Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Totality of Truth?

Recently I have come across some criticisms of a man whose purported “end-time” visions and experiences do not all conform to the “expected” or the norm. In reading those criticisms, I have wondered if comparison is a sufficient test for truth. Some of the criticisms remind me of the “Blind Men and an Elephant” story1. But mostly, I thought of the prophecies that Elijah and Micaiah pronounced concerning Ahab, king of Israel:
[Elijah] ... Thus saith the LORD, In the place [by the wall of Jezreel2] where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. (Old Testament 1 Kings 21:19)

[Micaiah] And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead [in battle]? .... (Old Testament 1 Kings 22:20)
This is how Josephus describes the set-up3:
... Zedekiah, one of those false prophets, came near, and exhorted [King Ahab] not to hearken to Micaiah, for he did not at all speak truth; as a demonstration of which he instanced in what Elijah had said, who was a better prophet in foretelling futurities than Micaiah;* for he foretold that the dogs should lick his blood in the city of Jezreel, in the field of Naboth, as they licked the blood of Naboth, who by his means was there stoned to death by the multitude; that therefore it was plain that this Micaiah was a liar, as contradicting a greater prophet than himself, and saying that he should be slain at three days' journey distance: (Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, p. 195, XV:4)
Then Josephus describes the fulfillment:
... [King Ahab] was sorely and mortally wounded. However, he sat in his chariot and endured the pain till sunset, and then he fainted away and died. ... they took the dead body of Ahab to Samaria, and buried it there; but when they had washed his chariot in the fountain of Jezreel, which was bloody with the dead body of the king, they acknowledged that the prophecy of Elijah was true, for the dogs licked his blood, ...; but still he died at Ramoth, as Micaiah had foretold. And as what things were foretold should happen to Ahab by the two prophets came to pass, we ought thence to have high notions of God, and every where to honor and worship him, and never to suppose that what is pleasant and agreeable is worthy of belief before what is true, and to esteem nothing more advantageous than the gift of prophecy and that foreknowledge of future events which is derived from it, since God shows men thereby what we ought to avoid. We may also guess, from what happened to this king, and have reason to consider the power of fate; that there is no way of avoiding it [except repentance], even when we know it. It creeps upon human souls, and flatters them with pleasing hopes, till it leads them about to the place where it will be too hard for them. Accordingly Ahab appears to have been deceived thereby, till he disbelieved those that foretold his defeat; but, by giving credit to such as foretold what was grateful to him, was slain; and his son Ahaziah succeeded him. (Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, p. 195, XV:5-6; bold emphasis added)
THUS we see that sometimes things can appear to be contradictory and incompatible, yet be reconciled in the totality of truth.

SO, if the Lord is right4 that:
... it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. (Old Testament Joel 2:28 - 29);
and if Joseph Smith witnessed that:
[The angel Moroni] also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. (Pearl of Great Price JS-History 1:41);
then maybe this pouring out of spirit (?) can give new perspectives. Maybe a comparison test isn’t the proper test for truth or deception. Maybe these increasing latter-day dreams and visions are to help tutor us in seeking and recognizing our most precious guide: “the voice of the spirit.”

If, like Ahab and Zedekiah (and even good Jehoshaphat, king of Judah5), we reject seeming contradictions out-of-hand, how shall we ever know what is true and what is false?

2. See 1 Kings 21:23 and Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, p. 192, XIII:8; pp. 194-5, XV:3
3. Old Testament 1 Kings 22:34-38 account: And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel [Ahab] between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded. And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. ... So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.
* Refers to a Josephus footnote at end of column 1, p. 195.
4. (an eternal déjà vu)
5. See Josephus footnote, end of column 1, p. 195; also, see 1 Kings, 22:43 reference to Jehoshaphat's good character.