Can Lucifer Repent?

May 11, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 2:41 pm   Category: Theology

Dave’s recent post on Satan got me thinking again about the subject of the Devil. Understanding how the Devil fits in the model of the eternities is a difficult thing to do. We really don’t know much about him. Our doctrine makes it pretty clear that there is an actual being that is the devil, but we don’t know much more than that. Is Satan a role that some spirit plays on every planet? If so, how does one “qualify” for that position? What is the source of any power the devil has? Can the devil actually prompt us with a Quiet, Creepy Whisper in opposition to the still small voice? While the scriptures make his tactics pretty clear (I have dubbed them the Devil’s GPA and have posted on that twice now) they leave us largely in the dark about real nitty gritty details about this fallen angel and his cohorts. I have more questions than answers on this subject so I’ll focus on just one question in this post: Can Lucifer repent?

On at least two occasions this year I have heard individuals postulate that Satan could repent right now and the Lord would accept his true and sincere repentance. (Once was on the LDS-Phil list and the second time was a comment by Blake in the Q&A period after his presentation at the recent SMPT conference.) I have concluded that it is probably true and Satan could repent right now if he chose to.

I come to this conclusion because of several assumptions I have made about the eternities. One of those assumptions is that agency (aka Libertarian Free Will in my mind) is an eternal principle and that God never interferes with agency. That means that there is always the opportunity for either spiritual progression or regression. There are lots of implications to this position, one of which we covered last month in my Progression between kingdoms post. So the logic is pretty simple — since Satan has free will still he can choose. If he were to repent God would forgive him as God would any prodigal son.

I’m curious to hear the arguments against this theory. Do you think Satan could not repent today? I’m not talking about what he will do, but rather what he theoretically could do. Is his repentance a theoretical possibility or not?

17 Comments »

  1. One thing I’ve always thought about Satan is that while I don’t reject there actually being a devil, as near as I can tell we hardly need his help to perform and cause bad things in the world. We do enough of this ourselves. Plus, I believe in a wide spectrum of “holy spirits” reaching all the way up to the holy ghost or Jesus and all the way down to the devil himself. I believe that temptation could come from a countless number of individuals, both alive and dead.

    Here are some quotes from BY as well:

    “We expect all who are faithful to take the place of Adams in the worlds to be created; then if there were no apostates, what would we do for Devils? As we have to get our devils from this earth, for the worlds that are to be created.”

    “It takes a good latter-day Saint apostatized to get down into that deep (did I say bottomless) pit. A person to become an angel of the Devil has first to be a good saint, and then deny the Lord who bought him… Do you query why we give endowments to A,B and C? It is to make devils of those who will deny the faith, for that is also necessary, as a host of devils will be needed.”

    “How much does it take to prepare a man, or woman, or any being, to become angels to the Devil?.. Just as much as it does to prepare a man to go into the Celestial Kingdom, into the presence of the Father and the Son, an dto be made an Heir to His Kingdom… Now who will be damned to all eternity? Will any of the rest of the world? No, not one of them.”

    “If you receive the Priesthood and make an evil use of it, it will make Devils of you… a perfect trim mounted devil is one who has had the Eternal Priesthood upon him, or else he has not got his proper character.”
    Think about the temple…. “patterned after the one where we used to live.” “My priesthoods and power.”

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — May 11, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

  2. I am of the thought that perhaps, knowing what we presumably knew in the pre-existence, that his rebellion constituted an act serious enough to equal the unforgivable sin. An intuition, which I shall explore to see if it has any merit.

    In the meantime, the coolest Sandman comic book ever was based on this idea. I’ve forgotten the name though.

    Comment by John C. — May 11, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  3. While we all do have free will, we cannot control consequences. This makes me doubt whether Lucifer could repent today; he was cast out of Heaven as a result of his rebellion — I’m sure he’d have liked to stay. He may be bound throughout this stage of Earth to where he is now. This does not mean he has to continue to rebel and deceive, but I’m just not sure that he’d be admitted back right away if he did give it up.

    I do, however, have a tough time imagining that Lucifer will stay the way he is forever. I don’t know how he can stay so rigid and proud. He must recognize that it’s hopeless, and I think one day he will come back. I don’t expect that he’ll have it as easy as us with the forgiveness, but I think it’ll happen. I can’t help but hope that after it’s all said and done, everyone can be back together and we can be one family again, regardless of what’s happened before.

    Comment by df — May 11, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

  4. It seem likely to me that if Satan chose to repent right now, he probably would not receive forgiveness for a long time. My experience is has been that the greater the sin, the longer and more arduous the repentance process is.

    Comment by Russ Johnston — May 11, 2005 @ 4:20 pm

  5. I would contrast the teachings of Brigham with the teachings of Joseph Smith in the KFD. Here, Joseph explains who Jesus will save. Perdition is the state in which one cannot be redeemed. It would seem that agency doesn’t matter nor God’s willingness to forgive. The atonement won’t expiate, so forgiveness is not an option for Him. Sorry for the extended quotes, but I think that they are integral (emphasis added)

    Wilford Woodruf Diary pg. 346
    If a man has knowledge he can be saved, if he has been guilty of great sins he is punished for it, when he consents to obey the gospel whether Alive or dead, he is saved, his own mind damns him I have no fear of hell fire that dont exhist No man can commit the unpardonable sin, untill He receives the Holy Ghost, All will suffer untill they obey Christ himself, even the devil said I am a savior and can save all, he rose up in rebelion against God and was cast down,. Jesus Christ will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do commit the unpardonable sin they must receive the Holy Ghost have the heavens opened unto them, & know God, & then sin against him,

    George Laub Journal pg. 362
    Jesus Christ being the greater light or of more intelligence for he loved rituousness and hated iniquity he being the Elder Brother Presented himself for to come and redeem this world as it was his right by inheritance he stated he could save all those who did not sin against the holy ghost & the[y] would obey the code of laws that was given But their sircumstances ware that all who would sin against the Holy ghost should have no forgiveness neither in this world nor in the world to come, for they had strove aganst light and knowledg after the[y] had tasted of the good things of the world to come the[y] should not have any pardon in the world to come because the[y] had a knowledg of the world to come and ware not willing to abide the law therefore the[y] can have no forgiveness there but must be most miserable of all and never can be renewed again referred to 6 chapter of Hebrews

    But Satan or Lucifer being the next heir and had alloted to him great power and authority even prince of power of the eir He spake emediatey and boasted of himself saying send me I can save all [he] even those who sined against the holy ghost and he accused his brethren and was herld [hurled] from the council for striving to breake the law emediatly and there was a warfare with Satan and the gods and the[y] hurld Satan out of his place and all them that would not keep the law of the councill But he himself being one of the council would not keep his or their first estate for he was one of the Sons of perdition and concequently all the Sons of perdition become devils &[c].

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 11, 2005 @ 10:01 pm

  6. “He must recognize that it’s hopeless…” – df

    Actually, Satan thinks that he has a chance. It’s not hopeless to him. Going back to some of the earlier blog lines on the ability to tell the future; perhaps God and Satan cannot tell the future as discussed and there is still a very active war being fought right here and now on the future of our souls. The argument was on who would do the saving and who’d get the credit. Satan said he’d save us all, Jesus said he’d follow his Father’s plan and give the Father credit. Which of course only makes since to give someone the credit for their own plan. Satan of course wanted all the credit and since it was HIS plan, you could argue that that was legit. Note that this issue was put to a vote. It wasn’t like Father just slammed the idea and said that’s not the way its going to be, this was a voting issue. Makes you wonder what might had been if Satan had won the vote. But, I’ve argued elsewhere, that Satan’s plan was impossible anyway. He couldn’t save us all. His plan would had failed. Satan’s out to prove that the Jesus sponsored plan ain’t so good either. He’s going to bring as many away to him as he can. Not counting the freebies (those who died before 8 who get to go to the Celestial kingdom, and others who may get the go to heaven free card) , what’s the score? I can’t help but think that Satan might be up a couple points. (On another note, can you really count the freebies? Did they really have a choice?) After the 2nd Coming, will there be another vote? What about the last great battle after the Millennium? Is that the 2nd vote? What would happen, if Satan gets a majority? Of course, many will quote scripture indicating proof that Satan will lose, but that’s like the Republican’s promising they’ll win the White House forever. The scriptures are obviously going to be bias. The bible could be argued to be ongoing propaganda from the Jesus camp. IF the future is still up for grabs, whose to say that anyone KNOWS for sure who will win? Satan fights, because he honestly believes he’s got a chance. He’s fighting to show how weak the number of “saved” souls will be under God’s plan. Satan’s continuing his argument that Satan’s plan was better and Satan’s ought to prove his point. That’s why he works so hard. That’s why he’s not going to repent! Repent for what? For saying that Father’s plan was better than his? Prove it! Maybe after the scores are added, and Satan sees that Father’s plan was superior, maybe he can then acknowledge his error. The question is, can his pride allow that? Can it ever?

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 12, 2005 @ 8:21 am

  7. Interesting take, Speaking Up. I’ve never heard anyone say that the Plan of Salvation was chosen because it received a majority of votes in a great pre-mortal election. I can see why you could arrive at that conclusion but I don’t it can work with Mormon theology. The reason is that it pre-supposes that there are actual choices available to our Father on how to exalt his children. I don’t think that is the case. I think the rules for exaltation probably exist outside of God our Father. If so, the process you describe would be akin to me calling a family counsel to vote on how gravity should work on the the earth. The vote will not change the reality of how gravity works.

    In a theology that assumes creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) it would make a lot more sense to assume God has options on how to exalt us. But that is not our restored doctrine…

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — May 12, 2005 @ 9:50 am

  8. Speaking Up Note that this issue was put to a vote. It wasn’t like Father just slammed the idea and said that’s not the way its going to be, this was a voting issue.

    I’ll agree with Geoff here. I don’t think that there is any evidence for this. Moreover, Geoff makes some good points as to some doctrinal reasons against the idea. Specifically, the narratives we have (See the second paragraph of the George Laub Journal account of the KFD in comment #5 and the book of Abraham 3), paint a very different picture.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 12, 2005 @ 10:31 am

  9. I think Satan could, theoretically, repent, just as it seems to me, based on some of HCK’s thoughts, that being a son of perdition is not irreversable – salvation may not be possible in this system, but perhaps would be so in another. My question is, if Satan were to repent, would he be given the chance to be born into a body?

    Comment by Matt Bowman — May 12, 2005 @ 11:29 am

  10. “The reason is that it pre-supposes that there are actual choices available to our Father on how to exalt his children. I don’t think that is the case. I think the rules for exaltation probably exist outside of God our Father. If so, the process you describe would be akin to me calling a family counsel to vote on how gravity should work on the the earth. The vote will not change the reality of how gravity works.” – Geoff Johnston

    I don’t think there were better choices, but if free agency exists than there were choices. As I said, Satan’s plan couldn’t had worked. Logically, I can’t see how it could. However, Satan feels differently on the manner and so did 1/3 of all of our brothers and sisters. With that in mind, have you ever wondered what the 1/3 knew and why they made the decision they did. Had they seen the other worlds and known the multitude of damned souls? Had they already seen the weeping and gnashing of teeth? Did a plan without Free Agency seem better than a plan with a great chance of being damned, overwhelm their common sense about who would ultimately win this battle? And if there was such a fear of being damned that they risked and acheived being damned prior to receiving a body, then think of the weight of the statement that Jesus says about Judas: it would be better if he had never been born. In the Mormon faith, we act like a very few ever acheive that status, where it would had been better if one was not born, but what if a lot more fit into that category than imagined? Would it better to be the torturer than to be one of the unfortunately ones who gets to feel Satan’s wrath during the Millenium – even if it meant some glory later in the Telestial Kingdom? There’s a lot we dont’ know about the council and the thoughts of those who joined Satan.

    And to make it all more crazy: We only know the Jesus propaganda side (scriptures). [By the way, I’m totally into the scriptures. In order to keep an open mind, I suspend a lot of my own accepted conceptions. This leads me down strange paths, and I can see how Philosphers can spend hours deciding if they truly exist.]

    However, that does poise a good question on the reasons a council was called. Was it to simply say here’s the Plan and this is whats going to happen? OR did Satan discussed this alternative plan in getting support before hand and a council was called to address this potential rebellion and get it out in the open? Was there ever a peaceful vote to begin the whole debate or did it erupt into open warfare at the council?

    ON an entirely different note: Gravity can be turned off. There are particles that exist that ignore it as if it doesn’t exist. And if you follow those light experiments at a blog that you linked to earlier where changing the mirror can change the direction of light AFTER it hits and many other weird experiments that I’ve discussed with a physicist who works with me: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. It appears that light may be intelligent, but has bad memory. Perhaps the need for all of us to be ONE who are to be gods is to keep Reality (as we know it) stable? Of course this needs its own blog line.

    Comment by Speaking Up — May 12, 2005 @ 1:03 pm

  11. if he is ready to ask for forgiveness GODwill forgive him cos he is merciful .but devil has choose his own part’

    Comment by samson — September 15, 2006 @ 6:04 am

  12. A couple of comments. The idea of necessary devils is a first order perversion in my opinion, one that licenses the worst horrors imaginable.

    Second, even if Lucifer or any of his band does repent, no promise has been made regarding the salvation of the sons of Perdition. Joseph Smith declared it to be “truly a doctrine of devils” and commanded that it not be preached. The scriptural principle is here (the context is the Last Day):

    And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father; Wherefore I will say unto them – Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

    And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.

    But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit.
    (D&C 29:27-30)

    I would also say that Phelps/Young style eternalism (infinite backward recursion) is not a principle of the restored gospel. It makes a long list of gospel principles rather incoherent, resulting inevitably in the problems of Orson Pratt’s Platonic/Prattonic model of divinity – a worship of uncreated divine attributes.

    While we may say fairly that certain aspects of the plan of salvation are inevitable requirements of any such plan (a principle the devil did not recognize with regard to agency), the idea that everything about this life and gospel is unauthored, immutable and unchanging is Platonism, not Christianity – a concept that literally denies the authority and power of God, changing Him (Elohim, the divine concert) from a Creator into an acolyte. 2 + 2 = 4 I bow before thee? I think not.

    It also denies that authority of God to issue commands and ordain-ances suited to present circumstances. How in the world could he tell Nephi to kill Laban, if the law against murder was a self-enforcing Kantian principle, instead of one authored and enforced by the council in heaven? How could polygamy be practically obligatory in one era, and a most serious sin a century later? And so on.

    And finally why do we speak of the New and Everlasting Covenant, unless there was an old one? Does nature dictate the terms of the covenant? Nature certainly has bearing on everything, but does not dictate anything, in the moral sense of the term. That would make Nature higher than God, which is not the case with respect to anything pertaining to free will and morality. In fact most of what we know as Nature is God’s creation, not vice versa.

    Comment by Mark Butler — September 15, 2006 @ 7:24 am

  13. lucifer can and will not repent today or any time soon because the seven years of tribulation has not quite ended the date is saturday
    14th october so my theroy is that the seven years has to have the four elimentory desasters fire,water,wind and earth and a final battal in the east(the american and british coalition forces are fighting as i speak)this will have to end 1st january 2008 the desasters have alredy ended as it was writen 2,000 years ago volcano,horrocane,sunamei and the mystirios english earthquake. 1,000 years after the bible lucifer was thrown into the bottomless pit were he remaind on 1st of january 2000 he was set loose and started a revolution that very night.
    so i tell you this satan,lucifer the devil what ever you want to call him, he is comming and he alredy has an army if you dont belive in demons thats up to you but your gunna be getting a broud awakaning.
    adition infomation:the “hippy” symbol of “peace” is one of the devils false hopes the symbol is called the cross of NERO forged in the grate abbiss of nero,nero menas six hundred and sixty six (666)this symbol led to the deth of over 10,000 christians.

    also if you belive the devil is the united nations start post with #U.N
    thank you for reading

    Comment by dark enterty — October 14, 2006 @ 5:55 am

  14. and no he cannot repent-ever he is to evil and to grate…

    Comment by dark enterty — October 14, 2006 @ 6:01 am

  15. dark enterty, are you the Keymaster? because I think we need to get you together with the Gatekeeper. During the rectification of the Vuldronaii the Traveler came as a large, moving Torb. Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex supplicants they chose a new form for him-that of a giant Sloar. Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day, I can tell you.

    Comment by Jacob — October 14, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

  16. Regarding the ArchAngel Lucifer, he is still loved and cared for by God the father on the highest level, more than humans will ever know or understand until we leave this level of heaven. The Creator’s love or power cannot be measured by humans, not a little bit, nor can Lucifers love for God. YES,Lucifer still loves God the father. HE DOES!! Also,We must stop thinking of HEAVEN as a Roman Battlefield, it is not nor ever was, Heaven has many many wonderful levels and the scriptures have not told us all about it.
    I cannot give you an answer for evil, but it is empty, lonely feeling, try to stay away from it, there is too much to enjoy on earth, before we move on to the next level.

    Please Remember, Lucifer is still an ArchAngel (whether fallen or not),he is still a favorite of God the father,and might already be in heaven rejoicing in love with the Trillions and Trillions of other human souls that had the pleasure to experience this gift of life God has bestowed on them. This could happen in a millasecond, God did not give us all the answers in a 400 page book, he is too wonderful for that. There is so much more out there for humans to discover, please look for it, everyone who has passed on is so wanting us to discover it. Rejoice & Love one another!!! We all will leave this earth, we should begin there.

    Comment by Everclear — October 14, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

  17. Everclear,

    Joseph Smith said that preaching that sons of Perdition would be redeemed was truly a doctrine of devils. How much more so the idea that the Father of all lies already has been?

    Comment by Mark Butler — October 14, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

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