The end of the world is not imminent

Two weeks ago Carol and I traveled to Provo from our home in California to attend a unique symposium on the subject of prophecy and the last days. The presenter was Anthony Larson, an LDS author and publisher of five books on the subject. I read Anthony’s books back in the 80’s when they were first published and again over the last year after he and I started corresponding.

Anthony has a unique view of cosmology that incorporates many of the writings of Velikovsky (Worlds in Collision) and of David Talbott (The Saturn Myth). Some of his most recent work embraces the discoveries of Anthony Peratt and the Birkeland currents. Anthony Larson brings an LDS perspective to these theories, adding relationships between ancient history and prophecy.

Report of the Provo symposium

Anthony claims that there is a connection between scriptural accounts of catastrophic events and the irregular motion of planets in our solar system as recorded in ancient myths. He connects errant heavenly bodies with the signs of the last days. He teaches that Earth’s ancient planetary history has had a distinct effect upon the language of the prophets and Gospel interpretation.

Observing the attendance at the symposium, I believe interest in the events of the last days has increased, or at least it has among Latter-day Saints. The event was organized and sponsored by Doug Mendenhall of Publishing Hope, a small LDS book publisher out of Mt. Pleasant Utah. Doug is known for publishing a book about his daughter’s illness and visit to the spirit world.

Authors want to sell books

Carol attended the Friday night introductory lecture but did not sit with me through the all-day symposium on Saturday. Based on her expression of interest, I thought the material would only be interesting to guys like me who are into theoretical explanations of cosmological events. But I was pleasantly surprised to see an equal mix of men and women listening intently to the lecture.

The Aspen room of the Provo Marriott was packed with over 200 attendees who paid a small fee to cover the cost of renting the room. I can’t imagine that there was enough profit other than to pay for Anthony’s travel and accommodations. I did see a lot of his books going out the door from the back table so I think his motivation is mainly to educate people and promote his books.

The material is a little advanced

Anthony loves to study, write and to share what he has learned with others. That was obvious to those who were in attendance. He was very comfortable at the podium and had no problem with keeping our attention for hours on end. He has a command of his material and presented it in an interesting manner with PowerPoint slide shows and videos with his own musical compositions.

At times he was passionate about defending his material and unless you know a little about what he has had to deal with over the past fifteen years, you might not understand why. As you can imagine, Anthony’s theories are not orthodox and not embraced by the majority of the Latter-day Saint community. In fact, he has been labeled a crackpot by some academic scholars at BYU.

More than just interesting material

I consider myself extremely conservative, orthodox and typical of most Latter-day Saints when it comes to what I teach and share in any official capacity in the church. In other words, when I teach a class or speak from the pulpit, I am a stickler for teaching only what the Brethren have said is appropriate and authorized. I make every effort to know and teach only current material.

You probably know where I’m going with this. What Anthony teaches is not something that you are going to hear in your gospel doctrine class and probably not from the pulpit. It is considered way out there. I would put it in the class of interesting to know but not essential to either our salvation or exaltation. Anthony feels otherwise, or so he expressed in his Friday night lecture.

We need to study on our own

We are so concerned in the church with teaching only the basics of the gospel that we rarely talk about the things that Anthony presented. He gave us quote after quote from the early Brethren, including Joseph Smith that laid a case for his claims of impending cosmological catastrophism. The evidence was methodically presented, allowing the audience time to absorb and understand.

Anthony’s material consisted of a series of separate lectures, each focusing on one aspect of his research and each presented logically and systematically. He laid the evidence out there and then expressed his opinions and conclusions, leaving the audience to determine on their own if they agreed or not. He often paused and reminded us of the importance of studying this on our own.

Teachings based on the prophets

He did not teach that the end of the world is imminent. In fact, he said the exact opposite and backed up his view with many evidences from statements of prophets of the past. He clearly taught that we must first look for the one grand sign that the Prophet Joseph taught would be the harbinger of the coming of the Son of Man. The whole world will see this approaching planet.

That was surprising to me. Had he aligned himself with the Planet X theorists who claim that the end of the world is closely tied to the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, I probably would have packed my laptop up and walked out. But he didn’t. He was very careful to point out that we need to base our understanding of the last days on what the prophets have taught on the subject.

Anthony’s viewpoints are fairly unique

So I continued my note taking and filled five pages with point after point that demonstrated a lifetime of research and collection of evidence to support his theories and conclusions. Anthony has no qualms about acknowledging that he is alone in what he is teaching. He knows that there are very few in the church or the world who agree with what he says, let alone understand it.

He has been misunderstood and maligned by those who have not studied his material or attended one of his lectures. As I wrote in a previous essay, I had never met Anthony but intended to go with an open heart and an open mind. I came away convinced that he is right about most of the things he is teaching. I agree with his conclusions and appreciate all of the supporting evidence.

Cosmological connections to the temple

I wish I had a chance to sit down one on one with Anthony and ask him to clarify what he meant when he taught Friday night that this material is so crucial, even central to our salvation and our exaltation. I have not yet made that leap and neither has Carol. Of all the things she heard, that was the one statement that made her feel that she could dismiss or ignore the rest of his lecture.

He taught some things about the temple and connections with cosmology on Saturday afternoon that are far beyond my understanding. I had trouble absorbing it but took lots of good notes and will study it out for myself as he suggested. I think he could write a whole new book about what he taught but it would have to be presented very carefully with the detailed supporting evidence.

Endorsement of the symposium

And that’s the problem with teaching anything that is deep or advanced in this church or among the LDS people. There are wackos out there that start teaching their theories of the end of the world and then they are suddenly claiming that God told them to re-introduce polygamy. Let me make it clear that Anthony is very adamant in advocating that we follow the prophet of our day.

As one who has now studied Anthony’s material over many years, both what is contained within his published books and more recently with what he has placed online, may I offer my heartfelt endorsement and recommendation that you go and listen to what he has to say. He is offering two additional symposia this weekend in Arizona – Snowflake on the 8th and Mesa on the 9th.

9 thoughts on “The end of the world is not imminent”

  1. In The Doghouse

    Thanks for this report on the Anthony Larson seminar. I have read all his articles on line but have yet to purchase a book. He does seem to be alone in his ideas, but as you say he supports the Brethren emphatically. I would be anxious to see the Temple correlations that you spoke of. Perhaps another post?

  2. Being an avowed skeptic, I’d caution you about Larson and his unique theories based on some historical ideas and a lot of conjecture. The connection with temples and the cosmos is not even a remotely new or unique thesis. That temples were oriented toward cosmological axes is well established archaeologically and historically.For a rational basis on this, I’ll refer you to the Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley, who wrote tons of material on temples and the cosmos. I presume you may know of, or have already read Nibley’s stuff. The reason I point to Nibley is that even he didn’t have the hubris to claim that he could interpret revelation, especially old and obscured revelations from antiquity.

  3. I have some unique ideas of my own, mostly supported by scripture, but I’m not going to make the ridiculous claim that knowing my ideas or subscribing them is essential to one’s salvation. I think your wife was right in thinking that Anthony had gone off the deep end.

  4. HolyInheritance

    Thanks for introducing me to this author and researcher. I’ve just finished reading his first book in the trilogy and I found it facsinating and can’t wait to read the next two. I’ve watched his YouTube documentary online and subscriped to his monthly email newsletter. His research seems very well done and the fact that he includes the actual words of the Prophet Joseph Smith in his theories really gives it real authoriy for me. I hope he will start an online forum soon, I would love to be a part of it! I’m so sorry that I missed the presentation he did in Provo last month. Thank you SO much for this post reporting on it!God Bless,Bethie

  5. Euripides: If you’re a skeptic then we need more people like you in the world. Thanks for your high activity level on your blog and elsewhere in an area about which I feel very strongly – the fight against acceptance of low moral behavior in the world. You are a courageous fighter who has taken a lot of heat for your well expressed opinions and essays.While I am passionate about the issue of marriage as being something that works best between a man and a woman, I am probably more passionate about the signs of the times in general. The decline of moral standards is just one of the preparatory signs of the very last days. That’s why I have always been a fan of the work that Anthony Larson has been doing.Yes, I’m very familiar with the works of Hugh Nibley and am adding more of his material to my library all the time. His intellect and grasp of ideas were far superior to mine. He also had a wonderful ability to express his ideas in writing. So does Anthony Larson.It is been said that if you want to keep something from the Mormons, just put it in a book. I am now on my fourth reading of Anthony’s books and am still amazed at the answers that his ideas provide for me to questions that I have had about the fantastic things that we read about in Exodus as well as in the Book of Revelation.I have never found anyone who could explain the correlation between the visions of the various prophets like Anthony has done. I say let Anthony’s works speak for themselves. Read his books and then tell me that he is crazy. I have now met the man and have heard him expound on his work. I feel the same now as I did when I first read his books twenty five years ago. He has put things together in a unique way that leads me to want to study more.Anthony’s writings and lectures have invigorated my personal gospel study program over the past year and a half. I have done more pondering and praying about the ideas he has suggested than just about any other author I have read. That says a lot to me. He has got me thinking and wondering if what he has explained could be feasible. That’s a good thing.I appreciate your caution. I believe I am being cautious, yet cautious. I have not yet accepted everything he has written. I am not at his level of understanding on some of the subjects he has studied. But more and more every day, as I read supporting material I have aha moments when I begin to grasp what he is talking about. Yes, I am a very cautious man.We hold Nibley up like he is the end-all of authorities on things of antiquity. Isn’t it possible that God can inspire another man to see things in a little different light that merits our consideration? We of all people would be more open minded to ideas that are considered to be unorthodox. Try all things. Prove all things. But don’t throw them out before studying them first.I’m just saying that after years of reading and studying Anthony’s material that I am convinced he is on to something that nobody else has really put together. By incorporating some of his interpretations into my essays here I have moved from observer to proponent, even advocate. Anthony is not asking us to leave off from following the prophets, only to consider what he has discovered and ponder it’s usefulness to you.To me, I find his writings to be extremely useful in answering the obscurities of the antiquities. And because he is an independent scholar as opposed to one who is a part of the established patriarchy of academia, causes me to consider his words all the more seriously. He and I have a lot in common. I love to study and to teach but I am not a scholar. I am just a simple tech support guy trying to make a living and understand the world around me a little better.Anthony’s writings help me do that.

  6. Rich: Perhaps I was being a little harsh on Anthony. And Carol was not suggesting that he has gone off the deep end, only that he was a little over-zealous in his claim that knowing and understanding the material he presented was central to our salvation. He and I have already dialogued about making claims like that in public.Anthony is passionate about his research and is frustrated by years of not being understood. He is a good man and his ideas deserve our respectful consideration. The interesting thing I have found so far is that he backs up everything he teaches with scripture and quotes from our prophets and apostles.I know, we really need to be careful that we are not deceived by those who claim that they have the way figured out if what they teach deviates from the words of the men whom we sustain as prophets who speak for God. But Anthony is not trying to lead us astray or to do anything other than study things out for ourselves. I appreciate that.A snarky link to this essay from BCC states that “A crackpot is still a crackpot even if he has spent years studying things out.” Anthony has been unfairly labeled in our LDS intellectual community and it is mainly by those who have not read his material or considered it thoughtfully. I have and I am coming to appreciate more and more his sense of urgency in wanting others to understand what he has to say.Of course only time will prove him right or wrong but by the time the signs that he identifies are upon us it will be to late to do anything about them. I want to be able to stand still and see the arm of God revealed when it happens without being afraid, knowing that it has been foretold in language that we simply don’t understand in our modern day.

  7. It appears that Euripides and Rich are afraid to climb out of their box because they might see something scary out there. Well, I have some good news and some bad news.The bad news is that if people remain in their little box and never progress beyond what they learned in Sunday school, they will be damned. If you think this statement is incorrect, then you are sadly mistaken. Joseph Smith taught the following:“A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.” – Joseph Smith (HC 4:588)“It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it…Add to your faith knowledge, &c. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.Salvation is nothing more or less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved… – Joseph Smith (HC 5:387)“It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” – Joseph Smith (HC 5:392)“Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge.” – Joseph Smith (HC 6:314)“Knowledge is the power of salvation.” – Joseph Smith (HC 5:403)The good news, however, is that if you are willing to climb out of your box, are diligent in searching for good seeds of knowledge, and are willing to open your mind to things you have never before imagined, these pearls of wisdom will be laid before you. But these good seeds will be surrounded by numeorus bad seeds of untruth. And the only way you can determine which seeds are good is to use Alma's test of faith (see Alma 32:26-43).So, for you poor souls that are content to put your trust in the arm of flesh (see 2 Nephi 4:34 and 2 Nephi 28:31), you will be cursed and easily lead astray by those you should not have trusted. If you don't understand the bigger picture here with regards to putting your trust in the arm of flesh, then read those two scriptures until you get it. Everything you learn must be tested using Alma's method.Unlike many of you, I do not refer to Tony's research as theories, conjecture, or wild off the wall ideas. Instead, I have studied his books, articles, and research and have applied Alma's test of faith, just as taught in the Book of Mormon. As a result, I now enjoy a sure knowledge that Tony's works are based completely on the truth. And as a result of my desire to acquire knowledge, I have learned a great deal more than I ever expected, even great knowledge that has opened the doors of my understanding on many subjects.In a sense, if you aren't willing to go off the deep end, with regards to what you think you know, then you will never climb out of that box, never progress beyond the fairy tale stories you learned in Sunday School, and never learn the greater knowledge necessary to save you in this world and in the world of spirits, where you will be easily deceived by those wicked men and women who have greater knowledge than you.Read and study Tony's research, apply Alma's test of faith, and gain the sure knowledge for yourself. Once you have acquired this wisdom, then you will have the keys to understanding gospel and scriptural symbolism, and you will read the scriptures with new eyes and see and understand things that have been hidden from modern man for more than a thousand years.Joseph Smith said:“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all that they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything come that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.” – Joseph Smith (HC 6:185)This is the beginning. Instead of casting doubt on Tony's research because it seems too weird or fantastic to be true, study it and apply Alma's test to prove it. Don't be like the LDS members in Joseph Smith's quote that flew to pieces like glass because new information came before them which was different from what they had been taught. Have the courage to stand tall and accept truth when it comes your way. It is my testimony that if you will do this, just as I have done, you will learn great knowledge and have the doors of your understanding opened to such a degree that you cannot imagine.Paul

  8. Greetings, Tim (and all):

    Is it any wonder that the mysteries of God remain a mystery? (To most people.)

    Is it written in scripture anywhere that we are forbidden to seek knowledge of the mysteries of God?

    The problem (if there is one) is not in the seeking, but in the telling…to those who are obviously unprepared to receive the information.

    We all have the God-given ability to discern truth from error, if we choose to use it.

  9. Pingback: Thoughts on the End of the World – Latter-day Commentary – Last Days – Signs of the Times

Comments are closed.