the contiguous United States. There's no way that could fit into Missouri, assuming Missouri as we know it will even be around as a reference point in the new earth.

There's no guarantee that the New Jerusalem will exist as described in Revelations--John was simply trying to put into words what he saw when describing it. But perhaps it was true anyways. Though it might have surpassed his understanding in appearance, it may exist someday in the exact dimensions he described. Joseph Smith's mundane version of the New Jerusalem, while much more comprehensible (and far less amazing), is nothing like the one described in the Bible.

It just amazes me how simply reading the Bible thoroughly and with understanding changes things from the false understandings and teachings of man into the truth and wonder of God.

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