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    We Are Not Particularly a Symbol-oriented people

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    OneClimbs reader, Richard N., posted a portion of this quote in a comment a few days ago. He was kind enough to transcribe the full quote from an audio CD by S. Michael Wilcox.

    “Part of our problem is that we are not particularly a symbol-oriented people.

    We like prose; well-written sentences laid out so carefully that you can’t misunderstand them. We are not big on poetry; we don’t read very much of it, particularly any serious kinds of poetry.

    We like the Doctrine and Covenants. It lays out ideas line upon line, precept upon precept, building upon each previous idea. We’re not big on the Old Testament. It is so large, and it is full of strange things that are going on there that we’re not always familiar with.

    We like Nephi. He says, ‘My soul delights in plainness.’ We’re not wild about Isaiah. Isaiah uses all kinds of word-pictures. And he loves pronouns and doesn’t particularly feel it necessary to give you an antecedent to the pronoun.

    Now the temple is more poetry than prose. It is more Old Testament than Doctrine and Covenants. It is more Isaiah than Nephi. So our challenge as members of the Church is to learn how to learn through the use of symbols.” (S. Michael Wilcox – House of Glory)

    The good news is that you can learn this stuff, and it is very rewarding. I grew up completely oblivious to most of what I know now, and I acknowledge that I am still only at the very beginning of a long journey.

    I drive back and forth from Nevada to Texas a few times a year so I’m not a big fan of long journeys. Perhaps thinking about it as a journey is part of our problem. We mark out a “point A”, a “point B” and sigh as we consider the distance.

    Why do we do that when we do not even comprehend what lies at “point B”? I’ve found greater peace in just appreciating what I am becoming day by day; is there even a “point B” in eternity?

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    Avraham Gileadi’s Testimony

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    I’m a big fan of Avraham Gileadi’s work on the Book of Isaiah. We’ve all been put here on the earth for a purpose and to do great things, especially here in the last days. I think that it is likely that Gileadi was inspired to help amplify Isaiah’s message to world at this important time.

    When I mention Avraham Gileadi I usually get one of two responses, “Who is he?” or “Wasn’t he excommunicated?” The latter group seems very wary and cautious that I’m encouraging the work of some fringe apostate. I feel so strongly about the message of Isaiah and the value of Gileadi’s work that I want to use the platform I have here on oneClimbs to put to rest any misconceptions they may have about the man by sharing with you his own words which are posted at avrahamgileaditestimony.blogspot.com:

    Responses to Wikipedia Article Dated 12th June 2012

    Having attempted over the years to correct erroneous statements about me that others have made under my name on Wikipedia—only to have them intentionally or non-intentionally replaced by the same ones as before—I feel constrained to clarify several things in regard to myself for the benefit of those who might otherwise be prejudiced toward my life’s work on the Book of Isaiah. First, although I am a Hebrew scholar and literary analyst, I was never a “Mormon historian” or “researcher of Mormonism,” considering the literary analysis of the writings of Isaiah and their scriptural connections of themselves worthy of a life’s commitment. Second, as I taught college at Brigham Young University by way of supporting my family only during my academic years (1973–1981), I was never “terminated” as either a teacher or professor. I thus can’t be considered to have a “post-termination career.” Third, although I was excommunicated in 1993 from the LDS church in a disciplinary council that began a wave of several thousand excommunications on the Wasatch Front in the 1990s, in my case—as not a single charge was true or supported by evidence—all record of it was expunged from the church’s records nearly a decade ago in a tacit admission that the church had made a mistake. In other words, as my excommunication from the church was a non-event so far as the church is concerned, it doesn’t define me as a person. Yet there are those who take it on themselves to define me as such throughout the current Wikipedia article, attaching it even to my listed name. Fourth, while several prominent writers who were excommunicated in 1993 pleaded their cause in the media at that time and thus embarrassed the church, I never did so, even though my family, reputation, work, etc. were adversely affected by the church’s action. Yet those same prominent writers were evidently glad to see me among their number and to ascribe to me the very same questioning of the church’s authority and “speaking against church doctrine or leadership” in which they engaged, as the current Wikipedia write-up asserts. As I have never been asked to change my conclusions that derive from applying several methodologies of literary analysis to researching scriptural texts, my supposedly “challenging the exclusive right of leaders to define doctrine” is a non sequitur. In short, the above writers have no evidence of any such spurious claims and I ask them to desist from their calumnies. As in this instance, the abject practice of citing anti-Mormon sources to supply the “truth” or of defaming the messenger whose findings happen not to coincide with your opinion is further unbecoming of Wikipedia, whose goal is to convey information to the world, not misinformation. Fifth, I appeal to anyone who studies the contributions I have made over many years of researching the Book of Isaiah to check out for himself the scriptural evidence I present instead of depending on hearsay, preconceived ideas, or popular opinion. A major part of the opposition I have received (though I confess I have caused some by my own follies) has been the nature of Isaiah’s message itself. Because to certain defenders of religious orthodoxy Isaiah’s message has seemed controversial, therefore by them I have been deemed controversial. Admittedly, Isaiah’s paradigm of end-time realities, while terribly indicting of those who profess to be God’s covenant people in that day, also holds out hope for those who dare to search their souls and let go of all things materialistic and ungodly. And as a new paradigm that is grounded in the truth of God inevitably wins out in the end, so the prospect exists that Isaiah’s message to the world will ultimately bear good fruit.

    Posted 14th June 2012

    It saddens me to see how badly an innocent person’s reputation is damaged in light of accusations. Perhaps this is why the Lord was so persistent in counseling us Keep Reading

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    Inspiring Thai Commercial

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    I love this Thai commercial that really inspires you to do good. If only we had more messages like this in the world, imagine the impact it could have.

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    Yah of the Negev, the American Southwest and the Las Vegas Temple?

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    In the book The Name of God: From Sinai to the American Southwest, James R. Harris asks the question:

    “Was the Shepherd of Israel, known as Jehovah, also known as Quetzalcoatl (The Feathered Serpent), as Pahana, as The Great Mystery, as Gucumatz, or as Kumastramho, by our Lord’s other sheep who left their witness on the rocks of the Negev in Israel, Jordan, the East Desert of Egypt and on the rocks of the American Southwest?” (p.1)

    Living in the Las Vegas area of Nevada, I have hiked out to see many of the petroglyphs in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah so this book by Harris really interests me.

    Evernote Snapshot 20140406 151052

    Harris’ research examines a script called “Old Negev” (a Canaanite script derived from Proto-Sinaitic) which appears on petroglyphs in the Middle East. He shows how these petroglyphs may be translated and understood. This script was used in the Negev from 1200BC to the 6th century BC.

    Where it gets really mind-boggling is his hypothesis that a very similar script also shows up in the Southwestern deserts of the United States and Mexico. He provides photos and sketches of these petroglyphs along with his translations. Here is a comparison of Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite, Old Negev and some of the signs we find in the American Southwest. Keep Reading

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    Dreams

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    Another of my favorite definitions from the Bible Dictionary.

    Dreams: One of the means by which God communicates with men (link).

    Peter quoted Joel in this respect:

    And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (Acts 2:17)

    President Hinckley quoted Joel too:

    The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. The hearts of men have turned to their fathers in fulfillment of the words of Malachi. The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:

    “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

    “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

    “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

    “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.

    “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:28–32). (Living in the Fulness of Times, Oct 2001)

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    The Bible Dictionary and Hard, Old Gum Under the Table

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    When I was bored in middle and high school (which was very common) I would often read dictionaries, which sounds boring, but I loved discovering new words and ideas. When I was a teenager, I read and studied the entire Bible Dictionary and it provided me with greater knowledge and enlightenment that I had ever achieved up to that point in my life.

    The Bible Dictionary is a sealed book to many Latter-day Saints because I suspect that few have ever read it or really delved into the great stuff that’s there.

    There are two definitions of the Bible Dictionary that have impacted my life more than any others: the section on prayer and the section on repentance. As the years have gone by, I have realized how powerfully interconnected these two principles are as I have come to understand the doctrines they are built upon.

    I’m going to share the small excerpts from the full definitions that I think everyone can really benefit from!

    Keep Reading

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    The 3 Candidates for Nephi’s Egyptian Script

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    “Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” (1 Nephi 1:2)

    At the very beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that he is writing his history in the language of the Egyptians. When we are reading First Nephi, we reading something that was written in retrospect, after Lehi’s party arrived in the promised land. This is where Nephi made his first set of plates (1 Nephi 19:1). It is at this point that he chooses to write in Egyptian for some reason instead of Hebrew and we don’t have any explanation as to why.

    It is centuries later that Moroni explains that they wrote the record in a reformed version of Egyptian instead of Hebrew because of a space issue on the plates:

    “And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.” (Mormon 9:32-33)

    Mormon and Moroni’s reasons for using their reformed Egyptian could have been very different from Nephi’s reasons. Nephi was writing things that he considered sacred at a time of great conflict between his people and his brethren. He might have wanted to protect the information by writing it in a language other than Hebrew so that the information would be hidden from others in case his records fell into enemy hands. His intentions might have been to conceal the content of the records rather than save space.

    Nephi starts writing his records almost immediately upon arrival in the promised land while Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael are still part of the camp. What if only Nephi knew how to write in Egyptian? Perhaps Nephi didn’t think it was wise to write his record (that included the murmuring and disobedience of his older brothers and step brothers) in a language that they could read. Think of what might have happened if Nephi was out hunting and Laman snuck into his tent to read his “journal”. Nephi’s brothers and step brothers already hated him and reading his depiction of them could have thrown them into a rage and put his family in danger.

    Mormon, on the other hand, notes that they had altered the Hebrew and the Egyptian among them to the degree that the reformed Egyptian characters may have been more compact than what their their altered Hebrew was like. These theories are only speculation on my part, but I think they illustrate that there are many possibilities to consider.

    In 600BC, there were at least three Egyptian candidates for what Nephi could have used on his plates: Hieroglyphic, Hieratic and Demotic. Each of these writing systems were in use in Nephi’s time so let’s see which one might be the best candidate.

    egyptian-script Keep Reading

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    Awesome Quote From Joseph Smith on the Power to Become

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    We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 2:8)


    Came across this quote in Elder Bednar’s latest book Power to Become, the third in a trilogy of really great books.

    There are so many wonderful concepts in this one quote. I’m not going to attempt to provide any commentary on it because I think that a good 20 minutes of pondering these words is sufficient for the Spirit to open your mind to more wonderful things.

    I can tell I’m going to like Power to Become, I’m only 20 pages in and I’m quite impressed with the boldness of the doctrine Bednar is laying down. I’ll have to do a full review later, but the first 20 pages alone are more than worth the purchase of this book.

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    Definitions: 4 Verses of Alma 5

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    One of the most powerful scripture study tools I utilize is a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I have a free app version on my iPhone (sorry Android users, I don’t think there is one quite yet, but you can use this site) that I use practically every time I’m in the scriptures.

    I’ve been studying Alma 5 quite a bit and seeking to unlock its many treasures. I took just four verses, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and began to define key words and I’ll share with you some of these definition excerpts for you to ponder.

    12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.

    13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.

    14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

    15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

    MIGHTY - 1. Very strong; valiant; bold; 6. Vehement; rushing with violence; as a mighty wind or tempest.

    VEHEMENT - 1. Violent; acting with great force; furious; 2. …very eager or urgent; Keep Reading

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    Most Temples Have a Theme

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    “According to Keith Stepan (former Managing Director of Temple Construction), many LDS temples are thematic, making use of a single visual motif to unify the exterior architecture and interior design and furnishings. These unifying motifs potentially point to a particular doctrine or concept.  At the Mt. Timpanogos Utah Temple, for example, we see an arching motif in the main east and west windows pointing to the theme of Jacob’s Ladder. At the San Diego Temple, 2 interlocking squares are used over 10,000 times throughout the structure, potentially symbolizing the Melchizedek Priesthood. In these and other LDS temples it is the fence design that first reveals their general visual theme.” - Val Brinkerhoff, The Day Star – Reading Sacred Architecture (Book 2), 131

    In a recently published book “Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols” by Gerald E. Hansen and Val Brinkerhoff (photographer), readers are presented with a series of doctrinal themes that are explained using the particular architectural symbolism of various temples.

    On the inside cover flap of the book, “Sacred Walls: Learning from Temple Symbols” it states:

    Both books and buildings have voices. But rather than the letters of an alphabet, buildings use towers and spires, columns and buttresses, mosaics and paintings, glass and geometric figures, and statues and friezes to speak volumes. However, even though architectural symbolism existed before the written word, the message of a building is often difficult for most of us to recognize.

    For Latter-day Saints, temples are the most important and symbolic buildings in existence. Through temples the unique doctrines of the restored gospel are communicated. Although the bulk of this instruction occurs inside the temples, temple exteriors also tell of these profound doctrines — when you understand how to read them.

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