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The Logos


The Separation of the Earth from the Waters; Michelangelo; Sistine Chapel; 1508 to 1512.


Where Science Meets Religion by Trent Dee Stephens, PhD, for the Come Follow Me lesson January 16-22: John 1; this essay is Chapter 1 of my book, The Immortal Messiah: The Physiology of Resurrected Beings

According to the King James translation of John 1:1-3, we are told that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”1 These three verses are wonderful, classic examples of the beautiful Elizabethan poetry with which the King James Bible is so richly adorned. I love poetry, I love the poetry of the King James Bible, and I love the poetry of those three verses. Unfortunately, however, because of the deep use of metaphor in poetry, the true meaning is often masked by the meter.


The Prophet Joseph Smith has provided us with a far less poetic, but much more accurate translation of those verses, “In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made.”2


The term in the original Greek, from which the King James Version was translated as “word,” is λόγος (logos). According to James Strong’s Bible Concordance, the term logos is “the expression of a thought.” It was often used to describe a “person sharing a message.” The word logos appears 330 times in the New Testament and has been translated as: a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech, a divine utterance, communication, or an analogy.3 Thus, the term “gospel,” as “preached through the Son,” in Joseph Smith’s translation conveys the much deeper, broader and accurate meaning of the word logos; whereas the term “word” employed in the King James Bible allows for the more succinct, although more metaphorical, metered application of the poetry.


According to Hugh Nibley, Aristotle employed the term logos, from which is derived the suffix “-ology,” to mean “word,” “inquiry” or “rationality.” Nibley stated,

“The quest for a knowledge of the nature of the First Things [more commonly now called the First or Final Cause], beginning with and hence grounded in the inquiry into nature, is commonly known as ontology (on, being, and logos, inquiry)… Logos (word, inquiry, and hence rationality), or how one can come to know the nature of things, was known as the ‘second part of philosophy…[and] were included within the category of theoretical inquiries by Aristotle.’”4


In other words, the term logos, as employed today, means the “study of” or the “science of.” Thus we derive the term theology to define our rational inquiry into the nature of God, and the term biology to define our rational inquiry into the nature of living things – bio-, meaning two, referring to both plants and animals. The term physiology refers to the study of how our bodies function.


Today, we may combine the logos of theology, biology and physiology into one rational understanding of ontology. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated in a February 2018 Ensign article,

“I want to emphasize that the truth embraced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…extends beyond time and space and encompasses all truth… The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses not only the truth of what was and what is but also the truth of what can and will be. It is the most practical of all truths. It teaches the way of the disciple—a path that can take ordinary, flawed mortals and transform them into glorious, immortal, and limitless beings whose divine potential is beyond our meager capacity to imagine… The pursuit, discovery, and application of truth are what we are on this earth to discover… Isn’t it a remarkable feeling to belong to a Church that embraces truth—no matter the source—and teaches that there is much more to come, that God ‘will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God’? [Articles of Faith 1:9].”5


Brigham Young said that the gospel,

“…embraces every fact there is in the heavens and in the heaven of heavens—every fact there is upon the surface of the earth, in the bowels of the earth, and in the starry heavens; in fine, it embraces all truth there is in all the eternities of the Gods. … ‘Mormonism’ embraces all truth that is revealed and that is unrevealed, whether religious, political, scientific, or philosophical.”6


Therefore, according to Brigham Young, the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints incorporates all –ologies, whether theology, politicology, logology, or hodology. Indeed, we are admonished in the Doctrine and Covenants to

“Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven [uranology] and in the earth [topology], and under the earth [geology]; things which have been [paleontology, anthropology], things which are [currentology], things which must shortly come to pass [futurology]; things which are at home [oikology], things which are abroad [xenology]; the wars [polemology] and the perplexities of the nations [politicology], and the judgments which are on the land [loimology]; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms [cartology]—That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.”7


Thus, for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for whom the “The glory of God is intelligence...”8 and who believe that “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection,”9 through theology and all the other -ologies, the logos, we may learn deep, and previously hidden, knowledge of the “Word.” The more we learn of our Savior Jesus Christ at this time, the more prepared we will be to “see him as he is” “when he shall appear.”10


In the April 1844 General Conference of the Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following:

“The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself…The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end…There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven…The first principles of man are self-existent with God…Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it.”11

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand that the term “intelligence”12 has at least three interconnected meanings: 1. Intelligence is the light of truth, which gives life and light to all things in the universe.13 It was not created because it has always existed.14 2. The spirit children of God are sometimes referred to as intelligences. They are also referred to as souls and spirits.15 3. Intelligence is the uncreated, eternal element from which the spirit children of God were created.16


References

1. John 1:1-3

2. Joseph Smith Translation John 1:1-3

3. Strong, James, Bible Concordance, first published in 1890; biblehub.com/greek/3056/logos

4. Midgley, Louis, Hugh W. Nibley, The Ancient State: The Rulers and the Ruled, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 1989–2011, 11 (1), 1999

5. Uchtdorf, Dieter F., The Gospel Encompasses All Truth, Ensign, February 2018

6. Young, Brigham, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 149

7. Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-80

8. Doctrine and Covenants 93:36

9. Doctrine and Covenants 130:18

10. 1 John 3:2

11. 28 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 353–54, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1938; the bracketed insertion was in the original – footnote says “Undoubtedly the proper word here would be ‘co-eternal,’ not ‘co-equal.’ This illustrates the imperfection of the report made of the sermon.” There are four original accounts of the King Follett Sermon: Willard Richards used the term “co-equal” in his account; Wilford Woodruff used the term “coequal” in his account; Thomas Bullock said “man is as immortal as God himself” in his account; William Clayton used the term “coequal” in his account. see josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/discourse-7-april-1844, retrieved 22 October 2019

12. churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/gs/intelligence-intelligences?lang=eng&clang=eng#p1, retrieved 17 December 2019

13. Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-13

14. Doctrine and Covenants 93:29

15. Abraham 3:21-23

16. Abraham 3:22; Doctrine and Covenants 76:24

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I will try to Zoom tonight's Where Science Meets Religion talk and future talks on Zoom. Meeting ID: 935 754 2152 Passcode: nka I hope you can make it. Trent Stephens, PhD

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