Divine succession and the capacity of man

November 8, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 7:31 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Theology

In my last post which outlined the newly named Royal Empathy theory of atonement I mentioned that one important assumption of that theory was the notion taught by Joseph Smith that our Father in Heaven was a savior on a previous world. J. Stapley chimed in with support for the theory and also provided some of the quotes from Joseph Smith that teach the idea that Jesus only became as the Father is by performing an atoning work for us as the Father did before him on a previous world. Here are the key quotes as Stapley presented them in that thread:

In the four major accounts [of the King Follet Discourse] there is a general consistency at the point of what Jesus will do. Clayton, perhaps the most reliable source states:

“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.” (Words of Joseph Smith pg. 357)

The kicker is the Laub account:

“Spake in this wise, I do as my Father before me did well what did the father doo why he went & took a body and went to redeem a world in the flesh & had power to lay down his life and to take it up again & this is the way we become heirs of God & joint heirs of with Jesus” (Words of Joseph Smith pg. 362)

Later at the Sermon in the Grove he repeated the sentiment:

“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” (Words of Joseph Smith pg. 380)

Of course if Jesus only became like the Father by doing on this world what the Father did before him on a previous world some obvious theological questions arise. The most important of these questions a Mormon might ask is how then can we become like the Father is? (Our ability to progress to become like our Father in Heaven is a well known Mormon teaching after all.) As I understand it there are a couple of viable answers to this question. One is: We can’t. The other is that we can but doing so requires multiple mortal probations culminating in a role as a savior. I suspect that neither solution is particularly appealing to most members of the church. I’ll explain both in a little more detail below.

The Two-Track Model

One way to look at this issue is to assume that it is simply impossible for humans to become as the Father is. This is the model that J. Stapley prefers. As I understand it, the model is something like this: There is an ontological gap between humankind and the Godhead. They are eternally divine and we are eternally, well, less divine. There is a race of Gods and they watch over the likes of us and help us meet the measure of our existence. The pinnacle of our existence in this model is to become “gods” or rather kings and queens or priests and priestesses to God (aka the extended Godhead). As Joseph Smith said:

Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests (or “Queens and Priestesses”) of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. (TPJS 322)

Those who like the idea that God is a different species or kind than us will find this model appealing. Those who believe we are the same kind of beings as God and have the potential to become exactly like Him will not like this model at all. One strength it has is a clear picture of where women end up in the final picture — even if it is lower than the capacity of the race of Deity.

Multiple Mortal Probations

This model assumes that humans can become as the Father is but that it requires us to live multiple mortal probations (MMP) or at a minimum it would require at least 2 mortal probations (2MP) culminating in a role of savior just as our exemplar and adoptive spiritual father Jesus did before us. I have spent a lot of time on this subject here in the past — it was fairly popular among 19th century church leaders but has fallen on hard times among Mormons as of late. I have made it no secret that I lean toward this solution over the 2-track model.

Those who think that we are the same kind as God and that God was once a man like us will appreciate that part of this model. Of course the notion that we must live more than one mortal probation often elicits an unfavorable knee-jerk reaction and many people will reject this idea on that alone. The other weakness of this model is that it leaves a major question about the methods women become as the Father (or more specifically Heavenly Mother) is since we only have indications of Fathers and Sons in our records. There are certainly ways that such a problem could be worked around but it requires a lot of gap filling and speculating.

So there you have it. Joseph Smith taught that Jesus became as the Father is only by treading in the same footsteps the Father did before him in the role of atoning savior for a world. He further implied that such has been the pattern of Fathers and Sons worlds without end. I suspect that this probably puts a lot of you between a rock and a hard place theologically speaking, but as far as I can tell we are left with only three choices on this issue:
1.) Claim Joseph was wrong (or as Blake does, assume the records or interpretations of the sermons must be inaccurate)
2.) Go for a variation on the 2-track model
3.) Go for a variation on the MMP model

What do you think? Is there another route that can be taken that I missed? If not, which solution do you prefer and why?

122 Comments »

  1. I would add that Blake seems to accept in some way a two track existence in that humans don’t become “God the Fathers” or Christs.

    I like the Sermon in the Grove. After explaining the succession of the Father and Jesus, he explains how humans fit in:

    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[ings] & P[riests] to God. Oh thou God who are K. of K’s & Ld. of Lds.

    Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This was more fully described by the editor of the Millennial Star:

    The chosen vessels unto God are the kings and priests that are placed at the head of these kingdoms. These have received their washing and anointings in the temple of God on this earth; they have been chosen, ordained, and anointed kings and priests, to reign as such in the resurrection of the just. Such as have not received the fullness of the priesthood, (for the fullness of the priesthood includes the authority of both king and priest) and have not been anointed and ordained in the temple of the Most High, may obtain salvation in the celestial kingdom, but not a celestial crown. Many are called to enjoy a celestial glory, yet few are chosen to wear a celestial crown, or rather, to be rulers in the celestial kingdom. (Millennial Star vol. 9 pg. 23-24)

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 8, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

  2. Here is an extended transcript and visualizations from the Millenial Star. I think they are very pertinent.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 8, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  3. How about a third option? We become precisely as divine as the Father and the Son when we enter into a loving relationship of indwelling unity with them. It is not necessary to atone for sins of others to be fully divine (the Holy Ghost hasn’t and yet is fully divine).

    Further, only the Laub Journal entry states that the “did the father doo why he went & took a body and went to redeem a world in the flesh.” The rest of the sources all speak in unison of the Father laying down his life and taking it up again — just as we will when we are resurrected. So we are not one whit less divine; but we are not Jesus Christ and we don’t atone for the sins of this or any other world. However, we are one and participate fully in divinity and godhood inteh very same sense and the very same way as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    I don’t adopt any kind of “two track” theology. It is just that you left out the most important option.

    Comment by Blake — November 8, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

  4. Blake, I think that is a bit disingenuous. I to agree with your entire comment. But you and I both agree that a human will never fill the personal roll of “God the Father,” unless I have misread you. Most people would view that as a twin track. I willing to say it isn’t if you do, though.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 8, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

  5. J> I deny that there is any ontological or other species difference between us and God. I will never be God the Father; but he will never Blake Ostler. I will never be the one to atone for this world like Christ; but Christ won’t be the natural father of my children either. There are differences that don’t entail any kind of ontological or species distinction. Far from disgenuine, these are simply important distinctions to make. Being the Savior of this world and all the works of our Father’s hands worlds without number is just what Christ has already accomplished. I don’t need to be the Savior of those worlds; they already have one.

    Comment by Blake — November 8, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

  6. Regarding Laub:

    Unquestionably, the date George Laub assigned to this transcript is incorrect. He did not arrive in Nauvoo until 9 May 1843, a month after the date given for the sermon (6 April 1843). Because he did not begin his journal until 1 January 1845, these notes of the Prophet’s “King Follett” sermon (as well as his notes on the 12 May 1844 and 16 June 1844 sermons which were included in the first edition of Words) were not transcribed into his journal until at least eight months after the sermons were delivered. This probably accounts for his error in dating this and the other sermons.

    Of course, this leads to a question regarding the strict contemporaneousness of these notes. There are a number of evidences in this report, however, which suggest that it is based on contemporary notes. (For example, see the incidental note that Joseph Smith “referred to 6 chapter of Hebrews.”) Nevertheless, because the notes really are only a summary of the major points of the “King Follett” sermon, and because George Laub indicates that this account was from “memory,” the account included here is given without further annotation.

    (Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 340.)

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 8, 2006 @ 9:53 pm

  7. I think that Geoff’s MMP model should be renamed the MLM model. In multi-level-marketing, a few people at the top get all the cash while promising a bunch of people on the bottom that they too can “achieve the dream.” In truth, pyramid schemes can’t work for everyone.

    I fail to see how MMP as explained in this post is any different. You can only be the savior of a world if you have a world full of people to be saved. They can’t ALL be saviors or else there would be nobody at the bottom of the pyramid.

    I prefer the current popular (I’d dare say traditional) Mormon view that ALL of us can become like God the Father, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and eventually repeat this cycle with our own spirit children, one of whom will serve as a savior for his siblings.

    Comment by Bradley Ross — November 8, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  8. Blake, it is all in the definitions. If there is only the single atonement that Christ wrought on this world throughout the history of the universe then there is only one God the Father. The only difference between us and them is that they were always divine and we become divine. (some may call that difference fairly large). The grand council in heaven then encompassed every soul that exists.

    That is a rational and acceptable position, one which meshes well with the Millennial Star citation. I am simply taking the position that all the souls that exist were not part of that council and that the Father indeed did what the son did.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 8, 2006 @ 10:05 pm

  9. …and I would also state, again, that if there were only one Christ-event in history, then Jesus is the Most High God.

    To be fair, Bradley, you are asserting something that has in previous conversations been shown to be untenable. This post is in light of those conversations and assuming those premises.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 8, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

  10. Ok, I thought of two other alternatives to the above.

    1. God the Father was the beginning and no God the Grand Father. He suffered the requirements to be omnipotent and brought himself to his high status, then saw fit to make a way for us to follow, using Christ as the first to come to him and show us the way.

    2. God is in a long line of Gods, and we can be too, but we have to pay the price, again christ showed us the way how to do that, and somewhere in our progression, we to will have to.

    Both are similar, but different also…

    Just finished KFD…

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 8, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  11. Bradley,

    I have no idea who’s version of MMP you are describing but it certainly isn’t mine.

    And J. is right, what you describe is not at all what Joseph Smith described — rather I’d call it wishful thinking. Joseph made is very clear that only through Jesus performing his atoning work on this planet (as the Father did before him) was he able to become as the Father is:

    What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come 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; (KFD TPJS amalgamated version)

    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. Those are the first princples of the gospel. (KFD Wilford Woodruff Diary)

    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. This is some of the first principles of the gospel about which so much hath been.-You have got to find the beginning of this history & go on till you have learned the last-will be a great while before you learn the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world. (KFD William Clayton Report)

    therefore Jesus Spake in this wise, I do as my Father before me did well what did the father doo why he went & took a body and went to redeem a world in the flesh & had power to lay down his life and to take it up again & this is the way we become heirs of God & joint heirs of with Jesus &[c]. (KFD George Laub Journal)

    It seems pretty clear to me that if we can become as God the Father is it is through the only gateway to that exaltation — serving in the role of savior on a future world. If cannot become as the Father is then perhaps J’s 2-track model (with an ontological gap) or Blake’s 2-track model (with no ontological gap) is correct.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 8, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

  12. Analysis of KFD

    First, I am only marginally using Laub as it is a summary and written from memory. I will deal with it separately. It is sort of the “Gospel of John” account… In fact, I am avoiding using any ideas that are in 1 account only)

    Here are the pertinent bits to me…

    1. God is a man like unto us (6 accounts)
    2. He once lived on an earth like we do and like Jesus does. (5 accounts)
    3. Christ had power in himself to do what the father did. (4 accounts)
    4. What the The Father did was that he laid down his life and took it up again. (4 accounts)
    5. We need to learn how to become Gods ourselves, kings and priests to the most high gods. (5 accounts)
    6. Jesus Christ did the same thing the father did before (or when) worlds came into existence. (3 accounts)
    7. What The Father did was that He worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling (4 accounts)
    8. When we get kingdoms, we present them to him and this increases his exaltation (4 accounts)
    9. As Heavenly Father increases, Christ treads in his tracks to inherit what hat God did before. (3 accounts, but one other account is very similar but says I instead of Jesus)
    10. In the Beginning the head one of the Gods had a council in heaven to create the world. (all accounts)
    11. The Soul, mind, inner spirit, immortal spirit, the intelligent part etc, of man is co-eternal, co-equal, co-immortal with God.(5 accounts)
    12. It is correct enough to say God is self-existent. Man exists in like manner. (5 accounts)
    13. God could not create himself, intelligence exists on a self-existent principle. (6 accounts)
    14. God found himself in the midst of spirits and decided to set up laws for the less-intelligent spirits so they could advance just like he did. He took it upon himself to save the spirits. (4 accounts)
    15. Men are their own damnation. (3 accounts)
    16. The Salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men. (4 accounts, with 2 accounts adding “to triumph over the devil”)
    17. Devil said he could save them all, Jesus Said certain souls (sons of perdition) would not be saved. Jesus chosen. (6 accounts)

    I think that covers it. I may note that I did use the BOAP copy, as I had already printed it and did not want to kill a second tree. It has Times and Seasons and Bullock as seperate accounts, but they seem very similar. I did reference WOJS to cross examine some of the reading.

    Any arguements in my interpretation here or in important points I missed in the discourses?

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 8, 2006 @ 11:34 pm

  13. Matt,

    Very nicely done.

    I should add that there are a few components in here that are very influential in my preference for a MMP variation.

    God is a man like unto us (6 accounts)

    So one of the messages is that God is a man like us and further that he was a man like us on a previous world. To me that indicates that at one point he had two mortal parents and lived and died on a world just like us.

    Christ had power in himself to do what the father did. (4 accounts)
    What the The Father did was that he laid down his life and took it up again. (4 accounts)
    Jesus Christ did the same thing the father did before (or when) worlds came into existence. (3 accounts)
    As Heavenly Father increases, Christ treads in his tracks to inherit what hat God did before. (3 accounts, but one other account is very similar but says I instead of Jesus)

    These all indicate to me that the Father was also once a man like Jesus (as opposed to like us). That is, a savior (one mortal parent one divine parent I believe) who wrought an atoning sacrifice, voluntarily laid down his own life for his world, and who had power to resurrect himself afterwards.

    We need to learn how to become Gods ourselves, kings and priests to the most high gods. (5 accounts)
    God found himself in the midst of spirits and decided to set up laws for the less-intelligent spirits so they could advance just like he did. He took it upon himself to save the spirits. (4 accounts)

    The message here is that we need to learn to do just as the Father did and just as Jesus did in the forever of time to come. The key point in this segment is that we should spiritually advance in the eternity of time to come just like he did.

    Now I recognize that other readings are out there, but I hope others see that a MMP reading is a viable and natural reading of this sermon as well.

    I am certainly not the first to see MMP in these sermons. Many of Joseph’s closest friends and associates read it in the very same way (though there were many variations on the MMP theme that floated around among early saints.) But the likes of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Eliza R. Snow, Lorenzo Snow, Orson Hyde, and many others saw MMP in this sermon and believed the notion thereafter. (Not that their believing it makes it true, but it at least shows that the concept is not a new idea at all.)

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 7:49 am

  14. Matt, that is fairly accurate, except, Joseph was quite clear (contrary to your #1) that God was a man like Jesus. Big difference. And what is your support for #8?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 8:31 am

  15. Geoff, why is it that Blake doesn’t have an ontological Gap and I do?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 8:32 am

  16. J,

    Well the distinction is pretty subtle. Blake holds that we are ontologically the same as God but for whatever reason (or perhaps for no reason) the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have always been part of a divine union of love. Basically he is saying that they are beginningless in that union whereas we are beginningless in our separateness. He is admittedly using this brain-torquing notion of infinite time and of our beginningless state to his advantage. But in favor of his argument is the idea that it is logically possible for the members of the Godhead to choose to leave their divine unity (though not possible on a practical level) so he can use that as defense of the idea that there is no ontological gap.

    With a true ontological gap, the Godhead could not choose to be anything other than of the race of Gods (even if they left the divine unity) and we could never choose to become part of the race of Gods (even after we are exalted). So I think it is a technical difference but a viable one.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 9:25 am

  17. Well then I guess I don’t support an ontological gap either. :)

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  18. I don’t have much time to spurt, but spurt I will attempt.

    I do not go for either model you propose. It seems you are defining anything else away. To summarize my simple minded take:

    We are literal spirit offspring of God.
    Some are more capable than others.
    We will be judged by a perfect judge.

    Those who did not receive the gospel in this life can be exalted if they accept it hereafter and are found that they would have accepted it had their circumstances allowed.

    Could we not be judged to have been willing to serve as a savior if we would have been chosen, and our circumstances allowed? Is this not a big part of what the atonement is for?

    There are also passages of scriptures that tell us how we can be saviors to others. As we live and work in the gospel through charity, missionary work, perfecting ourselves and others, are we not acting as saviors of a sort?

    Sorry for a lack of supporting quotes and references, I am quite time limited currently. Carry on!

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 9, 2006 @ 9:44 am

  19. Hmmm, I’m not so sure J. Everything you have said in the past indicates you do. Are you willing to concede that we can become part of the extended Godhead? That seems to be the direction Blake has headed. (Blake, please confirm…) As I understand it, you believe there is a race of Gods of whom the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for our planet are only three. Are you switching to Blake’s model instead now? Blake holds that there will never be another person filling the roles of Father or Son or Holy Ghost throughout all eternity, but I think he allows for the idea that we can join an extended Godhead with them and be part of the One God. That is very different than the model you have explained to me that you go for. The model you have explained in the past does indeed include an ontological gap. What am I missing?

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

  20. Well Geoff, I just don’t buy Blake’s distinctions…I think I could fit in his language. The question is: in Blakes model, will anyone ever try to have faith in one of us? Sure there was a council of Gods before this world was (the eventual destination for us on both his and my models), but we don’t have faith in the council. That is, we have faith in certain individuals that were always God. We won’t ever fill that roll. I don’t particularly care what sort of gap it is, but it is a gap.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 9:57 am

  21. Eric: It seems you are defining anything else away.

    I’m not doing that, Joseph Smith did it. His preaching is there for you to read if you are interested…

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 10:01 am

  22. Actually, let me make my point more clearly. Blake has very sophisticated and compelling support for the nature of God and His ability to support our faith. Much of this rests on the fact that God has been God for eternity. Consequently his own work supports that we will never have the same capacity as God, i.e., we won’t ever be able to support faith of others.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 10:29 am

  23. I have read the KFD dozens of times. I even bought a pamphlet of it and carry it around. Just becasue I don’t quite buy your interpretation of it does not mean I am not interested in reading the blasted thing.

    The church teaches that we are literal children of God, and the basic Plan of Salvation. Neither of which are characterised in the two proposals you make. They are not the only two options.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 9, 2006 @ 10:37 am

  24. J. to answer your concerns, as for number 1
    and 8

    It is argueable for 8 that Joseph is speaking for Jesus and not human kind when he says “I must do the same”..

    Joseph Smith Diary
    1- “-in the beginning. before the world was.-Is a man like one of yourselves.-should you see him to day. you would see a man in fashion and in form. Adam was formed in his likeness”

    Wilford Woodruff Diary
    1- “God himself who sits enthroned in yonder Heavens is a man like unto one of yourselves who holds this world in its orbit & upholds all things by his power if you were to see him today you wod. see him a man for Adam was a man like in fashion & image like unto him”

    8-”…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….”

    Thomas Bullock Report

    1-”God himself who sits enthroned in yonder Heavens is a man like unto one of yourselves who holds this world in its orbit & upholds all things by his power if you were to see him today you wod. see him a man for Adam was a man like in fashion & image like unto him”

    8- “I saw my Far. work out his K with fear & trembling & 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. It is plain beyond comprehensn. ”

    William Clayton Report

    1- “1st God that sits enthroned is a man like one of yourselves. That is the great secret. If the veil was rent to day & the great God who holds this world in its sphere or its orbit-the planets-if you were to see him today you would see him in all the person image, very form of man”

    8- “. 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.”

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 9, 2006 @ 10:40 am

  25. I will get to exegesis on this eventually, but wanted to get SitG out of the way and that way, everyone gets a fair shake.

    BUT…

    I am having trouble doing a similar analysis on SitG as there are very few points which are actually in more than one account. The only two points that cross over into multiple accounts are:

    1. The head of the Gods organized the earth. (2 accounts)
    2. God the Father laid down his life and took it up again. (all 3)

    No other points crossover. Also, the Laub and McIntire accounts seem to be both either from prior notes or from memory. (See my Laub comment above, and McIntire mentions that this was JS last discorse at the beginning of the discorse.)

    I am apt to trust the Bullock account, but wish there was a second solid account to look at. I am guessing WW was on mission at this point.

    As an aside- J. the BOAP footnotes have some interesting commentary on your ressurected baby issue…

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 9, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  26. J: i.e., we won’t ever be able to support faith of others

    That is true, but Blake makes a claim that the person who is our Father in the Heaven is the same person who has been called Heavenly Father on worlds without end. That is the claim that I simply disagree with because I think it is incompatible with these sermons from Joseph — I believe you disagree with it for the same reasons. The term God sometimes refers to the Godhead (the local Godhead or the extended Godhead) and sometimes it applies to the the individuals offices Father, Son, or Holy Ghost. So there is really an area between your position and mine that I think Blake’s position sits. I hold that Joseph meant we can join the One God, or the extended Godhead, and then progress through the offices of HG, Son, and Father on future worlds via MMP. You hold that Joseph meant there is a race of Gods who cycle through the offices of HG, Son, and Father on future worlds but that we can at best be something like ministering angels to them. As I understand it, Blake is between us holding that Jospeh meant we can literally join the extended Godhead and thus become “God” in the sense that we are part of the “divine concert” that is often referred to as God, but that we will never cycle through the offices of HG, Son, or Father on future worlds. (Blake, please confirm.) So my point is that in a sense I think Blake’s position says people on future worlds could have faith in us as part of the “One God” or the extended Godhead (and I assume this is something greater than ministering angels), but you are right that we would never be in the three offices that we worship as our Godhead on his view.

    However, if Blake holds that we are not really part of the Godhead ever and only something like the ministering angels that your view suggests then I agree that there is almost no practical difference between your two positions after all.

    Blake, you’ll have to let us know.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  27. Eric: The church teaches that we are literal children of God, and the basic Plan of Salvation. Neither of which are characterised in the two proposals you make.

    What makes you say that? The (vaguely defined) teaching about our being literal children of God and the existence of a Plan of Salvation are both perfectly compatible with the options that Joseph left us with as described above. I fail to see a conflict.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  28. Matt. All those quotes for #8 are excised from context and distorted. Joseph was quoting Jesus. Jesus was saying those things. Jesus was the one to give his kingdom to the Father. Not us.

    Also for your support for # 1, there is no question that if you saw God, He would be, as Clayton states, the “very form of man.” No question. Clayton further clarified however: “to know that we may converse with [God] as one man with another & that he was once as one of us and was on a planet as Jesus was in the flesh.” No one is arguing that Jesus wasn’t a man, but to say that God was a man like us is very different than saying he was a man like Jesus.

    Geoff: I just don’t get that description. I see no difference in my position and Blake’s. I am just saying that just as there are the 3 in our Godhead who have always been God, there are others that we don’t know about. What is this big difference?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 11:14 am

  29. Matt – Nice Job on #24. Unlike Stapley, I think you are arguing for the most plain reading of the sermon. (Though he does have a point about #8)

    J. – We’ll have to see what Blake says about his position. If he believes we can literally join the Godhead and be fully integrated members of the One God then that is different than being ministering angels to the Godhead.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 11:22 am

  30. For 8 I said so much in my comment to you, and am leading toward that understand as well now. When I put my outline together last night, I had misread the fullness of the quote. The column formating of the BOAP versions have their pros and cons…

    I will make changes to my outline.

    For 8, I think there is a difference between “just like” and “like unto” sorry if that is not quite clear in my text. If you can propose a better way to make the statement, Iwill hold on reposting my now changed list until I hear from you..

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 9, 2006 @ 11:28 am

  31. amended

    8) When Jesus received the kingdoms, He present them to HF and this increases HFs exaltation (4 accounts)

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 9, 2006 @ 11:30 am

  32. Geoff, I don’t get the distinctions you are making. If the very definition of inspiring faith requires that one actually have always been God, what is the difference in what I am saying and what Blake is saying. It seems to me that we are describing the same ultimate destiny.

    Matt, I’m not sure what you are asking.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 11:34 am

  33. All — Matt’s #25 was in moderation until now.

    J – One can have faith in “God” (the divine concert) and separately have faith in individual members of the Godhead. So if we can become one with God (the divine concert) then in a sense people on future world would have faith in us as well. If we are not part of God (the divine concert) then even in that sense no one would ever put faith in us, worlds without end. Your model is the latter as I understand it. Blake’s is less clear to me and may be the former.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 11:42 am

  34. I don’t buy that Goeff. Who do you have faith in? The council of the Gods?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 11:58 am

  35. Yes, I have faith in the “one God without end”; aka the Godhead. Joseph indicated pretty clearly that the one God, or extended Godhead, includes the Father’s Father and his Father and so on.

    I also have faith in the divine persons acting in the offices of Father, Son and Holy Ghost for our world.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  36. I have some jumbled thoughts. If God is a different race than we are, how does that race have children who are not like themselves? There’s a difference between being a begotton son of God and being a created being by God. Being a different race implies the later, not the former.

    If I accept the notion that I am a different race and can never become like God, then what’s the use, why worry about anything, why not eat drink and be merry. I should be good because the reward is better than this life….so what…it’s not what I’m trying to become…I’m trying to become like God…like I’ve been commanded to do.

    MMP has it’s own problems that have been discussed before.

    I guess I’m leaning to Blake’s corner…I’d like to hear more of his comments, directly from him.

    Comment by don — November 9, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

  37. I have faith in my wife. I have faith in Christ. The difference in my faith is one of degree. I can have more perfect faith in Christ because he is perfectly reliable. Also I can have faith in him to do things for me that my wife cannot do (say, heal me or resurrect me). The idea that we can become like God but can never be the object of faith seems like a fundamental misunderstanding of faith to me. What would prevent us from being a worthy object of faith if we were to become like God?

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  38. J. I am asking if you have some preffered succinct wording other than

    God is a man like unto us (6 accounts)

    to state what JS was trying to convey in the quotes marked 1 in my comment #24

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

  39. Matt,

    J is interested in defending the idea that the Father was once a mortal like Jesus (ie Heavenly Father, earthly mother; and messiah) but never a man like us (regular mortals). He recognizes that the distinction is crucial and if the Father was both in the eternities past that some form of MMP must hold true and we really do have the potential to become just like the Father and Son.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 9, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

  40. By the way, I have not been commenting because I don’t have time to really present my view, but I tend toward Blake’s view, especially his #5. Stapley and Geoff are arguing that because Christ became like God in a certain way then that is the only possible way. That is not in the text however; it is an extrapolation from the text based on certain assumptions.

    When I consider what it means to be like God, I doesn’t seem obvious to me that to become like God we must all have precisely the same experiences. We all need to get to the same place, but why must our roads be identical? The final destination is defined by God’s perfect moral character, his matchless power and knowledge, his perfect love. We are trying to develop that moral character and grow in power (remember, the powers of heaven can only be handled on principles of righteousness). If we develop that character and power through God’s help, then I don’t think it will matter at all if there were differences in our experiences leading up to it. Being divine has to do with what you have become, not the history leading up to it.

    The argument that if Christ atoned and the Father didn’t then Christ would be the Most High seems dubious to me. Even if the Father did atone, he didn’t atone for my sins, and I still worship him as the Father. By your logic I should worship Christ instead of the Father, since he is the one who atoned for my sins.

    Also, you seem to be ignoring the scriptural statements saying that Christ’s power to atone was given to him by the Father (like Hel 5:11 “And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance”). So, even if the Father never atoned, the fact of the atonement my still rest on his power, which could support his being the Most High. I just think Stapley is overstating things when he tells Bradley that his view has been shown to be untenable (#9). There are lots of possibilities and we are treading on a tremendously speculative ground. I am suspicious of any statements on this topic that are made definitively.

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  41. I pretty much agree with Jacob, Also I think both the above theories ignore D&C 132

    19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them-Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths-then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their jxaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
    20 Then shall they be godsbecause they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them. ,
    21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my alaw ye cannot attain to this glory.
    22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
    23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. ;
    24 This is eternal lives-to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

  42. Matt, Joseph Smith described in the SitG precisely what he believed it meant for us to become gods. This meshes well with 132. Note the last verse you cite, Matt.

    Jacob: The argument that if Christ atoned and the Father didn’t then Christ would be the Most High seems dubious to me. Even if the Father did atone, he didn’t atone for my sins, and I still worship him as the Father. By your logic I should worship Christ instead of the Father, since he is the one who atoned for my sins.

    Why dubious? If Christ and the father atoned for the full set of sins, then it only matters who heals you, and that is Jesus Christ. How can you be omniscient, or as you say, “have matchless power and knowledge” if there is this vast area that is only accessible except by experiencing an atonement? It is incoherent. To say otherwise obviates the need for an atonement. Is there another way?

    What does it mean that Christ worked out a kingdom the same as the Father did, will present it to the Father and then take his place, the Father being exalted further by it? What is this other way? and where is the support for it?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 1:12 pm

  43. J.- Can you site your SitG spot?

    JS may have described it in SitG, but JC further clarified in D&C 132 when he said “they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

    Now there are obviously limits to this. I do not believe that “all things” includes HF, JC, or other beings like unto them. What I have trouble with is I am uncomfortable with “angels are subject unto them”. What does that mean, to be subject to something?

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 1:46 pm

  44. Matt, see comment #1. Section 132 came just about 1 year before the SitG. And the SitG answers your question, I think.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  45. One Price theory: Ok, this is sort of a reaction to J.’s comment
    “How can you be omniscient, or as you say, have matchless power
    and knowledge if there is this vast area that is only accessible
    except by experiencing an atonement?” and thing I have been mulling over.
    J.- Why can not man, somewhere in his line of eternal progression experience
    this infinite subset of afflictions? He has already experienced Mortality at that point?
    He has already gained a body. He would then thus gain the omniscience needed. This does
    not imply that he will trump HF but that he will become co-equal with him. If HF paid the price,
    and JC paid the price, then we to, without needing another mortal probabtion (which I feel is scripturally
    impossible in light of the BOM.)

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  46. that should be we can to…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

  47. So, Matt, are you suggesting that we all will experience an atonement, just after we are resurected? Whoa.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  48. I am not 100% locked on this idea(I am working on another theory to post right now. I like to believe in all possible options. I guess I am non-committal that way.), but I am suggesting that it is one possible interpretation that at some point after we are resurrected we may need to pay the set infinite price of the atonement to continue on in our eternal progression…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

  49. …so you are in Geoff’s camp (grin).

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

  50. Ok, my other theory is collapsing in process of writing. I will have to leave it to another to write.

    I was trying to work my mind around a one atonement theory of everything, but do not have the skills to pull it at this time mainly because my mind wants to go in multiple directions on a point where decisiveness is needed. I am waffling on the issue of whether Heavenly Father had a Father.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  51. J.(49) except (in that theory) I am rejecting the need for the being to atone(pay the price for progression) to return to a mortal state to do this… Thus no MMP and in a sense, no DSS.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  52. It would be a nice fix, except there is no shred of support. There are lots of work arounds we can just pull out of the air.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  53. I should also add to both 50 and 51, I frankly do not like the unending line of Gods and realities going infinitely in both directions theory. whether is is via DSS or MMP, I have a hard time with it.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  54. There is one shred of support

    Sermon on the grove

    Mcintire Book

    Jesus said that all things that He saw the father do he did—and also the 82 psalm 1st verse God standeth in the Congregations of the Mighty; he Judgeth among the Gods–the Scripture Say those who will obey the commandments shall be heirs of god & Joint heirs with of Jesus Christ we then also took bodies to lay them down, to take them up again & the Spirit itself bears witness with our Spirits that we are the children of god & if children then heirs and Joint heirs with Jesus Christ if So be that we Suffer with him in the flesh that we may be also glorified together. See Romans 8 chapter 16 & 17 Verses.

    text from boap.org

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  55. J. (#42),

    Two things. First, you ignored my argument that by your logic I should worship Christ in preference to the Father since he is the atoned for my sins.

    Second, that there is a “vast area that is only accessible except by experiencing an atonement” is your claim, but I dispute it. You and Geoff seem to be arguing that the primary purpose in Jesus suffering was to fill in the gaps of his knowledge and experience. I don’t think the purpose was to fix a deficiency in Christ, but to allow an already divine Christ to share his light with us.

    I think I understand the logic by which you arrive at your view, but I don’t think there is language in scripture on in the words of Joseph Smith that necessitates your view. Thus, calling my theory incoherent because it does not conform to your view of why the atonement was necessary begs the question.

    Your discription of the Royal Empathy theory (still not sure what the word Royal adds to the Empathy theory as it was before) puts a lot of weight on Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane giving him the ability to succor us. Note that the primary proof-text for your view, Alma 7, does not even couple this ability with the suffering in Gethsemane and the Cross:

    11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
    12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7)

    In verse 11 it says he will “go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” which does not refer to the Passion, but to Jesus living a mortal life and experiencing first hand what it is like to be in our situation with tempation and sickness. It continues “and this that the word might be fulfilled,” which indicates that the next statement is not to be taken as the statement of what happened, but instead, as the scripture that was fulfilled by what was just mentioned before. So, contrary to all the people who say he took upon himself my sicknesses as part of the suffering in the Passion, this verse doesn’t say that at all. It says he had to be mortal to understand what that is like. Note that I, too, learn what it is like by being mortal.

    Verse 12 builds on this and says that “he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh.” From verse 11, we know that he took upon him their infirmities by becoming mortal (not in an incomprehensible way as part of the Passion). It says he did this so he could understand “according to the flesh” (i.e. first hand as a mortal) what it is like to be us.

    For a being who is already divine but has never been a mortal, it makes sense that he would have to become mortal to understand first hand what it is like. It does not necessarily follow that we must atone. Again, I just disagree with those who claim that the purpose of the atonement was to fix a deficiency in Christ.

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

  56. Jacob, thank you, that was just what I needed to help me on my other unwritten theory of divine capacity of man.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

  57. Not a deficiency. I don’t believe the Holy Ghost has any deficiency, but he cannot heal us.

    Jacob: First, you ignored my argument that by your logic I should worship Christ in preference to the Father since he is the atoned for my sins.

    No, my logic suggests that because they both atoned (or had the capacity to atone (depending at what point in time we are at)), we worship them both. Of course, because Christ is the one who heals us we have a different relationship to him than we do to the Father. The different relationships we have to Christ and the Father are not novel interjections.

    I agree that the “Royal” part of the appellation is vague…we could do better.

    Let’s look at section 19 in regards to your analysis of the empathy portion of the theory:

    For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

    Well, we need to determine the mechanics of how this works. Either, the suffering gave Christ the capacity to fix the penitent sinner or there is some sort of penal substitution going on, no?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  58. J. as a third option, Christ could be taking upon himself our deficiencies as his own deficiencies, then healing them. This does not mean he needed empathy, but that he needed the deficiences, this does not mean he is substituting himself for us, but that he is becoming one with us. I have mention this previously, but I think of it sort of like a marriage or family union. And in this Scenario HF is still greater than Christ because HF is giving JC the capacity to do so. It is JC’s submission to the father that grants him power unto himself.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 9, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  59. J. (#57)

    My view is that Christ could not have accomplished what he did accomplish in the Christ Event without suffering, and that what he accomplished was to offer the light of Christ to all people and all things (D&C 88:13 calls it “the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things” which goes along nicely with his power to resurrect us by the way). The reason he suffered was to give us this light, which light allows us to repent (the way in which the light of Christ enables repentance is described in detail in my paper). When we repent, we stop suffering.

    Thus, I offer another alternative (in addition to the two you suggested) for what it means when Christ says “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.” He suffered so that we would be able to repent and stop suffering. It is a straightforward reading in my opinion.

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  60. It has been some time since I read your paper, Jacob, but if I remember correctly, you state that this light of Christ transfer was a result of the atonement as evidence in and of itself. We have no reason why the atonement extended that light. Why did the light extension require that Christ suffer? It begs the question.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 3:33 pm

  61. J. (#60),

    The basis for my assertion is the D&C 88 passage on the light of Christ which says that Christ “descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth.” So, the reason I believe the atonement extended that light is because this scripture says it does. It says his purpose in descending below all things was so that he could be in and through all things, the light of truth. The rest of the passage in D&C 88 explores the crucial role of the light of Christ, which turns out to be very far reaching.

    Also, I find that if I accept this statement from D&C 88:6, a whole bunch of other scriptures fall into place. Lehi’s claim that the atonement makes us free and gives us a knowledge of good and evil (2 Ne 2) make very good sense in this context, but no sense in your theory. The repeated scriptural statements that Christ gained the power to resurrect through the atonement fits better in my theory than in any of the others mentioned by anyone here, as I mentioned in #59.

    So, your memory of my paper might be a bit thin.

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  62. Actually, I think I am remembering my sentiments correctly. Moreover, D&C 88:6 supports very well the Empathy theories:

    He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;

    I.e., he had to descend bellow all things in order to comprehend all things. So here we have further evidence that the atonement gave Jesus knowledge that could be had in no other way.

    As to the rest of your readings, I simply don’t follow your logic. What’s more, the explication of the resurrection being tied to Christ’s ability to judge and D&C:27-32 is quite strong as outlined in Royal Empathy. This fits nicely with 2 Ne 2.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

  63. J. (#62),

    You can stand by your assessment of my paper all you want, but in #60 you claimed that I tied the atonement to the light of Christ without providing any support for such a connection and that is simply incorrect. I don’t mind if you disagree with me, but your accusation that we have no reason to think one led to the other has just been demonstrated to be wrong.

    I have always agreed with you about Christ comprehending all things, I just disagree with you on the purpose and consequence of that experience.

    I don’t have as much experience thinking about things from the perspective of your theory, so forgive me if I am missing an obvious explanation for 2 Ne 2 in your theory. Can you explain for me how the Christ Event made us free and gave us a knowledge of good and evil in your theory? The verse I am thinking of is:

    And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon (2 Ne 2:26)

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  64. By the way, J., what verses did you meant to cite: D&C:27-32 ?? Thanks.

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  65. Whoops, that is DC 88:27-32.

    As to 2 Ne 2:26, it seems that that verse is talking about those who “are redeemed from the fall,” i.e., those who are resurrected. “[B]ecause that they are redeemed from the fall” they have the benefits of the fall, i.e., “knowing good from evil” plus freedom forever to act for themselves. This seems pretty strait forward.

    Now, lets say Jesus accidentally resurrected us to the wrong glory (88:27-32), then justice is frustrated and He ceases to be God. But he won’t, because by the atonement he is made a perfect Judge.

    I guess my perspective of the reasoning behind the light of Christ model is based on the reluctance to offer any sort of mechanism.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  66. I am not sure if I want to make another attempt at getting into this game of pick-up jungle ball or take my ball and shoes and go play with the little kids where I belong….

    Geoff (27). The clear and unambiguous teaching about being literal children of God is in part what leads me to dismiss the two track model. As I read the KFD, it seems much of the purpose is that ‘you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves’. When that is combined with ‘God himself was once as we are now’, and that ‘he was once a man like us’, and the Lorenzo Snow thing I further leave your first option behind.

    As far as option 2 goes, when I read in the KFD, ‘they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more; but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ’, I get the sense that we can be heirs of God without going through several probations, or even two.

    Personally I think that reading that being a Savior is the only way to be Gods ourselves is to strong of an interpretaion.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 9, 2006 @ 6:19 pm

  67. TO add fuel to the KFD fire and hopefully to assist Eric a bit, the last time KFD was mentioned in General Conference was mention in General Conference that I am aware of is 1994 by President Hinckley. He said:

    “On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood. This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the King Follet sermon (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62; and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. It is this grand and incomparable concept: As God now is, man may become! (See The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984, p. 1.)

    Our enemies have criticized us for believing in this. Our reply is that this lofty concept in no way diminishes God the Eternal Father. He is the Almighty. He is the Creator and Governor of the universe. He is the greatest of all and will always be so. But just as any earthly father wishes for his sons and daughters every success in life, so I believe our Father in Heaven wishes for his children that they might approach him in stature and stand beside him resplendent in godly strength and wisdom.”

    (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Don’t Drop the Ball,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 46)

    It is my opinion that any accurate portrayal of the capacity of man must be in harmony with our modern prophet. (I know that is debateable, since this could be opinion, not revelation, but I think it is important to consider.)

    I don’t think Jacob, J., GeoffJ, or Blake’s theories fail any requirement set forth by this statement, but I thought it was worthwhile to add.

    Comment by Matt Witten — November 9, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

  68. For a little bit of water, Matt, I don’t see any of the theories as being out of harmony with what President Hinkley said.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 9, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

  69. What does it mean to be a joint heir with Christ–to sit with Christ in his throne as he sits with his Father in his Father’s throne? That is, if such an arrangement is made possible for us by virtue of Christ’s atonement why do we assume that more “atonement” must be experienced in order to become like God? It seems to me that such a notion tends to devalue (not pointing fingers at anyone) Christ’s suffering.

    I like to think there exists relations between heavenly beings that are not easily defined–indeed if they can be defined at all–within the narrow scope of our limited mortal understanding. Who knows but what those who comprise the cosmic body of Christ will ultimately possess the identity of that body in a way that is intrinsic to themselves?

    Comment by Jack — November 9, 2006 @ 9:27 pm

  70. The conversation has moved far in the 24 hours since I posted. I need to jump back to an earlier part of the thread. Let me say first that I’m afraid I came off too harshly in my comment #7. I only meant to say that I see the same mathematical deficiencies in MMP that I see in multi-level-marketing. There may be a lot of other undesirable baggage associated with MLM that I did NOT intend to put on Geoff. Apologies if I was misinterpreted.

    Geoff wrote, “I have no idea who’s version of MMP you are describing but it certainly isn’t mine.” I was responding to your statement in the post, “This model assumes that humans can become as the Father is but that it requires us to live multiple mortal probations … culminating in a role of savior….”

    In the view of the plan of salvation that I favor, everyone can achieve exaltation simultaneously if they choose it. To see my point, perform a thought experiment. Suppose every single person on the earth chooses to follow Christ and lives a life in full repentance mode. In the current common Mormon understanding, all of those people would be exalted as gods through the atonement of Jesus Christ and have spirit children of their own. The cycle of atonement would be completed as far as it has been revealed to us.

    To take the thought experiment the other direction, assume the MMP model Geoff proposes where everyone must first be a Savior of a world. If all the people simultaneously chose to be righteous, what world would remain in need of their redeeming act? There would be no siblings left to save! This is exactly the failing with an MLM “opportunity” where you need people at the base of the pyramid (who don’t get rich/exalted) to support the people on the top.

    It seems to me that MMP relies on most of us failing most of the time. I don’t expect God would put together a plan with promises he’d be unable to keep if we all exercised our agency to follow him.

    As to the rest of the thread, I’ll offer a hearty amen to Jacob’s statement in #40: “Stapley and Geoff are arguing that because Christ became like God in a certain way then that is the only possible way. That is not in the text however; it is an extrapolation from the text based on certain assumptions.”

    Comment by Bradley Ross — November 9, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

  71. J. (#65),

    An obvious weakness of my theory is the failure to explain why suffering was required to give us the light of Christ. I accept that criticism and acknowledged it explicitely in my paper, so I have tried to be upfront about that from the beginning.

    Now, I think you need to read 2 Ne 2 a little bit more closely because I don’t find your exegesis tenable.

    As to 2 Ne 2:26, it seems that that verse is talking about those who “are redeemed from the fall,” i.e., those who are resurrected.

    Read the rest of the verse (and rest of the chapter) and it is quite clear that it is not talking about people who are already resurrected. (The whole theme of 2 Ne 2 is the importance of agency in our in this probation.) Verse 26 says they became free to choose, “to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day” (2 Ne 2:26). Obviously, this is talking about mortal people in this probation who are free here, but must answer for their actions at the great and last day. This is followed by Lehi telling his sons to choose eternal life instead of captivity and death (again, the stress is on the importance of freedom during mortality). Lehi finishes by saying “in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part.” So, I am not buying your claim that being “redeemed” in this verse refers to resurrection.

    “[B]ecause that they are redeemed from the fall” they have the benefits of the fall, i.e., “knowing good from evil” plus freedom forever to act for themselves.

    I am still not seeing any explanation from you for how redemption from the Messiah makes them free forever to act for themselves. I don’t see how your view supports such an effect of the atonement. The verse says that they became free because of the redemption worked out by the Messiah in the fulness of time.

    On D&C 88:27-32. You are putting forth a connection between the suffering of Christ and the resurrection, but it is a different connection than the one described in the BofM. You are saying that Christ’s suffering allows him to judge us fairly, which enables him to be just when he resurrects us. The BofM, on the other hand, is saying that through the suffering Christ got the power to resurrect.

    “who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead” (2 Ne 2:8).

    Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
    And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men (Mosiah 15:7-8)

    it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord. Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death (Hel 14:15-16)

    The phrases “gained victory over death” and “bring to pass the resurrection” are talking about his power to resurrect. They give no hint whatsoever that he could resurrect them already and what he gained was the ability to judge them. I don’t dispute the connection between judgement and the resurrection, but I don’t think you are accounting for these scriptures with your explanation.

    Comment by Jacob — November 9, 2006 @ 10:33 pm

  72. Jacob, I submit that those three scriptures are talking about what, not how or why. I agree that by laying down his life and taking it up again he gained victory over death. The real question is how and why this is so. Mechanics.

    Perhaps 2 Ne 2 isn’t talking about those resurrected, but it is explicitly speaking of those who are “redeemed from the fall.” The verses say that because they are redeemed from the fall that they are free forever. Now, how is this freedom different from those who are not redeemed from the fall. I imagine that it has to do with being cut of from God and being destined for (or being in) Hell. hard to choose good when you are in the power of the evil one.

    Back to the atonement and knowledge, you accept that by the atonement Christ “comprehended all things” (DC 88:6). That gives us a few options:

    1. The Father never atoned and therefore does not comprehend all things.
    2. The Father atoned and comprehends all things.
    3. You don’t need to atone to comprehend all things.

    I see (1) as making a God who is fairly impotent. And I see (3) as obviating the need for an atonement. What say you?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 10, 2006 @ 8:53 am

  73. J., While I am not subscribing to any specific model, I don’t think 3 is destroying the need for an atonement. First, I think your setup of 1 to 3 is based on a specific definiton of atonement, which has had several holes poked in it by questions with less than satisfactory answers. That being said, I think there is an equally plausible “The Father was atoned for and comprehended all things” without “obviating the need for an atonement.”

    Comment by Matt W. — November 10, 2006 @ 9:29 am

  74. Matt, please delineate the hole pokage. And please explain how the Father could comprehend all things without an atonement (further, explain how if it is possible to comprehend all things, why an atonement would still be necessary). But start with the first request please.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 10, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  75. The Covenant Theory of the atonement :( Sorry, I am resorting to analogy)

    Deut. 32:11-12

    As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him…

    When it is time for an eagle to learn to fly, it is said that the mother eagle takes the baby eagle on its back and flies with it, ducking out from under it so that it falls, but catching it so that it’s falling never ends in it’s death, but ends in its eventually learning to be a great eagle, like its parents.

    The lesson is not about the mother eagle, but about her children. It is not due to a lack of love and understanding (empathy) that the mother catches her children, though the eagle does learn in the process how to better succor her child in the catching and helping the child learn to fly. The eagle also was not substituting itself for the child when it took upon itself the weight of the falling child, though it did suffer in bearing the weight of the falling child, and its suffering was greater than the suffering of the child.

    This teaching method only works because of the relationship of the eagle and its mother. If the eagle were not willing to trust its mother and try to learn and fly, it would eventually fall to its death. If the mother were unwilling to catch the eagle, the same would happen.

    The two remained independent, but through love and interdependence, the young eagle is eventually able to learn to fly.

    Falling or Gravity= Sin and our Sinful nature
    Catching= the infinite atonement
    The mother Eagle= Jesus Christ
    The Baby Eagle= Us
    The mutual willingness to work together for the greater good= the covenant.

    And so the act of atonement was Christ taking upon him the pains of catching us as we failed to be like our Father in Heaven, though we were trying to do so. Christ’s capacity to do this was given to him by our Heavenly Father, and thus our Heavenly Father is still greater than Christ.

    I think this theory is broad enough to work with either Jacob’s theory or Blake’s, and I think it could also stand on its own. So I present this as yet another alternative to Penal Substitution and Empathy theories.

    Difficulties:
    1. For this to be so, I think the Gethsemane event needs to work in a Neal A. Maxwell “outside of time” capacity to comprehensively account for all the sins. This may cause problems for some who are averse to such a concept, but I feel it could probably be made to work in some other way.

    2. There may be some interpretive issues with D&C 19, where is speaking of his suffering in the atonement, Christ says the unrepentant must suffer “even as I.” This is a problem depending on how you interpret that statement. As the suffering of catching a falling person and falling to your death are different, one may jerk away from the parable. However, let us first say that thus is the limitation of analogies, and then let us note that there is quite some flexibility to what is meant by “even as I.”

    Any other problems? Give it a good showing now, I want to have plenty of holes shot through me to play with. (Wish I had a fresh post for this, but I quit having my own blog for a reason…)

    Comment by Matt W. — November 10, 2006 @ 10:23 am

  76. J. I think my theory in 75 does so. Just think of “flying” as being like our father in heaven, which includes “comprehending all things”

    oop, I thought of a third difficulty, but I’ll leave it to ya’ll to think of on your own…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 10, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  77. J. (#72),

    It is a great point you make about 2 Ne 2. You said: “it is explicitly speaking of those who are “redeemed from the fall.” The obvious implication is that all of us are currently considered “redeemed” in some important sense right now. This kind of redemption is given in a blanket way to all people and it makes us free in this life.

    My theory goes into detail explaining what this redemption is and agrees with 2 Ne 2 that one of the principal effects of the atonement was to supply this prevenient grace.

    Now, how is this freedom different from those who are not redeemed from the fall. I imagine that it has to do with being cut of from God and being destined for (or being in) Hell.

    Your new idea for what these verses mean doesn’t work with the text either. The point of the scripture is that the atonement extended some level of redemption to everyone here in life. It is quite clear that this is the context as I supported before with several quotes. This analysis misses the point again, because it is not talking about people in Hell. D&C 88 explains how the atonement accomplishes this and supplies a mechanism which agrees with 2 Ne 2 that it is universal and preemptive.

    Comment by Jacob — November 10, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  78. Jacob, you seem to be asserting that everyone on earth is currently redeemed from the fall. I can’t see how this is supportable. The Book of Mormon has a strict binary eternity – Heaven/Hell. I don’t see how using the D&C as an interpretive lens is possible.

    Matt, I think you are describing what not how or why. Of course we covenanted with Christ and of course he changes us through that covenant to be like him. The question is how and why. You don’t answer either of those things, so it isn’t really a theory. How and why did Christ have to atone in order to teach us to fly?

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 10, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  79. How dud Christ atone? This one I hoped was answered by the analogy. Be bore us on his back as we fell, so that we did not have to fall to our deaths. He caught us and righted us and put us back in a position where we could attempt to fly again. If I had a way to say it without the analgy, I would say it that way.

    Why did Christ have to atone? this was the difficulty I had mentioned. To more fully catch the scope of the problem, let me add to you question.

    1. Why was Christ able to catch us?
    Answer: Christ was the one being in the premortal state who could have flown. He was the one who would have been able to jump out of the nest and fly with no mother eagle there to catch him. He was able to catch us because he immediately knew how to fly(live like Heavenly Father lives).

    2. Why was Christ the one catching us and not Heavenly Father?
    Answer: This is probably the most complex issue for me. It defines a lot of variables, and is speculative (meaning I only have the answer in my head and not based on scripture. I mean, all of this is speculative, but this is “most speculative” on a likert scale) With that put in place, let me first explain some things. I do not think we can be like Heavenly Father independent of Heavenly Father. While he the greatest of all eagles, another way Heavenly Father can be represented in our analogy is by the concept of lift. He is what causes the mother eagle and the baby eagle to fly. He is the source of the ability to fly. Without Heavenly Father, no one can fly. This concept is illustrated in the priesthood. Only the prophet holds all the keys of the priesthood, and while he is the prophet, we exercise our keys through him. That we can not be like Heavenly Father without Heavenly Father is crucial to this question.

    Heavenly Father Can not be the lift and the mother eagle. Why is that? I propose that Heavenly Father is Heavenly Father, and thus does not experientially know how to use Heavenly Father to be Like Heavenly Father. This is why Christ needed to step in, and this is the second reason that only Christ could step in. Only Christ tuly understood this principle. Now both Christ and Heavenly Father are equally worthy of our affection here.

    3. Why was there no other way for us to learn to be like our Heavenly Father?

    Answer: I can at first only give the reasons above for now. Why couldn’t we have eventually learned to use Heavenly Father to be like Heavenly Father on our own?

    Well, I know mixing metaphors is a cardinal sin, but Truman G.Madsen has an analogy he likes to use which says when he was a boy and wanted to learn how to dive, his Father explained it to him and showed him how to do it, But Truman didn’t believe he could do what his father was doing and was afraid. Finally his father called on Truman’s brother, who was only a little older than Truman to show Truman how, and Truman was able to dive. The gap between us and Heavenly Father is so large, we fail to see our way across it. So one part of the answer is that we need an elder brother who can step in who is lower than Heavenly Father so that we can overcome out doubts and fears and learn to fly.

    Thanks for the questions, this has been good. keep them coming.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 10, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  80. J. (#78),

    Actually, it is Lehi who is asserting that everyone is already redeemed in some sense. Just because you’ve never thought of it doesn’t mean it is not supportable. Blake Ostler develops this idea in his paper The Development of the Mormon Concept of Grace. He calls it theoretical original sin. I develop the same idea a bit in my paper. You have yet to offer a viable alternative to this reading of 2 Ne 2.

    Comment by Jacob — November 10, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  81. Matt, you are going to force me to write my post on the use and misuse of analogy is, aren’t you?

    Comment by Jacob — November 10, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  82. J.,

    By the way, I am very much enjoying the conversation and I’m thinking further on how I want to answer your question about comprehension. When I start enjoying it too much I sometimes slip into unneccessarily antagonistic statements. I’ll try to cut back, my apologies for that.

    Comment by Jacob — November 10, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  83. No prob, Jacob, we’re on the same page :) ..I’m rereading that paper…

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 10, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

  84. Jacob:

    If you are like me, all analogy is evil and the first sign of a weak mind somewhere. (either the giver or the receiver). In my case, it is the weak mind of the giver.

    I know what I am wanting to say, but I only have these analogies to give words to what I am trying to bring forth. That said, I’d love your thoughts on my covenant theory of atonement (I almost called it the “mother eagle theory” but thought that was too cheeesy). Which questions am I still not answering? Where are my weaknesses. What needs further explanation?

    One problem I have is that I think I am vague on some points and that you could almost plug your whole theory or what I know of Blake’s theory into my theory without radically changing my theory…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 10, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

  85. Jacob:

    I will make an effort to rewrite my theory without the use of analogies…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 10, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

  86. Ok, I have to admit that I have not finished writing my flavor of atonement without analogies.

    I was writing it, but decided I needed to go back and make an index of all atonement scriptures first, and It is end of semester time. The good news is I will have some major time in December to really think about this, but for now I’ve got a lot of other cats to kill.

    Anyway, here is my rough first draft. I’d love to get some input on where any concerns are up to this point…

    The Covenant Theory of the Atonement 2.0

    In his now famous King Follett Discourse one of the things that Joseph Smith taught was about how our relationship with God began. The Atonement is very related to our relationship with God, so this is where we will begin.

    The message of these three accounts can be put simply thus: In the beginning, when we were spirits, God saw that we were deficient. We were unable to be saved, be exalted, or advance like Him. (1) God loved us and so instituted laws to place us in a situation where we could advance so we could come unto him and progress like him, using his system to do so. Somehow, in a way we do not fully understand, either prior to or during the initial process of setting up this system God became our Father in Heaven.

    With our Father’s system in place, there was a way for us to advance and be like him so long as we were able to follow it. As he instituted the system, our Father in Heaven knew this system needed some components which he could not himself be or do. These components are what we call the atonement.

    Before we move on to this atonement, we need to understand better the purpose of it. It is known that it is the key ingredient in fixing the deficiency in the pre-mortal condition of man. Not much has been clearly revealed about the pre-mortal condition of man. We can surmise a few thing by judging from the purposes for mortal existence. We lacked faith in God and ourselves. We only had a diminished capacity to exercise agency. We did not have bodies. We had a limited capacity to learn. We lacked experience. In other words, in the pre-mortal existence, we were sinners. Sin is willfully not being like our Father in Heaven either by being selfish, apathetic, unrighteous or otherwise.

    The Scriptures show that God “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31). Sin makes the one who sins unable to dwell in the presence of Heavenly Father, for “no unclean thing can dwell with God” (1 Nephi 10:21). The consequences of sinners being in the presence of the Father is that our “own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord.” (Mosiah 2:38)

    Only one in the pre-mortal state could fully commune with our Father in Heaven. We now call him Jesus Christ. We see examples in the pre-mortal state where our Father in Heaven would use this one to communicate with us (Abraham 3:24-26). This is possibly based on the fact that we were unable to fully abide in the presence of our Father in Heaven as Christ could. Being so like our Heavenly Father, Christ also loved us very deeply and wanted to help us progress. However, Christ was not exactly like our Father in Heaven. He did not have a body, and his power and influence was limited to the divine investiture of authority given to him by his Father in Heaven. It can be assumed, though, that if Christ had been the only other being in the pre-mortal state besides our Father in Heaven, or if all other spirits had had the capacity to be like him, the nature of existence would be very different. Be that as it were, that is not the case, and we are sinners now, and we were sinners then, imperfect and apart from our Father in Heaven.

    So our Father in Heaven, being unable to directly commune with us due to our deficiencies set up what we call the plan of salvation with which to remove those deficiencies from us and there were components of this plan which he could not fulfill himself, being unable to directly commune with us. Heavenly Father announced this need to us and Christ was selected as the key component to return to our Father in Heaven is described in the Pearl of Great Price, and the King Follett sermon. (2) These accounts make it clear that though there were others who supposed they could fill the role, one Christ was capable. (3)

    So we know that the purpose of the atonement is to allow us to overcome our deficiencies so that we can more fully commune with our eternal Father in Heaven and be like him. We know that without the atonement we could not be like our Father in Heaven. We know that without the power and authority invested in him by his Father(Helamen 5:11), Christ would not have been capable of rendering the atonement. We also know that it is only by being able to fully commune with our father can be become like him as 2 Pet. 1: 3-4 beautifully describes. (4)

    Up to this point, we have dealt with the question of “Why”. Why was the atonement needed by us? Why was Christ the one who needed to render the atonement? Why could not Heaven Father correct these problems himself? We will now attempt to deal with the issue of “What” and “How”.

    When Christ arrived at the event of Gethsemane, where he sweat great drops of blood, suffering “temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer” (Mosiah 3:7) he went reached out to every person who had or would ever suffer in sin and gave them the opportunity to receive divine help from him to overcome that anguish. In this helping man overcome what they could not overcome themselves, he suffered horribly a pain we can not comprehend or imagine. He suffered this pain not to stop the wrath and punishment of an angry God, but to render efficacious to man his own repentance, that man might not shrink away from his Father under the weight of his own guilt, and so would be able to progress. As Christ later describes the pain, he calls it a bitter cup.

    ————————————————–
    Notes:

    (1) Here are all three accounts:

    Bullock account:
    “God himself finds himself in the midst of Spirits & because he saw proper to institute laws for those who were in less intelligence that they might have one glory upon another in all that knowledge, power & glory & so took in hand to save the world of Spirits”

    Woodruff account:
    “All mind is susceptible of improvement; the relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. God has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences that they may be exalted with himself.”

    Clayton account:
    “That God himself–find himself in the midst of spirit and glory because he was greater saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself.”

    (2) Here are both pertinent accounts:
    Bullock:
    “the Salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men to triumph over the devil–for he stood up for a Savior–Jesus continued that there would be certain souls that would be condemned & the devil said he could save them all–as the grand council gave in for Jesus Christ so the devil fell & all who put up their heads for him. All sin shall be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost he has got to say that the Sun does not shine while he sees it he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens are open to him.”

    Woodruff:
    “All will suffer until they obey Christ himself, even the devil said, I am a savior and can save all. He rose up in rebellion against God and was cast down. Jesus Christ will save all except the sons of perdition.”

    (3) While we could speculate that the being we call the Holy Ghost was co-equal in all ways with Christ and thus could have also filled the role, we simply do not know and this level of speculation is beyond the scope of this theory.

    (4)
    KJV- According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    Basic English- Because by his power he has given us everything necessary for life and righteousness, through the knowledge of him who has been our guide by his glory and virtue; And through this he has given us the hope of great rewards highly to be valued; so that by them we might have our part in God’s being, and be made free from the destruction which is in the world through the desires of the flesh.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 16, 2006 @ 7:57 am

  87. Again, the above is incomplete, but I did want to get some thoughts on the pre-mortal before I dove in further to the Christ event itself. You can pretty much disregard the last two paragraphs, as they are incomplete thoughts.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 16, 2006 @ 8:05 am

  88. You can pretty much disregard the last two paragraphs

    Funny that you should say that, as I was just about to write the same commentary (grin).

    Actually, up to that point is a fairly strait forward reading of why the atonement is necessary and I pretty much agree. A couple of things to think about:

    1) Was there such a thing as pre-mortal sin? I.e., how could you be in the precense of God and be sinful? I had forgotten that I wrote a post about that a couple of years ago. It isn’t great, but at is an interesting question.

    2) It seems to me from the KFD that the pre-mortal Jesus was the Christ because he was the rightful heir. I’m not sure what that means or if he was the rightful heir because he had the capacity and was made the First Son or the Only Begotten or something.

    Now comes the tough part of your calculus. I.e., making a case for what and how.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 16, 2006 @ 10:01 am

  89. Matt,

    I think you are on the right track motivating the atonement by a deficiency in premortal spirits. You may have noticed I do the same thing in my paper. All too often, people talk as though the deficiency arose due to the fall, which helps tie the atonement to the fall, but makes it very difficult to see how this mortal probation could have been necessary in the first place. Your approach is better, but it requires you to explain what the fall was and how it was related to the atonement (since you seem to be veering away from the standard answer that the fall caused our wicked state from which the atonement must save us).

    For me, this is where the super-fallen state idea comes in and where the redemption Lehi was talking about fits into the picture. Without the atonement, the fall would have been much much worse (I call this hypothetical state the super-fallen state). The atonement saved us from the fall, not because the fall is what made us evil and the atonement comes along to fix that, but because the fall (without the atonement) would have entirely separated us from God and left us in a position where we could not (as a practical matter) have chosen good and progressed as we needed to. The atonement lifts _everyone_ out of this super-fallen state of darkness by giving us the light of Christ.

    Thus, Lehi can say that we are all, every one of us, redeemed from the fall in that we have become free, knowing good and evil. It is not a full redemption complete with resurrection into a celestial glory. It is a partial redemption. This partial redemption is an important part of BofM soteriology and is crucial in understanding Lehi, Amulek, Alma, and Samuel the Lamanite when the talk about the purpose of the atonement.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 16, 2006 @ 11:09 am

  90. J.

    1. I’d say that depends on how you define Sin. I have defined sin as being unlike Heavenly Father for this piece, which is pretty lose and vague. Perhaps we can come up with a tighter definition? I mean, I don’t want the perception to be we were with Heavenly Father and were coveting being like him, as that doesn’t seem to be correct at all.

    2. I guess for my scenario, rightful heir would need to mean he was worthy to be an heir, but I don’t think I am catching the fullness of it there yet. I will think on this.

    Jacob- I feel your pre-mortal understand and mine are pretty well in sinc. I am still struggling to grasp how in your scenario the light of Christ relates to the HG or the GOHG. Of course, in my LDS life, this has always been incredibly vague for me.

    As for the fall, I think I am going with the fall being a fundamental component of existance, so I am not sure how we role together or apart on that. I am following the Gaskill line of reasoning on it for now.

    Again, I am going to try to put something more complete together over the next few weeks. My main stumbling block is working with all the “penal-substitution” scriptures to see if I can devide the literal from the figurative when discussing judgment, God’s wrath, etc.

    I was at first expanding out from the concept of atonement, but that was giving me problems, so then I went for a pre-mortal forward result, which answered some questions but left others in vagueness. I know want to reverse engineer from the ultimate goal backwards and see what that gets me.

    I read a sweet quote from Elder Faust last night saying that in order to maintain our faith in the atonement, we must continuously study the depths of it. I am glad we are doing this, and I am glad to have such a group to do it with.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 16, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

  91. Matt: As for the fall, I think I am going with the fall being a fundamental component of existance

    Not sure what that means.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 16, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

  92. Jacob J- It means the Fall had to happen and was necassary as part of the creation process. It means the Fall happening was plan A, and thus the atonement of Christ can not be to just “redeem us from the fall” as it would be illogical to remove us from God’s presence, have us go through a fall, then require an atonement to return us to God’s presence…

    I don’t think we disagree on this.

    Comment by Matt W. er, I mean J. — November 16, 2006 @ 9:24 pm

  93. Jacob, Geoff, J., and Blake (an everyone else):

    Ok, so I am back to pondering this. One issue that I think must be dealt with in any atonement theory is the concept of the term “redeem”

    re·deem (r-dm)
    tr.v. re·deemed, re·deem·ing, re·deems
    1. To recover ownership of by paying a specified sum.
    2. To pay off (a promissory note, for example).
    3. To turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange.
    4. To fulfill (a pledge, for example).
    5. To convert into cash: redeem stocks.
    6. To set free; rescue or ransom.
    7. To save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences. See Synonyms at save1.
    8. To make up for: ex. The low price of the clothes dryer redeems its lack of special features.
    9. To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of: ex. You botched the last job but can redeem yourself on this one.

    I am thinking Definition #8 or #9 would be the scriptural one, what do ya’ll think?

    I think this is a pretty important word for us as Christ is definitely scripturally our Redeemer.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 7:42 am

  94. Of course, #7 is pretty debateable too :)

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 7:44 am

  95. I think there are many possibilities, but the most likely to me seems to be based on the idea of slavory. In the new testament, When servants are mentioned, it is a nice way of saying slaves (see here, esp. the comments). Jesus bought us. We are his property.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 20, 2006 @ 11:19 am

  96. J. Interesting. How can you say this but feel disinclined toward the concept of penal substitution?

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 11:29 am

  97. Ok, having read the other post more fully now, here are some doctrinal type questions.

    We are all in bondage to Heavenly Father, which I have no problem with. The Question becomes why? To me, we must have bound ourselves to him.

    I guess we bound ourself to heavenly father, he put us here on earth and thus lost ownership of us (How? In what way?) and to reclaim that bond, Christ had to redeem us all?

    This is interesting. Does it imply we were with Heavenly Father, but unable to be like Heavenly Father, so he set up a plan for us to be like him, but to do so, we had to not be with him. So Christ was put in place so that finally, through his merits we could be with and like Heavenly Father?

    Thanks for the thoughts..

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 11:52 am

  98. I’m not sure that it has any real ramifications to atonement theory. The metaphor goes back to the Old Testament and the Jews (Egypt, Babylon, etc.). Paul is just continuing with it.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 20, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  99. I am with J. on this. Paul says we are bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20); he is obviously comfortable in this metaphor. This metaphor, like all others in the scriptures, should be considered for what it says about the atonement.

    All metaphors compare two things which are alike in some ways but not in all ways. The disagreements, of course, arises over which elements in the metaphor are the same as the actual atonement and which are not. There are plenty of good things to be learned from the idea that Christ redeemed us, even if penal-substitution is rejected.

    Comment by Jacob — November 20, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  100. I guess the question to me is “bought with a price from what?” I think that is an important factor in atonement theory. Christ notes repeatedly that he is the “Redeemer”
    throughtout scripture.

    I’ve been playing with LDS.org’s scripture search capability and came up with the following list.

    In Christ, we are redeemed from…

    From Sins (not in sins) (Alma 6:8, Helamen 5:10, Alma 21:7, )
    The Fall ( Ether 3:13, 2 Nephi 2:26, D&C 93:38)
    Endless Sleep (Mormon 9:13)
    Eternal band of Death (Mormon 9:13)
    Gall of Bitterness (Mosiah 27:29)
    Bonds of Iniquity (Mosiah 27:29)
    Lost and fallen state (Mosiah 16:4)
    Transgressions (Mosiah 15:12)
    From Hell ( 2 Nephi 33:6, 2 Nephi 1:15)
    The earth (meaning the grave) (Revelation 14:3)
    All Iniquity (Titus 2:14, Psalms 130:8)
    The curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13)
    The spiritual fall (D&C 29:44)
    The Devil (D&C 76:85)
    Oppression (D&C 109:67)
    Prison (D&C 128:22)
    Death (D&C 138:23, Job 5:20, Hosea 13:14)
    Chains of Hell (D&C 138:23)
    All evil (Genesis 48:16)
    All Adversity (2 Sam. 4:9)
    All Distress (1 King 1:29)
    The Power of the Sword (Job 5:20)
    The hand of the mighty (mighty enemy strongly implied) (Job:6:23)
    The power of the grave(Psalms 49:15, Hosea 13:14)
    Deceit and violence(Psalms 72:14)
    The hand of the enemy(Psalms 106:10, Micah 4:10)
    Our enemies (Psalms 136:24)
    The hand of the terrible (Jeremiah 15:21)
    The hand of him that was stronger than he (Jeremiah 31:11)

    Two interesting outliers which help define what is meant by the term “Redeem” are:

    1. The Lord redeemed his people from the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:8, 2 Sam 7:23) (rescue, deliver, save)
    2. Boaz redeems Ruth (Ruth 4:4-7)(buy, purchase, restore to honor)

    Definition 1 has us being bought out of slavery by Heavenly Fathers good works

    Definition 2 has Ruth being bought out of poverty and widowdom, so that she might be fruitful for her dead husband’s sake.

    In both cases redemption connotes a deliverance from bondage, not a purchase into bondage. (Though I have no problem with being bound to Christ.)

    So we were bound to sin, to death, to our fallen state, and were redeemed.

    Earlier I had hypothesized that a major issue was our sinful state before in the pre-mortal existance. Now I need to reconsider…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

  101. Matt W., I would be very careful in such analyses without looking at the original languages.

    Comment by J. Stapley — November 20, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

  102. I assume you are referring to Definition 1 and 2?

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  103. Ruth is
    ga’al
    gaw-al’
    a primitive root, to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), i.e. to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property, marry his widow, etc.):–X in any wise, X at all, avenger, deliver, (do, perform the part of near, next) kinsfolk(-man), purchase, ransom, redeem(-er), revenger.

    Deuteronomy 7:8 and 2nd Samuel 7:23 are
    padah
    paw-daw’
    a primitive root; to sever, i.e. ransom; gener. to release, preserve:–X at all, deliver, X by any means, ransom, (that are to be, let be) redeem(-ed), rescue, X surely.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

  104. One Intersting point is that these two words are used in almost the exact same way. Per Strong’s Job 5:20 uses padah and Hosea 13:14 uses ga’al. Both state we are redeemed from Death.

    The Greek I see is Lutron meaning redeem or something to loosen with.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

  105. So I am trying to discover what the “oriental law of kinship” is. The best I can tell, it derives from the scripture in this commentary:

    “Vs. 14 is one of the most powerful statements in this book: “I will ransom them from the power ofthe grave; I will redeem them from death.” There are two Hebrew words in this verse that are pregnant withmeaning: padah and ga’al. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words states about padah: “The wordis connected with the laws of the firstborn. As a reminder of slaying all the Egyptian firstborn but sparing the Israelites, God retained an eternal claim on the life of all Israelite firstborn males, both of men and of cattle.The latter were often sacrificed, ‘but all the firstborn of my children I redeem,’ Ex 13:15. God accepted theseparation of the tribe of Levi for liturgical service in lieu of all Israelite firstborn, Num 3:4 0ff.. However,the Israelite males still had to be ‘redeemed’ (padah) from this service by payment of specified ‘redemption money,’ Num 3:44-51.” The same Dictionary states about ga’al that it means: “to redeem, according to theOriental law of kinship.” The word is used in Leviticus in connection with the law on redemption: “If one ofyour countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeemwhat his countryman has sold.” So when God says that He will deliver Israel from the power of the grave, He states that He will act as their redeemer because of their blood relation with Him.”

    - Source currently unknown

    Comment by Matt W. — November 20, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  106. Have Any of you read Jennifer Clark Lane’s Adoptive Covenant Model? I am taking it on the plane with me and was wondering if anyone else had seen it? In Gospel link there are actually two articles, but I could only find one online..

    Comment by Matt W. — November 21, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

  107. I suggest that we pay attention (pun intended) to the meanings of “redemption” that Matt has outlined in #93 meaning #9. I have an entire chapter on how redemption works within a culture of honor and shame (which Paul’s certainly was). We are redeemed because the Father honors Christ because of his obedient love and Christ has brokered for us redemption. I would like Geoff to sink his teeth into the chapters on Paul’s notions of justification, sanctification and deification. BTW, my views align with Jennifer’s in her adoptive covenant model of redemption (tho I hadn’t previously read her paper).

    I reject both one track and two track models as Geoff outlines them here. They line up the issues in a way that I believe is artificial. I believe that ontologically we are the same as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. However, they lovingly work with us to bring us into a unity and from this unity divinity emerges as a shared realization of our inherent potential to be exactly as they are. The difference is that they have always freely chosen to be a relationship of indwelling unity; we have not. Moreover, we have a good deal to learn before we can realize our divinity. We must learn to love one another.

    On my view there is and can be only one sovereign. If God’s work (speaking of the Godhead) could be frustrated by another, then we cannot have ultimate faith in God. Moreover, because the divine properties of divine knowledge and power arise from (or emerge from) this unity of loving relationship, it follows that failing to love would entail the loss of divine power so that any being that opposed God (the Godhead) would not have divine power. There can be at most one divine power that is maximal because to share the divine power means to be in a loving relationship of agreement and unity. So in my view the kind of “one-upmanship” that is inherent in both one and two track models is the wrong track to take (pun intended).

    Comment by Blake — November 26, 2006 @ 8:20 am

  108. So Blake, what does it mean to you when we teach “As God is, Man may become”? Or is that in the book too? (It’s still at the top of my list.)

    Comment by Matt W. — November 28, 2006 @ 7:35 am

  109. Matt: Yup, that’s in the third vol. that will be out in about May of 2007. It means that we share fully everything that God has and is. It means that every divine attribute that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost have, we also have. It doesn’t mean that we have the same individual essence or the same identity. It doesn’t mean that we made all of the same choices or that everything the Father did I also — e.g., he may have eaten something I didn’t or gone somewhere I haven’t. It means that we have learned to love one another in the same way that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost love one another.

    Comment by Blake — November 28, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  110. Blake, I definitely agree with all of that. Let me be more specific. I am personally not sure I hold to the whole “You will be a god yourself and have spirit children and will run a world like God runs this one” concept. What are your thoughts on that?

    Comment by Matt W. — November 28, 2006 @ 9:58 am

  111. I agree. All acts of the Godhead are the acts in unison of its members. The kind of view some have that we fly out to some part of the universe God hasn’t quite gotten to yet and copulate for eternity is simple non-sense.

    Comment by Blake — November 29, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  112. Blake,

    Why do you have to go and pooh-pooh eternal copulation. I still need some reason to want to go to heaven, don’t ruin it for me.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 29, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

  113. Jacob, there are so many places I could take that comment… but nah! I’ll resist the temptation. Thanks for the laugh in this otherwise mundane day…

    Comment by Matt W. — November 29, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  114. Jacob: Yeah, I know Jacob, I agree. But we just cannot let wish fulfillment trump doctrine now can we. On the other hand, you could want to go to heaven even if there is not eternal copulation because Geoff could be right and we won’t like heaven so we come back again to do it all over again to another mortality just so we can have another go at copulation without limits — this time going to real exaltation.

    Comment by Blake — November 30, 2006 @ 7:55 am

  115. I am interested in the concept of the divine succession and the capacity of man. In that earlier post back in November 8, 2006. Two main ideas were presented which attempted to explain the King Follet discourse, Sermon in the Grove, and Lorenzo Snow’s couplet: 1) the two track model (ontological gap) and 2) the multiple mortal probations model. The main difference in my mind of these models is that in the former, we assume that Jehovah did something early in his existence that separated him from us. And the later model assumes that we still have the opportunity to become like Jehovah but this will require further learning and probation in our future.

    It seems that if we hold to either of these models, than the pre-mortal spirits of Jehovah and probably the Holy Ghost were different than the pre-mortal spirits of the rest of humanity. Matt comments on this in his post referring to Moses 3:9 and concludes that “this pushes away from the idea of Christ and the Holy Ghost being special cases.” I don’t understand how he comes to this conclusion. They do appear to be special cases.

    There just isn’t much scripture that deals with pre-mortal angels other than the Holy Ghost or Jehovah in scripture. Perhaps Adam’s visitation in Moses 4:6-9, or Jacob run in with an angel in Genesis 32. But neither of those events are descriptive.

    In my opinion the visitation of Jehovah to the Brother of Jared was the most descriptive of any pre-mortal Christ appearance. This visit is well documented and appeared to be so confusing that Moroni felt the need to enter into the chapter and add commentary in the first person, Ether 3:17. Obviously Mahonri was confused during the first part of the visitation and thought that the Lord would smite him because he assumed that Jehovah had a body of flesh and blood, Ether 3:8. This begs the questions. Why did Mahonri think that Jehovah’s body was mortal? And why did Mahonri think that his life was in jeopardy because he had a knowledge (albeit incorrect) that God was a mortal?

    Finally, why would Moroni compare Jehovah’s “body of my spirit” as after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites? Ether 3:17

    Comment by Mike M — April 24, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

  116. Mike M: The main difference in my mind of these models is that in the former, we assume that Jehovah did something early in his existence that separated him from us.

    Actually, the two-track model assumes an ontological gap. In that model there was never a time when the members of the Godhead were like us. It assumes they are essentially a different species than us.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

  117. Geoff

    I read Skousen’s The First 2,000 years. And enjoyed his take on both intelligences and the atonement. I have felt a sense of derision about his conclusions in some of the posts around here though.

    It seems to me that Skousen bases the majority of his ideas on the concept of justice and mercy. And if I understand him correctly, he proposed that all intelligences originally had unlimited potential. But for one reason or another, some of these intelligences decided to choose paths that would limit their progression.

    If Skousen is correct (and I’m not saying that he is), then:

    Two track model – assumes that the human race has previously (during the “intelligence” phase) dammed ourselves and can never rise to the species of GOD.

    MMP model – assumes that the human race still has unlimited potential.

    In my mind, Skousen thinks that our thoughts or actions, or decisions during our “intelligence’ phase determined what species we would become.

    I’m not familiar with any other basic concepts concerning the “intelligence” phase, and species determination.

    Comment by Mike M — April 24, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

  118. Mike,

    A couple of things. First you are making some assumptions that are not shared by all. For instance it appears you are assuming a tri-partite model of spirits. That is a model I and many other don’t buy (despite its current popularity). See a good recent post on that here and our category of posts on the nature of spirits here. My current take (based on the what Joseph Smith said) is that spirits and intelligences are the same thing and are beginningless and uncreated.

    Also, the term “Two track model” is my invention I think and I meant something very specific when used it here in this post.

    Also, this notion that a spirit/intelligence even could permanently damn themselves is something I reject mostly because I think that we retain free will and as long as we have free will we always have the opportnity to turn to God and work toward being at one with God.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 24, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  119. Mike,

    I don’t think I have been derisive toward Skousen’s conclusions, but I certainly disagree with many of them. For example, I don’t agree at all with his idea of what justice and mercy mean. He thinks that justice is a matter of fairness to all intelligences and that it is perfectly okay to be unjust if they all agree to God being unfair. I simply don’t agree that this is the meaning of justice and mercy or the basis for the atonement. If you are interested, I wrote a paper on the atonement that is linked to on the side bar.

    As to species determination, what we have in mind with that is whether or not something has the potential to become like something else. So, traditionally in Mormonism we would say that man has the potential to become like God even though she is not currently like God. We sometimes refer to this idea by saying humans are of the same species as God. The two-track model (as used on this site) refers to a model in which humans do not have the potential to become everything that God is. We refer to this as a species distinction or an “ontological gap.” So, in Skousen’s model, we were always of the same species as God.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 25, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  120. Geoff,

    Thanks for the links. I got some more reading to do it looks like. Youall have done a great job putting together concepts based upon historical documents and scripture. I have enjoyed the varried perspectives, its nice to have to re-evaluate your basic assumptions sometimes. The tri-partite model is convient, but I think that there are many more levels of progression. Those just happen to be ones that are identifiable with current information. I think that the process Man -> God is going to be a difficult and long trek.

    I disagree with you about damnation though. If a soul wants to be an animal why begrudge it. Just because it dosent want to be like GOD dosent mean that it has failed. I can see many people settling for the Telestial and Terrestrial Kingdoms. Look at our nation for pete sake. Many of our forefathers were willing to lay down their lifes for a chance of liberty. How many of today’s Americans are willing to give away every liberty they possess for a promise of security? I think that the souls that are willing to work to put in the effort required to become like GOD will not be a majority.

    Jacob J,

    I dont think I was directing the Skousen comment at you. I haven’t been here long enough to get to know everyone. Ill tackle your Divine-Infusion Theory tonight.

    I reject the two-track model. You can definately put me in the traditional Mormon group that believes that we have potential to progress like our Father.

    Has anyone tackled the Ether 3 questions that I put forth at the end of #115? I’d assume that youall have done so on another post. I havent been able to get to much of the content on the site.

    Comment by Mike M — April 25, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  121. Mike, I don’t think we’ve discussed the aspect of Ether 3:17 you’re asking about. It is a tantalizing phrase that is almost crying out to the at the heart of some wild speculation, so it is surprising it hasn’t come up before.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 26, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  122. Jocob,

    Thanks for the humor in your Atonement paper. I especially enjoyed,

    “I am certainly capable of suffering” & “When my wife forgives me for being insensitive”

    Has your wife read this paper?

    Comment by Mike M — April 26, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

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