Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Living Abraham and His Book (Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price)

As touching Abraham and his book, translated through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:31-32).

The living Abraham holds the keys of the Book of Abraham (cf. Doctrine and Covenants 27:5; 110:12). To diminish the Book of Abraham is thus to diminish Abraham, a god who "hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne" (Doctrine and Covenants 132:29; 37) and, ultimately, to "diminish the purposes" of the God of Abraham, the God of the living. Neither need we redefine Abraham; his years exceed ours (cf. Elder M. Russell Ballard, 20 August 2013, "Let Us Think Straight").

At a distance, now, of millennia, we strain myopically at Abraham's day, but his own memory continues an unbroken mirror. As we read in the book of memory, that day again swims into mortal ken as places, people, events, and, most importantly, covenants, long since forgotten but, nevertheless, real.

Latter-day Saints have long since (in 1880 and again in 1890) taken upon themselves a covenant to reverence the Book of Abraham as scripture. For the Saints, there is no more need to revisit the genuineness of the writings of Abraham than there is to revisit the reality of the exalted Abraham himself. The Book of Abraham comes to us clothed in purity as a translated record of the living father of the covenant people. Abraham is a living prophet, and the Book of Abraham, a true record of his revelations, covenants, ministry, and teachings.

Indeed, the visions of Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph Smith, as attested in unprecedented first-person directness in the Pearl of Great Price, anchor the doctrine of a personal God: "Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another" (Abraham 3:11). We must remove our own shoes on holy ground, and lift our own eyes to God, lest we be found "walking in darkness at noon-day" (Doctrine and Covenants 95:6).

The doctrine is simple: God is God; Abraham is Abraham; covenants are covenants; and scripture is scripture (see Matthew 5:37). And why should Abraham's book prove to be any less iconoclastic than the prophet himself, who, in his day, toppled the learned pretense and wavering consensus of men? The Book of Abraham serves as a compass pointing to true north; we take our bearings by it in both time and eternity and, by this means, avoid the errors inherent in the never-settled, ever-shifting theories of men. Otherwise, Abraham's record, instead of a guiding landmark, becomes just one more instance of "meaningless, decorative masses that have no purpose but to break up the flatness of the horizon" (see President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Walking in Circles," First Presidency Message, Ensign, June 2013).

President Boyd K. Packer teaches us to examine and to weigh the learning of men in the clear morning light of gospel and scriptural truth--not the other way round. As we do so, the truth will shine fair as the sun, clear as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners. Errors in our understanding of history, language, and letters will take flight as we raise high those bright banners to the glory of God. Then lasting intelligence will be ours.


St Paul adds:

"They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." Faith is required to receive the powerful doctrines found in the Book of Abraham.

"They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham"; they are also blessed with the book he left to his faithful posterity.

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