Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

I know more than you.

May 01st, 2009 by G.

Testigos de Jehovah (Jehovah’s Witnesses) got under my skin when I was a missionary. One of the things that bugged me most was the infantile delight they took in telling you that they knew what God’s name was.

None of them ever could explain *why* knowing that his real name was “Jehovah” mattered and mostly they seemed surprised that I asked. If I were an uncharitable man, all the evidence would have pointed to them caring about God’s real name only because, “nyah, nyah, I know something you don’t know.”

In my experience Mormons sometimes treat the more esoteric aspects of the temple experience the same way (though we are just as likely to be embarrassed about them for being esoteric). Mormons also sometimes treat the revealed doctrine of the three degrees of glory the same way.

Q. How many heavens are there?
A. Uh, 1?
Q. Wrong. 3! In your face!

But the three degrees of glory mean a lot more than that. This is evident in D&C 76. This is evident when you contemplate what the doctrine tells us about the nature of free will. And this is evident when you unexpectedly run across a multiple heavens framework in an unexpected part of the scriptures.

I was listening to Luke yesterday, chapter 19. We all know the parable of the talents, right? The guys who worked hard got wildly rewarded, the guy who did nothing got zip. Luke 19 has a similar parable, but with a twist.

He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
[This verse caught my attention. What does this have to do with the servants and the pounds?]
15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I afeared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have arequired mine own with busury?
24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
26 For I say unto you, That unto every one awhich hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. Besides the diligent servants who get rewarded all out of expectation, and the unvaliant servant, who gets dispossessed, the Lord has rebels, whom he smashes.

I’m not saying that this parable is mysteriously and precisely meant to match up with the three degrees of glory, or with outer darkness. Its a parable, not a code book. But it does suggest that human relations with God can be a little more complex than just a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Cross-posted at Times and Seasons.

Comments (8)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , , , ,
May 01st, 2009 07:33:58

Brian Duffin
May 1, 2009

Speaking of TJ’s, I had a fun experience on my mission with a group of them. Our district of 8 (we all lived in the same house) was getting ready for bed when our DL spotted a group of TJ’s knocking on doors in our neighborhood. He told us to get dressed and grab a Book of Mormon. We got dressed, grabbed a BofM and waited by the door.

When that fateful knock came, my DL opened the door and these poor TJ’s saw 8 missionaries, all dressed in shirt and tie, holding Books of Mormon in our hands. Our DL smiled, looked at them and said, “Brethren, we have been waiting for you, come on in. We have a message we want to share with you.”

The TJ’s ran from our door.

I guess you could say that was a “smash the rebels” kind of moment for me. We overpowered them and out Book of Mormon’d them. You know what they say- Don’t mess with a missionary man!

Adam G.
May 1, 2009

the way we handled TJ’s was usually neither Christian nor sober. Oh, well, I have worse sins on my conscience.

Brian Duffin
May 1, 2009

What a comforting thought, Adam. I guess we should all be thankful for the big sins that make our little sins look small and petty. 🙂

I can’t wait to bear my testimony on that very subject this Sunday.

May 1, 2009

3 overall categories, but infinite degrees. 3 known degrees (or divisions) within the celestial, and a virtually infinite number of degrees in the telestial (as the stars differ in glory), and the scriptures are silent on degrees in the terrestrial.

And I can’t help but guffaw at a newbie, over on Mormon Matters, who discovers the “TK Smoothie” speculation. (I won’t call it a doctrine).

And, yeah, a 2 year mission softened my heart towards those Witnesses who go door-to-door trying to share their message.

May 1, 2009

Yeah, I’ve heard the TK Smoothie speculation, too. I think it contradicts the statement in the “Proclamation on the Family” that sex is an eternal characteristic.

Am I taking this site much too seriously? I’ll try to work up some more Jonah Goldberg moments in the future then.

May 1, 2009

Ah yes, the good old testiculos, as we were so fond of calling them on the mission. “Sus atalayas ciegos son, todos ellos ignorantes; todos ellos perros mudos, no pueden ladrar;” (Isaiah 56:10) — “Their watchtowers are blind, and they are all ignorant. They are all dumb dogs that can’t bark….” Such a classic scripture in Spanish.

Hans Hansen
May 2, 2009

Since my cousins were JW’s I was able to prepare for my mission by meeting with them and discussing our viewpoints and theirs.

I served in Norway and about half way through my 30 month stay (1968-71) I was assigned to work on a peninsula in the Oslo Fjord. The only people that had even allowed missionaries to rent a room were a couple where the wife was JW. We got along very well, especially when I found out that her husband and I were distant cousins.

The only problem we had was when we kept running into the other JW’s. I asked my landlady if she could arrange a meeting with her group. When we met we treated each other with respect and reached agreement that we would work the eastern side of the peninsula and they would work the western side, Then we would switch sides. The arrangement worked beautifully.

And the rest of the story…when I returned home, the very next morning after, I had just gotten out of the shower and was getting dressed when the doorbell rang and…the JW’s were on my doorstep!

Adam G.
July 12, 2013

The TK smoothie explanation makes a certain amount of sense to me:


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