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The Symbol IS / IS NOT The Thing


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On another thread the principle of the symbol being or not being the thing it represents was raised.

A good example of when a symbol was mistakenly believed to be the actual thing led to transubstantiation in the sacrament.
I know many here disagree, but for me the opposite is true when people believe something actual is believed to be a symbol - like Adam, Noah, or the Ark.

I can think of examples in the gospel where the symbolic item is SOMETIMES the actual thing but not always.  For example, the Celestial Room only represents coming into the presence of the Lord, except when the Lord is actually there.
The temple as fortress against the world - I think that is both symbolic AND actual.
I'm trying to come up with some situations where the symbolic item in the gospel actually is what it represents.  

What say the board members?
Can you think of times when a gospel symbol IS or IS NOT the actual thing it supposedly represents?

The symbol is NOT the thing symbolized; the word is NOT the thing; the map  is NOT the territory it stands for." » Quotedenote

 

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10 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

On another thread the principle of the symbol being or not being the thing it represents was raised.

A good example of when a symbol was mistakenly believed to be the actual thing led to transubstantiation in the sacrament.
I know many here disagree, but for me the opposite is true when people believe something actual is believed to be a symbol - like Adam, Noah, or the Ark.

I can think of examples in the gospel where the symbolic item is SOMETIMES the actual thing but not always.  For example, the Celestial Room only represents coming into the presence of the Lord, except when the Lord is actually there.
The temple as fortress against the world - I think that is both symbolic AND actual.
I'm trying to come up with some situations where the symbolic item in the gospel actually is what it represents.  

What say the board members?
Can you think of times when a gospel symbol IS or IS NOT the actual thing it supposedly represents?

The symbol is NOT the thing symbolized; the word is NOT the thing; the map  is NOT the territory it stands for." » Quotedenote

 

In the Old Testament, cymbals were symbols of praise, and also actual symbols... did I get that right?

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24 minutes ago, CV75 said:

In the Old Testament, cymbals were symbols of praise, and also actual symbols... did I get that right?

Yeah, but I think you're far more creative than that.

We can take for example Joseph's statement concerning prophecy:

  • Daniel did not see an actual bear or a lion but the images or figures of those beasts. The translation should have been rendered ‘image’ instead of ‘beast,’ in every instance where beasts are mentioned by the prophets. But John saw the actual beast in heaven, showing to John that beasts did actually exist there, and not to represent figures of things on the earth.

image.jpeg.875d3d2522774d5937df2d583973d68e.jpeg

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Yeah, but I think you're far more creative than that.

We can take for example Joseph's statement concerning prophecy:

  • Daniel did not see an actual bear or a lion but the images or figures of those beasts. The translation should have been rendered ‘image’ instead of ‘beast,’ in every instance where beasts are mentioned by the prophets. But John saw the actual beast in heaven, showing to John that beasts did actually exist there, and not to represent figures of things on the earth.

image.jpeg.875d3d2522774d5937df2d583973d68e.jpeg

The ordinances use symbols, but they are also the only means by which we are ultimately bound to God. I take those essential to exaltation to be appendages to the Atonement of Christ, which I take to be an ordinance. They all have to be enacted in the flesh (even if by proxy) and honored in the spirit in any case.

Edited by CV75
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20 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

If a symbol is actually "the" thing, it is no longer a symbol. A symbol is a representation of "the" thing, so if it IS the thing, it doesn't need to separately represent itself.

Good point.

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23 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

If a symbol is actually "the" thing, it is no longer a symbol. A symbol is a representation of "the" thing, so if it IS the thing, it doesn't need to separately represent itself.

But as you're fond of saying to me "why can't it be both"?

For example the explanation given of the garment in the initiatory.  Or when scripture calls baptism being born of water.
Both symbolic AND literally the actual thing.  In baptism we are literally reborn as new beings in Christ through the waters of the covenant, born of water.  That's not symbolic, but a literal thing.  But "being buried" in baptism would be symbolic too.

Or the healing of the sick:
"What is the sign of the healing of the sick? the laying on of hands is the sign, or way marked out by James; and the custom of the ancient Saints as ordered by the Lord; and we can not obtain the blessing by pursuing any other course, except the way marked out by the Lord." - Joseph Smith

Is laying on of hands a  sign and symbol or part of the actual process of healing?  It's clearly both if we cannot obtain the blessing any other way.
Joseph also said "There are certain key-words, and signs belonging to the priesthood, which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing".  So are the key words and signs symbols or the actual way the blessings are bestowed?

Edited by JLHPROF
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39 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

But as you're fond of saying to me "why can't it be both"?

For example the explanation given of the garment in the initiatory.  Or when scripture calls baptism being born of water.
Both symbolic AND literally the actual thing.  In baptism we are literally reborn as new beings in Christ through the waters of the covenant, born of water.  That's not symbolic, but a literal thing.  But "being buried" in baptism would be symbolic too.

Or the healing of the sick:
"What is the sign of the healing of the sick? the laying on of hands is the sign, or way marked out by James; and the custom of the ancient Saints as ordered by the Lord; and we can not obtain the blessing by pursuing any other course, except the way marked out by the Lord." - Joseph Smith

Is laying on of hands a  sign and symbol or part of the actual process of healing?  It's clearly both if we cannot obtain the blessing any other way.
Joseph also said "There are certain key-words, and signs belonging to the priesthood, which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing".  So are the key words and signs symbols or the actual way the blessings are bestowed?

As I mentioned above, the ordinances use symbols (words, actions), but they are also the literal means by which the power of God is manifest in the flesh in that they all have to be administered or enacted in the flesh (even if by proxy), though they are honored in the spirit in any case. The form and symbols are defined by God and He can change them. Typically, He authorizes those with the keys to do this under His direction.

I believe the Atonement of Christ (His physical suffering in the garden and on the cross) and the Resurrection are ordinances that must be performed in the flesh and yet have no symbolism in their form.

I would argue that the ordinance of baptism is not the literal rebirth of a new being in Christ since our hearts have to be in it for that to happen. Baptism is the Lord's prescribed means by which we can establish that. The garment is a literal covering whether our heart is in it or not. The laying on of hands is the actual conveyance of healing, confirmation, baptism by fire, blessings, setting apart, ordination, etc. but if our heart is not in it none of these things happen.

Ultimately, everything has to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to become fully actualized, and I take this to be a "non-symbolic" ordinance that can be performed in the flesh, but not necessarily always.

Edited by CV75
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2 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I believe the Atonement of Christ (His physical suffering in the garden and on the cross) and the Resurrection are ordinances that must be performed in the flesh and yet have no symbolism in their form.

You don't consider there to be any symbolism in one person assuming the guilt and paying the price for another.  It literally happened, but Christ taking upon him my sins?  Do you see any symbolic act in that since he really wasn't actually culpable or guilty of the sin.  I am genuinely curious on this one.  He stood in our place, he was the symbol for our guilt.

Quote

I would argue that the ordinance of baptism is not the literal rebirth of a new being in Christ since our hearts have to be in it for that to happen. Baptism is the Lord's prescribed means by which we can establish that. The garment is a literal covering whether our heart is in it or not. The laying on of hands is the actual conveyance of healing, confirmation, baptism by fire, blessings, setting apart, ordination, etc. but if our heart is not in it none of these things happen.

Not disagreeing with this.  But baptism in water literally cleanses us of sin, I would argue every bit as much as a change of heart, because it is the act that creates the covenant between us and Christ.  It is not merely symbolic of the change in heart.
And scripture says we must be "born of water" and Christ in Mark says the act of Baptism is necessary for salvation.  So the ordinance is not merely symbolic, even though there is much symbolism involved in our rebirth as "Christians".

And the garment is literally described as representing one garment but literally being the garment of the priesthood.  It both represents and is the garment given to man by God.

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18 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

On another thread the principle of the symbol being or not being the thing it represents was raised.

A good example of when a symbol was mistakenly believed to be the actual thing led to transubstantiation in the sacrament.
I know many here disagree, but for me the opposite is true when people believe something actual is believed to be a symbol - like Adam, Noah, or the Ark.

I can think of examples in the gospel where the symbolic item is SOMETIMES the actual thing but not always.  For example, the Celestial Room only represents coming into the presence of the Lord, except when the Lord is actually there.
The temple as fortress against the world - I think that is both symbolic AND actual.
I'm trying to come up with some situations where the symbolic item in the gospel actually is what it represents.  

What say the board members?
Can you think of times when a gospel symbol IS or IS NOT the actual thing it supposedly represents?

The symbol is NOT the thing symbolized; the word is NOT the thing; the map  is NOT the territory it stands for." » Quotedenote

 

The prophesied gathering of Israel in latter days can be symbolic, literal or both. 
 

It was literal when converts to the Church in Europe and the British Isles emigrated en masse to Church headquarters in America’s Intermountain West up to around the beginning of the 20th century. 
 

It is symbolic when converts to the Church remain at home but reject worldliness and gather to Zion by uniting with the Latter-day Saints wherever they happen to live (hence the term “stakes of Zion”). 
 

It was both literal and symbolic in the first example, when the converts united themselves with the Saints AND THEN physically moved to Church headquarters. 
 

I know you have argued previously that the gathering can only be physical and is being “held in  abeyance” right now, but that argument is misguided. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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4 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I know you have argued previously that the gathering can only be physical and is being “held in  abeyance” right now, but that argument is misguided. 

Thank you for providing a response to the thread.

And to be clear, I've never argued that it can "only be physical".  But I have stated that I believe the physical is in abeyance (which may or may not be a good thing) and will be resuming as part of the winding up scene.  Goodness knows there are enough prophecies to that effect.

Edited by JLHPROF
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7 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Thank you for providing a response to the thread.

And to be clear, I've never argued that it can "only be physical".  But I have stated that I believe the physical is in abeyance and will be resuming as part of the winding up scene.  Goodness knows there are enough prophecies to that effect.

I wonder what you think that will look like. Surely you don’t buy into the old, discredited myth that all faithful Church members, wherever they are in the world, will be required to leave their homes and trek to Jackson County, Missouri. 

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45 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

You don't consider there to be any symbolism in one person assuming the guilt and paying the price for another.  It literally happened, but Christ taking upon him my sins?  Do you see any symbolic act in that since he really wasn't actually culpable or guilty of the sin.  I am genuinely curious on this one.  He stood in our place, he was the symbol for our guilt.

Not disagreeing with this.  But baptism in water literally cleanses us of sin, I would argue every bit as much as a change of heart, because it is the act that creates the covenant between us and Christ.  It is not merely symbolic of the change in heart.
And scripture says we must be "born of water" and Christ in Mark says the act of Baptism is necessary for salvation.  So the ordinance is not merely symbolic, even though there is much symbolism involved in our rebirth as "Christians".

And the garment is literally described as representing one garment but literally being the garment of the priesthood.  It both represents and is the garment given to man by God.

I think that is a good point, standing in our place can be considered a symbol of our very persons (all creation for that matter). But I think the ordinance as constructed requires Him to be a literal proxy or substitute for our persons in suffering, rather than a symbolic representation of our suffering if we do not repent.

We may symbolically stand in for Him as we do for others what they cannot do for themselves, but not when we suffer the consequences of not doing so. I think that demonstrates the difference between His proxy vs. symbolic role.

I think all the ordinances are absolutely required to be carried out exactly as the Lord directs for them to have any real effect (and His grace covers any mistakes that may have been made in their performance). But “man is spirit,” so the realization of the aim of any ordinance rests with our agency, regardless of the perfectly divine power manifest in the ordinances (D&C 93: 31-33). The actions create the covenant only when we submit to both in the right spirit, with the right heart; we cannot use substitute actions to create exalting covenants.

We are all as Adam and Eve (a simile), so yes, the garment itself has a history (whether symbolic or actual) that we adopt. I see differences between similes, proxies and symbols, though they often might share sacred space.

Edited by CV75
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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

But as you're fond of saying to me "why can't it be both"?For example the explanation given of the garment in the initiatory.  Or when scripture calls baptism being born of water.
Both symbolic AND literally the actual thing.  In baptism we are literally reborn as new beings in Christ through the waters of the covenant, born of water.  That's not symbolic, but a literal thing.  But "being buried" in baptism would be symbolic too.
 

From my perspective though, none of those things are literal.  We aren't literally born of water.  That rebirth is symbolic.  No one comes out of the water as a literal new being-becoming the new being in Christ is a process.  Being dunked into water and then coming up out again also isn't a literal birth.  We are symbolically born of water in that instance, not literally born. 

Quote

 

 Or the healing of the sick:
"What is the sign of the healing of the sick? the laying on of hands is the sign, or way marked out by James; and the custom of the ancient Saints as ordered by the Lord; and we can not obtain the blessing by pursuing any other course, except the way marked out by the Lord." - Joseph Smith

Is laying on of hands a  sign and symbol or part of the actual process of healing?  It's clearly both if we cannot obtain the blessing any other way.
Joseph also said "There are certain key-words, and signs belonging to the priesthood, which must be observed in order to obtain the blessing".  So are the key words and signs symbols or the actual way the blessings are bestowed?

 

Did JS call the laying of hands or the keywords and signs symbols though?  I feel like in these examples, you might be creating symbols where they don't exist.  Laying on of hands is a sign, but signs and symbols aren't the same thing are they? 

What would the laying on of hands be a symbol of?  It's a sign of something but I don't see it as symbolising something.

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26 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

The prophesied gathering of Israel in latter days can be symbolic, literal or both. 
 

It was literal when converts to the Church in Europe and the British Isles emigrated en masse to Church headquarters in America’s Intermountain West up to around the beginning of the 20th century. 
 

It is symbolic when converts to the Church remain at home but reject worldliness and gather to Zion by uniting with the Latter-day Saints wherever they happen to live (hence the term “stakes of Zion”). 
 

It was both literal and symbolic in the first example, when the converts united themselves with the Saints AND THEN physically moved to Church headquarters. 
 

I know you have argued previously that the gathering can only be physical and is being “held in  abeyance” right now, but that argument is misguided. 

I suspect a lot of the disagreement on this thread will be semantic.

For example- Above you use the gathering of Israel as both symbolic and literal or both. I would suggest that there is no symbol there. Instead, I'd view that as being both literal and/or metaphorical. While there are some similarities between symbols and metaphors, they are not exactly the same things.

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Just now, HappyJackWagon said:

I suspect a lot of the disagreement on this thread will be semantic.

For example- Above you use the gathering of Israel as both symbolic and literal or both. I would suggest that there is no symbol there. Instead, I'd view that as being both literal and/or metaphorical. While there are some similarities between symbols and metaphors, they are not exactly the same things.

I'm with you on this one.  

What would the gathering of the House of Israel be a symbol of?  Is it taught anywhere that it symbolizes something?  Not that I'm aware of.  

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59 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

But baptism in water literally cleanses us of sin, I would argue every bit as much as a change of heart, because it is the act that creates the covenant between us and Christ.

Is it the literal water in the font that cleanses the person being baptized or is it the Spirit of God that is present when one worthily participates in the ordinance that does the cleansing? 

If it's the water then the Spirit need not be present.

If it's the Spirit then the water is symbolizing the person being cleansed by the Spirit.

Edited by ksfisher
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2 minutes ago, bluebell said:

From my perspective though, none of those things are literal.  We aren't literally born of water.  That rebirth is symbolic.  No one comes out of the water as a literal new being-becoming the new being in Christ is a process.  Being dunked into water and then coming up out again also isn't a literal birth.  We are symbolically born of water in that instance, not literally born. 

Did JS call the laying of hands or the keywords and signs symbols though?  I feel like in these examples, you might be creating symbols where they don't exist.  Laying on of hands is a sign, but signs and symbols aren't the same thing are they? 

What would the laying on of hands be a symbol of?  It's a sign of something but I don't see it as symbolising something.

Being as literal as I can be, I agree that none of those things are literal. But I would also disagree with the statement that the rebirth is symbolic. Instead, I'd suggest that the rebirth is metaphorical. A symbol is 

Quote
symbol
NOUN
  1. a mark or character used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process, e.g. the letter or letters standing for a chemical element or a character in musical notation.
    "the symbol r in Figure 5 represents a gene which is ineffective" · 
    synonyms:
    sign · character · mark · letter · hieroglyph · ideogram

So when JLHPROF talks about symbols I am envisioning a mark or character or representation of an object, function, or process of which we have many "symbols" in the LDS church. And I disagree that a symbol can be "the" thing. But I like Scott's use of the gathering of Israel as being both literal and non-literal because I think that applies well. So I suspect there is an overly broad use of the word "symbol"

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19 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

On another thread the principle of the symbol being or not being the thing it represents was raised.

A good example of when a symbol was mistakenly believed to be the actual thing led to transubstantiation in the sacrament.
I know many here disagree, but for me the opposite is true when people believe something actual is believed to be a symbol - like Adam, Noah, or the Ark.

Wait...does that mean you are a Noah's Ark literalist?

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1 minute ago, ttribe said:

Wait...does that mean you are a Noah's Ark literalist?

Yes, up to a point.
I do believe in a literal Noah and a literal global flood.  For the simple reason that the prophet Noah is on record as appearing to several people and I believe the earth was baptized by water just as it will be baptized by fire (end of Revelation).
Now, as to whether he actually had 2 of every animal, floated for 40 days, and only saved 8 people...I'm willing to see a little metaphor in that.
Kind of like Adam, Eve and the rib.

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52 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

Is it the literal water in the font that cleanses the person being baptized or is it the Spirit of God that is present when one worthily participates in the ordinance that does the cleansing? 

If it's the water then the Spirit need not be present.

If it's the Spirit then the water is symbolizing the person being cleansed by the Spirit.

Again, why can't it be both?
Can't both the spirit AND the water do the cleansing?

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