the Gospel and Reading the Stars
Updated: Jun 27, 2020
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. - Psalms 19:1-2
The term "astrology" is very loaded in Christianity in general and Mormonism in particular. And it's no surprise: the prophets both ancient and modern have cautioned against it--or more specifically, they have cautioned against putting our faith in the stars.
Well, obviously I don't feel that is the case. But I'd like to explain why.
In LDS bookstores now, you can buy an amazing book called Pattern of the Heavens.It is an incredible resource for information about, well, "the pattern of the heavens." The idea contained in Psalms 19:1-7 is that the stars "show knowledge" every night; that "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." Psalms 8:3 explains that the heavens, moon and stars have all been "ordained" (ordained for what??).
Even in Genesis 1 (1:14), as God is creating the earth, He explains that the "lights in the
firmament of the heaven" are not just to divide day from night and be for seasons and days and years--they are also "for signs."
Well, signs for what?
Alma 30:43-44 explains that "the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."
Job 38:32-33 has a reference to Mazzaroth, the Hebrew zodiac, and asks, "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?" Which obviously implies that there are actually ordinances of heaven.
We know from the books of Abraham and Moses that both of those prophets were taught to read the stars. They were shown the "patterns" of "heavenly things." The wise men who came from the East to worship baby Jesus... weren't they led by a star? Perhaps a star in some sort of constellation? Was that wrong? Obviously not. So where does the caution against astrology come from?
Timothy Adams, in Pattern of the Heavens, explains that the cautions in the scriptures are against worship of the stars. Deuteronomy 17:3, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, 2 Kings 21:3-5, Jeremiah 8:2--they all deal with people actually worshipping "the host of heaven." We are cautioned against making the stars our gods, worshipping them, using them inappropriately.
"After consideration of these Old and New Testament scriptures, it is plain to see that those who earlier consulted the stars did so following the pagan practices of surrounding cultures. Not only were they consulting, but they were also practicing divination [defined as "a superstitious method of trying to discover the course of future events," by the LDS Bible Dictionary], and they were even worshipping the figures of those constellations.
Those who practiced virtue and understood prophecy looked to the stars as a manual for teaching. This added another witness of God's dealings with man, understanding symbols as the "language of righteousness." As long as we distance ourselves from those evil practices of consulting, divining, and worshipping the stars, perhaps we might see the original intent of the constellations of the heavens."
As long as we are not worshipping the stars, or trying to somehow divine the future from them, it is okay and even right to search them as one would any witness of God. At least, that is my understanding. Many holy men and prophets have studied the stars and the signs in the heavens. Obviously, the wise men did it in order to come find Jesus at His birth. It is not wrong to do that, as long as you come from the proper (read: Christ-centered, Gospel) perspective.
The Zodiac also testifies of Christ. Enjoy John Pratt's article on the topic.
Indeed, modern LDS astronomer John Pratt has found that heavenly calendars testify of Christ. The heavenly calendars include the movements of Venus, Mercury, Mars, and likely other planets as well. And obviously, the calendars based on the Sun and Moon. If you understand what you are looking at, it becomes clear that they all testify of Christ, His divinity, His mission.
Here's something fun: For Christ's 2000th birthday, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the Moon all clustered together, and Mercury and Venus clustered together as well. Is it wrong to note that? I don't think so! What a testament of Christ!
The scriptures and modern prophets caution against worshipping the stars and using them inappropriately. They are meant to act as a witness of God, not as a substitute. The study of the stars is not a substitute for the study of the scriptures, but in conjunction with the study of the scriptures can add a beautiful second witness of God, Christ, and the Plan of Salvation.