Beyond Politics: A Summary, Pt. 2

This post is a continuation of my summary for 'Beyond Politics,' by Hugh Nibley.  Part 1 can be viewed here.  The article in full can be viewed here.  I have added section headings for clarity.  Continued:

Satan's "Discussion"

God discusses things with men "in all humility" for the sake of our enlightenment. Satan too loves to "discuss," but what a different type of discussion! He is not teaching but laying traps; his whole line is a sales pitch with his own advantage as the end. He is not enlightening but manipulating. He does not reason, but bargains: his proposition as put before Adam, Cain, Abraham, Moses, Enoch, and the Lord himself is the same one he puts to Faust and Jabez Stone: "For if you will worship me I will give you unlimited power and wealth—everything this world has to offer—all you have to do is sign away your rather dubious expectations for the other world." If his proposition is refused outright, he has no other resort but to have a tantrum, falling down, rending upon the earth, screaming madly, "I am the Son of God! Worship me!" (cf. Moses 1:19), for his sole objective from the beginning has been to be Number One.
There are men who . . . wish to destroy every power in Heaven and on earth that they do not hold themselves. This is the spirit of Satan that was made so visibly manifest in Heaven and which proved his overthrow, and he now afflicts this people with it; he wants to dictate and rule every principle and power that leads to exaltation and eternal life.
To be Number One is to be beyond politics. It is his command of the ultimate weapon that places Satan—like God—beyond politics.

Man's Invention 'Wholly Inadequate'

We do not have time here to review Satan's brilliant career in business and law ... [but] largely because of this dominion, the human dialogue has a tendency, as many ancient writers observed, to deteriorate unless there is divine intervention; and since men normally insist on rejecting such intervention, the end result is periodic catastrophe. This is the standard message found in the apocalyptic literature. "Every system of civil polity invented by men, like their religious creeds, has been proved by experiment wholly inadequate to check the downward tendency of the human race."

When this downward tendency passes the point of no return, the process accelerates beyond control, ending in general catastrophe, to be followed by God's intervention and a new dispensation.

Japan Tsunami, 2011
The Last Days

These are the last days—the last days of what? . . . The last days are the last days of everything as we know it. "The Lord declared to His servants, some eighteen months since [1833], that He was then withdrawing His Spirit from the earth; . . . the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion and division; and Destruction, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand, in large capitals, upon almost every thing we behold." ... "God hath set His hand and seal to change the times and seasons, and to blind their minds, that they may not understand His marvelous workings." . . . "While upon one hand I behold the manifest withdrawal of God's Holy Spirit, and the veil of stupidity which seems to be drawn over the hearts of the people; upon the other hand, I behold the judgments of God . . . sweeping hundreds and thousands of our race, and I fear unprepared, down to the shades of death."

The Death of Dialogue

At the present time [note: this was 1973] the political dialogue throughout the world has deteriorated catastrophically. In most countries it has degenerated into such mechanical and stereotyped forms that it is no longer profitable or meaningful—it is no longer a dialogue at all. If you are a private citizen you just do not "discuss" things with colonels, commissars, or corporations—you do what they tell you to do or at best manipulate you into doing. Has it ever been different? Not much .. . [a] fateful development has recently come to the fore in our midst, indicating beyond question that we have at last reached that point of no return which heralds the last of the last days.

No Man Knoweth the Hour, by Liz Lemon Swindle
Unmistakable Signs of the Times

God has never given us a time schedule for the developments of the last days. There are a number of reasons for this; for example, if we knew the time and the hour, we would gauge our behavior accordingly and conveniently postpone repentance—whereas God wants us to live as if we were expecting his coming at any moment. He comes as a thief in the night: "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour" (Matthew 24:42). But though he does not give us dates and figures, he does give us unmistakable signs of the times and urges us to pay the closest possible attention to them. Simply by looking at a fig tree, for example, one can estimate quite closely about how far away the harvest is. The word historia was borrowed by Hecateus from the medical profession, the historia being progressive symptoms of a disease or illness; just as there are signs by which the doctor can tell how far along the patient is and how long he has to go, so there are such signs in the body politic of any society.

Fully Ripe
Fully ripe: when any further ripening would
not mean improvement, but deterioration
Specifically, if we want to know the sure sign of the end, we are instructed to look for ripeness or fullness. The end comes when, and only when, "the time is ripe," when "the harvest is ripe," when the people are "ripe in iniquity." Or, to use the other figure, when "the cup of His wrath is full," which will be when "the cup of their iniquity is full." Or, to combine both terms, when the world is fully ripe in iniquity. Fruit is fully ripe at that moment when further ripening would not mean improvement but only deterioration. ("And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, and then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot.")42 And a vessel is full when nothing more can be added to it; when its contents can no longer be improved or damaged by adding any more ingredients. When the fruit is ripe there is no point in letting it remain longer on the tree. And when the cup is full, nothing further remains to be done about its contents. Ripeness and fullness are that state of things, in short, when nothing further remains to be done in the direction of filling or ripening, and the process has reached the end.

The prophet Enos prays for a remission of his sins
and for the salvation of the Lamanites
Days Prolonged for Repentence

A society has reached such a point when it can no longer go in the direction it has been taking, when the only hope of motion lies in a change or a direct reversal of direction, and repentance is that change of direction. It is when men reach the point of refusing to repent that they have reached the point of fullness: "And it shall come to pass, because of the wickedness of the world, that I will take vengeance upon the wicked, for they will not repent; for the cup of mine indignation is full" (D&C 29:17). The moment Adam found himself going in the wrong direction because of the fall, he was to repent and call upon God forevermore—that is, to reverse his course; and ever since then "the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened. . . . For he gave commandment that all men must repent" (2 Nephi 2:21). The reason that our lives are extended as they are beyond the age of reproduction is to allow us the fullest possible opportunity to repent. Therefore, when men have lost the capacity to repent, they forfeit any right to sojourn further upon the earth; the very purpose of this extended span of life being to practice repentance; when men announce that they have no intention of repenting, there is no reason why God should let them stay around longer to corrupt the rising generation. "And now cometh the day of their calamity . . . and their sorrow shall be great unless they speedily repent, yea, very speedily" (D&C 136:35).

The Cup is Full

There is a time limit, then, and I believe that the time limit has now been reached—the cup is full. For we have in our time the terrifying phenomenon of men who refuse to repent. Why should they repent? Because God commands it. "Behold, I command all men everywhere to repent" (D&C 18:9). "And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless" (D&C 19:4). "Therefore, I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth. . . . For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent" (D&C 19:15–16).

Yet throughout the world today, few, it would seem, have any intention anymore of repenting. That is the ominous note! Mormon describes this condition as marking the last stand of the Nephites:
And now behold, my son, I fear lest the Lamanites shall destroy this people; for they do not repent, . . .
. . . and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.
. . . I cannot any longer enforce my commands.
And they have become strong in their perversion, . . . without principle, and past feeling;
. . . and I pray unto God . . . to witness the return [repentance] of his people unto him, or their utter destruction. (Moroni 9:3–4, 18–20, 22)
Their Sorrowing was Not Unto Repentance

They sorrowed at the loss of their wealth, "but behold this . . . was vain," Mormon continues, "for their sorrowing was not unto repentance . . . but . . . because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin" (Mormon 2:13). "And I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually" (Mormon 2:15). When the day of repentance is past, so is the day of grace. They had reached the point of no return. This is what the Greeks called ate, and it is the telling moment of tragedy.

 This talk was given on 26 October 1973 to the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society in the Political Science Department at BYU. It first appeared in BYU Studies 15/1 (1974): 3–28; and was reprinted in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless.