PonderIt

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joseph Smith: A Mostly New Bottle

And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. (Mark 2:22)

It seems to me that Jesus is explaining in this passage why he didn't use the existing Jewish establishment to spread his message when he came to earth in the meridian of time. Instead, he started with those whom others considered ignorant and unlearned.

Speaking of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, Spencer W. Kimball said, "This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn."

President Kimball is obviously seeking to draw our minds back to the Savior and his work by his description of the boy prophet. It is ironic, however, that it was during the tenure of Spencer Kimball as a leader in the church that we learned that his description of Joseph is hyperbolic. It appears that Joseph was very much a product of his environment, soaking up the legends and superstitions of his time. Mark Hofmann with his forgeries, shocked the Mormon world with stories of salamanders and spirits. But his forgeries about Joseph and magic and treasure digging were believable precisely because they fit in with the things that were being unearthed at the time he forged them.

Joseph wasn't, it turns out, an entirely new bottle. Are we wrong then, to draw such images as President Kimball did? We're in company with the Savior when we do so. Jesus himself seemed to describe his followers as new bottles even though they too had soaked up false beliefs about religion and about the coming Messiah. Those sincere ancient apostle, like Joseph in modern times, had things to unlearn. But Kimball is right on the larger point. Joseph was the instrument that the Lord needed to move the work forward, and we're all grateful he was available and fit for the job.

4 Comments:

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  • I think newness of bottles is relative. It would be impossible to find some responsibly adult, or near adult, who was a completely new bottle.

    I still believe Joseph was relatively new bottle-wise. But nobody will ever match some impossible standard.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 10/20/2008 8:41 AM  

  • Perhaps "recycled bottle" is better: making new bottles out of old material.

    By Anonymous Connor, at 10/20/2008 8:46 AM  

  • I found a Wonderful site on Isaiah!
    http://www.isaiahexplained.com/
    The site has free lessons on every chapter.
    Very well done and in the author’s own voice.
    Every Isaiah Chapter has the Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Enjoy this personable verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah by well-known Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi.

    “Dr. Gileadi is the only LDS scholar I know of who is thoroughly competent to teach the words of Isaiah”—Professor Hugh Nibley, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. (1. 6. 2003)

    “It is my testimony that this man has been brought forward and trained at this time to help those inside the Church into Isaiah, and those outside the Church, Jew and Gentile, through Isaiah into the Church” —Arthur Henry King, author, former BYU professor and London
    Temple President.

    “Dr. Gileadi has achieved a major breakthrough in the investigation of a book of such complexity and importance as the Book of Isaiah”—Professor David Noel Freedman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    “Dr. Gileadi’s work will render obsolete almost all the speculations of Isaiah scholars over the last one hundred years . . . enabling scholarship to proceed along an entirely new line . . . opening new avenues of approach for others to follow”—Professor Roland K. Harrison, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.

    “Only one who is truly at home not only with the Hebrew but with the ancient manner of biblical thought could have produced such an insightful and ground-breaking book”—Professor S. Douglas Waterhouse, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

    “Avraham Gileadi’s unsealing of the Book of Isaiah will forever change people’s
    understanding of Judeo-Christian religion, lifting it to heights hitherto known only to prophets and saints”—Arie Noot, corporate executive, Edmond, Oklahoma.

    “Isaiah Decoded is a huge breakthrough for the seeker of truth—Jew, Christian, Moslem, and agnostic. From an ancient writing, Gileadi has brought to light eternal truths about the nature of God and our relationship to him that have lain buried for centuries in the dust of time”—Guy Wins, fifth-generation Jewish diamond dealer from Antwerp, Belgium.

    “Gileadi is the only scholar I know who has been able to express the Jewish expectation of the Messiah in relation to the life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth”—Daniel Rona, Israeli tour guide, Jerusalem, Israel.

    “Dr. Gileadi has clearly demonstrated his mastery of the Book of Isaiah and of the scholarly literature dealing with it”—Professor Ronald Youngblood, Bethel Theological Seminary, San Diego, California.

    “Avraham Gileadi’s books and tapes take the casual observer of Isaiah’s words and transform him into an enlightened and lifelong student of the Word of God”—Allan and Nancy Pratt, LDS mission president, Toulouse, France.

    “Dr. Gileadi has awakened a whole new depth of my understanding of Isaiah’s prophetic message. His books and tapes illuminate the urgent relevance of Isaiah’s writings to our own day”—Becky Douglas, supervisor and sponsor of three orphanages in India, Atlanta, Georgia.

    “Dr. Gileadi’s translation [of the Book of Isaiah] is clear and smooth, allowing the reader to appreciate the power and beauty of Isaiah as conveyed in the Hebrew original”—Professor Herbert M. Wolf, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

    “Gileadi has uncovered an amazing message written in a divine code by the prophet–poet Isaiah. This will give comfort, hope, and joy to masses of people as they cope with the perplexing events now unfolding before their eyes”—Fenton Tobler, thirty years elementary school principle, Las Vegas, Nevada.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/21/2008 10:37 AM  

  • Here’s a million dollar question – If you were to die right now, would you qualify for the celestial kingdom? If you’re like most Mormons, you’re not sure. You try hard to be as good as possible, but you still don’t know if you’ve done enough. If the Book of Mormon is really scripture, this hope will always elude you. Alma 11:37 says God cannot save you in your sins. Are all of your sins forgiven? Moroni 10:32 says you must be perfected in Christ, which can only be done by denying yourself of “all ungodliness”. Have you done that? Do you repent on a regular basis? If so, then it is clear that you sin on a regular basis, since only those who break the commandments need to repent. 1 Nephi 3:7 states that you are able to keep His commandments. In fact according to D&C 25:15, you are required to keep them continually! Since you haven’t done this so far, why assume you will in the future? Of course, we should all try to be holy; but if you think that sinning less will qualify you to live in God’s presence, you are mistaken (Gal 3:1-11). The assumption that good works are required for forgiveness only cheapens Christ’s atonement, making it nothing more than a partial payment. God chooses to justify us by faith. Jesus alone does the “perfecting” (Heb 10:14). God gives peace to those who trust in Him alone. If you don’t have this peace, it’s probably because at least a part of you trusts in yourself. Questions? Visit us at www.gotforgiveness.com

    By Blogger Further The Kingdom, at 1/02/2009 10:40 PM  

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