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Equilibrium & 2 Nephi 2


bjw

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I'm going through the Scottish Rite Master Craftsman program and Guthrie College of the Consistory right now, and I am reading some of Albert Pike's writings to do my quizzes and papers. I found some striking similarities between Pike's writings and some of the Book of Mormon, particularly 2 Nephi 2. Here's some examples from page 571 of Pike's Morals and Dogma:

...without which co-existence of Liberty and Necessity, of Free-will in the creature and Omnipotence in the Creator, there could be no religion, nor any law of right and wrong, or merit and demerit, nor any justice in human punishments or penal laws.

This is definitely a concept in the Book of Mormon, especially 2 Nephi 2 and Alma 43. The concept of free agency as well as opposites is central to Mormonism and Masonry.

Another quote...

Of that Equilibrium between Good and Evil, and Light and Darkness in the world, which assures us that all is the work of the Infinite Wisdom and of an Infinite Love; and that there is no rebellious demon of Evil, or Principle of Darkness co-existent and in eternal controversy with God, or the Principle of Light and of Good, by attaining to the knowledge of which equilibrium we can, through Faith, see that the existence of Evil, Sin, Suffering, and Sorrow in the world, is consistent with the Infinite Goodness as well as with the Infinite Wisdom of the Almighty.

This is definitely a concept from 2 Nephi 2, particularly verse 24 about all things, good or bad, are done in the "wisdom of im who knoweth all things."

This brings us to the question of how common these teachings were in the 1800s, particularly when the Book of Mormon was written. We know Morals and Dogma was written later than the Book of Mormon, and its definitely possible that Pike could have read it or was somehow influenced by it. However, the masonic degrees Pike was writing on were in existence even during the 1700s and predated Mormonism, and these teachings were said by masonry to have been borrowed from the ancient mystery religions and the kabbalah.

So, can we count this as a bulls-eye for Joseph Smith, since they are doctrines from mystery religions? Do we have proof these doctrines existed in the time of the Nephites? Or...is it more likely Mormonism borrowed the doctrines from a modern source, like masonry? Were any other Christian denominations beside Mormonism teaching or debating these types of issues at the time of translation? Also, how much of an influence did Scottish Rite Masonry have on the York Rite Masons that were also Mormons? (Since these are mostly Scottish Rite doctrines that Pike was writing on.)

Considering the other post I made about Pike mentioning the gods Korasht and Elkamer, it makes you wonder if both were influenced by a common source, or if both honestly knew ancient doctrines. Any thoughts?

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Binary opposition is one of the most widespread concepts in humanity. I suspect that it is one of the fundamental classificatory schemes that can be devised (paralleled with the "these two things are the same"). Because the general idea is so common, it cannot be seen as either a hit or a direct borrowing. There are simply too many possible sources.

Just as a sidenote, it was one of the earliest Christian texts as well - the doctrine of the Two Ways (way of life/way of death).

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This is definitely a concept from 2 Nephi 2

"Opposition" in all things is not the same as "Equilibrium" precisely because of agency and especially because of how God uses His agency. A third part, not a second part, oppose Him. And God always wins.

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"Opposition" in all things is not the same as "Equilibrium" precisely because of agency and especially because of how God uses His agency. A third part, not a second part, oppose Him. And God always wins.

I'd like to add that equilibrium is the "compound in one" of nothingness that is countered by existence itself (D&C 93:30).

Ne. 2: 11: "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility."

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Just as a sidenote, it was one of the earliest Christian texts as well - the doctrine of the Two Ways (way of life/way of death).

Where can I find this? You mean that section of the Didache, or is there more?

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BJW,

I appreciate your posting something so interesting. When did Pike write--wasn't it in the late 1800s, not contemporaneous with Joseph Smith? I imagine his views had antecedents during the time of Joseph Smith. And Pike's formulation of the opposition does sound a good deal like Lehi to me.

However, I tend to agree with Brant. This should never have been counted as a "bullseye" for Book of Mormon apologetics, but it doesn't make much of a bullseye for Book of Mormon criticism either.

The fact that an idea has parallels in one culture or context doesn't preclude its having the same parallels in others.

Don

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Oh, by the way, there was an article in Dialogue in the last few years by Clyde Ford on Lehi's theology, putting it in 19th century context. He found that context illuminating and yet did not find the Book of Mormon doctrine to be an exact match for existing theology. Rather, it made an original contribution. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's what he argues.

Don

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I'm going through the Scottish Rite Master Craftsman program and Guthrie College of the Consistory right now, and I am reading some of Albert Pike's writings to do my quizzes and papers. I found some striking similarities between Pike's writings and some of the Book of Mormon, particularly 2 Nephi 2.

This is definitely a concept in the Book of Mormon, especially 2 Nephi 2 and Alma 43. The concept of free agency as well as opposites is central to Mormonism and Masonry.

Another quote...

This is definitely a concept from 2 Nephi 2, particularly verse 24 about all things, good or bad, are done in the "wisdom of im who knoweth all things."

This brings us to the question of how common these teachings were in the 1800s, particularly when the Book of Mormon was written.

We know Morals and Dogma was written later than the Book of Mormon, and its definitely possible that Pike could have read it or was somehow influenced by it. However, the masonic degrees...predated Mormonism, and these teachings were said by masonry to have been borrowed from the ancient mystery religions...

...Any thoughts?

Four thoughts:

Nephites-->Hagoth--->Europe---->freemasonry

So, can we count this as a bulls-eye for Joseph Smith

I instead see it as a means to gain greater appreciation for the political and spiritual heritage that has rippled from our fathers throughout Western Civilization.

Do we have proof these doctrines existed in the time of the Nephites?

Depends on what you mean by proof.

In my opinion, the answer is yes. Lots of it.

But enough proof to convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced? Nope.

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BJW,

I appreciate your posting something so interesting. When did Pike write--wasn't it in the late 1800s, not contemporaneous with Joseph Smith?

Thanks.

Pike wrote Morals and Dogma in the latter half of the 1800s, after the Book of Mormon was published. However, the teachings Pike is writing about comes from the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite, which was probably around since the mid 1700s. It is unknown whether or not these ideas could have reached anyone connected with the Book of Mormon, especially since most Mormons were in the York Rite and not the Scottish Rite.

Some interesting posts on here so far, I'm gonna have to research this further.

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Oh, by the way, there was an article in Dialogue in the last few years by Clyde Ford on Lehi's theology, putting it in 19th century context. He found that context illuminating and yet did not find the Book of Mormon doctrine to be an exact match for existing theology. Rather, it made an original contribution. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's what he argues.

Would it be worth considering the premise that 19th-century theology could well be viewed as a subset of (and extrapolation from) ancient Nephite thoughts?

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Would it be worth considering the premise that 19th-century theology could well be viewed as a subset of (and extrapolation from) ancient Nephite thoughts?

This is what I was thinking. With masonry claiming that these doctrines have an ancient origin with the ancient mysteries, it makes sense that if Mormonism is a restoration it would have elements of these doctrines.

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Would it be worth considering the premise that 19th-century theology could well be viewed as a subset of (and extrapolation from) ancient Nephite thoughts?

Not really. Not unless you mean LDS theology.

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Would it be worth considering the premise that 19th-century theology could well be viewed as a subset of (and extrapolation from) ancient Nephite thoughts?

Not really. Not unless you mean LDS theology.

I mean both.

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Thanks.

Pike wrote Morals and Dogma in the latter half of the 1800s, after the Book of Mormon was published. However, the teachings Pike is writing about comes from the 32nd degree of the Scottish Rite, which was probably around since the mid 1700s. It is unknown whether or not these ideas could have reached anyone connected with the Book of Mormon, especially since most Mormons were in the York Rite and not the Scottish Rite.

Some interesting posts on here so far, I'm gonna have to research this further.

BJ,

If I'm not mistaken, Pike's work is highly interpretive. So it cannot simply be assumed that what he was writing was somehow straight from the Masonic ceremonies of the time.

Also, Joseph Smith was never a 32nd degree Mason. He went only to the 3rd (Master Mason) degree. We have contemporaneous expose's of those degrees, and, significantly, they do not the detailed, Lehi-like discussion of opposition you refer to above.

The chances that Joseph Smith could have taken the theology of opposition in 2 Nephi 2 from Freemasonry seem rather small.

Don

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BJ,

If I'm not mistaken, Pike's work is highly interpretive. So it cannot simply be assumed that what he was writing was somehow straight from the Masonic ceremonies of the time.

Also, Joseph Smith was never a 32nd degree Mason. He went only to the 3rd (Master Mason) degree. We have contemporaneous expose's of those degrees, and, significantly, they do not the detailed, Lehi-like discussion of opposition you refer to above.

The chances that Joseph Smith could have taken the theology of opposition in 2 Nephi 2 from Freemasonry seem rather small.

Don

You are correct. This is a concept that is developed in the later degrees of the Scottish Rite. We'll probably never know if these concepts were known by York Rite masons or anyone connected with Mormonism during the time period. If we could prove that these doctrines have an ancient source, we may be able to count this as a bulls-eye for Joseph Smith. The fact that a work like the Book of Mormon could have such developed hermetic doctrines independent of a modern source definitely looks good for the case of Mormonism.

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BJ,

If I'm not mistaken, Pike's work is highly interpretive. So it cannot simply be assumed that what he was writing was somehow straight from the Masonic ceremonies of the time.

Also, Joseph Smith was never a 32nd degree Mason. He went only to the 3rd (Master Mason) degree. We have contemporaneous expose's of those degrees, and, significantly, they do not the detailed, Lehi-like discussion of opposition you refer to above.

The chances that Joseph Smith could have taken the theology of opposition in 2 Nephi 2 from Freemasonry seem rather small.

Don

"Highly interpretive" is an understatement. "Speculative" is perhaps a better word- but it is a lot of fun and very interesting stuff! My copy of Pike was autographed by about 30 members of a lodge in Pasadena Calif in the early 1920's- it was a great find.

Freemasonry has nothing like the Christ-centered ceremonies Joseph restored. Superficial similarities, yes, but the entire context is totally different.

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