Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why Did Jesus Anoint with Spittle and Clay to Heal a Blind Man?

While serving a mission in Ecuador, I was privileged to witness the healing of an elderly woman stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. She hadn’t been able to leave her bed for over six months. After having anointing her with consecrated oil, the local Elder’s Quorum President laid his hands upon her head and uttered a simple, but faith-filled sealing of the anointing. Later that evening, my companion and I saw her in a downtown park with her grandchildren, where she described to us how she literally felt the malady drain out of her body through her feet.

As Latter-day Saints, we follow James’ teachings on giving blessings: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick” (James 5:14-15). Consequently, James teaches a two-part ordinance; first anointing the afflicted with consecrated oil, and second sealing that anointing with a prayer of faith.

Knowing this procedure, it has always baffled me why the Savior would use spit and dirt to heal a man blinded from birth, as described in John 9. In another instance, Christ heals a man’s blindness at Bethsaida by simply spitting on his eyes and giving him a pair of priesthood blessings (see Mark 8:22-26).

With reference to the account in John, Jesus and his disciples encounter this man and the disciples query, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). This question apparently reveals the disciples’ understanding of a pre-existence. Christ answered saying, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). In other words, in all His omniscience, God had arranged this man’s maladies in order to demonstrate the Master Healer’s miraculous power over the physical body; over life and death. Indeed, this man was foreordained from the counsels in heaven to be blind so that Christ’s power could be made manifest therein.

[NOTE: Lazarus’ death and subsequent “resurrection” likely had the same implication. Concerning his sickness that eventually ended in his death, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4).]

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay” (John 9:6). The Savior, therefore, apparently fashions a make-shift mud pie out of some nearby dirt and his saliva, and subsequently coats the man’s eyes with it. He is then commanded to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” whereby he “washed, and came seeing” (John 9:7).

No consecrated oil, no laying on of hands, and apparently no prayer of faith. Yet the man was healed. So, what significance does the saliva or clay in the eyes serve for healing purposes?

I believe the Savior was teaching his disciples a much deeper lesson; one where he is typified as Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament and Creator of mankind. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col. 1:16).

In the creation account from Genesis, Moses describes the entrance of mankind as follows:

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:6-7).

As Moses details, Jehovah symbolically used a bit of water and dust to fashion man’s body. Thoughts of a potter’s clay come to mind. Christ’s disciples were likely well aware of these verses, yet they may not have understood the symbolic nature taught therein. That is, until they saw Christ, or Jehovah in the flesh, “create” new eyes for this blind man using essentially the same props as described in Genesis.

What is just as important, I believe, is the spiritual blindness of the blind man that is concurrently remedied. When questioned by his neighbors about his miraculous healing, he first referred to Christ as “a man that is called Jesus” (John 9:11). Later, upon be interrogated by certain Pharisees, he states that “[Jesus] is a prophet” (John 9:17). Gradually, as he is repeatedly questioned and discredited by the Pharisees, his testimony grows to where he testifies that Jesus is of God (John 9:30-33). When lastly confronted by the Savior, the man exclaimed, “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him” (John 9:38). Where he was once “spiritually” blind, he was now able to see and recognize his Lord and Savior.

Not unlike the blind man’s experience, Enoch was once commanded to “anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them” whereby he “beheld the spirits that God had created; and he beheld also things which were not visible to the natural eye” (Moses 6:35-36). Thus, Enoch’s eyes were opened as his spiritual blindness was alleviated.

I’m not entirely sure why clay was used in Enoch’s case, but the lesson still remains. All of us have need to be cured of our spiritual blindness so that we may clearly see God’s plan.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Seven Deadly Heresies - Part 6 (The Adam/God Theory)

It really has been a long time since I posted something substantive. Seriously, it has been about six or seven months. Now that I have gotten around to it, I want to continue from the previous postings of The Seven Deadly Heresies series from last year. As in previous posts, the Seven Deadly Heresies are taken from Elder Bruce R. McConkie's (in)famous talk (see here).

Effectively speaking, we are really on the downhill part of our clime after BRM took on blasphemies like organic evolution, eternal progression of God, and second chance salvation. Without further adieu, Elder McConkie's sixth heresy:

Heresy six: There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship.

The devil keeps this heresy alive as a means of obtaining converts to cultism. It is contrary to the whole plan of salvation set forth in the scriptures, and anyone who has read the Book of Moses, and anyone who has received the temple endowment, has no excuse whatever for being led astray by it. Those who are so ensnared reject the living prophet and close their ears to the apostles of their day. "We will follow those who went before," they say. And having so determined, they soon are ready to enter polygamous relationships that destroy their souls.

We worship the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost; and Adam is their foremost servant, by whom the peopling of our planet was commenced.
The source of the Adam/God theory comes from this Brigham Young quote:

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, the thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal.

Simply a Misreading?

I see some major issues with the simple approach by some apologists that BY was simply misunderstood. First, BY expected his associates to accept the doctrine or at least sit back and not complain if that person did not agree. Of the well-known conflicts between BY and Orson Pratt, the Adam-God theory was contentious.

In a great article by the Journal of Mormon Thought, Volume 13 Number 2, Summer 1980, page 13, the battle lines are drawn out:

The President took issue with Pratt's acceptance of Adam's having been created out of the dust of this earth. Young maintained "Adam came from another world & brought Eve with him partook of the fruits of the Earth begat children & they ware Earthly & had mortal bodies & if we are faithful we should become Gods as [Adam] was." Apostle Wilford Woodruff recorded that President "told Brother Pratt to lay aside his Philosofical reasoning & get revelation from God to govern & enlighten his mind more...[he] said [Pratt's] Phylosophy injured him in a measure...."

Pratt was not the only unwilling member to embrace certain of Young's views. Yet his calling as an Apostle placed him at the forefront of dissent. Following a strong Adam-God statement delivered during the October 1854 General Conference, one member observed, "[T]here were some that did not believe the sayings of the Prophet Brigham. Even our beloved Brother Orson Pratt told me he did not believe it."
Secondly, BY also claimed in the Deseret News, 18 June 1873, p. 308, that he was taught the doctrine by Joseph Smith.

How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me—namely that Adam is our Father and God—I do not know, I do not inquire, I care nothing about it. Our Father Adam helped to make this earth, it was created expressly for him, and after it was made he and his companions came here. He brought one of his wives with him, and she was called Eve, because she was the first woman upon the earth. Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or who ever will come upon the earth. I have been found fault with by the ministers of religion because I have said that they were ignorant. But I could not find any man on the earth who could tell me this, although it is one of the simplest things in the world, until I met and talked with Joseph Smith.
Current State of the Doctrine

Besides Elder McConkie's statements from The Seven Deadly Heresies, we have this statement from President Spencer W. Kimball from the October 1976 General Conference:

We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the Scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.
Now for the crux of this post. Based on my reading, BY claimed that he received this truth from Joseph Smith and by revelation. Spencer W. Kimball as successor with the appropriate keys as prophet, seer, and revelator, discredited the doctrine. My questions are (1) If Brigham Young did receive this by revelation, then where does this leave us?; (2) Does Spencer W. Kimball's use of priesthood keys take precedent?; (3) Is there any way that we can reconcile the two sides?; (4) Is it possible that we just don't know and the revelations as now received are not clear on this point? I say this under the assumption that many of our current methods of instruction are symbolic in nature (the temple).

For more information, check out as a great source for other theories.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Science Behind Biblical Creation (Part 2 of 2)

The following comrises part 2 of my comments regarding how the Biblical creation account may fit into what modern science today teaches about Earth's history. In Part 1, I commented on the First through the Third Creationary Periods. Below, I have included thoughts on the Fourth through the Sixth Creationary Periods.

[NOTE: Since I am neither an astrophysicist nor a biologist, I have placed my scientific references at the bottom of this post]

The Fourth Period – The Appearance of the Sun, Moon, and Stars

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; . . . And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so” (Gen. 1:14-15)

As explained previously, once the fusion of hydrogen and helium in the sun had commenced, light pressure gradually drove out the remaining gases and astro-dust of the original cloud from which the solar system was formed. Once driven out, the various heavenly bodies we see today progressivley became visible. During this period, the positions and motions of the various heavenly bodies were arranged to provide light, heat, and a means of keeping track of time.

The Fifth Period – The Creation of Sea Animals and Birds

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Gen. 1:20).

In significant agreement with scriptural accounts, both plant and animal life first appeared in the oceans. Once oxygen levels reached about 5% of our present value around 800 million years ago, more complex multicellular life besides cyanobacteria and green algae began to appear. About 600 million years ago there was a rapid increase in higher forms of life, and by 590 million years ago exoskeletal animals such as trilobites, brachiopods, and shelled mollusks appeared. Around 145 million years ago the first aviary species appeared.

The Sixth Period – The Creation of Land Animals and Man

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so” (Gen. 1:24)

The weathering of rocks on the Earth’s surface eventually produced soil to establish land plants that would one day provide food and oxygen for the land animals. Fossil records indicate that about 370 million years ago amphibian species appeared, while 20 million years later the earliest reptiles were present. Twenty 20 million years after that mammal-like reptiles emerged. Winged insects appeared around 310 million years ago, followed by dinosaurs around 240 million years ago. It wasn’t until 90 million years ago that marsupials, or placental animals (animals that develop their young in either a pouch, womb, or placenta), appeared.

Is is well documented, around 65 million years ago there was a period of mass extinction in which the dinosaurs and many other kinds of life disappeared. Some scientists believe this was the result of a massive asteroid crashing into our Earth’s surface. Interestingly, fossil records also indicate about 250 million years ago there was another massive extinction event. About 62 million years ago the first primates appeared. Rodents arrived on the scene about 45 million years ago, and hominids (man-like creatures) about 19 million years ago.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). Laying religion aside for the moment, from the scientific perspective, the first appearance of fossilized remains of homo sapiens (human beings) seems to have been about 125,000 years ago.

Emiliani, Cesare, “The Scientific Companion,” New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1988.

Rich, Patricia V., Thomas Hewitt Rich, Mildred Adams Fenton, and Carroll Lane Fenton, “The Fossil Book, A Record of Prehistoric Life,” 2d rev. ed. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.

Zeilik, Michael, Stephen A. Gregory, and Elske V. Smith, “Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics,” 3d ed. New York: Saunders College Publishing, 1992.

The Science Behind Biblical Creation (Part 1 of 2)

I tend to lean towards Abraham’s interpretation of the creation found in Abraham 4, wherein the Gods continually “prepared” or “organized” the several elements so that they might subsequently “bring forth” the desired outcome. Thus, in my opinion, Abraham teaches that the Gods did not simply snap their fingers and BAM! there is a whale or a mountain. Instead, they allowed things to progress according to the laws of nature and watched them until they obeyed correctly.

I recently read a post on Mormon Insights that does a good job of relating current scientific information to the Genesis creation account. Before reading the post I had been studying almost parallel to this line of reasoning and had encountered several interesting tidbits of information not shared by S.Faux (author of Mormon Insights). To merely add to what S.Faux has already laid out, I have separated the Six Creationary Periods and commented briefly on each to demonstrate that we may continue to believe in the creation story from the Bible and still accept what science has to offer. Because of the length, I will divide my comments into two separate posts. Below I have posted comments for the First through the Third Creationary period.

[NOTE: Since I am neither an astrophysicist nor a biologist, I have placed my scientific references at the bottom of this post]

PREFACE: The Bible is not a scientific treatise and should not be treated as such. However, as Brigham Young said, “The idea that the religion of Christ is one thing, and science is another, is a mistaken idea, for there is no true religion without true science, and consequently there is no true science without true religion” (JD, 17:35). Our emphasis, of course, must rest on true science and true religion. With this in mind, whenever there seems to be a conflict between the two, the revealed word of God must take precedence. In that same vein, however, we must be careful in our interpretation of revealed truth that we not “wrest the scriptures,” as Peter warns (2 Pet. 3:16), and attempt to draw conclusions that are not warranted.

The First Period – The Formation of our Solar System

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)

Using the most recent scientific dating techniques, scientists postulate that some 4.7 billion years ago there was a large cloud of dust and gas which began to rotate and collapse upon itself because of the mutual and intense gravitational forces present in the gas molecules and dust particles. Astrophysicists believe that this rotation may have been stimulated by the shock wave of a nearby supernova.

As the gas and dust cloud began to collapse, it gradually became denser and eventually blocked out the light completely, therefore, “darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2). Interestingly enough, today we see these dark clouds in which infrared telescopes show the process of the formation of new stars. One example of this is the Horse Head Nebula as shown at the right. As the cloud continued to collapse upon itself, regions at the center became especially dense and gradually increased the overall temperature to the point where it was able to sustain nuclear fusion and result in what we know today as our sun.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). Note that this light is not the same as spoken of in the fourth period. Instead, the creation of light during the first period may refer to the commencement of nuclear fusion in the core of the sun. Ever wonder why it took until the fourth period for the various “lights in the firmament of the heaven” (Gen. 1:14) to become visible? One explanation may be that it took some time before the incident light pressures of the sun could disperse the dark clouds of gas and dust by which the solar system was formed.

Smaller regions of high density distant from the sun eventually formed the planets of our solar system; and likely the comets and asteroids we can see. This Earth too was formed in the cloud of gas and dust. The decay of radioactive elements produced a rapid internal heating, which drove off the initial atmosphere of hydrogen and inert gases and subsequently melted the entire planet. In due time, the lighter materials rose to the surface to ultimately form the crust of the Earth, and the denser materials sank to form the molten nickel-iron core. Scientists postulate that the earth began to cool, and by about 3.7 billion years ago, the first continents appeared and plate tectonics began.

The Second Period – The Formation of the Atmosphere

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters” (Gen. 1:6)

The second period describes the formation of the earth’s atmosphere. About 4 billion years ago, volcanic activity caused by interior heating in the earth’s crust created an atmosphere containing gaseous water, methane, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. Ocean floors were formed by large objects crashing into the Earth’s crust, and ultimately the Earth’s surface cooled enough for water to condense and rain to fall and fill in the oceans – “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so” (Gen. 1:7).

Ozone was also formed during this period and filters out harmful ultraviolet light. Since ultraviolet light is lethal to most organisms, our ozone layer allows life to flourish. Also protecting the Earth’s surface is the electromagnetic field produced by its rotating liquid nickel-iron core. The field deflects the steady stream of harmful charged particles coming from the sun; i.e. solar wind and Van Allen radiation belts.

The Third Period – The Formation of the Oceans, the Continents, and Plant Life

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so” (Gen. 1:9).

Besides the great basins being formed by the infall of asteroids or other heavenly objects, plate tectonics served to fashion the Earth’s surface to allow for both ocean and dry land. As the various continental plates collided with each other, mountain ranges formed; a process that continues today.

When the Earth was first formed, it was far from being a favorable environment for life. The atmosphere, although consisting in great measure of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, sulfur, methane, etc, was lacking oxygen. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so” (Gen. 1:11). Plants are the obvious thing to place first because of their ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, thus preparing the earth for animal life.

Cyanobacteria, the oldest fossils dating back to 3.5 billion years ago, likely appeared first. The process of photosynthesis by the cyanobacteria began to release oxygen into the atmosphere. About 1.5 billion years ago, green algae, a more efficient photosynthesizer, began to appear. Land plants appeared much later, some 420 million years ago. The first appearance of flowering plants was not until about 120 million years ago, and grasses are not found until around 57 million years ago.


Emiliani, Cesare, “The Scientific Companion,” New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1988.

Rich, Patricia V., Thomas Hewitt Rich, Mildred Adams Fenton, and Carroll Lane Fenton, “The Fossil Book, A Record of Prehistoric Life,” 2d rev. ed. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.

Zeilik, Michael, Stephen A. Gregory, and Elske V. Smith, “Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics,” 3d ed. New York: Saunders College Publishing, 1992.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Predictions for New Apostle

As J. Golden Kimball used to say, and I am paraphrasing, one becomes a leader in the church through revelation or relation. With that thought in mind, I wanted to open the speculation for the newest member of the 12 to be announced tomorrow morning. Some of the strong candidates that I can think of are:

Kim Clark - President of BYU-Idaho, and President of Harvard Business School. Good PR.
Cecil Samuelson - President of BYU-Provo
Marlin Jensen - Church Historian
Richard Hinckley - I believe he is a 70 and there's nothing like being related to a former President
Yoshihiko Kikuchi - Potential first Apostle from Asia
Carlos Asay - or some other 70 from Latin America
Frank Vinceguerra - hymn passer-outer, home teacher and first to testify every fast Sunday in Concord, NH ward

I think that there is another Oaks in there too but I am not sure on his chances. Any other guesses?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mossad, 9/11 and.....Mormons?

In case you need an afternoon laugh to get you through the day, check out this OpEd piece from the self-proclaimed cause of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood.

You are welcome for the laugh.