Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anachronistic Religion -- D&C 84: 100

"The Lord hath redeemed his people;
And Satan is bound and time is no longer.
The Lord hath gathered all things in one.
The Lord hath brought down Zion from above.
The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath."

A common criticism of Mormonism is that our sense of the past is anachronistic. People take issue with the overt Christianity of Book of Mormon prophets. They are suspicious of the way certain phrasings seem to come before their time. These same critics probably wonder what Peter, James, and John are doing in the woods of the nineteenth-century American frontier, and why temples with fonts held up by statues of twelve oxen reappear in the past today. They are intensely frustrated that we can't seem to keep our time periods straight and take it as evidence that our religion cannot be true.

I wonder if we realize, though, how deeply our religion is anti-chronistic, how much it undermines common assumptions about the absolute reality of time as a line divided cleary into past, present, and future. In Mormon thought, time is not so tight. What appear to outside critics to be oversights, sloppy fiction writing on the part of Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets, are actually profound expressions of a deep truth about the way redeemed human experience will work.

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