Divinely approved false doctrines?

December 17, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 11:30 pm   Category: Theology

D&C 19:4-12 is a humdinger of a scriptural passage. In it the Lord confirms what people had surely been suspecting about various doctrines for thousands of years: “He has to be kidding about that doctrine, right?” Apparently the answer to their question in at least one case was “yup”. The specific misleading doctrine that the Lord tells us he had allowed people to buy into until section 19 was given in 1830 is the doctrine that “endless torment” and “eternal damnation” are actually endless and eternal in duration. Rather, the Lord admits, such punishments usually do have an end. God just allowed his people to believe otherwise because having people believe such punishments last forever was a useful form of motivation. In his words:

wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. (verse 7)

Oy! Well that opens a theological can of worms doesn’t it? If God doesn’t mind allowing us all to believe useful false doctrines then which of our other scripturally-based doctrinal chestnuts are we going to have to give up in the future? Who knows. I suggested in an earlier post that believing there is no progression between post-mortal kingdoms might be an example of a useful false doctrine. I suppose that most any incorrect doctrine that motivates people to repent now and not procrastinate could fit into the category of useful false doctrines.

So what do you make of this? In my opinion this passage in section 19 actually does destabilize the certainty we can/should have in some of doctrines taught in scriptures. But the possible upside of such destabilization is that we are driven away from the ever-enticing (but never-saving) practice of scripture worship and driven toward regular revelatory dialogues with God (like our exemplars in the scriptures had). What is your take?

169 Comments »

  1. At the risk of creating a tangent from the get-go, my thoughts involved the questions of God’s foreknowledge. The risk to put something false out there without a sure knowledge that it wasn’t going to backfire, that just doesn’t jibe.

    Does this mean that God uses hyperbole?

    Comment by Téa — December 18, 2006 @ 1:46 am

  2. At a certain level, I think it may be going to far to call such doctrines as false. At least the doctrines themselves. More accurate may be false interpretations.

    It seems to me that God intentionally has not told us everything and holds back. We should probably be careful to say that the scriptures contain false doctrines – but should probably instead say that some of our interpretations are wrong.

    Interesting thought for discussion – again.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 18, 2006 @ 6:46 am

  3. This reminds me of a post I read over at M*

    http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2006/09/07/p1773#more1773

    Comment by hayes — December 18, 2006 @ 7:30 am

  4. Geoff,

    I fail to see how you can conclude what this passage is talking about is the Lord’s advocating false doctrine. The Lord is explaining syntactical usage of easily misinterpreted terms, in this case “eternal” and “endless”. His punishment is “eternal punishment” not because the punishment is everlasting and without cease, but because He is eternal and the consequences of His Judgement are eternal.

    For example, if someone is going to end up in Terrestrial or Telestial glory, then they will not be resurrected until after the Millennium, and then they will end up in a resurrection of damnation. The separation of the spirit and the body is punishment, the fear of Judgement is punishment, and so on, and then there is the Judgement Bar and then those lead to the resurrection of damnation. All of those are punishments that end, so their sufferings end with the resurrection of damnation, but the consequence is an eternity of damnation. Which, while BY says is pretty spiffy, is still a drag compared to celestial glory. So, while their suffering ends to some degree, there is still eternal consequence to their actions.

    Where is the false doctrine the Lord is supposedly advocating? I think you are misreading v. 7, taking it out of context. Just because one particular passage of scripture is more explicit, that doesnt mean it isnt doctrinally sound.

    Moroni lamented the poor quality of his writing, as compared with Brother of Jared’s, because he couldnt overwhelm men in written word as BofJ did (cf. Eth 12). Does that mean Moroni’s writings are false? No.

    Comment by Kurt — December 18, 2006 @ 7:30 am

  5. This is an Interesting Idea, the question though is not what is meant be eternal or endless, but what now ismeant by “more express”…

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 7:51 am

  6. Tea – I don’t know if God uses hyperbole, but this passage seems to indicate that he doesn’t always correct his people when they insist on believing hyperboles.

    Hayes – Interesting link. I remember that thread.

    Eric and Kurt – You’ll notice that the title of this post is “Divinely approved false doctrines”. That does not mean that God taught false doctrines, it just means that for thousands of years he refrained from correcting a certain false doctrine (in this case an incorrect understanding of the concept of eternal punishment). So the idea is that he didn’t mind letting the incorrect doctrine perpetuate itself over the years because it served a useful purpose.

    Eric: We should probably be careful to say that the scriptures contain false doctrines – but should probably instead say that some of our interpretations are wrong.

    What’s the difference? The scriptures only contain words. Gleaning meaning from those words is what we do. The bigger risk is calling God a liar. I don’t think he is at all. But as you said, he apparently does allow us to flounder with self-perpetuating false doctrines from time to time.

    Kurt – Your opinion that anything but Celestial glory constitutes a form of eternal damnation has a long tradition in the church but it is a disputed notion. There are several schools of thought on that subject and many LDS hold that everything other than outer darkness is salvation and not a form of damnation at all. But that debate is a topic for another thread.

    Matt – In the context of verse 7 I take “more express” to imply that it is, as Tea mentioned, somewhat hyperbolic.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 9:00 am

  7. I often wonder if there are “noble lies” in our church that are used to keep the people properly motivated. I was thinking about this yesterday as we were studying in Priesthood about the Second Coming, and Wilford Woodruff discusses the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Clearly this parable is meant for us, the members of his church (he compares the KINGDOM OF GOD…), and half are found ready, and half are not. The instructor asked the question, “What does it mean to be prepared and have our lamps trimmed and oil at the ready?” The first person said, “If we are temple worthy, we are ready.” The instructor obviously wanted more, so many of the participants spouted off the oft- quoted Sunday School or PPI answers. I then asked, “Well, it doesn’t have to be more than being temple worthy. What else is there?” And, the instructor then read from the manual about President Woodruff’s thoughts on the matter, which included a lot more than just being able to enter the temple.

    I thought about this during the class. Why? Why would we have all of these responsibilities thrown at our feet to be placed on our shoulders? What would happen if we were told what it really means to be saved by the grace of God after we have worked out our salvation? That’s why this post made me think of the one I linked to from M* (how God will grade on a curve).

    These are interesting questions…we are instructed from the BoM to avoid thinking “if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God”.

    I guess if we thought like that, and were instructed from on high about it, many members would become more trunky than they already are.

    Comment by hayes — December 18, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  8. Geoff:

    It appears you answered your own question. I do not think we have a disagreement here in principle. As you said, we need to stop short of calling God a liar and saying that the scriptures contain lies.

    I think the good part – for people like you (and to a lesser extent me) – is that there may be many interesting points of doctrine that are misunderstood and misinterpreted. This leaves certain doors open for discussion.

    I say lesser extent for me because I think you have more interest and ability at this type of thing than I do.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 18, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  9. Geoff,

    Adopting your reading, which I dont necessarily endorse, people misunderstand the Scriptures all the time, have for thousands of years and will continue to do so for thousands of years. How is the Lord’s responsability to correct every misunderstanding and bad reading that is propegated ad infinitum by the traditions of men?

    I still dont see this as a matter of the Lord endorsing or correcting false doctrine.

    Comment by Kurt — December 18, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  10. Another example is the idea of hell and damnation. The Bible and the D&C are clear that most people will go to a kingdom of glory and enjoy a degree of salvation from outer darkness. However, it seems the Book of Mormon simply talks in terms of Heaven and Hell.

    Comment by BRoz — December 18, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  11. The adjetive forms of Express in the dictionary are:

    –adjective 9. clearly indicated; distinctly stated; definite; explicit; plain: He defied my express command.
    10. special; definite: We have an express purpose in being here.
    11. direct or fast, esp. making few or no intermediate stops: an express train; an express elevator.
    12. used for direct or high-speed travel: an express highway.
    13. duly or exactly formed or represented: an express image.
    14. pertaining to an express: an express agency.

    This does not mean this was how Joseph Smith intended it when God gave it to him, but if we go with the definition, God seems to be saying he wanted a more plain and explicit way to talk about our punishment…

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  12. Kurt: Adopting your reading, which I dont necessarily endorse, people misunderstand the Scriptures all the time, have for thousands of years and will continue to do so for thousands of years.

    Well I think that is a given. But in this case God reveals a little secret to us. He explains that sometimes he allows clearly misleading language into our canon if it suits his purposes. You can view it as a case of a simple explanation of “easily misinterpreted terms” if you want but I just don’t believe the word “endless” is easily misinterpreted. Rather, I think the Lord knew just how the word and concept would be interpreted but let it slide in the canon because it did the job for him. I think that is what he is explaining to us in this passage. Is that the part of my reading you are disagreeing with? I can’t really tell from your comments so far.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  13. Matt: This does not mean this was how Joseph Smith intended it when God gave it to him

    How do you think God revealed the concepts in section 19 to Joseph, Matt? As concepts or in exact wording? If it was revealed in the form of concepts (as I believe) then we can assume that Joseph simply used the word “express” to mean something other than “more plain and explicit”.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

  14. BRoz: However, it seems the Book of Mormon simply talks in terms of Heaven and Hell.

    I agree.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

  15. Geoff, why not just amend your phrase “scripture worship” (in the original post) to “systematic theology.” I understand that would be bad for business on your blog, but I think there are many hermeneutical approaches to scripture that are not subject to the problem you raise. Although in the end perhaps this also points to revelation, I think the connotation is very different. For example, there are ways to study poetry which can be quite rigorous that rely very little on the end-reader’s response (I see reader-response as analogous to revelation for the purposes of this discussion). So too, I think there are many ways to study scripture which are neither theological (in the sense of forcing an overarching unified system) no revelatory, but are perhaps include historical and literary approaches. I also think there are “valid” ways to study the scriptures theologically, but not in the systematic way you’re suggesting (b/c of the reason you suggest, as well as other reasons…).

    Comment by Robert C. — December 18, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

  16. Robert,

    Can you explain your #15 a little better? I am not understanding what you are getting at. For instance, I am unclear what your first sentence means. Are you saying that “systematic theology worship” is also undermined by the destabilizing effects of this passage? (Sounds good to me.) And then you say “there are many hermeneutical approaches to scripture that are not subject to the problem you raise.” I don’t know what you mean here either…

    Then near the end you imply I have suggested a “systematic way” to “study the scriptures theologically”. Can you help me understand that? I don’t think I made any such suggestion.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  17. Geoff:

    On the issue of concepts vs. words, I am afraid I am agnostic. I actually think God probably used different methods at different times, maybe even together in the same revelation. This would accord more with my experience of personal revelation. Besides, words are concepts.

    Anyway, seeing that we both believe express is probably Joseph’s word, (who was the scribe here?) I’ll try a search and see if I can find anywhere else Joseph uses the word express…

    Anyway, is the point of this post a) It’s ok to believe things which are heterodox? b) It’s ok that the church teaches things that “I” don’t agree with? c.) There is progression after death? or d.) God allowed BRM?

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

  18. From BOAP’s Parellel Joseph:

    [HOW IS GOD OMNIPRESENT IF HE HAS A BODY?]
    In answer to a question asked by a Sectarian priest namely. How is that you Mormons hold that God is an omnipresent being when at the same time he is a personage of Tabernacle. After God had created the Heavens and the Earth. He came down and on the sixth day said let us make man in our own image. In whose image. ln the image of Gods created they them. Male and female: innocent harmless and spotless bearing the same character and the same image as the Gods. And when man fell he did not lose his image but his character still retaining the image of his maker Christ who is the image of man is also the express image of his fathers person so says Paul. For in him Christ dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Why because He was the brightness of his glory; and the express image of his person.

    -Richards Diary, Sermon delivered at the Nauvoo temple grounds on Sunday July 9, 1843

    …there must be an express place built for that purpose & for men to be Born for their dead for every man who wishes to save the Fathers & Mothers, brothers, sisters, & friends must go through the same–Baptism…

    -Bullock Report, Sermon delivered at Nauvoo temple grounds at the General Conference of the Church on Monday April 8, 1844

    Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand Counsel that the Spirits of all Men ware subject to oppression & the

    express

    purpose of God in Giving it a tabernacle was to arm it against the power of Darkness

    [ I find this quote absolutely fascinating, as it ties into my atonement theory very well.]

    -McIntire Minute Book, Lyceum at Nauvoo, Ill., January 19, 1841

    And from the D&C:

    D&C 107: 43

    Because he (Seth) was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father, insomuch that he seemed to be like unto his father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age.

    D&C 134: 6

    We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men show respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

    D&C 138: 40

    Abel, the first martyr, was there, and his brother Seth, one of the mighty ones, who was in the express image of his father, Adam.

    It seems pretty arguable that express, as used by Joseph is synonomous with “exact”…

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  19. Matt: Anyway, is the point of this post…

    I mostly wanted to have a discussion on the implications of this passage of scripture. I think is has huge implications but I am not surprised or disappointed that others downplay its significance. But the point of the post was to seek a discussion on the subject, not to prove any particular point.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

  20. I think it better to say that God teaches in vague terms. Often we fill in the terms with our preconceptions. But that’s hardly God’s false. The scriptures can only be read in the spirit of prophecy and most don’t.

    Comment by Clark — December 18, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  21. Geoff J: Fair enough, I was just trying to make sure I was following you, in light of the other commentors. Anyway, in view of the idea that express seems to mean to Joseph “exact” or “specific”, the question which comes to mind now is:

    Does “exact” or “specific” have anything to do with “true” or “correct”?

    I think this can be argued either way.

    As he is talking about Damnation, my conception is that there is eternal progression post judgment, but that as people in all three kingdoms are all progressing at a similar pace, Celestial will be ahead of telestial and terrestrial perpetually, etc. (There may be outliers, and this may be threadjacking, but oh well.)

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 1:38 pm

  22. Clark:

    The problem with leaving all scriptural access up to the spirit of prophecy is that different people can get entirely different things from the same scriptures.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  23. I thought it might be worth mention that the only place in Joseph’s KJV where it mentions “eternal damnaton” is:

    Mark 3: 29

    But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation…

    The term is not used in the Book of Mormon and not in D&C preceeding March 1830.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

  24. Geoff #16: Sorry, haste makes waste, eh (in terms of my poorly expressed #15)? Let me try again:

    In my first sentence, I simply meant to question what you mean by scripture worship. If you mean that we shouldn’t read the scriptures as making claims that are true in a systematic theological (doctrinal) sense, then I agree with you, though I don’t like your “scripture worship” wording b/c it seems to throw the entire baby of scripture study out with the bathwater. That is, I don’t think the problem that D&C 19 points to is taking the scriptures too seriously, but in how one studies scripture. I think there are rich and interesting ways to study the phrase “eternal punishment” (see verses here or here) in scripture that do not require one to think about whether or not punishment is literally endless or not. So I think that D&C 19 should make us more leery of reading the scriptures in a way that reduces the statements to doctrinal and theological claims. Now perhaps these alternative ways of study are precisely what you mean by “regular revelatory dialogues with God,” but then, again, I would think your wording is a bit misleading. In short, I think you are setting up a false dichotomy between scripture study(/worship) and revelation.

    When I say “there are many hermeneutical approaches to scripture that are not subject to the problem you raise” I am suggesting that scripture study can be done in ways that are not inconsistent with D&C 19. An obvious example is a poetic reading: we do not and should not read poetic metaphors as theological or doctrinal claims. I think the lesson of D&C 19 is that we should not read any passage of scripture in a way that tries to fit it into a unified, systematic theology. This is what Marion would say is an idolotrous reading of scripture. My view, perhaps not in direct conflict with your view (but certainly a different emphasis), is that D&C 19 should serve not as a warning that the scriptures shouldn’t be read too seriously, but as a warning that we need to study the of scriptures more seriously, on their own terms, not in a way that reduces them to theological/doctrinal claims….

    Comment by Robert C. — December 18, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

  25. Thanks for the clarification Robert. It seems the term “scripture worship” is what threw you off. Let me assure you that I am not using the term scripture worship synonymously with scripture study. I use the term scripture worship to describe the practice of placing the canon above all other sources of authority. (See my last post which was related to this subject.) This is what I believe the vast majority of creedal Christianity does when it (overly) boldly claims that the canon is closed. I think that we see hints of scripture worship even among Mormons when people insist that any new revelation from God must adhere to the canon — or specifically to current interpretations of the canon. I think that this passage in section 19 blows that out of the water. God comes in and basically tells us that he didn’t really mean “endless” even though the canon said that. He drops a major paradigm shift on us by giving a new definition for the terms and then explaining that he allowed the world to believe a false doctrine “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men”. One cannot put canon above direct and current revelation and this passage in section 19 shows why.

    So I am all for scripture study. I am simply saying that God can drop occasional bombs on us that create major paradigm shifts so one takeaway could be that we should be very careful not to get too comfortable with our theological assumptions based on our reading of the scriptures.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 18, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

  26. Geoff J #25: Thanks for the link–I’d only skimmed that post before and didn’t really have that context in mind for this post. Rather, I think I was imposing a bit of cultural baggage since it seems Mormons often think that there’s no point to careful personal scripture study since the modern prophets or Holy Ghost will tell them anything they really need to know. We might quibble about exact proportions, but we seem to agree that both study and revelation are needed for an understanding of truth (whatever truth really means…).

    I was thinking a fair bit about Ezra 4:1-4 for this last week’s Sunday school lesson, and how it’s worded in terms of the Exodus (see Jim’s T&S lesson for references–sorry I’m too lazy to find the link, and the references aren’t really that important anyway…), which got me thinking about temple worship in terms of an exodus from both the world and our own preconceived notions of God. And I think this applies to prayer: A good way to think about prayer (and a way that sort of sidesteps a lot of the typical theological questions of prayer) is to think of it in terms of reorienting ourselves to God. That is, I think that we should have a bit of a D&C 19 experience (though less dramatic) every time we pray and attend the temple. This, I think, is the essense of the call-and-response relationship we are supposed to have with God (epitomized by the prophets and patriarchs in the OT). In Levinasian terms (sorry, I’m on a French philosophy kick of late), we are to continuously submit ourselves to the infinite call of the Other. In Christian terms, this is what it means to submit oursleves to God and to our neighbor. Although we often think of this in terms of actionable service and/or love, I think it is perhaps equally important to consider this in terms of our philosophical thinking. Perhaps this is what I find so attractive about recent French philosophy: it’s critique of the modern philosophical (and theological) tendancy to try and construct a system of understanding that tends not to be responsive to others (esp. God himself…). I suppose this is essentially the point of this post (and the other one you linked to): a doctrinal understanding of scripture that is not continually open to revelation is, ultimately, a worship of the text and the doctrine as opposed to an authentic worship of Deity.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post and discussion.

    Comment by Robert C. — December 18, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  27. Mat (#22) The problem with leaving all scriptural access up to the spirit of prophecy is that different people can get entirely different things from the same scriptures.

    Isn’t that an inherent problem of language? (Or is that a feature?)

    Comment by clark — December 18, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

  28. Clark: point taken, but the issue is what is personal revelation regarding a scripture ought not be misconstrued as general revelation and vice versa. Sometimes we are better kept to ourselves in our epiphanies.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 18, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  29. Geoff, re: #12, yes the last point you make is what I do not agree with. The Lord didnt translate the Septuagint into the KJV in 1611, and He didnt do the subsequent cleanups that resulted in the KJV we have today, anymore than He did all the rest of that other translations that litter Christendom today (yes, the NIV is litter).

    Assuming He tacitly approves of the KJV’s appearance, at any point in time, because He failed to explicitly endorse/reject it is an argument from silence.

    The rhetoric of the KJV was the locked in language of scripture at the time of the translation of the modern canon (e.g., BofM, D&C, etc) and the modern canon mirrors the language of the KJV. That is it.

    I do not see the language, style, rhetoric or translation of the KJV to be acts of Providence. And I think you would have a very difficult time arguing they are, owing to the rather muddy history.

    Comment by Kurt — December 19, 2006 @ 6:47 am

  30. This is a very good topic. Section 19 speaks of the souls who die the second death- the sons of perdition. We tend to think that this suffering spoken of is the type reserved for Telestial and Terrestrial spirits in the spirit prison, but it certainly isn’t the case. Section 19 parallels verses 43-49 of section 76 where it specifies those who suffer this type of torment are the SoP. I think another doctrine that God has chose not to fix is the apparent inconsisticies of our plan of salvation.

    It was mentioned earlier that In the BoM we have a heaven/ hell dichotomy and then in the Bible and D&C we have a multiple glory doctrine. In the temple we are taught that we must all progress through the two lower kingdoms and prove ourselves before entrance into Celestial glory while outside the temple we are taught that someone going to the Celestial Kingdom never goes through the two lower Kingdoms. Why has God chose not to change the doctrine? In the temple we are taught that the Telestial Kingdom is the earth we live on right now, while outside the temple we are taught that the Telestial Kingdom is a future eternal Kingdom reserved for the wicked. Seems like another one of those section 19 inferences of not revealing truth for the sake of better salvation numbers…hum.

    Over on my blog I am posting on two topics that deal with some of these seeming paradoxes. Our church teaches that one can be both saved and damned at the same time, while the scriptures deny this teaching saying that we can be either saved or damned but not both.

    Maybe the whole truth is that God has always revealed the truth of the matter (section 19) but man was just too ignorant to believe before and that God didn’t clarify the matter for the sake of not disrupting his current work by causing uneeded confusion and falling away of some members who were yet infant in their testimonies.

    I know that the BoM is mostly correct. When it speaks that in the end there is only heaven and hell- that is waht it means. The plan of salvation as taught in the temple goes hand in hand with the heaven/ hell dichotomy of the BoM where there really are no separate worlds of glory after the millennium, there is just the Heavenly Kingdom (Celestial), and there is hell (outer darkness).

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 19, 2006 @ 9:16 am

  31. Maybe I am just simplistic, but this seems to me an example of teaching line upon line, precept on precept. The Lord gives us what we can handle. Clearly, there is many great and wonderful things pertaining to the kingdom of God yet to be revealed.

    Comment by Doc — December 19, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

  32. Geoff, isn’t 3 Ne 15: 17-24 another example of your point? He knew the people in Jerusalem misunderstood his words, but he didn’t correct them. It sure would have made a big difference if he had, but at the same time, there would probably have been “sightings” of Christ all over the place if the Bible had predicted he was making these additional visits.

    Perhaps another example of your point is the concept that God has inspired religious leaders and philosophers throughout the world among all people. Both the modern prophets and the BoM teach this. Yet we see a wide variety of teachings, including several notions of reincarnation that resemble your MMP. As I read the BoM, so long as these doctrines lead people to do good, they are inspired of God, even if they are not technically “correct” in their description of the plan of salvation.

    Comment by Jonathan N — December 19, 2006 @ 9:50 pm

  33. Kurt (#29),

    Your argument works pretty well if we are talking exclusively about the Bible. It doesn’t work very well for all the times the notion of endless punishment is used in the Book of Mormon to represent what we later learn is a temporary hell though. The Lord seems to be saying in section 19 “I just used those terms before to get your attention even though I didn’t really mean it.” That is fine with me though. The Lord can do whatever he wants to motivate us to repent (including not give us the whole story). It seems like you are not fine with it though and I’m not sure why.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2006 @ 11:00 pm

  34. Jonathan N.,

    Excellent points. I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2006 @ 11:04 pm

  35. The Lord seems to be saying in section 19 “I just used those terms before to get your attention even though I didn’t really mean it.” That is fine with me though.

    It isnt fine with me. The Lord will not deliberately deceive people, or be deceptive. People, however, will engage in self-deception and deliberately distort things, cf. Isa. 28, 2 Ne. 25:1-6. I am not fine with it because you are laying something at the Lord’s feet that is not his fault, it is our fault. He is not speaking duplicitously, we are reading with an agenda, cf. 1 Ne. 15:9.

    3 Ne. 15:18 supports my read and contradicts yours. The problem is the stiffneckedness and deliberate ignorance of men, not the Lord’s clever misrepresentations of His own positions. He speaks clearly, we distort what he says. Occasionaly He steps in to point out we are selfish and stupid. For which I am grateful, because a poke in the eye is a good thing sometimes.

    Comment by Kurt — December 20, 2006 @ 5:27 am

  36. I really believe that the doctrine of an endless torment has always been known in it’s true sense but that man was just too stubborn to believe. I guess maybe the real deep doctrine of it all is that if the suffering will end at some point for the sons of perdition, why does it stop? Do they finally repent? Or are they literally destroyed at some point like Brigham Young thought? I had an unusaul thought once that even though the SoP are resurrected, because they are denied access to the tree of life their bodies will eventually die off because an unholy temple according to God must be destroyed.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 20, 2006 @ 8:11 am

  37. Kurt: He speaks clearly, we distort what he says.

    You are taking an interesting position on this one, especially in light of what seems to be a pretty clear admission by the Lord that he deliberately let his prophets and us misunderstand the idea of endless torment. Clearly there was a doctrinally incomplete (if not outright inaccurate) message sent in the Book of Mormon so if you are unwilling to lay the responsibility for the notion that non-sons-of-perdition will experience endless torment on the Lord (even though he seems to be openly taking credit for it is section 19) then it seems you will be left blaming Joseph Smith for mistranslating the following passages (this is just a sample):

    If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation— (Mos. 16:11)

    4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—

    7 These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil. (Alma 41:4, 7)

    21 Wo unto such, for they are in danger of death, hell, and an endless torment. I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me. Listen unto them and give heed, or they stand against you at the judgment-seat of Christ. (Moro. 8:21)

    God knew it wasn’t really endless torment all along. So either a) Joseph repeatedly screwed up the translation and wouldn’t listen to God’s attempts to correct him, or b) God intentionally gave Joseph the misleading language because it served his purposes, or c) God originally explained it properly to Joseph but Joseph wrote the idea in misleading language and God chose not to correct Joseph’s error because it did the job as it was. But none of those scenarios match up with your claim that the misleading doctrinal language in the BoM is the result of “stiffneckedness and deliberate ignorance of men” unless you are specifically calling out Joseph in this case for stiffneckedness and deliberate ignorance.

    But why not take God at his word in section 19? He says that he knew what he meant and he knew the scriptural language was misleading but he let the mistake go because it served his purposes. Why should we insist God acted differently than he says he acted? He says he intentionally let us and his prophet misunderstand that doctrine “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory”. Why is that a problem?

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 11:06 am

  38. especially in light of what seems to be a pretty clear admission by the Lord that he deliberately let his prophets and us misunderstand the idea of endless torment

    Geoff, I dont agree with your reading on D&C 19:7 in the first place, so the seeming problem you are seeking to address simply doesnt exist as far as I am concerned.

    He says that he knew what he meant and he knew the scriptural language was misleading but he let the mistake go because it served his purposes

    Geoff, He never said that. That is my point. I reject your assertion that that is what He meant.

    Comment by Kurt — December 20, 2006 @ 11:45 am

  39. Ok Kurt, that is an understandable approach to this. I can understand someone not believing that God would ever mislead or even intentionally allow us to be mislead even if it was for his name’s glory. But in light of your other comments doesn’t that mean that in the case of the translation of the Book of Mormon you feel that the misleading language there is entirely the fault of Joseph Smith’s stiffneckedness and deliberate ignorance and/or deliberate distortions of what God said to him?

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

  40. Um, no. Not even close.

    Comment by Kurt — December 20, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

  41. Why does everyone believe that the suffering of endless punishment described in section 19 refer to Telestial or Terrestrial peoples instead of the Sons of perdition. It seems pretty clear God is describing to Joseph Smith the state of the unrepentant after the end judgement which comes after the millennium.

    Seems quite strange to me……

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 20, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

  42. Come on Kurt, now I think you are just being evasive. Here are some facts that we all have in front of us:

    -In the Book of Mormon we have passages that say that the type of wickedness we now know leads to Terrestrial or Telestial glory will lead to endless torment (also hell, misery, damnation, wo, etc.). For instance, Moroni warns that believing in the necessity of infant baptism puts one in danger of endless torment.

    -In D&C 19 the Lord explains that in such cases such torment really isn’t endless in duration after all but that he allowed such language “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory”.

    -You claim that God gave the whole truth all along and that the misunderstanding and misleading language in scriptures is a result of human stiffneckedness and deliberate ignorance and deliberate distortions of what God says to us. You say it is “our fault”.

    Yet “we” didn’t translate the Book of Mormon or bring forth any of the scriptures. We can excuse mistakes in the Bible because of the translations of men so it is easy to blame others of stiffneckedness and deliberate ignorancein those cases.

    But who do you blame for the misleading language in the Book of Mormon? First you say it is not God’s fault, then you say it is not Joseph’s fault. That leaves you perhaps with blaming the BoM prophets but I fail to see what how that would help.

    No more dodging; If God didn’t approve of the misleading language in the BoM then who do you blame for it?

    (And why is it so awful to believe God did approve of such language? How exactly do you interpret D&C 19:7 if you reject my take on it?))

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  43. I had a friend in the mission field who compared these “contradictions” to a parent teaching a child mathematics:

    We teach children if they have 3 apples, and you take away 2, you only have 1 left. They are taught the concept of subtraction this way, and we write out the equation for them: 3-2=1.

    We also point out to them that you cannot take anything away from zero. You can’t take any apples away from a non-existent pile of apples. “You can’t do it,” we tell the children.

    Then one day, when the children are older, we reveal to them a mystery: You CAN take numbers away from zero, and you get negative numbers. Once the children are able to move beyond the tangible apples frame of mind, more abstract, yet very real, mathematical concepts can be taught.

    Now, am I lying when I tell my young child he CANNOT take a number away from zero? Do I have to qualify every thing I say? (“Don’t talk to strangers… unless it’s a rescue volunteer trying to find you lost in the desert.”) Or can I truthfully address my children’s current mindset (apples) and disregard other future points of view?

    Good topic. Nice to be back.

    Comment by Britain — December 20, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

  44. Geoff:

    Since the Book of Mormon typically speaks more directly to the heaven and hell dichotomy of spirit prison and paradise, I associate the “endless torment” there with the Torment of spirit Prison, and not with the 2 TK. Is that what you are saying to?

    Also, what’s the difference between “endless torment” and “infinite atonement” when Christ says those who do not repent will suffer even as he does?

    And did my atonement theory really suck that bad? :) (In blogging, silence is the worst punishment, it seems.)

    (Rob, while “Eternal Damnation” may or may not be associated with outer Darkness, I an not sure the Endless Torment does seem to be Spirit Prison to me.)

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

  45. Britain this is an interesting idea. Of course, you can’t take any apples still from a pile of zero apples, so the initial statement is still true, from a certain point of view.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

  46. Right, and the torment might be endless and eternal, self-sustaining through eternity. You might not have to be in it that long, however.

    Comment by Britain — December 20, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

  47. Definitely, which puts the endless torment as excellent contrast with the infinite atonement, in my opinion.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

  48. No more dodging; If God didn’t approve of the misleading language in the BoM then who do you blame for it?

    You. Because you are the one who has concluded it is misleading in the first place, and assuming he approved it.

    And why is it so awful to believe God did approve of such language?

    It isnt necessarily awful or not awful, its just not what He is saying.

    How exactly do you interpret D&C 19:7 if you reject my take on it?

    Um, Geoff, I already provided that back in comment #4.

    Geoff, I am not being evasive, I am getting tired of this thread. You are putting words in my mouth in order to try to argue your position. And you appear to be ignoring comments I have made. Which, frankly, is rather boring.

    Comment by Kurt — December 20, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

  49. Q: If God didn’t approve of the misleading language in the BoM then who do you blame for it?

    A: You.

    Ha! Ok, that one made me chuckle. Nice work Kurt.

    But on topic, you said: you are the one who has concluded it is misleading in the first place

    Are you really saying now that the Book of Mormon does not include any misleading language (or at least almost entirely misunderstood language prior to the revelation in section 19) about endless damnation? If so, why did the Lord feel the need to correct the misunderstanding in D&C 19? You said in #4 “The Lord is explaining syntactical usage of easily misinterpreted terms” after all. It seems like you are contradicting yourself now — am I missing something?

    And you appear to be ignoring comments I have made. Which, frankly, is rather boring.

    Actually, I think the problem is I’m paying attention to all of your comments and they are inconsistent with each other…

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

  50. Matt w,

    What do you mean about not being sure about the endless torment. Are you saying that you associate the endless torment as is spoken of in section 19 with spirit prison or are you saying you are not sure if that what it means or what time frame it means?

    Comment by robosborn — December 20, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  51. Rob:

    Sorry, I had a typo, I guess. In my reading, the endless Torment seems to be Spirit Prison. I haven’t looked at it in the last ten minutes or anything, but typically I associate most of the afterlife in the book of Mormon with that state prior to the resurrection. I will take a gander though, and see if there is post resurrection endless torment mentioned.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

  52. Rob O. (#41): Why does everyone believe that the suffering of endless punishment described in section 19 refer to Telestial or Terrestrial peoples instead of the Sons of perdition.

    Because it obviously is. Your claim otherwise seems like a bafflingly misguided reading of a pretty straightforward passage to me.

    Britain (#43) – Good comment and good example. It demonstrates my point perfectly. Welcome back too!

    Matt (#44): Is that what you are saying too?

    Yes. Section 19 suddenly allows us to sometimes interpret the terms “endless” and “eternal” as measures of quality rather than duration. It opens the door for the doctrine of the temporary hell we learn more about about in later revelations like section 76. This allows us to completely reinterpret the passages about endless and eternal torment/hell/damnation/wo spoken of in the Book of Mormon to mean the temporary hell those who eventually inherit Telestial glory are to experience.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  53. So, pretty much, the arguement here is that the Lord uses Symbolic rhetoric to explain things to man in a way that will be most beneficial to man, and, in this case, he eventual goes back via his prophets and clarifies his point, so that the symbolism does not become a stumbling block.

    We see this in Adam’s Rib, the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, and other such modern examples.

    Again, the challenge is to discern what is symbolic and literal and what is symbolic and rhetorical (or figurative).

    Now, are you arguing that God literally intended to deceive man for the brief period of time between Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon and receiving D&C 19 for Marketing reasons? Or are you argueing that God allowed JS’s perception of Heaven and Hell to come through in the Book of Mormon, because it was in fact doctrinal enough to pass muster, but that he gave this correction preperatory to further light and knowledge in 76?

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 3:40 pm

  54. Matt,

    I’m mostly arguing that the two basic arguments you listed are the only viable options.

    (I personally lean toward the latter option you describe.)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

  55. For the sake of throwing it out there, a third option could be that Endless Torment would have been understood to have the correct meaning to Moroni, the writer, and HF gave this exegesis to clarify. I find this a somewhat weak option, but it is an option, if you go with a tight translation theory on the Book of Mormon.

    But this isn’t what I am interested in.

    The Scripture in Question says:

    Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
    Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.

    eternal damnation Does not occur in the Book of Mormon, but only in the Bible once, and in relation to blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. (This is where I think Rob Osborn’s reading is coming from, FWIW.)

    Are you equating eternal damnation = endless Torment here?

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

  56. Matt,

    I think there are lots of variations on the explanation that can work, but it seems to me that regarding the BoM passages all roads lead to one conclusion: God let the misunderstanding slide until he gave section 19. One can blame the BoM prophets or JS for not listening to God properly or one can take the route Britain used and simply assume God told part of the story at first and filled in more in 1830. But I see no other viable explanations and no one here has offered any.

    Are you equating eternal damnation = endless Torment here?

    It seems to me that the passage in section 19 is generally opening the meaning of the terms eternal and endless in scriptures to allow for much more latitude than previously allowed. The Lord seems to be saying that “eternal” and “endless” can be replaced with “God’s” at any time. So eternal damnation = God’s damnation (no mention of duration). Endless Torment = God’s Torment (no mention of duration).

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  57. Glad you liked the analogy!

    However it should be noted, Geoff, that the Lord is explaining why both statements (“endless” and “it will have an end”) are true, and I’m not sure if that perfectly fits my example.

    In the apple example, the dad is essentially saying, “Yeah, I know I said that about subtraction then, but actually that wasn’t entirely true, and what I’m saying now trumps that.”

    Whereas the Lord is showing that He can be flexible with the definition of terms, sort of like exploiting a legalistic loop hole, thereby permitting a new truth to be taught without having to “trump” the old one.

    The old teaching was always correct, just deliberately misleading.

    It may seem like semantics, but I do wonder if the God is capable of hyperbole (without ceasing to be God). If He isn’t, then that means that no one has ever been wiser than Solomon. EVER! And never will be!

    My personal feeling is that He is capable of hyperbole, and that the laws of the universe permit Him to make somewhat exaggerated claims without robbing Him of His honor and power.

    Perhaps the apple analogy (“Forget what I said before”) is accurate in describing God’s flexibility in teaching man, even though the Lord sort of defends what He’s said in the past in D&C 19.

    Comment by Britain — December 20, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

  58. no one here has offered any

    I wasn’t saying the BOM prophets didn’t listen properly, I am saying they possibly could have understood “Eternal” or “endless” as “God’s”. This would have been literally translated by JS, with HF providing Etymology later on. Like I said it isn’t a strong alternative, but it is not just a variation.

    The Lord seems to be saying that “eternal” and “endless” can be replaced with “God’s” at any time. So eternal damnation = God’s damnation (no mention of duration). Endless Torment = God’s Torment (no mention of duration).

    Many Christian groups, including a subset of LDS (including Neal A. Maxwell), believe God lives outside of time, so this is also a possible alternative explanation of how eternal and endless could be the correct terms as well as needing further explanation. Of course, the idea of a God outside of time is not liked around here (I hope Blake addresses this in his book.) but It is an alternative.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 20, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

  59. The reading and understanding of section 19 as being the type of suffering of Telestial pre-resurrection is completely wrong. The section opens up telling us about Christ’s power. Verse 3 gives us the first clue as to the proper time frame. In that verse we are told that Christ shall destroy satan and his works, and that it will be at the great and last day of judgment when Christ sahll judge all men according to their works. Even the footnotes recognize this time frame as the last judgment which is post millennium.

    In verse 4 Christ infers here to tell us that surely every man must repent or suffer. He is referring back to verse 3 here saying that if we have not repented by this final judgment then we will suffer. Then in verse 5 Christ tells us of this suffering to those found on his left hand. These are of coarse the “goats”. Now what is interesting about verse 5 is that it talks of a general separation- those on the left, and those obviously on the right. We know that this separation will not happen until the final judgment. At no time before this judgment does separation occur. This can be cross referenced to section 29 verses 21-30, where it is very specific that those who are found on the left hand of God must obviously be the sons of perdition because 1, they are cast out after resurrection, 2, they are cursed into “everlasting fire” with the devil and his angels. Verses 29-30 of section 29 even mimick the language of section 19 when speaking of the duration of the suffering.

    “Endless torment”, “eternal damnation”, “eternal punishment”, & “endless punishment” are the terms written for this type of punishment.

    Endless torment is mentioned 8 times in the scriptures and is almost always associated with the “lake of fire and brimstone”. According to Revelations only the Satan & the sons of perdition are cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10-15). 4 of the seven references specifically refer to “endless torment” as coming after resurrection. Of the other 3 references it does not specify.

    Eternal damnation/ endless damnation/ everlasting damnation is mentioned 5 times. All 5 of these references speak of the type of suffering coming to the wicked after resurrection at the final judgment and not before. Another term associated with this is called the “ressurection of damnation”.

    “Eternal/ endless/ everlasting punishment” is mentioned 9 times and is either associated with the unpardonable sin or is referred directly with the type of suffering coming to those resurrected souls at the final judgment. D&C 76:43-44 is very specific that this “eternal/ endless/ everlasting punishment” will only be pronounced upon the sons of perdition.

    So I think I have a pretty strong case built up that explains without much doubt that the type of suffering described in section 19 is reserved only for the sons of perdition and not for Telestial or Terrestrial heirs.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 21, 2006 @ 12:37 am

  60. Actually, I think the problem is I’m paying attention to all of your comments and they are inconsistent with each other…

    How can you say you are paying attention to all of my comments when you ask in comment #42 for something I already gave you in comment #4? You have proven unequivocally by doing so that you are not paying attention to all my comments. Sorry, that just isnt up for debate.

    When you arent even paying attention to what people say in your own thread, but choose instead to put words in their mouth using your own assumptions, which I have explicitly rejected, it is pretty plain what the problem is.

    The lack of consistency comes from you assuming your reading is valid in the first place, and then imposing your reading on other’s comments, even after they have explicitly rejected it.

    Let me be perfectly clear, Geoff: The premise you started this thread with in your original posting is entirely wrong. From start to finish, it is wrong. You came to D&C 19 with preconceived notions and used D&C 19:7 as a proof text to support them. Your preconceived notions are dubious, at best, and your reading of D&C 19:7 is flawed, at best. And, yet, you still sit there assuming your reading is right, trying to force other people’s comments into your set of incorrect assumptions, even after they explicitly reject tham and explain why. Then you pronounce them inconsistent, after you obviously ignore what they are writing.

    Comment by Kurt — December 21, 2006 @ 5:05 am

  61. Ok Kurt – don’t blow a gasket.

    To show that I have been paying attention:

    -In #4 you said that D&C 19:7 is a simple case of the lord “explaining syntactical usage of easily misinterpreted terms, in this case “eternal” and “endless”.” You further stated your opinion that anything but Celestialization it a form of eternal and endless damnation anyway

    -I came back with the position that you are wrong about the terms easily being misunderstood and that the term “endless” is particularly hard to misunderstand. I further noted that I reject the highly speculative notion that all but Celestialized persons are endlessly damned.

    -You did not respond to either of those points but did come back in #9 saying that it is not God’s fault if people misunderstand the scriptures (ignoring the point that the word “endless” was theologically rather unambiguous prior to the revelation in section 19)

    -In #29 you try a new tactic and claim the problem has to do with incorrect translations of the Bible (therefore absolving God of any responsibility)

    -I grant you that but note that bad translations don’t solve the problem of the same language being in the Book of Mormon.

    -In #35 you then go with the notion that if people thought the word endless really meant endless before section 19 was given it was because they were stiffnecked, deliberately ignorant, selfish, and stupid.

    So in review I suppose our disagreement probably comes down to this one thing — you think the term “endless” was easily misinterpreted and I think the term was completely clear and unambiguous. I think that only after we received a brand new definition of the word endless in section 19 could any person reasonably think that endless might mean something other than without an end.

    So my question to you is how is it that the term “endless” was easily misinterpreted prior to 1830 (or even today in the absence of the new definitions given in section 19)? If there is evidence that “endless” was easily misunderstood or that “endless torment” might not have meant torment endlessly (but rather meant “God’s punishment temporarily) then I think you might have a case. But if section 19 introduces a brand new definition for the words endless and eternal as I suspect then you don’t have a leg to stand on in this debate.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 21, 2006 @ 9:44 am

  62. For the people who are disagreeing with Geoff’s interpretation of D&C 19:7, what do you make of verses 21 and 22? It might help me understand how you understand the verses better:

    21 And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.
    22 For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish. (D&C 19)

    Comment by Jacob — December 21, 2006 @ 10:29 am

  63. Jacob:

    If you take the God outside of time approach, I’d guess God living outside of time is meat we are still not ready for.

    If you took the Nephites understanding eternal, this would probably have to fall back into one of the other Alternatives already given.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 21, 2006 @ 11:36 am

  64. Matt,

    I don’t think your timelessness idea fits at all in this discussion. The passage has the Lord saying that when the scriptures talk about endless torment they don’t really mean the torment has no end:

    Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment

    So apparently there is an end to the torment. But in a timeless situation there is no such thing as a beginning or an end. Therefore the entire passage seems to be contrary to the notion of timelessness.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 21, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

  65. Geoff:

    The concept of timelessness is ultimately incomprehensible, so I can’t really clarify my point or put forth a truly defensable debate on this.

    The best I can do is say that God is progressing in a linear fashion, though outside of time, if one holds to the idea of him being outside of time, so therefore there is someother linear concept with changes of state, though still endless. This concept works only in correlation with the idea that people in the Telestial Kingdom will not surpass people in the Celestial Kingdom in glory based upon this linear form where outside of time progression would somehow be measured.

    As I said, it’s pretty incomprehensable.

    Anyway, on your point, God evidences that he omits information all the time, and asks us as members to do so as well. (The Temple is too Sacred to discuss, BKP implies seeing God face to face too sacred to discuss, etc.) I think a concept of omission of information is visible in the current teachings of the Church.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 21, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

  66. Matt,

    I’m afraid the idea of God’s timelessness is worse that incomprehensible. In my opinion it’s crapola. God can’t be progressing outside of time by definition. Change and progress requires time by definition. It means he is one way at T1 and another (presumably improved) way at T2. (But this is off topic so I’ll stop.)

    BTW – Yes, Blake’s first book deals with this. In fact a major portion of his volume 1 is on this topic.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 21, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  67. Geoff:

    I think there are a few central “doctrines” at stake here, which to move away from the timelessness issue (I’ll have to dig around what Maxwell was thinking and look for some clarity there sometime), I’d like to lay out. (That is one convoluted sentence, but hey, I said Buddhists believe in Ganesh in the past 24 hours, so what do you expect?) Anyway, Christians hold to a central tenant that God cannot lie. Why should we follow or believe a source we can not trust on any given point of data? I think we have to eliminate God deceiving man as an option on these grounds. Og course, is there a diference between deceiving someone and what Britain discussed, where something is true from a certain point of view, and false from a different point of view, and thus needing clarification. (After all it is impossible to litteraly have before you a pile of -2 apples, while it is perfectly possible to owe someone two apples, and thus have a stock of -2 apples.)

    Ultimately, what I think Kurt is trying to defend is God’s reputation of honesty, trustworthiness etc.

    This same issue, of course, expands to encompass the prophet alternative you put forward as well. My question to you is, from the perspective you take, what is the solution to this problem.

    (I’ll assume Blake takes the crapola side on living outside of time, based on your bluntness here.)

    Comment by Matt W. — December 21, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  68. Guys, I know . . . it is a total off the wall tangent.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS

    Comment by Todd Wood — December 22, 2006 @ 10:17 am

  69. Todd: The sentiment is returned. God bless.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 22, 2006 @ 10:35 am

  70. Geoff, re: #61, I am so flattered that you actually took the time to go back and read my comments. And, I see that is has resulted in you dropping the accusation of my being inconsistent in my position. Alas, it has been replaced with the accusation of gasket blowing, which accusation is as accurate and substantive as the previous ones.

    We are not arguing over the meaning of the word “endless”, we are arguing over what D&C 19:7 means, the whole verse, in context. I reject your reading of that verse. And any goofy tangents I went off on in the comments above were a result of you attempting to force me into your set of assumptions. The tangents were intended to show what you were arguing made no sense.

    Jacob, re: #62, the italics text you noted in D&C 19:21 is in reference to the same thing as verse 31. Martin Harris wanted to preach on obscure doctrines, which he apparently knew little or nothing about. The Lord told him to cut it out and preach nothing but repentance. Verse 21 is not a blanket Church policy, but a specific admonition to Martin Harris to stop being such a knucklehead. Excerpt follows:

    When the translation of the Book of Mormon was nearly completed, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris solicited Egbert B. Grandin, manager and principal owner of the Wayne Sentinel, a newspaper printed in Palmyra, to print the manuscript. Grandin declined the request as did Thurlow Weed of Rochester when confronted with the proposition. The Prophet and his associates finally prevailed upon E.B. Grandin, and Martin Harris later signed a mortgage (25 August 1829) that bound Harris to pay Grandin $3,000 within eighteen months for the printing of 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon or forfeit sufficient of his 240-acre Palmyra farm to pay the $3,000. In March 1830, prior to the completion of the printing of the Book of Mormon, a group of townspeople near Palmyra voted not to purchase the book if it were published. Fearful that he might lose his farm if the book did not sell, Harris approached the Prophet Joseph Smith regarding the matter, and requested a revelation. Joseph Knight, Sr., remembering the occasion, made the following remarks:

    [Martin Harris] Came to us and after Compliments he says, “The Books will not sell for no Body wants them. Joseph says, “I think they will sell well.” Says he, “I want a Commandment [revelation].” “Why,” says Joseph, “fulfill what you have got.” “But,” says he, “I must have a Commandment.” Joseph put him off. But he insisted three or four times he must have a Commandment. [The following day] he got up and said he must have a Commandment to Joseph and went home. And along in the after part of the Day Joseph and Oliver Received a Commandment which is in Book of Covenants [section 19]. [This quote also published in “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History,” BYU Studies, Autumn 1976, p. 37]

    (Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 30-31)

    Comment by Kurt — December 22, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  71. Kurt: We are not arguing over the meaning of the word “endless”, we are arguing over what D&C 19:7 means, the whole verse, in context. I reject your reading of that verse.

    Ok, it is clear that you are convinced you reject my reading of 19:7. But my reading of that verse is that God gave the world a new definition for the word “endless”. So if you reject my reading of that entire verse then our argument is in fact over the meaning of the word endless. Are you saying God did not give a new definition of the word “endless” in that passage? (I really do want to understand your point of view on this.)

    Todd – Merry Christmas to you too. PS: I plan to respond to your comment at that other thread sooner or later.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 22, 2006 @ 11:09 am

  72. Matt: God is timeless or “outside of time” just in case there are not two temporal moments, t1 later or earlier than t2. If God is progressing in any manner then he is inside of time because God must be characterized as one thing at t1 and then being in a different, more progressed stated, at t2. So God is inside of temporal succession. However, I explain how God could be in a different inertial frame of reference or have a different time metric than we do though he us subject to temporal succession.

    Just what is the “crapola” view of God’s being outside of time that you refer to?

    Comment by Blake — December 22, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

  73. BTW in terms of this thread, I take the view that God is not being evasive, dishonest or misleading; rather, he doing the best he can with what we are willing to hear. For example, how could I explain to my dog that I give it shots so that it is immune to tapeworm? All he can comprehend, if anything at all, is that his master whom he has trusted in foisting pain on him. Or with my four year old when he asks me about how God can hear my prayer and his at the same time. I can explain as best I can to a four-year old; but how I do explain that if multi-tasking duo-core chip computers can do it, then so can God? So God is not approving false doctrine; he is just telling all of the truth that we are ready, willing and able to hear.

    Comment by Blake — December 22, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  74. Blake:

    Geoff says being outside of time is a load of hooey, I was assuming you were of the same opinion. Thus I was referencing his statement that being outside of time is a load of Crapola.

    I was basing this all on the famous “One Eternal Now” statement attributed to Joseph Smith. As I am not sure is is correctly attributed to Joseph Smith, I am currently reevaluating my analysis of God’s relationship to Time.

    I am expecting my own copy of your book any day, so I plan to hold judgment until after more study there. Maybe when I finish reading it, I will beg favor of Geoff to guest post any questions, arguements, etc. I have.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 22, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  75. That sounds fine to me Matt.

    Blake – see my comment #66. I am to blame for bringing the word crapola into this thread.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 22, 2006 @ 4:48 pm

  76. Matt,

    In your review of Maxwell’s position on timelessness, I think you’ll benefit from reviewing pages 75-76 of this issues of Dialogue. Note especially footnote 30 and the text to which it refers.

    Comment by Jacob — December 22, 2006 @ 5:22 pm

  77. Kurt (#70),

    21 And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.
    22 For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish.

    Martin Harris wanted to preach on obscure doctrines, which he apparently knew little or nothing about. The Lord told him to cut it out and preach nothing but repentance. Verse 21 is …a specific admonition to Martin Harris to stop being such a knucklehead.

    I don’t think this interpretation holds up under scrutiny. The “these things” of verse 21 obviously refers to something that was just revealed in verses 1-20. It can’t be referring to incorrect “knucklehead” doctrines of Martin Harris because the Lord calls it “meat.” He is not telling Martin Harris to stop talking about things he doesn’t know about, he is telling him not to pass on the information that was just shared with him.

    There was a lot shared in verses 1-20, so there can be disagreement about what specific doctrine “these things” refers to. We have a couple of good clues though. Right before explaining that “endless punishment” actually has an end, it says:

    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
    8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
    9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.

    The Lord calls it a “mystery” and says it is “meet unto you to know” as someone who is “chosen in this thing.” Obviously, the doctrine about endless punishment having an end was not common knowledge and revealed as a mystery, making it an obvious candidate for something that should not be shared. Compare Alma 12:9

    9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. (Alma 12)

    So, the Lord revealed a mystery in D&C 19:7-12 and then laid them under strict command not to impart that knowledge. The statement that “they must not know these things, lest they perish” harks back to the statement that the common understanding of eternal damnation “is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men.” It seems quite clear that the Lord knew this was understood by everyone to mean that it went on forever and that he was in favor of this misunderstanding.

    Comment by Jacob — December 22, 2006 @ 6:06 pm

  78. Blake (#73),

    In this specific case, I don’t think it works to compare it to us trying to explain computers to a four year old. I don’t think the truth is particularly difficult to explain, it is just much more involved and requires context that was not understood. The doctrines explaining how salvation is offered to the dead along with the doctrine of the three degrees of glory are pretty essential to understanding what to make of hell having an end.

    I don’t see how you can argue that it is just too difficult to explain to us, given that he did finally explain it and we do understand it, and I can explain in in primary to small children and they can grasp the concept just fine.

    Also, your angle doesn’t seem to work in light of verse 22 which says the motivation for not telling the world is that they could not bear the meat. That seems to imply rather strongly that the misunderstanding about hell’s duration was a useful one which God was happy to allow/perpetuate, as opposed to your assertion that it was due to our unwillingness to hear a fuller explanation.

    Comment by Jacob — December 22, 2006 @ 6:17 pm

  79. Jacob: It seems quite clear that the Lord knew this was understood by everyone to mean that it went on forever and that he was in favor of this misunderstanding…
    …the misunderstanding about hell’s duration was a useful one which God was happy to allow/perpetuate, as opposed to your assertion that it was due to our unwillingness to hear a fuller explanation.

    Amen brother.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 22, 2006 @ 6:38 pm

  80. Jacob: Actually I would think that your oberservations support what I have said. It takes further revelations to be able to put God’s statements about eternal punishment into perspective of work for the dead, three degrees of glory, deification and eternal progression. It took Joseph twelve years to get it all out — that is a lot of work and explaining. Moreover, I am sure that you are aware that section 76 was not given to those who were not nature in the faith for the very reason that they needed milk befoe meat a were not able to withstand the new revelations.

    Further, if you now claim to have such an understanding of “eternal” anything, may I respectfully suggest that you haven’t thoughtfully considered what is at issue in “eternity.” It is still well beyond my ken. So the fact that something can be explained thru numerous revelations over a long period of time and yet still leaves us in a position of not quite grasping is precisely what seems to be the problem here — as I see it.

    Comment by Blake — December 22, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

  81. Blake (#73): I take the view that God is not being evasive, dishonest or misleading; rather, he doing the best he can with what we are willing to hear.

    I’m certainly not trying to accuse God of being dishonest (at least not in a wicked way) either. However, I think it is pretty clear that he did allow the early saints to be misled by allowing terms like “endless” to be used in the BoM in places where he never really meant endless.

    The reason I think Jacob’s response to your #73 is a good one is that I think it is not entirely accurate to compare the early saints to a dog or four year old regarding this subject. With both of those analogies the problem is that the pet or child cannot understand the real truth. In this case it seems that the Lord considered the truth of the non-endless nature of the torment nearly all the wicked will face was a secret that he was not interested in sharing — not because people could not understand it but perhaps because it was too much truth for them to hear and remain faithful to him.

    That is why I titled this post “divinely approved false doctrines”. The doctrine that the wicked will suffer endless torment proved to be false (even if it was useful to God for a while). The Lord knew that all along but allowed it to make it into both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I do think it is a milk before meat thing, but I don’t think the analogies you used work.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 22, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

  82. Blake,

    From your #80 I see we don’t really disagree. I fully expect that my current understanding of things will turn out to be very lacking when further pieces of the puzzle are filled in. Geoff’s #81 captures the reasons I took issue with #73.

    Comment by Jacob — December 22, 2006 @ 7:49 pm

  83. Jacob:

    Elder Maxwell’s candor exhibited here is amazing. THanks for this.

    Blake:
    As this was your article, and Elder Maxwell states God’s “former relationship with time and space.” and you were the one who conversed with Elder Maxwell, so was it, in your opinion, his consideration that Heavenly Father does now reside beyond our understanding of time. I am guessing it is your opinion, with your T1 and T2 example, but anyway, just curious.

    What is interesting about this endless and eternal meat to me is the concept wouldn’t be further clarified for another 10 years or so until baptism for the dead was revealed. Then again, maybe it still isn’t clear.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 22, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

  84. Geoff: “With both of those analogies the problem is that the pet or child cannot understand the real truth.”

    Geoff — we cannot grasp what eternal torment would be. It is beyond our ken. We can no more grasp the nature of eternities unless it is opened to us (as section 76 expressly states) than my dog can grasp medicine. That is why I take the view I do.

    Matt: Elder Maxwell wanted to correct his prior understanding that God is beyond time in the sense proposed by Boethius. When we discussed what it meant for God to have a body, he expressly stated that he hadn’t considered what that meant and he wasn’t aware of the implications of the idea of timelessness — and he didn’t want to accept those implications when we talked.. He later seems to have backtracked to me in his reaffirmation of the “eternal now” statement found in the Times & Seasons.

    Comment by Blake — December 22, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

  85. I personally think that until the LDS community wakes up and realizes that section 19 is talking specifically of the “suffering of the sons of perdition”, then “endless” debates on this subject will go on and on and on and on……

    We need to get out of the mindset that we think that this suffering comes before resurrection. The great work for the dead in the spirit prison is meant to redeem them from having to be judged and found guilty and suffer “as Christ” after their resurrection.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 23, 2006 @ 12:55 am

  86. Yeah Rob, we all know you think that.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 23, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  87. Geoff #71, you provided your reading of v. 7 in your initial post. I provided mine in comment #4. They dont agree, they are different. What is it about my explanation of v. 7 in the first paragraph in comment #4 that you dont understand? Verses 8-12 explain that the Lord is eternal, so any Judgment He hands out is eternal and endless because He is eternal and endless. It is not that the judgment is eternal and endless in and of itself, it isnt, the Bar of Judgment is a discreet point in time, has a beginning and and end. However, it is the Lord’s Judgment, the consequences of which are of eternal quality. So, while the Judgment is not, in and of itself, eternal, because it has a beginning and end, it is of eternal nature because it is of the Lord. That is what He is explaining. Suffering is not eternal and endless in and of itself, it is that way because the Lord’s Judgment has eternal ramifications. The suffering of having one’s body separated from the body will stop at the Second Resurrection, but the Lord’s Judgment is still in effect because it is eternal in nature.

    It seems perfectly obvious to me that the Lord is emphasizing the eternal nature of His judgments at this point in time because Harris is fearing temporal things, like the Book of Mormon not selling well and him losing his farm, and so on. Harris’ immediate present fear is of temporal things, and the Lord wants him to concentrate on spiritual and eternal things instead, and to not fear man.

    Jacob #77, Your reading makes no sense given the historical context provided in the Cook quote above. D&C 19 is a result of a demand by Harris for a revelation from the Lord telling him to go through with publishing the Book of Mormon. It was not spawned by some esoteric doctrinal question which is answered by v. 1-20, but the pride and arrogance of one man. Had Martin Harris heeded the word of the Lord and Smith’s attempts to set him off, this revelation never would have come to pass. Thus, the entire revelation, in context, is aimed at addressing one man’s pride and arrogance. In doing so, a number of points related to his arrogance are addressed. Your attempt to fabricate some novel context of the Lord addressing some point of esoteric doctrine for the sake of addressing it contradicts the first-hand witnesses account. The opening portion of D&C 19 is an authority statement and discussion of the Lord’s Judgment, which Judgment Harris risked bringing down on himself if he failed to do what the Lord commanded. What the Lord is commanding him to do is keep the word of the Lord as previously delivered in two ways: preach repentance and stop trying to be a doctrinal big shot and pay for the printing. You are reading D&C 19 as though it were like D&C 77 or 113 and it isnt, not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Verses 1-3 are an authority statement, verses 4-12 are an explanation of eternal punishment and suffering, and verses 13-19 are an explicit warning to Martin Harris alone that he must repent and do what the Lord has commanded or he will be punished with that punishment described in v. 4-12. Verses 20-41 then provide a laundry list of a bunch of things Martin Harris needs to repent of, intermingled with additional warnings of failure to repent. Verse 21-23 is talking about the same thing as verse 29-31, just as 26-27 are talking about the same thing as 34-35. The Lord is repeating himself for emphasis to drill it into Harris’ head that he needs to be humble and do what the Lord commanded him.

    The cross reference with Alma 12:9 is totally unrelated. If you want to ignore the surrounding text of D&C 19 and read v. 21 in a vacuum, pretending the rest of the section doesnt say what it does, knock yourself out.

    Comment by Kurt — December 23, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

  88. Kurt,

    I made arguments from the text of the revelation which demonstrate your reading cannot be correct. You ignored those arguments and reviewed the historical context of which I am already familiar. You are ignoring the text of the revelation. Your explanation ignores the fact that “these things” of verse 21 refers to something just spoken of, as required by the English language. Your explanation ignores the fact that the Lord called the doctrine they were forbidden to teach “meat.” You suggested that these verses are referring to “obscure doctrines, which [Martin Harris] apparently knew little or nothing about.” In stark contrast, the Lord says that the reason they are forbidden to teach “these things” is because “[the world] must not know these things, lest they perish.” Your reading is untenable.

    Comment by Jacob — December 24, 2006 @ 10:40 am

  89. Jacob, I have plainly established that your reading is acontextual and ahistorical. As such, I do not need to address the details of your arguments, which are built on nothing more than stating what you think is “obvious”. I did not ignore them, I hamstrung them. You are the one that is ignoring arguments, not I.

    You do nothing to prove that the contents of v. 1-20 are “meat” other than saying one preceded the other. How is that even a compelling argument?

    Your reading on v. 21 ignores the fact that the surrounding text follows a blatantly repetitive pattern. You ignore the fact that v. 21-22 and v. 29-31 and v. 36-37 all deal with preaching repentance. You also ignore the fact that this pattern is repeated in intervening text in the paying off of debts in v. 26-27 and v. 34-35. How much more obvious does it have to be that the Lord is repeating Himself? Does the Lord have to explicitly say “Hi, I am repeating Myself for emphasis here” in order for you to realize he is repeating Himself? One would think the subject of preaching repentance explicitly referenced over and over and over would give it away. Apparently not.

    The “meat” referenced in v. 22 is the same thing referred to in v. 31 when it says “of tenets thou shalt not talk”. These tenets have nothing to do with the content of v. 1-20, they have everything to do with the knuckleheaded doctrines Harris would rather preach, instead of sticking to straightforward repentance, just like the Lord says in those verses.

    Jacob, you ignore all of the surrounding text, which has the identical subject. You ignore the additional surrounding text which exhibits a plain pattern of repetition (e.g., pay for the printing of the BofM). You ignore the history, which makes it absolutely clear this section of revelation is intended as nothing more than a call to repentance to one man. And you accuse me of ignoring?

    Comment by Kurt — December 24, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

  90. I have things to chime in on and to respond to here but will wait until after Christmas. Merry Christmas to all (and to all a good night).

    Comment by Geoff J — December 24, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

  91. [Note: Superfluous personal attacks have been edited out. Merry Christmas -Admin]

    Oh, Jacob, now I see what you are trying to get at. You are trying to […] argue my reading is self-contradictory. You are saying my reading is untenable because what the Lord labels “meat” I label “knuckleheaded”. And because of that, you want to throw everything out, the baby along with the bathwater. […] I had assumed we were discussing the meaning of v. 21, not some tangential matter in v. 22.

    Regardless, returning to your “meat” versus “knucklehead” thing, sorry, but it doesnt work that way. The facts stand on their own. Whether I think Martin Harris was knucklehead and was ill-informed of the doctrines he was attempting to preach on is irrelevant to the interpretation of v. 21. The interpretation of v. 21 is provided in v. 31, […] there is an obvious pattern in the text […]

    Comment by Kurt — December 24, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  92. Kurt,

    Ok I can’t sleep so I thought I’d chime in now.

    I’m glad you saw what Jacob was actually arguing for. I think your claim that verse 31 provides an interpretation of verse 21 sinks your argument though. Verse 31 supports your claim that Harris had been preaching knuckleheaded doctrines very well. But in verses 21 and 22 the Lord says:

    21 And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.
    22 For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish.

    He then in 31 he says:

    31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

    (Interestingly, the cross reference given for “tenets” is 2 Timothy 2:23: “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” So the cross-referencing committee agreed that this verse is condemning Martin Harris for preaching knuckleheaded doctrines.)

    The problem is that there is nothing in the section that supports your claim that the warning in verse 31 provides an interpretation of verses 21-22. In fact the message is quite the opposite. In 21-22 the Lord says to keep quiet on “these things” until it is wisdom in him. That indicates that “these things” will be for public consumption later but not yet. The Lord then explains that “these things” are meat and the people can’t bear that much truth yet. Clearly “these things” which are “meat” are not the “tenets” warned against in verse 31. The tenets are likely the knuckleheaded false doctrines you mentioned — false doctrines that the Lord never wants preached. “These things” are truths that the Lord wanted hidden from the public until a later date.

    And the only new truth given in the revelation was about the new definition of the words “endless” and “eternal”.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 24, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  93. No, Geoff, you and Jacob are misinterpreting what “meat” is. “Meat” is not necessarily good doctrine that edifies. There is plenty of “meat” which does not edify, see Hebr. 5:12-14, Hebr. 9:9-11, Hebr. 13:9-10, and also cp. Isa. 28:7-9 which is the likely original source of the milk-meat analogy.

    As stated in Hebr. 5:14:

    But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    Strong meat is for those who can discern the good from the bad, for not all meat is good. The usage of the analogy in Hebrews is over the Law of Moses prohibition regarding clean and unclean food, which Judaizers within the early church were arguing over, as stated in Hebr. 13:9:

    Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

    The meat the Lord is rejecting v. 22 is not the true doctrine of v. 1-20, but the complex doctrines which are only for those who are mature enough in the faith to be able to discern good from bad.

    The “meat” in v. 22 is the same thing as the “tenets” of v. 31.

    Comment by Kurt — December 25, 2006 @ 5:59 am

  94. Kurt,

    My #77 might bear another reading, you still seem to be missing much of my point. But I am happy to make the same points again, one by one.

    You do nothing to prove that the contents of v. 1-20 are “meat” other than saying one preceded the other. How is that even a compelling argument? (Kurt, #89)

    Actually, more than once I have pointed out that the words “these things” (vs. 21) must, as a matter of English, refer to something just spoken of. That is why it is a compelling argument. You have yet to explain how you think “these things” can refer to something besides the things under discussion at the time.

    You ignore the history, which makes it absolutely clear this section of revelation is intended as nothing more than a call to repentance to one man. (Kurt, #89)

    The only reason the historical context can be construed as contradicting my reading is if you assert (as you do above) the dubious claim that the Lord can only do one thing at a time. You are asserting that if the Lord is calling Martin Harris to repentance, he can’t teach a new doctrine in the same revelation. That, of course, is nonsense. The Lord can call Martin to repentance and teach a new doctrine in the same revelation. As he says:

    8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
    9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.

    So, he is very clear about that fact that he is explaining a mystery, something they should know as apostles, as his chosen servants. Yes, it is true that this section is built around a call to repentance. That does not prevent the Lord from revealing a mystery. He specifically calls it a “mystery,” and says he is going to explain it because it is “meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.” How can you not see that those verses are something more than a call to repentance of one man? The Lord is teaching something new and he could not be more clear about it.

    “Meat” is not necessarily good doctrine that edifies. (Kurt, #93)

    I am not just blindly interpreting the word “meat” as something good based on a preconceived notion. Rather, as I pointed out previously, I am reading the verse in context. Just a few verses earlier, the Lord said that he was explaining a mystery, which he clearly described as a good thing to know (“meet unto you to know even as mine apostles”). In addition, he says of the meat that they must “show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.” Thus, we have it by the Lord’s own words that the “meat” he refers to is something which will eventually be shared according to his wisdom. It is merely the timing which dictates that they should not share it (the world “cannot bear meat now“.

    Is this the way the Lord would speak of “knucklehead” doctrines (by your definition: obscure doctrines Martin knew little or nothing about). Would he say, “Martin, don’t teach these incorrect knucklehead doctrines until it is wisdom in me”? No. The fact is that it will never be wise in God’s eyes to teach knucklehead doctrines. Thus, he is not referring to incorrect doctrines, but to the very doctrines he has just revealed (again, he did say he was explaining a “mystery”).

    The historical context is important, I don’t dispute that, but knowing the historical context does not remove the need to read the text carefully. A careful reading of verses 8-9,21-22 reveals that this section contains more than just a call to repentance. I am surprised we have to debate this point because it is beyond dispute that they did not previously know that eternal damnation had an end. You agree, right? If so, then you acknowledge there was a new doctrine revealed, which makes this more than a call to repentance (contra your claim).

    Comment by Jacob — December 25, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  95. Jacob,

    I would say this is getting boring, but it was boring days ago. But, finally, I think I have discovered what your motives are.

    Actually, more than once I have pointed out that the words “these things” (vs. 21) must, as a matter of English, refer to something just spoken of. That is why it is a compelling argument. You have yet to explain how you think “these things” can refer to something besides the things under discussion at the time.

    Your reading is excessively narrow. The “these things” is ambiguous, and the current discussion is no longer what “eternal” means, but is about preaching the simple truths of the gospel and not complex doctrines. The “these things” are the “meat” and the “tenets” which Harris is not to preach, as is clearly established by the repeated discussion of the identical subject in subsequent text. A simple-minded linear reading is not required “as a matter of English”, not at all. Not in any sense.

    But, even if you demand such a narrowly linear reading, then why is it the “these things” must speak of the eternity subject, and not the immediately preceding text of “at the time I withdrew my Spirit.” So, according to your excessively narrow reading of A then B, then the “these things” must be referring to the time what the Lord withdrew His Spirit from Harris, since that is what linearly precedes the command. Cant you see how preposterous it is to demand a completely linear A then B reading?

    How can you not see that those verses are something more than a call to repentance of one man? The Lord is teaching something new and he could not be more clear about it.

    The Lord is not teaching something new, He is clarifying an ambiguity that is hard for some to understand. There is absolutely nothing new or novel in what the Lord teaches in v. 1-20. What is this new and novel mystery the Lord is allegedly teaching? That He is eternal? Sorry, that is all over the entire OT. OK, well, maybe not, it isnt in the Song of Solomon, I will grant you that. Christ’s suffering is discussed quite effectively in the NT, so what is this alleged new and novel doctrine that was to be held back from the Church? There is none.

    I am not just blindly interpreting the word “meat” as something good based on a preconceived notion. Rather, as I pointed out previously, I am reading the verse in context. Just a few verses earlier, the Lord said that he was explaining a mystery, which he clearly described as a good thing to know (”meet unto you to know even as mine apostles”). In addition, he says of the meat that they must “show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me.” Thus, we have it by the Lord’s own words that the “meat” he refers to is something which will eventually be shared according to his wisdom. It is merely the timing which dictates that they should not share it (the world “cannot bear meat now“.

    No. Please take a look at this link:

    http://www.saintswithouthalos.com/s/d&c_19.phtml

    First, at the top of the page, note the revelation was published in the Book of Commandments. If this text is referring to this thing you think it was and was some new novel doctrine that was to be held back from the Church in general, then why did the early church leaders, including Smith who received the revelation, publish it immediately and not hold it back to hide it? Because they didnt interpret the passage the way you do.

    Now, still on that web page referenced above, scroll down to verse 21 and note v. 21 has changed and had some text struck and some added in the 1835 edition. And, why was “neither speak these things” in the original, but struck from the 1835 and then in the 1835 the “until it is wisdom in me” added? Because the Lord was talking solely to Martin Harris and was telling him to shut up and “neither speak these things”. He, Martin Harris was not to preach obscure doctrines, but was to preach repentance only. Then, after the fact, five years after in fact, Smith broadened the text to make it clear that at some point in time it was wisdom in the Lord to discuss these matters. Given the rather obvious context, that point would be that matters of meaty doctrine would be for those who are mature in the faith and can discern the good meat from the bad, not non-members, per Paul’s original intent on the text. Clearly, when the revelation was given, it was talking to Martin Harris about preaching and speaking and not about hiding any hidden obscure doctrine from the world until the time was ripe for the world to have it.

    Jacob, you are totally misinterpreting the text. This is a command to Martin Harris to not preach confusing and complex doctrines to non-members but rather to preach repentance only. The meat is the same thing as the tenets, and not anything else. There is no new novel doctrine, as you suggest, and the early Church leaders published the text immediately. So how is it they interpreted this text in the manner you forward? They dont, clearly.

    I am surprised we have to debate this point because it is beyond dispute that they did not previously know that eternal damnation had an end. You agree, right? If so, then you acknowledge there was a new doctrine revealed, which makes this more than a call to repentance (contra your claim).

    Absolutely not, Jacob. At no point in this revelation does it say eternal damnation has an end. What is does say is the torment will end. And that is not a novel doctrine either.

    But, this does explain why you and Geoff are torturing the text so badly and going to such lengths to do so. You two are trying to use this text to argue in favor of the doctrine of progression between kingdoms, arent you? Is that your underlying motive here, or not?

    Comment by Kurt — December 26, 2006 @ 5:56 am

  96. Kurt,

    I know that last comment was to Jacob but since I got mentioned in the comment I’ll respond.

    Your reading is excessively narrow.

    I disagree. We’ll let anyone following along be the judges for their selves though. What you call an excessively narrow reading I would call the only natural reading of the text. The alternative you are proposing (wherein you think the meat and mysteries God is holding back in 21-22 is the same as the tenets God is condemning in 31) is what I would describe as painfully strained. I suspect we’ll simply have to disagree on this though.

    But, even if you demand such a narrowly linear reading, then why is it the “these things” must speak of the eternity subject, and not the immediately preceding text of “at the time I withdrew my Spirit.”

    This is a decent response. It is less natural but a possibility nevertheless. The reason I think it is pretty unlikely that this is what “these things” is referring to is because the Lord calls “these things” meat/mysteries that should be shielded from the public until he is ready to tell all of the saints. I can’t imagine that it was a mystery to any of the saints in 1830 that having the Lord withdraw his spirit was a bad and uncomfortable thing. But the new definition of the word “endless” was certainly a mystery prior to this revelation.

    The Lord is not teaching something new, He is clarifying an ambiguity that is hard for some to understand.

    You have said this over and over and I think it is just plain wrong. Explain to me how the word “endless” in a theological/scriptural setting was remotely ambiguous. How could it have meant anything besides, well, endless? In the Book of Mormon the word is used in completely unambiguous ways.

    If this text is referring to this thing you think it was and was some new novel doctrine that was to be held back from the Church in general, then why did the early church leaders, including Smith who received the revelation, publish it immediately and not hold it back to hide it?

    First, thanks for that link. It is very useful and interesting info.

    In response to your question: The Book of Commandments was said to have been first published in Jackson MO in 1833. The first version of the D&C was published in Kirtland in 1835. This is what the intro to the current D&C says:

    A number of the revelations were published in Zion (Independence), Missouri, in 1833, under the title A Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ. Concerning this publication the elders of the Church gave solemn testimony that the Lord had borne record to their souls that these revelations were true. As the Lord continued to communicate with his servants, an enlarged compilation was published two years later in Kirtland, Ohio, with the title Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

    So it seems the saints could handle these truths in 1833 and 1835 even if these mysteries were too much meat for them in 1830. The changes in 1835 apparently resulted from the Lord and Joseph fitting the original revelation for a more general consumption among all of the saints.

    What is does say is the torment will end. And that is not a novel doctrine either.

    What are you talking about? Of course the new definition of “endless” is a novel doctrine. The Book of Mormon is full of warnings about endless torment and endless wo.

    You two are trying to use this text to argue in favor of the doctrine of progression between kingdoms, arent you?

    I hate to break it to you, but Jacob and I never discussed this section or my post before I put it up. Further, we have extremely different ideas about how progression works before and after this life. My guess is that he and I are agreeing because we both see the most natural reading of this revelation and recognize some of the implications. We apparently also agree that the reading you are trying to give the text is just too strained and ultimately untenable.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 26, 2006 @ 9:54 am

  97. Kurt: At no point in this revelation does it say eternal damnation has an end.

    That is an interesting claim.

    6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. (D&C:19, italics in original)

    Perhaps this is another case of you thinking that the plain meaning of English words is too narrow a reading? It says in verse 6 there is no end to eternal torment, and then begins verse 7 with “again, it is written eternal damnation…” On what basis are you arguing that it doesn’t say eternal damnation has an end?

    The fact that you are just now “discovering my motives” is quite frustrating on two counts. First, you should be trying to discover my point, not my motives (but your accusation about progression between kingdoms demonstrates that you used the word “motives” advisedly). Second, if you are just now catching on to what I am saying (which your #95 also demonstrates) it means you have not been reading my comments very carefully.

    [Edited out lat paragraph – Admin]

    Comment by Jacob — December 26, 2006 @ 11:20 am

  98. [Note – Personal attacks edited out. -Admin]

    Geoff,

    What are you talking about? Of course the new definition of “endless” is a novel doctrine. The Book of Mormon is full of warnings about endless torment and endless wo.

    And it also contains text talking about it ending, take 2 Ne 9 for example. It says the Atonement can deliver us from endless torment. So, eternal torment ends. Where is the novel doctrine?. I see none. If there is no novel doctrine, then there is nothing to hide from the world, is there? No.

    The only thing novel here is your attempt to say that eternal damnation has an end, when it doesnt. Or are you not agreeing with Jacob’s assertion?

    So it seems the saints could handle these truths in 1833 and 1835 even if these mysteries were too much meat for them in 1830. The changes in 1835 apparently resulted from the Lord and Joseph fitting the original revelation for a more general consumption among all of the saints.

    Yes, indeed, the Church made such great doctrinal and spiritual progress between 1830 and 1833 that the Lord approved the formerly tightly held secret text of D&C 19 to go to the masses, which would explain why the United Order did so well in Kirtland and Zion got established in Missouri with no problems. Which also explains why Smith said “There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation,” Joseph once said. “It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the Saints are slow to understand” (History of the Church, 6:184). Fitting the revelation for more general consumption? What? You two were formerly arguing that missing phrase was evidence the revelation should be held back from the masses, now that it is shown to not be that, you say it makes it more fitting for the masses? Huh?

    I hate to break it to you, but Jacob and I never discussed this section or my post before I put it up. Further, we have extremely different ideas about how progression works before and after this life. My guess is that he and I are agreeing because we both see the most natural reading of this revelation and recognize some of the implications.

    You didnt answer my question Geoff, did you? The question I asked is “You two are trying to use this text to argue in favor of the doctrine of progression between kingdoms, arent you?” Answer the question. You accuse me of being evasive, now you are evading. There is nothing natural about your reading, it is a mass of contradictions built solely to support a doctrine that you espouse.

    …excruciatingly strained and ultimately untenable

    Like ignoring blatantly obvious parallels in the very same text which provide clear and simple self-interpretations? Like having [a] contextual understanding of what the milk versus meat thing means in the Scriptures [that is different than mine]? Like fabricating novel doctrines that are entirely without parallel and unsupporting Scriptural text? Not a compelling accusation, Geoff.

    Jacob,

    Perhaps this is another case of you thinking that the plain meaning of English words is too narrow a reading? It says in verse 6 there is no end to eternal torment, and then begins verse 7 with “again, it is written eternal damnation…” On what basis are you arguing that it doesn’t say eternal damnation has an end?

    Because “damnation” and “torment” are not theological synonyms, not by any stretch of the imagination. Are you saying they are? You are apparently attempting to make them synonyms by virture of “again, it is written”? Attempting to equate these two things is to pretend D&C 76 does not say what is says. If you want to see a plain English equation, take a look at v. 11 & 12. Verses 6 and 7 are not an equation, they are a list of topically related terms that are not synonyms.

    Discovering your motives, and not your point, is most important because it reveals what your true intentions are. […]

    Comment by Kurt — December 26, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  99. Kurt,

    Easy there Pancho. No need to have an aneurysm over this stuff. We’re just debating some texts after all. Nobody here ran over your dog.

    take 2 Ne 9 for example. It says the Atonement can deliver us from endless torment.

    That is a weak example. There is nothing novel about the idea that through the atonement people can repent in this life and thus prevent the punishment of endless torment. The novel doctrine is that people who die in their wickedness and deserve to go to hell will also eventually be delivered from torment. That is the mystery that God wanted kept from the world in 1830.

    The only thing novel here is your attempt to say that eternal damnation has an end, when it doesnt.

    As I said way back in #6:

    Your opinion that anything but Celestial glory constitutes a form of eternal damnation has a long tradition in the church but it is a disputed notion. There are several schools of thought on that subject and many LDS [including apostles over the years] hold that everything other than outer darkness is salvation and not a form of damnation at all.

    Yes, indeed, the Church made such great doctrinal and spiritual progress between 1830 and 1833

    I hope you are not implying that sufficient spiritual progress could not have been made to prepare the church for that revelation between its founding in 1830 and its rapid growth in the mid 30’s. That would be a ridiculous claim after all…

    Fitting the revelation for more general consumption? What?

    Check out this really interesting link I just learned about. It shows that Joseph amended the text in 1835 to make it more applicable to all readers (and less applicable to Martin Harris alone). That is what I meant by fitting the revelation for more general consumption. Plus Joseph was clarifying some passages there.

    The question I asked is “You two are trying to use this text to argue in favor of the doctrine of progression between kingdoms, arent you?” Answer the question.

    Hehe… Sheesh — you are worked up in quite a lather aren’t you? (Please don’t kick your other dog over this).

    Ok, here is my answer…

    Are you ready? The answer is:

    No.

    (Now please don’t go calling me a liar because I am telling the truth. I wrote the post because I think it is a very interesting subject that could have thousands of theological implications — not because I am setting up to defend one theological point.)

    Not a compelling accusation, Geoff.

    I am not shocked that you are not convinced. We’ll have to let anyone who might read along here decide which reading they find more compelling I guess.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 26, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

  100. BTW Kurt, I just thought of a question for you:

    Are you trying to use the text in order to argue against the idea of progression between kingdoms?

    If not, what is your motivation? In other words, what are your true intentions in this disagreement?

    (If are going to ask Jacob and me our motivations then you should also tell yours)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 26, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  101. Ok, I’ve been thinking through the last few exchanges and now I have another question that is baffling me:

    Why would believing that the Lord introduced a novel doctrine and new definitions of the words eternal and endless provide solid support for the notion that there is progression between kingdoms?

    Kurt accused Jacob and me of reading the texts to support progression between kingdoms (which is just not true) but having given it some thought I don’t think it even makes sense. Why couldn’t someone simply believe that there is no progression between kingdoms even though damnation and torment are not endless? Many LDS I know assume just that. They consider the lower kingdoms forms of salvation and not a form of damnation at all but also believe there is no progression between kingdoms.

    In other words, not only is Kurt’s accusation about our motivations untrue; it doesn’t even make any sense to me. Am I missing something on this? Is there a reason why the straightforward reading of section 19 I am arguing for somehow proves (or even strongly supports) progression between kingdoms?

    Comment by Geoff J — December 26, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  102. Kurt,

    Because “damnation” and “torment” are not theological synonyms, not by any stretch of the imagination. Are you saying they are?

    I never said they were synonyms. I pointed out that D&C 19:6-7 mentions both terms specifically (both “endless torment” and “eternal damnation”) and applies the same argument to both terms–despite your claim to the contrary.

    Attempting to equate these two things is to pretend D&C 76:44 does not say what is says.

    What are you claiming D&C 76:44 says in opposition to my reading of D&C 19:6-7? I could guess, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

    Comment by Jacob — December 26, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  103. Geoff #99

    Easy there Pancho. No need to have an aneurysm over this stuff. We’re just debating some texts after all. Nobody here ran over your dog.

    Your repeated petty accusations of my being emotionally overwrought are ad hominems, Geoff. Unimpressive. They add nothing substantive to the conversation, and do more to show your emotional state than mine.

    That is a weak example. There is nothing novel about the idea that through the atonement people can repent in this life and thus prevent the punishment of endless torment. The novel doctrine is that people who die in their wickedness and deserve to go to hell will also eventually be delivered from torment. That is the mystery that God wanted kept from the world in 1830.

    It is only a weak example because you do not want to admit that something labeled “endless” ends and something labeled as “forever” isnt. The delivery from torment is spoken of explicitly in D&C 76 and elsewhere. That is not the argument here, there argument here is over whether people who are damned can be undamned. Keep on track, Geoff, unless you are now parting company with Jacob?

    I hope you are not implying that sufficient spiritual progress could not have been made to prepare the church for that revelation between its founding in 1830 and its rapid growth in the mid 30’s. That would be a ridiculous claim after all…

    We are not talking about possibilities, we are talking about historical realities. And your supposition that the Church progressed sufficiently between 1830 and 1833 to have this alleged hidden doctrine exposed is what is ridicilous. The historical and revelatory record shows considerable evidence to mitigate any such speculative possibility you suggest.

    But, all you really are trying to do now is change the subject away from the fact that you have changed positions on the originally absent (1833) then added (1835) passage, which completely undermines your first position on the passage.

    Hehe… Sheesh — you are worked up in quite a lather aren’t you? (Please don’t kick your other dog over this).

    More inane ad hominems from someone who would rather change the subject than admit his original reading on “until it is wisdom in me” was wrong.

    I am not shocked that you are not convinced. We’ll have to let anyone who might read along here decide which reading they find more compelling I guess.

    When every argument you guys have posited to support your position has been kicked out from under you, and you keep having to resort to personal attacks, it isnt hard for anyone reading along to figure out what is going on.

    Geoff #100

    If not, what is your motivation? In other words, what are your true intentions in this disagreement?

    One of us has a web archive with hundreds of pages of rigorous Scriptural exegesis, and one of has a blog with hundreds of pages of private speculations. One of us in this argument has consistently applied rigorous exegetical techniques, and two of us have played duck and cover when their arguments are kicked out from under them. If that doesnt indicate what people’s intentions are, I dont know what will.

    Geoff #101

    Kurt accused Jacob and me of reading the texts to support progression between kingdoms (which is just not true) but having given it some thought I don’t think it even makes sense. Why couldn’t someone simply believe that there is no progression between kingdoms even though damnation and torment are not endless? Many LDS I know assume just that. They consider the lower kingdoms forms of salvation and not a form of damnation at all but also believe there is no progression between kingdoms.

    Anyone not participating in the eternal lives, as described in D&C 132 has their progressions stopped, and is damned. This is what D&C 132 is talking about “continuation of the seeds forever and ever” and damnation when one fails to succesfully enter into this covenant. I suggest you read it sometime, it might help you make some sense of things. Then again, you havent ever had much use for the Scriptures that contradict your personal speculations, so it might not.

    Jacob #102

    I never said they were synonyms. I pointed out that D&C 19:6-7 mentions both terms specifically (both “endless torment” and “eternal damnation”) and applies the same argument to both terms–despite your claim to the contrary.

    No, it does not apply the same argument to both. Verse 6 says “it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment”, verse 7 does not say this for eternal damnation. You are attempting to equate or conflate the two non-synonymous terms in an effort to say that eternal damnation ends, when it doesnt.

    What are you claiming D&C 76:44 says in opposition to my reading of D&C 19:6-7? I could guess, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

    It makes it perfectly clear that torment ends for all except sons of perdition, who’s worm dieth not, but those in terrestrial and telestial glory, while redeemed from the torment are still damned in their progression. Thus, D&C 76 makes it plain torment and damnation are two entirely different things, and while torment can and will end for most, damnation is permanent.

    Comment by Kurt — December 27, 2006 @ 5:37 am

  104. Ok, this is really going long. I can’t even recall what either of your points were.

    Honestly, why are the two of you so nasty to each other? It’s like some sort of love triangle, where the Gospel is the amazingly beautiful lady you are fighting over.

    Here is what I think your points were.

    Geoff: God explained Endless and Eternal in D&C 19 because before this point he had allowed people to have an incorrect understanding because they were not ready for a correct understanding. Further, Jesus tells JS that the word endless and the word eternal were allowed as they were more “express” than other terms he could have used.

    Kurt: God further explained his already established idea that people of telestial and terestrial Glory will be less than those of celestial glory, but that their torment will end, though their progression will not continue.

    Jacob: I think Jacob is agreeing with Geoff.

    Me: I am just idly speculating, except to point out that express to Joseph Smith seems to mean “precise”.

    This thread has sort of given me ADHD, as every time I come across something that feels venomous, I sort of lose my attention here, which is just about every other sentence.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 8:20 am

  105. Matt W.,

    Geoff and Jacob: D&C 19 contains meaty novel doctrine that had to be hidden from the Church and world, which novel doctrine is that eternal damnation is not eternal.

    Kurt: D&C 19 contains no novel doctrine, is not meaty, was not hidden from the world, and is about Martin Harris’ pride, is trying to get him to repent of it, and not really much else.

    Comment by Kurt — December 27, 2006 @ 9:19 am

  106. Kurt:

    Very succinct. I appreciate that. I do have some follow up questions. Why do you feel that Jesus needed to state vs. 1-19 to Mr. Harris? Why do you feel these verses were not New ideas or unrelated to the “meat” of the Gospel?

    Geoff or Jacob, you can play along too, if you like.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 9:57 am

  107. Ok Kurt, I see that a core issue for you in this discussion is summed up in this sentence from #103:

    Anyone not participating in the eternal lives, as described in D&C 132 has their progressions stopped, and is damned.

    The massive problem you face with your claim is that you have conflated the the word “damned” with “dammed”. Can you show me a dictionary that defines damned as synonymous with damned? Your claim that damnation equated to spiritual damming is nothing but speculation (this isn’t an example of the “rigorous Scriptural exegesis” you are so pleased with yourself about is it? (grin)) Now granted, you will find support over the pulpit from some church leaders for your position that damned means spiritually dammed but that is not an accurate use of the words and it is not revelation.

    So the easy way out of your predicament is to simply give up the erroneous assumption that being damned is the same as being dammed. That way you need not give credence to the idea of progression between kingdoms (which I assume you oppose) while still leaving room for the natural reading of section 19. In other words, even if the progression of non-exalted people is stopped forever they are not damned forever. Prior to the Lord giving section 19 the saints believed that a wicked person would be damned (defined in English as tormented, punished, condemned, doomed, etc.) forever. Section 19 did away with that assumption and opened the door for the later section 76.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 10:25 am

  108. Nice post. Forgive me for skimming–

    I know that what I’m about to say is debatable, but–as it is presented in the scriptures–it seems that Christ endured an infinite amount of suffering in a relatively short period of time.

    Perhaps our modern notion of “endless” became less compatible with the scriptures when science moved into the driver’s seat with regard to cosmology.

    Comment by Jack — December 27, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  109. Jack, this is a very interesting point to me. After all, what is the difference between endless, eternal, and infinite?

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 11:04 am

  110. Matt #106

    Why do you feel that Jesus needed to state vs. 1-19 to Mr. Harris?

    See comment #87, paragraph 4.

    Why do you feel these verses were not New ideas

    See comment #98, paragraphs 2 and 11.

    or unrelated to the “meat” of the Gospel?

    See comment #93.

    Geoff #107

    The word used in D&C 132 is “damned”, with an “n”, and not “dammed”. D&C 19 did not open the door for D&C 76, because D&C 76 contradicts your and Jacob’s position that eternal damnation has an end. It says that eternal torment and suffering ends because they are redeemed (all but SofP), but they are still damned to hell. Those in terrestrial and telestial glory are redeemed from their torment, but not their damnation, they are still damned as D&C 132 explicitly states. Geoff, go and read what D&C 132 says, seriously. Last I heard D&C 132 was a revelation.

    And, Geoff, I dont know what dictionary you are using, but an unbiased source shows yours to be flawed, since you have omitted the legalistic implications that are unrelated to suffering and torment. But, regardless, I dont have to equate “dammed” with “damned” as you insist. All I have to do is refer you to D&C 132, which completely contradicts what you are saying.

    Comment by Kurt — December 27, 2006 @ 11:15 am

  111. 6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. (D&C:19, italics in original)

    Kurt, (#103)

    I am amazed you are holding on to your position that these verses do not say eternal punishment has an end. The word “again” to begin verse 7 is intended to apply the argument from 6 to an additional term “eternal punishment,” and the last half of verse 7 about it being more express applies to both terms. Verses 6 and 7 are part of one thought. It is hardly rigorous exegesis to claim that verse 6 is a different thought than verse 7 when verse 6 says “it is written” and verse 7 says “again, it is written.”

    If it were not already plain enough, verses 11 and 12 explicitely apply the argument to both words “endless” and “eternal” in a parallel fashion.

    11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
    12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment. (D&C 19)

    The word “eternal” in verse 11 is from the term “eternal punishment” in verse 7 and the word “endless” in verse 12 is from the earlier term “endless torment” in verse 6. There is no other way to read verse 11 than as applying the semantic argument about God’s name to “eternal punishment” and the only other place the word eternal appears in the revelation is verse 7 in “eternal damnation” where it is coupled with the term “endless torment.” Both terms are italicized in the text of the D&C making this abundantly clear.

    If we cannot agree on this, then I fear we cannot agree on anything.

    [D&C 76:44] makes it perfectly clear that torment ends for all except sons of perdition

    Not so:

    44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—
    45 And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows;
    46 Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof; (D&C 76)

    I am willing to accept that verse 45 allows for the possibility that the punishment spoken of has no end (inasmuch as verse 46 says it has not been revealed). However, it much more strongly implies the opposite of your position.

    First, verse 44 specifically uses both terms “eternal punishment” and “endless punishment” which were already described in D&C 19:11-12 as referring to God’s punishment rather implying something about duration.

    Second, verse 45 refers to “the end” of the punishment–“And the end thereof.” That phrase assumes an end in order to refer to it. As I said, this does not, by itself, prove there is an end to the punishment, but it makes it difficult to use this as a proof-text that there is no end.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 11:19 am

  112. Matt, (#104)

    Honestly, why are the two of you so nasty to each other?

    I am disappointed by the perpetually antagonistic tone as well.

    I am just idly speculating, except to point out that express to Joseph Smith seems to mean “precise”.

    While I appreciate your effort in comment #18, I don’t think this argument works because the passage doesn’t make sense if we substitute “precise” for “express.”

    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory. (D&C:19, italics in original)

    This verse states that the expressness of the way it is written is what makes it work upon the hearts of the children of men. It makes no sense to say that the precision of the term “eternal damnation” makes it work on the hearts of the children of men. Does it? It doubly makes no sense in the context of a passage which is explaining that the term “eternal damnation” was misunderstood by those same children of men whose hearts it is working on. If precision was what was needed, a misunderstanding would undermine the effort, rather than helping.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  113. Jacob #111

    Both terms are italicized in the text of the D&C making this abundantly clear.

    The italics were absent from the 1833 and 1835 versions, only added after the 1835 version. They are not equating or conflating, as you hope they are. The italics were added to connote the quotation implied by the “it is written”, appearing in both lines, so as to make it clear to the reader what portion is being referred to when it says “it is written”.

    The v. 11-12 parallel is hostile to your attempt because it is conflating “eternal” and “endless”, and the “punishment” is identical in both. Now, that is a parallelism, verses 6 and 7 are not and do not follow this pattern. The two words “torment” and “damnation” mean different things, they cannot be conflated anymore than apples and oranges can be conflated or equated. And, the two sentences in v. 6-7 are not structured identically as is v. 11-12. Verse 11-12 favor my reading on v. 6-7, not yours, because their structures are so blatantly dissimilar.

    If we cannot agree on this, then I fear we cannot agree on anything.

    You are right that we cannot agree on this. Which is fine with me, because D&C 132 supports my reading and contradicts yours. People are damned permanently, and you have to rely on the most tortured readings, which are riddled with problems and have external contradictions. Hey, if that is what you want, knock yourself out. Enjoy.

    Second, verse 45 refers to “the end” of the punishment–”And the end thereof.” That phrase assumes an end in order to refer to it.

    No, it doest. It is plain from the surrouding text the mean of the word “end” here is “outcome or result” and not “point of termination”. The verse is talking about the experience SofP have which is only revealed to them and nobody else, not the termination of their suffering, which was just explicitly labeled “endless”. But, the way your are twisting D&C 19:7 around, you will just do the same thing here.

    Comment by Kurt — December 27, 2006 @ 11:59 am

  114. Matt (#104): Honestly, why are the two of you so nasty to each other?

    Amen brother. And you should have seen some of the comments that were edited out! I have no idea what is causing all the acrimony. I have been trying to suppress the fires but have admittedly succumbed to jabbing back a bit myself. The general nasty and mean tone of this exchange has been very disappointing to me though.

    Kurt: The word used in D&C 132 is “damned”, with an “n”, and not “dammed”.

    Yep.

    D&C 76 contradicts your and Jacob’s position that eternal damnation has an end.

    Can you show me where section 76 does that? I don’t think it does.

    All I have to do is refer you to D&C 132, which completely contradicts what you are saying.

    Ok, what I’m saying is that that there is no endless torment or endless damnation for those who are not sons of perdition. Where does D&C 132 contradict that?

    The main question is: Is progression between kingdoms the issue that is really at stake here for you Kurt? I suppose that if it is I can see why you would be so vigorously opposed to the reading of section 19 that I and Jacob support after all.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  115. Jacob (#111),

    That passage you quoted from section 76 is referring to the sons of perdition, not to the non-exalted masses that Kurt is saying will be endlessly damned. So not only does section 76 say everyone except the sons of perdition are eventually saved and not damned, it also leaves open the possibility that even the sons of perdition may not be damned forever as you pointed out.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  116. Kurt,

    [Y]ou have to rely on the most tortured readings, which are riddled with problems and have external contradictions. Hey, if that is what you want, knock yourself out. Enjoy.

    I accept. Observers can compare my #111 and your #113 and decide for themselves which is more tortured and riddled with problems. I am happy to leave it at that.

    Geoff (#115), yep.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  117. Kurt: The two words “torment” and “damnation” mean different things, they cannot be conflated anymore than apples and oranges can be conflated or equated.

    Hmmm, you have claimed this several times now but I am highly skeptical… I actually do think these two words are loose synonyms in the scriptures. Since you don’t think being damned is synonymous with being tormented, what do you think the word damned means in scriptures?

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  118. Jacob:
    “Precise” may be the wrong term, perhaps “specific” or “exact” works better. I do not see a way to render the word as “expressive”.

    If I wanted to go with Geoff’s reading, we could discuss how “specific” does not equal “correct” and does render pretty much what you are getting at.

    FWIW, here’s my reading of it.

    1 It’s me Jesus
    2 I accomplished the atonement and because of this have power.
    3 I will use this power to stop evil at the end of the world and at the final judgment. At this judgment, I will judge everyone.
    4 Becasue of this judgment, I can say everyone must repent or suffer because I am “Endless”.
    5 I am not here retracting any former statements of my final judgment. It’s gonna be torment for those who do not repent.
    6 But I’ve never said that the torment would never end, I only said it would be “Endless”

    This verse I’ll leave alone, with the one change.
    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more “specific” than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
    8 You should know as the apostles did, so I will explain this “mystery” to you. (The Mystery being “Endless” not eqaul to having no end, I assume.)
    9 I say this to all the chosen, that they may enter into my rest. (To me this assumes it is for more than just Martin Harris)
    10 So here is the mystery. I, Jesus, am “endless” and my punishment is “endless” because “Endless” is my name.
    11 Eternal punishment is God’s (Jesus’) punishment.
    12 Endless punishment is God’s (Jesus’) punishment.

    Now, I hesitate to mention this, but Verses 3-5 do seem to point this toward the final judgment, and not toward the “partial” judgment. Of course, this is probably simply because Joseph and Company only currently knew there would be one Judgement, and learned line upon line, etc.

    Anyway, I hope this clears up why I feel express still can be rendered as “specific”, if not “precise”.

    The take away questions for me are why Jesus is declaring his name is “Endless” here. I hypothesize that this is a teaching which leads to Baptism for the Dead and to the concept of three degrees of Glory.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

  119. Matt (#118),

    It didn’t clear it up for me yet. In what way did the “specificity” of the terms “endless torment” and “eternal damnation” cause them to work upon the hearts of the children of men? What are these terms being specific about? What sort of word would have been less specific? Why would a less “specific” term have been less effective in working upon the hearts of the children of men?

    I am still having a hard time seeing how it makes sense with the word specific in there.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  120. Kurt:

    I went back and read the paragraphs and posts you noted and you make some very good points about meat, Martin Harris, and your view that Torment and Damnation are not equal.

    Here are my quick thoughts, if you are interested:
    1. I haven’t got to the “meat” verse yet in my reading of 19 (I stopped at 12), but in vs. 8-9, The Endless concept is called a Mystery, and is said to be given to all the chosen. I feel these expand the reading of this revelation beyond Martin Harris (and indeed this revelation is in D&C for our edification today.) I completely agree with your comment on meat (#93), but as this is a mystery given to Martin Harris via Joseph Smith, and regards the atonement of Christ, I would venture this is “good” meat. here I am asking for your understanding of vs. 8-9 and why you feel your Father in Heaven felt it was important that you know that “Endless” is his name…

    2. I have to admit I read Torment and Damnation here as having linked meanings in this context. Also, I am not sure I see how their having different meanings changes the overall reading, since they are contextually used the way they are. (Both are used are descriptors for Punishment, it seems to me.)I guess I am begging the question of “What difference does this make to you?”

    I am not arguing for anything in particualr in these statements, but am just expressing my layman’s reading of the scripture before me.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 1:12 pm

  121. Jacob (119)

    hmmm… Let me try again. Eternal damnation is more specific than damnation in that it denotes that the damnation is God’s Damnation. It thus works on the hearts of men in that they know that God owns the damnation, and thus has the power to take it away. That’s the way I am reading it, anyway.

    What modern English word would you replace “express” with? Perhaps it could also rationally work with the way Joseph Smith uses “express” in other contexts. (As I noted briefly in #18).

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

  122. FWIW-the Seminary Manual for D&C does not equate “express” with “specific” but with “Plain, clear” I don’t think that changes my reading at all though.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  123. Again from the Seminary Manual, FWIW:

    Doctrine and Covenants 19:6–12—Endless and Eternal Punishment

    The Lord revealed that the terms “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment” refer to the kind of punishment rather than to the length of the punishment. Endless punishment and eternal punishment are “God’s punishment” (D&C 19:11–12).

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “so long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation.

    “. . . The salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men, in order to triumph over the devil. . . . All will suffer until they obey Christ himself” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 357). Thus, punishment will eventually end for all except the sons of perdition, who eternally refuse to obey Christ (see D&C 76:33–44).

    However, as Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught, “Deliverance from hell is not admittance to heaven” (The Vitality of Mormonism [1919], 256). When the endless or eternal punishment—God’s punishment—has ended for those who receive it, they will receive their places in the kingdoms of glory. You will learn more about these judgments as you study Doctrine and Covenants 76.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  124. Geoff J.:

    Perhaps this ought to be a new thread, but I would be very interested in how you see these verses in relation to “Penal Substitution.” If it’s all been said before, just point me to the old post.

    I ask due to this quote:

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

    “Do these scriptures mean that a person who repents does not need to suffer at all because the entire punishment is borne by the Savior? That cannot be the meaning because it would be inconsistent with the Savior’s other teachings.

    “What is meant is that the person who repents does not need to suffer ‘even as’ the Savior suffered for that sin. Sinners who are repenting will experience some suffering, but, because of their repentance and because of the Atonement, they will not experience the full ‘exquisite’ extent of eternal torment the Savior suffered for that sin”

    (Sins, Crimes, and Atonement [address to religious educators, Feb. 7, 1992], 5).

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

  125. Geoff,

    Can you show me where section 76 does that? I don’t think it does.

    Of course you don’t.

    Ok, what I’m saying is that that there is no endless torment or endless damnation for those who are not sons of perdition. Where does D&C 132 contradict that?

    It explicitly states that anyone who or rejects or doesnt enter into and abide eternal marriage by proper authority is damned, cf. D&C 132:4-6. It is obvious that anyone who is in tel or terr glory has not entered into and abided this covenant. The plain equation is made that anyone not participating in “eternal lives” is damned.

    The only way you can argue your way out of this is to argue that those in tel or terr glory can get up into the topmost level of the celestial kingdom.

    The main question is: Is progression between kingdoms the issue that is really at stake here for you Kurt? I suppose that if it is I can see why you would be so vigorously opposed to the reading of section 19 that I and Jacob support after all.

    The reason I am opposed to your reading of D&C 19 is because it is wrong. End of story. There are right readings and there are wrong readings. That is what is at stake for me, a good reading as opposed to a bad one. There is a text, the text has good readings and bad readings. That is all I am interested in.

    Hmmm, you have claimed this several times now but I am highly skeptical… I actually do think these two words are loose synonyms in the scriptures. Since you don’t think being damned is synonymous with being tormented, what do you think the word damned means in scriptures?

    Sorry, Geoff, I am not interested in this tangent.

    Comment by Kurt — December 27, 2006 @ 1:38 pm

  126. Ok Kurt,

    Your non answer to my challenge of you claim that “D&C 76 contradicts your and Jacob’s position that eternal damnation has an end” must be your admission that D&C 76 does no such thing. I’ll take it.

    Regarding good readings and bad readings of the texts: Saying one’s interpretation is correct does not make it so. Apparently we have reached an impasse on that subject.

    Sorry, Geoff, I am not interested in this tangent.

    I hardly think asking you to give your definition of the word damned (which you say is not synonymous with tormented) was a tangent since you are the one pushing your pet speculation that damnation is eternal and endless for everyone except the people who are exalted.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  127. Geoff J:

    If I could venture a Guess, I would say Kurt’s concept is related to this Mormon Doctrine entry into the Institute Manual:

    D&C 19:7. Is There a Difference between Eternal Punishment and Eternal Damnation?
    Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained the difference between these two terms:

    “Eternal damnation is the opposite of eternal life, and all those who do not gain eternal life, or exaltation in the highest heaven within the celestial kingdom, are partakers of eternal damnation. Their eternal condemnation is to have limitations imposed upon them so that they cannot progress to the state of godhood and gain a fulness of all things.

    “They ‘remain separately and singly, without exaltation, . . . to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.’ (D. & C. 132:17.) Their kingdom or progress has an ‘end,’ and they ‘cannot have an increase.’ (D. & C. 131:4.) Spirit children are denied to them to all eternity, and they inherit ‘the deaths,’ meaning an absence of posterity in the resurrection. (D. & C. 132:16–25.)

    “They are never redeemed from their spiritual fall and taken back into the full presence and glory of God. Only the obedient are ‘raised in immortality unto eternal life.’ The disobedient, ‘they that believe not,’ are raised in immortality ‘unto eternal damnation; for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not.’ (D. & C. 29:42–44.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 234.)

    Am I right Kurt?

    Comment by Matt W. — December 27, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

  128. Matt,

    Perhaps this ought to be a new thread, but I would be very interested in how you see these verses in relation to “Penal Substitution.” If it’s all been said before, just point me to the old post.

    The monster thread about Blake’s atonement theory talks ad nauseum about the implications of D&C 19 on atonement theory. Just search for “D&C 19″ and you can follow a whole train of discussion. (Don’t miss comments #170 and #190 [grin])

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

  129. They read as loosely parallel to me–much like the parallelisms in Isaiah.

    Matt,

    I don’t have a good answer to your question (comment #109). My sense is that we should be careful not to overly “systematize” them. “Endless,” “eternal,” and “infinite” seem more poetic rather than doctrinal in their dissimilarities–to me, at any rate. And certainly, from a scientific PoV, they become quite interchangible.

    Comment by Jack — December 27, 2006 @ 2:15 pm

  130. Geoff (#126),

    Your non answer to my challenge of you claim that “D&C 76 contradicts your and Jacob’s position that eternal damnation has an end” must be your admission that D&C 76 does no such thing. I’ll take it.

    I think Kurt is referring to what he said in the last paragraph of #103, which I responded to in #111 an he responded back to in #113.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  131. Matt (#127) – Yep. That is the pet speculation I am referring to. As I said, some leaders of the church have been fond of this one and BRM is one of those leaders. (Others have preached the opposite and I think the scriptures do as well).

    Jacob (#130) – Ahh, I see. You are probably right. I certainly am not going to push hard on the idea that the sons of perdition might have an end to their torment/damnation.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

  132. Geoff (#131),

    I am not pushing hard on the idea that sons of perdition might have an end to their torment either (as you can see from my #111). I am, on the other hand, pushing hard on the fact that D&C 76:44-46 does not prove eternal damnation has no end, which was the point under debate.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  133. I’m with you Jacob. I didn’t mean to imply you meant that. Sorry.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

  134. Hello everyone,

    This has been an interesting discussion. I too have felt the spirit of contention that makes me feel less than good. I do appreciate the fact that most of the time folks tend to keep a good spirit of discussion here.

    I think I used to see things the way Kurt seems to see things. But after hanging out on places like this for a number of years now, I see things as being more gray than black or white. And I think BRM and his writing’s tended to make things black and white, which influenced a couple of generations of LDS. I am glad we are moving away from some of his ideas.

    I think the fact that the Church does not have an official position on progression between kingdoms should speak loud enough for all to be more tolerant on the idea of such things.

    Just a few weeks ago, there was a discussion on D&C 19 over at LDS-Phil. I believe the general consensus was, in light of that scripture, we should have more room in our discussions about a lot of things, because we just do not know what else the Lord might decide to reveal to us that could change our understanding of other things.

    I guess what I am saying, is that I am on the side of Geoff and Jacob on this one. Not that my opinion adds any weight to such a matter.

    As an aside, after watching “Can Rick Warren Save The World?” on TV, I thought of this question that I thought would make for an interesting discussion. If you were God and wanted to send a very important message to the world, would you choose to do so through the Pope, Rick Warren, or the Prophet of the LDS Church? I am curious how others would see such a thing.

    PS – I am being very patient Geoff, I am still waiting for a discussion about “What’s So Amazing About Grace? :)

    CEF

    Comment by CEF — December 27, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  135. Just two things here I have picked up on.

    The first is the discussion and meaning of damnation as is used in section 132. In that section, if you read carefully,- it does not mean that those who are not married are damned. It means that to those who receive a fulness of glory must abide the law, and if they do not abide the new and everlasting covenant after entering into it, then they will be damned. Damned means to be delivered up to the devil. Damned always means to be delivered up to the devil or the suffering of those in hell already. If you continue to read in the section it specifically reinforces this doctrine by saying that although a person may enter into his exaltation, if he has been guilty of sins, small or great (not abiding in new and everlasting covenant) upon death he will be delivered up unto the devil and his buffetings until his day of redemption.

    The second point to bring up is the concept of eternal damnation in the early years of the church. It has been brought up that section 76 verses 44-46 is not refering to the same concept vof punishment as is discussed in section 19. Ifr I may interject here and say- If the scriptures says “again it is written”, then does this not refer to the times when it speaks of this suffering?

    Everyone seems to want to discount that this suffering as is spoken of in section 19 does not refer to the SoP, when in fact the evidence points directly at it! I think this is done to try to explain “progression between kingdoms”.

    Progressiuon through kingdoms is an eternal reality! Our very temple even teaches us that we progress through the lower kingdoms to get to the higher kingdoms! This earth right now is the telestial kingdom according to the language of the temple and I am certainly not “damned” right now!

    Comment by robosborn — December 27, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  136. CEF,

    Not ten minutes before you commented, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen you here for awhile and I wondered what became of Geoff’s promise to review the grace book. I kid you not. Weird. (Maybe it was seeing Jack comment that did it. For some reason, I associate the two of you; I think I first read both of you when you were discussing grace on one of the blogs.) Anyway, glad to hear from you again.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  137. Rob (#135),

    It has been brought up that section 76 verses 44-46 is not refering to the same concept of punishment as is discussed in section 19.

    D&C 76:43-46 specifically speaks about the “sons of perdition” (vs 43), and it speaks of “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment” just as D&C 19 does. So, it is reasonable to say that D&C 19 applies to sons of perdition. I agree with you to this point. However, I do not think you are justified in restricting D&C 19 to apply only to sons of perdition. That is where I part company with you. D&C 76:84 says the telestials are “thrust down to hell” for a time, so D&C 19 seems to apply perfectly well to them.

    If I may interject here and say- If the scriptures says “again it is written”, then does this not refer to the times when it speaks of this suffering?

    D&C 19 (which is the section saying “again, it is written”) was received two years before D&C 76, so no, “again it is written” does not refer to a future revelation. You are claiming that this “again it is written” links D&C 19 to D&C 76, right?

    The “again” is in reference to another “it is written.” The first one is in verse 6 and speaks of “endless torment.” The second one is in verse 7 and speaks of “eternal damnation.” Thus: “it is written endless torment, and again, it is written eternal damnation.” You need look no further than D&C 19:6-7.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  138. In light of this discussion, I read this verse from D&C 88 with new eyes:

    32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

    I see now that this verse implies a chronology of sorts with respect to the fate of the sons of perdition–especially when coupled with preceding verses. It seems that the “quickening” refered to occures only after sufficient preparation on the part of the recipient has taken place–which preparation is made possible either by accepting Christ’s suffering or by enduring a like suffering on one’s own.

    If such is the case then it seems that this verse bespeaks the notion that the SoPs are quikened *after* their torment and then return again (the word “again” implying a former place or circumstance) to their own place to enjoy what they’re willing to receive (the word “enjoy” implying a return to the former place but without the torment).

    Is this too strained a reading?

    Comment by Jack — December 27, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  139. Hey CEF,

    Thanks for the reminder. I will try to finish that book and post on it in the next week or two!

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  140. Jack (#138),

    I mostly agree with your reading. The “quickening” seems to be a direct reference to the resurrection (see vs. 16-17).

    which preparation is made possible either by accepting Christ’s suffering or by enduring a like suffering on one’s own.

    I would disagree with this. The preceding verses tie the preparation to an ability to live law, not to an amount of suffering. As you may know, I reject penal-substitution, so I hate to see it read into a text where it doesn’t exist.

    the word “enjoy” implying a return to the former place but without the torment

    As to the final state of the sons of perdition, I have no position on if their torment stops at that point and they get to “enjoy” something, or if it means they are not willing to enjoy anything, so they go back to “enjoy” their suffering. Verse 35 doesn’t make it sound great. Whenever God specifically says he has not revealed something (D&C 76:43-46) I am hesitatant to guess.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 4:55 pm

  141. Jacob,

    My real point has to do with the chronology couched in the verse which seems to suggest that the quickening of the SoPs comes after a torment of sorts–as it does for those who will enter a telestial glory and what-not–implying that the torment may not continue after the resurrection.

    As to “penal substitution”–perhaps I’m wrong in presuming that the above mentioned torment has something to do with a preparation of sorts. It is, however, noteworthy (imo) that the ressurection does not occure (at least for those of a telestial order) until such torment has been experienced. Now whether or not this smacks of “penal substitution” I cannot say. However, it seems to me that faith in Christ provides an escape from such torment even if the means of escape amounts to one being enabled to live the requisit laws–of course, that approach doesn’t set perfectly well with me either.

    Comment by Jack — December 27, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

  142. Jack,

    Ok, I see what you are getting at. I agree about the chronology. Good point.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 27, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

  143. Jacob,

    You’re too nice. But then again, Ill give you the benefit of the doubt because I like it when smart people agree with me. :>)

    Comment by Jack — December 27, 2006 @ 6:06 pm

  144. Jacob,

    I agree with you on the timing of the two sections (76 & 19) the one being after the other. The point I bring up here is that timing is of no issue to God- he speaks and thus it is. So a future revelation using the same wording can and should be used to describe an earlier revelation. It is a reinforcement doctrine.

    With that said, eternal damnation is the type of suffering coming after resurrection and not before. Arguments could be made I suppose to the likes of what time reference is spoken of in this section (19), but what shouldn’t be in dispute here is trying to figure out what Joseph meant here and what his logic was on his own line upon line doctrine. It is not the Church of Joseph Smith. What Christ or God says in this section goes perfectly along with what he has always said and what has always been written.

    D&C 76 is what makes section 19 so confusing though! This section contains in Joseph’s words what he saw in his vision. What is not made clear though is the timing of the events of the various worlds of glory. So what we are left with to try to decipher is what exactly section 76 means to us, and our ongoing progress towards the Celestial Kingdom.

    I believe we have made a few errors in our understanding of the vision captured in Joseph’s words found now in section 76. When it says that the telestial are thrust down to hell, can we really associate this torment with that spoken of in section 19? There are no real ties with Telestial and endless torment! If one takes a literal eternal perspective of what a “telestial” is, he will only find himself in his own journey through mortality. Some of these “telestials” will be “thrust down to hell”, while others will be “heirs of salvation”, while even still others of this Telestial kingdom will go on to die the second death becoming sons of perdition (verse 103, see footnote).

    So in that light I think it is very hard to assume that somehow section 19 describes the condition of “all” telestial inhabitants, especially when the wording used is time specific to the last judgement.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 27, 2006 @ 7:39 pm

  145. Regarding good readings and bad readings of the texts: Saying one’s interpretation is correct does not make it so. Apparently we have reached an impasse on that subject.

    Geoff, I have repeatedly shown your interpretations on the Scriptures in question to be flawed. You have yet to show one demonstrable error in my readings. All you and Jacob have been able to do is quibble over ambiguous texts. I have shown your blatant errors in interpretation and exposed your complete ignorance of the history of the text. How is that an impasse? All you do is change the subject and run down different tangents.

    I hardly think asking you to give your definition of the word damned (which you say is not synonymous with tormented) was a tangent since you are the one pushing your pet speculation that damnation is eternal and endless for everyone except the people who are exalted.

    Geoff, pick up your D&C and read section 132. What does it say about anyone who doesnt enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and abide that law? Its says they are damned. I have pointed you to this passage repeatedly, and yet you ignore it, over and over again. I also provided you with a link to the dictionary.com reference for “damn”, which happened to be at odds with your own. Those are my definitions, Geoff. The reason I am not interested in discussing it with you any further is because you will just ignore what I say, and dissemble, and run down tangents, like you have in this entire thread. Nothing will change, because regardless of the evidence, you have already made your mind up.

    Have fun, Geoff. Knock yourself out. Be smart like Jacob and just let it go. I dont care what you think anymore, go and believe whatever you want.

    Comment by Kurt — December 27, 2006 @ 8:26 pm

  146. Alright Kurt, you are right — I need to let this go.

    I apologize for getting into it with you in this thread. I should not have done so — it is not in harmony with who and what I hope to be.

    Obviously we disagree about these things but I don’t want to be disagreeable in the process. Sorry about adding to the contention fire. I could and should have handled things better in this thread.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2006 @ 9:25 pm

  147. Rob (#144),

    [E]ternal damnation is the type of suffering coming after resurrection and not before.

    When it says that the telestial are thrust down to hell, can we really associate this torment with that spoken of in section 19? There are no real ties with Telestial and endless torment!

    I know you have a radical idea about how to reinterpret D&C 76 to maintain a single heaven and a single hell, making all of the kingdoms of glory pre-resurrection only. I just don’t think the text works with your theory. Your claims above are a good example.

    There absolutely is a tie between telestials and endless torment. Here are two sets of verses speaking about the telestials. Notice that 84-85 are nearly parallel to 105-106:

    84 These are they who are thrust down to hell.
    85 These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.

    105 These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.
    106 These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work;

    These verses put the suffering in hell chronologically before the resurrection. That suffering in hell is called “the vengeance of eternal fire” in verse 105. It is called “the wrath of Almighty God” in verse 106. D&C 19:11 says eternal punishment is God’s punishment. So yes, in answer to your question, we can associate this suffering with the suffering described in D&C 19. These verses contradict your claims about the chronology of the suffering as well as your claim that there is no tie between telestials and endless torment. The verses above don’t use the term “endless torment,” but the phrases above express the exact same concept (and use almost the same language–“eternal fire”).

    D&C 88:27-31 explicitely puts telestial, terrestrial, and celestial glories after the resurrection, which further undermines your reinterpretation.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 28, 2006 @ 12:38 am

  148. I liked your post, Geoff. And I think your answer to the debate lies within the concept your post brought out. Alma presents that hell is not a place or time, but a state of mind. So when does this state of mind begin? It must begin when we have committed the sin. The demands of divine justice awaken our immortal soul to a lively sense of our own guilt. In other words we then begin to suffer hell within ourselves. We will suffer this hell until either we are finally satisfied that we have suffered enough, or we change and accept the atonement of Christ to remove the pain and leave us with peace (he suffering the pain for us). Once our sense of justice is satisfied we are free from the hell the sin causes. When we have suffered for all of them the hell part is over. Other consequences to our choice of path are another matter.

    Comment by Doug Towers — December 28, 2006 @ 3:51 am

  149. One thing I have found interesting about this whole exercise is that, with the exception of the one outlier by BRM (which honestly just seems to not be related to D&C 19 and has given me cause to think that in the Case of D&C 19 atleast, the Seminary Manual is superior to the Institute Manual.) The Majority of exegesis that has gone through correlation seems to agree with Geoff (Albeit in a toned down fashion, using less argumentative terms.) In Fact, Joseph Fielding Smith noted that D&C contained some of the most important doctrines, and was definitely in his opinion “Meat” and “Novel.” (This from the Institute Manual.)

    I think the difference in tone may be due to the different understanding of the meaning of the word “express”, but I think Geoff, that you have clarified your point is not “God used deception” but is “God allowed error.”

    Comment by Matt W. — December 28, 2006 @ 9:22 am

  150. Jacob,

    The vengeance of eternal fire cannot explicitly be used to define what endless torment is. They may or may not be related. In fact, a careful study can show that the “vengeance of eternal fire” is merely nothing more than the literal fire that will sweep the wicked off the earth at Christ’s second coming. The cities of Sodom and Gomorah suffered the “vengeance of eternal fire”, being rained upon with fire and brimstone from heaven.

    As far as the resurrection goes. We know that all those of a “celestial spirit” will only be resurrected with bodies of the glory they are resurrected with (D&C 88:28). We also know that quickened or resurrected bodies can undergo greater changes at later times (verse 26-27). So the question I pose then is this. We know that bodies have been resurrected from the earth in our present state, we also know that bodies will undergo a change when Christ comes again, and further stil, we know that bodies will undergo even a greater change when the earth is celestialized, so having this in mind, is it not fair to say that “celestial spirits” who have already been resurrected only been quickened by the earth which is currently in a Telestial state?

    Resurrection is in the here and now in our present state the telestial, and then when Christ comes, all will be quickened into/ by the Terrestrial glory just as the earth. The earth passes through 3 phases and at the end of the first two it passes away as by fire. Even though the earth abides by the Celestial law, it is only qickened by the glory that it abides by just as we do. When Christ comes again, it will be a Terrestrial glory, and the earth and it;s inhabitants will be quickened by that (terrestrial) glory.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 28, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  151. Rob,

    In fact, a careful study can show that the “vengeance of eternal fire” is merely nothing more than the literal fire that will sweep the wicked off the earth at Christ’s second coming.

    Don’t focus on one term, consider all those verses together. D&C 76:106 says “These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times.” If “endless torment” is God’s torment, then “the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times” is a good fit.

    so having this in mind, is it not fair to say that “celestial spirits” who have already been resurrected only been quickened by the earth which is currently in a Telestial state?

    It doesn’t seem like a fair statement for Abraham, who “hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne” (D&C 132:29). Doesn’t sound to me like Abraham was resurrected to a telestial state.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 28, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  152. Hi Jacob,

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness. I had lower back surgery and stayed home for the the last several weeks. (we do not have a computer tied into the Internet at home) Anyway, it is nice to know one is missed. And yes, I will always appreciate the discussion I had with Jack ( and others) about grace. Jack is a good person.

    Geoff – Thank you for taking the time to read the book. I will eagerly await you review of it at sometime in the future. I think it might be a perfect transfer into a review of Blake’s views of grace in his second book. That is, if there is any interest in a discussion on such things.

    Also Geoff, I really appreciated your apology to Kurt. And I am sure Kurt did also.

    Comment by CEF — December 28, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  153. Thanks CEF. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is my category of reviews of Blake’s second book. I covered the grace chapters early on (starting March ’06). I think Blake is spot on in his positions on grace.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 28, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  154. Jacob,
    Consider that in verse 103 and 106 that the peolpe that are described are not savable people, they end up being cast out to die the second death after their resurrection. In verse 106 Christ even calls them his enemies. He is speaking here of those whom he is unable to save who go on to inherit the endless death (second death) which is endless punishment which is their torment.

    Cross reference verse 103 with D&C 63:17, Rev 20:6, 21:8, 21:27, & 22:15. These references back up the doctrine of 76:103 as being the type who become the sons of perdition. It has been weakly argued by the likes of BRM and others that this thousand years of suffering is the second death, but in reality the scriptures speak of coming to judgement after the millenium and being redeemed from the first spiritual death and then those who are found unclean are cast out again and the only ones who partake of the second death which is an eternal death.

    In D&C 88:28-31 it discusses the resurrection in their respective glories coming to all those of a “celestial spirit”. What do you think that means? If a “celestial spirit” can be resurrected with a Telestial glory, how then is it reconciled with our current doctrine of a soul composed of both a “celestial spirit” and a telestial body forever and ever? This is like saying the earth in it’s present condition (telestial) will never be able to advance to the measure of it’s spirit (celestial) and yet we are told that the earth’s body will be quickened into higher grades of glory until it fills the measure of it’s grade of being celestial. Do you not think the same distinction can be made in respect to our own bodies?

    As far as Abraham goes, I only have one question- Does this mean that he is already a God and peopling his own sphere, or is it only speaking figuratively in a future promise sense? Section 137 seems to point out that it speaks of a future sense to me, but maybe they are already Gods and have already been awarded their estates. If this is true, will they come to earth and reign on the earth during it’s Terrestrial sojourn with Christ?

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 28, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

  155. Rob,

    It seems to me that all these scriptures make very good sense and hold together under a traditional theology where telestials are thrust down to hell during the millennium and afterward resurrected to a telestial glory. Let me try to respond to all of your points.

    Consider that in verse 103 and 106 that the peolpe that are described are not savable people

    I disagree. I believe D&C 76:98-112 (with a brief aside in 107-108) are talking about the telestials. As support for my reading, I offer my comment #147 where I pointed out that verses 84-85 are a close parallel to 105-106, making it clear that 105-106 are still speaking about the telestials. Now, you could argue that the “last of all” at the beginning of 102 begins speaking about a new group of people (SoP), but I don’t agree with that reading. The “last of all” in 102 is there to say that the telestials are resurrected in the “last” resurrection instead of the “first” resurrection (see verse 85). (Notice that the first/last resurrection provides some of the structure of D&C 76, with verse 50 kicking off a description of those in the first resurrection and verse 102 saying telestials are part of the last resurrection instead of the first.) The last appearance of the sons of perdition in D&C 76 is in verse 49 when they are commanded to “Write the vision, for lo, this is the end of the vision of the sufferings of the ungodly.”

    In verse 106 Christ even calls them his enemies.

    No, it does not call them his enemies, it says they “are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet.” They are cast down until the fulness of times when “all enemies” are subdued. This is not calling them his enemies, but speaking to the timing of their redemption (again, see verse 85 which says this exact same thing).

    Cross reference verse 103 with D&C 63:17

    17 Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
    18 Verily I say, that they shall not have part in the first resurrection.

    It says they will “have their part” in the second death and ties this in verse 18 to the fact that they are not part of the first resurrection. This is the identical point being made in D&C 76, which is that they are thrust down to hell and not redeemed until the last resurrection, thus they have “part” in the second death.

    It has been weakly argued by the likes of BRM and others that this thousand years of suffering is the second death

    The fact that telestials have “part” in the second death is further supported by D&C 76:37-38, which says, speaking of the sons of perdition:

    37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
    38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    The statement in verse 37 that the sons of perdition are the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power is explained in verse 38 to mean that they are the only ones not redeemed from the second death in the due time of the Lord. That statement requires that there are some people who suffer the second death for a time and are then redeemed from it in “the due time of the Lord.” Coupled with D&C 76:84-85,106 it is very clear that the telestials fall into this category. It also makes perfect sense now that D&C 63 speaks of them as having “part” in the second death. The second death doesn’t have power over them in the end, but they suffer for it for a time.

    In D&C 88:28-31 it discusses the resurrection in their respective glories coming to all those of a “celestial spirit”. What do you think that means? If a “celestial spirit” can be resurrected with a Telestial glory, how then is it reconciled with our current doctrine of a soul composed of both a “celestial spirit” and a telestial body forever and ever?

    Those verses do not say that a celestial spirit can be resurrected with a telestial glory. They say a celestial spirit will be resurrected with celestial glory and a telestial spirit will be resurrected with a telestial glory:

    28 They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
    29 Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
    30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
    31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    The way you are reading it (in an attempt to make those of a “celestial spirit” refer to those in verses 30-31), would imply that those not of a celestial spirit are not resurrected at all. It seems to me that your reading is straining to avoid the obvious meaning of these verses, which is that the physical body is resurrected to a glory matching that of the spirit.

    This is like saying the earth in it’s present condition (telestial) will never be able to advance to the measure of it’s spirit (celestial) and yet we are told that the earth’s body will be quickened into higher grades of glory until it fills the measure of it’s grade of being celestial. Do you not think the same distinction can be made in respect to our own bodies?

    I have never argued that death/resurrection is required to change glory. We have good examples to the contrary, like people being transfigured from a telestial to a terrestrial state (city of Enoch) without death or resurrection. What I am pointing out is that D&C 88 teaches that people are resurrected to varying degrees of glory, in conflict with your view that there are not varying degrees of glory in heaven. When coupled with D&C 76 I believe this undermines your attempted reinterpretation of the degrees of glory.

    As far as Abraham goes, I only have one question- Does this mean that he is already a God …or is it only speaking figuratively in a future promise sense?

    The language of D&C 132 seems pretty definitive on this point:

    29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
    37 Abraham …Isaac …and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

    I don’t know much more it could say to make that point clearer.

    If this is true, will they come to earth and reign on the earth during it’s Terrestrial sojourn with Christ?

    I don’t know.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 28, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  156. You guys seem to be doing an awful lot of speculative interpretation. I have been accused of being a bit off-beat for saying that the prophet isn’t always correct in every expressed opinion. But you guys make me feel like I believe everything I’m told. It is very good to think and discuss possibilities. It is good to think outside the square. But getting caught up in word definitions and creating concepts from them, without using the Holy Ghost, is a potentially dangerous idea. Consider the following _

    Romans 5:9 “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” According to this we are justified by his blood. Yet _ James 2:24 “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Now hang on a minute fellas, are we justified by blood or works?

    Some of these things you are saying appear to me to be so caught up in definitions that you have ignored the human aspect. The original point in this post was to move people’s thinking away from getting caught up too much in words, and considering the intentions of God instead.

    By all means continue on the discussion path. But some of the conclusions you are coming to or presenting are ignoring reality. Beware least you become like the Pharisees: Caught up so much in words and missing the point.

    The original post presents an aspect to be wary of when looking at scripture. When my children were tiny I told them in a very stern manner that they were never to touch an electric powerpoint. I remember the response of at least one of them when finally I told them they could go and turn on the powerpoint. In surprise and concern she said, “But you said we are never to touch one”. I wasn’t lying, just keeping it simple. Some concepts you are saying fit into this catagory. You should reflect far more deeply on why things would be this way or that rather than words in scripture.

    Comment by Doug Towers — December 28, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

  157. Actually, Geoff, you haven’t reviewed the chapters where I address the notions of grace in Paul’s thought. I address it in chapters you haven’t gotten to yet in addition to those we have already covered.

    Comment by Blake — December 28, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

  158. Doug,

    [S]ome of the conclusions you are coming to or presenting are ignoring reality. Beware least you become like the Pharisees: Caught up so much in words and missing the point.

    After 155 comments, you really must give examples of what you think is ignoring reality or we have no idea what you are referring to.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 28, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

  159. Good point Blake (#157). I’ll try to finish reviewing the last few chapters on the New Perspective on Paul in January. They are fascinating. Plus I want to revisit the subject of ethics theories soon.

    Doug Towers (#156) – Who specifically are you chastising when addressing “you guys”?

    Comment by Geoff J — December 28, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

  160. Jacob,

    These verses you quote above…

    37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
    38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    …lend support to the idea that the sons of perdition will not be in torment forever—-especially verse 38 where it says “after the sufferings of his wrath.”

    Just another plug…

    Comment by Jack — December 28, 2006 @ 6:59 pm

  161. Jack,

    I got the opposite idea out of those verses. It seems to be saying that the only ones NOT redeemed in the due time of the Lord are the sons of perdition (i.e. sons of perdition keep suffering after everyone else has been redeemed). No?

    Comment by Jacob J — December 28, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

  162. Doesn’t it seem strange that we haven’t heard from Mark Butler. I miss him.

    Comment by Blake — December 28, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

  163. Blake:

    I’m afraid Mark Butler was pretty ostracized over at M* on his last few posts and may have been offended out of the bloggernacle, as it were.

    (I am halfway through with Chapter 1 of your Book 1, but my Father In Law wants me to read another book first so he can borrow it. Nothing to surprising yet, except maybe that you take right off. That’s not a criticism though, as I thought that was really awesome.)

    Comment by Matt W. — December 28, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

  164. Jacob, did we ever come to agreement on “express”?

    Comment by Matt W. — December 28, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

  165. Jacob,

    Yes, it says they will be the only ones not redeemed in the due time of the Lord…and then it continues… “after the sufferings of his wrath.”

    Perhaps the last part is meant to be understood as it relates to all those who are eventually redeemed. But if it includes the SoPs in that undertanding then the implication could mean that they suffer God’s wrath for a limited time just like those of a telestial order–though they will not be granted access into a realm of glory after their sufferings. (they really don’t want it anyway)

    I miss Mark too.

    Comment by Jack — December 28, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

  166. Matt,

    I started a response at some point but it never got done and then I forgot. Sorry. If I had to pick a synonym for “express,” I would use “direct.” Webster’s 1828 dictionary thinks this would be an acceptable synonym. But I don’t want to miss the forest for the trees. I think these verses are clearly saying that God is happy to have people incorrectly think hell goes on forever because that view motivates repentance more effectively.

    And I might as well add this: I find nothing objectionable in that idea. Even if God were to out-and-out lie to me in the interest of saving me, I would be fine with that. Imagine how things must look from God’s perspective. Our understanding of things must look quite full of error and misunderstanding from His perspective. Why should he care about some detail when our understanding is riddled with misconceptions. If he thinks one of them will lead to more people being saved, why would we complain?

    Jack,

    Yes, I take it to mean that some people will be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after they have suffered his wrath for a time. The sons of perdition, by contrast, are not redeemed, and thus, are the only one on whom the second death has power.

    Blake,

    I thought I saw someone comment over at T&S (?) under the handle Mark David Butler and wondered if Mark was commenting again. Not sure if it was him though.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 28, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  167. AS Webster’s uses Direct, I find that agreeable. “direct not ambigous” or “given in direct terms”… I also, certainly feel that the Lord works with us at the level we can understand, and do not object to him using symbolism we can grasp to achieve his purposes, and then further clarifying his symbolism as we become ready for it.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 29, 2006 @ 9:12 am

  168. Express seems to mean just what it is… express. Convenient. Fast, not going into too much depth. Thus, by saying “more express than other scriptures,” the Lord seems to be saying that ‘endless punishment’ is an way of essentializing something that is way more complicated and has more depth. “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory” then further suggests that this way of essentializing is what works for us humans, and will lead more of his children to salvation.

    This makes sense if you study the human mind. Studies show that Most people (probably not people on this blog) don’t handle paradoxes and uncertainty very well. By giving us ‘eternal punishment,’ the Lord effectively gives most of the human race the incentive their brains need to form Zion and keep his commandments. Teaching that these principles go much deeper than superficial reward and punishment probably wouldn’t work as well. Milk before meat, etc. Saying “Almost endless punishment” or “It’s not endless, but still, just behave!” just isn’t feasible given human nature.

    Comment by Greg Wilcox — January 5, 2009 @ 5:31 am

  169. Greg, I can definitely see that as a possible meaning for “express.” I can see “direct” working too. Either way, you are coming to the same meaning I see for those verses as taken together.

    Comment by Jacob J — January 5, 2009 @ 9:53 am

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