Thursday, November 24, 2022

In Mormon Russia, the Lord consecrates things unto YOU.

Here's a complete list of Bible passages where consecrate is used with the preposition to or unto -- thus excluding those passages where consecrate means "to ordain a priest": 

For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day (Ex. 32:39).

And he [a Nazarite] shall consecrate unto the Lord the days of his separation (Num. 6:12).

But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron [taken in the pillage of Jericho], are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord (Josh. 6:19).

And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord [to help build the Temple]? (1 Chr. 29:5)

Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings (2 Chr. 29:31).

And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps (2 Chr. 31:6).

Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I [the Lord] will consecrate their [the conquered heathen nations'] gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth (Micah 4:13).

Noticing a pattern here? Now here's the corresponding list for the Book of Mormon (also including passages with for, of which there are none in the Bible):

Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring (2 Ne. 1:6-7).

Wherefore, if ye [Zoram] shall keep the commandments of the Lord, the Lord hath consecrated this land for the security of thy seed with the seed of my son [Nephi] (2 Ne. 1:32).

Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain (2 Ne. 2:2).

And may the Lord consecrate also unto thee [Joseph] this land, which is a most precious land, for thine inheritance and the inheritance of thy seed with thy brethren, for thy security forever, if it so be that ye shall keep the commandments of the Holy One of Israel (2 Ne. 3:2).

Wherefore, I [God] will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me [Jacob] (2 Ne. 10:19).

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he [the Father] will consecrate thy performance unto thee [the worshiper], that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul (2 Ne. 32:9).

And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people (2 Ne. 33:4).

For I [Jesus] will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it (3 Ne. 20:19).

In the Bible, things are almost invariably consecrated by human beings to the Lord. The only exceptions are a few passages in which consecrated is passive, not making explicit who does the consecrating, and the final passage, from Micah, where the Lord consecrates something to himself. Not once in the entire Bible is anything ever said to be consecrated to anyone or anything other than the Lord.

In the Book of Mormon, on the other hand, we see the "Russian reversal" alluded to in my title: Things are always consecrated by the Lord to human beings, and the only exception is -- Jesus quoting the Bible! And which passage does he choose to quote? The only passage in the whole Bible in which (in keeping with the Book of Mormon pattern) it is the Lord who consecrates something, though in this case he consecrates it to himself rather than to mortals.

I've been reading and rereading the Bible and the Book of Mormon for nearly 40 years now. How is it that I never noticed this very striking contrast until today? Still full of surprises, these old books, no matter how many times you've been through them.

I intend to write a follow-up post later in which I attempt an interpretation of this Book of Mormon concept of "reverse consecration," but in the meantime I put the facts out there without comment and invite readers to chime in if they feel so inclined.

7 comments:

Mike A. said...

When I replace the word consecrate with “to make holy”, it makes it even more meaningful to me.

In the temple we are symbolically washed and anointed with consecrated oil from a rams horn, foreshadowing our destiny as kings and queens, priests and priestesses unto The Most High God. (1st Samuel 16:13)

Then we are put under covenant to obey, to sacrifice, to live the Law of the Gospel, the live the Law of Chastity, and then finally?

The Law of Consecration.

We promise to make ourselves holy, and our time, and our talents, etc.

We are then embraced by the Father and allowed to enter His presence, through the Savior, as consecrated, holy beings.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Mike

In the Bible, people consecrate things to God. In the Book of Mormon, God consecrates things to people. In the Micah passage shared by the two books, God consecrates things to God.

The inscription on the temple is “Holiness to the Lord” (biblical consecration), but in the temple Law of Consecration we have the fourth logical possibility: people consecrate things to people (“to the Church”).

Mike A said...

@WJT

Yes, to the Church, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.

Or in other words, to God.

God accomplishes His purposes on earth using a Church, led by prophets. Just like in the New Testament.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

@Mike

Well, the wording of the covenant could easily have been "to God" if that was what was intended. I think the fact that temple initiates consecrate themselves "to the Church" is significant in light of the consistent BoM pattern of God consecrating things to people.

As for your last sentence, I think "just like the New Testament" is a bit of an exaggeration and comes from reading the Bible through the lens of Mormon preconceptions. There are prophets in the Bible (including in the NT), and there are church leaders, but the two roles are united in one person and one person only: Moses the Man of God. In post-biblical times, we have Muhammad and Joseph Smith -- and that's it! A grand total of three people in the history of the world. Jesus himself was a prophet but not a church leader, as there was no "Christian church" until after his death. He had his little circle of disciples, of course, but I would no more call him a "church leader" than I would the Buddha.

I know Mormon convention gives the title "prophet" to such people as Simon Peter, Paul of Tarsus, and the various successors of Joseph Smith, but I think this is more a convention than anything else, and one that attenuates the meaning of the word "prophet." Despite the inspiration and holiness of some of these people, they didn't play a role like that of Elijah or Isaiah; they just didn't. Someone like Russell M. Nelson is, despite his official titles, basically just a Pope, and not in any real sense a modern-day Joseph Smith.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - "Someone like Russell M. Nelson is, despite his official titles, basically just a Pope, and not in any real sense a modern-day Joseph Smith."

Real prophets always work alone, I think; and in that respect it is interesting that Mormonism had an urge towards committees from very early; even from Joseph Smith. Especially after Brigham Young, it seems that there was a incremental increase in the 'group responsibility' aspect of the prophetic function - so that the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood, for instance, seems to have been presented as a group decision almost wholly.

If I am correct in assuming that actual prophecy can only be from one person; this all-but eliminates genuine prophecy from the administration.

There are many other examples of modern churches in which groups claim to pray for divine guidance (rather than prophecy) - the election of the Pope in the RCC; and (believe it or not) the Synod of the Church of England. I other words, the participants pray that their decision will be guided by God (and pretend Not to be engaged in electioneering, horse-trading and vote rigging).

But I think (IF they were honest) nobody really believes 'group inspiration' actually 'works', nowadays.

Although I would not rule out the possibility for groups to achieve a group-mind in the past; and for that group to receive divine guidance - for instance, the translators of the Authorized Version (King James) of the Bible; which is both astonishingly accurate; and also the greatest work of English prose - first rate literature not being something that is usually achievable by more than one person.

Mike A said...

@WJT

Well, trying to stay on topic…

I believe the two mites offered by the Widow was a consecrated, holy offering to God—and was accepted by God—even if it was transacted through a corrupt organization.

I wish both you and Bruce the best on this American day of Thanksgiving. God bless you both.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

The same to you, Mike. Happy Thanksgiving!

BREAKING: Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't exist, and Jim Carrey is now Paul Giamatti

Just when you thought Google couldn't get any faker or gayer . . . None of this has been photoshopped. I have no idea what's going o...