Monthly Archives: February 2011

2011: A Plain Account of Christian Perfection As Believed and Taught by The Reverend Mr. John Wesley / John Wesley

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
As Believed and Taught by The Reverend Mr. John Wesley
From the Year 1725, to the Year 1777

It is not to be understood, that Mr. Wesley’s sentiments concerning Christian Perfection were in any measure changed after the year 1777. This tract underwent several revisions and enlargements during his life-time; and in every successive edition the date of the most recent revision was specified. The last revision appears to have been made in the year 1777; and since that period, this date has been generally continued on the title-page of the several editions of the pamphlet. — Editor]

1. What I purpose in the following papers is, to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian perfection. This I owe to the serious part of mankind, those who desire to know all “the truth as it is in Jesus.” And these only are concerned in questions of this kind. To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavouring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought, and why I thought so.

2. In the year 1725, being in the twenty-third year of my age, I met with Bishop Taylor’s “Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Dying.” In reading several parts of this book, I was exceedingly affected; that part in particular which relates to purity of intention. Instantly I resolved to dedicate all my life to God, all my thoughts, and words, and actions; being thoroughly convinced, there was no medium; but that every part of my life (not some only) must either be a sacrifice to God, or myself, that is, in effect, to the devil.

Can any serious person doubt of this, or find a medium between serving God and serving the devil

3. In the year 1726, I met with Kempis’s “Christian’s Pattern.” The nature and extent of inward religion, the religion of the heart, now appeared to me in a stronger light than ever it had done before. I saw, that giving even all my life to God (supposing it possible to do this, and go no farther would profit me nothing, unless I gave my heart, yea, all my heart, to him.

I saw, that “simplicity of intention, and purity of affection,” one design in all we speak or do, and one desire ruling all our tempers, are indeed “the wings of the soul,” without which she can never ascend to the mount of God.

4. A year or two after, Mr. Law’s “Christian Perfection” and “Serious Call” were put into my hands. These convinced me, more than ever, of the absolute impossibility of being half a Christian; and I determined, through his grace, (the absolute necessity of which I was deeply sensible of;) to be all-devoted to God, to give him all my soul, my body, and my substance

Will any considerate man say, that this is carrying matter too far or that anything less is due to Him who has given himself for us, than to give him ourselves, all we have, and all we are

5. In the year 1729, I began not only to read, but to study, the Bible, as the one, the only standard of truth, and the only model of pure religion. Hence I saw, in a clearer and clearer light, the indispensable necessity of having “the mind which was in Christ,” and of “walking as Christ also walked;” even of having, not some part only, but all the mind which was in him; and of walking as he walked, not only in many or in most respects, but in all things. And this was the light, wherein at this time I generally considered religion, as an uniform following of Christ, an entire inward and outward conformity to our Master. Nor was I afraid of anything more, than of bending this rule to the experience of myself; or of other men; of allowing myself in any the least disconformity to our grand Exemplar.

6. On January 1, 1733, I preached before the University in St. Mary’s church, on “the Circumcision of the Heart;” an account of which I gave in these words: “It is that habitual disposition of soul which, in the sacred writings, is termed’ holiness; and which directly implies, the being cleansed from sin `from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit;’ and, by consequence the being endued with those virtues which were in Christ Jesus the being so `renewed in the image of our mind,’ as to be `perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.”‘ (Vol. V., p. 203.)

In the same sermon I observed, “`Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment.’ It is not only `the first and great’ command, but all the commandments in one. `Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,’ they are all comprised in this one word, love. In this is perfection, and glory, and happiness: The royal law of heaven and earth is this, `Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ The one perfect good shall be your one ultimate end. One thing shall ye desire for its own sake, — the fruition of Him who is all in all. One happiness shall ye propose to your souls, even an union with Him that made them, the having `fellowship with the Father and the Son,’ the being `joined to the Lord in one spirit.’ One design ye are to pursue to the end of time, — the enjoyment of God in time and in eternity. Desire other things so far as they tend to this; love the creature, as it leads to the Creator. But in every step you take, be this the glorious point that terminates your view. Let every affection, and thought and word, and action, be subordinate to this. Whatever ye desire or fear, whatever ye seek or shun, whatever ye think speak, or do, be it in order to your happiness in God, the sole end, as well as source, of your being.” (Ibid., pp. 207, 208.)

I concluded in these words: “Here is the sum of the perfect law, the circumcision of the heart. Let the spirit return to God that gave it, with the whole train of its affections. — Other sacrifices from us he would not, but the living sacrifice of the heart hath he chosen. Let it be continually offered up to God through Christ, in flames of holy love. And let no creature be suffered to share with him; for he is a jealous God. His throne will he not divide with another; he will reign without a rival. Be no design, no desire admitted there, but what has Him for its ultimate object. This is the way wherein those children of God once walked, who being dead still speak to us: `Desire not to live but to praise his name; let all your thoughts, words, and works tend to his glory.’ `Let your soul be filled with so entire a love to Him that you may love nothing but for his sake.’ `Have a pure intention of heart, a steadfast regard to his glory in all you actions.’ For then, and not till then, is that `mind in us, which was also in Christ Jesus,’ when in every motion of our heart, in every word of our tongue, in every work of our hands, we `pursue nothing but in relation to him, and in subordination to his plea sure;’ when we too neither think, nor speak, nor act, to fulfil `our own will, but the will of Him that sent us;’ when, `whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do,’ we do it all `to the glory of God.”‘ (Ibid., p. 211.)

It may be observed, this sermon was composed the first of all my writings which have been published. This was the view of religion I then had, which even then I scrupled not to term perfection. This is the view I have of it now, without any material addition or diminution. And what is there here, which any man of understanding, who believes the Bible, can object to What can he deny, without flatly contradicting the Scripture what retrench, without taking from the word of God

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under LDS Conservative Christian Dialog

2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 3)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition
Steve St.Clair

Download the entire document as a PDF file by clicking this link.

Post 3: 1902AD – 2002AD


Theological Quarterly, Evangelical Lutheran Church


Yet, while we shall all be heirs of salvation, and though our bliss shall be perfect, and our glory great, in eternal life, we shall also differ from each other in various ways. In the world to come Moses will still be Moses, and Elias will be Elias, and in HIS flesh Job shall see God. Many from the east and west shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, every one ofthem, as each of the patriarchs, in his personal identity. There will be no propagation in heaven; for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in mrrrriage. Life in the future world will be a continuation of the same life, though under different conditions, in the present world. And as men pass from this world into the world to come, their works do follow them, not precede them, to prepare or purchase a place for them in heaven; for Christ has fully accomplished this, and we must not purchase or earn, but inherit the kingdom prepared for us. But the works of every heir of salvation, which he has done in this life, shall follow him to the life beyond. Not his evil works; for they are cast into the depth of the sea, blotted out, never to be remembered. But of his good works, not one shall be forgotten, not even the cup of cold water given to one of Christ’s little ones in the name of a disciple. And it shall not only be mentioned unto him, but he shall in no wise lose his reward. Christ will make good his promise. Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be. Here we sow; there we shall reap as we shall have sown. He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Thus there shall be degrees of glory in the kingdom of glory. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also in the resurrection of the dead. Yet the greater glory of the one shall not be a cause of envy, but a source of joy to the other. Neither shall they whose crown shall shine with brighter gems exalt themselves; but every one shall say, The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. The four and twenty elders shall fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.  The song of the glorified elect shall be as the new song which St. John was permitted to hear: Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wert slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests. . . .Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing! Thus shall the eternal glory of the righteous redound to the eternal glory of Him to whose cross and crown of thorns we shall owe our bliss and our crowns of glory, and whom, with immortal tongues, we shall for ever praise, our Savior and our God.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Jewish or Christian Spirituality, LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Doctrine, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ, Temple

2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 4)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition
Steve St.Clair – 2010

Download the entire document as a PDF file by clicking this link.

POST 4:  2002AD – Present


Asher Intrater, Messianic Jewish Leader in Isreal
Rewards in Heaven

Revive Website

The ultimate destiny of every man is either eternal bliss in paradise or eternal torment in the lake of fire. There is no middle ground.

Revelation 20:15

“Anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

The difference between these two final options is what motivates us to preach the gospel. Everyone will be saved or damned.

Among those who are being saved there are also different levels of reward. When Yeshua taught on prayer, fasting, and charity, he said that if we do these things with a pure heart, then we would receive reward in the world to come. If on the other hand, our motives were not pure, our reward would be canceled.

Matthew 6:4,6,18

“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

The people he is talking about here are “believers.” This is not a difference between being damned or saved, but rather a difference as to what reward you will receive in paradise. Each time we do righteous deeds with a pure heart, we store up for ourselves reward in heaven. To the degree that we act hypocritically, our rewards are nullified.

Since each action has a cumulative reward, every person will receive a different level of reward in the world to come.

In order to be saved, we must receive forgiveness of sins by faith in Yeshua’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Anyone who rejects the saving grace of Yeshua is damned (Mark 16:16). He who does believe in Yeshua passes out of this judgment and receives salvation (John 5:24). God does not seek to damn anyone, but He who rejects the offer of eternal life is in effect damned of his own (John 3:18).

In the sense of being condemned, a true believer in Yeshua is not “judged.” However, there is another meaning to the word “judge” which is not referring to damnation or salvation, but to reward and punishment. In this sense every believer will be judged.

II Corinthians 5:10

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the Body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

This statement of the Apostle Paul was made to born-again, spirit-filled believers. He included himself in this judgment when he said, “we.”

If all saved people will live eternally in paradise, and if paradise is such a perfect place, how could there be different levels of reward there? Let us examine four areas:

1. Position of authority

The world to come is a real society. Everyone will have a job. There will be positions of leadership and government.

Luke 19:17

“Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.”

Luke 19:19

“You also be over five cities.”

Luke 19:24

“Take the portion away from him, and give it to him who has ten.”

Some people will have authority over thousands (like ten cities). Others will have lesser positions (like five cities). Others will have jobs with no authority at all (like the one whose portion was taken away).

2. Magnitude of Glory

In the world to come, we will live in resurrected bodies. These bodies will be glorified, meaning that they will shine with light like stars by the power of God. But like the stars, not every person’s body will shine with the same degree of glory.

I Corinthians 15:39-42

“There are celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.”

The difference between our bodies now and our bodies after the resurrection will be like the difference between the earth (which doesn’t shine) and a star (which does shine). However, there is another difference. “For one star differs from another star in glory (vs. 41).” Just as there is a difference in the magnitude of light coming from each star, so will it be in the resurrection. Each person’s body will have a different degree of light shining from it – some more; some less.

3. Proximity to Yeshua

While all true believers will be physically present in the world to come, and while everyone will have access to meet Yeshua, not everyone will have the same proximity to Him on a day-to-day basis. John and James’ mother once came asking a request from Yeshua.

Matthew 20:21

“Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

While Yeshua could not grant her request, He did affirm the fact that there will be a certain “assigned seating” arrangements at events in the kingdom of God. As a citizen of Israel, I have general access to meet with the Prime Minister. However, only those on his immediate staff can meet with him every day. Only those with higher positions in the government can easily obtain an appointment with him. The degree of one’s accessibility to Yeshua is considered a great reward in the kingdom of God.

4. Heavenly “Treasure”

Sometimes people say, concerning money, “You can’t take it with you.” That is not entirely true. Just as there are banks on earth, there is some type of “banking” system in heaven.

Matthew 6:20

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and thieves do not break in and steal.”

You make a deposit in your account in heaven by giving money to others. I don’t know if there is an actual “currency” in the world to come. However, there must be some kind of “treasure” or what Yeshua said would be meaningless. Whatever that “treasure” is, there must be different degrees to which it can be “stored up.” There will be different quantitative rewards in the world to come.

When referring to rewards according to our works, we must remember that God looks at the heart and not at the outward appearance. Many things that seem to be great works in the eyes of men are nothing in the eyes of God. And many deeds that seem to be worthless in the eyes of men are of great value to God. Yeshua said of the poor widow who gave two small coins that she gave more than the great sums of money given by the wealthy (Luke 21:3). In what sense did she give more? Her gift was considered greater for its deposit in the heavenly bank because it took more faith and love to give it.

So it is with many other kinds of works. A great evangelist may be motivated by worldly ambition and even though he was used by God to save thousands, he may receive little reward in the world to come (Phil. 1:16). Another may only “succeed” in giving one cup of water, but thereby receive the same reward as a prophet (Matt. 10:41)! If you are just faithful in the very little thing that God has put in your path, you may receive an enormous reward in the world to come.

Some people think that it is unbiblical and selfish to be motivated by rewards in the world to come. But that is not true. It is wrong to be motivated by the honor of man rather than the honor of God (John 5:44), and by the carnal rewards of this life rather than the eternal rewards of the world to come (Hebrews 11:25-26).

In fact, the Bible says that we cannot even please God unless we believe that He will reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Behavioral science correctly teaches that rewards encourage certain behavior and punishments discourage. Yet the very concept of reward and punishment, both temporal and eternal, comes from God.

There will also be certain punishments among those who receive eternal life. How can there be punishments when a person is saved? Any sin that is repented of by a believer is washed by the blood of Yeshua and erased. Yet sin that is not repented of will receive punishment. Five of the seven churches in the book of Revelation received rebukes from Yeshua. He was not speaking primarily of their losing salvation, but of losing their rewards. By punishment here I do not mean damnation, but rather chastisement.

The Bible speaks of Yeshua having a “rod” that comes out of His mouth. By this I understand that the primary chastisement of believers in the world to come will not be torment by fire nor even physical beatings, but rather a firm and honest rebuke by Jesus, which will be witnessed by millions in the Day of Judgment.

Yeshua will not give us false compliments or flattery. If we have disobeyed Him, failed to fulfill our destiny, or simply led a carnal lifestyle, He will speak bluntly and authoritatively to the point. I would rather be burned with fire or receive a thousand lashes than to hear a word of disapproval from the lips of Yeshua on “that day.”

Luke 12:47-48

“That servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.”

This passage is not speaking of the damned. (That is covered in verse 46.) In any case, receiving a few more or less beatings could not apply to someone who would spend eternity in the lake of fire. There are degrees of responsibility and commitment in the kingdom of God. We are held responsible for what we know. The level of punishment is meted out accordingly.

So in the kingdom of God there will be different levels of reward and punishment. Some will receive more. Some will receive less. Some will receive nothing at all.

I Corinthians 3:14-15

“If anyone’s work that he has built on [the foundation which is Jesus Christ] endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved.”

We are saved through faith in Yeshua. That is our foundation. With that foundation a person builds his life with a quality like gold or silver, wood or hay. According to the life we live, we will be rewarded or not rewarded; we will be praised or rebuked.

There is an urgency to tell unbelievers that a day of judgment is coming where they will face either eternal damnation or salvation. There is likewise an urgency to tell believers that a day of judgment is coming – not for damnation or salvation, but for reward and punishment in the kingdom of God.

Continue reading


Filed under Jewish or Christian Spirituality, LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Doctrine, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ, Temple

2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 2)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition
Steve St.Clair – 2010

Download the entire document as a PDF File at this link.

POST 2:  1300AD – 1899AD


1300 AD

Falasha Anthology Translated by Wolf Leslau from Ethiopic Sources (1951)

Apocalypse of Gorgorios

Blessed be God, the Lord of Israel. This is the book of the prophet Gorgorios.

I said to the angel Michael: “Tell me about death and how the soul goes forth from the body.” He said to me: “I shall tell thee how the soul leaves the body,” and he said to me: “Death is bitter and painful to the righteous and the sinners as well, but for the man of good deeds it is salvation and rest when soul and body are separated. The bitterness of death is bearable for him because he sees gathered around him the beautiful angels whose faces are fair and full of mercies; they wear bright crowns and they receive the soul with praise and song. They bless the angel who stayed with him, drive away from him the unclean spirits, and raise his soul to Heaven with blessings, praise, and song.”

“The death of the sinner is desolate. His departure from this ephemeral world is as follows: the angels of calamity who have no mercy, the ill-favored, disfigured, are sent to him. The soul of the sinner is entrusted to them in a terrible punishment. Then the evil spirits who were with him and devoured him come to him. When the man sees them he will repent that he did not accomplish good deeds in his lifetime. More punishment is inflicted upon him, and they raise his soul to Heaven in great pain and sore calamity and smite it with sticks of fire.”

The angel said to me: “Look down upon the earth.” Behold, I saw thousands and thousands of radiant angels, well favored, dressed in ornamented garments, who praised and sanctified God saying: “Praise, glory, and greatness are proper for Thee, for Thou art the grace of the righteous, the crown of the pure, the greatness of the humble, and the strength of the weak.”

Then I saw an old good man who had died, and the angels raised his soul aloft. This soul was as bright as the sun. The angels received it and said joyfully: “0 soul, thine affliction passed away because of God’s word, and thou wilt find mercy at His side forever.” After they had raised this soul to Heaven, all the angels shouted and said: “Praise to God alone, the Holy.” And they said to this soul:”Peace and felicity to thee, forever,” and they blessed the angel who was with her. Then I heard God’s voice saying: “Bring this soul that she may rejoice and receive the fruit of her deeds and find her reward.” The soul then prostrated herself with fear. The angel said to her: “Fear not, 0 soul, for thou hast accomplished good deeds before they raised thee. It will be reckoned to thee as righteousness and thou shalt receive the treasures of grace full of joy and gladness.” I also heard God saying: “Place this soul with the souls of the hermits who are secluded and live on the mountains and hills serving God.”

Then the angel said to me: “Look.” And from the earth to Heaven, thousands and thousands of spirits disfigured, angels with dark faces from whose mouths burning charcoal came forth and who held sticks of fire in their hands. I saw it and was frightened and said to the angel: “What is this terrifying sight?” He said to me: “It is for a bad king who abandoned justice and was iniquitous.”

And the order came from God to take his soul by force at the hand of bitter Death. And these, the angels of calamity and of wrath, were sent to him. Then I saw a dark one whose odor was bad and whose teeth and nails were of fire. As for the soul, she shouted and lamented: “Pity me, pity me.” When she shouted they poured upon her burning charcoal from Heaven. When she drew nigh a sheet of fire like a wave of the sea came and hit her and brought her down to earth. Then the angels said: “Let us take her away.” And I saw the angels and the spirits raise her as before, and they brought her to Heaven and said: “Bring not in this soul. She is unclean, since she was rebellious against her Creator and chose the earthly kingdom in vain rather than the Heavenly Kingdom and followed the commandments of Satan.” Then a voice came from Heaven saying: “Say to this unclean and bad soul that she confess her faults and the sins she has committed.” The soul answered, trembling: “I did things in my kingdom which were not proper, without thinking of the future or of the judgment that will overcome me.” The angels said: “Woe unto thee, 0 soul! Didst thou not hear the words of the prophets and the commandments of God? Didst thou not read the words of the Scriptures? Didst thou not see the wonders of God upon the earth and His marvels in this world?” The soul answered and said: “I have confidence, 0 Lord, in Thy grace.” The angels said to her: “When thou didst walk upon the earth we were gracious to thee there. Hadst thou made thy ways and doings good, thou wouldst have inherited the Heavenly King­dom, but now thou wilt be rewarded according to thine ac­tions.” Then I heard the voice of God saying: “Bring this soul to the rebellious, iniquitous, transgressors, and unclean so that she be there in her punishment until the day of retribution.”

Behold, the angels shouted in a loud voice saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Saba’ot, perfect in His deeds, the merciful and gra­cious, who exalts the humble and destroys the strong. Thou alone art the King of justice, the Lord of the law, and the Judge of judges.”

Then the angel Michael said to me: “I have shown thee the departure of the souls of the sinners and of the just. And now follow me and I shall let thee see the place where the good and pure live.” Then he held my hand and brought me into a wide place, the charm of which was like a precious pearl of various colors that shines like bright stars and like lamps that ravish the eyes. There were in it thousands of doors of sapphire brighter than the sun. The floor of this place was white as silver and as mirrors. Behold, a large stream and small springs flowing with light, and the stones of this stream were precious pearls, topazes, carbuncles, hyacinths, and emeralds. And around this stream were tall and short trees. It seemed a valley. Among all the trees there was not a dry one nor a fallen-down leaf nor a spoiled fruit. The odor of these trees was sweeter than all the odors upon the earth. When the dead in the graves smell this odor they will wake up and live. That place had no sun nor moon, but its light exceeded the light of the sun, and the darkness of the night came not near it and found it not.

Then I marveled, praised and blessed God. The angel said to me: “Marvel not, 0 Gorgorios. This is the Paradise in which Adam and Eve lived; in it there is neither odor nor cold nor sadness. If they had not transgressed the commandment of God they would have remained in it, they and their children, without affliction, sorrow, sickness, death, sin, or iniquity. God knew in advance what would happen.” I said to Michael: “Who lives in this place?” He said to me: “Those who observe the law of God will stay here.”

Then Michael said to me: “Follow me and I shall let thee see the temple containing the tabernacle built in Paradise of old in the name of the Holy God.” I followed him and I saw the Temple of the Most High that preserved its length and width and was built of green emerald, the light of which shone in Paradise. And behold, columns and vaults, topazes, red hyacinths, and gold, and images of sky color adorned with precious pearls. The silent angels praised God and said: “Praise to the most high God who is above.” And all the creatures of Heaven and earth were frightened.

There was in it a white sea pearl which shone brightly, and if one opened the interior of this Seyon it would illuminate the ends of the earth. Its light was brighter than the light of the sky. It was made of a shiny pearl and of pure gold, and the crown on its top was made of a green pearl like an emerald, adorned with three white pieces of silver that shone with so brilliant a light that no eye could look at it.

Behold, there were present four angels adorned like a rose-colored pearl and like a pearl of sky color set in pure gold tried in the fire. A voice came out of their mouths saying: “Holy is the King who dwells in the residence of the Holy.” And the wood of the ark was like a white pearl, and nothing was like it in length and width. Images appeared whose colors vied with each other; they appeared first red, then green, then sky color, lily color, and other colors. Then I marveled, I fell on my face, and cried. The angel said to me: “What makes thee cry?” I said: “Be­cause of the marvels God did to the sons of men; they are foolish but God maintains them.”

The angel said to Gorgorios: “Now thou wilt see something that is greater than anything that is on earth and in Heaven. They are those who serve God with a pure heart. Who can know God?” I perceived a sound of songs and melodies that re­joiced the heart, praise, hymns, and a light that appeared like lightning, and a fragrance that revived the dead. Then I turned back and behold there was a woman dressed in purple and no eye could look at her because of her splendor. I marveled, praised God, then fled and knew not where I was. And when my mind was restored I said to the angel: “What is this marvel?” And he said to me: “This is the Heavenly Jerusalem.” I said to the angel: “For whom is it prepared?” He said to me “Read what is written on the door of the tabernacle of the sanctuary.” And behold, I saw a Roman inscription written in various lights that said: “This is the Heavenly Jerusalem for the one who gave himself for God’s word, for those who despised the glory of the ephemeral world, for those who retired to the hills and caverns, and for the hermits who served God.”

Then Michael said to me: “Now come and follow me and I shall show thee the punishment of Hell for the men who denied God, for the rebellious, the evil, and disobedient who did bad deeds before God.” The angel took me and placed me on the top of a high mountain and said to me:  “Turn back and look to thy right.” And behold, I saw a big deep river flowing with pitch, dark as lead; burning charcoal came out of it, and it boiled like a pot; it was fetid. It flowed like the river of Egypt. Men were in it, suspended by their feet, and their heads were turned downward. They trembled and fainted. Then I wept and wailed; a great trembling and quaking fell upon me. I fell on my face and said to the angel: Who are those, 0 Lord?” He said to me: “These are those who denied God and returned to sin. They will undergo this punishment that thou seest forever.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Jewish or Christian Spirituality, LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Doctrine, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ, Temple

2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 1)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition

Steve St.Clair – 2010

Download the entire document as a PDF File at this link.

POST 1:  Old Testament Period – 1290AD

List of Sources

Date Author or Translator Title or Content
Old Testament / First and Second Temple Period Rachel Elior The Merkavah and the Sevenfold Pattern
Old Testament / First and Second Temple Periods Dr. Joseph P. Schultz Angelic Opposition to the Ascension of Moses and the Revelation of the Law (1971
Old Testament / Second Temple Period Paul M. Joyce Ezekiel 40-42- The Earliest ‘Heavenly Ascent’ Narrative? (2007)
Old Testament / Second Temple Period Dr. James D. Tabor Ascent to Heaven in Antiquity (1992)
Old Testament / Second Temple Period Christopher A. Morray-Jones The Temple Within (excerpts) (2007)
200 BC – 100 AD? 1985 Publication in English by M. A. Knibb The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
200 BC – 100 AD? Levi’s Ascent Testament of Levi
New Testament Period Emma Disley Scriptural Basis of Degrees of Glory (1991)
70 – 155 AD Papias of Hierapolis Many Mansions; A share is given to all by Father,  according as each one is or shall be worthy
120 AD Translation by R.H. Charles, 1896 Nature Of Resurrection Body; Final Destinies Of Righteous And Wicked
125 – 200 AD St. Irenaeus There Shall Be Various Mansions For Saints, According To Rank Allotted To Each Individual
150 – 216 AD Clement of Alexandria Degrees Of Glory In Heaven Corresponding With Dignities Of Church Below
150 – 216 AD Clement of Alexandria Degrees of Glory in Heaven
160 – 230 AD Tertullian How Many Mansions In Father’s House, If Not Diversity Of Deserts? How Will One Star Differ From Another Unless By Effort, Suffering, Torture, Death?
200 AD Sifre on Deuteronomy Seven and Thirty and Sixty Degrees in Paradise, Faces like Sun, Moon, Stars, Planets, Lightning
160-200 AD (Greek Original) English translation by M.R. James in 1924 Punishment of Hell, Glories of Paradise
100 BC—250 AD (Dates of Texts) Moses Gaster, Ph.D. Hebrew Visions of Hell and Paradise (1893)
185 – 254 AD Origen One Is Glory Of Sun, Another Glory Of Moon, Another Glory Of Stars; One Star Differeth From Another Star In Glory; According To That Gradation, Which Exists Among Heavenly Bodies, Let Them Show Differences In Glory Of Those Who Rise Again
185 – 254 AD Origen Many Mansions
270 – 345 AD Aphrahat of Persia Know That Even When Men Shall Enter Into Life, Yet Reward Shall Excel Reward, Glory Shall Excel Glory, Recompense Shall Excel Recompense; Degree Is Higher Than Degree; Light Is More Goodly Than Light In Aspect
306 – 373 AD Ephrem the Syrian Paradise Has Four Levels: The Summit, The Heights, The Slopes, And The Lower Parts; The Inhabitants Of These Regions Are Correspondingly: God, The Victorious, The Righteous, And The Repentant
330 – 379 AD St. Basil the Great For Among The Glories Of The Saints Are “Many Mansions” In The Father’s House; That Is Differences Of Dignities
330 – 389 AD Gregory Nazianzen Are There Many Mansions In God’s House, Or Only One? Of Course You Will Admit That There Are Many, And Not Only One
349 – 407 AD St. John Chrysostom In Hell & In Kingdom One Will Find Many Differences; In My Fathers House Are Many Mansions; One Glory Of Sun, Another Glory Of Moon, Difference In That World Between One Star & Another
349 – 407 AD St. John Chrysostom Having Made Two Ranks Of Righteous & Of Sinners, These He Subdivides Into Many Parts, Signifying That Neither Righteous Nor Sinners Shall Obtain Same; Neither Righteous Alike With Other Righteous, Nor Sinners With Other Sinners
350 AD? Pseudo-Macarius Passages on Ascents Prefiguring Resurrection
200 – 460 AD M.R. James Translation of 1924, from Latin,  corrected with Greek and Syriac as needed. Paul’s Ascent to Paradise & Descent to Hell, With Numerous Different Rewards & Punishments
380 AD – 450 AD ( Time of Jovinianist controversy) Christopher John Gousmett, Ph.D Shall the Body Strive and Not be Crowned?
389AD St. Ambrose & The Council of Milan They Place Every Thing Level, Abolish Different Degrees Of Merit & Have Meagreness In Heavenly Rewards, As If Christ Had Only One Palm To Bestow & No Copious Diversity In His Rewards
393 AD St. Jerome (345-420 AD) Defense Of All Scriptures As Basis For Degrees Of Merit, & Refutation Of All Scriptural Argments In Opposition
427 AD St. Jerome (345-420 AD) In Father’s House Many Mansions & Different Degrees Of Merit; Sun Has Its Own Splendour, Moon Tempers Darkness Of Night; Five Heavenly Bodies Called Planets Traverse Sky In Different Tracks & With Different Degrees Of Luminousness; Countless Other Stars Whose Movements We Trace In Firmament & Each Has Its Own Brightness
420 AD St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) Who Can Conceive, Not To Say Describe, What Degrees Of Honour & Glory Shall Be Awarded To Various Degrees Of Merit? Yet It Cannot Be Doubted That There Shall Be Degrees & That There Shall Be This Great Blessing, That No Inferior Shall Envy Any Superior
354-430 AD St. Augustine of Hippo Albeit One Be Stronger Than Another, One Wiser Than Another, One More Righteous Than Another, One Holier Than Another; In Father’s House Are Many Mansions; None Shall Be Estranged From That House; A Mansion For Each According To His Deserving
354-430 AD St. Augustine of Hippo After The Resurrection There Shall Be Two Distinct Kingdoms, One Of Eternal Happiness, The Other Of Eternal Misery;  Among Both There Will Be Degrees Of Happiness And Misery
354-430 AD St. Augustine of Hippo Yet Star Differeth From Star In Glory; So Also Resurrection Of Dead. These Are Different Merits Of Saints; If By That Penny Heaven Were Signified, Have Not All Stars In Common To Be In Heaven?
344 – 407 AD St. John Chrystostom There Being Not Only Difference Between Sun, Moon, Stars, But Also Between Stars; Some Have Larger, Others Less Glory. What Do We Learn From Hence? That Although They Be All In God’s Kingdom, All Shall Not Enjoy Same Reward
400 – 500 AD? Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Celestial Hierarchy Of Three Heavens, Each Separated Into Three Additional Groups; From This Order, In Due Degree, Second, & From Second, Third, And From Third Our Hierarchy Religiously Conducted To Beginning Above Beginning, & End Of All Good Order,
300 AD—600 AD (1983 Translation by Mueller and Robins in OTP, vol. 1) Vision of Ezra (Christian Apocalypse) Elect Are Those Who Go Into Eternal Rest On Account Of Confession, Penitence, Largesse In Almsgiving; What Do Just Do In Order That They May Not Enter In Judgment? Just As Servant Who Performed Well For His Master Will Receive Liberty, So Too Will Just In Kingdom Of Heaven
521 AD Jacob of Sarug (451 -521 AD)  Translated By Thomas Kollamparampil 2008 Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on the Resurrection
600 AD Ruth Rabbah 3:3-4 Heavenly Rewards and Heavenly Canopies with Different Numbers of Pearls
600 AD (Wolf Leslau, Translator) Falasha Anthology Translated from Ethiopic Sources (1951) Michael Will Blow Trumpet For Third Time, & All Dead Will Be Resurrected In Twinkling Of An Eye; Glory Of Some Will Be Greater Than Sun, Others Will Stand Up In Honor, Still Others In Misery; King Of Heaven & Earth Will Come & Reward All Men According To Their Deeds
650 AD John Climacus (595-650), Monastic Leader, Mt. Sinai Desert May This Ladder Teach You Spiritual Disposition Of Virtues; I Am At Summit Of Ladder, & As My Great Initiate (St Paul) Said: So Faith, Hope, Love Abide, These Three; But The Greatest Of These Is Love
700 AD Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian) Eastern Christian Monk What is Heaven? – St Isaac of Syria
1000 AD St. Symeon the New Theologian (942-1022) Discourses On Christ’s Resurrection, Extasy In The Light, How Not To Lose The Kingdom Of Heaven, And The Final Reward
1150 AD? St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153) (French abbot & Leader of  order) Il y a Plusieurs Demeures Dans La Maison De Mon Père; Le Sens De Ces Paroles Est, Vous Régnerez Avec Moi Dans La Vie Éternelle En Laquelle il y a Plusieurs Demeures, C’est-À-Dire Plusieurs Dignités; En Cet Heureux Séjour, Autre Est La Clarté Du Soleil, Autre Celle De La Lune, Autre Celles Des Étoiles
1151 AD Peter Lombard (1100—1160AD) Just As Lighting Up Of Bodies Will Be Different, So Glory Of Souls Will Be Different; For Star Differeth From Star, That Is, One Elect, From Another, In Glory Of Mind & Soul
1155 AD Richard Of St. Victor (1110-1173), Leader of Cistercian Order How Third Level Differs From & Rises Above Second; How Fourth Level Differs From & How Much It Rises Above Third
1160 AD Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1166) The Perfection of the Coming Life: Lord Thus Distinguished Various Degrees Even Among The Perfect; You Know That Among Saints There Are Distinctions Of Reward, Just As Of Merit
1208 AD St. Dominic (1170-1221); Catholic Saint and Theologian The Faithful Children Of The Rosary Shall Merit A High Degree Of Glory In Heaven
1208 AD (Oldest Date for Text) Translated Into English By Rev. Dr. Jacques Issaverdens (1901) Concerning The Inquiries Made By The Prophet Esdras Of The Angel Of The Lord Concerning The Souls Of Men; There Are In It Seven Steps Up To The Divinity
1259 AD (Latin); St. Bonaventure (1221 – 1274):  Franciscan Monk, Doctor of Catholic Church These Six Levels of Ascent Are Six Steps Of True Throne Of Solomon By Which One Ascends To Peace; On Six Wings Of Cherub By Which Contemplative Man Grows Strong, Filled With Supreme Wisdom
1290 AD Moses De Leon (or Rabbi Shim’on Bar Yohai) The Multiplicity Of Rewards That Await Mankind In The World To Come In the Zohar
1300 AD Falasha Anthology Translated by Wolf Leslau from Ethiopic Sources (1951) Apocalypse of Gorgorios
1300’s AD Helmut A. Hatzfeld Linguistic Investigation of Old French High Spirituality (1946)
1472 (Italian); 1814 (English) Dante Alighieri  (1265 – 1321):  Italian Poet While There Are Different Degrees Of Reward In Heaven (The Light Shining More In Some Places, In Other Places Less), Light Of God Still Shines Abundantly For All; Dante Sees Divisions Of Heaven; Just As There Are Three Parts To Hell & Purgatory, So Three Parts Of Heaven
1474 (Published in Latin); 1487 (French) Ludolphe le Chartreux / Ludolph of Saxony (c. 1300 — 1378) Catholic Philosopher Des Peines De L’enfer Et De La Gloire Céleste
1510 (Latin) St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) The Happiness Of The Saints And Their Mansions; & Of The Aureoles (Circles Of Light Or Radiance Surrounding The Head Or Body Of Sanctified Persons, Saints & Angels)
1580; 1882 (Spanish); 1888 (English) St. Theresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) The Effects Of The Divine Graces In The Soul; The Inestimable Greatness Of One Degree Of Glory
1600 (Latin); 1864 (First English Translation) St. Francis de Sales (Saint and Doctor of the Church) Each of Blessed In His Own Degree Of Glory, Continually Singing Before God; As Every One Of Saints Had Gifts Of God In Different Way, So Every One Of Blessed Sings His Praises In Different Way, & Yet All Harmonize In One Concert Of Love
1616 (French Publication) St. Francois de Sales (St. Francis de Sales) (1557—1622) Now This Light Of Glory Will Regulate Sight & Contemplation Of Blessed, & According As We Have Less Or More Of That Holy Brightness, We Shall See Less Or More Clearly & Blessedly That Godhead Wherein We Shall Attain To Various Degrees Of Glory
1617; 1832 (Boston) William Fulke (1538-1589) English Puritan divine As Stars Differ In Glory, Not According To Their Merits, But According To God’s Gift In Their Creation, So Bodies Of Saints Shall Differ In Glory, Not According To Their Merits, But According To God’s Free Gift In Resurrection
1622 Jacob Boehme, German Christian Mystic Of Heaven and Hell; a Dialogue Between a Scholar and His Master
1631 John Donne (1572 –  1631):  British Anglican preacher and poet We Deny Not This Difference Of Degrees Of Glory In Heaven; But That Frame, & That Scale Of These Degrees, Which They Have Set Up In Roman Church, We Do Deny
1632 (Latin) John Cameron (1529-1623):  Scottish Calvinist Theologian Fifteen Arguments In Favour Of Heavenly Degrees Of Glory, Each Of Which Carefully Refuted, & Twelve Arguments Against, Which He Defends, Concluding That Elect In Heaven Are Equal In Glory
1651 (French); 1810 (26th English Edition) Charles Drelincourt (1595-1665) Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ Ne Dit Pas Qu’il Y A Plusieurs Étages Ou Plusieurs Appartemens, Dont Les Uns Sont Plus Beaux Et Plus Riches Que Les Autres, Mais Simplement Qu’il Y A Plusieurs Demeures Dans La Maison De Son Père
1651 (French); 1810 (26th English Edition) Charles Drelincourt (1595-1665) As Light Of Firmament Differs Much From That Of Bright Stars; & As Among Stars There Is Diversity Of Light; In Like Manner There Shall Be Divers & Different Degrees Of Glory Amongst Blessed In Heaven
1657 Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664) French Calvinist Protestant theologian and metaphysician De Forte Que Nous Parviendrons A La Gloire Comme Celuy Qui Court En Lice, Qui Void Le But Où Il Tend; Au Lieu Que Nous Parviendrons A Ses Plus Hauts Degrés Comme Les Rameurs, Qui Tournent Toujours Le Dos Au Port Auquel En Fin  Pourtant Ils Arrive
1659 Johann C. Dannhauer (1603-1666) German Philosopher and Theologian (In Response to J. C. Sondershausen) An In Vita Aeterna Futuri Sint Gloriae Gradus? (Answered in Affirmative)
1662; last English publication in 1866 Thomas  Brooks (1608 – 1680): Puritan Clergyman Lastly, To provoke you to labor after higher degrees of holiness, consider that the more holiness you have here—the more happiness you shall have hereafter. The more grace you have on earth—the more glory you shall have in heaven.
1665 John Bunyan (1628 – 1688) In Temple Were Chambers Bigger & Lesser, Higher & Lower, More Inward & More Outward: Which Chambers Were Types Of Mansions That Our Lord Told Us He Went To Prepare For Us
1669 Johannes Cocceius (1603 – 1669) (Dutch religious thinker) A noticeable feature of Cocceius’s account of both eternal punishment & eternal glory is that he spoke repeatedly in terms of steps & degrees (W.J. Van Asselt, 1999)
1686 Johan C. Van Bleiswijkt Geestlyck Graad-boek (“On the Degrees of Future Rewards and Punishments”)
1695 (1815 Publication in Versailles) Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) French Catholic Bishop and Theologian Il y a plusieurs demeures dans la maison de mon Père; s’il n’en était pas ainsi, je vous le dirais.
1695 (died) John Scott, DD., Rector of St. Giles’s in the Fields, London The Christian Life: From Its Beginning to Its Consummation in Glory
1699 Jane Leade (1624 – 1704):  Christian Mystic, Founder of Philadelphian Movement The Ascent to the Mount of Vision
1700 William Burkitt (1650 – 1703) Learn Hence, That There Are Degrees Of Glory In Heaven, Probably According To Measures & Degrees Of Service We Have Done For God On Earth; There Is, No Doubt, An Equality Of Glory There, As To Essentials, But Not With Respect To Accidentals
1701 (First Publication) His Holiness St. Leon, Pope (Actual Name Jean-Baptiste Morvan de Bellegarde) Des degrez pour monter à la Beatitude
1703 (Latin); 1827 (English Translation) Dr. George Bull (1634–1710): English theologian & Bishop of St David’s Different Degrees Of Bliss & Glory In Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom Answer To Different Degrees Of Grace Here Below; Several Objections Against This Doctrine Are Answered
1707 John Norris, M.A. (1657 – 1711)), Rector of Bremerton Church near Serum That There Are Degrees Of Glory, Though By Some Much Contested, Is Yet I Think Most Certain & Unquestionable Truth; Certainty Of Which I Shall Endeavour To Establish Upon These Few Evident Principles
1716 (English); 1826 (English) August Hermann Francke (Important German Pietist Leader) Three Practical Discourses: I. Of The Love Of God. II. Of Charity To The Poor. III. Of The Differing Degrees Of Glory
1717 David Constant de Rebecque (1638-1733): Pastor / Philospher, Lausanne, Switzerland Discours sur les degrés de gloire (Discourse on the Degrees of Glory)
1723; Reprinted in London in 1830 Thomas Green, (Church of England Bishop of Norwich) Of The Different Degrees Of Glory And Happiness In Heaven
1728 Date of Death Joseph Boyse (1660–1728), Presbyterian minister and religious writer Sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:8: The Different Degrees of Future Rewards
1731; 1815 (American Edition in Philadelphia) Thomas Ridgley (c.1576–1656) Whether There Are Degrees Of Glory In Heaven?
1732 John Wesley (1703 – 1791) On The Resurrection of The Dead
1733 Adam Lebrecht Müller Significant investigation of Matters of Eternal Life (Gradus Vitae: Oder Deutliche Untersuchung derer Stuffen des Ewigen Lebens)
1737 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) Many Mansions
1738; republished in 1820 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) Not Only Higher Degrees Of Glory In Heaven, But Heaven Itself, Is Given In Reward For Holiness & Good Works Of Saints; God May Bestow Heaven’s Glory Wholly Out Of Respect To Christ’s Righteousness, & Yet Reward Man’s Inherent Holiness In Different Ways
1739 (English Publication Date) Rev. Dr. Thomas Burnet, British Theologian (1635-1715) Treatise Concerning the State of Departed Souls Before and At and After the Resurrection
1740 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) All Christians Should Follow His Example & Should Not Content Themselves With Thought That They Have Goodness Enough To Carry Them To Heaven, But Should Earnestly Seek High Degrees Of Glory; For Higher Degrees Of Glory Are Promised To Extraordinary Labors For God, For No Other Reason, But That We Should Seek Them
1748 Charles Louis de Villette:  Minister of French Huguenot Church of St. Patrick in Dublin, Ireland Essai sur la Felicite de la Vie a Venir (An Essay on the Felicity of the Life to Come)
1755 John Wesley (1703 – 1791):  English Reformer There Is Inconceivable Variety In Degrees Of Reward In Other World; Let Not Any Slothful One Say, If I Get To Heaven At All, I Will Be Content; Such A One May Let Heaven Go Altogether
1756; 1822 (American Publication) William Law (1686-1761), English cleric and theological writer Whilst We Are Labouring After Christian Perfection, We Are Labouring For Eternity, Building To Ourselves Higher Stations In Joys Of Heaven
1756 (London and Boston) John Gill, British Baptist Calvinist Theologian (1697 – 1771) The Glorious State of the Saints in Heaven
1757 Publication Date John Conybeare, D.D. (1692-1755) Episcopal Bishop of Exeter Sermon on 1st John 3:2: Different Degrees of Happiness in a Future State
1758 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) New England Stone Carving And Its Symbols (Allen I. Ludvig, 1975)
1758 (Teubingen) Johann Friedricht Cotta Dissertatio Historico-Theologica Prior de Diversis Gradibus Gloriae Beatorum
1758 (Latin) Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1722) Heaven and Its Wonders and Hell (excerpts)
1759 (England); Reprinted 1813 (England) Isaac Watts (1674-1748) English Non-Conforming Protestant Theologian and Author of Hymns The World To Come; Or Discourses On The Joys Or Sorrows Of Departed Souls At Death, And The Glory Or Terror Of The Resurrection
1770 John Flavel  (1627 – 1691):  English Presbyterian clergyman and scholar We Reject With Abhorrence Popish Doctrine Of Diversity Of Glories As Founded In Diversity Of Merits
1770 Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778) British Calvinistic divine and author, a Premillennialist The Millenium and Degrees of Glory
1773 Johann Friedricht Cotta Dissertatio Dogmatico-Polemica de Diversis Gradibus Gloriae Beatorum
1793 Charles Louis de Villette:  Minister of French Church of St. Patrick in Dublin, Ireland An Essay on the Felicity of the Life to Come
1797 Publication date James Hervey  (1714 – 1758)  British Calvinistic Clergyman In World Above Are Various Degrees Of Happiness, Various Seats Of Honour – Some Will Rise To More Illustrious Distinctions And Richer Joys
1797 Johann Friedrich Flatt (1759 – 1821) German theologian and philosopher Remarks about the proportion of morality and Felicitousness in relation to the doctrine of Christianity (Bemerkungen uber die proportion der Sittlichtkeit und Glukseeligkeit in Beziehung auf die lehre des Christenthums von der kunktigen Seeligkeit gebesserter Menschen)
1805 Publication Date Philip Doddridge (1702 -1751) There Shall Indeed Be Some Difference In Degree Of That Glory, Correspondent To Different Excellencies In Characters Of Good Men
1807 Solomon Chamberlain (Early Convert to Mormonism) Chamberlain’s Vision of Three Heavens
1808 Publication date Joseph Hall (1633-1710), Bishop of Exeter and Norwich, England Discoursing Of Different Degrees Of Heavenly Glory; Of Our Mutual Knowledge Of Each Other Above
1809 Publication Date In London Samuel Drew (1765-1833) British Wesleyen Theologian Essay on the Identity and General Resurrection of the Human Body
1820 Publication (Edinburgh, Scotland) Hugh Blair, Scottish Theologian (1718 – 1800) Sermon X – On The Immortality Of The Soul, and A Future State.
1820 Editor: Samuel C. Loveland The Christian Repository, (Universalist Journal published in Vermont) Magazine Masthead: In my Father’s house are many mansions.—Jesus
1821 Letter to the Editor Covenant That Assigns To Greater Degrees Of Grace Here, Greater Degrees Of Glory Hereafter
1822 Publication date Henry Kollock  (1778-1819): Pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church Sermon 82:  Degrees of Glory in Heaven
1824 Publication date John Angell James  (1785-1859):  British Congregational Minister and prolific author Many Mansions & Degrees of Glory in Resurrection
1829 Alexander Campbell; Founder of Campbellite Restorationist Movement The Three Kingdoms
1830 St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church: Sections on the life-to-come and Heavenly Rewards
1832—1835 Joseph Smith (1805-1844) Doctrine and Covenants 76 Sources
1833 (London) Richard Mant, D.D., M.R.I.A. (1776-1848) Lord Bishop of Down and Conner; English churchman and writer Different Degrees Of Happiness Among The Blessed
1833 (Cambridge; Available in U.S.) Bernard Whitman (Calvinist Scholar) Friendly Letters to a Universalist on Divine Rewards and Punishments
1835 Joseph Smith (1805 – 1844) The Three Degrees of Glory (D&C Section 76)
1837 Rev. Stephen Remington (Methodist Episcopal Pastor, New York) Gift Of God, Which Is Eternal Life, Contrasted With Wages Of Sin, Which Is Death, Closed With Objections Against Universalism
1837 Thomas Jefferson Sawyer (1804 – 1899), Universalist Minister and Educator Letters to Stephen Remington in Review of his Lectures on Universalism
1843 W.W. Phelps or Joseph Smith (1805-1844) The Answer to W.W. Phelps, Esq.: A Vision
1844 Hosea Ballou 2nd  (1796- 1861) son of Universalist Founder Article 11 – In My Father’s House are Many Mansions
1844 Joseph Smith Nauvoo Address on Resurrection
1848 Publication date John Angell James  (1785-1859):  British Congregational Minister High State Of Religion In World, Exalted State Of Honor & Happiness In World To Come; Different Degrees Of Glory In Celestial Kingdom
1850 Henry Bidleman Bascom  (1796—1850) (Methodist Episcopal Bishop) Different Degrees Of Glory Affirmed With Regard To Inhabitants Of Heaven, Not Inconsistent With Preceding Views
1859 John Angell James  (1785-1859):  British Congregational Minister Different Degrees of Glory
1860 President Brigham Young (1801—1877) The Three Glories
1860 Octavius Winslow (1808—1878) Calvinist Baptist Author Help Heavenward (1860) Chapter  “The Clouds of the Christian, the Chariot of God”
1860 J.C. Ryle (1816—1900) (Evangelical Anglican Bishop of Liverpool) Eternity!
1860 J.C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) (Evangelical Anglican Bishop of Liverpool) Expository Thoughts On John 23  (1860)
1864 William Branks (1812-1879) Meet for Heaven: A State of Grace Upon Earth the Only Preparation for a State of Glory in Heaven
1877 F W Farrar, British Pastor and Theological Writer (1831—1903) Sermon IV – Are there Few that Be Saved?
1880 Elder Orson Pratt, Apostle The Power Of God To Communicate Intelligence—Difference In Capacity Between The Mortal And The Immortal—The Future Of Man, Etc
1881 President Wilford Woodruff (1807—1898) “Vision” Revelation Gives More Light, More Truth, More Principle Than Any Revelation Contained In Any Other Book
1881 l’abbé Charles Arminjon (1824-1885)  (French Catholic Spiritual Leader) Fin du monde présent et mystères de la vie future
1882 Marcel Bouix (1806-1889) (French Catholic Spiritual Leader) Que l’Union des Bienheureux avec Dieu aura Différents Degrés
1888 President Charles W. Penrose (1832—1925), First Presidency Justice Tempered with Mercy; Loss Sustained by Disobedient; Doom of the Sons of Perdition; Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial Glories; Redemption & Glorification of Earth; Salvation of Whole Race
1897 St. Therese of Lisieux (1873—1897) (French Catholic Saint) In Heaven God Will Give His Chosen Their Fitting Glory, Last Will Have No Reason To Envy First
1897 St. Therese of Lisieux (1873—1897) (French Catholic Saint) I Desire To Fulfill Perfectly Thy Holy Will, And To Reach The Degree Of Glory Thou Hast Prepared For Me In Thy Kingdom
1898 Alexander Maclaren (1826—1910): Leader Of English Non-Conformist Baptists Many Mansions
1902 Theological Quarterly, Evangelical Lutheran Church Eschatology
1902 Pastor D. L. Moody Heaven: Its Riches
1913 Charles George Herbermann, Catholic Scholar Individual Eschatology
1918 President Joseph F. Smith Vision of the Redemption of the Dead
1918 Joseph Casimir Sasia, S.J. (“Society of Jesus” – Jesuit Catholic) Chapter 18 – The Various Degrees of Merit
1922 Melvin J. Ballard The Three Degrees of Glory
1936 Fr. Reg. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. La charité parfaite et les beatitudes (1er janvier 1936)
1941 C. S. Lewis The Weight of Glory
1942 N. B. Lundwall The Vision Or The Degrees of Glory: Eternity Sketched in a Vision from God
1947 Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. ((1877 – 1964), Philosopher / Theologian at Vatican Degrees Of Pain In Hell; Our Immortal Soul Reunited Forever To That Body, Though In Different Degrees Of Merit & Demerit; Degree Of Our Life In Eternity Depends On Degree Of Our Merits At Moment Of Death; There Are Many Mansions In The Father’s House Corresponding To Varied Merits
1949 E. Cecil McGavin Chapter 13: The Vision of Glories
1955 LaVerne Wesley Hofer, Biola University Degrees In Reward And Punishment (Thesis at Biola University)
1961 Sterling W. Sill (1903—1994): Assistant to Quorum of the Twelve The Glory of the Sun & A Journey through Hell
1964 Craig J. Ostler and Joseph Fielding McConkie Section 76: Revelations of the Restoration
1971 (1830’s  Period LDS Beliefs) Robert J. Matthews The New Translation of the Bible 1830 – 1833: Doctrinal Developments (Degrees of Glory and the Bible Translation)
1974 Robert J. Woodford (Ph.D Dissertation) Section 76, in The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants (Volumes I-III)
1984 Larry E. Dahl The Vision of the Glories (D&C 76)
1985 (1830’s Period LDS Beliefs) Grant Underwood Saved Or Damned: Tracing a Persistent Protestantism in Early Mormon Thought
1986 Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie Many Mansions  (Chapter)
1987 D. Michael Quinn “The Vision”
1991 Dr. Emma Disley Degrees of Glory: Protestant Doctrines and the Concept of Rewards Hereafter
1992 John MacArthur Jr. Different Degrees of Reward in Heaven and Punishment in Hell
1992 Larry E. Dahl Degrees of Glory (Encyclopedia of Mormonism)
1992 Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Then CES Coordinator, Irvine, California “Eternity Sketch’d in a Vision”: the Poetic Version of Doctrine & Covenants 76
1992 Craig Blomberg Degrees Of Reward In The Kingdom Of Heaven?
1993 J .I. Packer There Will Be Different Degrees Of Blessedness And Reward In Heaven
1993 Alister McGrath Whether There Are Relative Grades Or Ranks Among Those In Heaven
1994 John Brooke Chapter 8: The Mysteries Defined (Including Section 76)
1994 Dr. Michael Hicks Joseph Smith, W. W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of “The Vision”
1994 William J. Hamblin, George L. Mitton, and Daniel C. Peterson A Review Of “The Refiner’s Fire: The Making Of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844” By John L. Brooke
1995 (1830’s  Period LDS Beliefs) Daniel Peterson Review Of Grant Underwood, Saved Or Damned? Regarding Belief In Degrees Of Glory By Some Early Converts To Mormonism
1996 Bob Wilkin, Executive Director, Grace Evangelical Society The Biblical Distinction Between Eternal Salvation And Eternal Rewards:  A Key to Proper Exegesis
1998 R. C. Sproul There Will Be Degrees Of Blessedness In Heaven
1998 Robert L. Millet Chapter 2 – More Kingdoms Than One
1999 Dr. Barry R. Bickmore Three Degrees of Glory and Outer Darkness
2001 Stephen H. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett Section 76
2001 LDS Institute Manual, Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 –  The Vision of the Degrees of Glory
2001 Randy Alcorn The Randy Alcorn Treasure Principle
2002 Bruce Wilkinson A Life God Rewards:  Why Everything You Do Today Matters Forever
2002 Craig J. Hazen The Apologetic Impulse In Early Mormonism: More Reasonable Beliefs
2002 Asher Intrater (Messianic Jewish Leader in Isreal) Rewards in Heaven
2002 Wayne Jackson, Editor, “Christian Courier” (Church of Christ) Are There Degrees of Blessedness and Punishment in Eternity?
2002 Craig Miller Did Emanuel Swedenborg Influence LDS Doctrine? (excerpts)
2005 Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Degrees of Heaven / Hell
2005 Robert L. Millet A Different Jesus?  The Christ of  the Latter-day Saints – Degrees of Glory
2005 Dr. Richard L. Bushman “The Vision,” in Chapter Ten: Exaltation (1832-33)
2005 Elder B. Renato Maldonado, Area Authority Seventy, South America North Area Messages from the Doctrine and Covenants:  The Three Degrees of Glory
2006 Blake Ostler Soteriology in LDS Thought  – The Vision
2006 Fr. Stephen Salaris, Father in the Antiochian Orthodox Church “Sneak Previews” of the Heavenly Kingdom
2007 Marc A. Schindler Heaven and Hell (on FAIRlds website at this link.)
2007 L.G., Blogger, Biola University Student Rewards and Punishment
2008 J. B. Haws Joseph Smith, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Section 76: Importance of the Bible in Latter-day Revelation
2008 Casey Paul Griffiths Universalism and the Revelation of Joseph Smith
2008 Dr. David Reim, Lutheran Pastor and “Confessional” (Traditionalist) LutheranTheologian, B.C., Canada Examining and Applying the Scriptural Teaching of Rewards
2009 (Outstanding Independent Site for Gospel Doctrine Teachers) DC 76   Historical Background
2009 Brandon Washington, Outstanding Black Pastor and Theology Student at Denver Seminary Eternity, Life After Death – pt. 3 of 4 © 2009 The Lamppost
2009 (December) John Tvedtnes Three Degrees of Glory

Source Documents

Old Testament / First and Second Temple Period

Rachel Elior

The Merkavah and the Sevenfold Pattern

The Three Temples (2009 Publication)

Chapter One – The Merkavah and the Sevenfold Pattern

It seems that they consider the number as the principle of things, in respect both of matter; and of their changes and situations … And all these seven heavens, as it is said, are number.

The Merkavah

THE origins of the Merkavah concept lie in the Chariot Throne of the cherubim, whose divine pattern or prototype was shown to Moses in heaven and whose first representation in a cultic context is as ‘two cherubim of gold’, with out­stretched wings, mounted on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the desert sanctuary. In the Holy of Holies (devir) of Solomon’s Temple, two gold-plated cherubim shielded the cover of the Ark with their wings; their appearance, revealed to David in a vision as a divine pattern, is described in the parallel passage in Chronicles, which explicitly links the cherubim with the heavenly Chariot Throne: ‘for the pattern of the chariot—the cherubim—those with outspread wings screening the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord’. The various traditions that pictured the cherubim as screening the Ark differ in their particulars: some place them above the cover of the Ark, others have them standing before it; common to all is the fact that their four wings touched. The divinely patterned chariot of the cherubim in the First Temple’s Holy of Holies, the supposed throne of the Deity or site of his revelation in the Temple, did not survive the destruction, but lived on in mystical memory, which linked its cosmic prototype with its ritual meaning, and was perpetuated in prophetic and priestly traditions and in liturgical testimony. In these traditions, the very word merkavah became a symbolic concept expressive of the Holy of Holies and the Temple, both as a whole and in detail; it figured both in the divine prototype of the Temple (the supernal Heikhalot and their angelic cult), and in the memory of its earthly archetype (the Temple and its priests); its roots lay in the numinous foundations of an ancient ritual tradition that forged a bond between heaven and earth.

Biblical tradition explicitly ascribed the origins of the Merkavah to a divine pattern or prototype. The visionary tradition of the Merkavah repeatedly empha­sized its four faces, while post-biblical tradition associated this divine prototype, facing all four points of the compass, with the universe and its microcosmic cultic representations: the Merkavah represented the annual cyclic cosmic order of time, based on a chronotopic fourfold axis unifying time and space. This unified space-time concept governed the fourfold cycle of seasons in nature, the four winds of the heavens’, the ‘four foundations of the wondrous firmament’, and other mul­tiples and derivatives of four in fixed proportions to the twelve months of the year. Thus, there were twelve diagonal divisions of the universe, twelve signs of the zodiac and forty-eight constellations, twenty-four hours in a day, twenty-four priestly and angelic courses performing their sacral duties, and `twenty-four myriad thousand miles’. All these divisions derived from the divine chronotopic division melding time and place; they represented unifying links between the cosmic, the chronotopic, and the ritual, or between cycles of nature and cycles of time as reflected in the cultic order.

The Merkavah reflected time as the mystery of the creative process in nature, the eternal, divine order of Creation as embodied in fixed numerical proportions of cycles of time. Its constituent parts formed a multidimensional, concrete repres­entation, in cultic terms, of the great clock of nature with its numerous fourfold subdivisions, whose interrelations were based on a fixed cyclic order that trans­formed time and place in accordance with the four seasons of the year. Correlated with this cosmic order was a fixed, fourfold order of ritual which observed the solar calendar; the latter was divided into 364 days, fifty-two sabbaths, and four equal quarters of ninety-one days—the annual seasons—each consisting of thirteen sabbaths (see below).

The Merkavah was thus a representation of the ritual order of cyclic ritual time, measured in sabbaths of days, i.e. weeks. But the four annual seasons in turn sub­divided in accordance with a fixed sevenfold cyclic order; similarly, the concept of sacred cosmic place was also associated with a fixed sevenfold axis. The cyclic axis of sacred time derived from the seven days of Creation; accordingly, there are seven days in a week, counted in `Sabbaths of days’; seven days of service performed by each priestly course serving in the Temple; seven days of consecration (miluim; see Lev. 8: B); and seven-week intervals between harvesting times (see below). The fixed spatial axis of sacred place, on the other hand, was embodied in seven firma­ments, seven heikhalot, seven devirim, and seven merkavot.

The Merkavah tradition, then, established a chronotopic synchronization between the fourfold cycle and the sevenfold cycle, in regard to sacred time and sacred place alike, as a manifestation of the creative process of nature; the eternal, cyclic, cosmic order was preordained in terms of set times and testimonies, a divine pattern maintained by angelic forces. This tradition was preserved by priests and angels, all observing a hallowed solar calendar based on these two cycles, to which ritual and liturgy conformed in both earthly Temple and supernal Heikhalot. Thus, sacred time was reflected on a microcosmic ritual scale by the natural cosmic order and the divine order in the calendar of seasons, weeks, and set times (= festivals), correlated with a cyclic order of liturgy; while sacred place was similarly reflected by various sevenfold, fourfold, and twelvefold ritual representations linking the Earthly Temple with the supernal worlds. All these elements came together in the sacred service as performed on earth by the priests and in the heavens by the angels, all guardians of the sacred heritage.

The origins of the mystical Merkavah tradition lie in the vision of the exiled priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, who prophesied towards the end of the First Temple period. Deported from Jerusalem to Babylonia with Jehoiachin, he saw a vision in which the Chariot Throne and its cultic representations in the ruined Temple assumed a divine dimension, to become the Merkavah, combining various ele­ments from the Holy of Holies and the Temple courts into an eternal, visionary, cosmic entity transcending the limits of time and space. In addition to the heaven­ly Chariot Throne, Ezekiel also envisioned the future earthly Temple, whose service was entrusted exclusively—as Ezekiel repeatedly stressed—to the priests of the House of Zadok.

The next stage in the Merkavah tradition was the mystical vision of seceding priestly circles, who were barred from serving in the Second Temple in the last centuries BCE because of fundamental dissension concerning the sanctity of time and place and polemical disputes about sabbath and festivals, calendar and cult. Having withdrawn, as a consequence, from the earthly Temple, these circles, who called themselves ‘sons of Zadok, the priests’, ministered in their mind’s eye, together with their angelic counterparts, in a divine Chariot Throne which, inspired by Ezekiel’s Merkavah vision and the tradition of the Temple service, they recreated in their writings in poetic and visionary terms. The Zadokite priests are referred to by a variety of priestly epithets: in the Community Rule; in the `Rule for all the congregation of Israel …, when they shall join the Community to walk according to the law of the sons of Zadok the priests’, in a Qumran scroll known as the Damascus Document, which calls them `the sons of Zadok, the priests …, behold they are the interpretation of the last Law’; in the fragments of the Damascus Document found in the Cairo Genizah; in the War Scroll; and in other Qumranie works. They served together with their mystical angelic counter­parts, referred to in Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice in typically priestly terms: `priests of the inner sanctum (kohanei korev) who serve before the King of holiest holiness’, ‘Priests of the inner sanctum in his royal sanctuary, ministers of the Presence in his glorious &via’, ‘priests of the highest of high’, ‘Angels of Holiness’, `chief priests’, ‘seven priestly factions for the wondrous Temple’, `Chief Princes’, and ‘Chiefs of the Princes of Wondrous Priesthoods’. The terrestrial chief priests, who had withdrawn from the Temple, and the heavenly priests of the inner sanctum, who were painted with a clearly priestly brush, sang together, in a perma­nent cyclic order, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; in a regular, prescribed daily, weekly, monthly order of set times they recited psalms, songs, hymns, and Kedushahs, shared by angels and men. They did all this in a cyclic, weekly order of liturgy, governed by the ritual solar calendar of weeks (sabbaths) and quarterly seasons, and correlated with the order of priestly courses, also subdivided in con­formity with sabbaths and multi-annual cycles, and named after the new months and the festivals.

The last stage of the Merkavah tradition in ancient mystical literature was formulated by certain circles of priestly affiliation, active after the destruction of the Second Temple, who composed the Heikhalot literature in the first centuries CE. The protagonists of this literature—known as ‘descenders of (or to) the Chariot’ and associated with the high priest Rabbi Ishmael’ and with Rabbi Akiva, who `entered the Pardes’ (an expression symbolizing engagement in esoteric specula­tion pertaining to the heavenly sanctuaries)—aimed to perpetuate the destroyed Temple and its cult through their vision, by `descending’ to the Chariot Throne and `ascending’ to the supernal Heikhalot—that is, heavenly temples or sanctu­aries. There they met their mystical counterparts: the ministering angels, the angels of glory and the angels on high, as well as the high priest of the supernal worlds, Enoch son of Jared, also known as Metatron, the mystical angelic pro­tagonist of the priestly literature from Qumran. The angels who serve in those supernal worlds bathe and purify themselves, sing and recite the Kedushah, exalt, bless with holy names, the kindle fiery flames, thus perpetuating the priestly and Temple ceremonies in the seven supernal sanctuaries, the Heikhalot.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Jewish or Christian Spirituality, LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Doctrine, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ, Temple

2010: Suggestions for LDS Interactions with People in the Middle East and their Descendants and Followers in the United States and Orange County / Steve St.Clair

Stephen St.Clair’s Suggestions for LDS Interactions with People in the Middle East and their Descendants and Followers in the United States and Orange County

Based on my work in  Interfaith Relations  for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my own studies for many years, my approach to people and groups in the middle east and their co-believers living in the United States and the west will be, IN THIS SEQUENCE:


1. New Muslim-Background Christians in Islamic Societies and the West

New Christians converted from Islam are becoming a common phenomenon in the Muslim world.  Islamic estimates are that they are happening at about 6 million conversions per year, and are of great worry to Muslim officials in Saudi Arabia.  There are approximately 3 million new Christians in Iran, a million or more in half-a-dozen countries, and even 100,000 in Saudi Arabia. Many have been converted by seeing visions or having dreams of Jesus Christ.   Many are in small Charismatic house churches, in countries in which they would be persecuted or killed if they were known.

As a Latter-day Saint Christian (not a member of a fourth Abrahamic religion), I celebrate this, and will support the new Christians of Muslim origin, and their success.  I believe that this will solve the LDS Leadership’s dilemma of how to proceed in the Muslim world.  In all the countries of the global south, the Latter-day Saints thrive and grow as Charismatic Christianity thrives.

2. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians in the Middle East and the West

We need to support the original Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, and support their growth in their middle-eastern homelands and in their new places of residence in the west.  From many years of genocide and persecution at the hands of the Islamic population in their homeland, many of them have left their homelands and are living by the millions in the West (particularly the U.S.) They know that, if the United States becomes secular like Europe, and then Islamized as is happening in Europe, they have no where else to go.

Middle-Eastern Catholic Scholar Samir Khalil Samir on Islam’s Problems and Solutions

Dr. Samir was born to an Eastern Catholic family in Egypt; educated in France; a Jesuit (a member of the scholarly Society of Jesus); founder and director of a leading academic center on Eastern Christianity, St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, Lebanon; a world expert on the Arabic language and Islam; the advisor to Pope Benedict XVI on the subject is Islam; author of the book 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West , and an Advisory Board member for Daniel Peterson’s Eastern Christian Texts Initiative at Brigham Young University. He understands Islam’s challenges as well as anyone alive; and also how Western civilization and Eastern Christianity can be crucial components in solving them.

  • Read virtually all of his book 111 Questions on Islam in Chapter-sized posts on my blog at the links below:

  • Other invaluable articles by Dr. Samir:

Historical and ongoing  persecution, marginalization, and genocide against Middle-Eastern Christians

3. Jewish People in Israel and Around the World

The Jewish people were the foundations from which Christianity sprang, including providing more than half of the Christian Bible. They are also part of the Judeo-Christian culture from which Western Civilization resulted, and the ones to whom Orson Hyde’s prayer of dedication promised some part of the Holy Land. My favorite classes as a BYU undergraduate were Biblical Hebrew and graduate seminars on the Old Testament by Kent Brown.  My five years of graduate work at Claremont Graduate School was in Old Testament and Early Judaism, including a year of Hebrew and a course in Aramaic.  90% of my library consists of books in the Jewish tradition, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, and as many midrashic works and books of Jewish Liturgy, inter-testamental literature, Jewish spirituality and Jewish mysticism as at the Hebrew Union College Library. I have very close relationships with Jewish academics and Jewish congregational leaders.   If that makes me a classic Latter-day Saint Judeophile, I am.  Any suggestion of antisemitism or Judeophobia or Israelophobia will cause a strong counter-reaction; and I sometimes encounter it among academic and LDS Islamophiles. The Jewish people’s historical and current persecution by Islamists has been staggering. So I will support the Jewish people in Israel and wherever they are.

4 .  Mystical Islam, Sufi

Sufism is an open, intellectual interpretation of Islam.  Here is an entirely indigenous and homegrown Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with deep roots in South Asian culture. Its importance cannot be overestimated. Could it have a political effect in a country still dominated by military forces that continue to fund and train jihadi groups? It is one of the few sources of hope left in the increasingly bleak political landscape” (RAND Corporation Report)

We should support followers of the mystical branch of Islam, the Sufi’s; many of their followers in the west are exploring forms of this ancient practice that are true to Islam but compatible with democracy and pluralism. They are under frequent persecution in radically-oriented states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Muslim India, and Egypt.

5.   Bahai’, a Post-Radical Form of Shi’a Islam

We should support Bahai’ism, which originated from a Shi’a background in Iran and offers a post-fundamentalist interpretation of religious pluralism, compatibility with science, and compatibility with democracy. They are also under extreme persecution in Iran and Egypt. Their safest haven in the Middle East is .. You guessed it … Israel.

6.  Islamic Reformers in the Middle East

We should support the Islamic Reformers in the middle east, and advance them in every way. Reformers among the leaders of Sunni and Christian leaders in Lebanon, Kurdish leaders in Iraq, and moderate leaders in Jordan, and Morocco, are trying to build a form of Islam that can co-exist with the modern world There are also numbers of reformers among the more highly-educated in many Muslim countries.

7.  Islamic Reformers in the United States and Europe

We should support the Islamic reformers in the United States and Europe. There are genuine reformers trying to build forms of Islam that can flourish in the west and be compatible with democracy and pluralism. They are frequently marginalized by radically-backed elements who have taken control of much of Islamic leadership here. They include the following and many more:

  • Dr. Ali A. Allawi, a senior visiting fellow at Princeton University. He has just been named one of the first two Gebran G. Tueni human-rights fellows at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His latest book, The Crisis of Islamic Civilization, was published in March by Yale University Press. see his article Islamic Civilization in Peril.

  • Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Chairman, Board of Directors, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, Arizona.  Dr. Jasser is the narrator on the movie The Third Jihad and makes frequent appearances on The Glenn Beck Show, among many other news organizations.  Being on his website’s e-mail list is the best way to keep informed on the day-to-day progress of reformers and problems with Islamists in the U.S.  He has just instituted a Youtube channel for excellent video content. YouTube Channel- AIFDtv.

  • Sheik Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, President, International Quranic Center , Virginia.  President of the Free Muslims Coalition His description of Islam: “We find Islam has the same values as the West: freedom, unlimited freedom of speech, justice, equality, loving, humanity, tolerance, mercy, everything. This is our version of Islam, and we argue that this is the core of Islam according to the Koran.”

  • Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, core member of the Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism Project in the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Preventive Diplomacy Program and a key contributor to the program’s efforts to link religion to universal human needs and values in the service of peace-building. He serves on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. Currently, Dr. Sachedina is the Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.

  • Imaad Malik, Fellow, Center for Islamic Pluralism ; founder of the Islamic Millennium Foundation, an independent nonprofit public policy organization in Washington, DC

8. Proxies for Islamic Radicals in the United States

  • C.A.I.R.
  • American Muslims for Palestine
  • The Islamic Society of North America,
  • The Muslim Students Association

  • See the speech by Congressional Committee Ranking Member Frank Wolf on the “Human Events” magazine site; Who Is CAIR?

Mosques and Islamic Centers funded by and thus infected by Wahhabi Money from Saudi Arabia (80%, according to a  Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson)

  • See an article about the extent of  Wahhabi influence in Mosques and Islamic Centers, Higher Education, and the prison systems on the Stephen Silverberg website at this link: The Wahhabi Invasion of America.

Islamic and Middle-Eastern Studies Centers and  Chairs at many Institutions of Higher Learning in the U.S. funded by billions of  dollars of Saudi-Arabian money

Hizb ut-Tahrir, Anaheim, California

The Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, in Irvine, California

Problems with Islam in History and in Our Time as recognized by eminent  scholars

BYU Professor Daniel Peterson’s Opinions on the problems of Islam

BYU Professor of Islamic Studies Dr. Daniel Peterson works to build bridges with Muslims.  But he also recognizes serious problems in Islam’s history and present that cannot be swept under the rug.

  • Watch on YouTube his debate with Robert SpencerIslam: Threat or Not? which Robert described as “boring because we agreed on almost everything.”

  • Dr. Peterson describes himself as having been a reader of National Review since he was very young,and his favoring of the American interventions in Iraq and Afganistan.

Opinions of the “New Atheists” on the Problems of Islam

Proponents of the “New Atheism” are hard on Christianity, but much harder on Islam.  The “Islamic Insights” website describes it in these words: “This brings us to the second major innovation of the new atheism: its opposition to Islam. Atheism is a rejection of all religion, or at least of all theistic religion, and since Islam is usually considered a theistic religion, atheism is in principle opposed to it. However, as a phenomenon with its roots in Europe, atheism has in the past concentrated its opposition to religion on Christianity. The new atheism, by contrast, emphasizes Islam as a particularly virulent form of religion that must be opposed. Often, the new atheists claim that because of the events of 9/11, they feel compelled to take a strong stand against religion in general and Islam in particular.”

Steve’s suggested changes in Interacting with Middle-Easterners and their descendants in the U.S. and Southern California

  • I suggest that we identify Muslim-background believers in Jesus Christ in Southern California, and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and help them adapt to Christianity and life in the West.  Some possible southern California contacts would include:

  • Pastor Sohrab Ramtin – Iranian Christian Church of San Diego, Mission Valley Chapel, 6964 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego, CA 92120; (619) 583-8295
  • Pastor Payame Aramesh – Iranian Christian Message of Peace; P.O. Box 3239 Tustin, CA 92781; (949) 707-0200;e-mail
  • Philadelphia Persian Church; Worship Service Sundays at 4:00 pm; 3000 W. MacArthur, Suite 150; Santa Ana, California 92704; (949) 955-1777
  • Pastor Azim Shariat – Persian Church Love Assembly (meets at the Covenant Presbyterian Church); Worship Service: Sundays at 6:00 PM; 1855 Orange-Olive Road, Orange, California 92865;  Mailing Address: P.O..Box 7313 Orange, CA 92863; (714) 777-1212

  • I suggest that we continue to identify and build relationships with Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians.  When their interests and success are threatened or harmed by those of Islamists, as they frequently are, we should take their part.  Some possible southern California contacts would include:
    • Archpriest George Morelli, Ph.D., Assistant Pastor at the St George Antiochian Church in San Diego, who is also Chairman, Department of Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling (one of the seven departments for Antiochian Orthodoxy nationwide) with offices in Carlsbad; he is also the California chapter president of the Society of Saint John Chrysostom,; e-mail
    • Mounir Bishay, President of the Los Angeles based Christian Copts of California as well as Vice-President, American Middle-Eastern Christian Association (AMCA), Southern California (the Public Affairs organization for all the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches); 1407 Foothill Boulevard # 235, La Verne, California 91750, Telephone (909) 392-1111: ; e-mail

    • Dr. John Mark Reynolds, Professor of Philosophy at Biola University who is a member of many years of an Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. Michael’s Antiochian Orthodox this Church in Whittier.  His father is Subdeacon Elias Reynolds. E-mail

  • I suggest that we work to identify and spend most of our time interacting with Muslims with a true reformist approach that will co-exist with modernity, pluralism, and democracy.  Some possible Southern California contacts would be:

    • Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights.   He is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law where he teaches International Human Rights, Islamic Jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum and Political Crimes and Legal Systems. His book, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, was the first work to delineate the key differences between moderate and extremist Muslims.  E-mail:

  • I suggest that we phase out continuing interactions with C.A.I.R. and the local organizations that are made up of predominantly C.A.I.R. supporters; and avoid future contacts with people and groups associated with Hizb ut-Tahrir in Anaheim and the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, in Irvine, California.
  • I am aware that the Muslim Student Association at U.C .Irvine makes life miserable for the Jewish students there.  I plan on throwing light on their unpleasant and unkind activities.


Leave a comment

Filed under Anti-Semitism, Christianiy Global South, Eastern Christianity, Islamic Reformers, Israel, Muslim Background Christians, Radical Islam

2010: suggestions for Catholics with whom to build relationships during “The Year of the Catholics” / Steve St.Clair

Steve St.Clair’s suggestions for Catholics with whom to build relationships during “The Year of the Catholics”


Already-Existing Relationship Demonstrated in working together on Proposition 8:


Speech of Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I.

Archbishop of Chicago

President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom

Brigham Young University: February 23, 2010


So I come before you today as a religious leader who shares with you a love for our own country but also, like many, with a growing concern about its moral health as a good society. In recent years, Catholics and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stood more frequently side-by-side in the public square to defend human life and dignity.  In addition to working together to alleviate poverty here and abroad, we have been together in combating the degradations associated with the pornography industry; in promoting respect for the right to life of those still waiting to be born in their mother’s womb; and in defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the sake of family against various efforts to redefine in civil law that foundational element of God’s natural plan for creation. I am personally grateful that, after 180 years of living mostly apart from one another, Catholics and Latter-day Saints have begun to see one another as trustworthy partners in the defense of shared moral principles and in the promotion of the common good of our beloved country.


Already-Existing Relationship with “First Things”


The group of Catholics in the United States who are closest to His Excellency Pope Benedict XVI are the scholars associated with “First Things” magazine and the just-deceased Founder Richard John Neuhaus.  They are already trying to reach out to us, and my hope is that we will reciprocate in building those ties.



  • When Mitt Romney was considering running for President in early 2007 First Things published an extremely favorable article about him written by the President of the Evangelical Theological Society Francis Beckwith: When the Saint Goes Swearing in.  Dr. Beckwith very shortly after that left his Evangelical affiliation and became a Roman Catholic.




  • Three other First Things scholars also had very positive comments to the “Faith in America” Speech:  George Weigel (First Things Advisory Board), Bill Donohue (President of Catholic League), and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver (frequent contributor to First Things).  See it at this link:  Catholic leaders respond to Mitt Romney’s speech on Mormonism .


  • In October 2008, First Things invited a Latter-day Saint leader to be part of a dialog with an Evangelical on whether Latter-day Saints are Christian. The article by LDS First Quorum of Seventy member Bruce D. Porter and Gerald R. McDermott (the Evangelical scholar who co-wrote a book with Robert Millet).is on “First Things” at this link:  Is Mormonism Christian?


  • During the Proposition 8 debate, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times defending the Latter-day Saints from unwarranted attacks.  See it at this link.  Looking at the names of those who signed it, we see:


  • Writer and Philosopher Roger Scruton, whose primary affiliation is First Things Magazine, to which he is a frequent contributor.


  • Rick Cizik, Chuck Colson, and Robert Seiple, who are Evangelical drafters, along with Catholic Richard John Neuhaus, of the 1994 document “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”.


  • On  the advisory board of the sponsoring “Becket Fund for Religious Liberty” along with LDS Senator Orrin Hatch, is Richard John Neuhaus of First things.



Suggested Contact: Dr Michael M. Uhlmann, E-Mail:, Telephone:  909-621-8210

We are fortunate that there is a local Catholic scholar who is affiliated with First Things Magazine; a frequent contributor to First Things, who teaches American law and politics at Claremont Graduate University.  See a recent article by him on First Things at this link.


Replacement of Liberal Catholic Bishops by More Orthodox by Pope Benedict XVI


It is important to understand that many Catholic Bishops in the U.S. were among the first and longest to over-react to the 2nd Vatican Council. So a group of liberal leaders have been challenges to Pope Benedict XVI’s desire to bring the Catholic Church back to a “Center-Right” theological position.


See some interesting articles:

You Will Be My Witnesses: A Pastoral Letter to the People of God of San Antonio

on the Christian Mission to Evangelize and Proclaim Jesus Christ; The Most Reverend José H. Gomez, future Archbishop of Los Angeles


A young priest’s passionate calling: Jose Gomez felt the pull of the Catholic Church early on. In Los Angeles, the stern traditionalist with a genial disposition inherits an archdiocese much different from the one he led in San Antonio


A leading voice in the Catholic Church: As a bishop in Colorado and Texas, Jose Gomez did not hesitate to use his pulpit as a platform for both social justice and raw politics — causing, on occasion, considerable strife (regarding new Archbishop in Los Angeles)

Pope’s ‘revenge’ as LA gets Opus Dei bishop: A member of the radically-orthodox Catholic group Opus Dei has been appointed as the new Archbishop of Los Angeles,


Benedict’s U.S. appointments follow a pattern: center-right with a human face (National Catholic Reporter, 2009)

Aging of Catholic bishops could lead to rebirth (Originally in L.A. Times, this link is in S.J.Mercury News)

Many U.S. Catholic Bishops Set to Retire (Beliefnet)

Significant opportunity to reshape the American church: Half of California’s bishops near mandatory retirement age (California Catholic Website)

Highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in western U.S.; Jaime Soto officially takes over as leader of Sacramento diocese (California Catholic Daily)

The Catholic Bishops in Los Angeles and Orange County are considered by many as being particularly liberal (When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano: Catholic Culture in America, First Things 2006), and have paid the cost in near-bankruptcies for sexual abuse charges.  We can certainly count on their imminent replacements being more in synch with us on abortion, gay marriage, and homosexuals in the priesthood.

As an example, see new Hispanic Bishop of Sacramento Jaime Soto, who was moved there from an assignment as Orange County’s auxiliary Bishop.  Here is a transcript of his 2008 address to the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries, “It is Sinful.” He looks and sounds like the future of Catholic leadership in southern California.

Catholic Higher Education

Much of U.S. Catholic Higher Education is also, according to people close to His Holiness, in serious trouble since the Educational Establishment declared independence from the Church Hierarchy in the 1970’s “in the spirit of the Vatican Council.”

See some interesting articles:

Catholic Culture and the Notre Dame Protests (First Things, 2009)

Who Is Catholic? New conservative colleges say existing institutions lead students away from the true faith (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2004)

Study Finds Catholic Colleges Have Little Positive Impact on Faith, Values (cardinal Newman Center)

Reflections on Pope Benedict XVI’s Address to Catholic Educators:  Truth and Freedom in the Catholic University (Cardinal Newman Center)

The Cardinal Newman Center identifies 21 Approved Colleges in the United States.

Two are in the Southern California area; and I would like to volunteer to contact  them, during our “Year of the Catholic.”

John Paul the Great Catholic University

San Diego, California


Suggested contact: Obviously, President Derry Connolly, being contacted by Fred Woods of BYU, is already happening.

Suggested contact: Michael Barber, Professor of Theology, Scripture and Catholic Thought, He is currently finishing a Ph.D. in Theology at Fuller in Pasadena, CA.  Blog: email:

Thomas Aquinas College

Santa Paula, California


Suggested contact: Prof. Jeffrey S. Lehman, M.A. Biola University, Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy and Theology, Biola University; e-mail:

What About Notre Dame? People who want their students to keep a love and appreciation of the Catholic Church and a belief in its teachings and willingness to follow its practices should probably send them somewhere else.



BYU Religion Department Professor with Ph.d. from Notre Dame University

Suggested Contact: Dr. Alonzo L. Gaskill is an Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine. He grew up as a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy, a Masters in Theology, and a Ph.D. from Notre Dame in Biblical Studies.

Brother Gaskill’s books include Know Your Religions Vol. 1 – Mormonism & Catholicism

Brother Gaskill would be a perfect LDS Representative to Catholic scholars and Catholic leaders, or LDS Firesides and Public Affairs presentations.


Leave a comment

Filed under LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ

2010: Interfaith Relations Activity Report January – April 2010 / Steve St.Clair

Steve St.Clair

Interfaith Relations Activity Report

January – April 2010

Steve’s Interactions with Catholics

Easter Services at Holy Family Catholic Church in Orange

  • I Attended Three Easter Services at Holy Family Catholic Church in Orange:

§  Friday Noon play by Catholic School Children on the “Stations of the Cross”

§  Friday afternoon service “The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion,” at which I gave my copy of Thomas A Kempis’s “On the Passion of Christ: According to the Four Evangelists : Prayers and Meditations” to an interested grandmother and her granddaughter sitting in front of me (we had all already read his “Imitations of Christ”)

§  Sunday Easter Morning service


Funeral Vigil for former bishop Norman F. McFarland

I attended the funeral vigil for former bishop Norman F. McFarland at Holy Family Cathedral, including the reception in the cultural hall, at which I talked for 20 minutes with my friend, Monsignor Mike Heher, the Vicar General & Moderator of the Curia (right under the Bishops and Assistant Bishops).

I conveyed to him our Church’s sadness at the passing of Bishop McFarland, and also our sadness at the treatment of Pope Benedict XVI, and agreed that he has done more to make the Catholic Church a place where abusive Priests would not be welcome or tolerated.


Future Archbishop of Los Angeles, Father Jose Gomez

  • Noting that Pope Benedict XVI has named the future Archbishop of Los Angeles, Father Jose Gomez of San Antonio, I sent a congratulatory e-mail to him, wishing him well on the part of our Church.
  • I informed him that I have read his own book for Priests, “Men of Brave Heart”, and the book “The Way” by St. Jose Escriva, founder of Father Gomez’s Opus Dei order.


Suggestions for Working with Catholics

  • To my paper “Suggestions for working with Catholics” I added the BYU address by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago & President, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom.
  • We need to note the tenor and approach of the new leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States (including an imminent new Bishop in the Diocese of Orange) who will stand much more firmly with us on social issues and the preservation of the Christian orientation of our culture.


Steve’s Interactions with Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics

Common Characteristics between Eastern Christianity and the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints:

  • Continuity between the Old Testament and New Testament Churches
  • Belief in Social Trinitarianism (emphasizing differences rather than unity of Godhead)
  • Freedom of will, with perfect balance between the actions of God and the duties of men and women in our salvation
  • Belief in Theosis / Deification of mankind as the ultimate quest for humanity
  • Nearly-exact correspondence between LDS Temple Initiatory ordinances (washing, anointing, clothing) and Eastern Christianity’s catechumenate (instruction for future members), baptism, and confirmation
  • Nearly-exact correspondence between layout and ordinance of Mass in Eastern Christianity’s Church buildings, Old-Testament Temple, and LDS Temples
  • Feminine Holy Ghost in Syriac Christianity
  • Combination of the religion of the head and the religion of the heart
  • Possibility of near-universal salvation


I will keep building and encouraging relationships with these churches for these reasons.  It is also influenced by Blake Ostler’s overall program to recover the original Judeo-Christian church from the impact of Hellenism.

St. Mary’s Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorian Church), Tarzana, California

  • I attended qurbana (mass) service, which was entirely in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke), met their Pastor, Father George Bet-Rasho, and lay leader, Ramin Ablakhad, and joined them for their luncheon.
  • The layout of the church matched the Old Testament Temple, with section for lay members and visiters, holy place behind a veil where the priests and deacons operated, and the veiled “holy of holies” into which no one entered. The mass included bread and wine passed from priest to deacons and then distributed to the audience; the “passing of the peace” which was a finger symbol passed from Priest to deacons to congregation, and the censing of the hands of each member of the audience using a decidedly cup-shaped format.
  • St. Mary’s actually had their church burn down in an accidental fire, and are doing a reconstruction project.  I offered a portion of my unused audio gear to help make sure that the beautiful Aramaic service will be heard by everyone.


St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral, El Cajon, California

  • I attended three services in the same day: An English / Aramaic mass, prayer and worship music in Aramaic, and a mass in Aramaic.
  • I met with Father Michal J. Bazzi, and was presented with a signed copy of his book “Chaldean Prayers and Hymns”, which provides the prayers used in this church all over the U.S. in ancient Aramiac, modern Aramaic, Arabic, Arabic transliteration, English transliteration, and English translation.
  • Father Bazzi also invited me to attend a baptism of babies for about 20 babies in his congregation.  I noted that, in his English explanation of the ritual, which resembled washing, anointing, and clothing, he spent much time explaining that, in the earliest church, people old enough to decide for themselves were baptized, and that because of their free will, the baptized babies could lose the effect of the ordinance right up to the time of their death.


St. Ephrem Parish, Maronite Catholic Church, El Cajon, California

  • I joined St. Ephrem Parish in their afternoon daily mass; met their pastor, Father Mouannes, got a guided tour of the beautiful grounds by the assistant pastor.
  • St. Ephrem’s place in Eastern Catholic history is perhaps unsurpassed. I have read many books by him, and have acquired the Syriac / English book of his poems published by BYU.  I am learning the Syriac / Aramaic language mainly to be able to read him and to follow the many liturgies being said in that language in southern California.


Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church, Santa Ana, California

  • I attended the beautiful service, completely in the Armenian language.
  • I met the pastor, Father Vrouyr Demirjian.
  • I was invited to the luncheon taking place there after the service, and was seated at the table with the head of the women’s auxiliary and the leader of the Wednesday evening Bible class, both of whom spoke English very well.
  • The service included some of the best examples of elements of their mass that resemble the LDS Temple, including the worship area for members and priests being on different levels separated by veils, and putting on by the priest of a cap that resembled that worn by priesthood holders in the temple.
  • I bought a shirt to wear at the Armenian Holocaust memorial march, and attended it with them.



Holy Cross Melchite-Greek Catholic Church, Placentia, California

  • I attended the mass, which was conducted in English, Syriac, and a few Greek elements
  • The pastor, Rt. Reverend Archimandrite James Babcock, was not present, so his superior from St. Anne’s in Los Angeles, Father Al Sinasac, C.S.B., Parochial Vicar, was conducting the service, and talked with me after the service for several minutes.


St. Barbara Russian Orthodox Church, Fullerton, California

  • I attended one of the several feasts held on the Sundays after Easter, which was held in a facility in Irvine, since their meeting room in Fullerton is under repair.  The service was entirely in Russian.
  • I met the pastor, Mitred Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, whose English is very good, and thanked him for the Russian Orthodox Church’s deep spirituality and its preservation of the Byzantine Church’s treasures and teachings after its fall to Islam in the 1300’s.


Steve’s Interactions with Evangelicals

Note the statement by Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy that our theology is NOT moving in the direction of Protestant Theology in his 2004 Conference talk “the Atonement: All for All.”


The striking vitality of the “Neo-Calvinist” movement among Evangelical scholarship during the last thirty years.  The Southern Baptist Convention is going that way, and it is becoming harder and harder to find non-Calvinists at Biola University.  This makes me worry about the approach of Brother Robert Millet, who only meets with Calvinists, only writes books with Calvinists, makes pilgrimages to seminars and graduate classes on Jonathan Edwards, and has advocated to me numerous times that Calvinist Jonathan Edwards is what he sees as a best pattern of the future of Mormonism.  I think that would be the worst possible future for our Church.  Note also that, in all his writings, Stephen Robinson at BYU has always been the arch-typical LDS “Arminian”.


Note on other scholars participating in the last Millet – Johnson dialog at Mariners Church: The Evangelical scholar, Dennis Ockholm, is indeed from Azusa Pacific, but he is the token Calvinist there.  The second LDS Scholar,  BYU’s Spencer Fluhman, is favorable to Arminian rather than Calvinist views.


My sense is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was and is much closer to Arminian / Methodist / Wesleyan thought, and was the ultimate after-clap of Puritanism in the opposite direction.  Recent BYU Theses and articles by LDS authors make it even clearer, and demonstrate to my satisfaction that Joseph Smith was closely involved with Methodist Camp Meetings, and that people and leaders with Methodist background flocked to the early church. One even shows that the long-entertained idea of Thomas Alexander that early LDS Theology was somewhere between Calvinism and Arminianism is wrong.  Under the influence of LDS Philosophers Blake Ostler and David L. Paulsen, I even have ended up agreeing in principle with today’s ultimate hyper-Arminianism, “Open Theism.”


While not avoiding interactions with Calvinists, I am making it a priority to  build relationships with Arminians and Wesleyans.  This is simplified by the fact that Arminianism includes not only Methodist groups but also all Charismatic and Pentacostal groups and all Christians from the “Global South”).  To this end, I have taken the following actions:


  • I have acquired and read two books by John Wesley: ”A Plain Account of Christian Perfection” and “John Wesley’s Fifty-Three Sermons”.
  • My research shows that John Wesley, though an Anglican, was immersed in the thought of Eastern Christian Fathers, and especially loved the Syriac Fathers, St. Ephrem the Syrian and the Demonstrations of Macarius.
  • I have added myself to the mailing list for the Wesleyan Theological Society Conference held at Azusa Pacific University each March;
  • I have subscribed to their scholarly journal, the Wesleyan Theological Journal;
  • I have sent e-mails to four scholars of Wesleyanism at Azusa Pacific University, hoping that they would be available for scholarly meeting with LDS scholars, and make presentations to LDS Firesides and Public Affairs meetings.  They are:


  • Craig Keen, Ph.D., Professor of Systematic Theology, Department of Theology and Philosophy: Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 5635; Email:


  • John Culp, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Theology and Philosophy; Phone 626) 815-6000 Ext. 5243, Email:


  • Craig A. Boyd, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Director, Institute of Faith Integration Phone: (626) 387-5771, Email:


  • Keith Reeves, Ph.D., Professor of Biblical Studies, Department of Biblical Studies; Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 5627; Email:



Steve’s Interactions with Universities

Claremont Graduate University

  • I attended a lecture by Grant Hardy, Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Asheville, on “The Deep Structure of the Book of Mormon”


  • I attended a lecture by Daniel C. Petersen, Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic, Brigham Young University, on “The Book of Mormon: The State of the Debate”


  • I attended a dialog called “Muslim-Christian Relations: Is the Gap Narrowing?” A conversation between Hamid Mavani, assistant professor of Islamic Studies, School of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and Daniel Petersen.  In spite of Dr. Petersen’s having no responses to the questions raised by Robert Spencer (A Maronite Christian), Dr. Mavani delighted me by showing many examples of severe problems in Islam.  Dr. Mavani is a Shiite, and all the problems he raised were about problems with Wahhabhi Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia, and its promoters in the west.  Any time Dr. Petersen makes a presentation in this area, I will arrange for Dr. Mavani to have a matching presentation at the same location or a nearby location.  Thank you for your honesty, Dr. Mavani!  LDS Interfaith People will wake up to this problem someday.


  • I attended a lecture by Martha Bradley Evans, Dean of the Honors Program, University of Utah, on ”Mormon Fundamentalists Today”

Biola University

  • I attended a presentation on how Evangelicals can work with Catholics, entitled “Confessions of a Former Catholic”, by Chris Castaldo


  • I attended a presentation entitled “Answering Islam” by Josh Lingel.  He presented many of the problems of Islam, but finally noted that Paul was called an apostle to the Gentiles because they were the largest unreached people group, and Evangelicals, as modern-day Paul’s, should do the same with Islam.






Leave a comment

Filed under LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ

2006: Joseph Smith’s Experience Of A Methodist “Camp-Meeting” In 1820 / D. Michael Quinn

I agree completely with your analysis; Welcome Back, Brother Quinn!
Steve St.Clair
Joseph Smith’s Experience Of A Methodist “Camp-Meeting” In 1820
By D. Michael Quinn*
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
Dialogue Paperless: E-Paper #3, Expanded Version (Definitive)
December 20, 2006

[First posted to Dialogue’s website on 12 July 2006]

[This is the expanded, final version of 20 December 2006]


Since 1967, disbelieving critics of Joseph Smith Jr.’s accounts of his “First Vision” of deity have repeated the arguments and evidence given by minister-researcher Wesley P. Walters against the existence of an 1820 “religious excitement” (revival) in or near Palmyra, New York, as affirmed by the Mormon prophet’s most detailed narrative. Since 1969, Smith’s believing apologists1 have repeated the rebuttal arguments and evidence given by BYU religion professor Milton V. Backman Jr. in support of such a revival which, Smith declared, led to his vision in 1820. For four decades, both sides have continued to approach this debated topic as if there were no alternative ways to examine the materials Walters and Backman cited, and as if there were no additional sources of significance to consider. The skeptics have been uniformly intransigent, while some apologists have made significant concessions. This essay maintains that both sides have examined their evidences with tunnel vision, while both have likewise ignored issues and documents crucial to the topic. As an alternative to myopic polarization, this article provides new ways of understanding Joseph’s narrative, analyzes previously neglected issues/data, and establishes a basis for perceiving in detail what the teenage boy experienced in the religious revivalism that led to his first theophany. This is conservative revisionism.


An oddity in Mormon studies has been the decades-long repetition of Reverend Wesley P. Walters’ claim in 1967 that “no revival occurred in the Palmyra area [of western New York State] in 1820.” Rejecting all reminiscent accounts by Mormons, he made this assertion because of an allegedly “massive silence” about such a revival in documents written or published during that year. Instead, he argued, “the statement of Joseph Smith, Jr. cannot be true when he claims that he was stirred by an 1820 revival to make his inquiry in the grove [of trees] near his home.”

Walters insisted that various evidences showed Palmyra having no revivals from the fall of 1817 until 1824. Thus, Smith allegedly invented a fictitious revival to support his allegedly fictitious “First Vision” of deity in 1820 by superimposing on that year the extensive revivals which contemporary sources clearly described for Palmyra in 1824 and the following year.2 Likewise, a hostile biographer wrote in 1999: “There was no significant revival in or around Palmyra in 1820,” adding that “no known revival occurred in Palmyra between 1818 and 1823,” and repeating: “no revivals in or around Palmyra [–] 1820.”3

Such unconditional denials seem odd for several reasons. First, the published diary of minister Aurora Seager commented that Palmyra had a revival in June 1818. After returning to his “home at Phelps on the 19th of May,” he prepared to attend the annual meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Church’s Genesee Conference (the organizational subdivision for western New York):

I received, on the 18th of June, a letter from Brother [Billy] Hibbard, informing me that I had been received by the [eastern] New York Conference, and, at my request, had been transferred to the Genesee Conference. On [Friday,] the 19th [of June 1818,] I attended a camp-meeting at Palmyra [nearly fourteen miles from Phelps]. The arrival of Bishop Roberts, who seems to be a man of God, and is apostolic in his appearance, gave a deeper interest to the meeting until it closed. On Monday [at Palmyra’s camp-meeting,] the sacrament was administered, about twenty were baptized; forty united with the [Methodist] Church, and the meeting closed. I accompanied the Bishop to Brother [Eleazer] Hawks, at Phelps, and on the 14th of July [1818,] I set out [from Phelps] with Brother [Zechariah] Paddock for the Genesee conference, which was to hold its session at Lansing, N.Y.

This was not a distant reminiscence, because Seager died a year after these events.4 His narrative in itself undermined Reverend Walters’ emphatic declaration that Palmyra had no revival for more than six years after the fall of 1817.

In 1969 BYU religion professor Milton V. Backman Jr. made him aware of this diary entry, and Walters should have recognized that it demonstrated a fundamental flaw in part of his argument. However, he never acknowledged this document. Furthermore, in a 1980 article where he claimed to have read the “entire manuscript” which summarized the above entry from Seager’s diary,5 Walters ridiculed a Mormon author’s assertion that Palmyra’s revivals of 1817 continued into 1818.6

Reverend Seager’s eye-witness narrative has greater importance than merely disproving the claim of no Palmyra revivals for years following 1817. Occurring almost exactly six months after Joseph Smith’s twelfth birthday (23 December 1817), this three-day Methodist camp-meeting in June 1818 provided a local context for the following statement from his earliest autobiography (with its errors of spelling and grammar):

At about the age of twelve years[,] my mind become seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to searching the Scriptures [–] believeing[,] as I was taught, that they contained the word of God [–] thus applying myself to them and [because of] my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations[, this] led me to marvel excedingly [–] for I discovered that they did not adorn their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository [of the Bible–] this was a grief to my Soul [–] thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart …7

Aside from Palmyra’s revivalism during the previous year, the renewed fervor emanating from the village’s Methodist camp-meeting of June 1818 was a catalyst for the twelve-year-old boy to begin his religious quest that reached a crescendo two years later.

Correspondingly, Palmyra’s weekly newspaper was the second oddity in the decades-long repetition of the denials by Reverend Walters. Its edition of 28 June 1820 referred to out-of-town  visitor James Couser, who died on June 26th, the day after he drunkenly left “the Campground” following the evening services of “a camp-meeting which was held in this vicinity.”8 The Palmyra Register’s next edition denied that its editor intended “to charge the Methodists” with selling alcohol at “their camp-ground” while they “professedly met for the worship of their God.”9 Third, farmer’s almanacs–on which the Smiths and other village dwellers depended– specified that spring began on 20 March 1820 and ended when summer commenced on 21 June.10 Traditional LDS statements that Joseph’s revival-inspired theophany happened at an unspecified time “in the spring of 1820″11 thus allow for an event as late as one minute before midnight on June 20th. Fourth, starting with Backman and BYU religion professor Richard Lloyd Anderson in 1969, for more than thirty years LDS authors cited one or both of those newspaper articles as proof that there was at least one religious revival in Palmyra during the first six months of 1820.12

Why have some scholars continued to deny that there was a religious revival that year?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ

2008: John Wesley: A Methodist Foundation for the Restoration / Stephen J. Fleming, Religous Studies Graduate Student, UCSB

John Wesley: A Methodist Foundation for the Restoration
Stephen J. Fleming

The Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel
Vol. 9, No. 3 (2008)

Stephen J. Fleming ( is a graduate student in Religious studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

In August 1877 the signers of the Declaration of Independence visited President Wilford Woodruff, asking for their temple work to be done. Woodruff quickly began this task; in addition, he performed the temple ordinances for a number of other prominent historical figures. In what is often considered an addendum to the story, Woodruff set apart three of the individuals—Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, and John Wesley—as high priests without explaining why in his journals. Woodruff recalled that the signers said, “We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy,”1 implying that their work played an important role in the Restoration of the gospel; the special distinction granted to Columbus, Franklin, and Wesley suggests that they perhaps played a particularly important role.

Church members frequently cite the contributions of the Founding Fathers and Columbus to the Restoration, but much less has been said of Wesley. If we designate Columbus’s, Franklin’s, and Wesley’s contributions to the Restoration according to their major achievements, then Columbus’s achievement would be geographical (finding the New World), Franklin’s would be political (helping to found the United States), and Wesley’s would be religious (founding Methodism).

Members of the Church tend to credit the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, particularly Martin Luther, for playing the primary religious role in setting the stage for the Restoration. Nevertheless, it was Wesley whom Woodruff ordained with Columbus and Franklin.

Indeed, Wesley laid a major part of the groundwork for the Restoration by promoting essentially correct doctrine, encouraging religious zeal at a time when it was waning, and suggesting that the divine could play an active role in the lives of individuals in the midst of Protestant formalism and Enlightenment skepticism. Thus Wesley infused Anglo-American culture with a religiosity that was receptive to the Restoration. Methodism’s influence in the Restored Church is extensive; the following is an attempt to give a summary of Wesley’s achievements.


Born June 17, 1703, to Anglican rector Samuel Wesley and his wife, Susanna, John Wesley grew up in Epworth, Lincolnshire, England. He was raised by a devout mother whose discipline and devotion provided the seedbed for these important characteristics of Methodism. 2 Because of his mother’s example and encouragement, Wesley began training to become an Anglican clergyman at Oxford. Through this study, Wesley discovered a number of Catholic and Anglican writers who were a part of what is called the holy living tradition. These writers rigorously focused on devoting every minute of their lives to God through stringent scheduling and personal devotion. This program was best laid out by the medieval mystic Thomas à Kempis in his classic work The Imitation of Christ, but the works of Anglicans Jeremy Taylor and particularly William Law further ingrained such notions in Wesley. Law, a contemporary of Wesley’s, argued that one should strive for perfection in obedience to God’s law and set aside all frivolity as a diversion from this important task. Wesley found some suggestions of these writers to be overly gloomy and austere, but he nevertheless became convinced that obedience to God’s law, “inward and outward” as Wesley put it, was essential to being a “real Christian.”3

The idea of being a real Christian rather than a nominal Christian became the essence of Wesley’s movement. This factor is demonstrated in Methodism’s beginnings, which took place when John Wesley’s younger brother, Charles, began attending Oxford. Concerned about the religious state of the college, Charles and a small group of likeminded individuals started what became known as the Oxford Holy Club. Although most of the students at Oxford were technically Christians, the Wesleys did not believe many of them behaved as real Christians. However, the Wesleys did not seek to create a separate church but hoped to create a society within the Church of England that would promote true Christianity.

Soon John joined the Oxford Holy Club in their pious living, which included regular fasting, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, scripture study, prayer, and holy conversation. Furthermore, the group engaged in simple living, giving what they could to the poor, and ministering to prisoners. Because of their methodical regimen, they were soon labeled “Methodists,” though some detractors went as far as to call them “Bible moths” or “Bible bigots.” Some critics even claimed that the untimely death of William Morgan, a member of the club, was caused by the frequent fasts of the Holy Club members.4 Morgan’s brother complained to his father that the Methodists “imagine they cannot be saved if they do not spend every hour, nay minute, of their lives in the service of God.”5

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under LDS Conservative Christian Dialog, LDS Focusing on Jesus Christ