No Opposition = No Progression

May 13, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 2:47 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Theology

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass
(2 Ne. 2: 11)

In my last post in this mini-series I described the three primary models of eternity that have been debated here and at other blogs recently. Model 1 is the what I call the My Turn on Earth (MToE) model with no progression between kingdoms, Model 2 was the MToE model with progression between kingdoms, and Model 3 is the Multiple Mortal Probations (MMP) or Heber C. Kimball model.

I want to clarify that all three of these models agree on what I call the “Basic Model” from modern and ancient scripture. (See this chart). All agree that there was a pre-mortal existence, a veil, earth life, a post-mortal spirit world, a judgment and resurrection, and assignments to various degrees of glory. The differences arise in assumption about the details of the pre-mortal and post-mortal existences. So I consider the “MToE” model an unsupportable extension of the “Basic Model”. When I attack the MToE models I am only attacking what I see as untenable assumptions attached to the “Basic Model”.

In the first post of this mini-series I claimed that Model 1 is untenable based on what we know about God and the scriptures. In the second post I explained why Model 2 is a dangerous model that offers little or no incentive to repent in this life and thus encourages procrastination. In this post I will explain why I think Model 2 as commonly understood is untenable to begin with.

The common assumption in Models 1 and 2 can be summed up by a recent quote from Don over at Nine Moons:

Give me 1,000 years with Christ and all the returning prophets, with no Satan, and I’ll be ready to be exalted…

This is precisely the problem with Model 2. It assumes that after this life everyone will get perfect, immortal, resurrected bodies and will live in places that are glorious beyond all description and there will be few or no obstacles to becoming Christ-like and thus exalted.

My contention is that with no obstacles there can be no spiritual progression.

This is the message that both the scriptures and my intuition tell me: That becoming Christ-like requires tremendous barriers and obstacles rather than no barriers and obstacles. Consider weight lifting as an analogy: If Christ were the strongest man to have ever lived on earth then the way we become like him is to practice lifting heavier and heavier weights. He acts as our trainer along the way, but we must do the weight lifting just as he did (see also my atonement parable related to this). In Model 2 the assumption is that we will no longer have any serious “heavy lifting” to do after resurrection. For instance, Don’s logic would be something like “give me a thousand years of lifting a couple of feathers daily and I’ll become incredibly strong”. I don’t think so. Just as lifting only a couple of nearly weightless feathers would cause muscles to atrophy, living with no spiritual obstacles would cause spiritual atrophy.

What sorts of things allow us to become more Christ-like here? Things like:

– Overcoming our physical passions and appetites
– Refusing to compromise on our promises to God for worldly acceptance or praise
– Refusing to love our money and stuff more than the poor and needy
– Loving and serving those who we don’t know
– Forgiving those who hate us and want to injure us

The list could go on and on but you get the picture. It is doing those sorts of things that molds our characters here. Yet where will those things be in Model 2? As I understand Model 2 we will all be immortals (regardless of the kingdom) living in a gloriously beautiful place where there is no sickness and no death; where everyone has repented and knows the Plan of Salvation (retaining all of their eternal memories including memories of their judgment); where all will be glorious and beautiful; where no one will have addictions any more; where there will be no money and plenty for all so greed will be no problem; where no one will hurt or injure others, etc. Where is the opposition in that model? How could we possibly hope to become Christ-like when everyone is beautiful and repentant and healthy and lovable? Christ himself said that even the wicked love their friends. It is in having charity for our enemies and the sick and afflicted and the ugly and the mean and unlovable that characters are molded.

If our goal is to become like Christ after this life, the scripture seem to indicate that it will require future opposition even greater than we have heretofore experienced:

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (D&C 122: 7 (5-9))

Model 2 fails because it allows for essentially no such opposition in the future and thus I think it is not only procrastination-inducing, but also untenable as a model for spiritual progression. As such it, along with Model 1, should be rejected.

[Asociated radio.blog song: Fishbone – Every Day Sunshine]

106 Comments »

  1. Geoff, my position is – that contrary to popular belief – post mortal life will be characterized by the same type of internal and inter-personal struggles we have here – stretching the limits of our moral capacity, allowing us to grow and progress, even without the direct personal distraction of hunger, disease, and death. The experience we have coming to a unity of the faith with our fellow Saints here on earth should be ample evidence of that.

    Now since I apparently disagree with much of what you associate with Models 1 and 2, perhaps my position could be called Model 2B (or not…2B (smile)). I fully agree that much of what people believe about the millennium in particular is unwarranted – serious spiritual stretching appears to be the very nature of personal existence – I can’t imagine life any other way – body or no body, temptation or none. I think the idea that sin will go away in the millennium because no one will be around to tempt us is also a cop out of “the devil made me do it” variety.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 13, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  2. Geoff, you’ve been building up so much anticaption about this post, which was supposed to finally show why Model 2 is incoherent, and it turns out we were already arguing this exact point in the last post, I am so let down [grin].

    Your title to this post makes my current counter-attack all the more relevant. If you think there is no progression without opposition, how do you account for eternal progression? Or does this post imply that such an idea is an impossibility?

    Comment by Jacob — May 13, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  3. Jacob: If you think there is no progression without opposition, how do you account for eternal progression?

    I responded over there to your comment too. The answer is that the course of the Lord is one eternal round and the ongoing opposition the Godhead faces is working with people in mortal probations on planets like ours. We are incorrigible after all. Since I thing exaltation means becoming one with God and part of an extended Godhead, his ongoing (and difficult) work and glory will become our ongoing and difficult work too. Opposition related to mortal probations does not end at exaltation, the roles just shift.

    38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
    39 For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 12:00 am

  4. Mark: my position is – that contrary to popular belief – post mortal life will be characterized by the same type of internal and inter-personal struggles we have here – stretching the limits of our moral capacity, allowing us to grow and progress

    Can you help me understand how that could possibly be? What will there be to fight about in Model 2? There will be one religion, no money or costly apparel, no sickness or death, no oppression, and no wicked people because all will have repented. What could possibly cause interpersonal struggles in that scenario? I especially wonder because all will know there is a God and all will know the paramount “Laws of Love” (aka to love God and love their neighbors) and all will know that wickedness was never happiness and that greater obedience to God will lead them to greater happiness. So what rational being in that situation would do anything but always love and forgive, etc? Where will the spiritual opposition come from?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 12:09 am

  5. Well, Geoff, I know one kind of internal struggle that we may have. Our characters are the only thing we take with us, which is why it’s so important for us to try to attain mastery over ourselves here, because I think we’re going to have pretty much the same character traits there as we have here. So, if I’m a procrastinator here, I probably will be there too. Here’s a little scenario:
    Friend: c’mon meems, aren’t you going to sign up for classes? Stephen Hawking is offering quantum physics 101 again.

    meems: Yeah, I know, but he’s offering that every semester for the rest of eternity. I think I’ll just take take a semester off and enjoy walking around these gardens a little more.

    Friend: yes, but the rest of us are already building multicellular creatures and you haven’t even mastered ameobas. You’re falling behind!

    meems: eh, it’s okay. I’ll get to it… I’ll get to it…

    In other words, the spirtual opposition will come from ourselves and our lack of self-discipline. When life is good, people become complacent. Maybe this will be the case even in resurrected bodies.

    Comment by meems — May 14, 2006 @ 12:23 am

  6. I do not think the responsibilities of ministry, particularly celestial responsibilities, will ever be stress free – even if local disagreement is minimal the weight of parental administration over heirs (of whatever nature) who are still in mortality or pre-mortality will almost certainly be a considerable burden. The Old Testament gives ample evidence of that.

    The other factors I believe will exist are more speculative. It is worth noting first of all that people who have all their material needs supplied are often more rather than less restless – I see divine creative and legislative activity as a collaborative process with inevitable differences of opinion, more like a ward or stake council than a simple matter of dictation. I do not believe that a heavenly society operates as a fideistic feudalism – more like a constitutional republic. Government, especially righteous government, is no easy thing – it is much easier to issues orders than to exercise the power of persuasion (c.f. D&C 121).

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 14, 2006 @ 12:32 am

  7. Geoff, exactly as I suspected, you have made space in your MMP model for relevant opposition for exalted people, in order to allow for progression. But, of course, this is what all the people in Model 2 have done for people in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms.

    You are rejecting the idea that there can be opposition in the telestial kingdom (model 2), even while maintaining that there can be opposition for the exalted (model 3), but model 2 can incorporate your role reversal idea quite easily by arguing that telestials/terrestrials become ministering angels and start helping God with his work and glory, especially when considering that Joseph Smith said those at a terrestrial glory are ministering angels.

    What you have done in this post is make an excellent argument for why progress in the telestial/terrestrial kingdoms may take longer than progress here on this Earth, and why we should take full advantage of the opposition here as an opportunity for great progress in a short (less than 100 years!) time on the eternal timescale.

    Comment by Jacob — May 14, 2006 @ 8:58 am

  8. Jacob: you have made space in your MMP model for relevant opposition for exalted people, in order to allow for progression

    Well, I am assuming for now that exalted persons (members of the Godhead) continue to progress eternally, but I recognize that this is an unsettled doctrinal question in the church. As I’m sure you know, that was a major point of contention between Brigham and Orson Pratt with Brigham insisting that God continues to progress forever and Orson insisting God is complete. Brigham and his counselors got Orson to back down at the time but the position that God does not progress was taken up again in full swing by more recent apostles like McConkie. I am reserving my final judgment on the issue, but lean toward Brigham until then.

    Anyway, I think that the space you refer to for the progress of members of the Godhead can be seen in Moses 1.

    model 2 can incorporate your role reversal idea quite easily by arguing that telestials/terrestrials become ministering angels and start helping God with his work and glory

    The problem is that in Model 2 as currently explained, after their time in hell the telestials in the telestial kingdom will fit all of the opposition-less descriptions above. There is no work to be done there in that model. If there is work to be done, what is it?

    I should also note that I get the impression from the endowment ceremony narrative that Terrestrials ministering to Telestials refers primarily to mortal missionary work. That is, God commands those who are living a Celestial or Terrestrial law here go to the people living a Telestial law to teach them the gospel and offer them the covenants and ordinances that allow them to progress to a higher “kingdom” through living a higher law. That sort of progression between kingdoms happens in mortality.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 11:10 am

  9. Meems,

    That’s a pretty amusing example. A couple of things though. First, I suspect that most of our bad habits here are traceable to either nature or nurture and that sin often consists of our failing to use our free agency to rise above the “natural man” or rise above the less-than-Christ-like things that come so naturally to us in mortality. But in the traditional MToE model we will not have a “natural man” to fight against. We will not have incorrect traditions of our fathers or genetic predispositions that together lead to things like a propensity toward procrastinating classes with Stephen Hawkings. (Of course I think the only real work we would need to do is working on loving God more and loving our neighbors more. But as I state the post, that isn’t really work based on Model 2 as commonly conceived.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 11:25 am

  10. Mark (#6): I see divine creative and legislative activity as a collaborative process with inevitable differences of opinion

    It seems to me that there would be almost no legislation needed in the model as stated. There are no physical needs. There are no trial of faith regarding God because all will have personally met him at judgment. There is essentially only one job and that is to love God and love neighbors, but since everyone is repentant and lovable anyway that is no work. So where is the ongoing opposition for in this model? The Godhead is working with incorrigible mortals world so they face plenty of opposition. Where is the opposition for non-exalted persons in Model 2? It seems to me that all of your comments about working on administration would only apply to mortal probations. The people would need no protection from danger or help surviving so why would they need any central government at all in that scenario?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  11. Geoff, you are idealizing Model 2 as a single coherent system, where in practice there are endless varieties. It is a logical fallacy to criticize a concept based on its accidental or circumstantial properties rather than its inevitable or essential properties. The essential properties of Model 2 are: 1. Only one mortal tenure and 2. Possibility of progression between kingdoms.

    Now certainly the conventional perspective is the “natural” man is a consequence of our fallen state. However, as I and others have argued before, that theory is vacated in Mormon theology by the fall of Lucifer and the war in heaven, events which occured prior to the fall of Adam according to the D&C.

    I think the idea that all manner of “opposition” will cease in the Milliennial world or afterward is an outright fairy tale. Satan will be bound – but he is not the root of all evil – who tempted Satan? Some prior satanic figure. The idea that we need a person to embody evil and that it will evaporate when he is locked up is ludicrous.

    Satan was self-tempted – he fell due to his own pride. In most cases, so are we. There are a few occasions when I have felt a palpable presence of evil – but I do not think the devil is whispering in my ear tempting me to take another piece of pie or put off my laundry until tommorrow. There are much easier ways of spreading cynicism and immorality – working with those who are wittingly or unwittingly sympathetic to your devious doctrines, for example.

    Note the words of James:

    “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15, italics added)

    Note the words “his own lust” – not lust just in a sexual sense, but any sort of unrighteous desire – will we have no desire for prominence and power, for influence and authority in the next life? No capacity for envy or resentment – no laziness or fatigue? – just happy smiley all the time like the automatons from some sort of crypto-Utopia?

    Existentialists have quite a bit to say on this topic – they trace the necessary sorrow in this life to the inevitable conflict of wills. Unless we dispense with free will, the possibility of disagreement will always remain. I for one find it difficult to believe that the phrase “unity of the faith” should be interpreted in absolutist terms, as if we were joining the Borg and our distinctiveness was solely corporate rather than individual.

    A Zion society is a happy healthy one with a proper observance of boundaries and stewardship, discretion and responsibility – not some sort of divine despotism or mystical coincidence of opinion. Everything the D&C has to say about ecclesiology teaches us otherwise.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 14, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

  12. That should be “Some prior satanic figure? (No.)”

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 14, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

  13. Mark,

    I agree with a lot of your points in #11. Here are a few responses:

    1) My criticisms of Model 2 are based on the details that have been explained to me by proponents of that model in the last few posts. I am very interested in how the components of your Model 2B differ from the components of Model 2. If the components don’t differ then my criticisms stand I think.

    2) My position is not that natural man is a consequence of our fallen state, but rather a consequence of mortal bodies in general. Since I prefer a model where we have had previous mortal bodies the difference matters I think.

    3) I think the idea that all manner of “opposition” will cease in the Milliennial world or afterward is an outright fairy tale.

    Obviously I completely agree with this. But that goes without saying in Model 3. It seems to me that the cessation of opposition really would be the natural consequence of the type of post-mortal existence the most popular version of the MToE model projects. As I said, if your Model 2B projects the same components then I think your will be stuck with the same conclusions. (I outline most of those components in this post, BTW)

    4) I like your point about Satan. The personhood of Satan is something I am grappling with now. I agree that it seems that sin can conceives independently of an “Evil Person” in the universe. Of course as someone who leans toward Model 3 I think mortal probations have always been the order of things so evil has always been able to conceive in hearts… (In other words, I don’t view the fact that the Satan character in the narratives chose pride and to reject God as evidence that sin conceives in the hearts of perfected people living in perfect bodies in indescribably glorious places.)

    5) just happy smiley all the time like the automatons from some sort of crypto-Utopia?

    This is basically what I think the components of the standard MToE model inevitably lead to. According to most accounts they will haven o mortal bodies to create opposition, no veil to create opposition, no ignorance of the Plan of happiness to create opposition, etc. So I anxiously await the separate set of components/assumptions of your Model 2B that does not lead to beautiful and enlightened immortal Utopians living on perfected immortal planets. (It seems to me that the only think missing from the MToE view of post-resurrection life is harps and clouds…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 8:06 pm

  14. I think I have too much opposition to progress, therefore anything I do will be instantly forgiven. God knows what God is thinking, but I’m stuck here, so I’m going with it.

    Comment by annegb — May 14, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

  15. Geoff, My point is to dispute the validity of several common beliefs about the millenial era. We agree – however my response is to adopt a model (2B) that does not have those accidental properties.

    By the way, if one of your primary motivations for MMP is the KFD implication that we need to be a Savior before we can become a Heavenly Father, I should say that idea has bothered me for a very long time. I happen to have an interpretive theory that resolves that problem with a single mortal probation but I suspect most would consider it rather more radical than MMP. I don’t talk about it very much because it is enormously speculative and relies on a pretty serious recasting of the common interpretation of a large number of scriptures. I shall not pretend to defend it here, but it is basically the idea of a distributed atonement – a process model of the atonement where most of the sacrifice takes place in the next life, on behalf of ones own spirit children or lineal descendants, a model where the burden of the atonement is distributed across heavenly parents, roughly speaking, each of whom takes upon the name of Christ, the anointed one, the Son of God. There actually is considerable support for this idea scattered all over the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, but it is not explicit, and indeed there are a few scriptures that appear to contradict it outright.

    Unfortunately, it also appears to entail departure from the Brigham Youngian spirit-natalism in favor of parental presidency over one’s own lineal or adopted descendants. Enter the role of sealings and the law of adoption. Heber C. Kimball once said that if you could not be a Heavenly Father to your own descendants you could you be a Heavenly Father to?

    Of course to make this all work, one needs to do lots of symbolic, differential substitution of the role and name of Christ all over the scriptures – so it is kind of an esoteric thing, one that several non-LDS scholars have picked up on with regard to the writings of Paul, but for which a considerably stronger case can be made in the context of Mormon theology, but definitely not a clear and convincing one.

    I should say though that I do not think any of that is necessary to defend the rationality of model “2B” – just common sense scriptural interpretation.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 15, 2006 @ 1:56 am

  16. I think you may be over stating that only mortal bodies will be tempted. It seems to me the general pride issue could be present just as much among the resurrected as among the mortal. ‘I’m brighter than you are, nah nah nah’. Could be a sentiment of some. Power and glory are also some of the root causes of evil. Being trusted with freedom and power can be a big test in any model couldn’t it?

    Comment by Eric — May 15, 2006 @ 8:43 am

  17. Geoff, I think the view you’ve put forth of the Millenium is simplistic at best. Just because Satan isn’t there doesn’t mean we won’t have choices between good and evil. I agree with Mark’s comments.

    Growth doesn’t necessarily require choosing between good and evil anyway. Growth can come by choosing between good and better. I think most of our choices are on a good and better basis. I also think some of our choices are between good and good. Sometimes it doesn’t matter which good choice we make.

    In the spirit world, prior to the council we all made choices. Those choices helped to determine if we were part of the valiant and great ones. We progressed there without Satan. We progressed without having a physical body. I don’t see any difficulty in progressing by making choices in the Millenium. Satan will be loosed at the end, maybe just to give us one final joint…to see if all those choices we made really did change us to become Chirstlike.

    Give me the Millenium…not another mortal probation.

    Comment by don — May 15, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  18. Annegb – I feel confident that if you are faithful God will give you all of the rest you need and want.

    Eric: Being trusted with freedom and power can be a big test in any model couldn’t it?

    The weakness of this argument is that Model 2 also assumes that we all have knowledge — knowledge of our mortal lives and our judgment, knowledge of the plan of happiness, knowledge of the laws that lead to happiness and what leads to misery (wickedness or disobedience of the laws of happiness and love), and so forth. The tests of power we experience here would not apply in Model 2 as commonly conceived.

    Don: I agree with Mark’s comments.

    Actually, Mark called the model you are describing “an outright fairy tale” and that the circumstances you envision would make people “happy [and] smiley all the time like the automatons from some sort of crypto-Utopia” and that in such a model there would be “no capacity for envy or resentment – no laziness or fatigue”. In other words Mark apparently is in complete agreement with my criticisms of Model 2 as popularly conceived and that is why he is pushing his Model 2B (which is seemingly similar to my Model 3 in many respects but assumes only one mortal probation).

    Pointing to pre-mortality as evidence that we made progress without mortalities is obviously not convincing to me since I think our pre-earth life probably did consist of other mortalities and that is how we progressed to this point. Your challenge is to show why Mark and I are wrong about the inability to progress in the opposition-less Utopia expected by many in the Millennium and kingdoms of glory.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  19. Mark (#15),

    Interesting comment. Since you are only briefly outlining this nascent Model 2B I won’t take any issues with it. I will say that much of the rationale you use to arrive at your model is what I use to arrive at Model 3. Things like the desire to explain how to deal with the implication in the KFD that all must become saviors to become like the Father and “recasting of the common interpretation of a large number of scriptures”. Likewise, I think MMP also finds “considerable support scattered all over the New Testament and the Book of Mormon [and modern scripture], but it is not explicit, and indeed there are a few scriptures that appear to contradict it outright.”

    So it appears we are using the same basic methods to reconcile the KFD with the canon — we just have arrived differing conclusions so far. I can say that one advantage MMP seems to have is the support of (19th century) apostles and prophets (albeit admittedly rather quiet support…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 12:05 pm

  20. Geoff, so if there isn’t any growth or progression during the Millenium, because there is no opposition, then what good is it? What do we do there for 1,000 years?

    If we do something that is some way changes us then are those changes for the good? If they are for the good, then why not good enough to become like Christ?

    My point is (and I mis-understodd Mark – sorry) the Millenium is a place where we will still have choices. Those choices, if we make the right ones, will help us to become more Christlike. At the end of the Millenium there will be a final judgement. If I became Christlike, I’ll be exalted.

    What is “your” for? Why have it?

    Comment by don — May 15, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  21. Sorry, should have read: “What is ‘your’ Millenium for?

    Comment by don — May 15, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  22. Geoff (#13)

    You said: My criticisms of Model 2 are based on the details that have been explained to me by proponents of that model in the last few posts.

    Since I was one of the proponents in the last few posts you refer to above, let me be clear that I have never intended to argue that there is no opposition in the telestial/terrestrial/celestial kindgoms. If I implied that somewhere, please point it out so I can clarify or admit error. Mark started pressing his point right off the bat on the previous post (see comments 6 and 13) and I jumped in on comment 17 to agree with Mark’s direction on this from the beginning.

    From reading all the posts, it seems that almost everyone arguing against Geoff is making the point that meaningful character building is possible in the lower kingdoms of glory (despite their being glorious). Geoff, you have conceived of those kingdoms in a way that makes meaningful character building impossible, and this seems to be the basic disagreement that explains all the rest of the disagreement.

    Are you arguing that (1) it is actually incoherent to conceive of kingdoms of glory in which such progress can take place, (2) that it might be incoherent and you’d like someone to articulate a coherent way to fit such progress into our notion of the lower kingdoms, and/or (3) that even if such progress was possible the model would still be doomed?

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  23. It’s too bad there’s been so much controversy on the Adam-God thing, because it could shed so much light on this discussion (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam-God).

    Some people have gotten so hung up on who we worship, Adam or Elohim, when in reality the doctrine of divine investiture demonstrates that the names of deity are titles that many can hold. The name Adam could mean individuals like Elohim, Jehovah, Michael, as well as groups like grandfather Gods, starter Gods like Adam and Eve (see Gen. 5:1-2), and all mankind together (see Eph. 3:14-15).

    Anyways, the other parts of A-G are so much more interesting. Geoff says MMP has “rather quiet support” from 19th century prophets. I guess so, but if you study several of Brother Brigham’s discourses together about Adam-God, he clearly implies MMP. He said Adam was a resurrected being from another planet, came here and took on the mortal, then died (in the translated sense). I guess death here would mean a portal to another sphere of existence. If his meaning for the Adam title here meant the regular Adam we know in Sunday School, then MMP is more than implied.

    Brigham also clearly implies MMP when he discusses the fate of the sons of perdition in JD. He said they would be ground up in the mill (pit of hell), then after eons of time be reconstituted as spirits again, and redo the plan of salvation to be able to inherit a kingdom of glory.

    These are as good evidences of MMP as HCK’s one eternal round as a day theory. Also D&C 122 was brought up. In the same letter from Liberty Jail (D&C 121:26-32), Joseph (and the letter’s editor-writer Willard Richards I believe) brought up other things that would yet be brought forth to the church. Since we have not yet been taught of the angelic-godly orders of principalities, powers, cherubim, seraphim, etc., I can only assume that when these super-celestial orders are revealed (as the kabbalistic doctors thought them to be anyways) we’ll then learn about MMP.

    Brigham certainly had strong views on the necessity of opposition (see Nibley’s article “Brigham Young and the Enemy”).

    So far I think MMP has the most light and intelligence in it of any of the theories discussed so far. I don’t believe we have multiple mortalities in this eternal round, because Joseph taught against the transmigration of souls. We are who we are; we don’t take on multiple personalities. So I reject some New Age stuff. But I believe in MMP in other eternal rounds. Anyways, in “They Knew the Prophet”, one reported that Joseph said existence was like a wheel. Sometimes we’re on top, sometimes at the bottom of the wheel.

    I would enjoy a better explanation of comment #15.

    Comment by cadams — May 15, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  24. Jacob,

    I am arguing “(2) that it might be incoherent [to conceive of kingdoms of glory in which such progress can take place] and you’d like someone to articulate a coherent way to fit such progress into our notion of the lower kingdoms”. Mark made a passing swipe at it with his Model 2B, but didn’t seem interested in going into details so I can’t say much about that yet.

    (Also, since you were seemingly citing support from Mark, I will note that he agreed with me that progression in the kingdoms of glory as you and Don and others have described them is incoherent. See #18)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  25. Geoff,

    Glad to hear you are leaving the possibility open that Model 2 could be coherent. I think your challenge for someone to show it to be coherent is a very useful and valid challenge.

    On your last point in parens, maybe Mark will chime in and clear things up, but I think you are totally mischaracterizing what he said. As a reference for Mark saying my model is incoherent, you direct me to see (#18) which is a comment from you. In that comment, you quote Mark from (#11). Here is the full sentence where you pull out the “outright fairy tale” quote:

    Mark (#11) I think the idea that all manner of “opposition” will cease in the Milliennial world or afterward is an outright fairy tale.

    That sentence is not about my version of Model 2, it is about your portrayal of Model 2. I have never argued there would be no manner of opposition, so this does not refer to my view. I totally agree with this sentence.

    As I said in (#7):

    Geoff, exactly as I suspected, you have made space in your MMP model for relevant opposition for exalted people, in order to allow for progression. But, of course, this is what all the people in Model 2 have done for people in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms.

    Thus, my stated view is that there will be “relevant opposition” for people in kingdoms of glory. Mark introduced the “B” in his Model 2B to distinguish it from your version, not mine.

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

  26. cadams,

    Good stuff — thanks. I have often focused on Heber C. Kimball here in the past but you are right that Brigham, Eliza R. Snow, Elder Erastus Snow, and many others of that generation believed and taught (privately or publicly) the MMP model.

    I think MMP suffers from unnecessary association with A/G and since portions (or at least versions) of A/G have been forcefully denounced by later prophets and apostles, the separate idea of MMP has come on hard times in recent decades. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, though. MMP has never been denounced like A/G has been to my knowledge.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

  27. Jacob,

    Model 2 is based on what I understood you and others have said about the MToE model. What parts of the assumptions I have about Model 2 do you disagree with? I think my conclusions about no opposition follow from the assumptions listed in the post.

    Here — to make it easier I’ll list the components.

    1) All will have perfected immortal resurrected bodies
    1b) These bodies mean there are no physical needs, no disease or injury or death, no mental or physical malfunctions, and even no ugliness.

    2) The veil will be lifted so all will have a bright recollection of their pre-mortal and mortal lives, plus the recollection of their standing before Christ at the bar of God to be judged

    3) All will understand how they adhered to or failed to adhere to the plan of happiness/salvation.
    3b) Based on this understanding they will also clearly understand simple basic truths like the Law of Love (First and Second great commandments) and that “wickedness never was happiness”.

    4) All will live in places (Immortal planets?) that are glorious beyond comprehension with none of the hardships the earth can inflict on us mortals

    5) All retain free will

    Which of those assumptions do you consider inaccurate? I believe that my conclusions follow from these assumptions — there would be no opposition to allow for true spiritual progress in such a scenario and progress requires opposition.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

  28. Geoff (#18), I largely agree with what Don stated in (#17) – so I am not sure he misunderstood me, or if the criticisms I made of a particularly naive variant of Model 1 apply.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 16, 2006 @ 1:10 am

  29. To get rid of natural opposition would require repealing the laws of physics – the very same laws that make ex nihilo creation impossible, and apparently necessitate a suffering atonement in an effective plan of salvation. To get rid of interpersonal opposition would require eliminating free will – as long as their is free will disagreements will have to be resolved – even when a negotiation goes swimmingly some considerable effort is required. Or what about the effort to study or learn a new talent? Or to minister, supervise, preside, assist, carry out, etc.?

    In my opinion, this earth life would not be radically different if Lucifer never rebelled at all. Adam and Eve would still have to Fall one way or another, we would still be mortal, there would still be disease, hunger and starvation, there would still be multiple churches, wars, conflicts, and so on – probably not the worst excesses, but plenty of opposition, temptation, and self-temptation to go around.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 16, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  30. Mark,

    I agree that the assumptions behind Models 1 and 2 are naive. But I contend the variants I have used arises inevitably from the assumptions listed in #27. In such conditions there would never be “disease, hunger and starvation, multiple churches, wars, conflicts, and so on”. Yet those are among the important things that provide our opposition and thus our opportunities for progression here. Do you agree with the assumptions in #27?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 16, 2006 @ 8:11 am

  31. I’m just catching up to this discussion, but Geoff’s weight-lifting analogy seems to depict the fallacy of his assumptions here.

    Geoff rejects Model 1 because he assumes this mortality is an “all or nothing” experience. What if, instead, it is a pure reflection of our individual characters? Then it wouldn’t be unfair/untenable that it results in a final judgment. However, that final judgment might be much different from what we expect.

    Given the artificial nature of the opposition we face in mortality (for which weight-lifting is a perfect analogy), it is impossible for us to determine what our true natures are. Like weight-lifting, we can find ourselves doing things in mortality that seem to have meaning and purpose, but probably don’t matter much in the eternal scheme of things. We can spend a lifetime lifting weights, but when we’re resurrected, will our bodies be any stronger? It seems silly to think so. We can spend a lifetime mastering tax law, or building houses, but what good will that do post-mortality?

    Much of the opposition we face in mortality is no more significant than what career we choose. One person deals with cancer, another with diabetes, a third with wayward children. It is how we deal with opposition that matters, not what the opposition is. We can only aspire to do our best given the resources (including genetic resources) that we have. Hence, the parable of the talents.

    When we’ve shed the artifical constructs of mortality, including disease, relative wealth/poverty, and (which I find most intriguing) the advantages and disadvantages of relative genetics and experience, we will then discover who we really are. Geoff seems to think that who we really are may change through the eternities, as a result of multiple mortalities possibly, or as a result of multiple additional opportunities in a post-mortal state. This approach seems to rely on two premises that I find invalid. First, that we are at an early stage of our development; and second, that our mortal experiences reflect, or even determine, who we truly are.

    Geoff also seems to assume that there is a ratchet effect; i.e., if after this life we end up in a “lesser” kingdom, we could progress “up,” but that we would not “fall” to a lower kingdom.

    I find Model 3 an odd solution to whatever problems Geoff sees in Model 1. How could an additional mortality accompanied by a veil as deceptive as the one we have in this life change anything? If we aren’t aware of a previous mortal experience, how could we possibly benefit by anything we would have “learned” by that experience?

    Comment by Jonathan N — May 16, 2006 @ 8:42 am

  32. Geoff, Remember the milliennial era will have a filtered set of honorable and upright individuals. So conditions will be much better generally, but the potential will still be there for war, given a suitable causus belli. One cannot blame the devil for one’s own actions.

    I disagree with the word “perfected” in (1). “quickened” is more like it.

    I disagree with the implications of “no mental malfunctions” in (1b). I think bad reasoning is a fundamental consequence of free will to believe what one wants to believe and credit what one wants to credit to a great degree.

    I do not believe (2) and (3) apply to the millennium.

    I believe the word “none” in (4) is incorrect. “hardships” are in large part a consequence of natural law – they will certainly be reduced, but *never* eliminated short of dissolution of both body and spirit (and “intelligence”), which I believe to be impossible.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 16, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  33. Jonathan: Geoff seems to think that who we really are may change through the eternities

    Yeah, of course I believe that. What is the alternative? That we are what we are by nature and no amount of time or effort can change that? Are you coming down against notion of spiritual progression/retrogression in this comment?

    This approach seems to rely on [a] premise that I find invalid… that our mortal experiences reflect, or even determine, who we truly are.

    Of course our experience and choices here determine who we are and who we become. Mormonism is highly committed to a metaphysic of becoming. Again, I ask: what alternative model of reality you are proposing here?

    How could an additional mortality accompanied by a veil as deceptive as the one we have in this life change anything? If we aren’t aware of a previous mortal experience, how could we possibly benefit by anything we would have “learned” by that experience?

    By this logic, we could not be spiritually benefited by a single mortal probation either.

    Obviously something fundamental about us (often referred to as “character”) does endure through the veil coming into this life. If it could happen once it could happen multiple times.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 16, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  34. Don (#20,21): What is ‘your’ Millenium for?

    I am not ignoring this question. It is a good enough question that I am planning to post separately on it.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 16, 2006 @ 10:05 am

  35. Mark,

    I think the changes you suggest are cosmetic in nature and do no damage to the conclusions I have drawn already. Here is the amended list of premises (with changes in italics):

    1) All will have quickened immortal resurrected bodies
    1b) These bodies mean there are no physical needs, no disease or injury or death, no mental or physical malfunctions (meaning genetic defects to the hardware), and even no ugliness.

    2) The veil will be lifted so all will have a bright recollection of their pre-mortal and mortal lives, plus the recollection of their standing before Christ at the bar of God to be judged

    3) All will understand how they adhered to or failed to adhere to the plan of happiness/salvation.

    3b) Based on this understanding they will also clearly understand simple basic truths like the Law of Love (First and Second great commandments) and that “wickedness never was happiness”.

    4) All will live in places (Immortal planets?) that are glorious beyond comprehension without the hardships the earth can inflict on us mortals (meaning heat, cold, pollution, sunburns, rashes, cuts, scratches, etc.)

    5) All retain free will

    Your comment about 2) and 3) not applying to the Millennium needs unpacking for me to respond. Don’t you think that the first resurrection happens prior to “the Millennium”? Therefore, won’t Terrestrials and Celestials already be resurrected and permanently residing in their respective “kingdoms”? (I know there has been speculation about them visiting the mortals living here but I don’t think that ever meant earth was actually the home to those resurrected people.)

    In any case, this list applies to the reported immortal and perfected planets/kingdoms these embodied immortals are supposed to live on.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 16, 2006 @ 10:18 am

  36. Forgive if I’ve repeated what someone has already brought up. I think the concept of MMP is exclusively understood in light of opposition and procreation.

    The scriptures speak of knowing how to prize the sweet by tasting the bitter (see Moses 6:55). Brother Brigham said don’t waste time being angry with the devil or your enemies. Because in one sense they are the source of joy and happiness (in a twisted way, provided that Christ is our Savior and we become His child). I think we’ll learn gradually, only in retrospect, that everything in life that annoyed or tormented us were in actuality the only things that could possibly make us supremely happy.

    Surely Adam and Eve learned this lesson in the Garden. If Brigham is right they were resurrected beings from another planet. Maybe in Moses 3:7 we catch a glimpse of this:
    “And man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created.”
    This verse discusses Adam’s creation before he was sent to the Garden (vs. 8 ). He was called the “first flesh” of the earth, yet the scriptures say “nevertheless, all things [including Adam] were before created [on another planet].” (My interpretation.)

    It probably took a while, but then they (first Eve) got tired of the ease of celestial life. They realized they could only be happy with opposition.

    And opposition is tied in with procreation. You can only be happy if you have posterity. You can avoid problems if you don’t have kids, but not happy. Yet the moment they enter the picture (Cain) problems start coming.

    Let me use a gross metaphor. The Plan of Salvation is like a strip tease. Celestial life will be so much better because we’ve been slowly tantalized by hope through delayed gratification.

    Here’s a grosser metaphor. God and Satan seem to be co-dependent, something like a sado-masochistic relationship. Think about it: you cannot prize the sweet without tasting the bitter. Neither one can get along without the other. Satan thoroughly enjoys inflicting pain; God and His children cannot do without being pained. That’s why Brigham spoke of the adversary being necessary; we couldn’t do without him.

    If so, we’ll have to ensure a devil is with us, doing what he likes to do, wherever we go in the eternities.

    Comment by cadams — May 16, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  37. cadams: The Plan of Salvation is like a strip tease.

    I think I’ll try this analogy out in Elder’s quorum next week. That should wake everyone up.

    Comment by Jacob — May 16, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

  38. ummm… That didn’t come out right. I hope somebody understands me.

    Comment by cadams — May 16, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

  39. Wow… Those were some humdingers of analogies, cadams…

    Anyway, while I obviously agree with your general conclusions that progression requires opposition, I have been leaning toward taking the pre-mortal narratives much less literally than you seem to take them. I mentioned earlier that I tend to agree with Mark about the seemingly superfluous nature of a person filling the role of Satan. I’ll have to explore that concept in the future around here.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 16, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  40. It’s been a great discussion. Where could we have ever had this type of discussion before the BLOG? It must have been inspired.

    Comment by cadams — May 16, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

  41. Cadams, the problem is that “opposition” comes in many different varieties (i.e. it is not a unitary concept). To give a simple example, if I move to lift my arm, it is a good thing it has mass or inertia, because otherwise it would fly up and hit me in the face. In other words opposition isn’t necessarily evil – it is often just a consequence of natural law, and very critical laws at that – would anyone really want omnipotence of the sort that let them turn into a goat? Or dissolve into a fluid? That sort of metaphysical stability is a very good thing.

    The second issue is that many read the scriptures such as the ones you have quoted after the manner of the Manichean heresy – the idea that there is a fundamental principle of [dark sinister voice]*evil* that has great power over the universe, and is particularly manifested in some sort of demigod, namely Satan. If you read Joseph Smith, you will notice he doesn’t talk about the devil that way.

    The way many have it raises the question of whatever would we do without the devil to tempt us? Some have raised the jaw dropping suggestion that God would call people to take turns being the devil. I consider that the vilest of heresies.

    This is actual another classic question of Christian theology. The Catholic solution was to pretty much dump Satan, and blame evil on mankind, Adam in particular. I think Satan is real of course, but I think the proposition that we need him to progress is ridiculous. What if he had remained faithful? Others might have rebelled, but it would altogether be a good thing – more people would be saved and there would be less evil. Any suggestion that we need a personal principle of evil, or any causal principle of evil, like matter in rebellion against God is highly naive in my opinion. There is plenty of opportunity for personal digression, disobedience, and sin without anyone to tempt us at all.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 16, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

  42. (#33) Geoff, one of the attributes of God is that he is unchanging. Accordingly, the more like Him we become, the less we would change. There are two types of changes described in the scriptures: A physical change (resurrection) and a spiritual change (we have no more disposition to do evil). I don’t see any basis for concluding that we would change in any other way. Maybe it is a semantic distinction from eternal progression, which I don’t see as a process of change. I think the changes described in the scriptures reflect a process of realizing our true natures, not of changing those natures (except for shedding the constraints of mortality). IOW, the state of the “natural man” is a condition of mortality, not our true nature.

    I also don’t think our mortal experience reflects or determines who we really are. The influence of mortality (genetics, upbringing, environment) is substantial enough that it can, and probably always does, mask our true selves. This is why I think the important issue is how we respond to life’s experiences, given our mortal condition–but we can’t find out who we really are until these incidences of mortality are completely shed.

    This is where your analogy of the weight-lifting fits in. One person, through genetics, might be able to develop an outstanding physique through weight training. Another, due to genetics, might be unable to develop substantial muscles regardless of how great the effort or desire. Either individual might attribute his success or failure to compliance or noncompliance with the principles of exercise, but it’s deceptive for both individuals. In the first case, superior genetics enhanced the outcome, and in the second, inferior genetics suppressed the outcome. Neither individual is truly who he appears (and thinks himself) to be. We will only find out our true nature after we die and leave mortality behind.

    I don’t follow your logic that if one mortal experience is beneficial, multiple experiences would be even more beneficial. From a physical standpoint, if a purpose of mortality is to acquire a body, then multiple mortalities would add nothing. But even from a spiritual perspective, if mortality is a test of our nature under highly artificial conditions (the veil, genetics, etc.), whatever benefit is gained would, like the physical benefit, be gained in one lifetime. What possible benefit could there be in repeating a veil-shrouded mortality?

    Comment by Jonathan N — May 17, 2006 @ 4:42 am

  43. Jonathan N (#42), The phrase “no more disposition to do evil” comes from the book of Mosiah, a paraphrase of the feelings of the repentant hearers of King Benjamin’s discourse. It cannot mean that these people never faced temptation or opposition from that point on. Neither does it follow that these people were born with a pre-disposition to sin.

    In other words, being born again or experiencing a spiritual re-birth does not mean a person is immune to sin. Indeed as Joseph Smith has said a man may indeed “fall from grace”. The idea that a spiritual reborn person may not is a tenent of Calvinism (perserverance of the saints, the “P” in TULIP), one that Joseph Smith explicitly criticized.

    Also the absolutist interpretation of the scriptural statement that God is unchanging was a leading factor in the Apostasy. The idea of God as singular, unitary, and immutable was a leading tenet of Greek theology since the time of Plato, several hundred years before Christ. Some of the Greek Christians took the similarity between these two doctrines and ran with it – leading to the nearly unrecognizable conception of God that dominates the Christian world today – one without body, parts, or passions.

    Why passions? Because for God to have feelings, he would have to respond to us. And if he responds to us, he is changing. And how is God supposed to lift a finger without changing? How is he supposed to answer prayers?

    The real tragedy is that certain aspects of Mormon neo-orthodoxy are a reprise of the exact mistakes made in the Patristic era, as well as repeated by the Protestant Reformers, notably Calvin. With no prejudice to the persons involved, it is difficult not to legitmately consider that trend the Mormon neo-Apostasy. Especially considering Joseph Smith and Brigham Young took the opposite view on virtually every pertinent question.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 17, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

  44. Of course it is worth noting that none of the Patristics thought they were apostasizing from anything. “Apostasy” comes from a greek word meaning “standing apart” so in strict sense The Apostasy is a misnomer – none of the leaders rejected their religion, more often they were fighting against much greater heresies.

    I like the word they use in Korea “bae-doe”, or “leaving the Way”, better. “The great falling away” will not do, perhaps we should call the apostasy “The great departure” instead.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 17, 2006 @ 1:47 pm

  45. Jonathan N: Geoff, one of the attributes of God is that he is unchanging.

    Yes, but God is an equivocal term. Joseph taught very clearly that the persons that make up our Godhead have always been changing and progressing; but the term God also means the “One God without end” of scriptures and that is the Godhead (and I believe extended) Godhead as the glorified and unified One. That great One is unchanging in nature but that does not mean the persons that make up the One do not change dramatically — especially prior to joining the One God in unity.

    I agree with Mark in his taking issue with your broad application of the terms “no more disposition to do evil”. No one on the earth has zero disposition to occasionally fail to love God or their fellow men. Nature and nurture constantly work against us here and we must constantly use our free will to choose to love even though it is “unnatural” to our state here. I fully recognize the fact that the natural person (sans our mortal body) is different than the natural man (with a mortal body) that King Benjamin discusses, BTW. My point in this post is that the opposition the mortal body gives provides the chance for our internal spirits and characters to change.

    Apparently you believe that our characters and natures are immutable? How can you rectify such a belief with Mormonism. In such a system even one mortal probation is superfluous except for the purpose of getting a body — it is no test or probation at all unless we are fundamentally spiritually changing here. And to say that a single earthlife somehow “reveals” our nature to us won’t cut it. What about infants who die? How do they learn their true character? One would think that if we have spiritual “natures” that are immutable then we would know ourselves long before this life.

    If you can come up with a good reason for why one mortal probation can help us spiritually grow then I’ll use that and apply it to multiple probations.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 18, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  46. I take the silence on my comment #35 to mean that no one can explain how one could face and significant spiritual opposition in such a scenario…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 18, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

  47. Geoff (#46)

    Since all of your 1-5) in #35 apply to exalted beings, I assume you are prepared to acknowledge the implication that exalted beings cannot progress. Right?

    You are going to disavow your previously stated belief that God continues to learn (as Brigham Young taught), and you’re going to sign on to a the view that by reaching exaltation, one has hit the limit of personal progression, and the only thing left to do as an exalted being is to help others reach this same pinnacle of perfection (#3).

    Or, if you come up with a way for exalted beings to progress, let me know and I’ll happily apply it to the lower kingdoms as well.

    Comment by Jacob — May 18, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  48. As a follow-up to my more snide remark (#47) (I trust it is received in the friendly spirit it was offered), I should add that most of the arguments made by Mark/Eric/hopefully_didn’t_miss_someone for kinds of opposition in the lower kingdoms were for things that could exist despite your 1-5). For example, pride is perfectly possible in the setting you described. Also, it seems to me that Mark’s internal and interpersonal struggles are not precluded by your 1-5). Do you agree, or does one of your five points show those types of opposition to be impossible?

    You may not be persuaded by their arguments, but they seem to be meeting you on the turf you described, so the the “silence” (#46) has seemed rather noisy to me.

    Comment by Jacob — May 18, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

  49. Jacob: Or, if you come up with a way for exalted beings to progress, let me know and I’ll happily apply it to the lower kingdoms as well.

    Hehe. You will be disappointed to learn that there is a way that exalted persons continue to progress that cannot be applied to these non exalted persons in Model 2.

    When someone becomes exalted they join the Godhead. Being in the Godhead they are intimately associated with mortal probations. They are working with all forms of life (especially people) to help them fulfill the measure of their creation. They continue to love incorrigible unrepentant mortal people. They continue to extend grace to those who do not merit grace. In essence, it is like being an athlete who retires from playing and moves directly into an assistant coaching position. The type of work changes and there are new challenges and oppositions that arise that allow for further learning and spiritual progress.

    This type of progress only applies to exalted persons. This type of opposition does not and cannot apply to resurrected telestials and terrestrials in Model 2 though.

    The claim that pride would stop people from choosing happiness and eternal life when they know — not suspect or believe, but know — that choosing anything but love and repentance will lead to misery seems ludicrous to me. (See 3 and 3b) Further, with no money, costly apparel, or any of the other things that tempt people to pridefully reject God and others here, I can’t see how pride could possibly arise in among the shiny happy resurrected people in Model 2.

    So yes, my 5 points do make that type of alleged opposition impossible. I have seen the anemic objections but nothing that actually deals with these points. (Lamely saying “yes there will be sin” but not defending that claim is hardly what I would call a valid response. :-) )

    Comment by Geoff J — May 18, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

  50. Geoff (#35), You have five premises, but the argument connecting them to your conclusion is unspoken (or at least not summarized). If you put in the neccessary syllogisms, etc, we can comment better. Otherwise we have to construct your case for you in a way you will no doubt disagree with.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 18, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

  51. The assistant coach analogy doesn’t seem to me to be a very robust description of progression for exalted people. Are the challenges of “coaching” so varied as to support the concept of eternal progression? After one million years of coaching, how much will I be learning from listening to prayers and sending down fire from heaven?

    I said in (#7): model 2 can incorporate your role reversal idea quite easily by arguing that telestials/terrestrials become ministering angels and start helping God with his work and glory, especially when considering that Joseph Smith said those at a terrestrial glory are ministering angels.

    Then you responded in (#8): I get the impression from the endowment ceremony narrative that Terrestrials ministering to Telestials refers primarily to mortal missionary work. That is, God commands those who are living a Celestial or Terrestrial law here go to the people living a Telestial law to teach them the gospel and offer them the covenants and ordinances that allow them to progress to a higher “kingdom” through living a higher law. That sort of progression between kingdoms happens in mortality.

    That catches us up to where we were before.

    Again, Joseph Smith disagrees with your MMP interpretation of this doctrine:

    Now this Enoch God reserved unto Himself, that he should not die at that time, and appointed unto him a ministry unto terrestrial bodies, of whom there has been but little revealed.
    ….
    Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets (TPJS pg. 169-170)

    In order to fit the ministering of terrestrials into your MMP model, you are saying that it refers to people here living a terrestrial law, but when Joseph Smith talked about terrestrial beings, he was talking about people like Enoch, John, and the three Nephites, who were translated. For Joseph, being translated meant you could be called on to minister to many planets. It is clear he wasn’t talking about some mortal who lives a terrestrial law, since he says that little has been revealed about them. They didn’t die at the time they were translated, and their bodies where changed such that they didn’t decay anymore, enabling them to live for thousands of years until the time they would be resurrected.

    This sounds a lot more to me like the “happy shiny people” (as you refer to them in order to make them sound silly) than it does the Mormon missionaries you think it refers to.

    Your theory has people becoming celestial in this life in order to escape the MMPs and gain exaltation, but this doesn’t account for the unfathomable difference between very righteous humans and God himself. If we really believe in deification, doesn’t our model need to offer somewhere for this gap to be bridged? It really seems like it will require a place for us to learn and grow that is much better than this mortal life we live today, and it seems that any such place will be deemed by you to be a place that progression cannot take place. Isn’t such a middle place conceivable? It is to me. You keep saying things that imply anyone understanding the law of love will automatically be able to live it perfectly. This just seems silly to me. I commonly choose to do things that I know will lead to misery because I am weak.

    Comment by Jacob — May 18, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

  52. Mark (#50) – I think this post was a summary of the conclusions that I think must be drawn from those 5 points…

    But to simplify even further, consider my “Devil’s GPA” model again:

    G: Greed and Getting Gain (Plus the power wealth brings)
    P: Popularity, Prominence, Praise of Men, Pride, Power (at least the influence part)
    A: Appetites and Addictions

    It seems to me that spiritual opposition from the G and A categories are completely out based on the 5 premises for fairly obvious reasons. You have argued that P will still be in full force but I dispute that. What kind of popularity or prominence would there be that would be enticing to a Terrestrial person, especially in light of the fact that everyone knows what their goal is and how to achieve it? (That is to live a Celestial law and get of there as soon as possible.) It seems that the only characteristic that would earn praise in that world would be righteousness, and as soon as a Terrestrial repents she would graduate to Celestial status anyway. I think there would only be massive support, not opposition based on the 5 premises outlined.

    You mentioned pride could arise related to a government in the lower kingdoms but why would they need a government? Who do they need protection from? There are no marauders, there is no hunger, and there is no market. There are none of the things that give rise to a government.

    So I see no chance that any of the challenges we have here that allow for our progression to be there. Either we must conclude that everyone would be exalted within the first week (if somehow progression is possible without opposition) or that there would never be progression.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 19, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

  53. Jacob: The assistant coach analogy doesn’t seem to me to be a very robust description of progression for exalted people… After one million years of coaching, how much will I be learning from listening to prayers and sending down fire from heaven?

    I think you are trying to hold me to a standard that you can’t meet yourself here. You only asked me to show how exalted people could progress in a way that does not apply to lower kingdoms. I did that. Model 2 provides no explanation of how exalted person progress either so you can hardly use that as a knock against Model 3 unless there is something in Model 2 that explains some details about progression for exalted persons that cannot apply to Model 3.

    Re: (TPJS pg. 169-170)

    That is a pretty good pull. One thing to consider is that that quote was from 1840 — a full 4 years prior to the KFD. My views of the eternities have changed and grown a lot in the last 4 years. It appears to me that Joseph’s did as well between 1840 and 1844. Also, what happens to exalted translated people before their final resurrection is hardly the same as what happens to the non-valiant people who will receive terrestrial resurrections. If you claim their bodies are exactly the same as resurrected terrestials then you are stuck with non-permanent resurrections too — a staple for MMP.

    Your theory has people becoming celestial in this life in order to escape the MMPs and gain exaltation, but this doesn’t account for the unfathomable difference between very righteous humans and God himself.

    I think it does. One becomes one with the Godhead as a exalted person, but as the most junior participant in that Oneness. Much more progression over the eternities is in store as their work and glory becomes on with God’s work and glory.

    I commonly choose to do things that I know will lead to misery because I am weak.

    You are mortal — we can’t compare our experiences and temptations here to the Model 2 people. That is the whole problem and the point in this post. Model 2 fails because resurrected persons are in situations far too easy and too different than the school of mortality we are now in.

    In fact, to fan the flames even more… The MToE version of kingdoms of glory (see the assumptions in the post and in #36) reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode called “A Nice Place to Visit” from 1960. Here is a synopsis:

    At the start of the episode, the protagonist Rocky Valentine, played by Larry Blyden, is shot and killed by a police officer. He later recovers to find himself seemingly unharmed from the altercation. He is now in the company of a pleasant individual named “Pip”, who is empowered to grant Rocky whatever he desires. So Rocky immediately assumes he has died and gone to Heaven. Later, growing weary of always having his whims satisfied and winning at whatever he attempts, he finally begs Pip to send him to the “other place” (referring to Hell). Pip tells him that “this is the other place!” Valentine tries vainly to leave while Pip laughs uproariously.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 19, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

  54. Geoff (#52),

    I do not agree that the “G”,”P”, or the “A” will be out, nor that we have any reason to beleive that the basic attraction between men and women is a consequence of mortality. I believe that any sort of radical distinction between the moral vulnerability in spirit and mortal states is untenable, and derived from a long mythical history in the near East, Greek and Persian civilization, influencing Paul to a degree, and echoed by Augustine. Now religion as myth is rather unsettling, but at some point unsustainable nonsense has to yield to more fundamental principles.

    In particular I see the whole Genesis 2-3 account as an echo of some ancient (pre-Mosaic) speculation about good and evil as mystical substances – an idea that is all over Greek, Persian, and much of Hebrew mythology.

    Some people are skeptical about the Garden of Eden account on scientific grounds – that is a matter of relatively minor concern. The effect of a relgious dogma on morality is *much* more serious. The character of whole civilizations is closely tied to basic ideas about human nature – and the Garden account, as generally interpreted down through the generations, is morally suspect on “the devil made me do it” and “we have no hope of a heaven on earth, so we do not even need to try” grounds.

    Historically speaking, the fact is that a true classical religious liberalism has not been given enough of a chance to see it succeed – the history of the twentieth century in nearly every denomination except the Catholics is a rush towards pre-liberal orthodoxy. Now of course, we are getting a renewed appreciation of the limitations of conventional Christian orthodoxy and the motivation to the religious liberalism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – the very environment of the Restoration, of which classical Mormonism is a profound expression, more than any other denomination.

    What happened is that classical religious liberalism was nearly wiped out by skepticism, antinomianism, and other radical trends hostile to any sort of scripturally based religion, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Protestantism and to somewhat later (to a degree) in Mormonism. Catholicism is facing the same issues, though about one hundred years later than Protestantism, with some taking Vatican II more as license than liberalization.

    At times, when LDS theology seems incoherent, it is because people are often unwittingly trying to reconcile the late classical religious liberalism of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young with the neo-orthodox theology of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie. Not that JFS wasn’t right on the majority of what he said – but there are clear areas of unexplained departure.

    Personally, I do not think neo-orthodox theology is very interesting – if the principles of conventional Christian orthodoxy were true, we might as well become Protestants. Certainly many Mormon commentators talk that way – promoting a neo-Augustinian theology of the Fall in particular.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 20, 2006 @ 2:30 am

  55. Geoff: You only asked me to show how exalted people could progress in a way that does not apply to lower kingdoms. I did that.

    No, what I asked you to do was to describe how exalted people can progress in despite being in a state which you claim cannot support progression. Let me try it in the logician style (although I am not logician):

    a) Geoff believes there is no progression without opposition (title of post)
    b) Geoff believes there is no opposition in a state described by his points 1-5) (see #27).
    c) Exalted beings live in a state decribed by 1-5) (my claim, so far undisputed)
    d) Exalted beings cannot progress (follows from a) b) and c))
    e) Geoff believes exalted beings can progress (#49)
    f) Geoff is contradicting himself (d) and e))

    Geoff: Model 2 provides no explanation of how exalted person progress either so you can hardly use that as a knock against Model 3 unless there is something in Model 2 that explains some details about progression for exalted persons that cannot apply to Model 3.

    I have turned your argument around on you, and this is a hilarious attempt to turn it back around to me again. The reason it works for me to turn it around on you, but not for you to turn it around on me, is that you are the one claiming that Model 2 must be able to describe progression in the heavens in order to be considered coherent (this is the whole basis of the attack you make in this post). I, however, have not advanced this criteria as a qualification for coherency. I have only ever brought it up to point out your own contradiction above (outlined above). I think Model 3 is a coherent theory despite being able to describe the progression of exalted people. (Of course, I think both Model 2 and Model 3 would be strengthened if they were able to describe progression in the heavens more completely.)

    Comment by Jacob — May 20, 2006 @ 11:08 am

  56. About fifteen typos and missing words in my comment above, but I think you’ll be able to sort it out. Sorry for the poor proofread.

    Comment by Jacob — May 20, 2006 @ 11:11 am

  57. Geoff: That is a pretty good pull. One thing to consider is that that quote was from 1840-a full 4 years prior to the KFD.

    I do agree that Joseph’s knowledge grew over time, and some of his doctrines evolved as new information was added by revelation. I also think there is some danger in taking this sort of explanation too far. Your most recent use of this argument implies that Joseph was wrong about Enoch and terrestrial beings when he spoke about them in 1840. Eveyone gets to be their own judge of whether or not this takes it too far, I am not claiming anything one way or the other on this point. Instead, I just want to point out a few things to consider when using this argument, since you have used it a few times of late.

    Firstly, while Joseph Smith gave the KFD in 1844, it is not clear when he became aware of the doctrines he taught in that discourse. It seems clear to me that it was quite a bit earlier than 1844, but I am not sure anyone can put a very good date on it. It is easier to do this sort of thing with respect to his revelations in most of the D&C, because there is a date associated with the revelation. Thus, I feel comfortable making an argument that Joseph Smith didn’t fully understand the sealing power in 1832 when he received D&C 76 (say, when interpreting the verse about the holy spirit of promise) because Elijah didn’t show up for another 4 years (D&C 110). However, it is much less convincing to do this with the KFD since we don’t know when he had those concepts revealed to him.

    Secondly, it is risky (and also convenient) to make this argument with respect to the KFD because it was virtually the last thing Joseph Smith said. There are no writings of Joseph Smith in subsequent years to help us figure out which doctrines he thought needed amendment in light of the KFD. Thus, this argument gives you license to explain away every statement of Joseph Smith in his revelations or otherwise that were not said during the KFD.

    Thirdly, you need to be more consistent in the weight you give to the scriptures. The argument you make here calls into question every statement and revelation of Joseph Smith, as well as every other scripture in the standard works. If you treat all the scriptures with some amount of distrust, that is understandable based on your argument, but then you should never use the scriptures as proof texts. When a scripture says the thing you are arguing for, you use it like it is unassailable, but when it disagrees with you, you talk about the “1832 version” of Joseph Smith, or the “new convert” Amulek. Again, doing that is fine, but do it uniformly. The other day you were rejecting a plain reading of D&C 130:4 which says that God lives on a planet because, you said, it needs to be “reconciled” with Isaiah’s statment that God lives in “everlasting burnings.” (comment 38 here). That seems to me like a very strange weighting of the scriptures, given your standard above about the changing understanding of Joseph Smith. Wouldn’t you agree that by 1843, Joseph Smith have been given way more light and knowledge about the afterlife than Isaiah? Your weighting seems to be off.

    Fourthly, you need to decide which is more reliable: the revelations given to Joseph Smith or the sermons of Joseph Smith. Recently, you said that “it must be noted that D&C 130: 4 is simply a question presented to the Prophet, not a revelation from Joseph.” (comment 40 here ). Then you called a statement in his 1840 sermon on the priesthood a “passing speculation” (comment 61). However, you think that the KFD was the only statement of Joseph Smith we can truly rely on, and it was not given as a revelation, but as a sermon. You seem to take Joseph’s statment about there being no such thing as “immaterial matter” as authoritative, even thought that truly was stated as a passing comment (see my comment 41 here). Which is it?

    Comment by Jacob — May 20, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

  58. Jacob: c) Exalted beings live in a state described by 1-5) (my claim, so far undisputed)
    d) Exalted beings cannot progress (follows from a) b) and c))

    This is where your logic fails. Even if 1-5 apply to exalted persons, exalted persons also have a crucial 6) which I outline in #49. That 6) applies to exalted persons but not to lower kingdom persons so the conclusions can logically be different for the two groups.

    Re” turning arguments around — I guess I misunderstood your earlier comment. The explanation given in #49 can be used to explain progression for exalted persons in both Model 2 and Model 3. (Feel free to use it in the future if you would like.) Problem with Model 2 is that while it can explain progression for exalted persons as well as Model 3 (or Model 1 for that matter) can, it utterly fails at explaining progression for those who are in the lower kingdoms. That, of course, was the point of this post.

    I do not claim that the explanation in #49 is the entire story, but it is a start and can apply to any model we have discussed.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2006 @ 2:15 pm

  59. Geoff: This is where your logic fails. Even if 1-5 apply to exalted persons, exalted persons also have a crucial 6) which I outline in #49.

    Introducing a 6) does not show me where my logic failed. Which of a) – f) do you dispute?

    Comment by Jacob — May 20, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  60. Jacob – My point is simply that there is no opposition if only 1-5 obtain and there is opposition if 1-6 obtain. Therefore I reject d) and f).

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

  61. Mark (#54): I do not agree that the “G”,”P”, or the “A” will be out, nor that we have any reason to beleive that the basic attraction between men and women is a consequence of mortality

    I assume you mean sexual attraction here since we are talking about temptations in these alleged conditions… So you think that there will be lascivious and adulterous people in these perfect worlds? (Do you even think there will be marriage there?) Do you also think they can procreate? If not, to what end would they have sexual desires? Or do you see them as all being sterile? If you don’t mean sexual appetites what type of other sins/opposition do you foresee that have to do with attraction between the sexes?

    I believe that any sort of radical distinction between the moral vulnerability in spirit and mortal states is untenable

    So I’ve heard. But I am still looking for a way that there could possibly be any spiritual opposition for non-exalted people if the afterlife looks like 1-5 in comment #35… I changes in the assumptions 1-5 have to be made in order to allow for such opposition and I’m still looking for evidence to the contrary.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

  62. Jacob (#57),

    These are some very good questions. It is true that we all have to choose weighting systems for prophetic statements when working out theology. And it is true that I see the KFD and Sermon in the Grove a being crucial components of a proper Mormon theology. I have not, as you have stated, “called into question” the scriptures nor do I view them with “distrust”. I have called into questions traditional interpretations of the scriptures and I do distrust many of those traditions. I think that the KFD was an radical and incredibly important outpouring of theological truth and that it should have caused us as Mormons to radically change the lens or paradigm through which we interpret all previous scripture and revelation. That is the standard I am using. So when I mention that “planet” where God resides is also called “eternal burnings” elsewhere, I am viewing the subject through the lens that I get from the KFD. In other words, I think that the truths revealed in the KFD were so important that all of our Mormon theology should pass through that lens. I believe that is exactly what Brigham and his peers thought too but that we have made a theological mistake in backing away from that paradigm — even if doing so has been good for our integration in to the rest of the world community.

    Regarding the KFD, I fully agree with this comment on it from B.H. Roberts:

    Accusations were repeatedly being made about this time that President Smith was a fallen prophet. But when the mighty doctrines that in this discourse he is setting forth are taken into account, and the spiritual power with which he is delivering them is reckoned with, no more complete refutation of his being a fallen prophet could be made. The Prophet lived his life in crescendo. From small beginnings, it rose in breadth and power as he neared its close. As a teacher he reached the climax of his career in this discourse. After it there was but one thing more he could do — seal his testimony with his blood. This he did less than three months later. Such is not the manner of life of false prophets. — Note by Elder B. H. Roberts.

    I had planned on writing a post on this… maybe I still will.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2006 @ 5:50 pm

  63. My interpretation of the KFD shows that there need not be any logical inconsistency between earlier revelations and the KFD or Sermon in the Grove. Reading the scriptures through the lens of the KFD is great, but it is equally important to see the continuities between JS’s revelations and the KFD and Sermon in the Grove. One powerful argument in favor of my reading is that it makes the KFD and the Sermon in the Grove a natural or logical extension of JS’s earlier revelations.

    Now I am not married to logical or narrative consistency. I don’t like the uniformitarian view of scripture. But when we are talking about the thought a single person rather than many persons over millenia, it makes a great deal more sense to read the thought as progressive, growing on prior views and an outcome of prior views.

    The reading that I give the KFD is the view that is consistent with the idea of JS’s life as a crescendo — it seems to me that y’all see Joseph simply playing a different tune altogether and with a different musical era rather than a symphony that crescendos. Indeed, what we get if y’all are correct is a dissonance on which JS ends his life instead of a beautfiful symphonic masterpiece that crescendos into the KFD as the exclamation point of his life. What y’all give us is a sour note at the end of a beautiful mulit-media presentation that ruins the whole thing and says that what went before must just be seen as so much fluff and dressing for the real refrain that starts a new piece. It is kind of like a heavy metal refrain at the end of the moonlight sonata!

    So the notion that the Father became God at some first time makes little sense to me. I supposed that it serves best to reserve this until Geoff attacks my reading in the last chapter of the book, but what is clear is that there is an eternal God who is the God of all other gods, a Most High God who is the Father who Jesus worshiped and who is more intelligent than all other gods. It is unity with this God that is the source of divinity for all other gods. So much ought to be accepted as given and established it seems to me. If it is not, the Bible in its entirety and the Book of Mormon and D&C and the Book of Moses and Book of Abraham are all seriously misleading. Could that really be what JS did withy the KFD?

    Comment by Blake — May 20, 2006 @ 6:37 pm

  64. Blake,

    Just so I am clear, who are the “y’all”, and what doctrine creates the “dissonance”? I am not sure if you are referring to the MMP discussions of late, or the idea that Father became God at some first time (or both).

    Geoff (#60): there is no opposition if only 1-5 obtain and there is opposition if 1-6 obtain.

    This means you reject b), not d). This also means you are rejecting your argument in #27 where you said “I think my conclusions about no opposition follow from the assumptions listed in the post.” If the addition of 6) makes progression possible (without altering 1-5), that means the original 1-5 do not conclusively show opposition to be impossible, which was your original claim.

    Geoff (#62): I agree that the KFD is important and that it does change the way we should read some scriptures. I know that you remain committed to the scriptures (there is evidence of that here daily), and I am not challenging that. However, I do believe that the argument you were advancing (about the statements of Joseph Smith in 1840 being suspect because this was four years before the KFD) does, in fact, call into question every scripture and statement prior to the KFD. Clearly, there is nothing to stop me from applying this argument to everything Joseph ever said previously. That is why it seems like a dangerous argument to make, unless there is some other good reason to suppose the KFD was injecting new meaning into a previous statement.

    If we read everything through the lens of your interpretation of the KFD, how do we tell if your interpretation of the KFD was correct in the first place? This goes to Blake’s point above. Since there are many competing interpretations of the KFD, it seems that we must use some of the previous doctrines to judge which reading of the KFD is most likely the correct one. That is what I have been trying to do with other scriptures and statements of Joseph Smith.

    Comment by Jacob — May 20, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

  65. Both.

    Comment by Blake — May 20, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

  66. Blake,

    Thanks for the comment. I’ll write a new post on this subject because it is too important to let it get buried in this thread.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  67. Jacob: If the addition of 6) makes progression possible (without altering 1-5), that means the original 1-5 do not conclusively show opposition to be impossible, which was your original claim.

    Ok… granted. That still leaves us with no opposition and thus no progression for people in lower kingdoms in Model 2 though… unless you have additional assumptions that can change that. (My point would only have to be clarified to say that 1-5 alone mean no opposition and that it takes additional assumptions like 6) to allow for opposition…)

    However, I do believe that the argument you were advancing (about the statements of Joseph Smith in 1840 being suspect because this was four years before the KFD) does, in fact, call into question every scripture and statement prior to the KFD. Clearly, there is nothing to stop me from applying this argument to everything Joseph ever said previously.

    That’s true — you are free to do that.

    That is why it seems like a dangerous argument to make, unless there is some other good reason to suppose the KFD was injecting new meaning into a previous statement.

    I think there are good reasons to suppose this. I’ll plan to post on them separately.

    If we read everything through the lens of your interpretation of the KFD, how do we tell if your interpretation of the KFD was correct in the first place?

    Being able to tell what is true or not always requires personal revelation in the end, I suppose. We’re just doing the “study it out in our minds” part here. I am just trying to work out a coherent and cohesive theology for myself mostly. I suspect that is what we are all doing here…

    Since there are many competing interpretations of the KFD, it seems that we must use some of the previous doctrines to judge which reading of the KFD is most likely the correct one.

    You are free to do that if you wish. I think the KFD is the pivotal theological text of modernity and should be read in the most intuitive and obvious way. I’ll go into more details and explanations why in my forthcoming post.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 20, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

  68. For the record, I see nothing in the KFD that shows a dramatic departure from Joseph Smith’s prior views or the revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants, notably D&C 76,84,88,93, and 132. In fact the New Testament supplies all the evidence necessary to make the KFD plausible. What is dramatic about the KFD is not its departure from scripture, but rather its departure from conventional Christian (and Jewish, and Islamic) orthodoxy.

    Much of Joseph Smith’s life can be seen as a gradual realization of which parts of conventional orthodoxy were unsustainable, his subsequent rejection, and reformulation of certain key doctrines. Most of this occured before 1830, but you can see many parts of it in progress afterwards as well – almost invariably as a consequence of pursuing *biblical* doctrines to their logical conclusions, without the dead weight of orthodox tradition or an improperly constraining metaphysics.

    I think most of the controversy in LDS theology is due to the remaining leftover evidence of conventional orthodoxy, and our inherited predilection against giving it up – to be nice, respectable, quasi-Protestant Christians, instead of letting the scriptures speak for them selves from first principles instead of thundering Protestant maledictions.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 21, 2006 @ 7:33 am

  69. I agree Mark, good point.

    Comment by Jacob — May 21, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  70. I agree as well, Mark. In fact, I think all participating in this discussion in agreement on that point.

    The question at hand is what Joseph Smith’s “subsequent rejection, and reformulation of certain key doctrines” actually consisted of.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 21, 2006 @ 10:26 am

  71. First of all, I do not think we are justified in rejecting a statement of Joseph Smith’s of all people just because it lacks support. The areas of concern are those where he appears to contradict himself. If we cannot resolve the contradiction, even by some very creative means (like the one I use to resolve the apparent Sabellianism of the Book of Mormon), then a theory that he changed his mind in favor of a later, superior position is justified.

    In fact in nearly all cases of conflict, I read Joseph Smith’s later views as rather more coherent than some of his earlier ones, and as such should be preferred on that basis alone.

    As to what is going on, there are clearly some precepts that have to be explained as outright revelation, rather than inspired confirmation, because there is no visible basis for them in ancient scripture. In a very large number of cases, however, Joseph Smith is clearly engaging in an inspired, rational harmonization of Biblical doctrines from first principles, discarding Protestant precepts that he previously did not recognize to be scripturally unjustified.

    In some cases, Joseph Smith had Sidney Rigdon’s assistance in this process, mostly in terms of the latter bringing various issues and arguments to his attention. Some people are nervous by the similarity of Campbellite doctrine to ours in some respects.

    They should not be – revisitation of the scriptural justification for various points of Christian orthodoxy is a healthly thing, something that is likely to lead to similar conclusions. We cannot conclude that any righteous person has a bar to inspiration on such questions in any case. The only reason for skepticism is an unjustified hostility to the reliablity of rationality – Luther felt that way, we have no reason to, not when exercised properly in any case.

    The same goes for the good aspects of Methodism, with regard to free will, the Light of Christ, the desire of God for all mankind to be saved, and so on. We do not need to re-invent the language of religion except where it is uniquely misleading.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 21, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  72. Mark: First, the BofM is not Sabellian. Have you seen my article and that of Ari Breunig and David Paulsen on this subject? The notion that the BofM is Sabellian is not accurate. It is to view the text through a seriously mistaken lens.

    Comment by Blake — May 21, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  73. I haven’t read the articles Blake. Note that I said “apparent” Sabellianism – I agree that is an overstatement, what I meant rather is that there are several areas that are strikingly odd in a way that Sabellianism would fix rather crudely, but for which I believe there are much better explanations than saying “that is not what Joseph Smith (or whoever) meant, it is just an anomaly”, as so much scriptural apolegetics reduces to.

    That said, though I do not think that the Book of Mormon itself is Sabellian, I think ordinary LDS members have a striking tendency to relegate the Father to an ancilliary role in their practical belief. Jesus gets all the air time, and the Father is almost an afterthought for prayer and rarely discussed minor points of theology.

    As it turns out I believe that exclusion is an unwitting consequence of the true reason why the Gospel is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not the Gospel of Heavenly Father (and so on), but that is a long story.

    Now back to problematic passages that I do not think that say the ca. 1918 Statement on the Father and the Son explains very well at all, beyond giving a collection of rationales for title substitution:

    “…saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are” (Ether 4:7)

    “and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world” (Ether 4:12)

    “And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son – The Father, being conceived by the power of God, and the Son, because of the flesh, thus becoming the Father and the Son – And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.” (Mosiah 15:2-3)

    Now the Ether passages I have a good explanation for, but in the Mosiah passage it looks like Abinadi is muddling several different, and incompatible theories of divine unity together.

    First of all what in the world does being conceived by the power of God have to do with *being* the Father. And what does having *flesh* have to do with *being* the Son. That part looks like a Patristic dispute about the mixture of natures in the person of the Son, in a way that more than any other verse resembles Sabellianism, even if it is just poetry or a mistaken analogy on Abinadi’s part.

    Verse 5 repeats the same identification – somehow Christ’s flesh is the Son, and the Spirit is the Father – very, very bizarre – it looks like an analogy pushed too far.

    Now there is one more verse that is particularly relevant here:

    “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:7)

    There is a fundamental tension in both New Testament and modern scripture between the role of Christ as our Father / Mediator and the Father as our Father. Sometimes we pretty much talk about Jesus Christ taking the Father’s place for all practical purposes – e.g. John 5:22, which says “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son”.

    But then we have D&C 45:3: “Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him-”

    So the paradox is why is Christ pleading, when all judgment has been committed into his hands? Indeed why do ourselves we pray to the father in such a case?

    Now a temporal theory of KFD style role substitution is a pretty decent explanation. I think there is more to it than that, but my opinion borders on the highly speculative.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 22, 2006 @ 1:24 am

  74. I haven’t read Blake’s article either, but I would like to, where is it Blake?

    Mark: Now the Ether passages I have a good explanation for, but in the Mosiah passage it looks like Abinadi is muddling several different, and incompatible theories of divine unity together.

    Without fully developing the idea, I think the scripture from Abinadi becomes rather straightforward if you realize his context. He just finished quoting Isaiah 53 about the condescension. Obviously, the idea that “God himself should come down” (Mosiah 15:1) is not going to be clear to his audience. Will God come in glory? What will it be like? The Jews ended up rejecting Jesus largely because they didn’t figure out what the condescension would be like, thinking it would be like his coming in glory. Abinadi is speaking to this, I believe. The next verses are Abinadi’s explanation of the ways in which Jesus will be a man, and the ways it which he will be a God, so that they will understand what the first coming will be like. Substitute “man” whenever it says “Son,” and “God” wherever it says “Father,” and the whole thing sounds like a Sunday school lesson:

    2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God,

    We would say: He will take on a mortal body and in this way he will be a man.

    and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son-

    We would say: Jesus was perfect, in this way he was a God. In all points Jesus was tempted like we are, but he was without sin. Thus, he was both both God and man.

    3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son-

    We would say: Jesus’ parents were God and Mary. He inherited divine attributes from God and mortal attributes from Mary, thus, both God and man.

    4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

    We would say: Jesus was at once both God and man.

    5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.

    Now, having explained a little bit about what Jesus will be like in his first coming, he is able to explain what Isaiah was talking about when he said God was going to come down and be scourged and cast out. Without that clarification, it would have been very confusing to them to try to imagine that God will come down and be scourged (e.g. if they were imagining the second coming).

    I think we read all of the trinitarian debates into Abinadi without stopping to ask what Abinadi was trying to clear up in the first place.

    Comment by Jacob — May 22, 2006 @ 11:14 am

  75. Mark: I think ordinary LDS members have a striking tendency to relegate the Father to an ancilliary role in their practical belief. Jesus gets all the air time, and the Father is almost an afterthought for prayer and rarely discussed minor points of theology.

    Interesting… My experience was just the opposite. I remember entering the MTC feeling like I had a close relationship with God the Father (he was the one I was talking to all that time and I assumed he was the one responding to my prayers) but I found myself wondering where exactly Jesus fit into that picture. He seemed a bit like a third wheel at the time.

    I resolved that over time by concluding that I was communicating with the entire Godhead in my prayers and not just the Father who I was addressing specifically.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 22, 2006 @ 11:44 am

  76. Jacob, I have no problem with the God and Man version of Mosiah 15. It is the validity of that explanation for how Christ is both “Father” and the “Son” that is highly questionable.

    This raises a classic question – if what Abinadi meant was other than what he said, why didn’t he just say in the first place? Sowing confusion only makes sense if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think there is for the Ether scriptures, but Abinadi’s analogy looks like it is problematic all the way down.

    If he wanted to teach about Christ’s divinity he should have done as you said. If he wanted to teach about divine unity he should have taught the concept of the Godhead. Instead we get an analogy that we have to expend effort to explain away or transform into something meaningful.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 22, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  77. Geoff, I had a similar experience growing up. The paradox is that our practice relative to God is Heavenly Father oriented (prayer, blessings, etc), while our preaching is Christ oriented (testimony, doctrine, atonement, etc). Some people have tried to resolve the paradox by building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, an issue that created quite a controversy in the early 1980s.

    Now my heterodox opinion as to the proper origin of the paradox is that Christ has two exemplary roles – a Fatherly, sacrificial, atoning role and a Son-like, peer-level teaching, kindness exercising role and that those two roles are roughly temporally separated.

    First the peer-level role as a model of divine Son-ship and Christian kindness – something we can fully emulate in this life, without materially interposing ourselves between those whom we serve and their Heavenly Father. The Melchizedek Priesthood operates on this model.

    Second the fatherly, sacrificial, atoning role, for which earthly parenthood is a type – a role that does materially interpose both parents as sine qua non salvatory intermediaries in this life, and more particularly in the next. The Patriarchal Priesthood operates on this model.

    In different contexts, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ, and hence these two roles, just as Jesus Christ himself did. We do not address Christ in prayer – he is our peer exemplar – we address our Heavenly Father and substitute *ourselves* in the role of the aspiring son or daughter of God. So prayer is properly a two party conversation with the Holy Ghost as a messenger.

    However, towards the end of his life, Christ showed us the next step in the process to exaltation, that of spiritual suffering, a role normally fulfilled in the next life, but which he demonstrated in this so that we would understand. In his exercise of this role, Christ becomes the Father unto those for whom he has died, and they become his spiritual sons and daughters (c.f. Mosiah 5:7).

    Now the next obvious implication is that the actual identity of who suffers for whom is made rather ambiguous. Now while the load may be split across multiple persons, or the Father and the Son, it is my opinion that a person *becomes* a Heavenly Father unto his lineal and adopted descendants by taking on this sacrifical role.

    So if it is the case that Jesus Christ suffered for all of our sins, then he is by rights, the Father unto all those for whom he has suffered. Now in my opinion this role is radically distributed in a way that gives particular depth of meaning to the *Eternal* (and Endless) Father of Heaven and Earth, and that this resolves the paradox of the two Ether scriptures I quoted, whereby Christ claims to *be* the Eternal Father.

    He is telling us that those who take upon themselves his *name*, the name of Christ, *are* the Eternal Father. And thus we see the proper meaning of faith in the *name* of the Lord Jesus Christ – not faith in Jesus Christ per se, but rather faith in his *name*, a metaphor for his (our Father’s actually) power to exalt us – to make us truly into Saviors on Mount Zion.

    One last thing – notice that the Sacrament is divided into two parts – the bread and the water. The bread corresponds to the sacrifice that occurs in the flesh – The example of Christ in the ministry, service, and temporal toil – for ones own children and for others.

    The water, on the other hand corresponds to the sacrifice of the spirit – the sacrifice represented in the Garden of Gethsemane, but which is temporally distributed from *before* the foundation of the world. The sacrifice of Christ (or whoever) in the role of the Father. The spiritual ministry – the tears, sorrow, and suffering so well described in Moses 7 as well as so many other places in the Old Testament.

    That is my theory in a nutshell.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 22, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  78. Mark, (#76)

    I see your point. I should say that I am quite the novice on this issue.

    Lehi’s dream sets up the Book of Mormon doctrine that the Messiah will be called the “Son of God” (especially 1 Ne 10:17 and 11:21). Then King Benjamin uses the phrase “Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth” which gets repeated by subsequent prophets. Using this language to distinguish between Jesus as Creator/God (Father) and the baby in Nephi’s vision (Son) seems very much like what Abinadi does in Mosiah 15. It seems that Abinadi uses “Father” and “Son” to distinguish between Jesus as “God” and “man” because everyone is doing it (my favorite reason). Now, this just transfers the question to why the Book of Mormon prophets speak this way in the first place. Maybe this is exactly what you mean by the Book of Mormon’s apparent Sabellianism. It seems to me that the Book of Mormon does use the terms Father and Son to distinguish between Jesus as God and man (in other places as well), so if that counts as Sabellian, I will be interested to get Blake’s (sure to be) far more sophisticated response.

    Comment by Jacob — May 22, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

  79. Jacob, Sabellianism is the idea that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all manifestations of the same God, and was considered a heresy in ancient Christianity in favor of “neither dividing the substance, nor confounding the persons”. It is the lazy way out – where one says that their identities are so hopelessly confused they must all be the same.

    Now what Abinadi *appears* to be preaching is not Sabellian, but it bears a certain similarity if the identification is taken seriously. It doesn’t really have a precedent that I know of, but appears closer to Nestorianism a theory where divine and human natures are separate, the latter subject to the former, effectively two persons in one body – not the Father per se, but rather the divine person of Christ (Logos) and the mortal Jesus of Nazareth in the same man.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 22, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

  80. Geoff wrote:

    I think MMP suffers from unnecessary association with A/G and since portions (or at least versions) of A/G have been forcefully denounced by later prophets and apostles, the separate idea of MMP has come on hard times in recent decades. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, though. MMP has never been denounced like A/G has been to my knowledge.

    Geoff, I want to ask, do you realize what a predicament you are in by measuring doctrines by whether or not they’ve been “denounced.” By this type of logic, I can believe one thing today, that has been preached, emphasized, canonized, and that the Spirit has testified of (MOST important is this part), and then if it is denounced tomorrow I must reject it? What if I die today, and tomorrow it is denounced? Am I thrust down to hell (metaphorically) because I believed something false? No… Truth is truth. And truth from the Holy Ghost is sealed upon our souls, and to turn from that is tempting the unpardonable sin to rear its ugly head. I think we should all believe truth, as that is someting that Mormonism has claimed as her own. Truth always trumps error, and truth can never be denounced. I don’t have to check the Engisn every month, like a weather forecast, to make sure the foundations of my faith haven’t been officially denounced to ensure that I can continue living it.

    MMP is associated with Adam God because it is the inevitable consequence of not only MMP but also of Exaltation in general, and canonized scripture. If we all expect to be an Adam or Eve some day in the future, which the Temple makes clear to even the simplest of believers whom I have spoken to, and if we expect to gain exaltation and become Kings, Priests and Gods or Queens, Priestesses, and Goddesses, and if we expect to have Spirit children raised up on a planet we help to form, and we’ve come over to that side of the eternal round, and find ourselves in God’s place and our Children where we are now, certainly there is no problem with them looking back at us and saying “Father Adam, He is Our God, Our Heavenly Father, and Mother Eve, She is Our Heavenly Mother,” and the Modern Mormon mind can conceive of that scenario fine, but when you tell them to follow it backwards in history to its logical conclusion, they object! To re-use a line of reasoning Orson Hyde once took, Their God is too Pure and too Holy to be an Exalted man, but my God is just Pure and Holy enough. (And was once a sinner, all human beings.)

    It is the vestiges of Protestantism that prevent the Restoration doctrines from being embraced, and it is wisdom to let the sheep who are new to the flock learn at their own comfortable pace, but to place the King Follett Discourse or the Sermon in the Grove into their hands without Adam-God to go with it seems almost pointless.

    If Mormons are going to throw out something true just because A/G is associated with it, maybe that is the type of Mormon who should go ahead and throw it out. Bending and cramming the words of every other teaching to try to fill in the void of what has been “denounced” is a work of contortion for the mind, when it is already hard enough sifting through the whole picture to find the truth. Its almost as difficult as trying to tell the Gospel without mentioning the Apostles at all. Brigham Young said “Many people have deranged themselves by thinking too much.” (out of context ;), but so true)

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 12:35 am

  81. Jeff D.(#80),

    I do not see from the excerpt you quoted that Geoff is establishing doctrinal denouncement as the sum of his personal epistemology, but rather as a rather valid sociological explanation for the unpopularity of a doctrine. Indeed, shouldn’t members give reasonable faith and credit to the doctrinal pronouncements of their ecclesiastical leaders?

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 12:56 am

  82. Mark,

    The answer to your question is yes, they should give faith and credit to their leaders statements, but, I think the first-hand spiritual experience necessarily lives closer to the heart than the statements by leaders. The problem we run into on this particular topic, is that if all you ever listen to is current leaders, your vocabulary doesn’t match the older vocabulary, as far as the usages of names and identities, in any meaningful way. Thus, the statements they make are “true enough” in relation to the way you understand the names you know. When Adam God was denounced, those who heard the denouncing of it fell into a couple camps, I believe:

    1) Regular Mormons. They had heard A/G mentioned perhaps, and understood it to mean that Adam is Elohim. It confused them, and made them wonder about what Brigham meant. Since Adam is not Elohim, the language of the denunciation matched their understanding and resolved their problem in their mind. Since they hadn’t read any further from the JoD, they saw no conflict and assumed it was a fundamentalist teaching only, not to be worried about.

    3) Studied Mormons but Non-Believers. They knew what Brigham taught, that there was a Grandfather notion, that Jehovah wasn’t identified as Christ by Young, and now they heard Kimball say something that didn’t make much sense. I believe Kimball said “alleged to have been taught”, which is a ridiculous phrasing concerning A/G, which was plainly published in at least 12 church-sponsored publications (counting volumes of the JoD separately). I think people in this camp are rare, I would venture that the majority of people in the Church who study it out to the level where they can understand it in Brigham’s usage of the words tend to either believe it, or decide that Brigham was a fallen prophet and leave the Church (hence they wouldn’t fall into this camp).

    3) Blind Believers in A/G who used modern vocabulary and believed that the doctrine implied Adam = Elohim and possibly coexisted peacefully in their minds with Jehovah = Christ. These people were of course a minority, as the people had generally rejected this teaching by stubornness generations before. They may have read the first Adam God sermon enough to get the point, but probably hadn’t studied other statements. The denunciation may have been acceptable to this group as long as their pride wasn’t too high, and abandoning this notion leads one closer to the truth because it is mixed up with the modern vocab.

    4) Studied Mormons who Believe A/G. This group was a minority as well. They understand group 3, because they must have overcome that objection on their way into group 4. Therefore, they could understand exactly where President Kimball’s statements were coming from. Its as though Kimball is speaking a foreign language, because the words he used don’t mean the same things as the words Brigham used. Kimball, like most Mormons, would have equated God with Elohim. They can accept Kimballs statement as True according to the meanings of the Words he would have likely given himself, if pressed for them.

    As you can see, all four rouotes here can be interpreted as showing Kimball preaching the truth. The problem is, with both Brigham Young and Spencer Kimball, we must take their words in the light of their own usage of vocabulary. To try to fit either one into the vocabulary of the other causes discrepencies.

    Mark, I appreciated your other statements earlier regarding classical religious liberalism vs. neo-orthodox theology.

    I’m delighted to find some sort of fellowship on the blogs. :)

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 2:48 am

  83. I’ve oftened wondered this myself… What will progression be like in the spirit world, or during the millenium? If kids are growing up without sin, without temptations from Satan, then how will they progress? Did they do something in the pre-mortal life to merit this opportunity? Is there a reason they need to live without sin? Is that even feasible, since we all need opposition, as you point out, in order to progress? You raise some interesting questions.. a good read, thanks.

    Comment by Connor Boyack — June 26, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  84. Thanks Connor.

    BTW – I think think there was a kid by your name in my home ward in Poway, CA. Any relation to you?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 26, 2006 @ 3:40 pm

  85. I had a missionary companion, an Elder B. Boyack, in the California Ventura Mission, Korean speaking. But he is from Salt Lake and I haven’t seen him for years.

    Now as far as progression is concerned, the idea that external temptation is required to commit sin is rather naive in my opinion. The Apostle James said we are tempted of our *own* lusts, I can’t imagine they will go away in the Millennium, though temptation will be reduced of course due to a better environment.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

  86. Mark,

    James was talking to mortals living in this world so that reference does nothing to support your case.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 26, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

  87. That is a non sequitur if there ever was one. Read D&C 29.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 2:00 am

  88. What does D&C 29 have to do with the audience James was talking to? If you are referring to verses 34-35, James was a mortal speaking to mortals so James 1:14 is an ineffective proof-text for your odd claims (that mortal lusts apply to spirits and resurrected, perfected bodies).

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 8:15 am

  89. My point is three fold:

    1. The assumption that all lusts are mortal lusts is what is unwarranted here. That is the non sequitur, the very point that must be demonstrated.

    2. “the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;”, i.e. the devil did not tempt himself, and temptation / lust (pride, fear, etc.) existed prior to the Fall of Adam, indeed in the very presence of God.

    3. The spiritual / temporal principle in D&C 29:34 and 130:2 sets a pretty high bar to overcome for any assertion of principles unique to mortality

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 9:18 am

  90. err, I mean the devil *did* tempt himself, he fell because of his own lusts – speaking in the proper, scriptural sense. Pride is the primary lust here.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 9:22 am

  91. You are assuming that the participants in the “war” before this world were without mortal bodies. That is an assumption I, along with many 19th century apostles and prophets, am not willing to concede.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 10:34 am

  92. Geoff,

    Can you give me some references for the 19th century apostles/prophets who thought the war in heaven was fought between people with mortal bodies?

    Comment by Jacob — June 27, 2006 @ 11:57 am

  93. The MMP model (which many of those 19th century leaders reportedly believed) holds that our pre-earth progression consisted of mortal probations like this one. The war in heaven — the war for our souls — that happened there is still happening here in this mortal probation as well (so said Pres Benson and lots of other prophets at least). Basically, if MMP is accurate then we are literally in the middle of the war or council “in heaven” right now. See this post on the subject for more details.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

  94. I am not convinced that any prominent Saint except Eliza R. Snow believed in MMP. I would very much like to see quotations. Orson Pratt’s scheme is amenable to MMP, but his belief on the permanence of the resurrection contra Young’s A/G doctrine belies a belief in more mortal probations after this life. The Heber J. Grant quote is suggestive, barely, but where does he (or any apostle) do more than hint at it? If ERS wrote about it in any detail that would be worth examining as well.

    I have never heard the idea that we are in the middle of the war in *heaven* from an LDS authority. There are apocryphal documents going back millennia that confirm the scriptural account – that there was a war in heaven and the devil and his followers were cast out, that they indeed continue to fight against God down here, but that the war on earth is a distinct phase from the war in heaven, and the third phase will be during the millennium, when the devil and his angels are cast out from this earthly estate, and a fourth phase when he will be “loosed” again prior to the end of the millenium, and a fifth phase when his influence here on earth will be shaken at last – with the last judgment and celestialization of the earth.

    I suspect for various reasons that the devil already travels back and forth between here and his domain in outer darkness, because this place does not exactly make the best of strongholds. It is possible that the devil’s kingdom (cf. 2 Ne 2:29) currently has no physical location apart from this earth, but that seems unlikely to me – the devil’s aim is to establish a kingdom greater than that of the Most High, and it seems unlikely that he would count on total victory here. Very bad strategy.

    So if you have any pertinent quotes on the subject, I would like to hear them as well.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

  95. Not that I begrudge you your belief of course – I have a vague idea about how it fits within an MMP system.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 2:46 pm

  96. There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones- For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

    When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

    If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear- Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

    If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him. These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.
    (D&C 129)

    Here is a nice summary of the apocryphal literature on the subject, by Bruce H. Porter:

    http://www.pofgp.com/Orign%20of%20Evil.htm

    According to tradition, Adam’s body was made of clay, and Satan’s body was made of fire, and Satan refused to honor Adam for that fact, thinking less of him. I know of no account of Satan getting a mortal body, though I admit it is a logical possibility. I can’t imagine what God would have in mind in giving him anything after his rebellion, however.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

  97. One minor comment – I think any presumption to an account of the *origin* of evil is naive in the extreme.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  98. I am not convinced that any prominent Saint except Eliza R. Snow believed in MMP.

    Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young taught the idea. (If you insist on discounting that clear Kimball quote then we’ll just have to disagree on it I guess…) Apostle Orson F. Whitney, who also believed the idea, reportedly recorded in his diary that Eliza R. Snow told him she learned the idea from Joseph Smith. (See this post at Giliam’s blog for some relavant quotes.)

    Orson Pratt did not believe the MMP idea was accurate and complained that Brigham did believe it:

    “another item, I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body, flesh and bones, before he came, he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given.”
    -(Minutes of the Meeting of the Council of the Twelve in Historian’s upper room; Great Salt Lake City; April 5. 1860 10 a.m.

    I recently saw a quote that indicated that Wilford Woodruff did not go for the idea either so it is not a concept that was universally accepted even in the 19th century. And I always concede that just because some prophets and apostles believed it does not make it true. But to say that it was not taught and believed by several top leaders of the church in that era is simply incorrect.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 3:53 pm

  99. A/G is not an MMP theory, but a 1.5MP theory, mostly because the second “mortal” tenure is not a probation, nor is it properly mortal. I do not dispute that most of the Church leadership believed in A/G from 1854 to about the turn of the century. A critical aspect of A/G is that every exalted person becomes an Adam or an Eve and a Heavenly Father or a Heavenly Mother in the next life. Only 1 in 100 billion become a Savior. I know Eliza R. Snow believed in A/G, I don’t see how she or anyone else reconciled MMP into their schema.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 27, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

  100. A/G could be a 1.5 version of MMP or a full fledged version. All that is required is that Adam and Eve are resurrected and exalted prior to becoming colonizers. What happened prior to (the process to get them exalted to begin with) is usually left out of A/G discussions I think. Of course I’ve stated several times that I think Brigham’s A/G teachings were a misunderstanding of a few details and succeeding prophets have made that pretty clear.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 5:28 pm

  101. Geoff,

    For all of these 19th century prophets who supposedly believed in MMP, I have read lots of quotes from all of them endorsing doctrines directly opposed to what you report as the MMP model. You keep claiming that Brigham Young believed in MMP, but he doesn’t seem to have believed in it in the form you have expressed it. He taught things about pre-existence and degrees of glory that are opposed to your MMP model. I fear that you may be taking a few quotes and turning them into a whole theology that the proported proponents of would never have agreed with. The post you directed me to doesn’t really have a lot of evidence for your claim that these apostles and prophets agreed with your MMP model. That post points me to other posts, which point me to other posts, but I have yet to find the one that has all these quotes from the early leaders showing they accepted anything close to what you are claiming. So far, all I have is one quote from Heber C. Kimball being blown way out of proportion.

    Without such evidence, I think it is a disengenuous to continually wrap yourself in the blanket of authority, as though the MMP model you are expressing was taught in any clear way by any one of these leaders, let alone several of them.

    Comment by Jacob — June 27, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

  102. Geoff,

    Clear this up for me: do you have anything other than the one quote from Heber C. Kimball and the Brigham’s AG doctrine (which you reject, at least in part)?

    Comment by Jacob — June 27, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  103. Jacob,

    All I have tried to claim is that at least Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Eliza R. Snow, and Orson F. Whitney believed in some form of MMP. I haven’t done research on who else believed or taught it because I’m not trying to build some authoritative case for it or anything like that. The fact that those luminaries believed it (or at least seriously considered it) is enough for me to consider it as well and to tinker with the idea and experiment with models surrounding it. I have tried to take that basic skeleton (the bare notion that there can be more multiple mortal probations in our eternal progression) and flesh it out to see if they could work as models. I must admit that the more I have done so the more I like the idea. If I have given you the impression that I am unveiling somebody else’s model of MMP in these posts I apologize. That has never been my intention.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 9:18 pm

  104. BTW — Looking back I can see that I should have worded my comment #91 more carefully. I have logically deduced that the war in heaven is literally still going on here if MMP is accurate but don’t have any quotes to show that any of those 19th century luminaries ever specifically said as much.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

  105. Geoff,

    Ok, that’s fair enough. I appreciate the fact that you are not trying to build an edifice on a few quotes. Obviously, the idea appeals to you for its philosphical/theological implications and possibilities.

    That said, I haven’t yet seen one scrap of evidence for your claim in #91 that these 19th century prophets believed the war in heaven was fought by people with mortal bodies. This (#91) goes way beyond simply claiming that they believed in “some form” of MMP. It groups them all under a specific version of MMP as you have imagined it. That is the thing I am objecting to.

    Comment by Jacob — June 27, 2006 @ 9:57 pm

  106. Well, you beat me to the punch since I was composing #105 while you were composing #104. We are on the same page again.

    Comment by Jacob — June 27, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.