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THINGS AS THEY ARE, WERE ARE TO COME
What Does Cosmology Have to do With My Salvation?
ANTHONY E. LARSON

integral part of the gospel taught by Jesus Christ and embraced by the primitive church or early Christian . W hen addressing Latter-day Saints.THINGS AS THEY ARE. it remains preserved in plain sight throughout scripture and religious rites. It was also an important. suns and moons — and its attendant mythology was not just an affectation of Old Testament peoples. WERE AND ARE TO COME What Does Cosmology Have to do With My Salvation? Copyright © 2009 Anthony E. I often observe that cosmology — the study of planets and stars. Larson Hugh Nibley believed in what he called cosmism or an deep connection between events in the heavens in ancient times and Judaism and early Christianity. While this connection came to be discounted and suppressed down through the millennia.

” Invariably. if they are aware of it at all. is vital to our salvation and exaltation. Ask any Latter-day Saint what a study of the heavens has to do with being a proper church member or achieving perfection and he or she will likely say. In that same essay. Because cosmological elements were part of Old Testament tradition as well as New Testament teachings and were fully reinstated by Joseph Smith in the Restoration. let’s read more of what he had to say on this subject. moons. the cosmology of the ancients has everything to do with our religion.” But that answer could not be more wrong. mythology. I also assert that knowledge of the ancient heavens. In fact. possibly have on my salvation or exaltation?” The history of planets. What bearing can ancient cosmology and its handmaiden. cosmology held an elevated status in the doctrine of the modern or restored church. So. stars. I am not alone in this claim. in the Book of Mormon as well as in our temple symbolism and ritual.” Nibley — the preeminent LDS scholar for all things ancient — wrote that “cosmism” was a “hallmark of early Christianity. you might say. In his essay “Unrolling the Scrolls: Some Forgotten Witnesses. . To that. Nibley also wrote that “somehow or other the physical cosmos is involved in the plan of salvation. or cosmology. moons or suns in any lesson I’ve ever heard on the plan of salvation. “I don’t recall any discussion of planets. But there is no denying it.” We know this because references to cosmological or astral elements — what Nibley calls cosmism — are found everywhere in early Christian and Jewish writings. “Nothing. in the Doctrine and Covenants. that claim leaves most Saints cold. too. It’s everywhere in the hallmark elements of the modern church: in the Pearl of Great Price. Why would Nibley make such a statement?” To better understand. though today’s Latter-day Saints are reluctant to acknowledge that fact. stars. Their rejoinder: “Now you’ve really gone over the top.3 religion. suns and their role in prophetic tradition are seldom considered useful in one’s attempt to understand the restored gospel sufficiently to obtain salvation and exaltation.

) Just as Christian and Jewish clergy have distanced themselves from the cosmism. some of the early Christian and Jewish writers did the same thing. In other words. tending to associate religion with the physical universe in any way. 171. strangest of all. “Treasures in the Heavens. but giving God the aspect attributed to him by the primitive prophets of Israel. and. eschatological and mythological components in our religion. our discourse is little different from theirs. (Nibley. this weakness in them has been explained away as a Gnostic aberration. they have been perfectly preserved in our revelations and our temples. we’ve repeated the same mistakes. unhesitatingly bringing other worlds and universes into the picture. and yet today there is a marked tendency in all the churches to support the usual bloodless abstractions and stereotyped moral sermons with a touch of apocalyptic realism. What Nibley says of other churches. modern Mormons have distanced themselves and their perception of their religion from those same elements reinstated in the modern church by Joseph Smith in the Restoration. Well. As a result.” that is. Because we don’t want to be condemned as pagans and our church as a cult. Joseph Smith was taken to task for the crude literalism of his religion—not only talking with angels like regular people.4 As Christianity has been deeschatologized and demythologized in our own day. I attribute to us as well: “…today there is a marked tendency in all the churches to support the usual bloodless abstractions and stereotyped moral sermons with a touch of apocalyptic realism …” The marvel is that even though we don’t recognize those cosmological. so in the fourth century it was thoroughly dematerialized. making us ignorant of their utility in deciphering the teachings of the prophets and the message in our temples. . just as our Christian cousins have done. eschatology and mythology of the primitive church.” p. The wonder is that we are nearly blind to them. which indeed now supplies the main appeal of some of the most sensationally successful evangelists. we emphasize our “Christianity” by distancing ourselves from cosmological elements. has been instantly condemned by Christian and Jewish clergy alike as paganism and blasphemy. and ever since then anything smacking of “cosmism.

then you really haven’t internalized or fully understood the implications of this all important study. New Testament apostles and the first elder of this dispensation. With correct knowledge comes power. which I repeat: When trying to comprehend and apply the principles and teachings of the Restored Gospel.com . we put our salvation and exaltation at risk. For more essays from this series: http://mormonprophecy. videos.blogspot. if you have to ask what all this ancient cosmology has to do with your salvation. as the title of this essay does. The value is apparent on the face of it. Without that understanding we cannot fully grasp the message of the Savior and the prophets. Without the revelatory information and comprehension that come with the knowledge of ancient cosmology. we can easily misconstrue the message of the prophets. a thoroughgoing knowledge of ancient cosmology and its bearing upon Christ’s gospel and the message of the prophets is indispensable. the essentials of salvation and exaltation. Without it. That’s why it was treasured and carefully preserved by Old Testament prophets. Clearly.com/ For online classes. newsletters and published books exploring this material in depth: http://www. the Lord thought it important enough to include cosmology in every aspect of the religion he restored through Joseph Smith. we can easily fall victims to the fraud that has engulfed the rest of Christianity.mormonprophecy.com/ Your questions or comments are welcome: anthonyelarson@gmail.5 It is the very pervasiveness and utilitarian value of these cosmological components that compels me to make this admittedly radical claim. So. Joseph Smith. Our ignorance of these truths makes us vulnerable to misunderstanding and deception. something Joseph emphasized time and again.

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