Yes, God the Father does have a Father

May 25, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 6:01 pm   Category: King Follett Discourse,Ostler Reading,Theology

As the second part of my discussion of chapter 12 in the second volume of Blake Ostler’s series of books on Mormon Theology I will deal with the second of two controversial positions Blake takes when reading Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse (KFD) and Sermon in the Grove (SitG). That second position was:

2) While God, the Father of Jesus, did condescend to become a mortal on one of the innumerable previous inhabited planets, he is the ultimate Celestial Monarch and has no “Eternal Father” of his own. Further, Blake holds that the Father was not a Savior to the world to which he condescended.

To defend his position Blake refers mostly to the sermon Joseph Smith gave in June of 1844, two months after the King Follett Discourse, and which is sometimes referred to as The Sermon in the Grove. Blake writes:

In the Sermon in the Grove, Joseph Smith gave an interpretive discourse on Revelation 1:6: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” (442)

Blake comments on the various sections of the Sermon in the Grove. He makes a solid case that in the second section of this sermon that Joseph teaches that there is indeed a Head God over all other Gods.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”… It read first, “In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods,” or, as others have translated it, “The head of the Gods called the Gods together.” … The head God organized the heavens and the earth. I defy all the world to refute me. In the beginning the heads of the Gods organized the heavens and the earth… (TPJS 371-372)

The trouble Blake gets himself into in my opinion is his insistence that the Father of Jesus Christ is the Supreme Monarch who has no father of his own. This reading is explicitly preached against by Joseph in the Sermon in the Grove:

The Apostles have discovered that there were Gods above, for John says God was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. My object was to preach the scriptures, and preach the doctrine they contain, there being a God above, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. … If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? … Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.
(TPJS 370, 373)

The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods.
(TPJS 372)

the apost[les] have disc[overe]d. that there were Gods above-God was the Far. of our Ld. J.C. -my object was to preach the Scrip-& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Far. of our Ld. J.C.- … if Abra. reasoned thus-if J.C was the Son of God & John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also-where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far. … .-where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence witht. a progenitor-& every thing comes in this way-Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly 26- hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also … Gods-the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us 18-& when you take a view of the subject it sets one free to see all the beauty holiness & perfection of the God
(Bullock Report)

So there it is as plain as day. God, the Father of Jesus Christ, had a Father also. This does not fit into Blake’s theology though so he offers up this interpretation of these clear statements from Joseph:

When the Father condescended from a fullness of his divine state to become mortal, he was born into a world and had a father as a mortal … Joseph Smith seems to be asserting that the Father also left his divine state to become begotten of a father at a time when he became mortal. (444, 445)

So he is apparently saying here that unlike Jesus, the Father had a mortal father. But he contradicts this notion on the next page when he says:

Joseph doesn’t give us any information as to who this father of the Father’s earthly body might be. However, if the Father’s generation was like the Son’s, then His earthly mother was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost in a similar way and his generation was also by divine means. That can certainly be true without positing that the father of God the Father’s earthly body was a god above the Father, for there is no such god. (445)

Errrr… So first God the Father only had a mortal father… But then he had no mortal father… ? The contradiction is obvious, of course. Blake dug himself a deep hole here and it surprisingly made its way past his editors in this otherwise good book.

Blake has also seemingly contradicts himself about the question of whether God the Father acted in the role of atoning Savior and Redeemer in a mortal probation. He quote the evidence from Joseph in the SitG that the Father did atone for a world:

I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys. I know it is good reasoning. (TPJS 373)

I want you all to pay particr. attent. J. sd. as the Far. wrought precisely in the same way as his Far. had done bef -as the Far. had done bef.-he laid down his life & took it up same as his Far. had done bef-he did as he was sent to lay down his life & take it up again & was then committed unto him the keys &c I know it is good reasoning
(Bullock Report)

But the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body. as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies for the Saviour Says the work that my father did do i also & those are the works he took himself a a body & then laid down his life that he might take it up again & the Scripture Say those who will obey the commandments shall be heirs of god & Joint heirs with of Jesus Christ we then also took bodys to lay them down, to take them up again
(George Laub Journal; italics mine)

Jesus said that all things that He saw the father do he did (McIntire Minute Book)

This in addition to the same concept Joseph taught in the KFD:

The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, As the Father hath power in Himself, even so hath the Son power-to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious-in a manner to lay down His body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. … What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said. (TPJS 346-347)

refute the idea that God was God from all eternity-Jesus said as the father had power in himself even so hath the son power6 to do what the father did. Lay down his body. & take it up again.-you have got to learn how to make yourselves God, Kings, Priests, &c.7-by going from a small to great capacity. Till they are able to dwell in everlasting burning8 & everlasting power.-
(Willard Richards Diary)

It is the first principle to know that we may converse with him and that he once was a man like us, and the Father was once on an earth like us, And I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it The scriptures inform us mark it that Jesus Christ said As the Father hath power in himself so hath the son power in himself to do what the father did even to lay down my body & take it up again do you believe it, if not, dont believe the bible. I defy all Hell and earth to refute it. And you have got to learn how to make yourselves God, king and priest, by going from a small capacity to a great capacity to the resurrection of the dead to dwelling in everlasting burnings, … What did Jesus Christ do, the same thing as I se the Father do, see the father do what, work out a kingdom, when I do so to I will give to the father which will add to his glory, he will take a Higher exhaltation & I will take his place and am also exhalted.
(Wolford Woodruff Diary; italics mine)

and first princ: of truth to know for a certainty the char. of God that we may conv[erse] with him same as a man & God himself the father of us all dwelt on a Earth same as Js. himself did … J. Sd. as the Far. hath power in himself even so hath the Son power to do what64 the Far. did that ansr. is obvious in a manner to lay down his body & take it up-J-did as my Far. laid down his body & take it up agn. … all Earthly taber shall be dissolved that they shall be heirs of God & jt. hrs of J. C.66 to inherit the same power exaltn. until you ascd. the throne of Etl. power same as those who are gone bef. what J. did I do the things I saw my Far. Do67 before worlds came rolld. into existence I saw my Far. work out his K with fear & trembling68 & I must do the same when I shall give my K to the Far. so that he obtns K rollg. upon K. so that J treads in his tracks as he had gone before.
(Bullock Report)

What did Jesus say-as the father hath power in himself even so hath the son power100 to do what why what the father did, to lay down his body and took it up again. Jesus what are you going to do-to lay down my life as my father did that I might take it up again. … What did Jesus do. Why I do the things that I saw the father do when worlds came into existence. I saw the father work out a kingdom with fear & trembling & I can do the same & when I get my Kingdom worked out I will present to the father & it will exalt his glory and Jesus steps into his tracks to inherit what God did before. (Clayton Report)

What Joseph is teaching could hardly be clearer: Jesus was a savior of the world in precisely the same way that the Father had been the savior of another previous world (and that was precisely the way his Father had done before him).

Blake even seems to buy this in the book when he says:

The Son as a mortal does “precisely” what the Father did before him. (443)

But when pressed on the issue of the Father atoning for his world Blake stated here at another thread:

I don’t believe that the Father atoned. JS was very clear in the poetic rendition of the Vision in 1842 that the Son atoned for all worlds.

So despite these teachings from Joseph in 1844, Blake prefers to let a poem written two years earlier by Joseph trump both the KFD and the SitG. That is problematic.

The section in the SitG that Blake calls “the clincher” is here:

I will refer to another Scripture. “Now,” says God, when He visited Moses in the bush, (Moses was a stammering sort of a boy like me) God said, “Thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel.” God said, “Thou shalt be a God unto Aaron, and he shall be thy spokesman.” I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods to be sons of God, and all can cry, “Abba, Father!” Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for. (TPJS 375)

I have an[othe]r. Scrip-now says God when visited Moses in the Bush-moses was a stutt[er]ing sort of a boy like me-God said thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel-God said thou shalt be a God unto Aaron & he shall be thy spokes. 41 I bel. in these Gods that God reveals as Gods-to be Sons of God 42 & all can cry Abba Father 43-Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods even from bef. the foundatn. of the world & are all the only Gods I have a reverence for (Bullock Report)

This is excellent evidence that we (all humankind) can be included in the terms “the gods” when they are spoken of in the scriptures. We are the same kind and species as all the gods who went before us after all. According to Joseph, we can become Gods just like all other Gods before us did:

Here, then, is eternal life-to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. (TPJS 346)

you have got to learn how to make yourselves God, Kings, Priests, &c.7-by going from a small to great capacity. Till they are able to dwell in everlasting burning8 & everlasting power.- (Richards Diary)

here then is Etl. life to know the only wise and true God you have got to learn how to be a God yourself & be a K. & God Priest to God same as all have done by going from a small capy to anr. from grace to grace until the resn. of & sit in everlasting power as they who have gone before & God in the L D. while certn. indivals are proclaimg. his name is not trifling with us (Bullock report)

You have got to learn how to be a god yourself in order to save yourself-to be priests & kings101 as all Gods has done-by going from a small degree to another-from exaltation to ex-till they are able to sit in glory as with those who sit enthroned. I want you to know while God is being proclaimed that he is not trifling with you nor me. (Clayton Report)

And you have got to learn how to make yourselves God, king and priest, by going from a small capacity to a great capacity to the resurrection of the dead to dwelling in everlasting burnings, (Woodruff Diary)

Blake seems to think that quote from the SitG somehow shows that the Father of Jesus is the Head God above all other Gods, but it doesn’t. It just shows that the chain of “gods” extends below the Father of Jesus as well as above him.

I have more to add but will save that for a follow up post. So, those of you who made it through this whole post – what do you think? Does the Father of Jesus have a Father or not? Did the Father act as an atoning savior on a previous world or not? What say ye? I think Joseph clearly answered “Yes” to both questions.

[Associated radio.blog song: U2 - In God's Country]

238 Comments »

  1. Since the Prophet Joseph Smith broached this subject, I respect it. For myself, this is territory I’m not eager to explore yet. I’m comfortable with the idea/possibility that God the Father had a Father but in my opinion I don’t need to know much more about it. Frankly, that is a point where I feel we are beginning to look in mirror full of neverending and more distance images and semblances. I’m not very concerned about seeing the fine details of their appearances as I’m not even sure I’ve seen myself in the mirror all that clearly.

    Comment by danithew — May 25, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  2. Geoff: I won’t engage this discussion until you cite the actual source that is available for this sermon rather than the TPJS. You know better.

    Comment by Blake — May 25, 2006 @ 7:34 pm

  3. Geoff, Blake is right. Why the heck are you using the TPJS? As far as your use of it to defend the belief that we can all become Gods qua Father, you are simply abusing the text. From the bullock account we have the discription of Christ’s relationship to the Father, then Joseph shifts gears:

    there is glory & glory-Sun, moon & Stars – & so do they differ in glory & every man who reigns is a God…Paul-says there is one Glory of the Sun the moon & the Stars-& as the Star differs &c – They are exalted far above princ. thrones dom. & angels – & are expressly decld. to be heirs of God & jt. heirs with J.C. all havg. et[erna]l. power-the Scrip are a very strange doct.-I have an[othe]r. Scrip-now says God when visited Moses in the Bush-moses was a stutt[er]ing sort of a boy like me-God said thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel-God said thou shalt be a God unto Aaron & he shall be thy spokes. I bel. in these Gods that God reveals as Gods-to be Sons of God & all can cry Abba Father -Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods even from bef. the foundatn. of the world & are all the only Gods I have a reverence for- John sd. he was a K[ing]. J.C. who hath by his own blood made us K & P to God. Oh thou God who are K. of K’s & Ld. of Lds.

    Here, Joseph states in sequence:

    – There are many glories (sun, moon, stars, etc.)
    – Every man who reigns is a god.
    – God reveals folks like Moses to be Gods to their people and Sons of God. As sons, they can cry Abba.
    – These rulers are those who he has reverence for.
    – John (one of these) was a King (or one who can reign)
    – Jesus enables us to be Kings and Priests to God
    – God the Father is King of Kings

    This sequence does not support what you say it does.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 25, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

  4. Oh, good grief. :-) Fine, I’ll go back and use some original sources.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 25, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

  5. I agree, that yes, Joseph Smith did teach that our Heavenly Father probably had a father as well. However that seems to be a new position, because in previous contexts he generally identifies our Heavenly Father as the Head, or Most High God.

    I do not think that Joseph Smith clearly taught that Heavenly Father clearly performed the same mission as Jesus Christ – in fact I find both discourses rather notable for the absence of doctrine about the Atonement. Joseph either hadn’t made his mind up or didn’t want to say.

    I do not think the question of whether Jesus Christ had a Heavenly GrandFather is all that significant. What is very significant is whether there is a Most High God or not. Brigham Young and his successors mostly say no. It is hard to tell what Joseph Smith beleived, because his opinion on that point appears to be a work in progress.

    I say yes, there definitely is a Most High God, because not only is the scriptural evidence explicitly in favor of the concept, the topology and metaphysics of an infinite backward recursion who are all alive of course makes heaven have the topology of a black hole, with no material discretion or creativity for any of them, just manifest Platonism to the nth degree – no one in charge and everyone in charge simultaneously.

    The scriptural model of the center place is a city, with a temple, with a throne and a council. With IBR there is no center, no presiding officer, just an endless series of altars to we know not what.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 25, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  6. It is worth noting that Orson Pratt ended up concluding that we worship the divine attributes based on considerations like this. Unable to locate a divine center, or a being worthy of independent loyalty, Pratt suggested that we worship divinity itself. That was declared a heresy rather quickly of course, Brigham Young stating that he wouldn’t worship such a God.

    My opinion is that we worship God not so much for his character, as for the *expression* thereof – we worship God because he saves us. If he didn’t save, we no doubt would still *love* him, but we would have no obligation to *worship* him.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 25, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

  7. One more idea – remember when Jesus Christ blessed the Nephites and they started to worship him, and pray to him, and how Jesus Christ apologized in prayer for that?

    One of the most critical questions of Christian theology is why Jesus Christ is not worthy of such worship, whether with the Nephites or by his own account in the New Testament. He always refers people upward and claims he is of no account except as a messenger. Now is Jesus of Nazereth personally suffered for the sins of worlds without number, wouldn’t he very well deserve to be worshipped in the same way as the Father? Why the run-around – isn’t that backwards? It is almost like Jesus is delegating work to his Father instead of the other way around.

    Now of course my unorthodox answer is the reason is that the Atonement is distributed across a large number of heavenly fathers, and that when people worship and pray to Jesus they are giving the wrong person all the credit. It is our particular Heavenly Father who is the father of our salvation, Jesus Christ is just modeling the path and the pattern, first as a perfect Son, and then as a perfect Father.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 25, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

  8. Alright — original sources quotes have been added. If anything I’d say they strengthen my case.

    (I honestly think the TPJS amalgamation version captures the key points quite accurately.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 25, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

  9. Stapley (#3),

    If you are looking for evidence that Joseph taught we can become Gods qua Father (or Son for that matter) (and I know you are actually hoping there is none) you should look in the KFD not in that passage from the SitG you quoted. The evidence for that position is very strong in the KFD. That passage you quoted seems to me to be Joseph explaining that all of us (humankind) are among the those the scriptures occasionally refer to as “gods” simply because of our position in the Universe in realtionship to God. As I said in the post: “It just shows that the chain of “gods” extends below the Father of Jesus as well as above him.”

    Comment by Geoff J — May 25, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

  10. Geoff: OK, good enough — and thanks for indulging my tantrum LOL.

    First, let’s focus on 3 major agreements we seem to all have: (1) There is a Most High or Head God who is the God of all other gods. That is significant because it contradicts BY’s view that there is an eternal regression of gods. (2) The Father did what the Son did and what the Holy Ghost will do — a divine being becomes mortral by taking upon himself a mortal body. Both the Father and the Son came into mortality already having the divine power to take their lives up again after they die as mortals. That too is very important because it shows that the Father was divine already at the time he was a mortal.

    With this we are almost there. The Father was divine before becoming mortal and there is a Head God of all other gods. (I also believe that the gods spoken of are all sons of God and we are among the sons of God as well).

    So the question remains, is the Father this Head God? Look at the context of both sermons. In the KFD the purpose is to show that we can know God the Father and thereby have eternal life because he has a body just like ours. How do we know he has a body like ours? Because he was once mortal in the same way Christ became mortal. So the subject of the discourse is eternal life by knowing the only true God — the Father. I submit that JS clearly begins to use “God” at the beginning of the KFD to refer to the Father (as in John 17:3 which he quotes) and whenever he refers to “God” thereafter he means the Father. Once that critical point is seen, my interpretation of the KFD follows.

    It is critical to note that Geoff’s reading of the SitG ignores the context and purpose. Note that JS is explaining how God is “one” while being very explicit that God is yet three distinct gods. So JS say:

    The Prophet read the 3rd chapter Revelation text 6th verse & made us Kings & Priests unto God & his Father to him be glory & dominion for evermore–. It is altogether correct in the translation –now you know that of late some have sprung up & apostatized & they declare that Prophet believes in a plurality of Gods–&c. & behold a very great secret they cry it has been my intention to take up this subject & show what my Faith is in the matter—I have contemplated the saying of Jesus as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be at his 2nd coming & if it rains I’ll preach—the plurality of Gods–I have selected this text I wish to declare I have always–& in all congregations when I have preached it has been the plurality of Gods it has been preached 15 years–I have always declared God to be a distinct personage—Jesus Christ a separate & distinct person from God the Father. the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage & or Spirit & these 3 constitute 3 distinct personages & 3 Gods—if this is in accordance with the New Testament–lo & behold we have 3 Gods anyhow & they are plural anyhow (Bullock Report)

    Once again “God” means “Father” as a distinct divine personage from the Son and HG. There are 3. the key passage is one found in the Bullock report that has several possible readings — and that differs from both the Laub and McIntire sources. It reads:

    if Jesus Christ was the Son of God & John discussed that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a father you may suppose that he had a Father also—where was there ever a Son without a Father—where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence without a progenitor–& every thing comes in this way–Paul says that which is Earthly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly– hence if Jesus had a Father can we not believe that he had a Father also–I despise the idea of being scared to death–I want you all to pay particular attention. Jesus said as the Father wrought precisely in the same way as his Father had done before–as the Father had done before–he laid down his life & took it up same as his Father had done before–he did as he was sent to lay down his life & take it up again & was then committed unto him the keys &c I know it is good reasoning (Bullock Report)

    The Laub Jornal indicates that JS quoted Rev. 1:3 [as he did to begin the sermon] and Psalms 82, which refers to God standing in the council of gods. However, the assertions can be read many ways. Given that it is an interpretation of Rev. 1:6, which states: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to him be glory and dominion forever.” JS consistently reads “God” to be the Father, but this throws a wrench because it says that God has a Father. Who is this Father? Well, note what JS immediately follows the above quoted words with as text:

    I want you all to pay particular attention. Jesus said as the Father wrought precisely in the same way as his Father had done before–as the Father had done before–he laid down his life & took it up same as his Father had done before–he did as he was sent to lay down his life & take it up again & was then committed unto him the keys &c I know it is good reasoning (Bullock Report)

    Joseph is referring to the birth of the Father as a mortal when he speaks of the Father’s having a father. Geoff believes that I have a contradiction here. He thinks I am saying that the Father had an early genetic Father and also a heavenly genetic Father. I am not. I am saying [and I should have been clearer in my book] that the Father had a Father just as Jesus did — in the precise same way. He had an earthly father just as Joseph was Jesus’s earthly father. However, his birth was also of divine parentage even as a mortal. Thus, the Father’s earthly mother was overshadowed and conceived in the same way. In context, that is what Joseph is saying in context.

    Look also at this passage:

    I want to read the text to you myself–I am agreed with the Father & the Father is a greed with me & we are agreed as one–the Greek shows that is should be agreed–Father I pray for them that thou hast given me out of the world &c &c that they may be agreed & all come to dwell in unity & in all the Glory & Everlasting burnings of God & then we shall see as we are seen & be as God–& he as the God of his Father- (Bullock Report)

    Here JS discusses how the Father and Son are one — they agree in one. However, we shall be like them and be one. The key here is “as the God of his Father.” Who is this God of his Father? Just as Jesus had a God and Father while he was mortal so did the Father. Who was the Father’s God? It was the other two remaining divine in the Godhead. Remember, in this text and before JS is explaining the three Gods who are one God.

    How do we know that JS is talking about the Father’s earthly sojourn? Well notice again what JS says:

    where was there ever a Son without a Father—where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence without a progenitor–& every thing comes in this way–Paul says that which is Earthly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly– hence if Jesus had a Father can we not believe that he had a Father also–I despise the idea of being scared to death–I want you all to pay particular attention. Jesus said as the Father wrought precisely in the same way as his Father had done before–as the Father had done before–he laid down his life & took it up same as his Father had done before–he did as he was sent to lay down his life & take it up again & was then committed unto him the keys &c I know it is good reasoning (Bullock Report)

    JS expressly states that he is speaking of an earthly pattern and that the Father had a Father just as Jesus had a Father. Now it is crucial to note that JS is not speaking of heavenly birth — he didn’t have any such ideas. He never refers to a heavenly mother nor of some heavenly birth. Rather, he is speaking of the Son having a father as a mortal — and also of the Father having a father as a mortal.

    Now look again at the text Geoff so badly miscalculated:

    I believe in these Gods that God reveals as Gods—to be Sons of God & all can cry Abba Father–Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods even from before the foundation of the world & are all the only Gods I have a reverence for– John said he was a King. Jesus Christ who hath by his own blood made us Kings & Priest to God. Oh thou God who are Kings of Kings & Lord of Lords (Bullock Report)

    All of the other gods of which JS is speaking beside God [the Father] are sons of God. God is the Father. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

    Comment by Blake — May 26, 2006 @ 7:24 am

  11. Help me out on something related I’ve been wondering. Where do souls come from? Does God create our souls? Are souls continually being created, or is there a finite pool of potentiality? Do our eternal families breed in the afterlife (a rather icky thought to a confirmed bachelor like myself)?

    Comment by V the K — May 26, 2006 @ 8:26 am

  12. This is all to verbose for me.

    I believe that God could have had a father, or perhaps he was the first. I believe that the pattern is what is important, where it started is perhaps not as important.

    Comment by Eric — May 26, 2006 @ 8:41 am

  13. V the K – That is a good question. There are a few theories the origins of souls/spirits/intelligences. I posted on them here and then wrote a follow up post here.

    Eric – Yeah, I realize this last set of posts has gotten quite technical and too long for many readers. But I think it is important to get below the surface on these things (and Joseph thought that as well) and Blake’s book deserves serious and deep analysis and responses in my opinion.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 8:50 am

  14. Blake:
    Once again, I find your exegesis strained. Textual interpretation should include some sense of the possible intention of the speaker/writer, and it seems that unless we assume that Joseph is simply trying to fool us all, the sermon seems to teach that God had a father in more than a condescended earthly way. Otherwise, what doctrine is it that he is saying not to be afraid of? It is certainly the idea that God had a father–a doctrine that would have been quite frightening to people raised to see such a doctrine as the ultimate heresy. What would be so firgtening about teaching that God the father was absolute and did not have a father? The sense is that he is teaching the most shocking thing he could teach, and I don’t see that in your reading.
    Beyond this, I don’t see hoe God the father, having a body of flesh and spirit inseparably connected (had he not a fullness of joy?) could somehow separate the inseprable (sounds like a medieval theological conundrum, I know–can God’s body and spirit be so inseprable that even he cannot separate them?)so that he could become a mortal and be re-insprable-ized.

    Comment by Steve H — May 26, 2006 @ 9:08 am

  15. I believe I’m not going to understand for a long time AFTER I’m dead. I think what we can comprehend is a minute portion of reality.

    Comment by annegb — May 26, 2006 @ 10:01 am

  16. Blake: I submit that JS clearly begins to use “God” at the beginning of the KFD to refer to the Father (as in John 17:3 which he quotes) and whenever he refers to “God” thereafter he means the Father.

    This is the fatal flaw of your position. It might have worked to show that the Father of Jesus is the Head God of all other Gods and thus has no Heavenly Father of his own if Joseph had not explicitly stated otherwise. Again, Joseph said:

    “My object was to preach the Scriptures & preach the doctrine of there being a God above the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … if Abraham reasoned thus-if Jesus Christ was the Son of God & John discussed that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father you may suppose that he had a Father also-where was there ever a Son without a Father? … Hence if Jesus had a Father can we not believe that he had a Father also?”

    -my object was to preach the Scrip-& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Far. of our Ld. J.C.- … if Abra. reasoned thus-if J.C was the Son of God & John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also-where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far. … hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also (Bullock Report)

    You ask: Who was the Father’s God?

    Joseph says it is his Heavenly Father — precisely in the same pattern that Jesus has a Heavenly Father.

    but this throws a wrench because it says that God has a Father.

    This gets at the heart of the issue here: It only throws a wrench into your desired (but untenable) model — it worked just fine for Joseph.

    Look, I want to be gentle, but someone occasionally needs to mention that the Emperor has no clothes. This whole assertion you are making that when Joseph revealed that God the Father also had a Father he really meant “the birth of the Father as a mortal when he speaks of the Father’s having a father” is utterly preposterous. Joseph is not talking about some mortal stepfather here (why would he even waste his time on such pointless nonsense if that is all he meant?). This tactic of yours frankly reeks of desperation in an attempt to defend an indefensible theological position. I know you are used to being right and I believe that you are right the vast majority of the time, but this one is looking to me like an example of the “self-deception” you wrote about earlier in this excellent book. We need to just take Joseph’s word on this one rather than try to wish his teachings away to fit a preconceived theology. (Sorry if this is too direct — I really mean it when I say you I think you are correct almost all of the time… Plus I really respect and like you.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 10:04 am

  17. This is an excellent discussion! I have always been torn on this issue. First, it seems that the God who found Himself in the midst of spirits and instituted laws by which they could grow and progress would be the “first” God. But, I also read the texts as stating that the Father of Jesus had a father, who had a father, and on. The comment (6) that Orson Pratt finally focused on the attributes of God is correct, but Brigham went absolutely berserk about this and called him on it at least twice in General Conferences (JD). Of course, Brigham placed Joseph as the god of this dispensation immediately upon his death (and then there’s the whole Adam thing), so it all gets a bit muddled for my finite brain. I can see why current brethren stay away from the topic.

    Comment by larryco_ — May 26, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  18. I want to go with Blake’s position, but it looks like I will continue to downgrade KFD and SitG to do so.

    Heavenly Father has to be the Most High God. And I can’t take any theology that throws out the Most High God idea.

    it’s good to read other people picking through the issues on this one.

    Comment by motherofAll — May 26, 2006 @ 10:37 am

  19. The text Geoff most recently zero’d in on “-& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Far. of our Ld. J.C.-” (Bullock) does look hard to square with Blake’s position.

    The other thing that concerns me with Blake’s position is that it really puts a damper on the concept of deification. I am fine with the idea that there is only one Most High God and we can’t ever become the Most High, but I am less comfortable with the idea that we can never do what the Father is currently doing. That is the whole point of becoming like God, after all, is to act in his role and follow in his footsteps. Geoff made some comments about this in the previous post, asking what the difference between the sons of god and the ministering angels are.

    It seems to me that even if Blake gave up on the point about the Father being the Most High God (I am not suggesting he will), he would still be able to salvage most of the important points of his theory, and he wouldn’t do violence to the idea of us becoming like our Father in heaven.

    Comment by Jacob — May 26, 2006 @ 11:07 am

  20. From a corporate investiture point of view, we very often know our Heavenly Father as “Eloheim” – literally “the Gods”. Similarly, when we are not in a context where the distinction is relevant, our Heavenly Father is the Most High by divine investiture.

    Remember, Jesus said, “I am the Eternal Father”, and “I am Alpha and Omega”. Now what does it mean to be all the letters of the alphabet?

    I suggest it means the same thing as it would be for Jacob to claim – I am Adam, and Seth, …, and Noah, and Shem, … and Terah, and Abraham, and Isaac” (so far as you are concerned, at any rate). And you too are a son of Adam, and can inherit the same privilege.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  21. Jacob and Mark,

    I agree.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

  22. I still maintain that the idea that Jesus could resurrect himself is a form of Divine Pelagianism. Jesus said “I can of mine own self do nothing”. See comment 35 in the last thread.

    His power to do so should be construed similarly to his power to call down a legion of angels. The same goes for any other mortal person, whether Jesus, his Father, or the Most High, as well as other righteous persons – no one resurrects themselves any more than anyone saves themselves, or exalts themselves.

    God himself could not be exalted without our *collective* cooperation. Would heaven with only one person in it be heaven? Would God be a Father without any children? Could he be an Eternal Father without an endless, righteous posterity?

    Divinity is not something one has in and of oneself – it is more a matter of casting ones bread upon the waters and seeing it return after many days. A dominion that flows unto a righteous person, not outward from him. (cf. D&C 121:46)

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

  23. Jacob, and others, I am not sure if Mormons see an ontological difference between us and God, but there would seem to be one. I would think, if the Father came to an earth at some point in time, already being Divine, then it is likely he must have lived a sinless life just like the Son. Whether or not he was a savior, I do not know.

    All of us that live here, have sinned. I realize that we can be forgiven through the atonement, but without the atonement, we are forever lost. So, somehow, we would seem to be dependent on our savior throughout the eternities to come. I do not see the same thing being true with respect to the godhead. How would this play into our deification?

    I am not sure why Blake tries to make the point he does, except, it does keep our doctrine more in line with what the scriptures teach. However, there dose seem to be a very negative question that is just begging to be asked. If Blake is right, then what else might the prophets have gotten wrong since Joseph Smith? Clearly, what Blake suggests is different than what I have been taught in the Church.

    Obviously, these are not questions I would ask in SS, so please do not take this as trying to make a point or start an argument. I just find such things interesting.

    Comment by CEF — May 26, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

  24. CEF, One has to make a distinction between when prophets are receiving revelation and when they are practicing theology. The latter often has great influence, but rarely gets canonized. It doesn’t bother me much if prophets get theology wrong from time to time, revelation wrong would be another story.

    The KFD is not canonized in part because Joseph Smith never claimed it was a revelation – he explicitly describes what he was claiming as the conclusion of process of reasoning – reasoning that the says “tastes good”, i.e. was inspired. I believe the KFD for the same reason – it teaches a principle that is coherent with the spirit of the good and the best as taught by all the holy scriptures, so far as I can tell from the spirit within me.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  25. CEF,

    Your point about an ontological gap is a good one. J. Stapley (who is a regular around these parts) agrees that the implication of the KFD and SitG is that there is an ontological gap and that there is only one way to be like the Father, and that is to atone for the sins of a mortal world. (Every case we know of a God qua Father included their being divine prior to a mortality after all.) Blake insists that there is no ontological gap, but the more unpacking we do of his ideas the more it seems that he agrees with the Stapley theory. That is that there are two tracks in the eternities: one for the Gods who move from one exaltation to another, and one for us, “the gods”, who can move into a secondary (sidekick?) role to the Gods but can never be full members of a Godhead.

    I will post on this two track idea soon too I think (even though I think it is false.) I think that the fact is we are led by the KFD and SitG to conclude one of two things — either this two track theory is accurate, or there are indeed multiple mortal probations. (How’s that for a teaser?)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  26. Actually Joseph Smith (apparently) did claim it was received through the spirit of revelation, but certainly not in the same sense as the revelations in the D&C, so far as we know:

    This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to my by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given my by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more. (KFD[SV])

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  27. Well, I radically disagree with the two-track theory, and with multiple mortal probations. The difference, as I see it between my Christology and Geoff’s, is that I do not see Jesus Christ as a person as radically advanced in progression above Moses and Abraham. I think that soteriological exceptionalism is based on a simple misunderstanding of what Christ and his Atonement represents – i.e. belief in salvation by a single figure per world instead of a very large number of anointed sons and daughters to god who are the fathers and mothers of the salvation of their posterity by comparable principles, first in this life, and then in the world to come.

    Where as I understand it, the motivation for MMP is so that in some future life we can be born as a Savior to an entire world, and the one after that be the Heavenly Father to an entire world. On my view, salvation is such a collective enterprise we can become like the person of the Father in not endless lifetimes after we lay down this mortal life, but indeed initiate our eternal parenthood unto our lineal and adopted posterity within years, if not hours.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  28. CEF,

    It is unfortunate that the word “ontological” has been around for so long, and yet one can never use it without defining what one means. I personally don’t think the two-track theory Geoff mentions (#25) would require an ontological difference between God and man. Likewise, I don’t see the sinless life of Jesus as requiring an ontological difference between him and us. It could be that I am using the word ontological differently than you are.

    It certainly would be an odd twist to interpret the KFD as requiring an ontological gap since the lack of an ontological gap seems to be one of Joseph’s biggest points in the sermon. This is the point of Joseph saying that God is “an exalted man,” is it not?

    As to your negative question of what else prophets have gotten wrong, it would have to be a lot in regard to the speculative parts of our theology. There has been lots of disagreement among the prophets themselves on some of these issues, and everyone can’t be right at once when there are disagreement. The idea that our prophets don’t know everything doesn’t bother me in the least (in fact, it seems inevitable), but you are right that lots of people who attend SS would find it upsetting. Most everyone who participates here is fully accustomed ot the idea, however.

    Comment by Jacob — May 26, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  29. Mark: I do not see Jesus Christ as a person as radically advanced in progression above Moses and Abraham. I think that soteriological exceptionalism is based on a simple misunderstanding of what Christ and his Atonement represents.

    This is one of the big drawbacks of your solution. The exceptionalism of Jesus is all over in the scriptures. The name of Christ is the only name under heaven whereby man can be saved, etc. I know you account for many (if not all) of these scriptural assertions with your radical name/role substitution idea, but it seems totally implausible that any of the Book of Mormon prophets themselves understood their own statements as you interpret them. Which either means (1) their statements were correct, but they themselves misunderstood them, or (2) their statements were incorrect and they simply lacked a full understanding. Option (1) requires a mode of exegesis I don’t buy into and (2) can’t possibly be your view since making sense of the Book of Mormon is one of your driving forces. I’m sure I’ve missed a (3) which you can fill in for me.

    Comment by Jacob — May 26, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  30. Jacob- It certainly would be an odd twist to interpret the KFD as requiring an ontological gap since the lack of an ontological gap seems to be one of Joseph’s biggest points in the sermon. This is the point of Joseph saying that God is “an exalted man,” is it not?

    You make a good point Jacob, but (there is always a but isn’t there :) ) I will be real short here because I realized I am taking this in a direction that is not in line with the original thread. Two quick points.

    First; I am not sure how one can be sinful and totally dependent on an atonement by someone else to place one in heaven, and be the same in a real sense, (my definition of ontological) as someone who has never sinned.

    Robinson makes the point that our forgiven sins are like canceled checks, they are still ours, but the atonement of Christ covers them, we are justified through Christ which allows us into heaven. Even Blake makes the point that the atonement is infinite in a sense of duration of time.

    Second and a little more bothersome, is that Pres. GBH would not embrace the idea that we can become like God. Two ways to see that. Either he did not want to talk about it at all at that time, or he meant just what he said. I am a little in the dark as to which one I am going to embrace as the truth.

    No need to respond to this as I am way off topic.

    Comment by CEF — May 26, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

  31. CEF,

    The ontological gap question is pretty relevant to the post it seems. Geoff’s new post on the topic (see #25) is sure to assume the impossibility of progression outside our current environment–given his teaser–so I’ll make a quick response here:

    you said: I am not sure how one can be sinful and totally dependent on an atonement by someone else to place one in heaven, and be the same in a real sense, (my definition of ontological) as someone who has never sinned.

    Jesus being totally sinless is an evidence of his being very much farther down the road of progression than we are. Depending on how you think he got there, it may, or may not, require a ontological gap. I never lose at tic-tac-toe, but my 6 year old does frequently–this does not mean we are ontologically different.

    The same sort of argument can be made for our dependence on Christ. If we were arguing that we depended on God for our very existence, that would make a stronger case for an ontological difference, but Mormonism has generally rejected that idea. When our dependence is manifest as a need for help from one who is more advanced than we are, it is easier to explain it without an ontological gap. I was dependent on my mother as a baby, which didn’t make us ontologically different, and the atonement could be viewed in a similar way. Again, it depends on ones theory of atonement. The part of the KFD where Joseph says that (paraphrasing) “God found himself in the midst of spirits who were less intelligent, and saw fit to institute laws by which they could advance like himself” implies a difference in advancement but not a difference in ontology.

    Comment by Jacob — May 26, 2006 @ 5:50 pm

  32. Jacob, I like your reasoning, I am sure it has some merit. And here is that but again.

    Your son will eventually get to the point on his own to where he will never loose at tic-tac-toe either. It will be a natural progression and learning. However, I will never get to the point where I will be sinless even given an eternity to do so. But you have me wondering.

    The only way I can see us as even close to being the same as God, would be if there is a real reason that the GA’s use the word earn in relation to our Exaltation. If somehow we start out as ontologically the same as God, but through our earth life we change so as to need some help to return back home, and through a process of learning and progressing, perfecting ourselves to where we have earned the Celestial Kingdom, them maybe you have a point. Other wise I am not sure I can hold to your point.

    Personally, I would not want to embrace the above though. I think it goes too far against the current understanding of the scriptures.

    Comment by CEF — May 26, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

  33. Jacob (#29),

    Yes I believe that in some cases, some prophets (and their translators) did not understand the full import of the concepts they were teaching, but that the best ones did and chose their words accordingly. Isaiah is a really good example of a careful word chooser. Remember what Christ said about Isaiah, e.g. that “all things that he spake *have been and shall be*, even according to the words which he spake”?

    So a good prophet is well aware of the multiple layers of meaning that can be attached to simple concepts, studies the ones used in the past, and chooses new words accordingly, attempting to carefully integrate the same senses and semantic overtones, such that he may not only not do violence to the higher level harmony, but indeed enforce it even unawares.

    We are much too stuck on proper names and the Greek identification of God as the ONE, without considering what oneness entails. Mormonism has made great progress in de-one-izing the concept of heavenly fatherhood, but virtually none in de-one-izing the concept of heavenly son or saviorhood. As far as I can tell the *only* reason is is compatibility with conventional Christian orthodoxy of the sort that wants to put Jesus on a pedestal, rather than truly be like him.

    The Hebrew perspective of the Messiah is much more like a righteous son, prince, and examplar, and not some sort ground-of-all-being superhuman manifestation. On my view, to exalt Jesus *as a person* too high destroys his whole message. It is an excuse for mediocrity, among other things.

    Most of the paradoxes with regard to scriptures that assign radical capabilities to Christ can be properly understood as applying to divine sonship (and daughterhood) in general, and this is the origin of the doctrine of the name. Jesus Christ did not come down for us to glorify him personally – he came down for us to glorify his *name*. The name of Christ is a symbol for the path and process to exaltation and for all those righteous disciples, the *Anointed* ones who enter into it.

    So we say Christ suffered for the sins of all mankind. Yes absolutely – but not Jesus of Nazareth personally, but rather all those who suffer in his *name*. And the Father hath committed all judgment into the hands of the Son? Yes, but not Jesus Christ alone, but all righteous fathers everywhere, who one day will preside over *and judge* their righteous posterity.

    And Jesus as the gatekeeper, the one and only means to salvation? Yes – salvation is only obtained by taking our proper place in the heavenly family, that our salvation is in part contingent on the salvation of those family members who have gone before us, and hence we become (if we are righteous) the gatekeepers of heaven to those that follow.

    The name of Jesus Christ as the only means whereby salvation cometh. Absolutely. There is only one kingdom of heaven, and taking upon ourselves his name, and taking his yoke upon us, is the only way we may claim an eternal inheritance.

    In any scripture we should consider whether the word ‘Christ’ means
    (1) Jesus of Nazereth
    (2) Anointed son or daughter of God
    (3) All anointed sons and daughters collectively

    That is what Christ means – “the anointed” in Greek. Same with Messiah in Hebrew. If it weren’t for early Christians trying to shove Jesus back into “the ONE”, this would have been obvious a long time ago. There are some non-LDS scholars who have written about the same aspect in Paul’s writings, but I have lost the references, unfortunately.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

  34. Here is Paul:

    For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

    I do not think the original intent of “without sin” was intended to mean that Jesus was morally impeccable from the day he was born. There are several scriptures that refer to “perfect” men, that do not mean the same thing either.

    What the scripture means (or should mean) is that Jesus arrived at a state by the beginning of his ministry where he was morally blameless for all practical purposes, where he was tempted severely “in all points” and resisted. Also that he did not deserve what was done to him in the crucifixion, any more than a unblemished lamb.

    Personally, I think the idea of Christ as a hyper-Docetist moral superman diminishes his attractiveness as a moral exemplar. Same thing with the odd theory that Peter didn’t really deny him. A person who moved from grace to grace, that perhaps had to overcome some early weaknesses is a much better example, one the same principle that a rags to riches story is more compelling than the heritage of the silver spoon.

    Along the same lines I think the idea that Jesus had any special capabilities just because he had a divine father is similarly untenable – in a modern context it reeks of eugenics.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 7:27 pm

  35. Jacob re: #19: The text Geoff most recently zero’d in on “-& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Far. of our Ld. J.C.-” (Bullock) does look hard to square with Blake’s position.

    Jacob, note carefully that I don’t deny that there was a God of God the Father; it is the timing during which God had a God above him that I insist must be seen in perspective. Geoff insists that there was a higher God from all eternity — and he ignores that there is a Head God altogether! However, in context JS follows this statement about a God above God the Father immediately by speaking again of the Father becoming mortal in the same way that the Son became mortal. JS undoubtedly realized that if the Father became mortal, there must have been a God to hold the world in its orbit while the Father was mortal (remember he begins the KFD by noting that God holds the world in orbit). So the context makes it very compelling from my perspective to see that JS is speaking of the the Father’s earthly sojourn when he speaks of the God above God the Father — notwithstanding Geoff’s grandstanding.

    Moreover, it is virtually certain that Geoff bases his view on a mistatement contained in the Bullock Report. Geoff quotes this in #16: “-my object was to preach the Scrip-& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Far. of our Ld. J.C.- … if Abra. reasoned thus-if J.C was the Son of God & John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also-where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far. … hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also” (Bullock Report) Geoff should have had the courtesy of quoting the entire passage: “our text says the apostles have discovered. that there were Gods above– God was the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ–my object was to preach the Scriptures–& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Bullock Report) This says that “God” was the Father of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t say what Geoff quoted at all. Second, the statment about the BofA says: ” learned it by translating the papyrus now in my house—I learned a testimony concerning Abraham & he reasoned concerning the God of Heaven–in order to do that said he–suppose we have two facts that supposes that another fact may exist two men on the earth–one wiser than the other–would show that another who is wiser than the wisest may exist–intelligences exist one above another that there is no end to it–if Abraham reasoned thus” (Bullock Report)

    However, we know that Bullock seriously mispoke. First, if there is no end to the gods above the Father and the go on father to father infinitely, then there is no Head God and JS states emphatically and repeatedly in the KFD and SintGrove that there is a Head God spoken of in Gen. 1:1. Second, JS is quoting the Book of Abraham and we know that it says no such thing. Instead, it says: “These two facts exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than them all. (Abr. 3:19) So we know Bullock misquoted the Book of Abraham. We know that the Book of Abraham speaks of a God who is more intelligent than all intelligences though they vary among themselves in gradation of intelligence. We know that the Head God called the gods together in council — a view already taught in Book of Abraham 3:23-28. We know that there was one “like unto the Son of Man” who was called by God — and this one who was called is clearly Christ. The role of the Head God is that of the Father who sends him.

    So I stick with what JS said, all of the gods of whom he spoke were sons of God who give glory to the Head God, the Father of the sons of God: “I believe in these Gods that God reveals as Gods—to be Sons of God & all can cry Abba Father–Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods even from before the foundation of the world & are all the only Gods I have a reverence for– John said he was a King. Jesus Christ who hath by his own blood made us Kings & Priest to God. Oh thou God who are Kings of Kings & Lord of Lords” (Bullock Report)

    So Geoff, so you accept that the Father was divine before becoming mortal? Do you accept that there is a Head God of all other gods? Do you accept that in context when JS speaks of a God above God the Father he immediately puts it in the context of the Father becoming mortal in just the way that the Son did? Do you admit that the Son and HG were both divine before receiving bodies and the Father received a body in the same way they did?

    Mark: If you are sure that Jesus isn’t really different than us regarding the power to resurrect, then I invite you to go to a cemetary and start resurrecting people. I think you’ll find that the divide is pretty large.

    Finally — ALL — it is time to get clear on what you mean by an “ontological divide”. Ontology refers to the kind of existnece, necessary or contingent, that all that exists has. Clearly there is no ontological divide between God, the sons of God and humans on my view. Clearly the sons of God have the capacity to become everything that the Father is on my view. What we cannot do is change the past or the fact that we have not made the same choice that the F, S and HG have made from all eternity to be in a relationship of indwelling unity. That is the only difference.

    Comment by Blake — May 26, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

  36. Blake,

    I generally agree with your argument regarding the existence of a head God. However your analogy with regard to the power of resurrection is off base. The issue is whether Jesus could have resurrected *himself* without the assistance of any other, not whether he could resurrect another.

    Here is what Brigham Young had to say on the subject:

    “Did he [Adam] resurrect himself, ” you inquire. I want to throw out a few hints upon the ressurection as it seems to come within the circuit of my remarks whether it ought to come within the circuit of my remarks or not. I beleive we have already accknowleged the truth established that no person can officiate in any office he has not entered into been subject to himself and legally apointed to fill. That no person in this kingdom can officiate in any office ordinance he himself has not obeyed; consequently no being who has not been ressurrected possesses the keys of the power or ressurrection. That you have been told often. Adam therefore was resurrected by some one who had been resurrected. (Brigham Young, October 8, 1854 discourse)

    Again from the same sermon:

    The man who was martyred in Carthage Jail, State of Illinois, holds the keys of life and death to this generation. He is the president of the resurrection of this dispensation. and he will be the first to rise from the dead. When he has passed through it, then I reckon the keys of the ressurrection will be committed to him. Then he will call up his Apostles. You know I told you last conference I was a Apostle of Joseph Smith; And if faithful enough, I expect Joseph will resurrect the Apostles; and when they have passed through the change, and received their blessings, I expect he will committ to them the keys of the resurrection, and they will go on resurrecting the Saints, every man in his own order.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 26, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

  37. Blake,

    I remained amazed that you are clinging to this painfully strained position still…

    Geoff insists that there was a higher God from all eternity-and he ignores that there is a Head God altogether!

    What on earth are you talking about here? I concede that there likely is a divine person who is the Head God; but since there were innumerable worlds before ours and each likely had a unique different Godhead/Presidency I assume that he is innumerable generations ahead of the Father of Jesus Christ.

    Moreover, it is virtually certain that Geoff bases his view on a mistatement contained in the Bullock Report.

    So when the report disagrees with a preconceived theological notion it must be misstated?

    This says that “God” was the Father of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t say what Geoff quoted at all.

    Of course “God” is the Father of Jesus Christ. God the Father of Jesus Christ is the God appointed to this world by the Head God according to Joseph. He is who we call God here on earth. Of course He speaks to us for the Gods with whom he is One, going all the way back to the Head God.

    So Geoff, so you accept that the Father was divine before becoming mortal? Do you accept that there is a Head God of all other gods?

    Yes, I believe the Father was an exalted man prior to coming to another mortal probation to be a savior. And yes, I accept that there is a Head God – it just isn’t the Father of Jesus.

    Do you accept that in context when JS speaks of a God above God the Father he immediately puts it in the context of the Father becoming mortal in just the way that the Son did?

    No. I think this is a massive stretch on your part to try to make a clear statement by Joseph say exactly the opposite of what he actually said. He is saying that the Father became a mortal there in the same way the Son became mortal here. That is clearly implying to me a divine pattern that every inhabited planet follows — that is a God the Father is in charge and a God the Son atones. The message is that prior to this world, God our Father atoned for the sins of a previous world in the role of the Son/Savior. His Heavenly Father moved on to another higher exaltation while God our Father moved into the role of God the Father for this world. The already-exalted person Jesus accepted the role of God the Son for this world.

    Do you admit that the Son and HG were both divine before receiving bodies and the Father received a body in the same way they did?

    Yes. It seems reasonable that a person in the role of Holy Ghost would be the mostly likely candidate to be the Son and Atoning savior of the next inhabited world. Jesus of course would be God the Father for that world.

    This is the direction Joseph was going. It is all there in his last few sermons. This is basically what all of his closest friends and associates taught from 1844 on as well. Joseph himself made it clear that in private he was much more explicit in his teaching than in the public discourse we have access to. I believe we can trust the prophets and apostles who knew Joseph best on this subject.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  38. Blake: Clearly the sons of God have the capacity to become everything that the Father is on my view. What we cannot do is change the past or the fact that we have not made the same choice that the F, S and HG have made from all eternity to be in a relationship of indwelling unity. That is the only difference.

    So is this contradicting what you said previously? Do you believe now that exalted persons among us can move in to the role of a God the Father for a future inhabited planet? That is what “becoming everything the Father is” entails in my opinion. That is what I think Joseph was teaching and it is clearly what his successors thought he meant. But it is at odds with what you have said about it recently.

    If we can never be in the Godhead as full participating members then there is an unbridgeable gap of some kind whether you call it “ontological” or not. If we cannot ever be a God qua Father for future inhabited planets then you are somewhat in the Stapley camp which I have been calling the “two track” school of thought.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

  39. Blake,

    You have convinced me that the scriptures (D&C 121, Abr 3) teach that there is one Most High God and Joseph Smith goes right along with this idea by speaking of a Head God. I have been going over your comments rather carefully with my Words of Joseph Smith open.

    Blake: We know that there was one “like unto the Son of Man” who was called by God-and this one who was called is clearly Christ. The role of the Head God is that of the Father who sends him.

    I think you are intending this as an explanation of Joseph’s statement that “the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us” (WJS pg 379). So, you are saying that the God appointed for us is Christ, right? In the KFD, you have argued that God always refers to the Father, are you suggesting he followed a different course in the SitG?

    Now, the main text being debated is the one saying that “god the Far. of J.C had a far.” You got after Geoff for not quoting the whole passage, but then you quoted from a totally different place in the sermon. Geoff is quoting from WJS pg. 380 and the “full quote” you added is from WJS pg. 378. Anyway, here it is without any of the ellipsis Geoff added in the post to shorten it:

    if J.C was the Son of God & John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also–where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far.–where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence witht. a progenitor–& every thing comes in this way–Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly–hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also–I despise the idea of being scared to death–I want you all to pay particr. attent. J. sd. as the Far. wrought precisely in the same way as his Far. had done bef–as the Far. had done bef.–he laid down his life & took it up same as his Far. had done bef. (WJS pg 380)

    A couple of things. First, this quote doesn’t just say that the Father of Jesus had a God, it says that he (the God of the Father of Jesus) had a Father as well:

    John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also

    You are arguing that the statement following this (about Jesus doing what the Father did by laying down his life and taking it back up) puts this into an earthly context, thus, the Father only had a God above him when he was mortal. Further, you used the part about the Earthly being in the likeness of the Heavenly to bolster your argument of an earthly context (#10).

    The “earthly in likeness of the heavenly” comment is intended to show that the same thing we are used to on the earth (never a son without a father, everything coming in this way) is indeed true of the heavenly as well. He is saying, quite clearly I think, that in heaven there is never a son without a father, just like what we are used to on the earth. This reading fits perfectly with the statement before it about Jesus having a Father, Jesus’ Father having a Father, and even that Father having a Father (really, all those are in the text).

    Then, after that, there is a break in his thought as he says he despises being scared to death. The statement you use as context for the stuff coming before comes after that break. I don’t see it as providing the context for the stuff before, which all seems to hang together quite well in saying that there are many levels of Gods in between Jesus and the Most High God.

    Comment by Jacob — May 26, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

  40. Geoff: Joseph himself made it clear that in private he was much more explicit in his teaching than in the public discourse we have access to.

    You have this one exactly backwards. From the SitG:

    I am bold to declare I have taut. all the strong doctrines publicly–& always stronger that what I preach in private (WJS pg. 378)

    Clearly, the bolded “that” is supposed to be the word “than”. It is obvious from the first half of the sentence that Joseph was intending to say that he always taught the strong doctrines publicly, and that his public teaching was always stronger than what he preached in private. The historical context, with all of the criticisms of his private teachings makes the case even stronger that this is what he would be saying, but it is clear enough just from the quote.

    Comment by Jacob — May 26, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

  41. Danithew said:

    “I’m not eager to explore yet. I’m comfortable with the idea/possibility that God the Father had a Father but in my opinion I don’t need to know much more about it. Frankly, that is a point where I feel we are beginning to look in mirror full of neverending and more distance images and semblances”

    I think the mirror concept is utterly important here. Yes, we are looking into a Mirror when we look at God, and God looks into a mirror when he looks at us. This is what the KFD seems to be talking about. We should be able to utilize everything we know about our own lives to derive information about Father’s past, and everything we know about Father to derive information about our own future. How simple! How grand!

    Taking all the statements into account, there seems to be an indication that only one being is exalted on each planet-cycle. Some may consider this Highly Speculative, and I may be leaving out multitudes of details we don’t know about yet, but here goes: This time round, Jesus Christ worked out his exaltation, which will be concluded (or commenced, however you look at it) when he lands himself in an Adam-Ondi-Ahman of his own planet. (If that phrase indeed translates to ‘The place where Adam was made God’, but you get the point.) We aren’t there yet, because we’re still in this other stage entirely. We know the Father did before what the Son did this time, so we would be mighty arrogant to expect that we get to skip that and go straight to work as Adams and Eves, respectively. No, I think the pattern shows evidence that each of us will get to serve as Savior on a planet that we help to form perhaps serving underneath Jehovah, Michael, and Jesus in this work, and that Jesus will be placed into that Garden and Made the God of that planet, and that we will get to serve as Savior. Jehovah, Michael, Michael, and Jesus will be the creative trinity for many planets (as many as there are worthy couples?) and thus each person on the path to exaltation gets to be a Savior. But that planet will be populated by Jesus’s spirit offspring, not ours. The next cycle, Michael, Jesus and You will be the creative trinity, and then You will be placed into the Garden and will fall into a deep sleep. You will be God of that planet, and Spiritual parent of those being placed on that Planet (perhaps your children from the world you served on as Savior will serve in the other offices reserved for Ancients like Lucifer and Christ, and perhaps that is where notions of “First-Born” or “Only Begotten” really differ the Savior from ourselves) and only after going through this have you attained Exaltation so far as our current manner of understand perceives it.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 26, 2006 @ 10:49 pm

  42. Oops. Good catch on that public/private thing Jacob. You are right.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

  43. Mark Butler said:

    One of the most critical questions of Christian theology is why Jesus Christ is not worthy of such worship, whether with the Nephites or by his own account in the New Testament.

    I think, Mark, that you are far more enlightened than most people in Christian theology, and most people in the LDS Church for that matter.

    Many Latter-day Saints do Worship Jesus (erroneously, in my opinion). In fact, In a ward I recently attended the Bishop opened the meeting with “I know we’re all here to Worship the Savior, but I wanted to mention first that …” All I could do was hang my head and wait for it to pass.

    You’re darned right that Jesus taught against this. I blogged about it a couple months ago at http://blog.kingsolomonslodge.org/2006/04/help-stop-heresy-of-jesus-worship.html and I also found on Carla Golden’s blog “Spiritually Speaking” an article following the same lines, (and she’s not Mormon)

    I think it is a terrible thing that has crept into the Church, not just the Mormon Church, but the Christian Church at large. Worship needs to be given where it is Due. After Christ has completed the process of gaineding his Exaltation, then he will be worshipped on that World, and after we have completed ours, we will be worshipped on our World. But to jump the gun, especially when he has rejected it and attempted to redirect worship to the Father, is not a good thing.

    It is true that Heber C Kimball I believe said something along the lines of it would even be true to say that Brigham is his God, as far as that goes, but even though we believe in gods many, there is only one God which we Worship and with whom we have to deal, the Father, the Ancient of Days.

    The Church of Rome and the Dark Ages skewed this, and made Jesus the object of Worship and Mary the object of Prayer. It has never been completely repaired within Christianity, and so there are multiple targets of Worship (I don’t believe anyone can fully mind-meld with the Trinity notion enough to use that as an excuse.) The Jews would see this as breaking the first of the ten commandments. I see it as idolatry.

    Part of the confusion comes with the false idea that Jehovah is Christ. Since many Latter-day Saints believe this, they are equating Worshipping Christ with worshipping Adam’s Father (a being higher in the hierarchy than Our God). It is true that Adam and his immediate children did worship Grandfather, (Brigham said this much), and I cannot say it would be immediately “wrong” to do so. However, I think they are still focusing on the “Jesus” concept and not the Grandfather concept, but even if they were, to do so is kind of like going to your stake president when your bishop could suit an issue just fine.

    I see this as a major divisor in the Church, that is largely invisible (thank goodness, lest it would cause rifts of some worse kind?) but there are clearly different types of worship going on towards different entities, and each group could easily see the other as heretics in violation of the law.

    I think the Adam-God position is most correct, and I believe hearing a mixed message like “We’re here to worship the Savior” followed immediately by a talk by another member of the Bishopric speaking of “Worshipping God the Father” demonstrates that the confusion is far greater than a difference between AG believers and “Mainstream”, it is a concept that splits even the Mainstream into groups. Some might even switch back and forth as they go :)

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 26, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

  44. Jeff (#41),

    Brigham would have approved of the theory you outlined. The problem is that later prophets have explicitly and unequivocally stated that Brigham was mistaken in his Adam-God teachings. That doesn’t mean that we must now reject every doctrine that Brigham taught — but I do think we should reject the notion that says a person, Adam, who lived on this planet is God the Father of Jesus. I like what Nibley called it: The Adam-God misunderstanding.

    This brings up a major problem we have in dealing with the KFD and the SitG: Sooner or later someone links them to Adam-God and then gobs of Mormons immediately dismiss all of it. The problem is that they throw out the baby with the bathwater. We can reject the more extreme and openly denounced portions of the Brigham’s extensions of the KFD and SitG (like Adam-God) but still explore the non-denounced ideas in the original sermons and in the teachings of those who knew Joseph best.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 11:13 pm

  45. Geoff (#44),

    I hear what you are saying. However, I don’t think the rejection of Adam-God was quite as unequivocal as you say. Bruce R McConkie seems to have been the most outspoken against it, and he openly renounced some other things he had taught (concerning blacks and the priesthood), and quite frankly, I think he put his own personal theories and speculations based on the solid tradition which had been established by James E. Talmage and George Q. Cannon, ahead of what has been revealed. This is similar to the position Orson Pratt took, in defending his own scriptural ideas against those that the Prophet had pronounced. The other statement that comes to mind, is that of Spencer W Kimball, he denounced some Adam-God Theory. I know of nothing called the Adam-God “Theory”, for when Brigham proclaimed it, he SAID it was a Doctrine, and that our salvation depended upon it. Kimball was warning people of techniques used to drag folks into polygamist cults. Brigham, well, I guess he was dragging folks into a polygamist cult, but that isn’t the point I intended to make. He was pronouncing it for Jew and Gentile, Saint and Sinner. It wasn’t a recruiting technique, it was simply a truth that he proclaimed. Brigham was far from the only person who taught and accepted Adam-God, and from reading your other posts throughout the greater Bloggernacle, I am sure you are well aware of this. I would say we need to look at what Joseph taught, and what is canonized. And the canonized scripture DOES teach Adam God, look at D&C 27:11 or D&C 107:54 and compare that to Daniel 7:9-14 especially verses 13 and 14, and even look at the footnotes in the current edition of the scriptures.

    Denouncing the “Adam-God theory”, whatever that is, cannot put off the simple reading of canonized scripture. I think we are dealing with another issue similar to the meaning of the “Manifesto” to the Saints between 1890 and 1910. It was intended to sound strong, but was understood, by at least a few, (even if God knew it and the one speaking it didn’t), that it didn’t mean precisely what it sounded like.

    Didn’t mean to hijack the thread here, but I believe it was Joseph’s Doctrine, as Brigham claimed, and therefore it is intimately connected with the KFD, you cannot understand one fully without the other. They are the same truth.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 26, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

  46. You make some reasonable arguments, Jeff. But you are correct that I want to keep this thread on track so I ask all following along to shelve Adam-God issues for now. The issue I want to stay on here is if Joseph taught that the Father of Jesus has a Eternal Father of his own or not. In addition I would like to further discuss the question of whether the Father acted in the role of atoning Savior during a previous mortal probation. Blake thinks the answer to both is no; I and others think the answer is yes to both.

    (Perhaps I’ll post on the issues/qualms I have with A-G in a future post.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 26, 2006 @ 11:59 pm

  47. CEF: I will never get to the point where I will be sinless even given an eternity to do so. (#32)

    Why do you say that? Do you mean that you will never be able to get rid of the fact that you were sinful at some previous time? Certainly that is true (since you are sinful now). Even so, the Mormon doctrine that you can become like God is based on the claim that you can someday reach the level of perfection to which Jesus had already attained when he came to the earth. Dealing with your objection about “earning” exaltation would lead to a big discussion of soteriology, but I don’t want to get to far off thread topic. Let me just say that I do think we can become celestial and that our own choices will be partly responsible if we do, but I would never say we “earn” exaltation. It sounds to me like you are conflating salvation and perfection, but I can’t be sure.

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 12:00 am

  48. Jacob: Re: #39. Pay particular attention this time. Note that JS returns to the fact that the Father became embodied just as Jesus as the explanation of the Father having a Father:

    if J.C was the Son of God & John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also-where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far.-where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence witht. a progenitor-& every thing comes in this way-Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly-hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also-I despise the idea of being scared to death-I want you all to pay particr. attent. J. sd. as the Far. wrought precisely in the same way as his Far. had done bef-as the Far. had done bef.-he laid down his life & took it up same as his Far. had done bef. (WJS pg 380)

    Geoff: You are way out there my friend. First, you fail to accept or note that the quotation from the BofAbr. is muffed in the Bullock account and it changes the meaning. Second, we don’t ever fly off to some part of the universe by ourselves that God hasn’t quite gotten to yet to beget new children and populate it. The notion is fairly straightforward: We join as as one with the Godhead in such a way that whay one does, all do; what one knows, all know; what one wills, all will. That is the kind of unity that exaltation consists in and it is the opposite of the ultra-individualistic view you adopt. I think I get now why so many Christian regard Mormons as not merely heretic but also lunatics.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 12:39 am

  49. Re; the Father atoning. First, JS was very clear in a poem written in February of 1843 (one year and not two before the KFD as Geoff asserted):

    He’s the Savior and only begotten of God
    by him, of him, and through him, the worlds were made,
    Even all that career in the heavens broad.
    Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
    Are sav’d by the very same Savior as ours
    ,
    And, of course, are God’s begotten sons and daughters. (Time & Seasons 4 Feb. 1843)

    All the worlds are created by the same God — the Father through Christ. All are saved by the same Savior. Since this poem is based on Joseph’s vision of the heavens, it is the most reliable source we have of creation and salvation.

    Now for the view that the Father and other “gods” also atoned and saved others on other worlds. It isn’t based on any express statement but on an implication from JS’s statement that the “Father wrought in precisely the same way as the Son.” However, we cannot take this kind of comparison too far or it falls apart. Did the Father have a mother named Mary? Did he have a brother named James? Did he eat exactly what the Son did on the very same comparable days of his life? Did he wear the same clothes? Of course not. What JS was clearly saying is that the Father’s mode of embodiment, his appearance, and his power to take up his own life again are the same. It cannot be stretched to say that the Father must do exactly every identical thing that Christ did. Frankly, the argument is ludicrous.

    In any event, given a choice between JS’s statements to the contrary in a speech and the scriptures based on visions and the voice of God, I’ll go with God.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 12:52 am

  50. Well, I happen to have the impression that Bruce R. McConkie opposed A/G, and flip-flopped on his position of Christ as Mediator in prayer(*) because he was a silent advocate of a name of Christ doctrine similar to the one I have outlined here. Much of this impression comes from listening to a Know Your Religion fireside in the late 1980s in which Joseph Fielding McConkie hinted at that idea very strongly. Of course I doubt either would agree with other aspects of my filial fabric soteriology, while mortal anyways.

    Elder Oaks wrote a book on the “Name of Christ” doctrine, but he doesn’t come to any radical conclusions – that he documents for us, of course.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 1:19 am

  51. (*) http://ldsscience.blogspot.com/2006/05/contradicting-bruce-r-mcconkie.html

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 1:51 am

  52. I was trying to figure out what you folks meant by “the name of Christ” doctrine, and I have grasped it. How does Christ differ from Moses, and Abraham? I think my explanation of that is a simple one. Christ is [at least] one MMP cycle ahead of the rest of us. He is thus superior to any Human, because he has already overcome the sinful nature of the flesh in a prior mortal probation, and was able to live on Earth this time free of sin.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 2:25 am

  53. I just wanted to summarize where I believe the discussion has taken us: (1) It is clear that there is a Head God — there is no infinite regression of gods. (2) The Father was divine before becoming mortal. (3) Joseph clearly spoke of a council of gods that consisted of the sons and daughters of God. (4) Joseph was clear that God the Father had a God above him. I read him to say that the Father is the Most High God, the Head God. I read him to say that the Father had a God above him only when he was a mortal and learned from his experiences in the same way that Christ did. Others read him to say that the Father has a father, who has a father, who has a father, without limit.

    Now (1) is important. This Head God is the Most High God, the God of all other gods spoken of in D&C 121 and most intelligent of all spoken of in B of Abr. 3:19. However, such a view is inconsistent with an eternal regression of gods. So Geoff came up with the ad hoc hypothesis that there is a limit to the gods above the Father, but there is an end to it with the Head God. In the alternative, perhaps there are Head Gods for every earth. Both views contradict Joseph’s clear statements in scripture that the Father created all the there is through Christ. It is clearly contrary to the view that Jesus is the savior of all of these worlds as Joseph stated in the expansion on his vision set forth in #49 above.

    (2) is also important because it entails that the Father did not become God through the mortal embodiment of which Joseph spoke. I believe that the Father has always been God from all eternity except during the time that he was mortal. If Joseph said that he refuted the notion that God had always been God [which is a questionable report of what he said]], he was saying nothing more than that the Father was at one time mortal and thus wasn’t not always God. At one time he was like us and had a God above him. Any other reading contradicts numerous statements by Joseph thorughout his life and scripture.

    (3) is even more important. It is fairly clear to me that Joseph stated in the SintGrove that the other gods of which he spoke were not god “above” the Father except during his mortal sojourn; but sons and daughters of God in the council of gods who are subject to the Most High God.

    I reject the notion that we slough off our bodies and become mortal (subject to death) again after this life. However, we do continue for all eternity to have new experiences that lead to our growth and learning.

    The disupte regarding (4) is momentous. I emphatically reject a reading of Joseph that ingores prior scriptural statements and his own visions and revelations. He learned from them; he didn’t abandon them. Geoff’s reading of (4) requires a rejection of Joseph’s own revelations, the Book of Mormon and the entirety of the biblical revelation. I submit that my reading is consistent with the very fragmentary reports and journals of Joseph’s statements and is preferred for these reasons.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  54. Blake (#48): Pay particular attention this time. — LOL, nicely done.

    Your comment #10 above is a fairly detailed analysis laying out your position, and I’ve read over it many times (I even paid attention several of the times). In that post, you used the quote from #39 and #48 twice (so I won’t quote it yet again). The first time, you followed the quote with:

    Blake(#10) Joseph is referring to the birth of the Father as a mortal when he speaks of the Father’s having a father.

    Yes, this is true. However, you are leaving out an important part of the text. Allow me to replace the “Father’s Father” with the “Grandfather,” just to make it clear who I am talking about, nothing more. The text says that the Father wrought in precisely the same way as the Grandfather had done before, he laid down his life and took it up as the Grandfather had done before. This doesn’t square well with your conclusion that:

    Blake (#10) Who was the Father’s God? It was the other two remaining divine in the Godhead.

    Are you saying the two remaining diving beings in the Godhead laid down their lives and took them up before the Father did? Indeed, you did say this. The same problem is evident in your comment following the second time your used the quote:

    Blake(#10) JS expressly states that he is speaking of an earthly pattern and that the Father had a Father just as Jesus had a Father.

    Yes, the Father had a Father just as Jesus had a Father. But Jesus had the same Father on earth that he had in heaven after laying down his life and taking it up again. You only want to accept half of the similarity, saying that the Father had a Father when he was on earth, just as Jesus did, but that the Father does not have a Father in heaven the way Jesus does. The text does not support this distinction, and your use of “earthly pattern” to support such a distinction adds to what is in the text rather. The earthly/heavenly statement follows a statement about there never being a son without a father, and is followed by “hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also.” It was clearly there to argue that our earthly experience with sons coming from fathers applies to the heavens as well. It was clearly not there to say that the Father only had a Father in an earthly context. I think that is a blatant misuse of the text.

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 10:05 am

  55. Blake,

    By the way, arguing that part of the Bullock report of the SitG is unreliable might be a stronger position than trying to make this passage conform to the theory you are proposing. You are already arguing we should reject the part on Abr. 3 as a mistatement, so it is not too much of a stretch from there to reject the part we’ve been quoting (since it follows the Abr. 3 stuff and even builds on the logic of the Abr. 3 stuff). Of course, you could justify this by arguing that the preponderence of the evidence is against Bullock (implying that he likely misunderstood what Joseph was saying), just as you have done in #53

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 10:21 am

  56. Jacob. Good points. Let me clarify that it is obvious on its face that the various reports differ, that whether an (s) should be added at the end of various words is inconsistent and that Bullock clearly buffs the references to B. Abr. and Ps. 82 — the Laub Journal is better on that account. So I in fact regard the written reports as unclear at best and just unreliable for the particular wording at worst.

    However, as far as particular wording goes, note that you have the earthly/heavenly comparison backwards even as it appears in the text. The text says: Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly-hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also. The text says that that which is earthly is patterned after the heavenly; not vice versa as you would have it. It is the earthly that is patterned after the heavenly, not the heavenly patterned after the earthly as your view appears to require. In any event, it is certainly open to the construction that JS is comparing the fact that the Father had a heavenly father just as Jesus did while Christ was on earth. And yes, there is the dissimilarity that Christ’s Heavenly Father is the same father (except for Joseph), but as I stated in #49, it couldn’t possibly be the case that they must be identical in all respects — only in the respects indicated.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 10:48 am

  57. BTW Jacob, it is clear that JS could have clarified the text by speaking of a heavenly grandfather just as you have done. He didn’t. He could have. It seems to me that your transposition does violence to the text because JS certainly could have adopted such wording but didn’t — precisely because that wasn’t his view.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  58. Blake: So I in fact regard the written reports as unclear at best and just unreliable for the particular wording at worst.

    You can also use the fact that we have many more accounts of the KFD than we do of the SitG. Bullock is the only one to give a lengthy account of the SitG. The Laub report and the third one (can’t remember the name right now) are _very_ short by comparison. The KFD on the other hand, has several good sources with multiple accounts of the same phrases for comparison.

    I do have the earthly/heavenly correct, and it is just as you said it above. The earthly is patterned after the heavenly, which is why he says we can use our knowledge of fathers/sons on earth to understand how things are in heaven. Even though one is in the likeness of the other, the conclusion is that they are the same in this way, which means you could use it in either direction. Because our first hand experience is with the earthly, we are supposed to use the similarity to infer things about heaven from our knowledge of the earth. The text is unambiguous (but you must include the sentences before, which you left out):

    where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far.-where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence witht. a progenitor-& every thing comes in this way-Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly-hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also

    He says: You have never heard of a son without a father, or a tree that sprang into existence without a progenitor, and every living thing on earth is like that. Paul says the these earthly things are in the likeness of that which is in heaven, hence we can conclude that sons in heaven had fathers just like what we are used to on earth.

    It is not that heaven is patterned after earth (that would be backwards), but because earth was patterned after heaven, they are the same–allowing us to infer things about heaven from this earth which was patterned after it.

    It would not have made Joseph’s point clearer to use my transposition of Grandfather for Father’s Father simply because Joseph was talking about everything having a Father and my trasposition obscures this by relating everyone to Christ. In that sense, it is a bad transposition, but it gets tiresome trying to write things clearly when we have the Father, the Father’s Father, and the Father’s Father’s Father in the text. I was merely trying to shorten those names to something where we could all still tell who we were talking about.

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 11:43 am

  59. Oh, and I should have said: Since the point under debate is whether or not the Father had an Eternal Father, my transposition was particularly unfair because it looks like I am trying to sneak my view into the text. This implication didn’t occur to me when I did it (I was just trying to disambiguate who I was talking about), but I see now it was entirely unjustified. You are right to call me on it.

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  60. Jacob: What is equally striking to me about the SintGrove is that the other reports, especially and the crucial wording about the Father having a father, having nothing! I would think that if such a controversial subject were being taught they would take particular note. That is just puzzling to me.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  61. Jacob re: #39. I said in a previous post: We know that there was one “like unto the Son of Man” who was called by God-and this one who was called is clearly Christ. The role of the Head God is that of the Father who sends him.
    You then commented. I think you are intending this as an explanation of Joseph’s statement that “the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us” (WJS pg 379). So, you are saying that the God appointed for us is Christ, right? In the KFD, you have argued that God always refers to the Father, are you suggesting he followed a different course in the SitG?

    Actually, the notion of the head God sending one like unto the Son of Man, who is clearly Christ, comes from BofAbr. 3: 27. There is in Abr. 3:23 God who stood in the midst of intelligences, and “one among them that was like unto God,” who is Christ in 3:24. Since Joseph refers to the Book of Abraham in both the KFD and the SintGrove, I think that we can look to that text to see what Joseph was saying. There, the head God is the Father and the one sent is the Son. The other gods are all gods below this God who are sent by him and who are in the council of gods. Since the Bullock report muffs these particular citations, my thinking was that the text of the BofAbr. itself would be more reliable as a guide to Joseph’s thought since he clearly relies on it for his exposition.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  62. I’ve heard a convincing argument that the one who was like unto the Son of Man was Michael. I’m not married to the idea, but it seems plausible.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 27, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

  63. J. Stapley (#62),

    I think you should look closely at Daniel 7. One like unto the Son of Man is specifically mentioned there, in connection with his relation to Michael (The Ancient of Days). I don’t think it is saying that Michael came unto Michael. Michael being the Ancient of Days is clearly established by Joseph, without any stretch of logic whatsoever.

    Blake,

    I think your position is problematic. You are trying to accomodate Joseph’s plain words to wrap them around something he didn’t actually say. I once held positions similar though not identical to yours, but after reading more source material I eventually came around to accepting what they said as they said it. It is our first and natural instinct to try to solve it in ways similar to how you are, but it sure helps to take a breath of fresh air, read the scriptural materials (including sermons) available with no preconceived notions and simply line out what they actually said. Once you have this, look at your problem areas, you will find few, but they are far easier to solve by an extension of their ideas than it is to do this the other way around. The Head of the Gods? I think that is referring to the God who was the highest leader of this Council of Gods, who brought the other Gods into existence. But I do not think this means he brought all other Gods into existence, only the ones lower than him in the ancestry, and not all directly, but through a process of lineage. I have no problem with the Head God of the Gods having a God above him. If you read Joseph’s text plainly, with or without Brigham and Heber’s later statements to back it up, I think it supports the conclusion that every being who can father offspring also has a Father of his own, so far as we know about. Will we ever find the generation where Gods began to be? I think that’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is No. Or, if there is, its possibly extremely far back, and then there would be evolutionary processes involved and high speculation that was never discussed.

    I believe that by taking what the Prophets have actually said, instead of merely questioning them, we can start off on a higher ground, and from there we have so much more to explore. If you try to slice and dice it to fit a preconceived idea, you may find yourself stuck with that being as far as you can go in theological advancement.

    Prayer, done in the correct order, upon the source material is a vital tool here, as well and can unlock the heavens to your understanding.

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

  64. Heavenly Father = Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57), Ahman (JD 2:342)
    Jesus Christ = Son Ahman (D&C 78:15,20)
    Jesus Christ = Son of Man (Matt 8:20, etc.)
    => Jesus Christ = Son of Man of Holiness

    Person like unto the Son of Man ->
    Person like unto the Son of Man of Holiness ->
    Person like unto Jesus Christ

    i.e. not Jesus

    Michael – Hebrew for “(who is) like unto God”

    plausibly equivalent to Person like unto Son of Man (of Holiness)
    Best candidate for person “like unto the Son of Man”

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

  65. It is quite true that the D&C identifies the Ancient of Days as Adam or Michael in three different places. However that leads one of two additional alternatives:

    1. The person like unto the Son of Man is neither Christ nor Michael (Adam), but rather somebody like Joseph Smith

    2. The Ancient of Days is a different Adam/Michael, possibly Heavenly Father.

    Note that Adam is often known as our “first father” (Isaiah 43:27)
    Adam also means “Man” in Hebrew

    So Adam could also be the name of Heavenly Father, or in particular the Most High. Son of Man -> Son of ‘Adam’ -> Son of First Father
    First Father / Most High is logically equivalent to Ancient of Days as well.

    My opinion is that the Most High is the First Father and Ancient of Days, possibly the First Adam on the First World, but more likely in my opinion the first spirit Father, the Man of Holiness who presides over all eternity, (although they could be the same). Note that when the Most High gained a body he must have prayed to a Father who he technically outranked.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 3:00 pm

  66. It is very clear in the BofAbr. that the one like God and the one like the Son of Man is Christ because of his salvific mission. Christ referred to himself as the Son of Man constantly — and he is identified as being God throughout the NT and LDS scriptures. The mere fact that “Michael” mean “like God” hardly means that in this context we must make that leap.

    Jeff: As far as your charge of straning the sources goes, I suggest that I am not. I came back from the view held by Geoff after a closer reading of the KFD and SintGrove and realized what Joseph was actually asserting despite the muddled source materials. I realized that the notion of an eternal regression of gods is inconsistent not only with scripture, but the Head God clearly taught by Joseph. Do you accep that he taught that there is a Head God, a God of all other gods?

    I realized that Joseph taught that the Father was already divine just like Christ was before becoming embodied; and as the Holy Ghost is now but will one day be embodied. Do you accept that the Father was already divine at the time of his mortal probation? The fact that Geoff wants to speak of multiple mortal probations as a background belief to suggesting that the Father had mortal probations where he was not divine in completely non-textual and, with all due respect, simply contrary to scripture.

    These facets of Joseph’s thought are clear to me. I don’t believe that Joseph ever contemplated that the identity of the Head God would be questioned given the Father’s preeminence. The text is open to that reading (among many others) and it is preferred because it is clearly much more consistent with other things Joseph said previously and with the scriptural record. So I respectfully disagree and suggest that you look closer.

    That said, it is clear that I give greater weight to revelation and scripture than Geoff does. The view that there is a god more ultimate than the Father is contrary to Christ’s teachings and contrary to Joseph’s revelations – and it is clearly contrary to clear statements made by Joseph himself. So a hermeneutic that reads what Joseph says in the KFD and SintGrove in light of what he previously stated very clear is appropriate.

    Finally, the notion that the Father atoned, or that there are “Fathers” for all worlds and they atone for their worlds is whole-cloth fabrication of what cannot be supported by the text. It is contrary to Joseph’s clear statements on that issue. Frankly, I regard those who hold views such as there are many Head Gods and many Saviors to be non-Christian in the sense that it is contrary to scripture and to Jesus’s teachings. Like a said, some views are not mere heretical, but also lunatical as well.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

  67. Mark said in #65. “Note that when the Most High gained a body he must have prayed to a Father who he technically outranked.”

    Blake comments: Precisely!

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  68. Blake,

    I think the meaning of Joseph’s theological advancements is entirely diminished by the notion that the Head God is somehow different from ourselves, or how we may expect to be one day. Without taking it to mean that we are of the same “species”, precisely what theological benefit is gained from this entire mess beyond generic henotheism? Why did he say anything at all? I like how you say I’m non-Christian, because I don’t really think I have much in common with the so-called Christian denominations. Without understanding an eternal regression of Gods, how are we supposed to reasonably accept an eternal progression of Gods forward from this time? Is Exaltation not to become a God? If it is, and it is any less than what the Father himself is, that means Gods work is very limited and seemingly insignificant. Every parent desires for their offspring to be able to be better than, or at least as good, as they are. I think this is the liberating facet of Joseph’s doctrine, and what raises the bar above standard orthodoxy. Man is divine. We can become exactly like our Father in heaven, and have Spirit children ourselves one day. By eliminating the concept of infinite regression of Gods (or at least the great regression of Gods), it seems unreasonable that we would happen to be on the very first earth right now, or so close as to perceive the beginning of things. Why us? Who will live on the future planets? And why does their God get to have a regression of Gods behind him, but not ours?

    The Temple clarifies that other planets have been dealt with before in a similar manner to how ours is now. Having the Savior atone for all of Father Adam’s or even Grandfather’s planets seems plausible, but to expect that the Savior is atoning for all planets ever, forward into infinite the eternities of offspring of exalted beings, is purely fanciful, and akin to picturing the earth as the center of the universe around which everything rotates. Although a popuplar view once, it is not true.

    Joseph gained in light as he received additional revelation. I do not believe you can pinpoint a time when he suddenly became Prophet and everything he uttered from that moment forth is the Gospel truth. I believe he had the ability to learn and grow and continue to progress as his prophetic career moved forward. Joseph at the end of his life, was able to clarify, correct, refine, and improve on Joseph’s earlier statements. It is individual. When Brigham started in Latter-day Saintism, he too began small and grew in his knowledge of the mysteries as time progressed. The same is true with every leader. A leader doesn’t pick up the mantle of the previous leader and automatically attain the same enlightenment that previous leader had, they must grow in order to approach it, and maybe exceed it. I think Joseph was scores ahead of his successors because of the types of experiences he had.

    If I could beg interview with Joseph now, I would trust his own current statements above those in the KFD or SitG, because he has continued to progress. Unfortunately, his ability to expound on his own teachings is *slightly* dampered now (although, not completely). I believe Brigham Young was not a lying man. He told what he believed to be true, and never had intention to deceive the Saints. Thus, I trust Brigham’s statements about what Joseph taught as additional second-hand clarifications of Joseph’s own teachings.

    On the idea that there is more than one Adam, and more than one Michael, sure there is, has been, and will be. But I believe each Adam/Michael will perform the same vital roles, and thus each one is just as good as the other for identifying what they have or will do. Not that they are exact clones of each other, mind you, but that they follow a certain pattern in order to bring to pass the exaltation of men.

    I have no problem with the Most High having beings above him in hierarchy, so long as such a being has attained the fulness of His Father. Its like, the Highest office held in the Church is Prophet/President. President Hinckley holds that position, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have others considered “above” him: The previous Prophets who held that office, or Jesus Christ, and Father themselves. You just have to look beyond the vail of the visible hierarchy, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 7:19 pm

  69. Re-reading the SitG, I come across this:

    It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through-Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth.

    Notice Joseph said the HEADS of the Gods appointed one God for us. The word “Heads” seems to be used an awful lot like the word “Leaders” might be used.

    I love the way he lays it out so plainly. I have taken that view of the subject (as far as I know) and I really have been set free to see all the beauty, holiness, and perfection of the Gods.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

  70. Blake: I regard those who hold views such as there are many Head Gods and many Saviors to be non-Christian in the sense that it is contrary to scripture and to Jesus’s teachings.

    I am surprised you would say this. Justifying the use of an obviously perjorative description like “non-Christian” with an argument that someone disagrees with your reading of the scriptures seems wholly irresponsible to me. Given that there are lots of people in the world who think you are not Christian simply because you are Mormon, I would have expected you to be more sensitive when throwing a term like non-Christian around. What’s more, you have just characterized a number of Latter-day prophets as non-Christian. Even when I disagree with their views, I would never call them non-Christian over a doctrinal disagreement.

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 7:32 pm

  71. I’m sorry, Blake, but you were throwing around “lunatic” as well, and I would rather be deemed non-Christian and be right than be deemed Christian and be wrong. Joseph himself said, no man is condemned for believing too much, and he oft spoke of the Christians as the “others”, even in the very sermons we are discussing.

    However, I am confused by your implying that I was using the term non-Christian because someone disagrees with my reading of scriptures. I was the one claiming to be non-Christian, I wasn’t intentionally pushing that wording (your own choice of wording) onto anyone but myself. I realize I may have pushed it onto others who agree with me, but let me clarify: I meant non-Christian in the sense that we don’t agree with the Christian world at large. However, in the other sense, of being followers of Christ, hearers and doers of his word, those people are certainly entitled to be called Christians in that purer and more basic respect.

    I see “Christian” as an utterly mixed bag. I am hesitant to place such a title on myself when so much evil and especially so much killing has been done under the same banner.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 8:07 pm

  72. To jump beyond our quibble over the Christian title, I’d like to reiterate my question: From your point of view, what theological benefit is gained from this entire mess (The KFD and SitG) beyond generic henotheism?

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 8:11 pm

  73. Jeff,

    It seems your #71 mistakenly takes Blake to be the author of #70 which he was not. That was me (Jacob) addressing Blake, not Blake addressing you. That should clear up the confusion you expressed in #71

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

  74. Jeff & Jacob: First off, I regard those who hold views such as Jeff’s (and perhaps Jacob’s, tho I am not as clear what Jacob believes) to be “non-Christian” only in the sense that they are contrary to what Christ taught — as I carefully specified. I am coming to see why those who take the scriptures seriously see some LDS as completely out of accord with the scriptural record (the way I view those who attempt to do mental gymnastics to make it appear that the Adam-God theory is somehow in accord with scripture and/or Joseph’s revelation). It is not merely that you disagree with me (which I am sure neither you nor I really give a fig about); it is that you disagree with the entire history of scripture and revelation.

    So Jacob, what justifies your assertion that I suggest that Jeff is not Christian merely because you disagee with me? Is it beyond the possibility of your views that perhaps I say it because there is an identifiable teaching from Jesus, the biblical record, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, the Docrine & Covenants, The Book of Abraham, Joseph’s own earlier statments and revelations, and that the reading given to the KFD and SintGrove that the Father is not the Most High God is logically inconsistent with all of them?

    Since “Christian” isn’t an important title for Jeff — it doesn’t much matter for him. For me it is the most important thing about who I am and what I stand for.

    Jacob — what makes one Christian in terms of belief in your view? Can they believe that the Easter Bunny is God and that qualifies because they are nice people? As far as I know Jeff is the kindest person on earth — and that is good enough to make him Christian in the sense of orthopraxis. However, to be Christian entails not only that one takes Christ’s name and is committed to a life as Christ taught, but also committed to what Christ taught. He taught us to worship his Father and that his Father is “the only true God,” and both Christ and Joseph went to incredible lengths to teach us that it is knowing this one true God that is life eternal (that is what the KFD is about). If it doesn’t matter, then why teach it and say it? Or perhaps you believe that Christ just didn’t have it quite right? Or perhaps you believe that he was writing to spiritual pygmies and you are much more advanced (notwithstanding the fact that the gospel of John is clearly written to the spiritually mature in the earliest Christian community)?

    Jeff, your view is indeed generic henotheism. My view is monoarchical monotheism. One view is scriptural and consistent with the entire history of revelation; the other is not (in fact, that is what my entire third volume is arguing). What I want to impress is that these beliefs have consequences. This is not a game of doctrinal ping pong where just anything is up for grabs. You have suggested that I perhaps should pray for enlightenment — by which I suppose you mean that I must be spiritually immature to hold the views that I do. Perhaps you could clarify the intent of such a suggestion.

    Re: #69: the fact that there is an -s- on the “Heads of Gods” is entirely unconsequential given the number of times “the Head of the gods” appears without it. Look at the number of times there are typos in my own posts here — if you hang the meaning on whether I add an -s- you would misunderstand completely. The documentary record of the KFD and the SintGrove is fragmentary at best and quite unreliable. I don’t think we can hang much on such notions. Moreover, Joseph is referring throughout to the Book of Abraham, and there is only one most intelligent of all intelligences there. The very notion is of a superlative God.

    Comment by Blake — May 27, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

  75. Blake,

    Look, I have been reading your papers for many years and I count myself as a fan. I have certainly learned a lot from you, and you’ve helped shape some of my current views. The reason you don’t know too much about what I believe (as you mentioned) is that the post is about your book and I respect that. I am not interested in making a case for what I believe when I have the chance to engage you about what you have recently published. I view that as a much more valuable opportunity for me. Not everything you have said is in line with what I have believed in the past, but I am open to new ideas, especially from people who have influenced me in the past.

    Now, my beef with you calling people non-Christian is that, as I said, it is an obviously perjorative term. I can see that you tried to pass it off as a technical description, but this doesn’t fly for me. It is obvious that the term is too supercharged with negative connotations to be used as a dispassionate technical description, and it adds no value because it is simple enough to tell someone you don’t think their view is consistent with the teachings of Christ. Phrased that way, it will be taken as a disagreement rather than an insult. When the label of “non-Christian” is followed directly by the label of “lunatic,” it is hard to think anyone is going to take it to be a respectful disagreement.

    I wouldn’t call my Catholic friends or my Protestant friends “non-Christian,” even though I find many of their beliefs to be contrary to the teachings of Jesus. If morality is really based in inter-personal relationships and loving our neighbors as ourselves, then taking some care in our word choice to avoid unnecessary offense seems obligatory, in the technical sense of that word.

    Comment by Jacob — May 27, 2006 @ 9:32 pm

  76. Wow. I take a day to go to Wyatt Earp Days in Tombstone Arizona and I come back to find myself 30 comments behind. And on a Saturday no less! Ironically, it looks like there has been a little O.K. Corral shootout here today too. Frankly, it appears that Blake has completely lost his cool in these discussions to me. Blake, what’s wrong? — not used to losing debates? ;-)

    I’ll start my responses in the next comment.

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

  77. Blake (#48): First, you fail to accept or note that the quotation from the BofAbr. is muffed in the Bullock account and it changes the meaning.

    I ignored this assertion because you have zero evidence that Bullock muffed it. How do you know that is not exactly what Joseph said? Your only “evidence” is that if Joseph did say what is reported you might have to interpret some verses in Abraham differently than you want to. It might force you to change your paradigm. It has become abundantly clear that changing your views is the last thing on earth you are willing to do regardless of the evidence in this discussion.

    Second, we don’t ever fly off to some part of the universe by ourselves that God hasn’t quite gotten to yet to beget new children and populate it.

    Either you have not been paying attention to my position or you are intentionally creating a straw man here… I have never once insinuated that there are separate competing Gods in existence — not once. Every time I have talked about this I have said that The Gods (Elohim) who are the progenitors of our Heavenly Father are completely united and constitute the One God. Jesus is One with his Father, His Father is One with His Father, and so on going back to the Head God. There is only One God though because of this ultimate unity. That is what joining the Godhead means. In fact you described my position about pretty well: “We join as one with the Godhead in such a way that what one does, all do; what one knows, all know; what one wills, all will.”

    I think I get now why so many Christian regard Mormons as not merely heretic but also lunatics.

    This to me is a very telling statement. You appear to be much more interested in what creedal Christians think of our doctrine than Joseph or any of his successors were. Perhaps this concern what is driving your refusal to acknowledge the plain and obvious reading of the KFD and SitG…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 10:03 pm

  78. Oops! Jacob was right, I thought Blake wrote #70, when it was actually Jacob. That caused me to try to defend myself against an accusation that actually didn’t even exist (that I had somehow implied the Blake was non-Christian) My mistake, and I apologize.

    Again, I am interested, what doctrinal value does the KFD and SitG actually add, in your estimations, if not the regression of Gods?

    I understand that you feel that my beliefs have serious implications, but what unique beliefs do you principally gain or enforce from these two sermons from brother Joseph? I see you whittling away the ideas you feel are false that have become connected with them, to arrive at what you perceive as truth, but what is the core, what remains of it in the end? It is hard for me to see this, because I am thus far not able to follow along your lines of thinking very precisely.

    I see the KFD as the culmination of a great prophetic career, laying things out so simply that a child can understand them, making plain what the world considers to be wrapped in the deepest mystery. It is the exposition of a vast amount of “new” doctrine that many of the future developments of the Church would be centered around.

    So… What do you see?

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

  79. Jacob,

    Amen Brother. Not only are your points spot on, but you have kept your cool throughout. Thanks.

    Let me emphasize also that Blake’s point about God the Father having only a mortal father completely fails because he says it is in the pattern of the way Jesus had a Father. But Jesus had no mortal father (only a stepfather) so that just doesn’t work for Blake. Jesus’ real Father was in his Father in Heaven and Joseph said the very same thing was true of The Father when he was a mortal:

    John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also

    So Joseph is telling us that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father. But beyond that, “he” (the Father’s Father) had a Father also. Good stuff.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 10:13 pm

  80. My friend Nicholas was reading over my shoulder, and he said “This is pretty standard Mormon doctrine… We even have a couplet.”

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

  81. Blake (#49): First, JS was very clear in a poem written in February of 1843

    If Joseph really did think in 1843 that Jesus atoned for every inhabited world (past, present, and future) he must have received greater light and knowledge by 1844 because the KFD and SitG make is abundantly clear that Jesus’ role and mission here was precisely the same as the Father’s before him.

    Did the Father have a mother named Mary? Did he have a brother named James?

    What does any of this have to do with what Jesus wrought?

    What JS was clearly saying is that the Father’s mode of embodiment, his appearance, and his power to take up his own life again are the same. It cannot be stretched to say that the Father must do exactly every identical thing that Christ did. Frankly, the argument is ludicrous.

    I think what you are saying is that you want to accept the teaching of Joseph only so far as they match up with your preconceived theological notions…

    How can one look at the plain quotes in this post and ignore the obvious intent of Joseph?:

    “I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said.”

    (Don’t get bent because I quoted the amalgamated version either — it is all there in the original journals too.)

    What could be more central to Jesus mission here than his ministry and atoning sacrifice? If Jesus only did what he saw his Father do then how could have also thrown in a little extra piece called the atonement? Your entire claim here makes reason stare.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 10:27 pm

  82. Geoff, I am also very interested in your beliefs (and yours too, Jacob). Do either of you have a thread somewhere already that you could point me to, that you feel is the best summary to your current point of view? It is so seldom that I find anyone who treats these subjects with intelligence, and I feel that learning from one another is a wonderful experience.

    For those interested, my views of Adam God have changed over the years. At first, although my heart accepted it innately, my brain rejected it utterly, and I weaseled my way around it by twisting the meanings of Brigham’s words. I ultimately faced up to it a couple years ago, and studied it out to the fullest extend that I was able to. My views changed drastically, and I felt ashamed by the way I had criticized it before. Humbled, I was. Then, I began reading on Issues in Mormon Doctrine, in fact, I read all night long, and the next morning I awoke my wife to tell her I had found about twelve new doctrines that I think I believe. ;-) In reality, much of it was just putting titles or names on things I had already understood. Multiple Mortal Probations was one such idea. I had understood it before, but I had no name for it until that time. I began to work out the Jehovah-Christ mystery, and with the help of a book called “The Adam-God Maze” that a friend of mine loaned me, and much reading online, I again had a change for the better, and I felt that finally I had an understanding which accorded with Brother Brigham’s words, and Brother Josephs. Only after this, did I discover the applicable scriptures in Daniel 7, which I really wish someone would have hit me in the head with sooner.

    Through this experience, God has become more loving, more personal, and human destiny has become more clear. I know I still have issues that I don’t understand, and I may even be incorrect in some ways, but I believe that through faith, diligence, and fellowship with folks like you, I can continue to progress in knowledge.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 10:29 pm

  83. Blake (#53),

    First, yes, your (1)-(4) all work for me as stated. Our disagreements arise when the unpacking starts.

    So Geoff came up with the ad hoc hypothesis that there is a limit to the gods above the Father, but there is an end to it with the Head God.

    Joseph clearly taught that there are at least two Progenitor Gods above the Father of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Father (Elohim) is at minimum at One with 2 persons above him and 2 below him (the Son and Holy Ghost). There is nothing Ad Hoc about there being a finite regress of Gods above the Father of Jesus. Joseph taught it himself.

    In the alternative, perhaps there are Head Gods for every earth.

    This is simply a terminology misunderstanding. We worship our Heavenly Father on this earth. But knowing him is to know those above him with whom is One. Just like knowing Jesus is knowing the Father. They are all One in the end.

    Both views contradict Joseph’s clear statements in scripture that the Father created all the there is through Christ.

    No it doesn’t. Each inhabited planet is created through the Father (Elohim) and the Son/Christ. They are all the One unified God but different divine persons are delegated assignments by the Head Gods for each planet. It is all part of this investiture of authority concept. Complain about it if you will, but if the concept works for 3 divine persons then it also works for 3000 or whatever. (You teach yourself the oneness that occurs for all in the Godhead.)

    It is fairly clear to me that Joseph stated in the SintGrove that the other gods [were] sons and daughters of God in the council of gods who are subject to the Most High God.

    I agree he did add this point. I have no problem with this part. But it is in addition to his explicit teaching about the Gods above the Father of Jesus.

    Geoff’s reading of (4) requires a rejection of Joseph’s own revelations, the Book of Mormon and the entirety of the biblical revelation.

    No, no it doesn’t. It simply requires us to view previous revelations through a more enlightened paradigm.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

  84. Blake,

    There is no question that your view has a better claim to be historical Christian orthodoxy. However, I think there are several things one should consider before concluding that such orthodoxy is the last word as to how heaven really operates.

    1. As Jeff said, much of the KFD / SITG seems to be a wrench in the machine, a doctrine with a net negative ROI so to speak.

    2. The temple is very clearly modeled on KFD-style principles that have
    little or no place in historical orthodoxy.

    3. As such, it begs the question of why we have a temple in the first place, if not to teach the ‘mysteries’ or higher truths about the order of heaven.

    4. Most arguments for orthodoxy in this matter always assume that Jesus or the prophets are teaching us about a person, and not about a concept or role.

    5. It appears that the purpose of the KFD and the temple is first and foremost to teach us that on the contrary, heavenly fatherhood, motherhood, even saviorhood are radically distributed roles.

    6. Otherwise much of the temple teachings are likewise irrelevant distractions, at least as they have always been interpreted, notably the doctrine of being sealed into a family chain that extends back to Adam, most of the Abrahamic Covenant, and other aspects not proper for public discussion, notably the veil thing and the one before that.

    7. Indeed if it weren’t for the temple, KFD-style speculations may have faded into speculative obscurity long ago. Certainly there is a consistent view that the temple is good for something (e.g. the sealing of nuclear family units, proxy baptism) without all this other stuff added, but to me that comes pretty close to a Protestant-ization of the temple.

    8. Not only would the KFD and much of the temple be dead weight, but eliminating this concept makes the whole doctrine of the “trinity” unusually superfluous as well. Why does there need to be a plurality of Gods at all? Jewish style monotheism is much simpler, and everything about the doctrine of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost has been a prescription for centuries of confusion.

    9. The scriptures, especially the combined LDS scriptures, are littered with paradoxes, contradictions, and superfluous oddities that make no sense without some KFD-style doctrine of exaltation, in my opinion one that includes a distributed soteriology as well.

    From my perspective, Christ came down to teach us the doctrine of divine sonship, but did it on two levels, first the public doctrine where he gave only hints using careful choice of words, and second the “private” temple doctrine where he taught the Apostles after his resurrection – a doctrine that is a perfect parallel and a straightforward transformation to the doctrine he taught about himself.

    The Apostles likewise only hint at it in public, and the temple ordinances and the proper understanding thereof were rapidly lost to history for reasons that we do not fully understand, perhaps because the Lord knew the world was not ready for them.

    So the early Christians, faced with the paradoxes of this mysterious doctrine as taught by the Savior himself over a the succeeding centuries developed the doctrine of the Trinity as we now know it – basically shoving Father, Son, and Holy Ghost back into the same substance/being as much as possible, fitting nicely with best aspects of the Greek conception of God, while allowing there to still be three distinct persons in some sense.

    Centuries pass and the Restoration begins by affirming that the Godhead really consists of three persons with bodies, not just abstract personalities, and gradually drops much of historical Christian theology in favor of an inspired interpretation of the Biblical doctrines from first principles.

    The most radical aspect of that interpretation / revelation is the LDS doctrine of exaltation as we have it in D&C 76, 84, 93, 132, the KFD, and the temple ordinances. Later leaders elaborate on this doctrine to a degree, but by the turn of the century it is declared to be a double mystery, not worthy of public discussion or explicit teaching in the temple, largely due to the controversy over elaborate theological explications like A/G.

    However, to have a consistent teaching base, some theology has to be maintained, so we get the beginnings of neo-orthodoxy in the early twentieth century. And, following a process that had ample precedent in the centuries after Christ (better this time of course), when doctrinal principles are not considered possible to be comprehended by the mortal mind, they are discarded or neglected, and a new synthesis is built up that has a striking resemblance to the Eastern Orthodox synthesis of some fifteen hundred odd years ago.

    Now people grow up completely in the new environment where the elaborate theology of the past has been discarded, and they naturally adopt theological aspects as baseline principles, and the process continues, so that by the mid part of the last century we read the scriptures much the same way as our Protestant brethren, and very much unlike the way Brigham Young (and arguably Joseph Smith) read them one hundred some odd years earlier.

    It is like water flowing down hill. Some serious, even if flawed, KFD type principle needs to be present in LDS theology to keep it from degenerating into something very much like a Prostant/Orthodox Christian theology.

    The easy way out is to take an orthodox theology and run it through a photocopier, such that each heavenly father / mother get their own universe, their own Trinity / Godhead, their own D&C 88 style ground of all being, and so on. A/G is very close to this.

    The second easiest way out is to dump the recursive aspect of the KFD completely, and have second class heavenly father/motherhood, a view very comparable to Eastern Orthodox and some Protestant theologies. This is LDS neo-neo-Orthodoxy so far as I can tell.

    My way out is at the other end of the spectrum – filial fabric soteriology. I will readily grant that it is radically heterodox and that Joseph Smith did not leave enough evidence behind that he ever took it seriously. We just do not know. However, it is certainly very much in the spirit of principles of exaltion under wide discussion for much of the nineteenth century, and which form the core of our temple liturgy.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 10:49 pm

  85. That is “Protestant” and “exaltation” of course.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

  86. Blake (#66, 74): That said, it is clear that I give greater weight to revelation and scripture than Geoff does.

    I would simply say that you give more weight to your personal interpretation of the scriptures than you do to my interpretation of the scriptures. Further, I think you give so much weight to your interpretation of the scriptures that you are willing to completely reject the major points of the KFD and SitG to preserve your paradigm.

    Frankly, I regard those who hold views such as there are many Head Gods and many Saviors to be non-Christian in the sense that it is contrary to scripture and to Jesus’s teachings. Like a said, some views are not mere heretical, but also lunatical as well.

    So it comes to this, eh? You are more willing to call basically every Mormon prophet and apostle since Joseph non-Christian lunatics before conceding that you might be self-deceiving yourself on this point. In fact, a plain reading of the KFD and SitG implies that you are calling Joseph himself a lunatic.

    All I can say is… wow. That is quite an ego you are sporting there, bro.

    (Please tell me you aren’t completely serious and that you are just yanking our chains here…!)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

  87. Jeff,

    I am very much in agreement with your point that Blake seems to want to completely de-tooth and de-claw the KFD and SitG. He seems to want to rid these powerful sermons of most of what makes them so sublime. I obviously think that is a colossal mistake.

    I am also very interested in your beliefs (and yours too, Jacob). Do either of you have a thread somewhere already that you could point me to, that you feel is the best summary to your current point of view?

    Well this whole blog represents my process of “studying it out in my mind”. My views have been evolving all along the way. I recommend you check the categories section in the sidebar. It breaks my posts down by categories. When you click on a category my most recent post on that subject shows up on top. That is probably you best bet. You can see some of Jacobs views in the post threads in the last few weeks. He also put up a guest post here recently.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 11:28 pm

  88. Mark: The second easiest way out is to dump the recursive aspect of the KFD completely, and have second class heavenly father/motherhood, a view very comparable to Eastern Orthodox and some Protestant theologies. This is LDS neo-neo-Orthodoxy so far as I can tell.

    I like that… “neo-neo-Orthodoxy”. I think this is a decent way to describe the “Two-Track” model that Stapley goes for and the variation on the theme that Blake goes for. I may post on that soon.

    BTW – I plan to ask several questions at the other thread about your “radical disctribution” model. I just have not gotten there yet.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 27, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

  89. Jacob,

    After referring back to your “guest post”, it has been brought to my attention that we reside in the same state. And, as that is not the state of Utah, that’s remarkable. Shoot me an email if you like, jeff (at) adamgod dot net. If we aren’t too far away, maybe we could meet up some time and bounce theories back and forth or whatnot?

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  90. So while I can’t be sure that anyone else has a theology along the same lines, I consider my theology to be LDS neo-heterodoxy. I grant that these are very serious questions, however the Church has sustained a diversity of views on the subject for a very long time, so I don’t think going around any saying such and such a perspective is non-Christian is warranted. I believe my position is arguably more Christian than any of the alternatives.

    Historical Christian orthodoxy may be seen to be neo-Deuteronomist by comparison. The “apostasy” didn’t start in the first century A.D. More like well meaning Jewish scholars reducing and eliding doctrines they didn’t understand.

    Jesus Christ came to correct many of these mistakes, but for whatever reason the temple-class ‘mysteries’ did not make it into the public record, so the process repeated itself.

    The Restoration had the same purpose, and though the ‘mysteries’ are preserved in the temple, the process partly repeats because they are hard to reconcile with our orthodox heritage – a heritage so pervasive that Joseph Smith was only able to reduce about half of it in his short lifetime.

    So I admire a really good, progressive neo-orthodoxy, but I don’t believe it is correct. Nor the interesting photocopier theologies from A/G to MMP to multiple universes. Differential, relational, family based, process-oriented soteriology to me is what the temple and the testimony of all the holy prophets ultimately point to. The exact question of who does what is minor by comparison.

    Good guy X, Good guy Y, doesn’t matter to me as long as there is a Most High God who rules by common consent and extends the *full* franchise to all of his children along family lines, a Father who we may really be like, not just pale imitations of. A Father who could retire or take a vacation without the plan of salvation skipping a heartbeat, and so on. No singularities, No Greek statues, no thundering recriminations, as if the justice of the whole universe was a reflection of the character of just one man, and not the unified voice of the concert of Heaven.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 27, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  91. Mark, I like your last paragraph especially. I almost said earlier that my type of God could perhaps choose to “retire”, but I feigned from saying it, to delegate work, to create something that lives on its own, seems to be the holiest and greatest work.

    I would be interested in a wider discussion on how people see sealings. I tend to think there is only one exalted family, the posterity of Adam and Eve, and all those who are worthy will either be directly sealed or grafted into it somewhere. The idea being, that in exaltation, all of the associations of this world will be able to continue on amongst those exalted into the next. (That gets complicated when you try to reconcile it with the idea that each person gets their own planet, but I think it is widely accepted that we can planet hop to visit other people in some way.) This one exalted family is a very special idea, and I see it as very comforting, as well. The alternative view, is many exalted family units. I don’t feel I can express that idea because it isn’t the one I have come to understand, but I think some people do consider it in that respect. To come back in to this thread a bit, do we know to what extent the Saints understanding of “eternal families” was at the time these discourses were delivered? How much of “families can be together forever” is a comprehension that came later?

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

  92. I will be bowing out of these discussions. There is nothing more to be said at this point.

    Comment by Blake — May 28, 2006 @ 12:07 am

  93. I agree Jeff. Only one exalted family, in my opinion for all of eternity, with the Most High as the “root” of the tree, and cross-world boundaries solved by the Law of Adoption.

    Now if you have noticed, I do not believe in the multiple universe or even multiple world per exalted couple scheme – I believe extended families reside together on the same celestial world, until there is “no more place” for an inheritance as the scripture says.

    This sealing together of family units thing is relatively inconsequential if every husband and wife run their own universe – what is the point of child / parent sealings at all in such a scheme? Any sealing scheme leads either to a family fabric or a bunch of autonomous couples.

    That is the biggest weakness I see in Brigham Young’s concept of spirit birth, where one couple has billions of first generation offspring. That would require one spirit world per couple, and where is the natural order to such a system? Sounds like chaos to me. Recursive presidency over a relative handful of children who preside over their children and so on, along the model of the Abrahamic Covenant, or the Patriarchal order makes much more sense.

    I suppose this could actually be a procreative spirit birth, but in any system where one has two fathers and two mothers there are some serious problems of order and organization. So as I see it ones spirit father / (mother?) yield in the long run to ones earthly father / mother provided they are righteous, so that there is one final family structure in heaven, for which this earth life is a dry run.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 12:19 am

  94. Geoff: I will add one last point. When you begin to attribute motives as a way of avoiding dealing with arguments, the discussion has ceased for me. For example, asserting that my arguments are made for the motive of trying to avoid changing rather than dealing with the substance is merely an ad hominem. I would rather have the entire creedal world attack us than give up one iota of revelation from Joseph Smith. So your attributed motives pain my heart deeply — and I won’t allow them to be attributed to me without taking a stand against your accusations.

    I apologize for saying that Jeff is non-Christian — tho he had already said it about himself so I didn’t see it as a pejorative for him. Still, he may have more claim to be Christian than I do.

    Nevertgheless, the discussion has so degenerated that any further discussion will merely support motive attribution as a substitute for real dialogue. For example, I gave an argument suggesting that the principle that the Father did everything that the Son did can be reduced to absurdity because we cannot extend the “same acts” to every act or the notion becomes simple nonsense. The texts of the KFD and SintGrove say absolutely nothing of the Father atoning. Joseph clearly states his Feb. 1843 poem that all worlds were created by Christ and he is the Savior of all of them — and this based on a direct vision and revelation in which Joseph and Sidney heard God’s voice.

    Instead of responding, you attribute motives such as the mere ego need to maintain a paradigm. You insist that Joseph must have changed his mind about this fact because the KFD and SintGrove say otherwise — when in fact they say nothing at all about the Father atoning. When the dialogue reduces to a mere assertion that “well you assert that because you have an ego to protect” the discussion simply ends. I’m not interested in that discussion.

    Comment by Blake — May 28, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  95. I am sorry to see you go Blake. I am looking forward to reading your second and third volumes, and am particularly interested in what you make of the doctrine of sealings, eternal marriage, and the type of heavenly parenthood we may legitimately aspire to. I admire and respect your efforts and your point of view.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 12:39 am

  96. On the notion that “The Father did Everything the Son Did”,

    I think this, if elevated to an extreme, is indeed problematic, as Blake has suggested. The answer: We need to take this together with our understandings of individuality, and freedom of choice. We are not automotons, “xerox” is a misnomer for the types of exaltation I see. Each universe can be unique in many ways. What remains? Principles of Good and Evil, and the attributes that make man Divine. Beyond that, all is up for sculpturing as we see fit. However, as we learn, (for “time, it is nothing, only to learn us how to live in eternity”) we come to understand the answers to the “why” questions about God, and we may realize that our human ideas about what type of planet we might make will be brought closer to realistic goals as we learn these types of answers and understand more about the universe.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 12:44 am

  97. Jeff, when I say “photocopier” theology, I mean duplicating a model wholesale and patching the boundary conditions, not duplicating history – no determinism. I don’t think history ever materially repeats itself even when two people have comparable missions. The contingiences of free will simply will not allow for that. It makes me very happy to know that the past might have been otherwise and that the future is not set in stone.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 1:11 am

  98. This is mostly for Geoff, but I wouldn’t mind others chiming in as well. Earlier he referred to Father (Elohim), specifically like that (with Elohim in parenthesis):

    Each inhabited planet is created through the Father (Elohim) and the Son/Christ.

    Geoff has made a respectable point in taking A/G out of the equation but embracing things like MMP that haven’t been ‘denounced’. But, I know of nowhere in revelation that would identify the name Elohim with Father. Letting A/G aside certainly does not necessarily require the adopting of modern theological assumptions? Why suggest that Elohim is Father, or that Jehovah is Christ at all? Why not just leave that open. I think Elohim is best understood as Grandfather, or as a generic name for “The Gods” as Joseph himself used it in KFD and SitG, and seemingly in The Book of Abraham, and I would feel a lot more enlightened, and on stronger ground, leaving that as a possibility, instead of using the specific a nd narrow-minded popular opinion to fill in the gap that A/G left.

    Certainly Jehovah would even be a more fitting name to apply to the Father, in the context of Joseph’s various statements, (and the Kirtland Temple dedication prayer comes to mind), than Elohim.

    Thoughts?

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 1:26 am

  99. In addition to my previous comment, I submit for a currently active source, that the Temple itself seems to deny the Jehovah-Christ assumption, because the Jehovah figure refers to Jesus Christ using the third person.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 1:29 am

  100. Jeff, the point here is that Elohim is plural, so we should more properly translate it as “the Gods” (re Joseph Smith) or “the Fathers”. The way I see it we speak of the Eternal Father as singular rather than plural because the Eternal Father is all heavenly fathers working together, one in the same sense that Jesus Christ and his Father are one.

    So while any particular heavenly father may use the title ‘Elohim’ by divine investiture, I beleive Brigham Young is partly missing the point with his analysis of who is ‘Elohim’ at any given time. The word comes from the Hebrew word that gets translated “God”. Jehovah gets translated “LORD”. So much of the Old Testament uses “Jehovah Elohim” as the name of God. There is some interesting speculation as to why this is the case – look up the Documentary Hypothesis for more details.

    To me Jesus (Yeshua) is a proper name, and Christ is a title. Jehovah also appears to be a title, and I think it a matter of relatively minor significance whether it was Jesus or not. I think it more likely that the God of the Old Testament is a composite – ‘Elohim’ right? So Adam may very well have been exalted to be the “God” to Noah, and Noah to Abraham, and Abraham to Moses, and so on.

    I do not see why they could not speak by divine investiture as well as Jesus can. Moses himself did it while he was mortal, how much more so when he was immortal? Likewise, how can we be sure that Joseph Smith does not directly preside over this dispensation as a heavenly father of sorts?

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 1:46 am

  101. One of the major benefits I got from reading the several threads on Issues in Mormon Doctrine was that I came to a point where I could apply Divine Investiture in small dabs with a brush, instead of having to use a paint roller to apply Divine Investiture over the Entire Bible. I believe the doctrine of Divine Investiture, although scripturally sound, should be limited to what is natural and sensible. Taking it to extremes muddles up things and makes the scriptures feel too unreliable. You start to reach a point where almost any name could refer to anyone, and then what is the point?

    I believe Divine Investiture is used by Christ with specific purpose, not as the norm.

    I think the Old Testament Jehovah Elohim has relatively nothing to do with the Temple concepts of Jehovah and Elohim. They are obviously different. Joseph knew Elohim meant “The Gods”, and yet the Endowment names a character this. Obviously, it is intended to be taken in a different, figurative manner. Brigham never said Grandfather = Elohim either, to my knowledge. The Elohim character, seen as an individual only in the Temple, simply seems to fit best into that position.

    Elohim Jehovah – The LORD God, in my opinion, means The Gods, as Joseph said, but most typically and specifically refers to Father (the Only God with whom we have to do), whoever you consider that to be. Obviously, there are some concessions made for times when Our God has been about other business and maybe His Father has filled in during his absence. Maybe this did occupy the entire Old Testament timeframe. This is all really speculative, but the important point is that Elohim the Character is best identified as Grandfather or Great-Grandfather. “Heavenly Father” is best not identified with Elohim, and Elohim the Hebrew Word (as opposed to the character) is best identified with “The Gods”. This, or some similar scheme, is almost necessary for a sane reading of the scriptures to be possible ;)

    That being said, the theology presented in the Book of Mormon scares me. It is daunting. It is elusive. It sounds trinitarian. I don’t know exactly what to do with it, although my testimony was built using it. This is where I apply my own paint-roller, the limited Expansion Theory. I will be studying the Book of Mormon in depth again soon, and hope that I can possibly alleviate some of my painting. I’m always interested in the plainer interpretations, truest to the authors or translators intended meanings.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 2:22 am

  102. Blake,

    I think you are right that now is a time to let cooler heads prevail in this particular conversation. We have clearly reached an impasse in this subject.

    I will add one last point. When you begin to attribute motives as a way of avoiding dealing with arguments, the discussion has ceased for me. For example, asserting that my arguments are made for the motive of trying to avoid changing rather than dealing with the substance is merely an ad hominem. I would rather have the entire creedal world attack us than give up one iota of revelation from Joseph Smith. So your attributed motives pain my heart deeply-and I won’t allow them to be attributed to me without taking a stand against your accusations.

    I apologize for attributing motives to your positions. I am especially sorry that my doing so has caused you pain.

    I appreciate that you apologized to Jeff for asserting that he is non-Christian for believing that the Head Gods could assign specific “Father” and “Son” duties to different divine persons for each inhabited world. I presume that apology extends to the millions of Mormons (including most apostles and prophets) who have believed variations on this theme. I hope you can see that calling someone a “lunatic” and a “heretic” and a “non-Christian” for believing a highly intuitive reading of the KFD and SitG — one that has been openly supported by many succeeding prophets no less — is an ad hominem attack as well. (Particularly when you attribute the belief to lunacy.) I hope you can also understand why your claiming that I do not don’t give nearly enough “weight to revelation and scripture” might pain or offend me as well — particularly when the issue is interpretation of scripture not weighting.

    Regarding your last point: While it is true that I did include some of my personal assumptions about your motives in my response about that poem by Joseph — I did in fact directly engage your argument there as well. My response was this: Joseph must have been wrong in 1843 because he said something different in 1844. I think Jacob was right that you would be much better off using a similar approach when dealing with the KFD and SitG. Rather than saying that Joseph didn’t really mean what he clearly said in those sermons, why not just claim he was wrong on some points?

    Anyway, I hope that you won’t be so offended by this thread that you leave for good. I would love your input as I review the remainder of your book. As I hope you know, for every one position of yours that I vigorously argue against there are 19 that I vigorously defend. I would hate it if our rough-housing/gorilla ball here caused any permanent relationship injuries.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 28, 2006 @ 8:44 am

  103. Jeff (#98),

    I think Mark got my position right in #100. When I said “the Father (Elohim)” I meant both the lead/delegated divine person for a world and all of the progenitors with whom that person is One in the extended Godhead. I thik that is the point of calling the Father “Elohim”.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 28, 2006 @ 9:02 am

  104. There is another possibility – and that is by 1843 Joseph Smith had learned to speak with two levels of meaning with regard to terms like the Father and the Son. To me, one of the best evidences that Joseph Smith did not make up the Book of Mormon is that there are a variety of statements that do not make much sense when interpreted as a species of 19th century rationalist liberal Christianity. Joseph Smith made fun of incomprehensibility whereever he saw it in other denominations, why would he go out of his way to promote it with mysterious statements about how Jesus Christ is the Eternal Father in several different places:

    And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, 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 whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me-that I am; 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 he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. (Mosiah 3:8)

    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.

    And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. (Mosiah 5:7)

    Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come-

    Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen. (Mosiah 16:16-17)

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  105. So I would say that yes, by and through the power of the Son, the Endless or Eternal Son, the worlds are and were created and saved. That there is one God and none else beside him. That Christ is the Eternal Father of heaven and earth and the only name by which we may be saved. That he may be legimately spoken of as either the Father or the Son dependening upon context, and so on.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 10:29 am

  106. Wel at this point I think it couldn’t be all that bad for me to drop my own two cents in the pond.

    I think what is bugging Blake so much is that he sees his position as pretty much following logically from the three or four points which he keeps mentioning, and nobody has given him a good enough reason to reject any of those points. Furthermore, he sees the affirmation of his points as being in harmony with canonized scripture, and therefore carrying presumption over the rejection of any of those points. That said, however, I do disagree with Blake’s position in that I disagree with both his list of points as well as his use of scripture.

    Let me first discussion how I disagree with his use of scripture.

    1) I do not believe that all or even most of what is contained in the books of scripture should be read as actual revelation.
    2) I do not believe that that which is revelation is necessarily the end all truth of a matter, but is instead usually meant as a partial corrective to some previous view.
    3) Latter revelation, all other things being equal, ALWAYS supercedes and supplants previous revelation.
    4) Statements by prophets (be they scriptural or not) DO contradict eachother, and therefore some will have to be rejected as being wrong. Attempts to harmonize them will only distort both the old as well as the new statements meaning.
    5) Brigham Young understood Joseph’s teaching far better than we do. His understanding of Joseph’s doctrine should play a significant role.

    Now as to Blake’s four points:

    6) It is clear that there is a Head God-there is no infinite regression of gods.

    I disagree. I think that one of the main tendencies in Joseph’s Nauvoo doctrine was the relativizing of most all absolutist statements by a radical expansion of scope. There is only an absolutely head-God when considered within a particular context. In other words, there is a head-God FOR US, as some Mormons would put it. Relative to our creation, there is indeed a single head-God, but beyond our single creation there is an infinite regress.

    7) The Father was divine before becoming mortal.

    I don’t think that this necessarily favors either model, although it does make Blake’s model possible. Geoff’s model suggests that sure God was divine before becoming mortal in exactly the same sense that Jesus was divine before becoming mortal; no more and no less. It should be pointed out here that this is a point where MMP’s can get a bit confusing: why and how much was Jesus divine before mortality?

    8) Joseph clearly spoke of a council of gods that consisted of the sons and daughters of God.

    Well, yes but there are a lot of assumptions here. First is that these statements all refer to the same council. Second, that there were not anybody else in the council who was not a son or daughter of God. Third, that the title “son (or daughter) of God” actually refers to all and only those who are the sons or daughters of the one head-god, for every individual is a son or daughter of some god.

    9) Joseph was clear that God the Father had a God above him.

    I think that this is the point where Blake reads into the statement more than is actually there, but he does so in order to harmonize this statement with scripture and the like. I agree with Geoff that Blake’s interpretation takes almost all the firepower out of Joseph’s sermon, for if God had a God over him only during mortality, so what? This would seem to be little more than a bit of doctrinal trivia as opposed to a central doctrine pertaining to the plan of salvation which Joseph sure seemed to view his statement as being.

    Of course Blake will simply interpret my position as being far to willing to reject scripture, and to this I will whole-heartedly agree. To me, the whole point of modern day revelation is to get do away with our allegiance to scripture. So the theology of the BoM and the Bible aren’t entire correct? Good! I would hope that we would have come some distance in the past 2,000 years. While I do think that Joseph’s putting most prior absolutist statements in a relative context helps account for most of the difference in doctrine which we see between his Ohio and Illinois periods, it doesn’t account for all discrepancies. What I see as being important is that we do not attempt to harmonize beyond what can or should be harmonized. Rather than holding the later and probably more enlightened revelations to the standards of the past, it seems to me that the standard should be reversed (despite what we are now taught by many church leaders).

    Comment by Jeff G — May 28, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  107. Jeff G, first, welcome to this thread ;) I want to ask if you could elaborate on what you meant by reversing the standard being used to measure subsequent revelations “despite what we are now taught by many church leaders”?

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 11:06 am

  108. No problem. Now it is usually taught that we are to judge the revelations which we receive now by how well they agree with revelation recieved in the past. I think that this is exactly backwards. Instead, we should judge past revelations by the revelation which we receive now. Not only are they more likely to be true, but we are more likely to understand their actual intent.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 28, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  109. Jeff G: Ok, I see what you mean. If you read this entire thread, you noticed that I said Issues in Mormon Doctrine had helped me in some ways, and I am thus acquainted with recent statements you have made on that blog. I am curious now, to hear you use language such as “I do not believe that that which is revelation is necessarily the end all truth of a matter, but is instead usually meant as a partial corrective to some previous view.” – I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but are you placing yourself in the context of a believer to make these statements from that point of view or are you saying wholly what you currently think?

    I have encountered/been friends with a couple of highly respectable Mormon “theologians” (for lack of a better term) who have fallen away, and I am always curious as to their new lines of thought on the other side of that decision. Forgive me if I am stepping into a territory you didn’t want to bring up.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  110. Again, all other things being equal.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 28, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  111. Either way, I esteem enlightened philosophy and application of logic higher than the type of dead dogmatic faith many people in the world express. Your comments remain meaningful and thought provoking for me. Thank you.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 11:45 am

  112. Yeah, there are two ways which my statement can be read. First, I am simply assuming the position of a believer in order to speak “the language” of Mormonism. Perhaps a more direct interpretation would be that I am saying that I believe the most tenable Mormon position on such and such a matter to be…

    So it is both what I currently think in a way, and yet not so. Even though I don’t believe in most Mormon claims, I do have beliefs regarding what the most accurate representation of Mormonism and Mormon history is.

    Don’t worry about offending me or putting me on the spot. I have pretty thick skin.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 28, 2006 @ 11:46 am

  113. I should say that I think the essence of good theology is harmony, not legalism. The idea that a more modern prophet’s statement is an edict that overturns all of the precedents of the past betrays a legalism that more discredits rather than upholds the prophetic claim to revelation and inspiration.

    Rather than spit upon the grave of past prophets, I would much rather see in what sense they were right, to what degree they taught principles that are eternal truths, *even* if they did not realize the full import of their own words at the time.

    I would much rather not say, A ha! this prophet had this or this untenable concept, and so we can either discount his words, or consider them in only their most literal and legalist interpretation. There is ample evidence to suggest the Hebrews were much more inclined to do this than the later Greeks, and the Greeks ironically enough more inclined to do this than their ‘fundamentalist’/’literalist’ heirs in the Protestant and LDS world.

    When most contemporary LDS go about ‘harmonizing’ the scriptures they show a marked lack of imagination and perspective. Principles come in varying degrees of importance and consequence. Some concepts have been shown to be negative and harmful when read in absolute terms – ecclesiastical history provides ample evidence of that. Others have a substance of great significance but a form that is relatively inconsequential. Throughout history prophets have borrowed concepts from outside culture when it served their purposes, and discarded or reinterpreted them nearly as readily.

    We pay to much attention to form, and not enough to substance. Prophets who superficially appear to contradict previous traditions inevitably preserve what is truly valuable. The scriptures should not be read like a collection of logical propositions about Aristotelian objects, or a collection of court decisions bound by the rules of precedent, but as a collection of impressionistic paintings about principles that really matter – paintings that often evince a prophet’s own time and culture – not simply because of the prophet’s own ignorance but because of the audience he was addressing.

    One should not mistake the supreme practice of apologetics for doctrinal finality. Any careful perusal of the Pauline epistles will make that clear. Some of what appears in a masterwork of persuasion like Hebrews seems to be made up upon the spot – any useful idea or concept to more fully persuade the Jews to come unto Christ. One might almost certainly say the same about some of the epistles written to the Greeks as well as the work of the succeeding Patristic Fathers.

    Now suppose one day Joseph Smith had a comprehensive vision of eternity and needed to persuade others of its fundamental truth? Which do you think works better – to write in the mystical manner of Emmanuel Swedenborg or to write as much a possible using the terms and the language of the prevailing religious traditions?

    The latter carries a risk though – what one might call cultural capture – that future generations will not see an advance, something truly new – but rather interpret ones words in terms of the culture in which they were expressed – a tribute to tradition instead of a new revelation. That tendency is something that should always be compensated for.

    To more fully preserve the truth of the words of the prophets, one should not analyze them only in terms of their cultural context, or even only in terms of what the speaker actually meant, but rather in terms of the motivation for the Lord to reveal anything at all. We have to take two steps back from cultural context, first to prophetic intent, and then to divine intent. If we do not take the first step, the scriptures remain a mass of confusion. If we do not take the second step, the scriptures appear all too often simply speculative. Good theology requires a careful attempt to discern divine intent, not prophetic opinion.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  114. Right, I am not advocating the “disproving” of past prophets by using their succesors as weapons against them. Rather, I am simply saying that we should not try to harmonize what shouldn’t be harmonized. Yes, there might have been some previously unrecognized truth in a past prophets words, but this will be the exception rather than the rule.

    My point is that we should not reject or even try to alter what a modern prophet means in order to accommodate past teachings, nor should we necessarily reject or alter past teachings to accomodate modern ideas. The key is to understand what each statement means within its own context and going from there. Once this rule is in place, there will be a lot of occasion where past teachings and present ones to not match up. In such cases, the idea of modern revelation would seem to suggest that all other things being equal, the present should trump the past.

    While I certainly want to know what is right and what is true, the first step is to figure out what each person is actually trying to say and to what audience. After, and only after that, can we move on to figuring out what is and is not true. In this I doubt that you positions are all that different from one another.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 28, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

  115. Jeff G, I am sure our positions on the matter our more similar than different. One other thing – I do not agree with the “Whig” view of progress – not so far as to take its opposite, but far enough to retain a profound skepticism that the beliefs of later leaders are necessarily more accurate than the beliefs of earlier ones, *especially* when there have not been published revelations explaining the change. That is my problem nearly each and every time some neo-orthodox period authority contradicts what Joseph Smith or Brigham Young taught.

    My reaction is – on what basis? I can tell what Joseph Smith believed and why he believed it. I do not want to be told what to believe. I want to be more fully persuaded as to what to believe. So when someone implicitly says believe in whatever I say because I rank higher than you do without giving any documentation of revelation, or theological analysis my hard learned instinct is “Who cares?”

    I want a reason or a revelation. Unless we are talking about a triviality, authority alone is insufficient to produce a lasting faith – usually quite the opposite.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

  116. I actually agree with your worry. My position is not that more recent statements trump past ones, but rather that more recent revelations trump past ones. Of course the tendency is to say that there is necessarily harmony in all revelation, but I simply do not see this in the record. Thus, lots of later statements do not trump past revelations because these modern statements are not claimed to be revelation.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 28, 2006 @ 9:18 pm

  117. I can generally agree with that, with the proviso that in cases of significant changes, we deserve an explanation comparable to what is in D&C 19. Fortunately that is usually the case. I might also say that it is hard to consider something not worthy of publication a doctrinally significant revelation. I would consider any statement unanimously endorsed the the FP and Q12 significant however, revelation or no revelation. (cf. D&C 107)

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 28, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

  118. It seems to me that the real hang up for Blake, and for those who agree with him is the idea that there is a “most high god.” When the Lord talks to Moses, he is quite explicit, in Moses 1:40 and 2:1, for example, that he is talking about this earth, since that is what we are to be concerned with. This is because, as we read in 1:4-5, we would not be able to deal with all of God’s works. The infinite is too much for our finite mind. There is no reason to believe that Most High God is absolute. I think our attachment to the idea is mostly a result of our inability to slough off centuries of Christian orthodoxy. I mean, we get it in everything from actual teachings on TV to movies and cartoons (I can think of some great Tom and Jerry action that teaches Christian orthodoxy.) In saying this, I don’t want to fall back on the motives thing (which, by the way, I see as less ad hominem than explanitory–it would be helpful in evaluating our position to see why certain ideas might be attractive). I simply want to say that there are good reasons why we cling to what Joseph often called sectarian notions. In the end, however, we may not be able to put the infinite puzzle together at all, but we will get closer if we recognize that the revelations are meant to be plain to us in working out our salvation in our particular context.
    So Mark, #33, I would disagree that Prophets are concerned so much with the theological implications of their particular words. They are concerned, mostly, with getting as many of our sorry butts as possible exalted.
    And whoever said that they could live forever and not be sinless (hard to look back through so many comments.) It seems to me that you miss that the purpose of the atonement is to make our past sins irrelevant if we rely on the atonement to work out our salvation. Isn’t that the glory of what christ did?

    Comment by Steve H — May 29, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  119. Steve H, The question of *infinite* backward recursion is interesting, but that is not the core of the dispute here. The core of the dispute is the degree to which exaltation entails becoming truly like Heavenly Father. Blake’s position, as I understand it, is that by whatever means, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three divine persons who are radically far advanced of *all* others, who are the source of light and truth to the whole universe, and that the divine character of exalted others is secondary.

    The other positions here are variants on the concept that heavenly fatherhood entails not only truly becoming like our Heavenly Father, but replacing him within some context, i.e. that exaltation means becoming a Heavenly Father, either to some new world, universe, our posterity, etc.

    I consider Blake’s position to be an excellent expression of neo-neo-orthodoxy, where “orthodoxy” refers to its relationship not only to Christian theology as most people have understood it throughout history, but also to the way most scriptures apart from a relative handful have generally always been interpreted.

    The standout modern scripture is D&C 88:1-13, which is easily read to make Christ the origin of all natural law, e.g. the “ground of all being”, presumably the principle by which he himself exists in bodily form, electrons going around in their orbits and so on.

    Now many “neo-neo-orthodox” scholars like Stephen E. Robinson defend this view, going as far as to say that God created matter as we know it from an amorphous proto matter, e.g. presumably without atomic structure. Well the obvious paradox in our theology is how God can have a body at all without thinking about it all the time, keeping those little electrons in good discipline so to speak.

    For a variety of reasons, including the self-existence of intelligence(s) in general, the necessity of a suffering Atonement, and various metaphysical considerations related to divine embodiment, I think the idea that the Light of Christ goes so far as to establish baseline natural law (quantum mechanics, etc) is radically untenable.

    In particular if you have any plurality of divinity, who is in charge of keeping the clocks ticking any any given time? Doesn’t seem like something I would want to worry about from moment to moment. That is why I call LDS neo-orthodoxy a singularity theory. Singularity because instead of having God be a unembodied, absolute, and timeless ground-of-all being the theology regards God as a embodied, discretionary, and temporal ground-of-almost-all-being.

    To me that approach looks like trying to reach for Christian absolutism but never being able to get there. Or in other words, the Patristic Fathers didn’t end up with their idea of God by accident – it is practically a necessary consequence of having all of reality as we know it – light, law, love, truth and so on depend on a small handful of individuals.

    So I wouldn’t say LDS neo-orthodox theology is impossible, just that it seems both radically implausible and rather incomprehensible. That is one reason why scientist types (Pratt,Talmage,Roberts,Widstoe) tend to be on the radically “progressive” side of the LDS theological spectrum – progressive in this instance meaning that all the divine attributes are radically distributed across an infinite or semi-infinite number of divine persons, a natural law largely independent of God, and a divine law established by the concert of heaven on a contigent and context dependent basis.

    Brigham Young and most of the other LDS authorities for the remainder of the nineteenth century were on the side of divine multiplicity >> 3 – A/G being the most prominent expression thereof. Neo-orthodoxy developed starting early in the twentieth century as a gradual repudiation of the common (and I would say obvious) interpretation of the KFD. Charles Penrose for example stated that he was uncomfortable with the idea that there was ever a time before God became God. The fact that the A/G was gradually discarded for a variety of reasons including orthodox Christian ridicule contributed to this trend.

    At first all of this eternal progression theology was regarded as a mystery, but as the twentieth century went on, more and more started to regard it as a heresy, ironically turning most of nineteenth century LDS theology into heterodoxy.

    So another aspect of the debate is whether the temple is fundamentally “orthodox” or “heterodox” on this point. My argument is that it is the latter, and dramatically so. It is not an accident that LDS theology tends to split along these lines – the “neo-orthodox” readings of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and much of the D&C are much more obvious and align much more closely with our shared Christian heritage to the degree that with the return to an emphasis on the canon, the defenders of neo-heterodoxy are put in a bit of a bind – because KFD style principles have generally been classified in the mysteries, to the degree that they are an undercurrent in the NT, BofM, and D&C. So much of an undercurrent that it is easy to discard them completely. That is the debate here.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 29, 2006 @ 6:36 am

  120. Mark (#119),

    Nice overview of the core issues at hand. Well done.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 29, 2006 @ 9:07 am

  121. Mark,
    My argument is simply that KFD is one place where what you are calling heterodoxy is approached, and I believe clearly so (to the extent that I find Blake’s statement that his #1 is a clear point to which our discussion has brought us to be merely rhetorical on his part). When we read the criptures and find that they don’t approach the question from this view with much frequency, we need not see this as a reason, as Jeff G. does to drop the significance of scripture in an attempt to reconcile ourselves to KFD style doctrine on the larger picture. We should see it as an indication that the primary focus of the revelations of God is to bring us salvation. At the same time, this doesn’t preclude God from helping us to see how the plan as it plays out in this Earth is connected to the eternities. Thus I find it quite natural that most of this is an undercurrent in the standard works, though I find it there, certainly. Those works focus on faith in Christ sufficient to bring us to eternal life. I also find it natural that the temple focuses on the big picture a lot more, since the assumpton is that we are working towards exaltation with faith in christ and thus should be more concerned with that destination.

    Comment by Steve H — May 29, 2006 @ 9:18 am

  122. My pleasure, Geoff.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 29, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

  123. Steve H, I can’t disagree much with that. I would say that KFD type principles are pretty explicit in D&C 76, 93, and 132, as well as several passages in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. However, they definitely are not the first principles of the gospel any more than the temple endowment is.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 29, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

  124. Mark, I think Joseph and Brigham considered them the First Principles of the Gospel, or the First Principle of the Gospel (singular). They both have made comments suggesting this, Joseph both in the Lectures On Faith all the way through to the King Follett Discourse, where he said:

    “These are incomprehensible ideas to some; but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible.” (JD 6, JS, April 6 1844)

    It *is* the First Principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty … that he was once a man … dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus. Because the First Principle isn’t just “Faith” by itself, it is having Faith unto Salvation, salvific faith, which Joseph tied to a correct understanding of God as early as the Lectures on Faith.

    Brigham went on to extend the Temple rites (admittedly not specifically the Endowment), as also being among the First Principles of the Gospel:

    While I was in England I heard much said about the revelation touching the privilege of the living being baptized for the dead. A High Priest, who had just come from America, thinking that he could enlighten the Twelve upon the subject, said, “Brother Brigham, I heard Joseph say that baptism for the dead was one of the first principles of the Gospel, and that even the Twelve did not understand it.” His feeling was, “I am a High Priest, and the Twelve do not understand the matter.” I said to him, “My dear sir, do you understand all of the first principles of the Gospel?” When I hear such expressions from men, I know that they are very limited in their understandings about the Priesthood.
    (JD 7, BY, May 22 1859)

    So, Mark, I’d say they definitely *are* the first principles of the Gospel. :)

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 29, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

  125. Just chiming in with my two cents:

    There is too much insistance that “Most High God” somehow means “Fatherless.” Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? If we liberate our definitions we can see plainly how our Father is both the most high God, and still had father.

    Yes, I prefer the infinate regression model. It’s the only one my mind can wrap around. I believe any reference to Most High God simply takes the group as a whole, us, gods, and refers to our leader whom we worship. I take this to mean our Father is the Head of the Gods.

    Comment by britain — May 29, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

  126. Britain, excellent point. I believe that “Most High” simply means having attains the fulness of exaltation. Having arrived at the station where you are fully a God in the real sense of the word.

    The Head God of the Gods can simply be the God that was appointed Head by the Council, similar to the way there are many bishoprics, and the Bishop is essentially the Head of the Ward. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other wards.

    The Head God of the Gods brought forth all the other Gods. There is an issue here. If he were the Head God to start with, that would show that there must have been other Gods that he was the head OF. When he brought forth the other Gods, he merely formed all those Gods that would be serving under Him in the upcoming “cycle”.

    Does anyone have a better technical word than “cycle”? I allow for the possibility that two cycles may be happening simultaneously in different places, because other exalted beings are carrying out the same work that Adam is carrying out here, so Cycle isn’t really appropriate. A “universe” has too much baggage attached, and a “planet” or “earth” has too LITTLE baggage attached. A cluster? Each ‘pattern’? I don’t know.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 29, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

  127. britain,

    That is a good point. I was wondering when someone was going to bring it up. And you explanation is the one I would use if I were to take up the issue (I avoided it earlier in order to stay on the topic of Joseph teaching there are generations above the Father of Jesus). That is, it seems that it could easily be argued that the “Most High God” or “Head God” is in fact the unified “One God” or the extended Godhead. In fact, the Bullock report on the Sermon in the Grove has Joseph saying:

    In the begin the heads of the Gods organized the heaven & the Earth-now the learned Priest-the people rage-& the heathen imagine a vain thing-if we pursue the Heb further-it reads

    The Head one of the Gods said let us make man in our image I once asked a learned Jew once-if the Heb. language compels us to render all words ending in heam in the plural-why not render the first plural-he replied it would ruin the Bible-he acknowledged I was right. I came here to investigate these things precisely as I believe it-hear & judge for yourself-& if you go away satisfied- well & good-in the very beginning there is a plurality of Gods-beyond the power of refutation-it is a great subject I am dwelling on-the word Eloiheam ought to be in the plural all the way thro – Gods-the heads of the Gods appointed one God for us
    (Italics mine)

    So as you can see, the report has Joseph talking both about “the heads of the Gods” and also the “Head one of the Gods”. That poses a problem for the infinite regress idea as normally explained.

    In addition, I personally have a harder time imagining that there is not only an infinite amount of time, but also an infinite amount of beginningless space and matter in existence. Maybe it is just me but that seems like it would render us and God completely insignificant. I have a much easier time imagining finite amounts of beginningless space and matter existing and “becoming” in one way or another forever. (I may post on this separately too.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 29, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  128. I’ve not had time to deal with Geoff’s recent threads.

    Might I just throw a bit of a wrench into the wringer? Why are we to assume that these statements about head applies to all creations and not just our creation? It seems to me that head of the gods can be referring to the status in the council in heaven where the gods are all the gods in embryo and the head is the head of this creation.

    The more BY theology seems to range across multiple creations and probably reaches its highest level of teaching in the endowment where I think it fairly explicit how we become an Adam and Christ.

    It seems to me that a lot is being placed on a few fairly unclear texts whose range of context is at best extremely vague. That’s not to say it isn’t fruitful to discuss all this. It’s just that I suspect our best answer will be a range of possibilities and not a clear cut interpretation.

    Comment by Clark — May 30, 2006 @ 9:35 am

  129. Geoff,

    I will be interested to hear how you envision a finite amount of space and matter with an infinite amount of time. Such a concept seems totally untenable to me, but I’ll keep an open mind until you get to present your vision of it. Do you eventually run into the edge of space, where there is nothing after that? Keep in mind that since Einstein we have had the testimony of physics that space and time are funamentally related to one another in what Einstein dubbed space-time (I know you are a naturalist, so I assume this will be of significance to your view). That will provide some empirical difficulties for your idea.

    The logical side of things will also be troublesome. Infinities are notorious for presenting logical difficulties no matter how you slice them. Obviously, it is hard to imagine something that had no beginning. There has been a lot of talk on this tread about infinite regression of Gods. The reaction to this for people who don’t like the idea has always been to terminate the regression at some point with a first God, or first Cause. But, of course, that is equally hard to envision, and equally silly of an idea, because then you have to explain why this first Cause suddenly popped into existence and where it came from. I know this is all very basic and obvious, but it important to note that people usually pick one or the other view based upon the other view seeming untenable to them. The folly is that both views are untenable. Logic, left to itself and pursued to its conclusion, always leads to either an infinite regress ad infinitum, a circularity, or a foundationless beginning point. Each one is as untenable as the last–but you get to choose your poison.

    I have been talking in terms of time. Lest you argue that you agree with these points in terms of time, but not space, notice that these same problems arise for space as well. Either space goes on forever (which is hard to conceive of an makes us seem quite small) or space wraps around like pacman (circularity), or there is an edge to the universe (which is obviously silly).

    This is one reason I don’t care too much about whether there is a Head God or not. As I expressed in #19 I am fine with the idea that there is one Head God. I am also fine with an infinite regress. Either God always existed or there is an infinite regress of Gods, or time goes in a circle (ok, I do hate that one)–none of them actually explains anything. Instead, I avoid getting too caught up in what I consider to be an intractable problem and focus on the important implication, which is whether or not we can become like the Father. As I said in #19 the part of Blake’s theory that troubles me is that it implies we can never really become as God is (we can’t become the source of divinity for others according to Blake).

    Anyway, when you get to your finite amount of space argument, make sure that you don’t end up arguing for an inconceivable solution because the only other solution is inconceivable. That road never leads anywhere interesting, and it has deep rutts in the road from so much traffic over the last 2,500 years.

    Comment by Jacob — May 30, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  130. A finite amount of space with an infinite amount of time leads naturally into eternal recurrence it seems to me.

    Comment by Clark — May 30, 2006 @ 10:40 am

  131. Geoff,

    I am totally with you there, I lean towards finite energy/matter. I don’t believe time actually exists at all beyond a philosophical concept (it is just our way of reckoning changes in the state of the energy).

    My problem is, I tend to accept infinite regression, which begs the question, where did the energy come from to form all of the new spirits on each regression? Wouldn’t the amount of energy run out? Are many spirits and other items being recycled, but you’d think at some point we would max out the number of exalted beings and be unable to progress for lack of energy. I posted recently on my own blog many quotes about what seems to be the recycling of Spirits that have chosen the wrong path. The only other answer I would have is that even Gods can make a mistake and be thrust out of Godhood later, and thus everything is temporal allowing plenty of energy to continue cycling, but this seems in absolute defiance of scripture and revelation, so I am wondering if my assumption of finite energy is wrong? Geoff, if you have another way to explain it, that might help sort this out, I would be very interested to hear that.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 30, 2006 @ 11:04 am

  132. I think there are mechanisms (for lack of a better word) beyond this world that provide for a kind of unity with God that allows–for all who qualify–the possibility of becoming a source of divinity, as it were, in a collectivist sense. If all that the Father hath shall be given to the faithful does that not include His name? His divinity?

    Comment by Jack — May 30, 2006 @ 11:08 am

  133. Good comments and questions Jacob. I have not posted on this yet because I am am not at all settled on any particular arguments. I may simply post these questions but perhaps we could hash a few things out here (buried deep in this thread) before I try to post on it.

    Logic, left to itself and pursued to its conclusion, always leads to either an infinite regress ad infinitum, a circularity, or a foundationless beginning point. Each one is as untenable as the last-but you get to choose your poison.

    I think my preferred poison is “circularity”. That seems to be what Joseph taught in the KFD with his ring analogy and with the “anything that has a beginning must have an end”. The implications of those ideas are striking. Our potential Godhood will have a beginning after all. So it seems to me that one thing he might be saying is that eternity really is correctly depicted as an Ouroboros; this would explain an infinity of time but a non-infinite (though perhaps incomprehensibly large) amount of space and matter.

    The issue really hits home when we consider our own personal identities. I prefer the model of intelligences/spirits that has “us” being emergent from beginningless “intelligence” parts (a la Orson Pratt’s view). I think that any view of us being beginningless with our current personal identities is just untenable (despite Blake’s insistence to the contrary). So I suppose I am considering the notion that “the course of the Lord is One Eternal Round” also implies the ring analogy or Ouroboros in the eternities. That would of course require some divine persons to voluntarily disassemble the intelligence parts that make their personal identity up at some point; maybe it would even be considered a condescension of sorts. This idea is completely unacceptable to many people, no doubt — but after a billion years or so of being the basically the same person maybe it would make more sense… That would mean that the Godhead is beginningless even if its senior members can “condescend” to become the constituent “intelligence parts” of someone like you.

    I know this is all pretty out there, but as you said, infinities cause all sorts of problems. (See why I prefer to bury this sort of pondering at the end of a long thread? (grin))

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 11:16 am

  134. Oh, I missed Jeff’s and Clark’s related comments. See my musings in #133. I think that is exactly right that “recycling” would be required, Jeff. And you are right that only recycling the wicked would not work forever.

    Jack (#132) – I agree.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  135. This is one of those points where we get to compare our “temperaments” as James would call them (cf. the first chapter of Pragmatism). There is very little meaningful debate that can occur in choosing between the poisons, yet, we learn a lot about one another by simply knowning which poison each of us prefers. You choose circularity (which is my least favorite), I tend toward infinite regress ad infinitum. I think time goes on forever rather than wrapping around, so I am already signed up for infinite regress on that front.

    Above, you linked to your post against beginningless identity. There, you argue that it is logically impossible for spirits to be beginningless without jettisoning the idea of eternal progression. Two points on that:

    Firstly, for the record, and without going into it since it was hashed out there, I agree with Blake that the argument you present there (about us already having lived forever, so no more time could be useful in our progression) is based on a logical fallacy.

    Secondly, and more importantly, you seem to have jettisoned the idea of eternal progress much more explicitly with your view stated above (#133) then the whole-cloth view of spirits you were arguing against. You are essentially saying that after a long enough time, a fullness of joy gets so boring that a God will choose to simply cease to exist, which on your view, also makes possible the creation of a new identity (this time very unadvanced?). This not eternal progress. Also, how could it be viewed as favorable to re-organize a God (perfect, loving, organizing, helpful to others) into a primitive intelligence (capable of very little and pretty selfish to start out)? Upon what logic is that a good idea?

    Now, I happen to be somewhat unorthodox on this point: I would very much like the option of ceasing to exist. I would choose that, if I could. So, I am sympathetic to your view if I get to cease to exist. It is just that I don’t believe it to be a real possibility.

    By the way, don’t get too carried away with the ring analogy of Joseph Smith. He said (as you quoted in your previous post)

    I am dwelling on the immutibility of the spirit of man, is it logic to say the spirit of man had a beginning & yet had no end, it does not have a begining & yet had no end, it does not have a begining or end, my ring is like the Exhistanc of man it has no begining or end, if cut into their would be a begining & end, so with man if it had a begining it will have an end, if I am right I might say God never had power to create the spirit of man (Ehat & Cook’s Words of Joseph Smith 346)

    It seems he chose to illustrate an infinity with a circularity, but the rest of the argument would work much better with an infinite regress than a circularity (and I don’t expect he was trying to be careful about the distinction between the two). His statement that “God never had power to create the spirit of man” implies fairly directly that it is the spirit which is beginningless rather than the constituent parts. Add to that D&C 93 which says intelligence was not created, neither indeed can be. Now, I am well aware of all the debate over the meaning of intelligence, but I personally find it difficult to say “intelligence existed without identity” without defining intelligence in a way that makes it not intelligent (which makes the definition quite non-intuitive and problematic in my view).

    Comment by Jacob — May 30, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

  136. Note that by eternal recurrence I mean more the Stoic view (popularized by Nietzsche). That is with a finite amount of matter in a finite number of states then you end up with all beings repeating a cycle of life. It might not be the repetition of everything, the way the Stoics believed, but effectively you are in a kind of stasis. You are in a circle where you will think the same thoughts, have the same concerns and then after a certain number of years get back to the same state.

    Whether that is problematic will vary according to person. Nietzsche thought that being able to accept this was the sign of strength. But I suspect some will see this as irreconcilable with eternal progression.

    Comment by Clark — May 30, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  137. Jacob,

    I don’t really have a horse in this race, but I do think that there are some rough answers to some of the points you bring up.

    First, I won’t dispute that it is a logical fallacy to say that if we have already lived forever more time would not be useful in our progression. But I think it makes intuitive sense as an argument against a single 70 year mortal probation as being as important as we traditionally think it is. (A billion years would not even be an eye blink in the premortal forever after all…)

    Second, my conception of the “spirit-atomism” model of spirits is analogous to a snowball of “light and truth” or “intelligence”. More “intelligence” spiritually gathered presumably makes the being more Godlike. (Yeah I know this has problems that would need working out.) The interesting thing is that D&C 93 implies a certain independent volition of all intelligence:

    All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

    Now I’m not willing to go all the way down the Skousen road with this quite yet, but I do think that this does open some interesting metaphysical avenues for us.

    The question that could be asked is; if there is such a thing as “spirit atomism” then are the independent “particles” all equal or are there some that are simply more intelligent, more loving, and better leaders/organizers in their irreducible state that the others? (Indeed, it could be asked if there is a massive continuum of the levels of these irreducible particles as described in Abraham 3…) I have no idea of course, but I do find the question interesting. If so, one might conclude that a Divine person might be made of the best “quality” of intelligence-parts so a “recycling” might be described as seeding (or at least re-seeding) the Universe new high-quality intelligence-children. (I am totally making this stuff up as I go so no one take me too seriously, please.) Anyway, I suppose one could call such an idea “the circle of life” writ large. (grin)

    Third, I agree that it would be a major stretch to imply that Joseph had this sort of thing in mind. I don’t think he did. But the basic parts are there to make this particular “poison” one of the possibilities when dealing with the headache-inducing topic of eternity.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  138. Geoff,

    First, I won’t dispute that it is a logical fallacy to say that if we have already lived forever more time would not be useful in our progression.

    Just in case you forgot, or for anyone reading who didn’t go back to the previous post and doesn’t know what I am talking about, in that post you said:

    We have already lived forever and have not progressed to become like God. Therefore, it makes no sense that more time could be required or even useful.

    So, it sounds like you have backed off of that stance, which I approve of. You had linked to it, so I thought it represented your current view.

    I think it makes intuitive sense as an argument against a single 70 year mortal probation as being as important as we traditionally think it is.

    I agree that the weight we put on a less-than-100 year mortal life on earth does not seem intuitively plausible. One of my favorite scriptures is D&C 101:33 where God admits that he hasn’t told us what the purpose of the earth is yet and promises to fill us in some day. I could tell he hadn’t given us a straight answer yet, so I was glad when I found out he threw us a bone in this scripture by acknowledging as much. In the previous post you were making a different point with your argument, which is why I took issue with the argument.

    Second, my conception of the “spirit-atomism” model of spirits is analogous to a snowball of “light and truth” or “intelligence”. More “intelligence” spiritually gathered presumably makes the being more Godlike. (Yeah I know this has problems that would need working out.) The interesting thing is that D&C 93 implies a certain independent volition of all intelligence

    This statement encapsulates what I see as the problem with your conception. You envision it as a snowball, but D&C 93 implies independence. These two things seem to be at odds with one another and I can’t tell that there is a good solution. You are saying it opens up metaphysical avenues, but to me it seems to be closing them down. Shouldn’t we take our current experience of what it means to be a person and what it means to progress as the basis for undrestanding what these things mean in the preternities? (Note to self: go home and patent the word “preternities”). My pragmatist leanings make me leary when we disassociate it from our current experience and start talking about snowballs of light and truth.

    I won’t take any pot shots at your “circle of life” theory since arguments against it would make the mistake of taking it too seriously at this early stage in its development :} I will point out, though, that your original musings in #133 will lead you down odd paths like this, so be sure you want to go there before you adopt it as your theory.

    Comment by Jacob — May 30, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  139. Jacob,

    So, it sounds like you have backed off of that stance

    Yep. In the comments I think. If there is one thing I can do, it is be persuded to change a stance with sufficient evidence.

    You envision it as a snowball, but D&C 93 implies independence. These two things seem to be at odds with one another and I can’t tell that there is a good solution.

    I think that there are gobs of evidences of the basic snowball model in the gospel. The very word “atonement” has all humankind as “independent persons” becoming “at-one” with a Godhead that is already considered “One God” in scripture. If independent persons can choose to become part of the One God it is no stretch to say independent intelligence particles could choose to be part of one person. As I said, I suspect that our personal identity must emerge from our parts. If not, then I have trouble seeing how real progress in the eternities is possible.

    For example, consider a Giraffe. It has an “intelligence/spirit” much like we do. Are we to assume that spirit powering that animal has been at the basic “giraffe level” of intelligence for all eternity? Should we assume it in beginningless in that form? If so, is there any sort of progression is available for that intelligence? Is there such a thing as becoming “the best giraffe” throughout all eternity? If the intelligence that makes up (or at least powers) a giraffe could never progress or retrogress then it must be a fundamentally different variety of intelligence spoken of in D&C 93, right? The intelligence spoken of there is independent to act for itself in its sphere. Now you could say it has a giraffe-level sphere and could not progress above or below that sphere, but then how could we say that the intelligence that powers us could progress above our current sphere and become like God? Anyway, it seems to me that the snowball model of intelligences fits existence as I understand it better than the whole cloth model ever will.

    I’m interested in your responses to these issues though. Perhaps there is obvious evidence that will make this nascent pre-theory I am exploring a non-starter.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  140. A few comments about physics – first, it is extremely important when evaluation the usefulness and credibility of physical theories to distinguish between the degree to which a theory is capable of explaining known expirimental evidence (its empirical value) and the degree to which a theory is to be taken seriously as a reasonable representation of the way the world *really* is.

    Both special and general relativity, as we know them today, have well verified empirical value, but lag far behind quantum mechanics in terms of the latter. QM is validated to sixteen decimal places in experiments one can perform in a lab. GR is probably one third that and its most crucial characteristics cannot be measured at all – rather than providing substantive predictive power, astrophysics is mostly a matter of tweaking our version of the universe to match GR – cosmological constant, dark energy, time variant laws, and so on.

    Many commentators talk as if any evidence that GR predicts (graviational red shift, gravitational refraction, and so on) are conclusive evidence that curved space GR is the only possible answer. That is completely untenable – there are a wide variety of scalar potential theories of light and gravity that handily conform to the available expirimental evidence. The idea that space actually *is* curved lies more in the realm of scientific dogma than scientific fact at this point.

    Furthermore, space-time equivalence is highly overrated. A cursory examination of the simplest four vector equations shows that space and time are treated in completely different ways – polar opposites for all practical purposes. Typically all the time components are complex numbers, while the space components are real. This makes, as one might expect the space and time components to balance each other, most often completely canceling each other out. The equations, while a neat trick, have artifice written all over them.

    And of course, that is not even the beginning of the moral, philosophical, and phenomenological problems associated with considering space and time true equivalents. One might succeed with a model that had a fourth space like dimension that retained local (phenomenological) time as a path length through extended space, the local portion of the universe moving along in a “time-like” direction, but that is problematic as well.

    Finally we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that the information density of the spiritual component of existence is finite in a finite space finite matter world. The main reason to to conclude that it is not, is that it destroys the whole idea of salvation, eternal progression, and so on – we might as well pack up and go home, because if spiritual information density is limited we are pre-destined to either reach a static equilibrium – the “end of time” – of some sort, or to forget what we have learned and loop back in some sort of limit cycle.

    I do not know how intelligences remember things without a body, nor how character and memory is split across “spiritual” and “physical” components of the mind/brain/soul, but somehow I suspect if the future is as dark as all that that Heavenly Father would not get out of bed in the morning.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

  141. “evaluating” that is.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  142. Clark,

    I think that finite space and matter with infinite time certainly entails eternal recurrence given causal determinism, but I think some form of counter-causal free-will might provide an escape from such a conclusion.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 30, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  143. By the way, the “whoever heard of a father without a son” argument is extraordinarily naive for several different reasons.

    Reason number one is that it denies divine discretion to do a “new thing” from time to time, implying instead that human form is neither designed nor a evolutionary development, but rather a *metaphysical* necessity – unless one thinks the Most High changes bodily form from time to time like a “change-ling” of course.

    The power of resurrection is ample evidence that one does not need a physical birth to be restored to a body. It is the best evidence against those who have insisted that Adam and Eve must have been born *physically* of heavenly parents.

    There is also ample scriptural evidence that the terms father and son are not used only in the natal / procreative sense. Jesus often refers to the heavenly father / child relationship as contingent and conditional. A classic example is where Jesus denies that certain of his critics were children of God:

    I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

    Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

    Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

    There are other scriptural examples of non-procreative father/childhood – notably Mosiah 5:7:

    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.

    The necessity of the Law of Adoption, whereby children are sealed to parents other than their biological ones, in order to assemble the patriarchal order in a unified hierarchy going back to Adam working around those who are unworthy or have fallen from their exaltations, is a final example.

    I think the necessity for procreative spirit birth is so weak, that my working theory for the bootstrap procedure of the plan of salvation does not have procreative spirit birth *at all*, but rather something along the lines of Mosiah 5:7. Indeed that may be the reason why we have no scriptural record of a mother in heaven – we are down hear on earth, in part to *get one*, and an eternal father in heaven too, mothers and fathers to whom we will be sealed if all three remain faithful.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

  144. Jeff G, If the world is strictly deterministic, history will repeat – that is the Poincare recurrence theorem. However if there are a finite number of states in a non-deterministic world, history will also have to either repeat or stop, because the world will “run out” of new states to occupy. As a LFW, eternal progression non-determinist I cannot take either possibility seriously.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

  145. Mark,
    Are you, then, denying that we have a heavenly mother? Are you denying that the union of men and women is essential to the plan? That seems to me like giving up a lot that is important. I think that the idea of procreative spirit birth is usually supported by the simple fact that we must be sealed in order to have posterity beyond this world.

    Comment by Steve H — May 30, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  146. Mark,

    I am confused by all your last three comments. The point of #140 seems to be that infinite time need not mean infinite space, but you lost me on the last couple of paragraphs. You didn’t attribute the blockquote in #143 to anything. #144 doesn’t make much sense to me either… Jeff’s comment was a coherent response to Clark but your comment back to Jeff is less so.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

  147. Steve,

    I don’t think there is such a thing as procreative spirit birth. Perhaps I should post on that… (Didn’t Stapley already post on it?)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 5:38 pm

  148. Mark,

    It’s true, general relativity could turn out to be totally mistaken as a description of the way the universe really is. I certainly don’t accept the total equivalence of space and time like what Einstein seemed to believe because (as Einstein pointed out) it leads to the idea that the direction of time is an illusion.

    When you say that “the ‘whoever heard of a father without a son’ argument is extraordinarily naive,” do you mean to say that Joseph’s logic in the KFD was extraordinarily naive, or that it can be interpreted in a naive way? I wasn’t sure from your comments. Your examples of father/son relationships being used symbolically in the scriptures do not seem like a very solid counter examples to the fact that we really don’t know of any living thing that didn’t have literal parents. There is no logical requirement that it has to be that way, but it does happen to be universally true from our careful observation of the real world in which we live. Joseph relied on an appeal to revelation (the scripture of Paul) to justify his application of this observation to the heavenly world.

    Comment by Jacob — May 30, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

  149. Mark, re 144

    Of course the appeal to CCFW (counter-causal-free-will) doesn’t not avoid the inevitability under such a scenario that the same state of affairs, s0 and s1, will be reached again at any moment. My point, however, is that under CCFW s0 and s1 can immediately diverge in anyway. Therefore, the same sequence of events will not necessarily follow for any given s0 and s1.

    Comment by Jeff G — May 30, 2006 @ 5:59 pm

  150. Geoff, The blockquote in #143 is messed up – it includes one too many paragraphs at the beginning – the rest is John 8:38-44. My apologies.

    In regard to #140, these are relatively technical mechanics / information theory issues, it is hard for me to clarify without specific questions.

    Steve H, in regards to having a spirit mother, I am not convinced we *had* a spirit mother prior to this mortal life, but I do believe we probably have one now, one who is almost certainly one of our patrilineal grandmothers som number of generations back, and that in the eternities the mother who we are sealed to on earth, if we all are faithful will become our eventual heavenly mother, and our earthly father our eventual heavenly father.

    That seems to me to be the whole point of the doctrine of sealings and the patriarchal order – having more than one father or more than one mother is a prescription for chaos. So I see spiritual, non-procreative motherhood and fatherhood usually yielding to the preservation of the procreative or adoptive relationships we establish in this life.

    That means that my view of heavenly fatherhood and heavenly motherhood is in terms of presiding over ones lineal and adopted posterity, as in the promises made to Abraham and Sarah, not in terms of having 100 some odd billion procreative, first generation spirit children. More like a nicely balanced tree, less like a clump of grass.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

  151. I should add, that I see explaining how the plan of salvation was boot-strapped such that the literal doctrine of a Most High God (El Elyon), and the temple as a microcosm of eternity makes sense as a fundamental problem of theology.

    I reject infinite backward recursion (IBR) as inevitably leading to a hyper-Platonism, one that denies divine discretion and free will, where no one is responsibly for anything, no coherent collaboration of the divine concert, just a celestial bureaucracy where everyone keeps pointing fingers but where the buck never stops.

    Bubbling off new universes for each exalted couple seems to defeat the whole purpose of the doctrine of sealings and living together as eternal families, beyond the most radically unnecessary multiplication of entities. I personally have absolutely no aspiration to be the ground of all being – being an equal member of a celestial society is more than enough for me. The latter conception of theosis has a precedent going back thousands of years, photocopier theology is simply a way to marry Western orthodoxy with the KFD – the quick and dirty way out. A new universe here, a new universe there – pretty soon it adds up to real money.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

  152. Geoff, the rationality of eternal progression in a universe with a finite number of states is suspect because memory consumes states, so if there are a finite number we are destined to lose track of history to the degree that we cannot even tell that we are repeating ourselves in some sort of quasi-cycle of events, even if we have full libertarian free will. Kind of like celestial senility on a grand scale – Hmm, have we tried that already?, but without even a sense of deja vu.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 6:45 pm

  153. Jacob,

    Joseph Smith could be right on that point of course, but if the only evidence is a once sentence argument, and argument that apparently contradicts other highly contemporaneous comments on the subject of a Most High or Head God, then the argument is seriously lacking either way.

    It is not a new one either – the same logic was a hallmark of discourse in Aristotle’s day, and ultimately boils down to arguing from a naive semantic realism, a mode of thinking that has been obsolete for over seven hundred years.

    Ockham put conventional Platonic realism to a long and well deserved rest in the timeless heavens above – the striking thing is how much its ghost lingers on in everyday discourse – people acting as if a word (like ‘father’) has a proper, true, and unitary definition rather than being a reflection of heritage and social convention, a token that can be reused in a dozen contexts with different (albeit related) semantics in each.

    I am most definitely a semantic realist – I think the doctrine of Saussurean coherentism, structuralism (to say nothing of Derridean differance) is a philosophical disaster, but this idea of a simple map between ideas and things is ridiculously untenable. Love, faith, mercy, justice, grace and so on are not things nor substances in the ordinary sense – they are extraordinarily complex phenomena with common themes. To think otherwise is to commit the metaphysical fallacy.

    Fatherhood is not a substance, it is an idea. Same thing with motherhood, son-ship, and daughterhood – all have much more to do with interpersonal relations than with shared genetics or procreative mechanics. Otherwise adoption would be meaningless.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 9:20 pm

  154. For a decent example of the absurdity of hyper-essentialism, take a look at this except from Summa Theologica on Original Sin:

    Whether there are several original sins in one man?

    Objection 1. It would seem that there are many original sins in one man. For it is written (Psalm 1:7): “Behold I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me.” But the sin in which a man is conceived is original sin. Therefore there are several original sins in man.

    Objection 2. Further, one and the same habit does not incline its subject to contraries: since the inclination of habit is like that of nature which tends to one thing. Now original sin, even in one man, inclines to various and contrary sins. Therefore original sin is not one habit; but several.

    Objection 3. Further, original sin infects every part of the soul. Now the different parts of the soul are different subjects of sin, as shown above (74). Since then one sin cannot be in different subjects, it seems that original sin is not one but several.

    On the contrary, It is written (John 1:29): “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sin of the world”: and the reason for the employment of the singular is that the “sin of the world” is original sin, as a gloss expounds this passage.

    I answer that, In one man there is one original sin. Two reasons may be assigned for this. The first is on the part of the cause of original sin. For it has been stated (81, 2), that the first sin alone of our first parent was transmitted to his posterity. Wherefore in one man original sin is one in number; and in all men, it is one in proportion, i.e. in relation to its first principle. The second reason may be taken from the very essence of original sin. Because in every inordinate disposition, unity of species depends on the cause, while the unity of number is derived from the subject. For example, take bodily sickness: various species of sickness proceed from different causes, e.g. from excessive heat or cold, or from a lesion in the lung or liver; while one specific sickness in one man will be one in number. Now the cause of this corrupt disposition that is called original sin, is one only, viz. the privation of original justice, removing the subjection of man’s mind to God. Consequently original sin is specifically one, and, in one man, can be only one in number; while, in different men, it is one in species and in proportion, but is numerically many.

    Reply to Objection 1. The employment of the plural–“in sins”–may be explained by the custom of the Divine Scriptures in the frequent use of the plural for the singular, e.g. “They are dead that sought the life of the child”; or by the fact that all actual sins virtually pre-exist in original sin, as in a principle so that it is virtually many; or by the fact of there being many deformities in the sin of our first parent, viz. pride, disobedience, gluttony, and so forth; or by several parts of the soul being infected by original sin.

    Reply to Objection 2. Of itself and directly, i.e. by its own form, one habit cannot incline its subject to contraries. But there is no reason why it should not do so, indirectly and accidentally, i.e. by the removal of an obstacle: thus, when the harmony of a mixed body is destroyed, the elements have contrary local tendencies. In like manner, when the harmony of original justice is destroyed, the various powers of the soul have various opposite tendencies.

    Reply to Objection 3. Original sin infects the different parts of the soul, in so far as they are the parts of one whole; even as original justice held all the soul’s parts together in one. Consequently there is but one original sin: just as there is but one fever in one man, although the various parts of the body are affected.

    Keep in mind that Thomas Aquinas was no dummy – probably the best exponent of this mode of thinking since Aristotle himself.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

  155. Aristotelian metaphysics, not Original Sin, of course.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 9:36 pm

  156. Mark,

    Once again I have only the vaguest of ideas what you are talking about in most of these comments. For instance, your #140 almost seems like a non-sequitur to me. I said I am doubtful about there being infinite amounts of space and matter… was #140 connected to my comment or just some random musings spurred by Jacob’s passing reference to relativity?

    Your #151 is another example of a seemingly random comment that is only loosely related to this conversation… what are you trying to say in that first paragraph? I see that you also reject the eternal regression of Gods (I prefer to do so also) but I don’t see why the notion “denies divine discretion and free will, where no one is responsibly for anything, no coherent collaboration of the divine concert”. Have you defended those charges elsewhere or something? I also have no idea what “photocopier theology” is. It may be that I would agree with you but you seem to be using some kind of cryptic references that I can’t comprehend.

    Last, I also am not sure I am following your #152. Is a “finite number of states” a requirement if there is something less than infinite space and matter? Perhaps so. But I am suggesting that personal identities come and go anyway so “senility” is not required — especially if there is a voluntary condescension aspect to it all.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 30, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

  157. Geoff, #140 was in response to Clark’s comments. And yes, I am pointing out the implausibility of a finite number of states, even if space and matter are finite. The “senility” part in #152 (my attempted clarification) is related to the necessity of forgetting past history in a scheme with infinite time and finite memory capacity.

    I did also intend to give caution re the applicability of curved-spacetime theories to theology, when no one has yet to demonstrate that space actually is curved, as opposed to light bending in a gravitational field.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  158. Geoff, I defined “photocopier theology” in #84, basically any of the popular LDS schemes for taking an orthodox or neo-orthodox theology and cutting and pasting it multiple times, typically with one world, one galaxy, or one universe per heavenly couple. The appeal of such schemes of course is that way everyone gets to be a ground-of-all-being thundering Old Testament God with 100 billion kids who can blow away anyone who disagrees with him because his every opinion is the Truth by definition.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 9:51 pm

  159. I should say that such considerations are relevant because they are the only way we have of resolving the issue of how and in what way does Heavenly Father have a Father. i.e. do they have to work together, or is it pretty much go have a nice eternity and do not forget to send us a card on holidays?

    For several reasons, I consider IBR and Photocopier theology in particular the quick and dirty way out of some very serious questions, notably how do multiple exalted persons get along? Who prevails, what is the system of government, what does it mean to be perfect, and so on.

    The question of the relationship between Heavenly Father and his Father, and whether there is one Father who is the Most High for all eternity, is a critical aspect of this question. Now since we have little scriptural evidence on that particular question, the proper thing to do is to go to the many scriptures describing the nature of the relationship Jesus Christ had with his Father, and also to the many scriptures describing ecclesiology and a celestial / Zion society. The scriptures are full of them.

    That is why I can state with confidence that the law of common consent, and the principles of priesthood procedure, and delegation, and atonement apply in heaven as they do on earth.

    Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.

    Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual. (D&C 29:34-35)

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 10:04 pm

  160. Geoff,

    Re: #139

    I think that there are gobs of evidences of the basic snowball model in the gospel.

    I don’t know about other parts of the gobs of evidence, but the evidence you cite in #139 is the oneness of the Godhead, to which we are invited. The problem with this is that the oneness of the Godhead is not analogous to the snowball theory in the one way that matters. The Godhead brings multiple people together in a relationship which makes them “one” in some sense (just what sense is a matter of debate), but the one thing Mormon theology is pretty solid about is that identity is preserved in the Godhead. Thus, I don’t think the oneness of the Godhead lends any credence to the snowball theory (I don’t think it argues against it either).

    About the giraffe. I was sort of following the rhetorical questions, but then at the end, I realized I must have missed the whole point, because the conclusion seemed like a non sequitur. Maybe a bit of background on your view will help me. When you say that our identity emerges from our intelligent parts, can you describe any properties of the intelligent parts? Do they have identity when they are just parts? Are they intelligent in any sense?

    It seems you have as a starting place that there are various grades of intelligence. For instance, you suggested that there might be a different kind of “parts” to make up animals than for humans. Also, you said divine people might be made of the best quality parts. What does this quality entail, and how does it relate to the individuals made from it? Does this mean if I am evil it might just be because someone made me out of bad parts? It’s not really my fault after all?

    from #137 : one might conclude that a Divine person might be made of the best “quality” of intelligence-parts so a “recycling” might be described as seeding (or at least re-seeding) the Universe new high-quality intelligence-children.

    Again, I have to ask how it would be preferable to take Gods apart and mix up their ingredients in order to seed the universe with new people who are inferior in every way: morally, intellectually, influentially, etc.?

    Comment by Jacob — May 30, 2006 @ 10:08 pm

  161. I should say that I think that the idea that a spirit is composed of more than one intelligence, especially a bunch of first class intelligences as Orson Pratt had it, is radically untenable. It begs the question of why the feet are not conspiring together to overthrow the head.

    I generally follow B.H. Roberts position on the subject – one largely unembodied intelligence per person, sometimes known as ones eternal spirit or “soul”. So yes that means that I think that a giraffe also only has one, relatively giraffe-class intelligence, and I am more than a little skeptical that a giraffe will ever be much more than a kind and loving giraffe.

    I am also of the position that heavenly parenthood does not require a further umpteen eternities to achieve – more like years (if not hours), for those who have prepared well in this life. I can take that position because I believe divinity is a collective enterprise. Absolutist perfection not required.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 30, 2006 @ 10:21 pm

  162. Jacob (#135),
    In response to “how could it be viewed as favorable to re-organize a God (perfect, loving, organizing, helpful to others) into a primitive intelligence (capable of very little and pretty selfish to start out)? Upon what logic is that a good idea?” Perhaps the purest energy is the simplest, perhaps the most glorified existence is the basic elements that allow the rest of life and the universe to flourish. (My mind goes to Space Oddysey where I see Dave getting older and older but then being a monolith and then a child again). Maybe the “crude” stages are the intermediate stages, and the advanced and basic — the microcosm and macrocosm so to speak, are the holiest? Maybe a transcendence of the ideas of good and evil, life, identity and everything is some type of sublime oneness. I certainly don’t feel ready to allow my intelligences to get thrown back into the pot, but that isn’t to say there isn’t something honorable in it.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 31, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  163. Jeff (Re: #162)

    It is easy to say “perhaps…[fill in the blank],” but where is there any support that those ideas you suggested are true? I can do that too: Perhaps exaltation is becoming a drop in the big eternal pool, losing our identities so that we can become one with the universe. This idea is certainly believable (lots of people in other religions do believe it), but there is not a single bit of support in the restored gospel for the idea. The same is true for the “perhapses” you listed above. Perfectly possible, but without a scrap of evidence from the restored gospel to back them up. On the contrary, the restored gospel seems to argue directly against those ideas.

    Comment by Jacob — May 31, 2006 @ 11:42 am

  164. Jacob (#160),

    You again bring up some good points.

    One thing I might retort with is that the “snowball” analogy does not entail losing individuality necessarily. Each snowflake is unique and a snowball is simple the union of individual snowflakes. It could work nicely to describe the extended Godhead I think (assuming they don’t melt in the analogy… :-) ). I suppose a “water in a bucket” analogy would have the troubles you mention though…

    When you say that our identity emerges from our intelligent parts, can you describe any properties of the intelligent parts? Do they have identity when they are just parts? Are they intelligent in any sense?

    Not really. This gets back to the question about what is irreducible in us — whole-cloth “intelligences/spirits” (a la Roberts) or individual intelligence particles (a la Pratt). In any case, the implication of D&C 93 seems to be that intelligence is independent to act (in one way or another) in its most basic and irreducible state. So the question about animals has to do with progress of intelligence in general. If we can progress from human intelligence to super-human intelligence (Godhood) then is there also something akin to spiritual “evolution” with lower spirits/intelligences in the eternities. I suspect the answer must be yes.

    It seems you have as a starting place that there are various grades of intelligence.

    This is actually the question I am asking, not a conclusion I am proposing. Is each irreducible intelligence (be it whole cloth or particle) exactly the same as any other or do “intelligences” in irreducible form vary in glory?

    Mark (#161) – That seems like as good of a position to take as any. I think the only issue it faces is the explanation of why infinity of time has not been long enough for us Gods-in-waiting to progress from our current state. It is logically possible I suppose, but seems highly improbable to me. (See my post specifically on that subject here.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 31, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  165. Geoff,

    As far as I know, no one believes in a “whole cloth” model of spirit bodies. The confusion arises because Joseph Smith used the words “spirit” and “intelligence” interchangeably in many contexts.

    The B.H. Roberts view is generally that there is a single, indivisible intelligence that directs the actions of both the spirit and physical body. The distinctive aspect of this position is that it is “tri-alistic” instead of dualistic – two inanimate types of substance and one animate, directing intelligence – where the intelligence is some sort of divine spark possibly residing somewhere between one’s ears, but no doubt rather more distributed in influence than point-symmetry would imply.

    It is worth remembering that even on Orson Pratt’s hybrid monistic view, one particle of intelligent matter tells all the other intelligent particles what to do, and also that there are both spirit particles and cruder physical particles, both intelligent / hylozoistic.

    The difference between the two views is that Orson Pratt (and Brigham Young and Bruce R. McConkie) were panpsychists (intelligence everywhere), while B.H. Roberts and John Widstoe are more comparable to Cartesian dualists with a unique LDS twist – two forms of matter, and an incarnation of intelligence instead of a “ghost in the machine” – the LDS ghost is material with either localized (Roberts) or distributed (Pratt) intelligence, where the Cartesian ghost tends to evaporate on close inspection.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

  166. Infinite time is a funny concept, but it is not worth too much concern. If we take any model where average personal or societal progression is roughly proportional to existing capacity, after adjusting for wrong turns, trial and error, and other setbacks, we inevitably get a:

    C(t) = A exp(kt) + B

    model. Elementary calculus. What the solution to our differential equation tells us is that to first approximation the capacity at time minus infinity was slightly above zero, and though increasing exponentially, doubling every “decade” or so, it has taken an infinite amount of time to arrive at its present value. The “B” term is the constant, non-linear term corresponding to the “critical mass” or self-existent intelligence to have *any* progression at all. So capacity at t = minus infinity is necessarily B, and we add an exponential progression on top of that to get current capacity A + B.

    Now some will dispute whether intelligence or progression can be measured this way, and my response is eternal progression is relatively meaningless unless it is the quasi monotonic increase of something, so this model while crude is better than silence – some model is necessary to talk about the subject at all.

    One last thing – I maintain that all intelligences progress roughly in parallel, instead of being delayed infinitely relative to other intelligences due to lack of resources. So if there is a constant density of intelligences in the universe, there may very well be a date by which all personal intelligences acting in good faith have passed some landmark in progression, though no doubt there are stragglers for a variety of reasons, including simple stubbornness.

    The implausibility of a first class intelligence hanging around for an infinite amount of time *longer* than another first class intelligence is one of my primary objections to both infinite backward and infinite forward recursion. It is indeed ones moral obligation to learn and progress – one “infinity” to our present collective state is one thing and infinite number of “infinities” is quite another.

    It is surely consistent with God’s character to provide opportunities for all to be saved as soon as resources are available, so I see all personal intelligences acting in good faith reaching similar stages of progression within a finite number of soteriological “generations”, possibly as few as a hundred or so, as many worlds in parallel as we can manage.

    Depending on the fan-out factor, one would expect to give all personal intelligences in the known universe an opportunity for progression in this stage of progression in that number of world-generations or less. After there is necessarily the advent of a new epoch, where some further scheme is advanced for our collective development, unless we are to view the celestial/terrestial/telestial regime as the end of history.

    Joseph Smith hints at this in D&C 130:10, referring to a higher order of kingdoms than the celestial, however I am not confident the plans for such are off the drawing board yet.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

  167. Mark,

    The “whole-cloth” model of spirits is my name for the Roberts position you just described. While there are some variants on the theme — some people go for a tripartite intelligence-spirit-body model and others think any intelligence is the same thing as a spirit — the basic component is that the fundamental intelligence that is “us” is irreducible. This is in contrast to the spirit atomism model of Pratt which holds that intelligences that make up us are reducible to unified particles of intelligence. As you noted, one variation holds that there is a single particle at the center (it is not clear to me that Pratt taught this but Orson Card did assume this in his sci-fi Enderverse) and another has “us” (our current personal identity) not reducing to any single particle but synergistically emerging from the group’s oneness.

    I am not settled on what model I go for but I think the spirit atomism model seems most promising currently.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 31, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

  168. Pratt rather explicitly advocated one head intelligent particle telling the other intelligent particles what to do – he invented the idea. I will try to dig up some quotes later.

    By the way “spirit atomism” is vague – I believe in spirit atomism, I just do not believe that spirit (or “physical”) matter, by and large, is intelligent the way Orson Pratt believed. I believe in agent atomism as well – just one agent per person though.

    “Whole cloth” is a misleading name for the Roberts/Widstoe view, because it implies that an intelligence has a shape or form like a body or “cloth”, where neither believed that – it is the intelligence that is clothed with a spiritual and/or physical body, not the other way around. If an intelligence has a particular form, then it is redundant – you can just hold that spirits had two eyes and ten fingers from all eternity.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

  169. Mark,

    You appear to be the first person to not understand what I mean when I use those terms. Do have any suggestions for these models? I like the term “Spirit atomism” or spirit particles for the Pratt model because assumes that only our parts are eternal and beginningless, not our “whole” or personal identity. The “whole-cloth” model describes those who think that spirit=intelligence and that it has been in the same form throughout eternity. You bring up a good point about the tripartite model though since it is different than either of these. (Of course the question is if believers in the tripartite model believe out personal identity resides in an intelligence fir all eternity or if the addition of a spirit body creates a new personal identity in some way…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 31, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

  170. Here is a revelant quote from Orson Pratt:

    If the human spirit be nearly the same form and magnitude as the fleshly tabernacle in which it dwells, it must be composed of an immense number of particles, each of which is susceptible of almost an infinite variety of thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Whence originated these susceptibilities? Are they the results of organization? Did each particle obtain its susceptibilities by being united with others? This would be impossible; for if a particle were entirely destitute of the capacity of thinking and feeling, no possible organization could impart to it that power. The power to think and feel, is not, nor can not be derived from any arrangement of particles. If they have not this power before organization, they can never have it afterwards. It follows then,
    that if ever there were a time when the particles of the human spirit existed in a disorganized state, each particle so existing, must have had all the susceptibilities of feeling and thought that it now has; and, consequently, each particle must have been a separate independent being of itself. Therefore, under such circumstances, one particle would have been no more affected with the state or condition of others, than one man is affected with the pleasures or pains of others with whom he is not associated.
    (Orson Pratt, Absurdities of Immaterialism, Liverpool, 1848)

    Note that a key aspect of Pratt’s thought is that all fundamental properties of intelligence are shared by the smallest “atom”.

    When therefore, the infant spirit is first born in the heavenly world, that is not a commencement of its capacities. Each particle eternally existed prior to the organization; each was enabled to perceive its own existence; each had the power of self-motion; each was an intelligent, living being of itself, having no knowledge of the particular thoughts, feelings, and emotions of other particles with which it never had been in union. Each particle was as independent of every other particle as on individual person is of another. In this independent separate condition, it would be capable of being governed by laws, adapted to the amount of knowledge and experience it had gained during its past eternal existence.
    (Orson Pratt, “The Pre-Existence of Man”, The Seer, 1853

    Pratt goes on to say that spirit particles first form part of lower life forms and then move up to higher life forms as they gain knowledge and experience. Then he goes on to talk about the internal government of organisms where particles get together and agree to form a perfect union so “disagreeable circumstances” might be avoided. He talks about how particles learn from other particles about the proper response to pain and so on, share the same emotions at the same time, and so on.

    I have yet to locate the quote about a directing particle, but the problems of a sociality of intelligences is a body is obvious enough.

    Now this is a decent theory for 1853, but unfortunately what we know about physiology as well as quantum mechanics makes it rather obsolete as applied to physical matter and the function of the brain. Brain function is somehow distributed electrochemically across a “zillion” neurons each of which is made up of tens of thousands of atoms, each of which is made up particles for which there is *compelling* evidence to be statistically indistinguishable.

    Unless those little electrons are extraordinarily clever at pulling the wool over our eyes, we can say with some certainty that they have no individual identity, as required by Pratt’s system in the physical domain. Spirit particles are still open, but I think holding that the tenants of ones spirit fingernails have consented with the tenants or components of one’s spirit elbows to form a more perfect union violates the rule against multiplying entities unnecessarily (aka Ockham’s razor).

    They have free agency right? What if they sue for divorce? Or rise up in rebellion? Or become slackers? One intelligence or identity per person is enough, and two is too much.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  171. I understand both B.H. Roberts and Widstoe to be proponents of the tripartite model. I can’t see an LDS scientist taking a dualist “whole cloth” model where an intelligence has a “shape” seriously. My seminary teacher advocated a triple cloth model. but I think that is redundant.

    The whole purpose for distinguishing between intelligences and spirits is so a spirit can consist of a body consisting of spirit matter being directed by an indivisible intelligence having identity, agency / free will, intelligence, and the fundamentals of personality.

    As you can see, this idea is similar to Pratt’s idea of intelligent atoms, except only one per person, the rest are inanimate, both spiritual and physical material particles.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 6:00 pm

  172. Geoff (#164)

    One thing I might retort with is that the “snowball” analogy does not entail losing individuality necessarily.

    Since you can’t really tell me what the intelligent parts are like, I will have to go down two paths. Because of the way you have been describing identity emerging, it sounded to me like you were implying that the parts did not have identities when they were just parts. If you want to go with the idea that our current identity is built from the combination of simpler parts, it seems you can either say that

    (1) Several parts, none of which had a will, came together and became conscious, willful agents. (This is how atheists explain our consiousness, incidentally)

    (2) Several intelligences, with individual wills, came together and formed a new intelligence with a new identity.

    The main problem for (1) will be to describe how non-willful parts become willful when they are glued together. This seems like a very difficult problem to me if you also believe in LFW. Also, for what it is worth, it seems to reject Lehi’s bifurcation of things into those which act and those that are acted upon. Also, it is difficult to map to D&C 93’s claim that intelligence cannot be created or made. (If you call the parts intelligence, then it is very strange name since they don’t have intelligence, and if you call the emergent identity an intelligence, then it seems intelligence can be created after all.)

    The problems for (2) are plentiful. When multiple wills join to make a new will, do the old wills remain intact (as the Godhead analogy seems to imply)? If so, then each of us is not really a single will, but a committee of wills. Except, introspection does not make a strong case for this. I don’t feel like I’m a committee, I feel like I am a single will. Me and my wife are supposedly “one” person in some senses, but making a decision with my wife is a very different thing than deliberating myself. This is where the Godhead analogy breaks down for me.

    Also for (2), what is the relationship between the wills that were parts and the new will that emerges? When I progress, do my part-wills progress as well? One might wonder, if God were broken down into his constituent part-wills, would each of them be a unique God, having progressed together as a union?

    Also for (2), it seems we have just pushed the original problem back one level, because now we have to ask where the little part-wills came from in the first place. Are they self-existent? I hope not, because the whole point of the theory is to get away from that idea. If not, then where did they come from? Model (2) has done nothing for us except to create a bunch of problems we didn’t have to begin with.

    There are lots of variations, but without a better idea of which direction you are headed, I don’t know what to start attacking. Are you thinking along the lines of (1) or (2), or maybe a (3) I didn’t think of?

    Comment by Jacob — May 31, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  173. I echo the sentiments Jacob has just expressed with regard to the problems of distributed free will / agency within a single person. The idea makes perfect sense when one considers how a group of persons cooperate inorder to act as a unified body, but is seems to a solution searching for a problem with regard to the operation of a person.

    I have not completely ruled out the possibility of distributed free will within a person, I just have not heard of, nor can comprehend a regime where such an idea has any independent value. Pratt’s is plausible only because each intelligence really is a thinking entity with its own agency, emotions and so forth – a theory of unity where every particle shares in the same thoughts, not a functionalist division of labor scheme where the atoms are just cogs in the machine.

    So how do we get intentionality, agency, and identity out of large number of particles barely different from a stone or a rock? I mean I feel bad when I kill a spider, but I have yet to have much in the way of sympathy for grains of sand – they do not seem to have the “breath of life” in them at all. When we go run various physics experiments on such things they behave somewhat erratically, so far as we can tell, but the statistics add up to absolute indistinguishability.

    The heat capacity of a gas or a crystal for example, would be radically different (orders of magnitude higher) if particles were distinguishable. If they are not distinguishable, how can we consider them to have any intelligence at all – no memory, no capacity for learning, no history, just some sort of particulate nirvana.

    A unitary intelligence seems to be a non-ideal solution as well, but its most particular properties LFW, identity, perception, self-cognizance, etc. seem to be irreducible. The only other alternative makes mind an epiphenomena of matter – something that is radically unlikely for other reasons, notably the question of origins, and also the questions of meta-ethics. How can destroying a machine be immoral, why should a robot care whether it lives or dies, etc. That way lies the most serious relativism one can imagine. Should electrons have civil rights?

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 7:33 pm

  174. I’ve been busy the last two day putting together a special reprinting of the Journal of Discourse Volume 1 for publication so I fell a little behind in these threads :) I will endeavor to explain my best working-theory on the “parts” that make up man. First, I will explain, then I will give my scriptural evidence to show why I believe this:

    Spirit… Formed of Intelligences (Particles) To avoid confusion with traditional understandings, I tend to refer to this entity as one’s “Essence” The Spirit alone has intelligence, meaning all of the intelligences within it give it a base of decision making power at an atomic level which combines together into a complex system to form the higher level intelligence.

    Aura… A record of your transactions: not memories, but only status or hue of some type. This is the record of all our guilt. It is perhaps part of the Essence in an inseparable way. I see the essence as unchangeable (unless it is disorganized) and the Aura as entirely formed of impressions, it changes as you go.

    Mortal Brain… (M-Brain) The brain is a system that interacts with the Spirit, records its dealings, and gives a larger base of information for decision making power. The Spirit by itself has no memories, no power to remember things as we know it, only something akin to karma or alignment (but more complex). In theory, the spirit/essence can cast off one brain and put on another. The essence would have lost its identity but not its flavor, so to speak. Let me try to describe how thorough this separation is. Hypothetically, if your essence could swap brains (and bodies) with another adult, your Spirit would feel like it has always been the other person, in fact nothing would change, and you would have the other persons memories, except you would likely see their past behaviors as irrational (making you feel insane) because your essence disagrees with theirs on a fundamental level, for better, worse, or just different. I believe the brain is an operates extensively on both the Spirit and the Physical levels; It consists of purer matter and coarser matter. People with alzheimers disease and even more clearly, people who have suffered brain damaged, are evidence of this separation of essence and memory.

    Mortal Body… (M-Body) The body is the machinery that lets you work and act. It sustains a Mortal Brain and allows it to join with the Essence. Not a lot new to say about this one :)

    Premortal Brain… (P-Brain) It is apparent that we had interactions and knowledge in the Premortal existence. Anything from patriarchal blessings to obscure Jewish writings seem to suggest this. We also realize that a vail was placed over us when we became mortal on this earth. I suggest tht this vail is the moving of the Essence from its home in the P-Brain into a brand new M-Brain, where it had to learn and grow as a little child, and did not even start with the ability to use language. The P-Brain is not necessarily formed of coarse matter, but could be purer matter (spirit particle) only, depending on whether or not it drove a physical body (I lean toward no).

    Premortal Body… (P-Body) A body of Spirit that housed our Premortal Brain and Essence. This is what we would have been present in the Council in Heaven, or participated in the War in Heaven in. Unlike the P-Brain, the P-Body may have continued with us and resides inside of our M-Body, with the M-Body serving as a shell around it, like an outgrowth, based on its original pattern.

    Death is to lose the M-Body and the M-Brain, and be left only with an Essence and Aura. After death, we have no memories and no specific knowledge, only our motivation and our guilt.

    Resurrection is to reconcile the spiritual remnant of the M-Brain together with the original P-Brain, where we will receive our Premortal Memories and our Mortal Memories and knowledge back again. This combined mind I will refer to as the Resurrected Brain. The Body is also resurrected (in a perfect, immortal form?) making you complete.

    On the surface this seems like a very Jehovah’s Witness or Seventh-day Adventist type of understanding. Yes, I’m saying that in the Spirit world we will have no specific memory of our earth life, (although we might start from scratch again there with another type of “Brain”) but I believe scripture supports this. Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 says:

    For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

    Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

    I consider this to have the stipulation “while they are dead”

    Turning to D&C 130:18-19, we find:

    Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

    And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

    Notice that it says “will rise with us in the resurrection”, in other words our principle of intelligence gained in this life, our knowledge and intelligence, including our memories, will be resurrected with us (with our Body). Thus, in the Spirit world, we are not promised any memory, only that we will have it back again in resurrection.

    When Heber C. Kimball talks about death and resurrection he speaks of it as a sleep and waking up. Even when Orson Pratt speaks he uses the term to “slumber in the grave” to refer to this time of separation. Consciousness at least, as we know it, seems not to exist in the Spirit World. The mistake of the Adventists and the Witnesses, is that they take this to an extreme, saying we cease to exist at all, or that we are utterly incapable of anything and in a deep sleep only. They deny that the Spirit itself can continue acting on the other side while the Mind sleeps.

    Alma 33:33-35 says:

    And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many awitnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
    Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
    For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

    Brigham Young also said something grand on this subject, but the quote seems to have escaped me for the moment. :)

    So, there are the ideas of one person who considers a tripartite (or more) model, submitted for the consideration of any who are interested. If nothing else, at least it is very typically Mormon to take two seemingly opposite ideas and blend them together into something coherent. :)

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 31, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

  175. I did some searching and this blog post seems to be verging on the edge of what I was just discussion, so I thought I’d share the address to it:

    http://www.latterdayblog.com/what-will-we-know-in-the-spirit-world.html

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 31, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

  176. Jeff D,

    Ecclesiastes isn’t exactly known for theological fidelity. It reads more like a person trying to overcome some rather deep seated skepticism, one who unable to come to any definite conclusion just relies on a basic faith in God and his goodness.

    The big problem with the idea of losing our memories at death is that it is unclear how they can be preserved any other way. Losing them and reconstructing them at resurrection seems to have enormously implausible costs and no benefits. In particular, the work of salvation needs to continue beyond the grave, and if everyone is innocent and helpless once again, waking up in hell doesn’t seem to be a very good object lesson.

    Also this idea that a spirit can retain a stain is problematic because it assumes that good or evil is a substance that can be carried around and transferred from place to place – that is a key problem behind the doctrine of Original Sin (an inherited stain from Adam that predisposes us to evil) as well as Manicheanism in general. We have no reason to believe that “stuff” is good or evil. It just is. Bullets do not kill people, people do. There are no magic incantations or ways to mix potions to accumulate good or evil in a place or time.

    The scriptures use metaphors like “dispensation of grace” all the time – but if grace were a super-vitamin pill, or a more subtle equivalent as the Calvinists have it, salvation would be trivial, and this earth life would be unnecessary. We are down here to develop our character and personality, among other reasons, but how can a man be wise, skilled, or charitable without his memory? Without the latter how could we wake up any better off than a newborn baby?

    A forgiveness of sins is not the problem, we get that all the time – it is a matter of transformation of character, and I do not see how character can be so casually divorced and reassembled. Granted we have been through this process once, and my position requires that we will never get those memories back, except by reading history books. I do not see the benefit of doing it all over again, nor do I think God has the natural capacity to do so – restore our earthly memories as part of the resurrection, that is.

    I see the resurrection more as the re-clothing of our spirit bodies with glorified physical matter, a process that magnifies the capacity of existing spiritual structure – memories and all, not one that reassembles a character as a quasi-historical fiction based on film taken during his earthly life. Where else would those memories come from? How could they be exact without making God into some radically untenable exalted ground-of-all-being character? Why wouldn’t God just skip the whole process and give us a new heart and character Calvinist style, like the potter at the wheel?

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 31, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

  177. Hehe…

    These are the type of discussions I like to have buried deep in threads; that way not too many people read our wildly speculative musings.

    Jacob (#172) – I am definitely leaning more toward the Pratt model or your choice (2). I could be talked out of it at this point though I think. I was pleased to see Mark provide those quotes because I was too lazy to look them up myself. (BTW – Did you copy those from somewhere on the Web Mark? I hate typing quotes from hard copy books when I don’t have to…)

    Except, introspection does not make a strong case for this. I don’t feel like I’m a committee, I feel like I am a single will.

    Ha! How would you know what it feels like? Maybe you do feel like a single will emerging from a committee of unified independent intelligences but don’t realize it…

    Me and my wife are supposedly “one” person in some senses, but making a decision with my wife is a very different thing than deliberating myself.

    Stay tuned for my forthcoming series on the androgyny myths peppered throughout the ancient world and even our scriptures — that’ll raise a few eyebrows to be sure. As a teaser — Adam was originally one with Eve in a very literal way. It was only after his deep sleep that Eve was separated from the originally unified and androgynous person Adam. This account runs through basically all of the ancient records. [/end teaser]

    All of the complaints you have against multiple wills unifying to create a new “One” can be levied against the Godhead as well. We are working to choose to be One with God. If the pattern works above us, perhaps Orson was right and it works below us as well.

    Despite your complaints, his model does create a more coherent explanation of all levels of life than the others I have heard. It expalins life and progression from its lowest forms up through God. It helps eternal progression make more sense too. Further, it would sure help explain who the Head God is; it is the newly created One that emerges from the completely loving and unified “committee” of exalted persons.

    Of course this idea is very difficult to swallow with our overwhelming cultural preference for independence, autonomy, and separateness. It requires a mindset of loving interdependence that transcends independence. But isn’t that the whole idea of the gospel? Isn’t that what we are striving for in both the Zion concept and with becoming unified with the Godhead? — To have one mind and one heart? I think there is real cause to give Orson’s model serious consideration for these reasons.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 31, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

  178. Geoff, I copied the first quote from a page on Clark’s site (Mormon Metaphysics), the second mostly from a Splendid Sun post, the last part I typed in by hand.

    The analogy is clear, but I think the idea of unity in a society of persons is radically different from the idea of unity within a single person. If a person rebels, we can ostracise him or “cast him out” – I have yet to see evidence of discretion on the part of my thumbs or fingernails.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 1, 2006 @ 12:54 am

  179. Geoff,

    Without hitting all of the relevant points, you seem to have neglected a response to my last argument against (2):

    Also for (2), it seems we have just pushed the original problem back one level, because now we have to ask where the little part-wills came from in the first place. Are they self-existent? I hope not, because the whole point of the theory is to get away from that idea. If not, then where did they come from? Model (2) has done nothing for us except to create a bunch of problems we didn’t have to begin with.

    Second, we’ll have to dig into the Godhead analogy at some point because I dont think it helps you as much as you think it does. If you want all the part-wills to get together as a person in the way that the Godhead does, they will essentially need to be divine to begin with, because the kind of harmonious union required to have “one” will arise from a union of several individual wills does not just happen on its own. Blake’s theology (which you seem to agree with on this point) says that the ability to live together in such harmony is the essential quality of divinity. I am still very foggy on how you see these part-wills coming together, you seem to be leaving it very vague so that you can hide behind your Godhead analogy. That is the danger (and the beauty) of analogy: it allows you to sweep a lot of problems under the rug of the analogy if you are not careful to say exactly how the analogy relates, and also where the analogy breaks down.

    Comment by Jacob — June 1, 2006 @ 8:39 am

  180. Jacob: because now we have to ask where the little part-wills came from in the first place. Are they self-existent?

    Yes, I think this is what Pratt had in mind. They are irreducible and beginningless. I’m not sure why you think the idea of the theory is to get away from this though. I think the idea is to explain how we came to be in current form, how we got where we are and how we can progress further.

    If you want all the part-wills to get together as a person in the way that the Godhead does, they will essentially need to be divine to begin with

    I’m not sure why this is a problem. Most Mormon thinkers agree that humans are “essentially divine” to begin with already.

    Also, I leave the details on this idea very vague because I have no idea of how these parts unify; just like I have no idea how members of the godhead or exalted sealed couples unify. The scriptures say it happens in the Godhead but don’t give many details. If you have details in mind that will scuttle this entire line of thought let me know.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 1, 2006 @ 9:04 am

  181. My opinion is that the members of the Godhead or the divine concert do not unify nearly as much as some think they do. I suspect that they each have unique personalities, opinions, quirks, and so on, but just know how to work together in harmony. An effective union, not an absolute one. Again, divinity as a collective enterprise allows me to hold this position much easier than the ground-of-all-being theists, within Mormonism and elsewhere.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 1, 2006 @ 9:27 am

  182. One of the guiding principles of my theology is necessary divine attributes, not maximal ones. I think omni-theology in the scriptures is hyperbole meant (when used properly) to emphasize the radical difference between our individual capacity and *all of the gods working together* or the whole divine concert, and not that any individual god has absolute or omni anything.

    When God himself talks about himself that way it is because of the mantle he carries – he is the Law, by divine investiture, the same way a Judge is the Law by legal investiture. That doesn’t mean he can have anything anyway he wants – solving the problems of absolutism as arbitrariness is where Western omni-theology started to begin with. Mormon neo-orthodoxists do not seem to have even a passing familiarity with the problems inherent in a temporal ground-of-all-being God. For everyone else absolute is virtually a synonym for a-temporality. The problem has been well known before the dawn of the Christian era.

    It is no accident that one sees echoes of proto-Calvinist theology in various Old Testament texts. The tension between theological absolutism and theistic personalism appears to have been rather prominent within Judaism centuries before Christ, to the degree that the dominant proto-neo-Orthodox Jews (the Deuteronomists) tried to exercise the scriptures of all traces of it. Margaret Barker has much to say about this, a history I find exceedingly fascinating. Her website is here:

    http://www.margaretbarker.com/

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 1, 2006 @ 9:45 am

  183. “excise” that is.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 1, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  184. Geoff,

    In #180 you use “essentially divine” in a hugely equivocal way. What the Mormon thinkers you refer to mean is that we have the potential to become divine. They do not mean that all of our constituent wills have already become like God in their ability to live together as one harmonious will. Monumental difference.

    Joseph’s insistence that the three persons in the Godhead are truly separate and individual Gods means that the Godhead does not have a single will. They are not one person. Thus, again, they do not make a good analogy to your snowball theory unless you are going to argue that I am not one person either. That is why this argument of yours is fatally flawed:

    All of the complaints you have against multiple wills unifying to create a new “One” can be levied against the Godhead as well.

    The statement you are making about the snowball is a literal union to become a signle will, but the statement about the Godhead is figurative (the Godhead contains more than one person). This thread started off being about the Sermon in the Grove, and we’ve made it back.

    To be fair, you have flip flopped above on whether the snowball melts or not. At first, you retorted that they don’t melt and it is just a happy family, but you have also suggested they join together to become a single unified will, which is the exact opposite position. So, do them melt or not?

    In #177 you said that “Maybe you do feel like a single will emerging from a committee of unified independent intelligences but don’t realize it.” What I said is that I don’t feel like a committee, but a single will. It is true that if a single will emerges from a group of separate wills then I would feel like that, because then it would not be a single will (which I do feel like). However, I think that the idea of a single will being made of multiple wills is untenable, and ignores the meaning of a will.

    You are saying that these separate wills join together to make a single will, but what does this idea add to the idea of just having a self-existent will in the first place? If we already had a bunch of self-existent wills, what reason do we have to believe those guys ganged up to become the single wills we experience as ourselves? What do three intelligences merged together have that each one lacked individually? My answer is that, even in theory, they have nothing more than they did before they ganged up..

    Mark, I agree with your comment in #181 wholeheartedly.

    Comment by Jacob — June 1, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  185. After 184 posts, I’m dumbfounded that no one has brought up the most damning evidence to Blake’s position. Instead you’ve all focused on passages (which I too think are clear) concerning God having a father. In so doing, the door is open (albeight only slightly) to argue about the senses of that word etc etc.

    Here’s the most explicit quotations from the KFD, that Blake must explain away:

    (a) “[I will] refute the Idea that God was God from all eternity” [1]

    (b) “I want you to understand God and how he comes to be God. We suppose that God was God from eternity. I will refute that Idea” [2]

    (c) “I [Jesus] saw the father work out his kingdom with fear & trembling” [3] (replicating language of Phil. 2:12 wherein non-kenotic emptying Saints are told to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”)

    (d) “god is glorified in salvation Exaltation-of his ancestors &c.” [4]

    (e) “In order to understand the subject of the ded for the consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends necessary they should understand Going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity.” [5]

    (f) “Not God from all Eternity.” [6]

    These quotations were separately recorded by Willard R., Wilf. Wood, William Clayt and Samuel Richards.

    We have only two options in the face of such evidence (that God has not always been God) (a) they must all have mis-recorded Joseph’s words or (b) Joseph was simply mis-spoke on this occasion.

    (a) seems completely unwarranted, how about (b). According to Van Hale, there is reference to this concept (that God has not always been God) as early as 1838 in at least seven documents/publications before the King Follett Discourse in 1844. After the discourse the concept is again referenced on three separate occasions, for a total of 11 times (counting the KFD). That Joseph simply mis-spoke during the KF also seems completely unwarranted.

    There is no way to explain the above with appeals to earthly/surrogate fathers etc.

    I also agree to the primacy of the KFD, (read Van Hale again, “The Doctrinal Impact of the KFD) Joseph intended it to be his greatest speech and testified several times that he was laying his prophetic gift on the line. Can anyone supporting Blake’s view account for this evidence?

    Comment by Brett McD. — June 15, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  186. Welcome to the Thang Brett. Did you see my first post covering Blake’s chapter 12? We covered the things you mentioned in some detail there. Here is the link.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  187. Well you see, if one takes the King Follett Discourse seriously, it invalidates the majority of neo-orthodox theology, which has been dominant in the Church for some fifty years, as well as neo-neo-orthodox theology which is up and coming. So it is easier for the current “mainline” to think that either Joseph Smith’s was radically misinterpreted or that he started to “lose it” in the Nauvoo period.

    The transition started soon after the death of John Taylor, i.e. if Brigham Young “lost it” with regard to polygamy and Adam-God, and said he got the idea from Joseph Smith, perhaps the latter let loose as well. However, people can disrespect Young (these days) all they want, but Joseph Smith is not to be gainsaid, so the most common explanation is misinterpretation, just as the authors of the new synthesis said Young was misinterpreted while locking his most explicit talks up in the vault. We should be glad that the King Follett Discourse made it to press, otherwise it might have been ancient history by 1915 or so, an ugly heresy of the “cultists”, as BRM would put it.

    I know that Charles Penrose did not believe that God became God. I am not so sure about Joseph F. Smith, his son, or son-in-law. Was the KFD a mystery to them or a misinterpretation? Anyone have any evidence?

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 15, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  188. Thanks for the link (and the welcome): Yes, you (and all the others) did cover my points in some detail. Perhaps this horse is dead and further comment will be unecessary/ignored, however, I can’t resist pointing out what I believe is a glaring omission in all that “detail.”

    Blake’s main argument (and according to Geoff “his strongest point”) stem from scriptural assertions that God has always been God.

    Indeed Blake accuses Geoff of not dealing adequately with such scriptures:

    “I would really like to see Geoff make any coherent sense of the scriptural statements I quote in ch. 12 and the statements by JS in Nauvoo that expressly state that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one eternal God without beginning or end, the same unchangeable being, that God is eternal without beginning or end-I would like to see how these statements don’t just flat out contradict his view. So I see his reading not as re-interpreting prior scriptures in light of the KFD, but of disembowling the scriptures and ignoring them altogether.”

    In dealing with said scriptures (which I do not repeat, they’ve been repeated enough) Geoff says, “The solution is in the equivocal nature of the term “God””

    And this is the “Solution” discussed in detail. I believe, in contrast, that the solution is in the equivocation on another word, namely “eternal”

    Indeed, the D&C gives us explicit license to equivocate on “eternal” and says that it is used “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.” (19:7) Opting to equivocate on eternal would mean something like the following:

    When the word “eternal” is used in scripture it is so used to “work upon” our hearts, helping us realize the majesty, glory and power of God our Father. It can be taken to mean, “for all time that we have been a part of.” However, it is not used to assert (absolute) eternity. As Moses was told that he would only be given an account of this earth, so “eternity” functions in relation to this earth and its inhabitants.

    Such usage is explicitly warranted in Joseph Smith-revealed scriptures.

    Although Blake recognizes such an option:

    “broadly we should take the scope of the word “eternal” in Mormon scripture in general and in Hebrew and Greek scriptures in particular. The word “eternal” could mean something like the Hebrew ‘olam or the Greek aionios, both of which are translated as “eternal” but can mean an unmeasured span of time like the English “aeon.” ”

    He quickly rules it out because as he asserts “Joseph Smith himself stated fairly clearly that when he spoke of God as eternal, he meant that God had no beginning.” and proceeds to quote 2 statement from 1840 and 1 from 1841.

    God having no beginning could be understood in exactly the same way as “intelligence” having no beginning. Interestingly in the quotes, Joseph says, “God himself” is w/out beg. etc. Not “God has been God as himself w/out beg. etc.”

    One last point that I feel needs to be made: Blake’s position of an “eternal (absolutely speaking) Godhead” combined with his rejection of the concept of Spirit birth effectively disregards (i.e. brands as wrong) to separate statements by the FP and Q.12

    (1) The 1916 statement in part:

    ” . . . Jesus Christ is the Son of Elohim both as spiritual and bodily offspring; that is to say, Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh, and which body died on the cross and was afterward taken up by the process of resurrection, and is now the immortalized tabernacle of the eternal spirit of our Lord and Savior.”

    (2) The Proclamation on the Family

    Joint declarations by the 1st Pres. and Q. of the 12 are rare. In this case we have two, one historical and one recent, both asserting the same idea: spirit birth. While I agree that Joseph never taught spirit birth explicitly I believe it is entailed by his teachings. However, even if it is not, an open canon and living prophets allow for (and call for) doctrinal development. This seems a clear case of doctrinal development. Regarding as false 2 separate statements by prophets, seers, and revelators ought to be our very last option, after all attempts at reconciling conflicting evidence fails.

    In this case, “the solution” on equivocation of “eternal” does anything but fail.

    Comment by Brett McD. — June 15, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  189. Brett: We have discussed at some length what spirit birth means — and I don’t believe that anyone on this list has heretofore taken it literally as your application requires. Further, the warrant for believing that something is true (as opposed to a mere opinion that we all acknowledge prophets can have and can be in error) is based on revelation. If God discloses or reveals something, then we have good reason to believe it is true. If someone gives a PR statement, I don’t believe that statemant enjoys the same warrant of belief.

    Further, your position on “eternal” is too broad. In the context of motivating us to avoid sin it makes some sense to say “if you sin, you will suffer eternally” becuase that statement drives home the seriousness of sin and it scares the hell out of us (literally). However, there is no such similar motivating force with the statement that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are (is) one eternal God. In fact, stating it this way only motivates us to worship them more and emphasizes the exalted position of God. It would truly be disconcerting for God to claim that he merely wanted to motivate us to worship him with statements that are false.

    Comment by Blake — June 15, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

  190. Brett,

    I think Blake is right on the spirit birth thing. Christ can literally be our spiritual father too after all. I think the evidence against some kind of literal spirit birth (especially a viviparous birth like our mortal birth) is much stronger than any evidence for it.

    It appears that we agree that God the father of Jesus has not always been divine (contra Blake) and that Joseph made that point in the two seminal sermons being discussed; so I’m not sure what is gained by focusing on the equivocal nature of the word “eternal” instead of the equivocal nature of the word “God”. Surely you are not saying there was a time before there was any God in existence, are you? If not then why worry that the scriptures say that “God” has no beginning? The (extended) Godhead is indeed beginningless — the question being debated is what Joseph actually taught about God the father of Jesus. It seems to me and many others that Joseph taught that the Father of Jesus joined his Father in the Godhead and thus became “God” as a result and that we can follow Him and Jesus Christ in doing the same thing. Blake is arguing otherwise.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2006 @ 9:28 pm

  191. I agree with Geoff and Blake regarding spirit birth. There is essentially no canonical evidence for viviparous spirit birth, and lots of scriptural evidence that suggests otherwise. For someone like me who believes that spirits, including pre-mortal spirits have two eyes and ten fingers, the concept is superficially attractive, but it leads to all sorts of theological difficulties, especially the idea of each of us presiding directly over 100 billion first generation descendents.

    The Abrahamic model of presidency over ones multi-generational posterity is not only much more plausible it has *lots* of scriptural evidence. Indeed one third of the mission of the Church is directly related to organizing this multi-generational eternal family structure.

    So can a heavenly couple have more viviparous spirit children, and not just adopted ones? Perhaps – but a handful at most is more likely than 100 billion. Indeed for that reason and others I am generally of the opinion that heavenly fathers share the same world. Our Fathers in heaven, Elohim (plural) as Joseph Smith said.

    Now I cannot be sure what James Talmage *really* believed, but in Articles of Faith he tried to explain away what Joseph Smith said about the plurality of Gods. So given the kind of equivocation going on with regard to the Adam-God theory and related things from about 1895-1915 I am not inclined to take the statement on the Father and the Son *too* seriously. It might be their approximation, to avoid delving into mysteries, or they might have actually rejected the KFD.

    I had a first hand account from a former religion professor to whom Joseph Fielding Smith once reluctantly admitted that he once believed in the AGT, significant of course because it became a prime heresy in his own lifetime. Now the AGT is a pretty creative reconcilation of two different ideas of exaltation, the Abrahamic idea, and the 100 billion viviparous birth idea.

    As a Church we have not rejected either, but I suggest it is the former rather than the latter that is more tenable,
    and that indeed if there is no such thing as viviparous spirit birth, that resurrection provides ample precedent for other means of gaining a spirit body, and that the law of adoption and presidency provides an adequate concept of heavenly parenthood – one that adequately accounts for the sense in which we can say Jesus Christ is the Eternal Father of heaven and of earth – an eternal and endless father.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 15, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

  192. I wasn’t around for the argument about literal spirit birth so I’ll have to go back and read it. I have a suspicion that you all (Geoff, Mark, Blake) reject it for different reasons. I’ll be interested to go back and see if that is true (if so, then all the agreement on this issue hides a fair amount of disagreement about the reasoning that leads to the conclusion).

    I seem to remember Orson Pratt calculating how long it must have taken for all the people on the earth to be born in the spirit world (he assumed a nine month pregnancy). I think it is clear from this discussion that I don’t take The Seer too seriously, and I think Orson Pratt’s calculation illustrates the sort of worry I have about spirit birth. I don’t want to believe that apotheosis for women means they will spend the rest of eternity in labor.

    Also in the concern column are comments like this one (disclaimer: I took off the web):

    “Does the earth conceive? It does and it brings froth. If it did not, why do you go and put your wheat into the ground? Does it not conceive it?…. Where did the earth come from? From its parent earths. Well, some of you may call that foolish philosophy. But if it is, I will throw out foolish things, that you may gather up wise things. The earth is alive. If it was not, it could not produce.” (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, page 36; emphasis mine).

    As Heber suspected, I have a hard time believing the earth was born from two parent earths. This reasoning that anything alive came from parents in the same way baby humans are born can be taken too far I think.

    However, I am not eager to entirely reject the idea of a literal spirit birth. The ideas that full exaltation can only be gained as a couple and that without marriage there can be “no increase” (D&C 131:4) seem to imply rather directly the idea of literal spirit birth. I am not comfortable explaining away the idea that we are spirit children of a Heavenly Father by saying that Christ can be our spiritual father figuratively (as Geoff did in #190). The whole point of symbols/types/shadows/figures is that they explain difficult concepts by analogy to literal concepts we are familiar with. I don’t think this gives us license to throw out all the literal antecedents that form the basis of the symbolism. This earth was patterned after the old one, not the other way around.

    Comment by Jacob — June 16, 2006 @ 8:51 am

  193. Jacob,

    I actually never posted on spirit birth. The discussions of it in the past here and at other blogs have been like this one — asides in threads on other topics. It is probably worth posting on specifically though.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  194. Jacob,

    Given the description of exaltation in D&C 132:19 as a “continuation of the seeds forever and ever” I assume that one needs have only one child (a son?), by birth or adoption, who gets married and continues on the family name, and that Isaac in the Old Testament, as well as Jesus Christ himself, are both perfect precedents for that.

    Remember King Benjamin said that when we are born of the spirit we become sons and daughters unto Christ. That logically intermediates our relationship from Father-child to Father-Son-grandchild. Now I do not think that is exact, but rather the ultimate role metaphor, that the ideal for fatherhood and motherhood is to extend the franchise in the same way, such that the salvation of the children is dependent on the fathers and vice versa.

    That is why we talk about being children of Israel and members of the House of Abraham. Abraham is both a father and a son. A son to the Father, and a father to his posterity, representing the Father by divine investiture the same why Christ represents the Father.

    Like Christ, Abraham can of his own self do nothing, and yet he is the father of us all, either by birth or by adoption, as everyone who converts is *adopted* into the house of Abraham.

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
    (Galatians 3:28-29)

    This is the law of adoption, a principle that allows a celestial inheritance (presidency) to be founded without *any* viviparous births whatsoever. Now why then do we need to get married? I say it is because neither the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord, or in other words, neither a man, nor a woman by him or herself is competent to preside properly over an eternal family, because they are both imbalanced, designed to complement each other, not operate independently.

    If there are any spirit children of any type out there, surely they need both a father and a mother of some sort not to have their perception distorted by the absence. So while, it is possible that Heavenly Father (the Most High) started this scheme presiding alone, I believe it is his plan for all of us to preside jointly, viviparous birth or no. Procreation is not the most significant aspect of parenthood – genetic inheritance no doubt figures in the plan, but ultimately adoption trumps genetics. He that is righteous is favored of God.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

  195. Mark,

    As to the scriptural flip-flopping between calling us children of God vs. children of Christ, I have a different take on the importance/implications, but I don’t want to go into it because my theory on that is rather involved.

    A “continuation of the seeds forever and ever” could easily be interpreted to mean they keep having kids forever. Thus, it doesn’t seem to be a good prooftext for your view, even though your view is a reasonable interpretation as well.

    Your use of the law of adoption to say that there need not be any literal spirit births at all is exactly the same thing Geoff did in #190 that I said I don’t feel comfortable with.

    Your explanation of why we need both a mother and a father was:

    Now why then do we need to get married? I say it is because neither the man without the woman

    However, this is not the D&C 131:4 reason, which is that without both, they can have no increase. You can interpret that as a rule saying that it is bad for kids not to have both a father and mother, but I think the more obvious reading is that both a mother and father are involved in creating offspring.

    Comment by Jacob — June 16, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  196. Jacob,

    You are reading “increase” in a way the text itself does not justify. If I preside over 100 souls, and ten refugees from an earthquake move into my jurisdiction, my kingdom has increased (provided I treat them nicely so they want to stay), and no births were involved.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

  197. Jacob-

    I also am not ready to reject wholesale the idea of literal spirit birth for all the reasons you mention.

    Geoff-
    In regards to “what is gained” by equivocating on “eternal”: just what Blake accused you/people who don’t believe God (Ahman/Father/Elohim) has always been God of being unable to do. That is, make sense of Joseph’s words/revelations that Blake takes to be asserting the (absolute) eternality of the specific Godhead made up of the specific persons (Ahman, Jesus, H.G.). No, I’m certainly not “saying there was a time before there was any God in existence.” But you’ve been arguing against Blake that these statements can be referring to God (generally or past generations of Godheads) which they certainly may be. My point is that if Blake’s evidence leads us to believe that Joseph had the specific Godhead in mind of (Ahman, Son, and H.G.) that too is ok because of the equivocal nature of “eternal.” From our position (contra Blake) these scriptures may be understood in either way.

    Blake-
    I don’t think my “position on “eternal” is too broad.” You believe God would use a “false” statement in order to help us not sin, but not in order to help us realize his granduer/majesty. Furthermore, it is only “false” if understood to mean absolute time. A position you yourself say is not how it has always been understood. The scriptures also say God is omnipotent, you clearly don’t understand that in the same sense as “orthodoxy” why then, must we be held to similar standards in relation to “eternal?” You state, ”
    However, there is no such similar motivating force with the statement that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are (is) one eternal God. In fact, stating it this way only motivates us to worship them more and emphasizes the exalted position of God.”

    Exactly! In discussions (such as these) we are discussing times and spheres that are completely out of our league and almost comprehension. We must remember that. If God said (in scripture) I have been God for such an immense amount of time that it cannot be comprehended by finite minds, however, there was a time before that when I wasn’t God, our finite minds would be very prone to not recognize the true majesty of God.

    Comment by Brett McD. — June 16, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  198. On the other hand, I have canonical evidence for my interpretation:

    And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

    That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
    (Genesis 22:15-18)

    *Multiply* thy seed. Which seed? Why Abraham’s children of course. And how does seed multiply? By marrying and being given in marriage throughout the generations. Multiplication is the only model of increase that we have a canonical example of. Abraham and Sarah having 100 billion first generation children is idle speculation by comparison. We can have an infinite inheritance just through standard multiplication. Serial addition is silly.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  199. Mark: You are reading “increase” in a way the text itself does not justify.

    I acknowledge that it could be interpreted differently; I am only suggesting that mine is a more obvious interpretation than yours (Na-na-na-na-na). Obviously, you are free to dispute that, I don’t think the text is definitive.

    Your interpretation suggests that the reason they must be married to have an increase is that children “need both a father and a mother of some sort not to have their perception distorted by the absence” (#194). This makes it into a rule, rather than a reality. So, God may have decided it is better for kids to have a mother and father, so he made a rule that you can’t have increase unless you are married. Personally, I would be shocked if this was the intent of Joseph Smith when he made the comment, which is why I think mine is the more obvious interpretation.

    Besides, making it into a rule makes it seem a bit arbitrary. Further still, the rule doesn’t seem obvious to me. (I can imagine this quickly turning into the debate that always starts about whether homosexual partners can be good parents.) Is it really clear that God needs a wife to avoid warping his children? He hasn’t gone out of His way to make sure his children on earth even know they have a mother in heaven.

    Comment by Jacob — June 16, 2006 @ 5:56 pm

  200. Mark: Multiplication is the only model of increase that we have a canonical example of.

    LOL

    How about Abraham and Sarah having Isaac?

    Comment by Jacob — June 16, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

  201. I have not rejected the possibility of viviparous spirit birth, I have rejected the plausibility or economy of every “nuclear” spirit family containing 100 billion individuals. Suppose that a mother can have one child every day, on average. That is still 273 million years of labor, one after another. I would imagine the kids would get quite unruly.

    So I say, that yes “literal” spirit birth is plausible if one has perhaps a dozen spirit children, and eternal increase is generationally multiplicative like Abraham. Otherwise it looks like one of the most ridiculous ideas ever conceived – strike that – dreamed of.

    However, I happen to believe for various reasons that the reason we do not talk about our heavenly mother, is that we came down here to get one, that entering into an eternal family relationship is what this life is all about.

    What would be the point if we already had a father and a mother, brothers and sisters? Why in the world would we want to end up sealed to two fathers and two mothers? It is a prescription for chaos. Organizing lands and inheritances is hard enough with two lines – we generally pre-empt the matrilineal line in favor of the patrilineal one, such that I for example, belong to the Butler clan, presumably of the tribe of Ephraim, and not to any of the clans the male Butlers married “into”. Nice alliances, family reunions, sure, but the scriptural precdent is that ultimately organization and authority is patrilineal, that when a woman marries she leaves the “house” (tribe) of her father, and moved into the “house” of her husband, changing her name to signify that she is now adopted into the house of Ephraim or the tribe of her husband, no matter what tribe she belonged to before. That doesn’t mean that she lacks authority of course, or has been chattelized, just that she voluntarily switches primary allegiance from the tribe of her birth family to the tribe of her husband’s family.

    As such, all of their children are born into the husband’s tribe, and become part of her husband’s parent’s direct inheritance / presidency, not part of her parent’s direct inheritance / presidency. The latter exercise influence and indeed are honored by all their children, but the primary line – for purposes of inheritance and authority is the line of the fathers, with the mothers who joined the tribe by marriage at their side.

    That way, say in Israel, everyone may be descended from every one of the twelve sons, but can have at most one patrilineal (or parent-child adopted) descendancy. So presumably Joseph Smith does have the blood of Judah flowing in his veins, but his Y chromosome was passed down from Ephraim – unless of course he or one of his fathers was adopted in to the tribe at some time or another.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 5:59 pm

  202. Eternal or endless increase then. Sarah only had one child, that is not a whole lot of increase, it does not even meet the population replacement rate. It is only through multiplication that one child will become a zillion nth-great-grandchildren.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

  203. Actually, I don’t think he has gone out of his way to teach that we *had* a mother in heaven, only that we *will have* a mother in heaven.

    The idea that parenthood is meaningless unless procreation is going on is highly disturbing. None of God’s current activities, nor Christ’s current activities throughout scripture – their Fatherhood – is characterized that way at all – it is all the type of stuff that can be done just fine by an adopted father (or mother, in many cases) – those that actually raise a child, not just bear him.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

  204. Here are a couple of nice little scriptures:

    Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
    (1 John 1:3)

    Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
    (2 John 1:9)

    Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

    Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
    (1 John 2:23-24)

    And surely we cannot forget:

    For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
    (Hebrews 1:5)

    Indeed, I consider the title Only Begotten to be a direct indication that Christ’s Father’s eternal inheritance is modeled after Abraham and Sarah’s eternal inheritance – one begotten son, endless posterity.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

  205. All the type of stuff except resurrection of course.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 16, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  206. Brett: We got into the nature of intelligences and spirit birth at great length on Times & Seasons. However, my view that spirit birth is not literal is easy to lay out. JS repeatedly stated that spirit and intelligences are eternal, without creation and no beginning. Let’s look at a few:

    Willard Richards pocket companion 8 August 1839: “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle & Existed with God from Eternity & will to Eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. the Keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent…. The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be Eternal. & earth, water &c–all these had their existence in an elementary State from Eternity.”

    JS taught two truths here: (1) the spirit is not created; (2) whatever is eternal is not created. It is vastly clear that “eternal spirit” means an uncreated spirit that had no beginning — ever.

    5 Feb. 1840 JS speech: I believe that God is eternal. That He had no beginning, and can have no end. Eternity means that which is without beginning or end. I believe that the soul is eternal; and had no beginning; it can have no end. Here he entered into some explanations, which were so brief that I could not perfectly comprehend him. But the idea seemed to be that the soul of man, the spirit, had existed from eternity in the bosom of Divinity; and so far as he was intelligible to me, must ultimately return from whence it came. He said very little of rewards and punishments; but one conclusion, from what he did say, was irresistible–he contended throughout, that everything which had a beginning must have an ending 2 ; and consequently if the punishment of man commenced in the next world, it must, according to his logic and belief have an end.”

    Here JS repeated and emphasized several statements: (1) he uses spirit and soul interchangeably; (2) he again reaffirms that God is eternal and clearly states that means that God had no beginning; (3) in context it is clear that “God” means both the Father and the Son; (4) the spirit is “eternal” in the sense that it is uncreated and cannot have a beginning.

    28 March 1841: “he says the spirit or the intelligence of men are self Existent principles before the foundation this Earth–& quotes the Lords question to Job where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the Earth” Evidence that Job was in Existing somewhere at that time 1 he says God is Good & all his acts is for the benefit of inferior intelligences– God saw that those intelligences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernacle therefore the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernacles so that he might Gender the Spirit & the tabernacle together so as to create sympathy for their fellowman.”

    Here there are several significant points: (1) JS uses spirit and intelligence as synonyms; (2) they are self-existent; (3) God genders the spirit (gender is not eternal because God “genders” the spirit).

    27 August 1843: “Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.” Here it is clear that though divine, the HG will one day become enfleshed “in a course similar to the Son.” I point this out to show that the statement made in the Sermon in the Grove is a pattern of how the Father was fully divine, became enfleshed just like the Son (or the Son just like him). It is the same with all divine beings.

    7 April 1844 “KFD” Bullock report: “the soul the inner Spirit–of God man says created in the beginning the very idea lessens man in my idea–I don’t believe the doctrine hear it all ye Ends of the World for God has told me so I am going to tell of things more noble–we say that God himself is a selfexisting God, who told you so, how did it get it into your head who told you that man did not exist in like manner– how does it read in the Hebrews that God made man & put into it Adam’s Spirit & so became a living Spirit–the mind of man–the mind of man is as immortal as God himself.”

    7 April 1844 Richards Diary: “The head one called the Gods together in grand council – to bring forth the world… In Greek, Hebrew. German. Latin. – In the beginning the head of the gods called a council of Gods — and concocted a scheme to create the world … Elements – nothing can destroy. no beginning no end. – The soul. God created in the beginning – he never the character of man. don’t believe it. – who told you God was self existent? correct enough. – in hebrew put into him his spirt – which was created before. Mind of man coequal with God himself … If man had a beginning he must have an end — might proclaim God never had powr to create the spirit of man. Inteligence exist upon a self existent principle no creation about it.”

    Once again JS clearly states that: (1) the spirit, soul or intelligence are the same thing; (1) the spirit is uncreated and is just as eternal as God; (3) previously JS stated that the purpose of the KFD sermon ws to come to teach us to know “the only true God” who is the Father of Jesus, and this one true God is just as eternal as the uncreated spirit.

    The Book of Abraham: “18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two aspirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.
    19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.”

    Once again: (1) there is a Most High God who is more intelligent than all other intelligences; (2) intelligences/spirits are eternal and uncreated.

    BTW for those interested, I believe that the before 8 August 1839 sermon by JS led to BY’s misudnerstanding re: Adam God. JS said: “The Priesthood was first given to Adam: he obtained the first Presidency & held the Keys of it, from generation to Generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed as in Gen. 1, 26:28,–he had dominion given him over every living Creature. He is Michael, the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures … The Priesthood is an everlasting principle & Existed with God from Eternity & will to Eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. the Keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from Heaven it is by Adams Authority … Dan VII Speaks of the Ancient of days, he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael; he will call his children together, & hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He, (Adam) is the Father of the human family & presides over the Spirits of all men, & all that have had the Keys must stand before him in this great Council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him & there is given him glory & dominion.–Adam delivers up his Stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the Keys of the Universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.”

    So I conclude that spirits/intelligences are uncreated. If there is spirit birth, spirits are created. Thus, literal spirit birth cannot be what JS had in mind. There is no source whatsoever from JS’s lifetime asserting that JS ever taught about a mother in heaven or spirit birth. “Eternal increase” in JS’s vocabulary meant to progress in greater intelligence and glory forever. We can have eternal increase by forever progressing together with our familes, so the notion of “eternal increase” doesn’t entail ovoviviporous birth of new spirits — and such new existence of spirits is contrary to JS’s teachings and to our scriptures. I’m not just being a curmudgeon, I’ve thought about it a bit.

    So I assert that JS clearly taught that: (1) the spirit/intelligence/mind/soul is uncreated and eternal; (2) God the Father was fully divine before becoming mortal and became enfleshed as a divine being just as the Son also did and the HG also will; (3) God (referring to F, S & HG) is also eternal; (4) JS never taught about spirit birth and the notion of spirit birth is contrary to what he id teach.

    Thanks for the great questions.

    Comment by Blake — June 17, 2006 @ 9:27 am

  207. Mark,

    Re 201: I think everyone agrees that there is a family structure in heaven, which is why we seal the human family together in temples, ideally all the way back to Adam as is commonly taught. Certainly, none of the nuclear families created on earth contain 100 billion individuals. However, when you start taliking about eternities, you seem to be ignoring that they last for a long time. For example:

    Suppose that a mother can have one child every day, on average. That is still 273 million years of labor, one after another. I would imagine the kids would get quite unruly.

    Now, I already mentioned that one concern I have is that we don’t envision exalation for women as perpetual labor and delivery, so I am with you to that extent. But why would you suppose the 100 billion children would all have to be born back to back? Eternity lasts for a long time. They could also have 100 billion children by having ten every billion years. At the end of the billion years, the previous ten are likely not so unruly anymore, and they might be ready to have another ten.

    The real question is whether there is literal spirit birth at all (whether that’s how spirits are created), and you say you hold open the possibility of viviparous spirit birth. I gather that Geoff and Blake reject that possibility outright, which is what I am not eager to do.

    Re 203: The same logic you are using to explain the relative silence about a heavenly mother could be applied to fathers too, couldn’t it? Given your explanation, I would not expect God to make such a big deal about His being our “Father” in heaven, yet he does.

    Re 204: None of these scriptures is particularly helpful. I could quote the scripture about Jacob being Lehi’s firstborn in the wilderness, but it would not demonstrate anything. I agree that fatherhood is used figuratively as well as literally in the scriptures, quoting a scripture where it is used figuratively hardly proves spirit birth is necessarily figurative.

    Comment by Jacob — June 17, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  208. Blake,

    Thanks for laying out your position so clearly. You make several strong points which have me thinking. I have one question about your comment about increase:

    “Eternal increase” in JS’s vocabulary meant to progress in greater intelligence and glory forever. We can have eternal increase by forever progressing together with our familes

    This explanation doesn’t seem to require eternal marriage as D&C 131:4 suggests. Indeed, given your statement that gender is not eternal, and that Joseph never taught we have a mother in heaven, I can’t tell if you are claiming that eternal marriage is actually not necessary.

    Comment by Jacob — June 17, 2006 @ 10:07 am

  209. I agree with Blake except on one point – I think Joseph Smith is using “spirit” as a practical synonym for intelligence, but not a perfect synonym. The essential part of any spirit is the intelligence, or enternal soul. The body, whether the spirit body or the physical body is merely an appendage or tabernacle.

    So whether I say “soul”, “spirit”, “being”, or “intelligence” the essential part, the sine qua non, is always the same, an eternal, uncreated personal identity.

    The reason why I believe spirits have bodies is because there are half a dozen scriptures that are hard to make sense of any other way. Notably the appearance of the pre-mortal Christ to the brother of Jared, to Moses and others, also the appearance of the Spirit of the Lord to Nephi, the appearance of post-mortal, but pre-resurrected spirits to many others, the D&C 129 account about the difference between angels and the spirits of just men made perfect, with regard to tangibility and not appearance per se – that the former can appear as a normal person, but the latter must appear in glory to be visible, and so on.

    So if I say, the “eternal spirit”, one has to take me to mean the eternal part of the spirit, the part without which a spirit wouldn’t be a spirit. Same with “eternal soul”, “person”, “identity”, and so on. Given the scriptural record, I believe we have to read Joseph Smith the same way, with the proviso that he may have believed that a spirit body was an essential part of spiritual identity, and not a contingent part as I do.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 17, 2006 @ 10:11 am

  210. Jacob: Eternal marriage is necessary in the sense that we must first learn to be together with another who is not like us, anothe who offers opposition in all things, and when we learnt we learn to love with another love then we are prepared to invite others into the eternal relationship as we have been invited by the F, S & HG. In the end, the logic of eternal marriage is the logic of eternal family — and every person who ever existed is a part of that family. Not all will choose to be a part of the family united as one with the Godhead, and therefore also one in each other; but we will never give up will we! So “the family” is all inclusive and the end goal is to unite us all into a unity of one heart, being in accord at one mind, sharing perfect power and knowledge. So the marriage between a man and a women is essential to that progression, but it isn’t the end or stopping point.

    Comment by Blake — June 17, 2006 @ 10:35 am

  211. Jacob,

    Suppose that at the end of the millennium there are 100 million exalted persons, out of a total celestial population of 1 billion. Those 100 billion who have received their crowns of glory then have 1 spirit child per year, not out of amorphous intelligence, but with an actual pre-existing spirit intelligence entering into a new spirit body.

    After some interval required for spirits to learn the necessary lessons, that is enough to fully populate a earth size world every ten years or so (5 billion capacity / 500 million per year), a world which having a 10,000 year habitable tenure would only accomodate at most 600 billion souls, more likely less than that due to historical contingencies.

    That means that if those 100 million exalted persons shared the same world, there would be room enough for 12,000 spiritual / adopted descendants, a small city to be presided over by each exalted couple. At one a year 12,000 isn’t out of the question.

    On the other hand, if each couple needs their own world for some silly reason, then at one a year those spirits have to hang around for 50 billion years on average before a world is ready to do, and that is untenable. Any group of spirits that large is going to need a first class organization structure, more like what we think of as a nation or a civilization than a nuclear family. And as soon as their is structure, presidency and priesthood comes along with it, in other words those two parents on the top become the ultimate celebrities and in everyday life children deal with their older brothers and sisters who for all practical purposes become their spiritual leaders, mothers and fathers in all but name – almost exactly like the situation here, where we pray to the Father, but he blesses us through Church and family.

    Now I think the scriptures I quoted are a little more than vaguely suggestive. John rather implies that one does not have a Father in heaven except by continuing in the doctrine of Christ, and then he has both the Father and the Son. “Literal” spiritual birth or not, our heavenly parental relationship is null and void except as we follow in his footsteps.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 17, 2006 @ 10:40 am

  212. “ready to go” and “as soon as there is”

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 17, 2006 @ 10:48 am

  213. Blake,

    Your conclusion to this bit of quote needs a little research:

    28 March 1841: “…therefore the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernacles so that he might Gender the Spirit & the tabernacle together so as to create sympathy for their fellowman.”

    (3) God genders the spirit (gender is not eternal because God “genders” the spirit).

    This quote is not saying that God decided which spirits were male and which were female – the sentence doesn’t even make logical sense if that’s what he was trying to say. “Determine sex the spirit and tabernacle together”

    If you look in an older dictionary, you’ll see that Gender can be used to mean an assortment of things, such as create, breed, beget, engender, ‘To produce by the union of the sexes’, generate and so on.

    This is akin to people who think the path to God is Straight rather that Strait.

    –Susie(sorry if I was harsh, but words are not meant to be abused, especially when you are basing doctrine off them)

    Comment by Susie Day — June 24, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  214. Susie, although your conclusion about the word “Gender” in that context seems correct, you are wrong to say that the sentence doesn’t make sense by Blake’s interpretation.

    To “gender” the spirit and tabernacle together, by Blake’s interpretation would mean to gender BOTH of them. To take both of them together and gender them.

    Still, this word has nothing to do with male and female identity trait in the sense used here.

    Comment by Jeff Day — June 24, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  215. New model:

    There is a Father
    There is a Son
    There is a Holy Ghost (Spirit)

    ===================================

    Jesus also tells us this deep mystery:
    “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.” Ether 3:14

    ===================================

    During the days of Adam until the Day of Pentacost, the Godhead consisted mainly of the Physical Father, and the Spirit Son – Jehovah.

    ===================================

    Per this blog, the discussion has been that Gods are multi-generational,

    So, I propose this model:

    I look for patterns. And I see this one.

    I (Simple-Simon) am the earthly father to my son Steve, and I am also the son to my earthly father, Samuel.

    Hence, using this model – I too can say “I am the Father, and the son.” without sounding like I’m schizophrenic because I am indeed the Father of Steve, and Son of Samuel. Steve still refers to my Father as….Father. But since he is Grander than I, he is called GrandFather.

    My joy is increased by my son….but My Father’s joy is increased far more than mine ever could be!

    ============================

    Q: So, What if the God-head patterned a Father, a Son, and a … Grand-Son?

    ============================

    To me, this also balances many What ifs.

    Such as this comment in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”

    …another Comforter?
    What did he mean by that statement? Who was the first comforter of Spirit that when Jesus leaves, he must ask for another to replace him?

    When Jesus was born/resurrected, he could no longer be the Spirit-God of the Old Testament.

    He sends his Spirit (or in other words, He too can send HIS Son) to be with us. Just like his Father Sent him in Spiritform to be with us.

    I would also like to note, that this next-generational hand-off took place at when Christ came, at the Meridian of Time.
    Like 12:00 on a clock.

    And so on and so on.

    Comment by Simple-Simon — June 24, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

  216. Simon, I agree with the first part, see #20. However the transition from a father to the Father, is not an automatic one – it only comes by corporate investiture, which is of course the doctrine of the Priesthood.
    A father only represents the Father – has to be a faithful representative in all things for the claim that his words are the same as the Fathers words, that in some sense he is the Father, to be taken seriously. A very high bar indeed. A divine son, is easier – as in the Holy Priesthood after the order of the *Son* of God.

    That is why rarely (ever?) in the church do we call anybody by the title father except our earthly father from whom we inherit the patriarchal priesthood and the corresponding promises made to the children.

    Normally individuals go by the title priest, prince, and so one. Even Jesus Christ is known as the Prince of Peace. He did not normally claim to be a king – but a prince, a Son of God. Properly speaking no one down here is a king, although Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor were ordained to that position. Kingship is a next world thing, and even then the word gives the wrong idea – heaven is not a dictatorship – I prefer patriarch or lord. Of course when Christ comes again he will be Lord of lords, and King of kings.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 24, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

  217. Susie: With all due repsect, look closer at your old dictionary. The notions of “create, beget” etc. are the etymological sources of the word, not their meaning. If you look closer, gender means of one gender or another, male or female.

    Comment by Blake — June 24, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  218. Blake, I followed Susie’s link. There are three definitions for Gender, one of them is a noun (marked n.), and defines the male or female trait, the other two definitions are thus listed:

    Gen”der (?), v. t.
    (imp. & p. p. Gendered (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Gendering.)
    (OF. gendrer, fr. L. generare. See Gender, n.)
    To beget; to engender.

    Gen”der, v. i.
    To copulate; to breed. [R.] Shak.

    Okay, so… To beget, to copulate, to breed? Sounds like she was right. You should try reading beyond the first definition :)

    Comment by Jeff Day — June 24, 2006 @ 6:37 pm

  219. Blake,

    I (like Susie) have a hard time understanding how your reading of the word “gender” makes sense in the context of the rest of the sentence.

    It would be interesting to do a survey where you asked people to fill in the blank below with a word that makes the most sense of the sentence:

    “God saw that those intelligences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernacle therefore the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernacles so that he might _________ the Spirit & the tabernacle together so as to create sympathy for their fellowman.”

    I expect that if I had been asked to participate in such a survey, I would have used a word like “join.” The word “engender” sort of means the same thing that I would have expected, so I tend to think that was the intended meaning.

    Your reading requires the word “gender” to be a verb (the dictionary entry you want to use is not a verb) meaning “to make something either male or female.” How would that definition of the word gender fit with the sentence? Can you fill in the blank with a set of words that fit both the rest of the sentence and the word gender?

    Comment by Jacob — June 24, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  220. A point to consider is: Can you number to quantity of solar systems? The number of galaxies? Or the number of them that will continue to be born or created?

    If you can fully answer this, then you will be in a better position to deal with the original question and answer.

    Comment by Glenn Mickelson — June 25, 2006 @ 10:32 pm

  221. The number that are now existing – yes. Infinite backward recursion leads to serious topological problems. Not only that the scriptures refer to the Most High God. Heaven has a center, not a black hole.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 3:19 am

  222. OK Jeff Day, so the meaning is that “the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernacles so that he might copulate or breed the Spirit & the tabernacle together so as to create sympathy for their fellowman.” That cannot be the meaning. Jacob, it seems fairly evident that there is a meaningful semantics and syntax that states: “the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernacles so that he might fix the gender of by combiningthe Spirit & the tabernacle together so as to create sympathy for their fellowman.” Doesn’t seem too difficult to me.

    Comment by Blake — June 26, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  223. Well, whether God “gendered” spirits or not, there is no question that it is now an absolutely crucial part of the plan of salvation, without which a comparably successful scheme is hard to imagine. Male-female relationships are much more stable than male-male ones, not only that men make bad mothers, and one might criticize certain aspects of an all female world as well. Marriage is and has been the bedrock institution of civilization since time immemorial. How much worse off we would all be in an androgynous world of any type.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 10:36 pm

  224. I’m not necessarily against the idea that God the Father was a Savior of a world, but I don’t believe it. I just have a real issue with your interpretation that KFD absolutely has to mean that he was. There is nothing there that demands that interpretation. The idea that God the Father laid down his life as Jesus did simply implies that he lived in a mortal state and died, and that is precisely what Jesus was doing, condescending to a mortal state and dying and then being resurrected. There is nothing in the KFD that demands the interpretation that God the Father was a Savior. You can marshal any number of other quotes from general authorities that believed it, but you cannot show one that unambiguously teaches that doctrine from Joseph Smith.

    Comment by George Jackson — March 19, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

  225. God is the head of all “his” children. Blake assumes because God is the “head” he is the head of ALL Gods. He assumes too much. He’s adding to what Joseph actually said.

    Comment by Samuel Wattles — December 10, 2008 @ 8:02 pm

  226. Hehe. The gospel according to Samuel Wattles…

    (Well I’m glad that is settled!)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 10, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

  227. Started this one this a.m.

    Looking forward to completing it.

    Comment by BHodges — December 29, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

  228. Finished!

    My word, if Samuel Wattles didn’t just kill this thing, hehe1. I likes.

    This discussion is pretty good; there were about a dozen important comments in the whole 233 that deserve more than oblivion in this thread. They identify the key issues, many of the key positions, and overall nail the jell-o down just long enough to smell its flavor. Oh well!

    Comment by BHodges — December 31, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

  229. I’m glad you got through this one BHodges. I thought it was an important discussion at the time too. (And I deleted most of the recent Wattles exchange — thanks for the reminder).

    Any comments come to mind as being worth pointing out? Maybe we could post on them individually. (Or you could guest post on them if you would like)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 31, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  230. Ive been reading about `sons of perdition` and i was wondering if you guys could help me, or shed a little light my way. Do you have to have the full melchizedek priesthood to become one? Or could someone be cursed with just the aaronic priesthood?Also, can someone classed as a son of perdition be able to plead mercy and enter a kingdom of glory before the final ressurection? What about narrow ties?

    Comment by marlon brandy — January 1, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

  231. Marlon, my understanding is the a SOP is someone of such a disposition that they would never repent, and priesthood is not required as women can be DOP too. (at least as understood in modern mormon theology) The reason priesthood gets mentioned is that knowledge is a key factor, since a SOP has a knowledge of God and denies that knowledge out of selfishness. So if you are a Son of Perdition, you won’t plead mercy because that is what makes you a son of perdition, your denial of the Gift of Grace, to begin with. I don’t know what you mean by narrow ties.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 2, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  232. The real answer is we don’t know for sure.

    For instance if free will is eternal with human souls then even Lucifer could freely choose to repent some day.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 2, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  233. Geoff, I’ll check out what parts I highlighted and noted as significant, but I’ll have to do that tomorrow or Sunday. BTW I just finished listening to your long conversation with Aaron Shaf of the fluffy bunny nice-nice club. Well played.

    Comment by BHodges — January 2, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

  234. The following is from the appendix of the ebook titled “Kinematic Relativity and Continuous Mass-Formation in an Accelerating Universe”:

    . . . it is apparent that Mormon theology and cosmology involve mainly the following ideas, which include some ideas that are piercing implications derived from the revelations to the prophets.

    – There is an infinite hierarchy of gods that rule over all existence as One God;

    – God our Father is one of the infinite number of gods that rule over all existence as One God;

    – God our Father is an embodied immortal being, with a perfect body of flesh and bones, as does the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ;

    – The infinite hierarchy of gods unceasingly continue with the process of begetting gods in the whole of the infinite existence;

    – The process of the begetting of gods by the already existing gods in the hierarchy involves the organization or the bringing forth of the essentially new spirit entities from the eternal and infinite chaos and also from the depths of the consciousness of the gods into the eternal and infinite cosmos – the abstractions and corporealizations caused by the gods bring forth the cosmic existence of new spirit entities;

    – God our Father lives in the heavens of the cosmos – the great star Kolob being nearest to the throne of God our Father;

    – God our Father owns a part of the infinite cosmos as his dominion amongst the gods, which dominion has a governing star called Kolob that governs a multitude of other stars and planets that includes the earth upon which we now stand;

    – Each of the other gods also owns a part of the infinite cosmos as each god’s own dominion;

    – The dominion of the greater gods cover the dominions of lesser gods, in so much as there are gods who are gods over other gods as suggested by the scriptures that clearly state that our “God is a God of gods…”);

    – There is the eternal and infinite realm of the cosmos and also the eternal and infinite realm of the chaos;

    – The gods obtain from the voidness of the chaos the already eternally existing primordial components that they use in the material creation of new worlds that then become integrated into the cosmos;

    – There is a continuous composing of the elements out of the chaos, and these composed elements become the materials organized by the gods to create new worlds – and clearly, this is where the genesis formula provides the scientific support by its suggestion of the continuous formation of cosmic mass-energy into the cosmos out of the chaotic void-energy from the chaos;

    – Also, we may as well include the identified fundamental self-existing principles as further evidentiary philosophical support to the Mormon cosmological and theological ideas presented by the prophets and the sacred scriptures;

    – And, with our added understanding of the fundamental self-existing principles, especially the idea of the essence of intelligence as having fundamentally the input-process-output capabilities in both the realm of phenomena and the realm of noumena, we are now readily enlightened regarding the teachings of the prophets on the idea that there is intelligence in all things (both the things that act and the things that are merely acted upon) in the cosmos, and also on the idea that God’s ‘power and influence’, the light of truth, subsists in all things and indeed permeates all things in the cosmos.

    The ebook from which the above quote was taken discusses philosophical and scientific views that support Mormon doctrine. It is a bit speculative. But it offers a rather new treatment of Mormon doctrine.

    It would be interesting to learn what you people here have to say about the above ideas from the ebook.

    Comment by mmanuu — January 10, 2009 @ 6:56 am

  235. BHodges recommended this discussion a few weeks ago over on MADB. I’ll start reading this one tonight, but it’s going to take a while!

    By the way, BHodges, you said:
    “BTW I just finished listening to your long conversation with Aaron Shaf of the fluffy bunny nice-nice club. Well played.”

    Where can I hear that audio?

    Thanks fellas.

    Comment by James — February 5, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  236. Welcome James. Here is where the recording of our phone conversation can be found:

    Comment by Geoff J — February 5, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  237. Doesn’t it say somewhere in the standard works that “the Head of All The Gods called a great council”?

    I think it’s in the book of Abraham, or the D&C, and I think the context indicates it’s talking about Heavenly Father?

    Wouldn’t “head of all the Gods” mean there’s no God above Him?

    Comment by Mike — January 26, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  238. @237

    No more than “is there a God besides me? I know not any” means that there are no other exalted persons.

    These sentiments are all within the context of this eternal round, this heaven and earth, this kingdom of which the Father is God. He is the “most high God” among all the noble and great ones of His own spirit children that could be called gods. He is the most high God of all within His dominion, which includes us, Christ, and Gods – prior exalted children that have dominion over their own kingdoms that He has granted them to be the gods of.

    I get the impression that some imagine this model where all exalted persons are inducted into this grand, eternal collective of Gods that reign all space and kingdoms together as a unit. I reject that idea.

    Instead, the scriptures seem to indicate to me a hierarchy of exalted persons wherein the forthcoming generation remains subordinate to the preceding one. We shall become subordinate to Christ (Rev 21:7) as Christ is subordinate to the Father, who is in turn subordinate to His father. Each exalted couple receives a kingdom from the exalted couple that created them. They and they alone have authority over that kingdom as Gods; likewise, they have no authority as Gods over any other exalted person’s kingdom. Their kingdom is a subset of their heavenly parents’ kingdom just as the kingdoms of their exalted offspring will be subsets of their own kingdom.

    Comment by Eso — January 29, 2014 @ 1:01 am

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