Keith Norman on Paul's Teachings on the Status of Women:
The traditional view of 1 Corinthians 11 is that women were being insubordinate to their husbands on account of their understanding of freedom in Christ. Thus Paul was putting them in their place with the head covering as a symbol of their subordination. But Gordon Fee, in his exhaustive commentary on 1 Corinthians, argues that, as with 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is confronting a group of women who feel they are ready to live the higher law and who want to abolish all distinctions between the sexes. If there is neither male nor female in Christ, we imagine them saying, why should we be required to dress differently? Paul's answer indicates that they were looking beyond the mark, and the indications are that he was motivated by missionary concerns. Unkempt hair in women was a sign of religious frenzy among Greco-Romans and could mark an adulteress in Jewish culture. To behave in the present reality as though gender no longer mattered could be seen as disgraceful or scandalous by potential converts, and Paul's concern above all was to avoid offending anyone unnecessarily. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22; 10:32-33.) He sums up his rather convoluted argument for modest female head attire by asserting in 1 Corinthians 11:14 and 15 that even nature (read "custom") itself teaches us that men should have short hair and women long. Flaunting your freedom in Christ to the point of scandal is to pervert it. "If any man seem to be [is disposed to be] contentious, we have [or recognize] no such custom [or practice], neither [do] [any of] the [other] churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:16).
If this analysis is correct—that Paul was not in fundamental disagreement with these free spirits but just wanted them to be more conscious of the effect they were having on others—why does the apostle go to such lengths to shore up his instruction with such sexist-sounding arguments?
At first reading, it does seem that a Jewish belief in the inferiority of women, adduced from the Genesis 2 creation account that Paul cites, underlies the whole discussion. But that interpretation reads modern cultural and linguistic assumptions into the text. Take the word head in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Obviously, a double meaning is intended here, but it is not the same pun we might assume in English. The Greek kephale does not connote the idea of authority or rulership so much as the idea of source; in this context, the source of life, as verses 8 and 1 Cor. 11:1212 indicate. "Thus," according to Fee, "Paul's concern is not hierarchical (who has authority over whom), but relational. . . . Indeed, he says nothing about man's authority; his concern is with the woman being the man's glory, the one without whom he is not complete (verses 7-9). To blur that relationship is to bring shame on her 'head,' [her husband]."
In Paul's understanding, a man, as the image and glory of God, ought to leave his head uncovered. (1 Corinthians 11:7.) Just why disregarding this stricture would dishonor God is unclear; perhaps it was a cultural bias. We are reminded that men today remove their hats as a token of reverence during prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance, but that is hardly the same thing. The crucial question, however, is why Paul thought it was important to maintain the visible distinction between the sexes in worship. Paul does not mean to imply, when he alludes in 1 Corinthians 11:7 to the creation of man in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), that woman is not included in that divine image, but he does seem to blend the first account of the Creation with that in Genesis 2, where the man is created first and the woman taken out of his side afterward. Nevertheless, Paul's focus is on man's relationship to his creator: man brings out the glory of God. Likewise, woman, created from and for man as the only living being suitable to be his companion, is his glory. Since man is the source (head) of woman and she is his glory, to disregard this visible mark of distinction, the head covering, when praying and prophesying, is to bring shame on him by negating the appropriate male-female relationship still a reality in the present age. Thus, when Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 11:11 and 1 Cor. 11:12 that men and women are interdependent, he is not switching gears but rather expanding on the meaning of the relationship he has been talking about all along. These verses show that verses 8 and 9 are not arguments for the subjection of women: that woman was created "for man's sake" does not entail male dominion but signifies that man without woman is incomplete, missing something vital. "She is not thereby subordinate to him, but necessary for him."
(Marie Cornwall and Susan Howe, eds., Women of Wisdom and Knowledge: Talks Selected from the BYU Women's Conferences [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 209.)
Bruce R. McConkie on Why We Partake of the Sacrament:
When Jesus instituted the ordinance of the sacrament, he and his apostles were celebrating the Feast of the Passover; the partaking of the emblems of his broken flesh and spilled blood was a part of and grew out of this paschal meal. With this pattern before them, the early saints apparently adopted the practice of eating together a meal or supper and of then partaking of the sacrament. Abuses involving selfishness and drunkenness seem to have arisen in connection with this feasting. These are here condemned and the saints are counseled to eat at home and then assemble with their fellow church members to renew their covenants in the sacramental ordinance...
The ordinance of the sacrament, replacing the ordinance of sacrifice, is the repetitiously performed rite whereby the true saints center their worship in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, and whereby they renew and reaffirm the covenant made in the waters of baptism, thus again attaining a state of full fellowship with the Lord, through the consequent remission of their sins.
The sacramental ordinance was destined to continue among the true saints until and after the Second Coming of the Son of Man, when Christ himself will again partake, with all his holy saints, of the emblems of his broken flesh and spilled blood. (D. C. 27:5-14.)
Personal worthiness is an essential prerequisite in all gospel ordinances; otherwise the performances are not sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, thus gaining efficacy, virtue, and force for this life and for the life to come. (D. & C. 76:53; 132:7.) Thus Moroni counsels: "See that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily." (Morm. 9:29.) Similarly, in latter-day revelation we find this decree: "If any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation." (D. & C. 46:4.) And the resurrected Lord, ministering among the Nephites, commands: "Ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it; For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them." (3 Ne. 18:28-32.)
1 Cor 11:27. Guilty of the body and blood of the Lord] This penalty applies only to those who partake of the sacrament in total and complete unworthiness and rebellion. It is only this class of damned souls upon whose hands, in the full sense of the word, the blood of Christ is found.
Both temporal and spiritual sickness and death are here promised those saints who partake unworthily of the sacrament. They are spiritually diseased, and sometimes dead, because of sins committed after baptism, sins which are not remitted anew by obtaining the Holy Spirit poured out upon those who worthily partake of the blessed emblems of Christ's flesh and blood; and, also, "many" among them suffer physical illnesses and temporal death when such, through faith, might be avoided.
(Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 364.)
Richard Lloyd Anderson on the Purpose of the Sacrament:
The letter begins with their "divisions" based on cults of personality; then more "divisions" erupted in their most sacred worship, the commemoration of the Lord's Supper. Indeed, they mocked its purpose by gluttony, each one virtually eating "his own supper" (1 Cor. 11:21). Their greed is clear, whether it was gorging on the consecrated bread and wine or on a common meal held in connection with the ceremony. Paul's correction is also clear—church was not the place to satisfy physical appetite; the Saints should eat at home and wait patiently for each other and the Lord's spirit in the Christian meeting (1 Cor. 11:33-34). The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a solemn moment, Paul insists, putting over his point by telling the story of Christ first establishing it (1 Cor. 11:251 Cor. 11:23-26). The reader of the Gospels takes this for granted, but when Paul wrote this letter there were probably no Greek Gospels. His account is very close to Luke's record of Christ's blessing of the bread and wine (Luke 22:19-20). The Gospels of Mark and Luke were likely written a few years later, but 1 Corinthians reports specific facts about Christ's last instruction and his resurrection. This shows that the Gospels were based on carefully preserved data, which one would suspect, knowing the value of both truth and the memory of the Lord to the Early Christians.
But there is so much more here than the retelling of the Last Supper and the Corinthians' abuses. Paul gives the most detailed Biblical insight into the purpose of this ceremony. Those who ate and drank thoughtlessly were told what to think about: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup" (1 Cor. 11:28). Before taking these symbols, one is obligated to consider the Lord as well as whether one's life is in harmony with the Lord's will: "This do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). But does Christ merely ask for adoration? At the Last Supper he solemnly challenged those who had partaken of the consecrated bread and wine: "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). One must not read Paul's Corinthian correction narrowly, for to "examine yourself" is a general teaching for all, not merely for the greedy offenders. The same is true of the warning not to eat and drink "unworthily" (1 Cor. 11:27). For Paul, the "cup of blessing" and the broken bread are visible signs of "communion" with Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). That term (koinonia) means a "common sharing" and is usually translated "fellowship." In the letters one has "fellowship" with heaven and with the Church if one's life is in order. There is a "fellowship" or "communion of the Holy Ghost" (2 Cor. 13:14), but it comes only "to them that obey" God (Acts 5:32). Paul states this general principle (2 Cor. 6:14): "And what communion hath light with darkness?" Thus, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was a symbol of visible relationship to God through Christ, accompanied by self-examination of the worthiness of one's life. These simple but profound relationships characterized the Church after Pentecost, which faithfully continued "in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).
(Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 107.)
Joseph Smith Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:
We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our Heavenly Father, and light and intelligence through the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare, if it so be that we keep his commandments so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight.
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
It not infrequently occurs that when the elders of this Church preach to the inhabitants of the world that if they obey the gospel they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, that the people expect to see some wonderful manifestation, some great display of power, or some extraordinary miracle performed. And it is often the case that young members in this Church, for want of better information, carry along with them their old notions of things and sometimes fall into egregious errors. . . .
We believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now as much as it was in the apostles' days. We believe that it is necessary to make and to organize the priesthood, [and] that no man can be called to fill any office in the ministry without it. We also believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings, and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost. . . . We believe in it in all its fullness, and power, and greatness, and glory. But whilst we do this, we believe in it rationally, reasonably, consistently, and scripturally, and not according to the wild vagaries, foolish notions, and traditions of men.
The human family are very apt to run to extremes, especially in religious matters. And hence people in general either want some miraculous display, or they will not believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost at all. If an elder lays his hands upon a person, it is thought by many that the person must immediately rise and speak in tongues and prophesy. . . . We believe that the Holy Ghost is imparted by the laying on of hands of those in authority, and that the gift of tongues and also the gift of prophecy are gifts of the Spirit and are obtained through that medium. But then to say that men always prophesied and spoke in tongues when they had the imposition of hands would be to state that which is untrue, contrary to the practice of the apostles, and at variance with holy writ. For Paul says, "To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the gift of prophecy, and to another the gift of healing." And again, "Do all prophesy? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" [1 Cor. 12:29-30], evidently showing that all did not possess these several gifts, but that one received one gift, and another received another gift. All did not prophesy, all did not speak in tongues, all did not work miracles, but all did receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes they spake in tongues and prophesied in the apostles' days, and sometimes they did not. The same is the case with us also in our administrations, while more frequently there is no manifestation at all that is visible to the surrounding multitude. . . . All the gifts of the Spirit are not visible to the natural vision or understanding of man. Indeed, very few of them are. . . .
These, then, are all gifts. They come from God, they are of God, they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost. They are what Christ ascended into heaven to impart, and yet how few of them could be known by the generality of men. . . . Paul says, "There are diversities of gifts, yet the same Spirit. . . . But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to each man severally as he will." There are several gifts mentioned here, yet which of them all could be known by an observer at the imposition of hands? The word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are as much gifts as any other, yet if a person possessed both of these gifts, or received them by the imposition of hands, who would know it? Another might receive the gift of faith, and they would be as ignorant of it. Or suppose a man had the gift of healing, or power to work miracles. That would not then be known. It would require time and circumstances to call these gifts into operation. Suppose a man had the discerning of spirits. Who would be the wiser for it? . . . The greatest, the best, and the most useful gifts would be known nothing about by an observer. . . .
The manifestations of the gift of the Holy Ghost, the ministering of angels, or the development of the power, majesty, or glory of God, were very seldom manifested publicly, and that generally to the people of God, as to the Israelites. But most generally, when angels have come or God has revealed himself, it has been to individuals in private, in their chamber, in the wilderness or fields, and that generally without noise or tumult. . . . The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of his voice, by the display of his glory, or by the manifestation of his power. And those that are the most anxious to see these things are the least prepared to meet them. And were the Lord to manifest his powers as he did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say, "Let not the Lord speak any more, lest we his people die" [Ex. 20:19].
We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon and pray over, and for, your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess [Alma 34:20-25]. Ask the blessing of God upon all your labors and everything that you engage in. Be virtuous and pure. Be men of integrity and truth. Keep the commandments of God, and then you will be able more perfectly to understand the difference between right and wrong, between the things of God and the things of men. And your path will be like that of the just, "which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day" [Prov. 4:18]. . . .
The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare, and a curse, instead of a blessing.
(Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 160.)
Robert C. Freeman on Spiritual Gifts:
Paul knew that a correct understanding of spiritual gifts would anchor the Saints as they sought to establish a stronghold of Christianity among the spiritually divided and morally malignant citizens of Corinth. Paul encouraged the Saints, "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church" (1 Corinthians 14:12). By inviting all Saints to anxiously pursue such gifts, Paul rejected the theology of "spiritual elitism" as God's method of allocating spiritual gifts. Instead, Paul sought to educate the Saints about the need for each to petition God for the various gifts promised to all worthy Saints.
A key to Paul's instruction is the principle that unity in the Church actually springs from a diversity of gifts among the Saints. Paul taught of the need for diverse gifts by comparing the Church to the body: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. . . . Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27).
Paul supported the concept of unity through diversity by likening it to the workings of the Godhead. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul's reference to "the same Spirit" (v. 4) acknowledges the Holy Ghost as the conduit through which all gifts are received from God, his term "the same Lord" (v. 5) refers to Christ's universal role in administering the gifts, and his phrase "the same God" (v. 6) identifies Heavenly Father as the origin from which all gifts derive their existence. The Godhead, made up of three distinct individuals with separate functions, are one in purpose. Similarly, wise Saints of God, notwithstanding their diverse gifts, seek for unity with Christ's church. Teaching the Saints in Corinth to qualify for endowments from on high, Paul acknowledged that it is God who determines to whom each gift is entrusted "as it hath pleased him" (v. 18).
(The Apostle Paul, His Life and His Testimony: The 23d Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 35.)
Robert L. Millet on Spiritual Gifts Making up the "Body of Christ":
In chapters 12 through 14, Paul turns to the problem of spiritual gifts that had also apparently become a source of contention in the congregation at Corinth. He explains that while unity in the church depends on oneness of purpose, it does not dictate a uniformity of the different manifestations of the Spirit among the individual members. There is a diversity of gifts—wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, gift of tongues—all manifestations of the same Spirit. (12:4-10.) Paul illustrates his point with the apt metaphor of the body. Just as there are different offices and callings in the church (12:28- 30), so the various spiritual gifts are given to different individuals and must function together like the different members of the human body. Every part of the body is necessary for its proper function, and no part can claim independence from any other part. While this metaphor delineates the proper function of spiritual gifts and offices in the church, at the same time it speaks to the larger issue of unity in the church. This oneness is characterized by a recognition of the importance of each individual as well as a spirit of mutual empathy that makes the saints as one—suffering and rejoicing with the fortunes of each member of the "body of Christ." (1 Cor. 12:27.) In short, unity is achieved only through love. Joseph Smith recognized this and quoted, in part, Paul's metaphor of the body in an editorial appearing in the April 2, 1842, issue of the Times and Seasons encouraging the Saints in their efforts to build the Nauvoo Temple:
The advancement of the cause of God and the building up of Zion is as much one man's business as another's. The only difference is, that one is called to fulfill one duty, and another another duty; "but if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, and if one member is honored all the rest rejoice with it, and the eye cannot say to the ear, I have no need of thee, nor the head to the foot, I have no need of thee;" [1 Cor. 12:25-26] party feelings, separate interests, exclusive designs should be lost sight of in the one common cause, in the interest of the whole.
The crowning gift of the Spirit is charity—"the pure love of Christ" (Moro. 7:47)—which every Saint should seek (1 Cor. 14:1), for without love one is "as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (13:1). Paul's discourse on love has been immortalized in the traditional language of the King James Version and incorporated in part into the thirteenth Article of Faith. Echoing the themes found throughout the letter, Paul identifies charity as that which "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (13:6- 7.) Of all of the enduring gifts of God—faith, hope, and charity—"the greatest of these is charity." (13:13.) Charity is the answer to many of the problems among the saints in Corinth and is ultimately the most important ingredient in the unity of the church.
(Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 69 - 70.)
Joseph Smith Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:12-20:
If the resurrection from the dead is not an important point or item in our faith, we must confess that we know nothing about it. For if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen. And if Christ has not risen, he was not the Son of God. And if he was not the Son of God, there is not nor cannot be a Son of God if the present book called the scriptures is true. . . . If he has risen from the dead, he will by his power bring all men to stand before him. For if he has risen from the dead, the bands of the temporal death are broken that the grave has no victory [1 Cor. 15:54-55]. If, then, the grave has no victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey his teachings have not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead, but an assurance of being admitted into his glorious kingdom. For he himself says, "Where I am, there shall also my servant be" [John 12:26].
I will tell you what I want, if tomorrow I shall be called to lay in yonder tomb. In the morning of the resurrection, let me strike hands with my father and cry, "My father!" And he will say, "My son, my son!," as soon as the rock rends and before we come out of our graves. . . .
Would you think it strange that I relate what I have seen in vision in relation [to] this interesting theme? Those who have died in Jesus Christ may expect to enter into all that fruition of joy, when they come forth, which they have pursued here. So plain was the vision. I actually saw men, before they had ascended from the tomb, as though they were getting up slowly. They took each other by the hand, and it was "My father!" and "My son!" "My mother!" and "My daughter!" "My brother!" and "My sister!" When the voice calls, suppose I am laid by the side of my father. What would be the first joy of my heart? Where is my father? My mother? My sister? They are by my side. I embrace them and they me.
It is my meditation all the day, and more than my meat and drink, to know how I shall make the Saints of God to comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind. Oh how I would delight to bring before you things which you never thought of, but poverty and the cares of the world prevent. But I am glad I have the privilege of communicating to you some things, which, if grasped closely, will be a help to you when the clouds are gathering and the storms are ready to burst upon you like peals of thunder. Lay hold of these things and let not your knees tremble, nor your hearts faint. What can earthquakes, wars, and tornadoes do? Nothing. All your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful. By the vision of the Almighty, I have seen it. More painful to me [is] the thought of annihilation than death. If I had no expectation of seeing my mother, brothers and sisters, and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment and I should go down to my grave. The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.
God has revealed his Son from the heavens and the doctrine of the resurrection also. And we have a knowledge that these we bury here, God brings them up again, clothed upon and quickened by the spirit of the great God.
(Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 169.)
Bruce R. McConkie on Why the Saints Baptize for the Dead:
'Why do you Corinthian Saints perform baptisms for your dead who died without a knowledge of the gospel, if there is no resurrected state in which they can reap the blessings of this holy ordinance?'
"Based on the eternal principle of vicarious service, the Lord has ordained baptism for the dead as the means whereby all his worthy children of all ages can become heirs of salvation in his kingdom. Baptism is the gate to the celestial kingdom, and except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit he cannot gain an inheritance in that heavenly world. (John 3:3-5.) Obviously, during the frequent periods of apostate darkness when the gospel light does not shine, and also in those geographical areas where legal administrators are not found, hosts of people live and die without ever entering in at the gate of baptism so as to be on the path leading to eternal life. For them a just God has ordained baptism for the dead, a vicarious-proxy labor. (D. & C. 124:28-36; 127; 128; 1 Cor. 15: 29.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p. 73.)
Baptism for the dead is thus one of the signs of the true Church. Where a people have the knowledge of this doctrine, together with the power and authority from God to perform the saving ordinances involved, there is the Church and kingdom of God on earth; and where these are not, there the Church and kingdom of God is not.
(Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 395.)
Hugh B. Brown on Resurrection and Eternal Life:
That the Savior conquered death, after having taken upon himself mortality, gives us the divine assurance that our spirits also transcend death and that our loved ones who have gone before still live. Our spirits are divine, for they are the offspring of Deity; therefore, our spirits cannot be touched by death. It was this transcendent thought that inspired the apostle Paul to say: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor. 15:551 Corinthians 15:55.)
Faintly we are beginning to discern the fact that the real world is the spiritual world, and that a spiritual civilization must spring from ruins of the old if man is to keep his place in the universe. Life is the absolute power that overrules all else. There can be no cessation. Man does not have the power to destroy life.
Our world is an interesting, beautiful, wonderful, increasingly intelligible place, and in many ways a delightful home, but the question will not be repressed: Does it have some significance beyond what is seen and temporal? Dare we think of a design connecting the antemortal, the mortal, and the postmortal?
The supreme appetite of man is for life—harmonious, eternal life. Nature provides for the complete fulfillment at some time or place of all of the appetites of man. The desire for immortality is the supreme, the eternal, the everlasting desire.
When I consult my own inner consciousness I find a deep-seated—in fact, an instinctive—feeling of immeasurable oldness, an echo of time immemorial, as well as a feeling of necessary endlessness. No logical reasoning can dispel these feelings. I did not put these feelings in my inner self; I found them there when I grew old enough to introspect my mind. In spite of recurring doubts and criticisms, there they have remained. If we believe in man's divine origin, we must conclude that mankind has a mission that cannot be encompassed in mortality; that power has a divine purpose that cannot be fully employed or utilized during earth life; that every faculty has a function, even though some are not in evidence in our earthly environment.
Each of us must someday face the question propounded by Job: "If a man die, shall he live again?" In other words, is the death of the body the finality of human existence? What becomes of the soul, the self—that intangible but very real essence we call personality? Does it vanish into nothingness?
The heart-hunger of mankind after immortality is instinctive within him, and like all other normal instincts is grounded in the structure of his being. The human spirit, by its very nature, has a passion for life—continuous life. It has eternity stamped upon its inner constitution, and it reflects in its hopes and dreams that which eternally is.
With the tremendous strides that science is making in our day, there is dawning upon this age what might be termed a scientific spirituality—a new type of mind that studies the truths of faith with the care and caution and candor of science, yet keeping the warmth and glow and power of faith.
Spiritual insight is as real as scientific insight. Indeed, it is but a higher manifestation of the same thing. The saint as well as the scientist has witnessed the truth of reality. One may deem his knowledge revelation, and the other, intellectual conclusion, but in both cases it is insight—the conviction of reality.
That which impresses one most strongly in the teachings of Jesus is the fact that he did not argue. He stated the sublime truth of immortality of man as though it were an elementary fact that needed no argument to justify its acceptance.
Man, in his mortal state, is not a being completed and perfect. Rather, mortal life is a prenatal state, awaiting birth. As Franklin so truly said, "Life is rather a state of embryo, a preparation for life. A man is not completely born until he has passed through death."
Even the best of men, when they come to the end of their days, feel a keen sense of incompleteness. They have been unable to do what they dreamed and resolved they would do. May this not be a confirmatory suggestion that there is a design still to be carried out?
The mind of man is never satisfied with its accomplishments; it seems to be built upon a scale that only life eternal can satisfy. Perhaps this is what Browning meant when he said: " . . . a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" (Robert Browning, "Andrea del Sarto.")
There may be and doubtless will be new conditions, new laws, new methods; but the essential soul will still have its faculties unimpaired—in fact, heightened and clarified—to pursue its quest for truth.
No bodily change, no earthly vicissitude affects the integrity and the permanence of the self. The spirit does not age with the body nor does it perish with the body. It is a divine effluence of reality, and as such must always persist. The self, by its very nature, transcends mortality.
(Brent A. Barlow, ed., Understanding Death [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 158 - 159.)