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Thursday, October 3, 2013

08. Linking unprecedented faith with this unprecedented vision

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the eighth examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

In my previous post, we equated spiritual creation = exercising your Eye of Faith = Visualizing = Imagining (SC = EoF = V = I).  And in a previous post, I gave an example of an instance when I visualized the events as described in 3rd Nephi Chapter 11 (when the Savior first appears to the Nephites; click here to access the audio).

In that example, although my experience concerned something in the past, it is possible for you, an ordinary person, to exercise your imagination in something that hasn't happened yet ("looking forward with an eye of faith"; Alma 32:40-41).  This activates your powers of visualization, exercising your Eye of Faith and, therefore, catalyzes a spiritual creation (which precedes a physical creation or actual manifestation).
"...And there were many whose faith was so exceeding strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad." (Ether 12:5, 18-19)


Not Being Kept from Within (or Thrusting Through) the Veil


One of the greatest manifestations of the Savior occured when the Brother of Jared exercised bold, consummate, perfect faith in God.

We read in Ether 3:1-5 that the Brother of Jared "did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones" so that the Lord would "touch these stones...with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea."

It's clear to me that the Brother of Jared fully expected such to happen.  Although the record does not state this, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Brother of Jared visualized, imagined, spiritually created this event with his Eye of Faith.

For the Brother of Jared, seeing wasn't believing.  Believing was (spiritually) seeing.

And then he literally saw. 

The Lord summarized it this way:
"Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast" (Ether 3:9; emphasis mine)
And with that, the Brother of Jared was able to pierce the veil, see and converse with the premortal Christ.

Please deeply contemplate this quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (in what I believe is the best talk I've ever read by an apostle concerning how to pierce the veil):
"As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter His presence by Him and only with His sanction. The brother of Jared, on the other hand, stands alone then (and we assume now) in having thrust himself through the veil, not as an unwelcome guest but perhaps technically an uninvited one. Says Jehovah, “Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. . . . Never has man believed in me as thou hast” (Ether 3:9, 15; emphasis added). Obviously the Lord Himself is linking unprecedented faith with this unprecedented vision. If the vision is not unique, then it has to be the faith— and how the vision is obtained—that is so remarkable. The only way this faith could be so remarkable would be in its ability to take this prophet, uninvited, where others had only been able to go by invitation.

Indeed it would appear that this is Moroni’s own understanding of the circumstance, for he later writes, “Because of the knowledge [which has come as a result of faith] of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil. . . .

'Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus' (Ether 3:19–20; emphasis added).

This may be one of those very provocative examples (except that it is real life and not hypothetical) about God’s power. Schoolboy philosophers sometimes ask, “Can God make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?” or “Can God hide an item so skillfully that He cannot find it?” Far more movingly and importantly we may ask here, “Could God have stopped the brother of Jared from seeing through the veil?” At first blush one is inclined to say, “Surely God could block such an experience if He wished to.” But think again. Or, more precisely, read again. “This man . . . could not be kept from beholding within the veil; . . . he could not be kept from within the veil” ((Ether 3:19–20; emphasis added).

No, this may be an absolutely unprecedented case of a prophet’s will and faith and purity so closely approaching that of heaven’s that the man moves from understanding God to being actually like Him, with His same thrust of will and faith, at least in this one instance. What a remarkable doctrinal statement about the power of a mortal man’s faith! And not an ethereal, unreachable, select category of a man, either. This is one who once forgot to call upon the Lord, one whose best ideas focused on rocks, and one who doesn’t even have a traditional name in the book that has immortalized his remarkable feat of faith. Given such a man with such faith, it should not be surprising that the Lord would show this prophet much, show him visions that would be relevant to the mission of all the Book of Mormon prophets and to the events of the latter-day dispensation in which the book would be received." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Rending the Veil of Unbelief” in A Book of Mormon Treasury: Gospel Insights from General Authorities and Religious Educators, [Provo, UT and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2003], 47–66).
A key, then, in dialoguing with the Lord through the veil is to exercise the kind of faith that the Brother of Jared exercised.

What would that entail?

Comment away.  I'd love to hear your insights!




5 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful example of the varied and explicit fashion the Lord allows us to come unto his presence. He loves us and wants us to know him. Tgharrison

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  2. That kind of faith is extraordinary, isn't it? The fact that it is available to each of us as we shed our ungodliness and build our faith is even more extraordinary!
    How wonderful is our Father in Heaven!?
    How intricate and perfectly woven are His plans for each of us! We can only comprehend a glimmer of what he has in store for us (if that) unless we continually humble ourselves and have an eye single to His glory and love.
    Thank you for your post!

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  3. The picture you included at the beginning of the post is an interesting one . . . it evoked an image in my mind of a toddler, working her way back to her parents through some obstacle, as her parents grew more and more excited and proud at their daughter's accomplishment. And I thought: how are we any different from the toddler? How is God any different from those parents?

    I have long loved and respected Elder Holland. His fiery passion for scripture, his sense of humor, and the depth of his sincerity have always touched me. He is a man after my own heart. And yet, when he "As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter His presence by Him and only with His sanction," I paused. Who? When? What prophet hasn't been seeking the Lord, or wrestling spiritually with some ponderous dilemma just before a visitation? Aren't we all invited to come into the presence of the Lord, both in scripture and the temple? What prophet has been called into the Lord's presence who has not already been earnestly seeking Him?

    It's my personal feeling that Mahonri's faith was truly wonderful . . . but that it's not beyond anyone else's capacity. Has anyone else noticed that the Book of Mormon uses superlatives to convey extremity, ("Never was there a happier people," etc.), and more than once for the same type of thing? I have to wonder if the phrasing is something common to their Hebrew/Reformed Egyptian literature, and has a little of the archetypal in it, as opposed to the atypical; if the Lord used that phrase because it conveyed the superlative quality of Mahonri's faith, rather than indicating that no one had ever had that much faith before.

    I'm not trying to diminish Mahonri's faith, or the state of someone's heart necessary in order to behold Jesus Christ . . . just thinking that, in our Western minds, it's nearly automatic to set someone like Mahonri up as a special case; someone who did something so unique that he was the only one (or one of a very few) who could do what he did. When, in reality, our Lord would be doing cartwheels if thousands of us got with the program and thrust ourselves through the veil in that very way.

    Anyway, just some thoughts . . .

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    Replies
    1. I love the imagery you just gave me of cartwheels.

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  4. I love these inspiring ideas. I love what I am learning. We were meant to know more, see more! The things that the Lord has in store for us is more than we can imagine. The Lord does not want to keep us from these things, but rather desires us to draw nearer and nearer through obedience.

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