Friday, June 19, 2009

Can the only truth be unlawful to speak?

I was thinking about the concept of "unity" tonight, and a flood of ideas came. This concept of unity has many ideas attached to this word, but what is unity? The Lord said, "If ye are not one, ye are not mine" (D&C 38:27) and to "let every man esteem his brother as himself" (D&C 28:24). Today, we hear political slogans chanted and read on bumper stickers the phrase "United We Stand". The concept of "it takes a village to raise a child" has been mulled over to imply the concept that a community affects the mental cognition of the next generation, and that it is the community's responsibility to unite in rearing them (just for clarification, I disagree with the "village to raise a child" ideology). But what is unity? In trying to solidify a good definition to "unity", I had the following thoughts...

The Limits of Language

Language is an interesting thing. For any person who has learned a second language, it is of no surprise that there are entire concepts, thoughts, and ideas that exist in one language, culture, or society that do not translate or even find place into another language, culture, or society. Why is this? Without trying to make an easy concept more complicated, the simple answer is that differing cultures and societies will grow to interpret ideas, beliefs, and meanings differently than another. Words offer the means to meaning, and a word is nothing but the associated symbols, ideas, and structures that we associate and give to it. Many words lose their meaning, as a society grows and finds new meanings to fit old concepts; in this way, absolute meanings in one generation often grow to mean something entirely different in the next generation.

The Greeks

Many of the Greeks after Aristotle, in their first philosophical quest to know things for as they are, used the first steps of syllogistic logic to fulfill their quest. They used language to define, associate, and understand things for as they were. In scriptural language, they used logic to define truth. This process of inquiry had many benefits, but one particular great flaw: that because of their language, the Greeks could only ever define a substance by its attributes, and was never able to actually understand a thing for what it was intrinsically. This limit of language (to only define a thing by its attributes) reduced the knowledge of a thing to its characteristics, and by so doing the absoluteness of truth was made variable by its perceived practicality within society. In this way, the Greeks ended up losing before they ever began! The question "What is gold?" was answered: Gold is a soft substance; God is metal; Gold is shiny; Gold is rare; Gold is a solid substance; etc. Never could the Greeks ever classify gold as an intrinsic substance for what it was, but only for what it was perceived to be by its human usefulness and interpretation through its attributes. In short, language reduced the Greeks to only defining something from the outside looking in upon that substance.

What does this have to do with anything? When such abstract concepts such as love, faith, hope, or unity are presented, this understanding of the Greek influence in our current society is quite important. It was the Greeks that first divided up love into certain characteristics: eros (romantic), philia (brotherly love), and agape (the greatest characteristic of love that's not bound by perception). They could not comprehend love being something that existed as a whole, but they desperately found need to break it down into its perceivable parts. Accordingly, unity has also gone through its own transformation of being reduced to its characteristics; this concept has gone through many categorical interpretations and social understandings to mean basically whatever anyone wants it to mean.

The Hebrew Understanding:

A logic professor once told our intro deductive logic class (Phil 205) that the Old Testament was "logically empty". There are, he said, absolutely no found cases of structured logic in the entire compilation. The New Testament, however, is engorged with cases of logic and structured arguments (especially in the books outside the four-gospels) that are influenced by the Greek philosophical thought. The ancient Hebrews did not study philosophy; they did not try to understand the world around them in terms of deduction or induction; they did not create elaborate and structured arguments to prove their points... In the Old Testament, truth (knowing things as they are) is not found through logic, but by and through direct revelation from God. Whatever God said made something so, and whatever was was just that way because the Lawgiver said it was so. This difference in understanding gives light to the Lord's answer to Moses when he wanted to find out what and who God was. The Lord's response "I AM THAT I AM: and he said, This shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (Exodus 3:14) The Greeks would have had a field day with this, "You ARE what, God? You can't just say I AM! You 'AM' what? What do you DO? Who ARE you?" The Greeks would have sought to know God through His attributes, not by through his intrinsic substance and self. This answer, however, given to Moses was absolutely appropriate and in line with their understanding. Whereas the Greeks sought to know a thing from the outside looking in, the Hebrews believed in truth as revealed from God and looked at substance from the inside looking out.

Lawful vs Unlawful -- Equity and the Eternal Existence of Matter and Nature

Law is merely the thing that defines the intrinsic substance of an element for what it is (whether law is actually a thing or not is irrelevant to this thread; it is merely important to note that it is law that defines). In other words, law defines truth. There is an old Mormon ideology that gained much momentum through various LDS researchers in the mid-to-late 1900's that basically states that "God is bound by law, and he cannot go outside his law". This basic thought, however, is built on a false premise (here I go being all Greek). The concept of God being bound by law is only understandable within a Grecian philosophical paradigm; a paradigm that only perceives God through His attributes, and not through his actual intrinsic existence.

Independent Nature of Matter

Nature exists independently, as does all matter (spiritual or physical). The Creator does not control or force matter into existence, but he -- in knowing the ultimate amount of joy of each intelligence -- can lovingly call forth on matter-unorganized to obey to his words in trust and faith that his call will lead each intelligence to the greatest amount of joy possible. It is not the being of God to ever make something of that which it is not, but he uses law to perfectly define things as they are and exist independently. By being the "Lawgiver", this does not give the Creator the power to force things into compliance, but it is a key of Priesthood wherein He can with perfect and eternal clarity and knowledge define truth; in other words, He is capable of seeing the beginning from the end, and he knows how to define the actual substance for what it is and not by its attributes. This was yet another fundamental flaw of Lucifer's plan when he wanted the glory (priesthood) of God. It was Lucifer's mistake to believe that by taking upon himself the role of the "Lawgiver" he could define things as he saw fit, and force nature to bend to his arbitrary outcome; Lucifer did not understand the actual being of God or of the Lawgiver, in that this office of Priesthood did not force or make something out of nothing, but it only defined nature as it existed eternally (with that pure perception). God is not bound by a definition (law), but his being will not act outside of its existence. There is a law that can define what type of being our Father IS, but it is still just a definition...

Chain God?

As a tangent, I'll address a pet-peeve. The concept of "binding" God is often misunderstood. This idea of having "God hold up his end of the bargain" is ridiculous. The Lord's entire being ("work and glory") exists to bless his children, and it is strange indeed for man to take the assumptive role of an expecting and childish brat waiting for a parent to give him the expected candy-reward for obeying a specific command -- as if the parent would think about withholding the said treat. That kind of thinking is absurd. The Lord knows the eternal nature of matter, light, and our intelligences; He knows the path wherein each and every molecule of our being will find ultimate joy; He has given us a blue-print to become as He is (commandments), and has shown us the way wherein our own light can become as His own; He has given us the tools and every opportunity to use them to gain more light and truth (understanding things as they are) in this life (and in the life to come); and, above all, we have our agency. Our perception is misplaced in thinking we can chain God down to his word, and this entire thought denies the absolute love of our Heavenly Parent. No, to say that God is bound when we do what He says is an analogy to know the absolute natural promise and surety that the path our Creator has given us will actually and naturally lead us to ultimate joy and light... His call is to still "prove" him... I will not chain my God down to my ridiculous perception of what he owes me, but I surrender my will to his loving guidance.


Occasionally in the scriptures we read that something cannot be written or spoken because it is "unlawful". What does this mean? Shortly explained, it means that there are some ideas, concepts, and experiences that our failed language or natural state of existence cannot define. The law, based on our spoken language, cannot define the experience -- it is impossible to communicate in such a crude mode of communication an experience of the spirit. Only those of a spiritual nature can comprehend, understand, and be in communication with that which is of a spiritual realm. There are things that exist in a spiritual realm (actual matter); otherwise, of what substance do we determine our spirit is actually made up of? Many of the early brethren talked extensively on the subject of spiritual matter. Parley P. Pratt, in his work entitle Keys to Theology, spoke of spiritual matter. But what is this spiritual matter? And can we even know what it is -- based on the corruption of our language?


There is a concept in Hebrew language wherein our current idea and use of the word "equity" comes from. It is the Hebrew word "qav" which is actually the Hebrew name for what we call a "plum-bob". A plum-bob was used -- and still is in some less advanced places -- to find a perfect vertical line. A weight was attached to a string, and the top of the string was held on the desired location (such as a door-frame) and the weight at the bottom would show a perfect line up and down. It was an ancient vertical level. The qav denoted "uprightness" and "straightness" in all things, and it was the basis of thought for what keeps man's actions in check.

It is the spirit of man that controls his thoughts and from where all desire (or lack thereof) comes from. Descartes thought the spirit was actually physically connected to the brain; however, baring this resolution, we have been taught that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". The "heart" is an ancient symbol for the spirit of man, and was used to link the disposition of man's spirit in connection with his physical actions. When the heart was hardened, the spirit was dead (it had no life); but when it was softened, the spirit of man was alive and well. "As a man thinketh in his spirit, so is he" is yet another way of clarifying the scripture.

In the New Testament the following phrases are read: "Faith is the substance..." (Heb 11:1); "God is love" (1 John 4:8,16); and "if ye had the faith as a grain of a mustard seed" (Matt 17:20). It is argued in academics whether these are figurative or actual statements. Is God made up of a substance called "love"? Is faith an actual "substance"? Joseph Smith translated Heb 11:1 to read the "Faith is the assurance...", but also noted that while a substance, faith's outward and manifest characteristics is assurance. And was Christ stating that if all the element/substance of faith that make up one's spirit would equal the size of a mustard seed that miraculous things would happen? This we know, however, that such spiritual characteristics of love, faith, and hope (as well as anything that can be defined as a being verb: be patient (patience), be wise (wisdom), be loving (love), etc.) constituted what was known as the qav -- or our modern English translation of equity. Equity (or, in other words, the spiritual elements of love, faith, hope, etc.) is the source of our desires; a spirit in possession of these spiritual elements will attract their own (love to love, faith to faith, etc), and will become the source of the desire towards the outward actions associated with each element of spirit.

The absence of equity constitutes a lack of physical desire to do "good" things. In Latin, the absence of a thing is characterized by placing the prefix "in" in front of the word. For instance, the absence of equality, is inequality. The absence of equity, was written as inequity, until around the 12-century when the (e)quity was conjugated to an (i)quity, and we now have the word "Iniquity". Iniquity, therefore, literally means the absence of spiritual equity, and the absolute loss of desire to perform any good works; all things are done selfishly, and the heart has become hardened. Iniquity, we find through patterns in the scriptures, is the source wherein language becomes corrupted; it is the lack of desire to find actual and eternal joy, to substitute for it the false promises and securities of the carnal man.

What Does This Have To Do With Law?

Law defines truth, and truth (things are they are) is the study of equity. Just as gold exists independent of our definitions of its attributes, so do the elements of the spirit (love, faith, hope, meekness, humility, etc.). The problem becomes this: How do we define (by law) the characteristics of the spirit (equity) in our Earthly realm of corrupt and fallen language? I can imagine Socrates pondering over this question for years, just repeating to himself "Love is... Love is... Love is..." without ever figuring out exactly what love really is (ironically, his question "Love is...?" was his answer... Love just is). This is the very thing the Greeks hated the most! They could not find out what something is, so they had to start explaining what it does. Herein we now have the fundamental understanding for why we have the different kinds of love! And in this very situation we have come back full circle! The Hebrews understood that "Love just is..." (just as they understood that God just was; after all, it was the Lord himself who said "I AM" without telling us exactly what that was, except for saying that He was spirit and we could know who He was through the spirit.) and that there are certain things that cannot be defined by mortal tongue (things that are unlawful); however, the Greeks had to fight on figuring out how to define love within our mortal sphere, and this is how we ended up with the various types and categorization of "love" (eros, philia, and agape, etc).

What is Unity?

The world defines unity by its characteristics, and there are many applications wherein the world can pigeon-hole the concept of unity. As I stated, empty political slogans spoken of in bland-political discourse and as seen on nationalistic bumper stickers, the concept of "United We Stand" is a true statement, but carries a slew of sophist ideologies and false philosophies. I was raised on the principle that "One with God is a majority", and on this principle I have learned that true equitable unity can only be found by adhering to the principles and precepts of Christ. To be "united" under false ideologies is nothing short of falling under the banner of Lucifer's pre-mortal and mistaken plan of trying to coerce an outcome that was not naturally sound. We must be united under the banner of righteousness and freedom; however, even the terms of "righteousness" and "freedom" have been distorted to mean so many various ideas, that there is no true or sound appeal to language anymore.

Can the only truth that can be said now be considered unlawful to speak? Has our language become so corrupted that to find absolute truth, our relationship with God must be such that we are revealed truth through that mode and means by which -- in our current situation and society -- has become unlawful to speak of? As a prophet communicates the ideas of God through a language which has become so distorted and convoluted as to render any appeal to language moot, the only appeal to truth appears to be through that medium of the Spirit of God which will testify to the spirit (our heart, our equitable selves, etc.) those things that are unlawful (impossible to define) to say. Surely the Lord's prophets continue to speak for the Lord, but for whom? Those who have ears to hear, let them hear; those who have eyes to see, let them see... but how? Through the communication of the spirit that is impossible nowadays to define to the public... Of a principle, has truth become unlawful in our society?

Perhaps we have not yet reached this point. But this certainly gives an interesting foundation to understanding why a Lord's mouthpiece has often been shut for the lack of belief of the people -- an event we are told will happen before the coming of the Lord again to this earth. I am reminded of a recent quote I found by Ezra Taft Benson:

"Now, part of the reason why we do not have sufficient priesthood bearers to save the Constitution, let alone to shake the powers of hell (Alma 48:17), because, I fear, unlike Moroni, our souls do not joy in keeping our country free, and we are not firm in the faith of Christ, nor have we sworn with an oath to defend our rights."

Where are those who understand the principles of the Spirit and Liberty that are taught within medium that is unlawful to speak?


BEN said...

Very interesting points here. The point about love being unlawful to express in words is right on. The gospel cannot be taught but by the Spirit. In fact, the Lord says that if it is taught in any other way, it is not of him (D&C 50). Thus it is unlawful to teach it any other way....simply because it is not the gospel; it is not the way things are/not lawful. Your explanation is in perfect harmony with the scriptures as I understand them. Although it is regrettable that our language has become so corrupt, it seems that this corruption is merely a manifestation of a lack of understanding of true principles. Thus, the people and culture adopt meanings and reassign meanings to words that never were supposed to exist. This is interesting to understand in the context of what happened to the Mulekites i.e. denying the being of their Creator--presumably because of the corruption of their language, or was it the other way around? Was their language corrupted because they denied the being of their Creator? Thus the significance of the Lord commanding things to be written even from the time of Adam and the importance of Lehi obtaining the plates.
I also just thought of what this means with respect to what Moroni says in Ether 12 about the words of the Brother of Jared. He says that the things the Brother of Jared "wrote were mighty even as thou art (emphasis), unto the overpowering of man to read them." Thus, it was given unto the Brother of Jared to express the things of God, things that were otherwise unlawful to write. His words had the power to express things as they really were; as the law IS; as God IS. These things are apparently not had among the children of men because of unbelief. We cannot understand them until we are prepared for living a higher law. When we abide the law, the law will abide in us and we may understand them. Then we may receive these things as the Lord has promised. Maybe we already are receiving many of them through revelation as the Lord sees fit.
There is so much more I feel to what you are saying here and it fascinates me. Much of the Book of Mormon and D&C talks about this and it is interesting to see the correlation between our language and the law.

Thayninator said...

"There is an old Mormon ideology that gained much momentum through various LDS researchers in the mid-to-late 1900's that basically states that "God is bound by law, and he cannot go outside his law". This basic thought, however, is built on a false premise (here I go being all Greek). The concept of God being bound by law is only understandable within a Grecian philosophical paradigm; a paradigm that only perceives God through His attributes, and not through his actual intrinsic existence."

Where did you learn/hear this? This is the exact claim of my honors thesis. I wrote 55 pages attempting to prove this very fact, and have found nothing but resistance from others. I'm curious who else shares my view.

Shiloh Logan said...

Which claim is that? That "God is bound by law", or that such a notion is only an observable within a Grecian paradigm?

Thayninator said...

That such a claim only makes sense in a Grecian paradigm. I argued in my thesis that the idea that god is bound by scientific laws has Greek philosophy embedded in it, and therefore as suspect as many of the claims of Western Christianity.