Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » How We Taught This Lesson in the Past: Lesson 6: “Noah … Prepared an Ark to the Saving of His House”

How We Taught This Lesson in the Past: Lesson 6: “Noah … Prepared an Ark to the Saving of His House”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 31, 2010

Our current manual covers Noah, the flood, and the Tower of Babel in a single lesson, with the stated purpose that “class members [will] desire to live worthily [interpreted, according to the illustrative material, as obeying God through the medium of a modern prophet] and avoid the evils of the world [interpreted as avoiding punishment for sin].” The 1930 manual, while drawing the same basic morals, is a little less black and white, a little more thought provoking.

The Noah lesson, for instance, raises but does not attempt to answer the physical difficulties of a literal universal flood and the housing of the animals. The old lesson asks class members to consider what his ancient neighbors thought of Noah, and where he found the strength to walk with God in the midst of an ungodly society. The lesson on the Tower of Babel approaches the Old Testament as a text with its own ancient audience and purpose; it teaches in simplified style that out of all the materials available to him, Moses selected the items that were of most use to his people at the time, to mold them into a separate nation apart from the other peoples of the world and to hold themselves aloof from the world in order to live a godly life.

Lessons for 23 February and 2 March 1930:


Traditions Regarding the Flood.

It is more than passing strange that nearly every nation of the primeval world has some tradition of the flood. These traditions bear a remarkable likeness to the Biblical story of the flood. Of course many arguments have been advanced to show that such a thing could not have happened, such, for instance, as that it was contrary to certain physical laws, that it could not have spread to the seacoast, that no ships had yet been built to weather such a storm, or to house the animals mentioned.

Our concern, however, is not with the physical, but rather with the moral side of the story. The occasion for the flood was the degeneracy of the antediluvians. The narrator of the story describes the demoralized condition of society before the flood in this striking manner: “God saw that wickedness of man was great, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

This is a gloomy prospect indeed. There is no representation of good, no moments of betterment, no visiting of compunction, no turning from evil. It was a world of men violent and lawless, unrepentant and uncompromising. That corruption and depravity had taken hold upon the hearts of men seems clear. Such evil is not characteristic of man as we know him. Hence God determined to obliterate and wipe out the human race.

The Call of Noah

From the Bible story announcing the birth of Noah, we are led to the conclusion that his father, Lamech, had already sensed the evils of his time for he said, “This one referring to Noah), shall comfort us I our work and for the toil of our hands because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” He would help in wresting from the stubborn soil the necessary sustenance for the family, he would help in devising ways to make life as tolerable as possible, but most of all, he would help to resist the ever increasing evil of society which was becoming more and more manifest.

If rescue work was to be undertaken, would God not call Noah to the labor? This son “shall comfort us” was the impression which came to Lamech, not only in his lifetime, but according to his vision of faith, after he had passed, God’s work would still go on in the world through the efforts of this gifted son. And in keeping with this thought, God called Noah, and Noah responded valiantly: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of God – Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generation: Noah walked with God.”

“Noah was a righteous man,” which, as applied to him, means that he was sincere, earnest, thoughtful, religious, and of a spiritual turn of mind. Amidst abounding ungodliness he held ‘the faith’ to the extent that he ‘walked with God.’ We may well conclude that he was a man of exceptional character since he was able to stand out alone against the men of his time. Behind the simplicity of results are qualities, moral and intellectual, attainments attended by discipline through long training, and not found in men of ordinary ability.

Noah Walked with God.

Noah’s personal. piety is described in the expressive phrase: He “walked with God.” this expression implies companionship. It means something more than God’s guardianship and protection. it means an intimate communion. To walk with another implies a movement toward a common object, looking to the attainment of the same end. We choose for our companions those whom we love. We may assume that God does the same. Noah “walked with God.”

Unless we are thoughtful about our reading, we are apt to overlook some of the outstanding qualities of greatness in Noah. “By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Herein lies the secret of a man of faith. From the narrative in Genesis we get the impression that the righteousness of Noah was due to the grace of God. But the grace of God is always a companion of faith.

Noah was surrounded by a people who had lost “the faith,” who had broken God’s commandments, whose every imagination of their thoughts was only evil continually. To retain the faith under such conditions required a stout heart, a strong will, and a Godlike purpose. Not only was Noah able to stand like adamant in an impure moral and social atmosphere, but his very life was a protest against the corruption of his time.

He was a preacher of righteousness when righteousness was unpopular. He walked in God’s atmosphere when none but he could detect such an atmosphere. He believed God when the warning came of an approaching calamity. It is sometimes difficult for us to believe in the reality of an unusual event, even after it has taken place, while to accept something “not seen as yet” is altogether beyond most of us. Not so with Noah. He believed God and acted accordingly.

How few of us realize that faith is the truest foresight. It is very likely that the least wicked people in Noah’s time, if asked what they thought of him, would have said, “A good sort of man, but weak-minded.” No one gave him credit for being long-headed; but it is not the simple who “foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself.” The flood was contrary to the world’s experience. There never had been a flood.

Noah was ready to accept the call and to do all that God commanded him. It was this “allness” that made the ark a reality. Most of us are quite willing to adopt God’s plans if we find that they fit our own preconceived notions, but if not, we are quite as willing to reject them. Noah built the ark according to God’s plan, length, height, width, windows, doors and all. He took God’s specifications as they were, and thereby saved his life.

Note; this lesson is taken almost wholly from the writings of Oliver C. Dalby – formerly an instructor in Old Testament at the L.D.S. College.

Questions and Problems

1. Give the story of the flood.
2. What do you admire most in Noah’s character?
3. See how many characteristics you can name which are respected in men, and which are found in Noah’s attitudes and actions.
4. If conditions arose in your community today which called for a man to stand out all alone and do something which the whole community ridiculed, how do you think such a man would be treated or respected?
5. Do you think this statement is true? “There could be no progress in the whole if a few men were not willing to stand out against the thought and ridicule of society.”
6. Name some men that the world today honors because they were willing to stand alone and against popular will for a cause or a principle.
7. Name Noah’s sons.
8. What was the rainbow made to symbolize?
9. Comment on the use of the rainbow as a sign of the covenant.

The Beginning of the Hebrew People

In commencing this lesson it will be well for all the students to remember what we said in the first lessons about the Bible. If the book of Genesis was compiled for the instruction of the people of Moses’ time, it is more than natural that the things which were the most essential for the people then will be found in this book. Moses’ great problem was to build a mighty nation out of a group of slaves. The purpose of this nation’s being was to preserve the worship of the true God. Moses had to instill a spirit of aloofness from other people; to emphasize a reason for this aloofness. The chosen people of God must be made conscious of their great responsibility. Moses’ God was to be a God of morals. A God that recognized right and wrong in men’s actions. A God that has a purpose in what He does; and therefore His chosen people will have a destiny.

How is the best way to teach things? First: the people must be taught about their origin. It is for this reason that genealogies are stressed. Through these genealogies also descent of priesthood and authority are traced. Then, too, by comparing genealogies, an explanation of other peoples or nations is made. The first step in arousing a national ideal and creating what we call patriotism today is to emphasize differences. The spirit of war, conquest, the destruction of those who were different were aims of Moses. Therefore we will find these things also stressed in his “history.”

Scholars tell us today that stories of various sources are found in the book of Genesis. We, of course, have no trouble in understanding that because Moses’ work was of necessity a compilation of those things which were essential to his nationalistic and religious purposes. The book of Genesis is not a complete history. It is an explanation of how things became as they were in Moses’ time.

Note how splendidly the genealogies found in Chapter 10 of the book of Genesis explain the origins of most of the peoples of the children of Israel came in contact with. First in the genealogy of Shem we find the origin of the Hebrews themselves. They get their name from “Eber” (Genesis 10:24) and “all the children of Eber’ (Genesis 11:14-16( denotes those who came from the other side of the Euphrates, that is from Haran from which place Abraham passed down into Canaan. In the genealogy of Ham we find two words used which had great significant meaning to the ancient Hebrews. “Mizraim” (Genesis 10:6) meant “Egypt” to the Hebrews and “Shinar” (Genesis 10:10) meant “Babylon.” These words are found among many others that have no meaning to us today, but you see how when we discover the key to the significance of these words they explain the origin of the nations the Hebrews were most interested in. Egypt and Babylon were of Ham; the peoples from the “isles of the Gentiles” (Genesis 10:5) were from Japheth, and the peoples from “Aram” (Syria, genesis 10:22) were closer to the ancient Hebrews because they like the Hebrews were from Shem.

Now because of the curse which was put upon Ham the fact that the Hebrews’ greatest enemies came from Ham satisfied splendidly their national pride. It satisfied their religious pride, too, and soon the gods of the Egyptians and the Babylonians became objects of hate.

Viewed in this light the story of the tower of Babel becomes more interesting. The writer does a very interesting thing. In the story of the great Tower we find many lessons. It first of all tells of the beginning of the Babylonians and their origin, say the Hebrews, came from “confusion” and they imply that the word “Babylon” actually means that (Genesis 11:8-9) in that they infer that “Babylon’ comes from the Hebrew word “Babel” which means “confusion.” But that is not true. ‘Babylon” is not a Hebrew word. It is a Babylonian word and means “Gate of God.” The word “gate” has many interesting meanings and uses in most Asiatic languages. It meant the gate where the king lived. Later on, and still later the king himself was called the “gate.” In Japan the word “Mikado” merely means gate, but it was what the people called the emperor and in Turkey before the world war the sultan was called the “Porte,” which also means gate. These interesting language customs can be traced back to Babylon, that great ancient capital.

Questions and Problems

1. If the Book of Genesis is a book written or compiled to explain beginnings, the origins of how many things can you find in the story of the Tower of Babel?
2. What great Book of Mormon people trace their beginning back to the time of the Tower of Babel?
3. What were the names of the sons of Noah?
4. Does the story of the flood teach that God is a God who likes the good and dislikes the bad? Explain.
5. Can people build well if there is a misunderstanding about the plans and purposes of the building?
6. Give a Fable of Aesop’s which illustrates the same lesson as the story of the Tower of Babel.
7. Can you think of any other stories which illustrate the motto: “United we stand, divided we fall”?
8. See if you can find a State of the American Union which has this motto.



  1. I liked the way the lesson mentions different interpretations of the flood but shifts immediately the focus to the doctrinal issues. Several years ago I subbed for Gos Doc and taught a lesson on Jonah and the Whale. I wanted to focus my lesson on the doctrine, but low and behold, someone brought up being swallowed by the whale which really derailed my lesson.

    Just from some of the previous lessons of old posts it seems that the Church was a bit more open to scientific ideas in the lesson presentations. Today’s lessons don’t seem quite as daring. IMHO

    Comment by Steve C. — February 1, 2010 @ 7:30 am

  2. That’s my impression, too, Steve — it seemed to be a major thing that there was a note in the Creation lesson this year that “day” didn’t mean a modern 24-hour-period but a period of an indeterminate length.

    With that exception, today’s manuals — the whole set — seem deliberately limited to teaching gospel doctrine, period. Which is great, I’m not complaining about that at all. But when you don’t acknowledge folk doctrines and try to squelch them, you allow them to flourish in silence, and when you don’t prepare a teacher with ways to handle objections or alternate interpretations that you just know are going to come up, there is no predicting what might happen. On the other hand, there are plenty of teachers who would take those cautions and make them, not gospel doctrine, the centerpiece of the lesson, so maybe they’re stuck between two unappealing choices.

    But I too like the way some of the old manuals address other-than-fundamentalist/literalist interpretations.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  3. I know I’m jumping ahead in the Gospel Doctrine schedule, but Steve C thread-jacked first. If I were ever to teach the Jonah lesson, I’d speculate that if Jonah had not repented, he still would have exited the whale… just the other end… after digestion.

    Okay, okay, so maybe this comment is not in line with the dignified nature of an OT prophet, or even a modern Gospel Doctrine class, but I suppose it would fit under the “nonsense” part of Keepa’s sub-heading, or make for an interesting comment when teaching Jonah to primary age children.

    Comment by Bookslinger — February 1, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  4. Scat, Bookslinger! 😉

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  5. Scat, indeed.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 1, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  6. That made me laugh, Mark B. Good one.

    Comment by Hunter — February 1, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  7. Howcum HE gets the laugh when it was MY joke?

    It must have been something in his delivery.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  8. So sorry, Ardis. I looked at your comment a few times, and wondered, but couldn’t be sure that you were referring to “whale scat” and so I gave the glory to Mark.

    Typical male chauvinist behavior, I know.

    [big baby frown]

    Comment by Hunter — February 1, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

  9. You didn’t know I’d stoop so low, eh? Okay, I can take a compliment!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  10. Actually, I couldn’t believe that you were telling Bookslinger to get out!

    P.S. And yes, it is a compliment.

    Comment by Hunter — February 1, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

  11. I know that you usually don’t get a lot of feedback on these Lessons from the Past posts, but I really enjoy them. And I thank you for taking the time to type them all up, if nothing else, so that they can be indexed for future reference.

    Comment by Maurine — February 1, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  12. Way to re-elevate this post, Maurine!

    Seriously, thank you. Typing them helps me, gives me ideas for teaching, because I think with my fingers while I type. I’m hoping they’ll give ideas to others, but as you recognize, part of the reason I do them is for a sort of searchable archive.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 1, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  13. I agree with Maurine: I like to read through these lessons to gain additional insight that I might not get in the current lesson we’re having. Not that our lessons are bad. I just like the extra I get with these.

    Comment by Steve C. — February 1, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  14. Any thoughts / comments on the flood being the earth’s baptism?? And subsequent cleansing by fire??

    See Journal of Discourses, Vol 21, Discourse by Elder Orson Pratt; also found at

    Comment by Glenn Smith — February 1, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

  15. Oops

    that should be

    Comment by Glenn Smith — February 1, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

  16. The link only works for those with subscriptions — another place to read it is this site.

    My thought on that, Glenn, is that it’s a kind of “back formation” doctrine — the idea that the earth, like human beings, needed the ordinances of baptism and confirmation/bestowal of Holy Ghost to redeem it from the fall is not taught in scripture or, to the best of my recollection, by Joseph Smith. Rather, Orson Pratt got a pet idea, as so many of us do, then looked for scriptural concepts to support that idea — he put the cart before the horse/doctrine before the revelation. To my way of thinking that’s backwards to the course of true doctrine and is a path that has too often led us to bizarre and false ideas (as, for example, all the “doctrine” to explain why blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood, none of which doctrine as it turns out was actually present in scripture, although isolated verses of scripture were wrenched out of context in support of those back-formed folk doctrines).

    I can accept that the earth has a spirit if that’s what it means to have been created spiritually before being created physically, and I can accept that the earth fell (was cursed for man’s sake) at the time of the Fall, but I don’t see scripture that suggests the necessity for the earth — or my cat, or any other non-human entity that also presumably has a spirit and is suffering from the effects of the Fall — to be baptized by water and by fire in order to be redeemed from the Fall. I think that is covered by the overall Atonement.

    This idea is not one I will be teaching when I do this lesson, no matter how well known it is, because it is not an element of the purpose of this lesson, and it does not come by way of revelation through recognized channels and, so far as I know (I admit I may have missed something) has not been taught over the pulpit at General Conference since the days when leaders began to be more careful to distinguish between authentic doctrine and speculation. (I am aware the idea has been enshrined in certain respected but non-authoritative books, which accounts for widespread awareness of this idea among church members.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 2, 2010 @ 7:46 am

  17. Ardis: Thanks for the clarification on this point of doctrine. I had heard for years that the flood was Earth’s baptism and that it would also be baptized by fire. I recall this idea was very popular when I was in seminary. What is troubling about it is that when I was in seminary I did the home-study curriculum and at the time this idea was presented in our seminary workbooks. I also remember that many people believed that there would be a nuclear war and that would be the Earth’s baptism by fire. For this reason, at least in my home unite, members opposed nuclear disarmament I guess on the grounds that it interfered with God’s will or something like that. While it’s possible that the calamities foretold in the scriptures could be caused by a nuclear war, I don’t think we should sit around hoping for such so that the Earth can be baptized by fire.

    Comment by Steve C. — February 2, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  18. Good approach, Ardis. I like the question you ask when analyzing so-called pet doctrines: Do they come by revelation through recognized channels, or do they come as an after-the-fact way to try and explain something.

    My question is: When are you going to come substitute teach in our Ward?!

    Good stuff. Thanks.

    Comment by Hunter — February 2, 2010 @ 9:54 am

  19. Good approach to teaching about the “doctrines of dubious provenance”, Ardis. It is easier most times to avoid even bringing them up rather than disabusing folks of their long-cherished incorrect beliefs. Not the case, though, when we run into justifications for the PH Ban. That stuff has to be stomped out as fervently as possible, with an “increase of love” thereafter.

    Comment by kevinf — February 2, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  20. If helpful, here’s a small collection of quotes:


    When the scholars made their explanatory notes in the Jerusalem Bible concerning the flood, they related the deluge to a baptism. They said that “Noah’s salvation pre-figures the saving waters of baptism.” Their interpretation is interesting, inasmuch as our own leaders said a similar thing. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

    “Now a word as to the reason for the flood. It was the baptism of the earth, and that had to be by immersion. If the water did not cover the entire earth, then it was not baptized, for the baptism of the Lord is not pouring or sprinkling. These forms are strictly man made and not a part of the gospel ordinances.” (Doctrines of Salvation 2:320.)

    President Smith then quoted from the teachings of some of the presidents and apostles of the Church, including the following:

    President Brigham Young: “It [the earth] has already had a baptism. You who have read the Bible must know that that is Bible doctrine. What does it matter if it is not in the same words that I use, it is none the less true that it was baptized for the remission of sins. The Lord said, `I will deluge (or immerse) the earth in water for the remission of the sins of the people’; or if you will allow me to express myself in a familiar style, to kill all the vermin that were nitting, and breeding, and polluting its body; it was cleansed of its filthiness; and soaked in the water, as long as some of our people ought to soak. The Lord baptized the earth for the remission of sins, and it has been once cleansed for the filthiness that has gone out of it, which was in the inhabitants who dwelt upon its face.” (Journal of Discourses 1:274.)

    “`Brethren and sisters, I wish you to continue in your ways of welldoing; I desire that your minds may be opened more and more to see and understand things as they are. This earth, in its present condition and situation, is not a fit habitation for the sanctified; but it abides the law of its creation, has been baptized with water, will be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, and by-and-by will be prepared for the faithful to dwell upon.” (JD 8:83.)

    Elder Orson Pratt: “Another great change happened nearly two thousand years after the earth was made. It was baptized by water. A great flow of water came, the great deep was broken up, the windows of heaven were opened from on high, and the waters prevailed upon the face of the earth, sweeping away all wickedness and transgression—a similitude of baptism for the remission of sins. God requires the children of men to be baptized. What for? For the remission of sins. So he required our globe to be baptized by a flow of water, and all of its sins were washed away, not one sin remaining.” (JD 21:323.)

    “Both man and the earth are redeemed from the original sin without ordinances; but soon we find new sins committed by the fallen sons of Adam, and the earth became corrupted before the Lord by their transgressions. It needs redeeming ordinances for these second transgressions. The Lord ordained baptism, or immersion of the earth in water, as a justifying ordinance.” (JD 1:291.)

    President John Taylor: “The earth, as a part of the creation of God, has fulfilled and will fulfill the measure of its creation. It has been baptized by water, it will be baptized by fire; it will be purified and become celestial, and be a fit place for celestial bodies to inhabit.” (Times and Seasons 5:408-9.)

    President Charles W. Penrose: “Thus the inhabitants of the earth with the few exceptions that are beyond the power of redemption will eventually be saved. And the globe on which they passed their probation, having kept the law of its being, will come into remembrance before its Maker. It will die like its products. But it will be quickened again and resurrected in the celestial glory.

    “It has been born of water, it will also be born of the Spirit, purified by fire from all the corruptions that once defiled it, developed into its perfections as one of the family of worlds fitted for the Creator’s presence, all its latent light awakened into scintillating action, it will move up into its place among the orbs governed by celestial time, and shining `like a sea of glass mingled with fire,’ every tint and color of the heavenly bow radiating from its surface, the ransomed of the Lord will dwell upon it.” (The Contributor 2:364.)

    Comment by Reed Russell — February 2, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

  21. Reed, don’t you think it is significant that with the exception of Joseph Fielding Smith, who is in a class by himself when it comes to the earliest chapters of Genesis, all these extracts come from the 19th century?

    I appreciate that this idea of flood-as-baptism was taught by some early church leaders despite its absence from scriptural record and a lack of any appeal to Restoration revelation. I don’t think it is tenable as doctrine, and I think its absence from modern church leaders’ teachings frees me from any obligation to accept or to teach it as doctrine.

    As I’ve noted before, this idea is not relevant to the upcoming Sunday School lesson, and there is no reason for a teacher to mention it — more strongly put, there is reason for a teacher not to bring it up. If a class member brings it up, I will acknowledge that it is an idea taught by a few early church leaders, noting that it is not sustained by modern church leaders, and shift discussion back to more certain channels.

    I guess I’m different from many Latter-day Saints. I would rather remain ignorant of, even disbelieve, some dodgey idea that might actually be true, than to accept as truth some false idea. Whether or not the earth needed baptism, whether or not Noah’s flood was such a baptism, is sketchy and not relevant to my understanding of the plan of salvation. Therefore, it does not interest me.

    I would have made one lousy gnostic.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 2, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

  22. I like Mike Parker’s take on this that the story has a definite (even chiastic) structure of de-creation and then re-creation. The original creation is undone, cleansed and remade into a new creation. In this sense, the Flood was a (definitely in quotes) “baptism.”

    Comment by Reed Russell — February 2, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  23. There’s a reason, I think, why I do history and not philosophy! 😉

    I don’t know how ancient baptism is (I’ve heard arguments both ways, and would just as soon not hash that out here), but in either case I can accept the flood as a type of baptism (as foreshadowing Christ, that is, if not as an actual ordinance for a fallen planet). I can go that far with you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 2, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

  24. Boy, I really started something. I do agree that this topic should be left out of this weeks’ lesson. FOr Reed, and other curious readers, I did find some other statements of interest.

    Mark E Peterson , Noah and the Flood, 1982 quotes Joseph Fielding Smith who quotes Brigham Young, Orsan Pratt, John Taylor & Charles W Penrose. Also,

    “Why baptize the earth?

    The earth is a living thing. Is there not great significance in the scriptural references to the earth? While Enoch and the Lord discussed the wickedness of men, “it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?

    “And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?

    “And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.” (Moses 7:48-50.)

    Note these words coming out of the bowels of the earth: “When will my Creator sanctify me that I may rest and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” Is that allegory? Would God deal in allegory in circumstances like these? Was not the voice real?

    How are men cleansed of their sins? By baptism, and not only by water, but also by fire and the Holy Ghost. John the Baptist explained: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11.)


    The Savior spoke of this to the Nephites when He said:
    “Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin. Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.” (3 Ne. 9:18-22.)

    Should not the earth—a living thing—be similarly sanctified? It was baptized with water in the flood. Eventually it will be baptized with fire, thus becoming cleansed and sanctified, to be made into a celestial sphere as the eternal home for the righteous. The Lord has told us: “The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.” (D&C 130:8-9.)

    When the Lord gave the revelation found in D&C 88 of the Doctrine and Convenants, He made this further explanation: “And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.” (D&C 88:25-26.)
    Joseph Smith (Alma P. Burton) Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1977; also same quote in Mormon Doctrine referring to Teachings, P. 12

    “Noah was born to save seed of everything when the earth was WASHED OF ITS WICKEDNESS BY THE FLOOD…”
    John A Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1943

    “The fact remains that the exact nature of the flood is not known. We set up assumptions, based upon our best knowledge, but can go no further. We should remember that when inspired writers deal with historical incidents, they relate that which they have seen or that which may have been told them, unless indeed the past is opened to them by revelation.”


    “Latter-day Saints look upon the earth as a living organism, one which is gloriously filling “the measure of its creation.” They look upon the flood as a baptism of the earth, symbolizing a cleansing of the impurities of the past, and the beginning of a new life. This has been repeatedly taught by the leaders of the Church. The deluge was an immersion of the earth in water (D. & C. 88:25; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:274; Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 603; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 1:331).

    Though the whole of the earth was covered with water, the depth was immaterial. When a person is baptized, it does not matter how far under the water he is brought, nor whether every part of him is at the same depth. The essential part of the symbolism is that he should be completely immersed.”
    Ardis has made an important point about being cautious with unsupported “doctines” and Elder Widstoe’s comment about inspired writers relating to what they have seen or heard supports her. It will be exciting when all the answers are revealed. This subject will have to be a personal belief issue until it is pronounced as official doctrine.

    You may be interested in an article about speculation by Orson Scott Card on Mormon Times.

    Thanks, Ardis, for keeping us focused on the lesson plan and not, as Gospel Doctrine teachers, straying into personal areas.

    Comment by Glenn Smith — February 4, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  25. Glenn, I’m going to leave this comment visible for no particular reason. I insist, though, that this question be dropped and that nothing in the same vein be raised in further posts in this series.

    *I* think that *you* think that you’re pulling one over on stupid ol’ me, because even as you thank me “for keeping us focused on the lesson plan and not … straying into personal areas,” you blatantly post screens full of quotations on what is *your* “personal area” and which I have told you quite plainly I do not believe. Further, you write with the assumption that this idea, imported from apostate Christianity, will in fact be “pronounced as official doctrine.” I must have missed the announcement of your authority to make that pronouncement.

    Do you really think I’m too dense to realize what you’re doing?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 4, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  26. I am sorry – I did not mean to offend. And, no I did not intend to pull one over on you.

    Comment by Glenn Smith — February 4, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  27. Okay, Glenn. I’m sorry. I had it in mind that you had also posted the first long collection of flood-as-baptism quotations, but that was Reed, not you.

    Please, though, let’s not push this line of thought here. I don’t want to list all the reasons I think this is not true doctrine because it makes me appear to be in opposition to good men who preached it once upon a time. But neither do I want to be made to be a bulletin board for ideas I believe are not legitimate LDS doctrine. The easiest solution is acknowledge that the whole issue has no place in the upcoming lesson, and not debate it here.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 4, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

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