Hugh Nibley: By the very nature of things, there is no third way—as the early Jewish and Christian writers remind us repeatedly in their doctrine of the Two Ways. According to this oldest and best-established of teachings (though quite unpopular with the conventional Christianity and Judaism of our time), there are Two Ways lying before every person in this life, the Way of Light and the Way of Darkness, the Way of Life and the Way of Death; and every mortal every day of his life is required to make a choice between them. Unfortunately for our peace of mind, any compromise between the Two Ways is out of the question, since they lead in opposite directions. As the wise Heraclitus pointed out long ago, "The up-road and the down-road are one and the same." Which one you are on depends entirely on the way you are facing.1So, for starters, let’s look at the “down-road” as that seems to be the one historically (and currently) preferred, despite numerous directives and lamentations. Here is a sample from God (and His prophets):
▪ Behold, I, the Lord, who was crucified for the sins of the world, give unto you a commandment that you shall forsake the world. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 53:2)And though, by these words, it is clear that the way of the world leads away from God, yet:
▪ And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 25:10)
▪ And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (New Testament | Romans 12:2)
▪ And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 59:9)
▪ Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (New Testament | James 1:27)
▪ Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (New Testament | James 4:4)
▪ Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (New Testament | 2 Peter 1:4)
▪ Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (New Testament | Colossians 2:8)
▪ Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; (New Testament | Titus 2:12)
▪ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (New Testament | 1 John 2:15-17)
▪ For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (New Testament | 1 John 5:4-5)
▪ Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you. (Book of Mormon | Alma 39:14)
▪ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (New Testament | John 15:18-19)
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 26:24)So apparently it all comes down to one road. Do we go up or down? We decide.
And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men. (Book of Mormon | Ether 12:33)
Though from the witness of trivial, vain, and excessive things,2 it seems the majority of us do not really believe in the “Doctrine of Two Ways.” When at last, we appear before the pleading bar3 of God what will we plead? “I didn’t know.” “I didn’t understand.” “I thought I was doing OK—maybe even great.” “Nobody told me otherwise.” “I guess, I didn’t remember it was that important.” “Anyway, the test was awfully hard.” “Everybody was talking mercy and I forgot—justice and judgment.”
Or should we just keep it short and say, “Babylon beguiled me and I did eat”?
And what will the great Judge say? Maybe nothing. Maybe He will just hand us our scriptures.
1. (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 30-31.)
More Nibley from the same source:
* There is an unbridgeable gap between Zion and Babylon. We cannot compromise on the two ways, because the two ways lead in opposite directions. In recent years, the course of the whole world has suddenly and dramatically vindicated the position taken by the early saints and largely forgotten by their descendants. We are discovering that there really are two worlds; that the one leads to sure destruction written in capital letters on everything we behold, as Joseph Smith put it, fn and only the other offers salvation. This is the ancient doctrine of the "Two Ways" taught in the early church—the way of darkness and the way of light. fn It was impossible to try to compromise between them because they led in opposite directions. (18-19.)
* When we try to mix Zion and Babylon, Babylon has already won the game. It is amazing that any teaching so fundamental and so clear-cut could be so effectively silenced today among people professing to preach and to practice the restored gospel. (18-19.)
2. as in: houses, garages, retreats, lands, estates, cupboards, clothes, closets, storage units, storage sheds, cars, car-less garages, RVs, boats, toys, tools, equipment, devices, electronics, phones, TVs, dishes, furniture, décor (especially Xmas, Halloween, etc.), shareholdings, investments, accounts, etc., etc. If this list offends, well … perhaps it’s just a déjà vu reflex of the flesh! Anyway, to clear the air, not all things of the world are bad, only when we misuse or abuse or become obsessed, burdened, or distracted with them. So once again, I confess, in the near words of Groucho Marx: “These are my [views]; if you don’t like them, I have others.”
3. From The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text edited by Royal Skousen (2009) where he corrects “pleasing bar” to “pleading bar” in both Jacob 6:13 and Moroni 10:34.
» Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the plea[d]ing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen. (Jacob 6:13)
» And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the plea[d]ing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen. (Moroni 10:34)
More references to “the way of the world”:
(Does repetition count in the gravity of a matter?)
» Matthew 13:22 ~ He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
» Matthew 16:26 ~ For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (see also: Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25)
» John 1:29-30 ~ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
» John 12:25 ~ He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
» John 14:17 ~ Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
» John 16:33 ~ These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
» John 17:14-16 ~ I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
» John 18:36 ~ Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
» 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 ~ For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
» 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 ~ Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
» 1 Corinthians 2:6-12 ~ Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
» 2 Corinthians 4:4 ~ In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
» 2 Corinthians 7:10 ~ For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
» Galatians 1:4 ~ Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
» Galatians 6:14 ~ But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
» Ephesians 2:2 ~ Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
» Ephesians 6:12 ~ For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
» 1 Timothy 6:7 ~ For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
» 2 Peter 2:20-21 ~ For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
» 1 John 3:13 ~ Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
» 1 John 4:1-5 ~ BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
» 1 John 5:19 ~ And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
BOOK OF MORMON:
» 1 Nephi 6:5 ~ Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.
» 1 Nephi 11:36 ~ And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.
» 1 Nephi 13:9 ~ And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
» 1 Nephi 22:23 ~ For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.
» 2 Nephi 9:18 ~ But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.
» 2 Nephi 9:30 ~ But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
» 2 Nephi 26:29 ~ He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
» 2 Nephi 27:16 ~ And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.
» Mosiah 4:22-23 ~ And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done. I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
» Alma 1:16 ~ Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.
» Alma 4:8 ~ For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.
» Alma 5:37 ~ O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!
» Alma 5:53 ~ And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?
» Alma 7:6 ~ But behold, I trust that ye are not in a state of so much unbelief as were your brethren; I trust that ye are not lifted up in the pride of your hearts; yea, I trust that ye have not set your hearts upon riches and the vain things of the world; yea, I trust that you do not worship idols, but that ye do worship the true and the living God, and that ye look forward for the remission of your sins, with an everlasting faith, which is to come.
» Alma 31:27-28 ~ Behold, O God, they cry unto thee, and yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride. Behold, O God, they cry unto thee with their mouths, while they are puffed up, even to greatness, with the vain things of the world. Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish.
» Alma 60:32 ~ Behold, can you suppose that the Lord will spare you and come out in judgment against the Lamanites, when it is the tradition of their fathers that has caused their hatred, yea, and it has been redoubled by those who have dissented from us, while your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world?
» Alma 60:36 ~ Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country.
» Helaman 7:4-5 ~ And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment–seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men; Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—
» Helaman 7:21 ~ But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world, for the which ye do murder, and plunder, and steal, and bear false witness against your neighbor, and do all manner of iniquity.
» Helaman 12:4 ~ O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
» 3 Nephi 6:15 ~ Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.
» 4 Nephi 1:24 ~ And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.
» Ether 8:7 ~ And now Jared became exceedingly sorrowful because of the loss of the kingdom, for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.
» Mormon 8:38-41 ~ O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world? Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not? Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads? Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS:
» Section 1:16 ~ They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
» Section 29:4 ~ Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.
» Section 35:13-14 ~ Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit; And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their enemies shall be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them.
» Section 39:9 ~ Nevertheless, thou hast seen great sorrow, for thou hast rejected me many times because of pride and the cares of the world.
» Section 40:2 ~ And he received the word with gladness, but straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word.
» Section 50:8 ~ But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world.
» Section 50:41-42 ~ Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.
» Section 58:39 ~ And let him repent of his sins, for he seeketh the praise of the world.
» Section 64:2 ~ For verily I say unto you, I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.
» Section 95:13 ~ Now here is wisdom, and the mind of the Lord—let the house be built, not after the manner of the world, for I give not unto you that ye shall live after the manner of the world;
» Section 101:36 ~ Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
» Section 103:7-8 ~ And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever. But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them.
» Section 121:34-36 ~ Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
» Section 132:22-23 ~ For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.
» Section 134:12 ~ We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world:
» Section 135:6 ~ … the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption.