Admittedly, the title of this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek.
Jonathan Pageau is an Orthodox Christian, professional carver, writer, and public speaker. He specializes in symbolism and traditional Christian art. I’ve recently been profoundly impressed by many of the conclusions he’s come to through symbolism.
Though I’m not endorsing all of his conclusions, his testimony of scriptural patterns supports many unique doctrines Joseph claimed to have received by revelation, which were largely opposed in his day (perhaps with the exception of the first one). And yet Joseph got the pattern and archetypes right every time.
If this post floats into his orbit, I’d love hear his reaction to the symbolism and archetypes of the Book of Mormon. I think he could mine out greater value than many.
The New Jerusalem Emerging from the United States
“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory” (Articles of Faith 1:10).
“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type. For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not. Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away” (Ether 13:6-8).
“Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be” (D&C 93:29).
“The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself… I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven.
“Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement…
“The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits” (King Follett Discourse).
“And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all…
“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:19, 22-25).
A Council of the Gods
“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted [prepared] a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer” (The King Follett Sermon).
This is really only a foundation for the logical conclusion and bigger picture Joseph Smith shines a light on in the King Follett Discourse.
“Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power” (The King Follett Sermon).
The first part of his explanation I cover at length here.
“Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell. For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you” (Mormon 9:4-5)
“For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion” (Alma 12:14-15)
“Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness” (2 Nephi 9:14).
“A man is his own tormentor and his own condemner. Hence the saying, ‘They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.’ The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man” (TPJS p. 357).
One thought on “Jonathan Pageau’s Testimony of Mormon Doctrine”
Pageau has been a window into the Christian tradition for me, and I think the legacy faiths really warrant a closer looks by Mormons. They preserved the eucharist as a communal temple ritual, for instance, and I have noticed that distinctive aspects of Orthodox liturgy show up in the temple rituals portrayed in the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith built temples to focus on communal liturgy, with the sacrament featuring prominently (Kirtland, Nauvoo open-plan layouts), but only the individual initiation rites survived enough to be perpetuated in architecture (Salt Lake Temple’s chambered lower floors).
Here is another chapter for your post: Salvation as Mystagogy
Shortly after you made this post, Jonathan interviewed Fr. Maximos Constas about St. Maximus the Confessor’s teachings. St. Maximus taught that the liturgy of communion was a spiritual ascent up the sacred mountain to full communion with God, and that ascent was symbolized by the functional spaces of the church (patterned after the tabernacle) and by the orders of priesthood functioning in the service (deacon, priest, bishop).
“[The nave represents] practical asceticism, basically. It’s the keeping of the commandments; it’s the sort of entry-level ascetic practices you need to get on the path and start moving forward…
Then the sanctuary is the space of contemplation which is what you arrive at after ascetic practice has purified consciousness to the point where it is able to see certain things that it couldn’t see earlier.
And then after that, mapped onto the altar table and the eucharist is the experience of union with God.”
“[St. Maximus] says that the deacon is the one who has purified his consciousness through ascetical practice. And the priest, he says, is the one who has illumined his mind with the knowledge of creation; that’s the vision beyond the surface of creation into the intelligible structures of creation that he calls the logoi. And the bishop, he says, is the one who has perfected his mind in union with the trinity.”
starts around here: https://youtu.be/ze0Ps52NsVk?t=1259
This path is a “mystagogy”, an initiation into the mysteries culminating in theosis, atonement and identity with God. Fr. Constas says that this mystagogy involves deep contemplation not only of the liturgy, but of “the liturgy behind the liturgies”: the work of God in transforming the soul on the path of ascent.
As you know, Alma 12 frames our salvation or damnation in terms of our relative knowledge or ignorance of the mysteries of God. To know none is to be bound by the chains of hell. To know all is to be free from all bondage and have eternal life. Joseph Smith taught that it was by being taught face to face by Christ that we could “have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” http://boap.org/LDS/Parallel/1839/27Jun39.html
Saint Maximus used two terms for this highest union:
“Mystical Theology”: through the mysteries we are granted the knowledge of God
“Theological Mystagogy”: our union with God perfects our initiation into the mysteries.
Maybe the revival preachers around Palmyra were reading from St. Maximus and lecturing about the intricacies of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy…
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