My ideas about the Divine have shifted in recent years as my spiritual practice has deepened. Here are some thoughts about how I currently interpret "God."
I suggest that Joseph Smith's earliest direct encounters with God happened in mystical experience, or what is also known as altered states of consciousness.
And, what many may not know, there were many "Christs" who came prior to Jesus, and who were not Jesus, nor do I think they were prefiguring or foreshadowing Jesus. They were the "Christs" in their own right, who came in their own time, who developed what it meant to be a "Christ" or "Messiah" in ancient Israel long before the word was ever applied to Jesus. I think it may be helpful to become acquainted with these "Christs/Messiahs" to better understand who Jesus was.
Who was Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844)? He's been quite an enigma both within and outside of Mormonism since his death. Many Mormons see him as a deeply gifted prophet of God, in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and even Moses. He recorded and published new scripture, the Book of Mormon, just like ancient prophets. Many Mormons revere him as someone who restored Christianity in its purity, even the original Christian church and true gospel of Jesus. They believe he received true priesthood authority from God to perform real saving rituals, ordinances, and act as a "high priest" to bring others into the presence of God.
Until we can get back to direct primary first-hand personal intimate contemplative mystical ecstatic experience of God in the lives of each and every human being, then God will increasingly become an abstract distant concept instead of a Living immanent reality.
An addition to the BHT, from when Jesus criticized the religious authorities of his day.
An addition to the BHT, about the problems with religious authorities.
An addition to the BHT, about whether only one man may be a prophet, or if many people may be, at the same time.
President Joseph Fielding Smith, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who later became the tenth President and "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator" of the LDS Church, wrote the following that was published in 1954: "IF EVOLUTION IS TRUE, THE CHURCH IS FALSE."
As I add new translations to the BHT, I thought it would be good to also publish a blog post noting each specific addition, so that readers may get those updates. The following is a translation today of 2 Peter 1:19-21, which concerns the scriptures and prophetic revelation and interpretation of the Word.