A Child of God… the Son

June 8, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 5:46 pm   Category: spirit birth,Spirits/Intelligences,Theology

“I Am a Child of God” is a classic Mormon hymn and it teaches a fundamental Mormon doctrine — all people are children of God. The problem is that most Mormons seem to assume they are only children of God the Father. Not so. Our scriptures clearly teach that all of the faithful are also children of God the Son. Here are some of the relevant passages.

We are the children of Christ:

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

19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. (Moro. 7: 19)

We become the sons and daughters of Christ:

14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. (Ether 3:14)

3 Who so loved the world that he gave his own life, that as many as would believe might become the sons of God. Wherefore you are my son (D&C 34: 3)

We are the seed of Christ:

10 And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?
11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 15: 10-11)

There are loads of other less obvious examples but this ought to at least bring home the point. I just figured it would be useful to have some of these scriptures put together in one post as a reference for the future. They become especially useful when debating the question of whether being a child of God entails our pre-mortal spirits being created by gestating in the the womb of a physically resurrected divine woman. (Some people in the church think being a child of God does mean that, but I think that notion makes about as much sense as the idea of spirit women bearing physically embodied babies. In other words I think it is poppycock. See a previous post on spirit birth here.) Are there other theological implications that arise from our being children of Christ that strike you?

140 Comments »

  1. Geoff,

    Jesus is the bread of life, but that doesn’t make the idea of real bread poppycock. Of necessity, we can only use things as symbols which have some grounding in reality. In any given instance, we need to figure out if something is being spoken of symbolically or literally in order to properly understand what is being said. If you are pointing to these scriptures to prove that “I am a child of God” could be meant in a symbolic fashion, then I agree.

    However, your post goes further than that, and seems to be saying the idea of viviparous spirit birth is obviously wrong because the parent-child relationship is used symbolically in the scriptures. If that is what you are saying, I think your argument is fatally flawed. There might be a literal spirit birth in the pre-mortal existence or it might be that we have always existed as spirits, but I don’t see how these scriptures make a case either way. (and yes, I know there are other options)

    Comment by Jacob J — June 8, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  2. I also like D&C 76:

    23. For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

    24. That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

    Also Ephesians 1:

    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

    4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 8, 2007 @ 7:01 pm

  3. There is also the few verses that we like to ignore that precede Child of God section of Romans 8:

    14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

    Paul was into that, e.g., Galations 4:

    4. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

    5. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

    6. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 8, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  4. Jacob: seems to be saying the idea of viviparous spirit birth is obviously wrong because the parent-child relationship is used symbolically in the scriptures

    The post doesn’t say that. The post does say this: The scriptures clearly state that we become the children and offspring/seed of God the Son (Jesus Christ) through our covenants and obedience to him.

    In a parenthetical aside I mentioned that I think the idea that our spirits gestated in a glorified physical womb is poppycock. (And I do think that. As I said, physically embodied babies don’t gestate in the wombs of spirit women so why would we buy that spirit fetuses gestate in the physical bodies of exalted resurrected women? The thought makes reason stare.) But that was only an aside in the post and the point I was making is that viviparous spirit birth is obviously not a requirement for one to be the child of a God. The scriptures I listed make that point clear.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 8, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  5. I agree that these scriptures are not conclusive, but they certainly weaken the scriptural argument for viviparous spirit birth, an argument which is weak to begin with.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 8, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  6. Stapley,

    Those are good scriptures to support the idea that we are children of God the Father by adoption in the same way we are children of God the Son. I didn’t use them here because I was focusing only on our status as children of Christ, but I think they are useful additions to this discussion.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 8, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  7. One idea that has crossed my mind is wondering who exactly is listening when we pray to our Father in Heaven. According to these scriptures we have two Fathers in Heaven in a very real sense… (Not that I worry about speaking to the wrong person though since I believe both the Father and the Son hear all of our prayers along with the Holy Spirit.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 8, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

  8. “Poppycock” – now there’s a word that needs to be used more often in LDS doctrinal discussions. I’m serious — we give way too much latitude to people spouting various forms of doctrinal poppycock.

    Comment by Dave — June 9, 2007 @ 7:59 am

  9. Hehe. Thanks Dave. I figured it does do the job without being too overtly crass.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 9, 2007 @ 9:03 am

  10. Geoff,

    So the poppycock comment was just a pot-shot at the end without much support–I can accept that.

    The scriptures clearly state that we become the children and offspring/seed of God the Son (Jesus Christ) through our covenants and obedience to him.

    The problem with your whole line of reasoning is that we believe we are already children of God before we become offspring/seed of God through covenant. Thus, we are talking about two entirely different births. They might both be symbolic, or they might be different. There is abolutely nothing in the post to recommend the view that both births are similarly symbolic other than the fact that this it is your opinion that they are.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 9, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  11. Dave (#8),

    Do you just like the word poppycock in general, or do you agree with Geoff that viviparous spirit birth is doctrinal poppycock. If the later, what do you base that assessment on?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 9, 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  12. Jacob,

    Well the poppycock pot-shot wasn’t entirely without support. I twice supported it by saying that if one considers the idea of non-physically-embodied spirit women birthing physically-embodied offspring to be silly (as I suspect most people would) then one should also consider the idea of physical beings birthing spirits to be silly too. The real underlying argument there has to do with reproducing after one’s own kind. Do you disagree with that logic?

    And yes, we were already children of God before coming here. As far as I can tell there is ZERO direct scriptural support for the idea of viviparous spirit birth. There is ample scriptural support for the idea of covenant-based spirit birth to God (as noted in the post). I know of no evidence in the scriptures that our child-to-parent relationship with God the Father prior to our arrival here began in any other way than our child-to-parent relationship with God the Son begins here. So while viviparous spirit birth may not be knocked out by the evidence in the scriptures, I think it is definitely on the ropes at least. In other words, the very notion of viviparous spirit birth is non-scriptural (even if it is not clearly contra-scriptural) on top of its other problems. Covenant-based spirit birth is scripturally supported and doesn’t have the other baggage of a) largely contradicting what Joseph taught and of b) relying on the notion of resurrected physical beings viviparously reproducing offspring that are not of their own kind.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 9, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

  13. Geoff, not mattering who we pray to or who is listening reminds me of the talk McConkie gave warning us about not praying to Christ and being careful of developing a relationship with Christ.

    I’ve never cared much either, and don’t feel that God has to tell Jesus or the Holy Ghost what we said or what to do in relation to our prayers.

    In regards to the post itself, we certainly believe we are “offspring” of God – His children, but most christians have a completely different understanding than us about that. I think they are more in line with your post.

    I kind of look at their view as God got lonely in heaven and wanted some fellowship so He created a bunch of “army men” to play with. So here we are.

    Comment by don — June 9, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

  14. Geoff,

    Personally, I don’t think we know enough about resurrected bodies to be able to say that the idea of a resurrected person having spirit babies is silly. Of course, most everyone has thought of this issue at some point and I agree that it seems a bit odd. I think it is a fair point, but probably not firm enough foundation for an accusation of doctrinal poppycock. (By the way, a resurrected being has a spirit AND a body, so the comparison to a non-physically-embodied person giving birth to a physically-embodied person is asymmetrical).

    As far as I can tell there is ZERO direct scriptural support for the idea of viviparous spirit birth.

    And there is zero direct scriptural evidence against it.

    There is ample scriptural support for the idea of covenant-based spirit birth to God

    And as I have pointed out in my two previous comments, there is no reason to believe these scriptures are relevant to the question of how we became spirit children of God in the first place.

    In addition to our becoming spirit sons and daughters of Christ symbolically, we also become spirit sons and daughters of God the Father again in a symbolic way through additional covenants. We also become sons and daughters of our earthly parents at some point. You haven’t provided any evidence to suggest that these various births are all of the same kind (symbolic).

    In other words, the very notion of viviparous spirit birth is non-scriptural (even if it is not clearly contra-scriptural)

    I love to see you using an argument like this. I’ll have to remember this when we talk MMP next time. (grin)

    a) largely contradicting what Joseph taught

    I’m going to have to ask you to support this statement.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 9, 2007 @ 10:20 pm

  15. Jacob: but probably not firm enough foundation for an accusation of doctrinal poppycock

    I suppose we simply disagree on that because I find the idea that physically resurrected couples have sex and reproduce babies that don’t have physical bodies to be sheer nonsense. Further I think it goes against the notion of reproducing after their own kind that we are taught elsewhere in our liturgy.

    And there is zero direct scriptural evidence against it.

    Ok. I’m not sure how that helps the cause of viviparous spirit birth though…

    And as I have pointed out in my two previous comments, there is no reason to believe these scriptures are relevant to the question of how we became spirit children of God in the first place.

    I think you are wrong here. Our scriptures describe only one way to become a spirit child of a God. If one wants to claim there are other ways they ought to support such claims with either revelations or logic or both.

    I’ll have to remember this when we talk MMP next time.

    Hehe. I was wondering when you would finally bring that up. (The defensibility of MMP is an argument for us to rehash another time though.)

    See this post for all sorts of quotes from Joseph Smith on how spirits are eternal and cannot be created. (Though you participated in that discussion so I’m not sure what else you are asking for on that count.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 9, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

  16. Don,

    There is no question that we are commanded to pray to the Father. I don’t disagree with Elder McConkie on that in the least. My point was that the title Father applies to more that one member of the Godhead based on the scriptures quoted here.

    The massive difference between the creedal Christian take on this subject and what I have described in this post is creatio ex nihilo. Creedal Christianity believes we were created out of nothing and Joseph Smith taught that spirits cannot be created and that we are all co-eternal with God.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 9, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

  17. Geoff,

    Ok. I’m not sure how that helps the cause of viviparous spirit birth though…

    Ummm, I’m not trying to support viviparous spirit birth. The only comments I’ve made here are to say that I don’t think your arguments are nearly as conclusive as your conclusions.

    We’ve discussed this topic many times, and if you look back, you will find that I almost always take time to express my ambivalence on this subject. I’m glad you linked back to the old discussion, because in re-reading I was reminded how much of this ground we have been over before. I went back to the beginning of that discussion (here) and I was also reminded of our discussion over at Small and Simple on the same topic (here), and after re-reading those threads as well, I realized I don’t have the stamina to do it all again. But on a positive note, those are good threads, it was fun to read them again.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 12:48 am

  18. I’m not sure I understand your persistent ambivalence on this. The more I study the evidence the less ambivalent I have become on it. Joseph clearly believed the spirits are not and can not be created. The whole notion of resurrected couples bearing non-embodied spirits as children is nonsensical anyway. And we have clear indications in the scriptures of how a people become children of a God (without having to be created). I don’t see good reasons to remain ambivalent unless one is simply fond of old traditional beliefs that don’t hold up well under scrutiny…

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 1:09 am

  19. Geoff,

    As I have pointed out on numerous previous occasions, Joseph’s views of the beginnings of man are anything but clear. Yes, he said that spirits are eternal, but it is unclear what he meant by “spirits” in those statements. Joseph’s view of spirits in their pre-mortal existence is not clear.

    You can claim it is is “nonsensical” for resurrected couples to bear spirit children all you want, but you haven’t shown it to be nonsense. They have spirits, why couldn’t they have spirit children? They are not giving birth to trees or goats, so I don’t think there is anything contrary to the idea that things reproduce after their own kind. The scriptures use birth and parent-child relationships as a symbol for spiritual realities, so what. This didn’t stop me from being born literally to an earthly mother and it need not have stopped me from being born to a heavenly mother if it turns out that there is one, or that she has babies.

    My ambivalence persists because when presented with a derth of conclusive evidence, I refuse to become locked into a view.

    The nature of spirits remains an open question for me. Do they have definite shape? If so, is this shape I have with two arms, two legs, and one head an eternal, uncreated form which all spirits look like? If not, how do we account for scriptures which say they have human shape?

    The doctrine of Heavenly Mother is intertwined with the doctrine of spirit birth. The two seemed to develop at the same time and we have reason to believe (not definitive proof) Joseph Smith was the source. As far as I can tell (I know Blake disagrees vehemently), the doctrine of eternal marriage was closely associated with the ideas of Heavenly Mother and eternal procreation. The doctrine that eternal marriage is required for an “eternal increase” (D&C 131:4) can be interpreted in more than one way, but I am not convinced Joseph didn’t have in mind a paradigm including spirit birth. It is implicit in his argument that there was never a son without a father, the earthly being patterned after the heavenly. There is the verse in 132 which says women are to “to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men.” There are other ways to interpret this verse, but one obvious possibility (which I know of no way to rule out) is that women are to bear the souls of men in the eternities.

    I suppose one interpretation of my ambivalence is that I just like to cling to old crusty ideas which have no basis in evidence. I accept that. I am aware of your views on all the issues above and I think your view is a reasonable one. I simply think that you (and often J. Stapley) overstate how conclusive the evidence is that your resolutions of all the issues above are the only reasonable ones.

    Comment by Jacob — June 10, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  20. Jacob: Joseph’s views of the beginnings of man are anything but clear.

    People like to say this but the records don’t support it in my opinion. What is unclear about saying “The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to eternity.” (Willard Richards pocket companion 8 August 1839) That very clear message was repeated many times in the last several years of Joseph’s life.

    It seems clear to me that Joseph taught that spirits have no beginning. It is equally clear that Brigham taught that spirits do have a beginning. Then guys like BH Roberts came along in the 20th century and tried to reconcile these contradictory teachings through the tripartite model. So I don’t think Joseph was unclear in his meaning at all when he used the words “spirits”. Fans of the tripartite model wish he was but I don’t see evidence in the actual records to support this claim.

    Now if one wants to argue that Brigham trumps Joseph I suppose that would be a coherent position to take. But I personally take the teachings of Joseph over the teachings of Brigham on these sorts of doctrinal matters (for all sorts of reasons).

    They have spirits, why couldn’t they have spirit children?

    Oh come on. You have a spirit too — why can’t you have spirit children? Spirits are a completely different type of matter than the physical matter we (and resurrected bodies) are currently composed of. Our scriptures tell us that spirit bodies of other people pass right through physical bodies so how do you suppose a gestating spirit would even stay inside and be nurtured by a physical womb? (The “handle me and see” episodes show us that resurrected bodies are tangible to us.) It would make a lot more sense for people to claim that non-embodied divine spirit couples were birthing spirits before the earth (for instance most believe that Jesus was non-physically-embodied and still God before coming to this earth) than to claim that a physical divine sperm would combine with a physical divine egg and that zygote would become a non-physical spirit baby. The whole “earthly being patterned after the heavenly” argument you make works directly against this notion.

    The doctrine of Heavenly Mother is intertwined with the doctrine of spirit birth.

    I agree and sadly so. People fear that giving up the notion of viviparous spirit birth entails giving up on the idea of the divine feminine. That is just not true. But until people start to believe that rejecting viviparous spirit birth is not rejecting the divine feminine or are real relationship with God the Father I suppose even those who have the evidence laid out before them will resist it for fear of losing the baby with the bathwater.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 9:13 am

  21. Geoff,

    What is unclear about saying “The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to eternity.”

    I will be able to explain better if you answer a couple of questions for me.

    1) On Joseph’s view, do all spirits have a spirit body?
    2) On Joseph’s view, do spirit bodies have a definite form?
    3) On Joseph’s view, can a mind to exist without a spirit body?
    4) On Joseph’s view, does the eternal and uncreated existence of the spirit of man necessarily imply the eternal nature of individual identity.
    5) For Joseph, what is the sine qua non of a spirit? When he says it is uncreated and eternal, which things can I be sure have and will exist forever?

    That will get us started.

    Oh come on.

    No, you come on. I started (#14) by saying I don’t think we know that much about resurrected beings. Someone I know once said “I lean toward the idea that exalted persons have bodies that are completely different than non-exalted beings (they certainly can do things that are impossible for mortal bodies).” Your question about spirits going through physical bodies, so how would a spirit even stay inside a womb made me laugh (thanks). We all have spirirts AND physical bodies, and our spirits are generally able to stay inside our physical bodies, no? This is the exact kind of reasoning that we don’t have enough information about resurrected bodies to do. Resurrected bodies (physical) can go through physical objects too, right? You are welcome to act as confident as you want that we know what capabilities resurrected beings have, but to me it just makes you sound overconfident on a subject we know very little about.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  22. So I gather from your set of questions that you are angling for a tritpartite model on this. Something like: Spirits are eternal but in order to become a child of God a spirit must enter the womb of a divine resurrected woman and be formed into a human-looking spirit. Is that what you have in mind? If so I can point out several serious problems with such a model.

    As for the argument that because we know very little about resurrected bodies we should entertain the idea of viviparous spirit birth: Why should we give viviparous spirit birth more attention that any number of other logical possibilities on the subject? If someone claimed that spirits were “born” by flying from divine noses after divine sneezes should we give that idea serious consideration because we know so little about exalted resurrected bodies too? (I’m only yanking your chain with that extreme example — but I trust you get my point.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 11:37 am

  23. Geoff,

    The questions were not rhetorical, they are for answering. You said Joseph’s view is clear, so fill me in on what it is. I am not proposing a view for you to take potshots at, I am asking you to put your money where your mouth is and explain the clear and unambiguous opinion of Joseph Smith on these matters.

    On resurrected bodies: Babies on earth are not born by human sneezes, so when Joseph tells us the earthly is patterned after the divine, it would never occur to us that divine birth would be like that. You are trying to draw a bright line between spiritual and physical, but you keep ignoring that resurrected beings have spirits. All spirit is matter, it is just of a more refined type. Thus, it is not unthinkable that resurrected beings could have the ability to create the spirit-matter antecedents to a spirit baby.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  24. I have a very basic problem with VSB – namely that viviparous spirit birth from celestialized parents begs the question of why ordinary spirits are not able to reproduce and have children.

    And if ordinary spirits were able to get married, become parents, and so on, why a need for a physical existence at all? One could have an endless posterity and eternal family structure without the problems incident to mortality.

    Mortality, on the other hand would make a lot more sense if it were a necessary or historical pre-cursor for pro-creation and biological families.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 10, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  25. Jacob,

    There is a bright line between intangible spirit matter and tangible matter. As in, one is tangible and the other isn’t.

    Here is the shell game I think you and others like to play when it comes to this subject. The logic to support viviparous spirit birth is to say (a) the earthly must be patterned after the heavenly. Fine. But as soon as we start exploring the implications that logic, it becomes clear that such logic is absurd when we get down to details of how spirit babies are produced. So once that is pointed out you retreat to your second argument — (b) that the heavenly in is not like the earthly because they have different types of bodies than we do. So it is this endless evasion game of flip-flopping between (a) and (b). The problem is that (a) and (b) contradict each other.

    If resurrected bodies are not like mortal bodies then the logic that viviparous spirit birth is based on is no stronger than the logic behind the divine sneeze model. If exalted resurrected bodies do indeed work just like mortal bodies then when tangible couples have sex a tangible zygote is created and that turns into a tangible fetus and then into a tangible baby for a pre-existing spirit to inhabit. But that is not the birth of a spirit at all — it is the birth of a tangible baby just like we experience.

    So which is it, do you want to eat your cake or save it for later on this subject?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

  26. Geoff,

    I am still waiting for answers to my questions in #21.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

  27. Geoff (#25),

    By “drawing a bright line” I didn’t mean they aren’t different. I meant that you keep acting like the two can’t both coexist in a single being. Bad choice of words on my part, but the point still stands (which I made in the second half of #23.

    Now, as to a shell game, I don’t think I can legitimately be accused of playing a shell game when I said I have reservations with both views, but I understand your view and think it is reasonable (as I did at the end of #19 and in many other places). The idea of something being “patterned” after another is not that there are no differences, but that things follow a certain pattern. There are things which are the same. Joseph said that there was never a son without a father, that is the pattern he said is the same in both places.

    And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly. Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?

    It is not a shell game, I am just pointing out the logic advanced by Joseph Smith.

    Resurrected bodies have things that are the same with our current bodies, and things that are different. The scriptures tell us some of the things that are the same, namely that resurrected beings look like us, they can eat food, they can be touched, everything is restored to is perfect form and proper frame etc. They also give us some hints about differences. They can appear in the middle of a room, they can shine with great glory, they don’t decay, etc. Your attempt to create an either/or with either they are the same in every way or all my arguments about the earthly being patterned after the heavenly are meaningless falls flat because the either/or is not genuine.

    You are the one who supposedly has all the answers on this, I am the one who is reserving judgment until further knowledge is revealed on the matter. So, I have always been happy to save my cake on this one, but you don’t want to accept that as a reasonable approach (#18).

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

  28. I don’t have answers to your questions in #21 Jacob. And I’m not even sure how they are particularly relevant to the question of whether Joseph believed spirits can be created since he was clear on that point. Do you have those answers?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 6:49 pm

  29. Geoff (#28),

    I don’t have answers to your questions in #21.

    Okay, then this will help me explain my ambivalence, which you said you don’t understand (#18 again). The relevance is that when Joseph said spirits are uncreated, it is unclear what “spirit” means in that context. Allow me to elaborate.

    As far as I can tell, the answer to 2) is yes, Joseph thought that spirits had definite human form (one example is D&C 129). I know of no place that Joseph gives any hint that spirits might lack form or only put on the appearance of human form when they appear. However, the idea that our current human form is eternal and uncreated is a bit strange and causes some other problems relative to evolution. So, one approach (I know this is Stapley’s approach, I think it is also yours) is to say that spirits have indefinite shape but can take on human form.

    Now, if/when you make such a move, you are making the determination that form was not included in what Joseph referred to as the “spirit of man.” And, you are doing that without any evidence that Joseph believed this as well; you only have the fact that it solves other perceived problems with the ramifications of uncreated spirits.

    This is one example of the problem of figuring out what is essential to the idea of a spirit in Joseph’s mind. I said this in the spirit birth thread:

    In the first quote, Joseph is reported to have said: The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be Eternal. & earth, water &c-all these had their existence in an elementary State from Eternity.” The part I italicized shows Joseph himself making room for a distinction between an “eternal” part of the spirit and a spirit body.

    In another, he is reported to have said: “the mind of man-the mind of man is as immortal as God himself.” The idea that the “mind” is the self-existent part, and not the spirit body, is exactly what a person believing in spirit birth is likely to argue, and here Joseph speaks in precisely this language. Other KFD accounts back up that language. (here)

    Anyone who reads the KFD must conclude that Joseph uses the terms spirit, intelligence, and mind interchangeably throughout. However, a spirit is not obviously the same as a mind. A spirit usually implies more parts than a mind. One solution is to suggest that spirits have a definite form (consistent with Joseph Smith) but that minds can exist without spirit bodies, and that the mind is the real eternal part of man as Joseph said. Another solution is to suggest that spirits don’t necessarily have form, and that they have more to them than just a mind, but that all of it is uncreated as a package. Yet another is to say that there really is nothing more to a spirit than there is to a mind. Each of these solutions has its problems. Let me stop and see if any of this is helping to explain my ambivalence. There just seem to be a lot of unanswered questions which would need to be answered in order to know whether or not the statements in the KFD preclude the concept of a spirit birth.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  30. Geoff,

    I don’t think the idea that spirits are not tangible in any way, shape or form can be defended. We hold that they are made out of some sort of matter after all. That makes them, if any thing, less tangible, but certainly not (strictly speaking) intangible, except in a crude sense of the term.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 10, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  31. Mark (#24),

    I think your very basic problem is a variation of Geoff’s question about resurrected beings giving birth to spirit bodies.

    I gather from your comment and what I know of your view from previous conversations that you believe the only place birth occurs is in mortality (no VSB). If that is the case, then I am not sure why biological families would be necessary at all (assuming as I do that God was not our biological father in the pre-mortal existence on your view). And if biological families are not necessary, then mortality being necessary for biological families isn’t necessary either. Where did I go wrong in the above?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 10, 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  32. Mark D., I think that intangible is actually quite an apt description. Tangible means touchable and Joseph was quite insistent on the idea that spirits could not be touched, but that resurrected beings could be.

    As to the questions in #21, I think the present something of an anachronistic interlocution of Joseph’s thought (i.e., trying to engage him on ideas that were the synthetic output of a 100 years of debate on his teaching). (1) Joseph never talked about a “spirit body,” there were only spirits. Joseph only talks about mortals and resurrected beings have bodies. (2) Joseph is silent on the matter; however, the idea would require absolute predestination, so it would seem incompatible with Joseph’s teachings. (3) Joseph talks about the spirit being uncreated; he also says the same thing about the mind. If two attributes are uncreated (meaning the never didn’t exist), then separating them is essentially incoherent. (4) Yep. (5) What things could not be considered eternal of an uncreated sensient being?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 10, 2007 @ 9:06 pm

  33. Jacob (#27): I am just pointing out the logic advanced by Joseph Smith.

    The problem is that Joseph’s logic about fathers and sons has nothing to do with the mechanism by which one becomes the father or a son to another. So that is really an entirely different discussion than the question of whether the idea of viviparous spirit birth ought to be taken seriously. I’m not sure how this point is even relevant to the issue what spirit birth consists of.

    I am in full agreement with you that resurrected bodies have different capacities than mortal bodies. I also have no qualms with the idea that spirits unite with bodies to create persons (our scriptures even say that union is a “soul”). But there is a category difference between the tangible and intangible.

    So here is the problem viviparous spirit birth faces. It is a speculation that has no scriptural support. It is based on the assumption that the earthly pattern for becoming a parent is based on the heavenly. Yet it falls apart even on its own assumptions because if the earthly is based on the heavenly then resurrected tangible people (yes the union of spirits and tangible perfected bodies) reproduce after their own kind — offspring who are also the union of spirits and tangible perfected bodies.

    So since that speculation collapses under scrutiny I think it ought to be dismissed just like we should dismiss the “sneeze theory” I made up. So if we dismiss the VSB theory what are we left with? Thankfully we are left with the scripturally based idea of becoming spirit children of a God through a freely chosen covenantal relationship. This theory also is the best fit for the doctrine that Joseph taught about spirits having no beginning (not to mention fitting better with his ring analogy). So that supportable theory ought to win out over the unsupportable speculations on viviparous spirit birth.

    If we receive greater light and knowledge via revelation as a church on the subject maybe we will have to amend the best choices in the future. But until then I see no reason not to consider VSB to be poppycock.

    You are the one who supposedly has all the answers on this

    I have never even insinuated I have all the answers on this subject. However I do think that there is ample evidence to reject VSB as unsupportable and inaccurate theological speculation. It is a lot easier to reject a bad theory than to find “all the answers”.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

  34. Jacob,

    I think there are many things to be said in favor of biological families. One might imagine a society consisting of nothing but friendships and acquaintances.

    The problem is, that with very rare (and admirable) exception, friendship does not bring the sort of lifelong obligation that family generally does, so much so that the weaknesses of a society without families (and particularly without the sort of relationships formed in childhood) are easy to contemplate. Can one imagine adults voluntarily entering into comparable obligations with half a dozen other adults? Or the arrangement being stable in the long run?

    By comparison childhood has numerous advantages. The inescapable dependency of a child sets the foundation for relationships that are often more lasting than that of marriage itself. Infancy provides the opportunity for humility, learning, adoption of the culture, language, and traditions of one’s own parents, and in particular put children in the position of reconciling the differences between the heritage of their mother’s and their father’s families. It is hard to imagine any institution among adults being remotely as effective in binding people together into a community.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 10, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  35. Jacob (#29): I agree with you that there are all sorts of interesting questions about the nature of spirits. I just think that even in the absence of those answers there is ample reason to not take the speculation about VSB seriously.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2007 @ 9:34 pm

  36. Geoff (#33),

    The problem is that Joseph’s logic about fathers and sons has nothing to do with the mechanism by which one becomes the father or a son to another.

    In one sense you are correct, but in a more important sense, you are wrong. You are correct in that a tree reproduces through a different mechanism than a person. However, note carefully that Joseph’s logic only works when we consider biological reproduction. It does not hold up if we substitute in an “adoption” style parentage. The reason is that there have been plenty of sons without a father if we define “father” as someone who cares for an looks after a child as a father should. The only kind of father that always exists is a biological father and this is the fact that Joseph’s logic relies on.

    Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way.

    This absolutely relies on the idea of biological reproduction for it’s meaning. Joseph might be wrong, or maybe he used a bad analogy here, but that was his reasoning on that occasion.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 11, 2007 @ 9:19 am

  37. J. (#32),

    Thanks for stepping up to the plate, I want to address this when I get a bit more time later today. Geoff has already tied himself to opposite answers on some of these questions than the ones you offered, which could also make it interesting.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 11, 2007 @ 9:21 am

  38. Jacob(#36),

    Is the point you are making with the progenitor discussion that Joseph contradicted himself with that analogy and that sons must have a beginning to have real fathers? I’m still confused by this angle you are taking.

    (#37) Geoff has already tied himself to opposite answers on some of these questions than the ones you offered

    Where did I do that? I rather liked J’s answers in #32. Did I say something earlier to contradict them?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 11, 2007 @ 9:32 am

  39. Geoff,

    I’m still confused by this angle you are taking.

    Hehe, well, my angle is to show that Joseph’s statements don’t line up with your argument, so I can see why that might cause you some confusion. Conflicts like these are reasons that I object when you say things like:

    So I don’t think Joseph was unclear in his meaning at all when he used the words “spirits”. Fans of the tripartite model wish he was but I don’t see evidence in the actual records to support this claim. (#20)

    Now, I am not saying that Joseph contradicted himself. There are various ways to harmonize his statements about the eternal nature of spirits and his quote about everything having a progenitor. You reject the tripartite harmonization, and I believe you reject Blake’s argument that this only refers to mortality, so what do you replace these with to explain Joseph’s logic about everything having a progenitor?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 11, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  40. Ahhh… I see the angle you are going with now. You see a contradiction between the teaching of spirits without beginning and with every father being a son also so you like to resolve that with the tripartite model, including a viviparous spirit birth. (Or at least you are loathe to let go of that solution as one possible resolution.) Am I on track with that so far?

    I think that Joseph himself provided the bridge between the idea of beginningless spirits and every person having parents with his ring analogy. That is, he taught everything that has a beginning also has an end. You remember my recent ring analogy post relating to that subject. So we simply take Joseph at his word on all three of these issues and there is no contradiction as far as I can tell.

    Yes, the ring concept does seems to assume that via veils and whatnot roles of eternal persons can change over the eternities, but that is another discussion. The main point is that we can resolve the apparent contradictions you bring up with Joseph’s own teachings and thus we don’t need to bring in speculations made nearly a century later like the tripartite model to harmonize Joseph’s theology.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 11, 2007 @ 11:31 am

  41. Jacob J, I am having a hard time grasping what you are getting at regarding progenation. Do you believe, like Orson Pratt incedentally, that there is are Heavenly Carrots that is the father and mother of all carrot spirits?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 11, 2007 @ 11:38 am

  42. Quick aside: I apologize that I am doing such a poor job of keeping up my end of the conversation. I appreciate your patience.

    I marvel that my point is causing so much confusion. J, I am not saying that heavenly carrots have baby spirit carrots (a la Orson Pratt in the Seer). The reason I am not saying this is that Joseph did not say that and I am only pointing out what Joseph said and the logic behind his statement.

    I will walk you through it.

    And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly. Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?

    I believe a fair summary of this logic is as follows:

    1) We see a pattern here on Earth that every living thing has a progenitor. This is true for everything from trees to people.
    2) Paul said that the earthly is in the likeness of the heavenly.
    3) We know that Jesus has a father in heaven.
    4) From 1,2,3 we can conclude that Jesus’ father has a father as well.

    That is just a basic restatement of Joseph’s reasoning there in the SitG. Notice that Joseph’s reasoning relies on the idea that Jesus’ father in heaven is his father in an analogous way to that of biological fathers on Earth.

    Blake’s view of this passage is that “had a father” is a sort of euphemism, a shorthand, meaning “was born on an earth for a mortal probation.” Thus, he reasons that Jesus “had a father” (was born on Earth) and his father “had a father” (was born on an Earth at some point), etc. I don’t find this reading to be compelling, for reasons I explained when we discussed this passage at length, but I think I understand how Blake gets to where he does. Notice that Blake’s interpretation has the benefit of interpreting this fatherhood spoken of as a biological one.

    Geoff’s view of this passage (#40) is apparently that everyone has a father by virtue of the fact that at some point in time God becomes utterly bored with exaltation and formats his mental hard drive (for lack of a better analogy). By doing so, he starts off again tabla rasa and some other divine being picks him up and tries to nurture him back to divinity through longsuffering and patience (as God is doing for each of us right now). Thus, if I understand his #40, Geoff is going to argue that everyone “has a father” in the same way that God is our father, which Geoff takes to be unlike biological fatherhood. Thus, I still don’t understand how Geoff accounts for Joseph’s logic in this case.

    J, I don’t know what you make of this passage, please fill me in.

    Keep in mind that I am not arguing (and have not been at any time on this thread) for one position. I am arguing that Joseph’s thoughts on this topic are ambiguous, that there is room for disagreement among informed people, that one need not reject Joseph in favor of Brigham in order to believe in spirit birth, and that the use of a parent-child relationship in the scriptures does not in any way disprove the possibility of viviparous spirit birth.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  43. that one need not reject Joseph in favor of Brigham in order to believe in spirit birth

    I argue differently than you, it would seem.

    Let’s take your #1-4 in comment 42, which I think is an accurate summary. Joseph is basically saying that Jesus Christ’s father was Heavenly Father. Where I think you make a mistake is the casting of Paul way beyond the context of Joseph’s syllogism. Joseph says, “hence” or therefore, God the Father, who is in Heaven (thank you Paul), also has a Father like Jesus does. Basically, we could summarize the conclusion as: “God the Father has a Father like Jesus has a Father.” Anything beyond that is a misapplication. I don’t see how you can argue beyond that.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 10:43 am

  44. I should add that going beyond that gets you into Heavenly Carrot territory.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 10:43 am

  45. J,

    Fine, so in what sense is God the “father” of Jesus? Joseph likens it to biological fatherhood on earth.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  46. Ah, I think the gap between you and I is that in the KFD and in the SitG, which we are now discussing, Joseph argues that God the Father was once a Savior on a different world. Consequently, God the Father’s Father is exactly the Same as Jesus Christ’s. No analogy needed.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  47. Not the same being, but in the same way. Should have been more clear.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 11:27 am

  48. J,

    I can’t see an answer to my question in #45 in your #46 or #47.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  49. Jacob,

    First, I think Stapley’s arguments are very sound.

    Second, I want to add to his argument. He points out that while your 1-4 is sound enough, you are trying to smuggle in assumptions about how one becomes a child to a God. That is, you are assuming viviparous birth is the only way to become the child of a God and this post disproves that. So Stapley has correctly noted that the Jesus could indeed be the physical offspring of the Father, assuming that God the Father is the literal Father of his mortal body (which is a common speculation). But Jesus was already God the Son prior to his mortal birth. We have no reason to assume that there was another viviparous birth of Jesus before Jesus arrived here. In fact, the scriptures teach only one way for a non-God to become the child of a God and that is through a covenant relationship. So your logic fails on that count as well. In other words, your conclusion that viviparous ought to follow from your 1-4 is incorrect. There is nothing in 1-4 that actually leads to the idea of viviparous spirit birth.

    Third, If we did make the leap of logic you want from 1-4 we would be forced to also deal with the idea of The Heavenly Carrot and the Heavenly Oak Tree etc. being the spirit progenitor of all carrots and oaks. I suspect you don’t want to open that can of worms.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 11:39 am

  50. Jacob: Notice that Blake’s interpretation has the benefit of interpreting this fatherhood spoken of as a biological one.

    Actually it doesn’t. That is one of the key weaknesses in Blake’s position. Blake says that if the Father had a father it was only in the sense that Joseph (husband of Mary) was the “father” of Jesus. In other words, Blake assumes no biological father for God the Father ever — even in his mortality. (He left the question of what it means to have he Holy Ghost overshadow a woman so she becomes pregnant unanswered I believe.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  51. Jacob (#48), Geoff makes some good points, but to be honest, I have no idea how Jesus was conceived in Mary beyond the scriptural account. I tend to reject Adam-God expansions, though.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 11:45 am

  52. Geoff, (#49),

    He points out that while your 1-4 is sound enough, you are trying to smuggle in assumptions about how one becomes a child to a God. That is, you are assuming viviparous birth is the only way to become the child of a God and this post disproves that.

    Would you please stop putting arguments in my mouth which I have specifically said I am not making? I am not smuggling anything in, I am asking you direct questions which you are consistently failing to answer. It is making it very hard to make any progress when you just keep going back to the same tired claim that your post disproves things which it does not disprove and which I’ve demonstrated it not disproving many times now.

    (#50),

    Yes, my whole point was that Blake says the Father only had a father in the sense of being born on an earth, so I don’t know why you are correcting me on that point. If you are saying that in Blake’s view Jesus didn’t have a biological father on earth, then this might be a fair point. I didn’t mean to put words in Blake’s mouth as to the conception of Jesus; my only point was that Blake says all this talk of having fathers only relates to mortality, which I believe I am safe in saying. Anything beyond that, I retract.

    J (#51),

    So are you saying that Joseph was only talking about Jesus’ father in mortality, and saying nothing about God being Jesus’ father in the preexistence?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  53. by virtue of the fact that at some point in time God becomes utterly bored with exaltation

    This seems like a rather cheap rhetorical move by you Jacob. Joseph clearly and repeatedly stated that everything that has a beginning also has an end. That is the real problem you have to resolve. You won’t be able to avoid that problem by trying to focus on various guesses and speculations on the why of that statement; you need to address the actual teaching itself too. Either Joseph was right or he was wrong on that subject. I lean toward him being right.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  54. Jacob, there is nothing in the context of the discourse to suggest that Joseph was talking about the preexistence. He is simply talking about the plurality of Gods (and how they are related).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  55. (#52) I am asking you direct questions which you are consistently failing to answer

    I must be misunderstanding you then. What direct question are you asking that I am failing to answer? (Is there a chance you misread my comment #49? I’m confused by your response in #52. The post does indeed disprove the notion that “viviparous birth is the only way to become the child of a God”. Maybe the problem is that you already acknowledged that point at long time ago? I probably should have said that you seem to think 1-4 supports VSB when it doesn’t…)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  56. Geoff (#53),

    This seems like a rather cheap rhetorical move by you Jacob.

    Yes, I stated it in a rhetorically inflamatory way, but honestly I thought from our discussions that this was genuinely the why of your reasoning. If not, I apologize (but hasten to add a follow up question: why would God voluntarily format his own memory/identity/character/capability/holiness and start from nothing?)

    That is the real problem you have to resolve. …you need to address the actual teaching itself too. Either Joseph was right or he was wrong on that subject.

    I resolve the problem thusly: The logic of the statement that anything with a beginning must have an end is fallacious. It is not logically correct, so to that extent I disagree with Joseph on this one. However, the point he was making was that the mind of man had no beginning and will have no end, which I agree with. He was using his ring to illustrate the his logical claim of things without beginnings not having ends, and since this logic point is flawed, the ring analogy was at least as flawed if not moreso (he ignores the possibility of something that is linear and infinite in both directions, I presume that at least part of the reason is that it is harder to come by something concrete to hold up in a sermon to make such a point).

    So, I agree with Joseph’s conclusion, I think his logical claim is demonstrably incorrect, which doesn’t bother me.

    However, I would note that if the mind of man had no beginning and can have no end, then for your argument to work (that God starts again from scratch at some point), the “mind” Joseph was referring to would have to be they “hardware” version of a mind. In other words, you believe that God’s mind will have an end in the sense of his identity/memories, just not the spiritual “brain” in which memories are stored. Thus, for Joseph’s statement to remain true in your paradigm, he would have to believe that it is only the “brain” which is eternal, not any particular thing in the brain. This puts you at odds with J’s answer to my number (4) of #21 which he answered in #32. Take this as an initial answer to your question in the last half of #38 (I will catch up yet!)

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  57. J (#54),

    I take it from your response that your answer is “yes,” you are claiming that the text in the SitG we are discussing about God being Jesus’ father is only refering to his being Jesus’ father in mortality.

    On your reading then, I don’t know why there is the point about Paul:

    Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly– hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Fa.r also

    The whole point of using Paul and particularly the “hence” seem mistifying to me if Joseph is just talking about God being Jesus’ father by virtue of being the father of his physical birth into mortality.

    Also, we have other hints from close associates of Joseph that your explanation here is off base.

    “It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter. Parley Pratt wrote that:

    It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love.

    ….I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this grovelling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion…” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968, pp. 297–98.)

    So, from talking with Joseph directly (a luxury we don’t enjoy), Parley’s impression was that Joseph was talking about the pre-existence (else, we would not be Jesus’ brother).

    I am just going to keep repeating a million times: I am not trying to prove an alternate position. I am trying to prove that there is room for informed disagreement as to Joseph’s belief.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  58. Jacob, Parley wasn’t talking about the Sermon in the Grove (I’m fairly certain that Parely wasn’t in Nauvoo on June 16th). Joseph apparently talked about God being our Father on some occasion. I don’t see how this has any relation to the Sermon in the Grove. Where is Jesus’s Father? Heaven. The setting for the SitG is that Joseph delivers the KFD. The expositor goes nutty on the plurality of Gods and Joseph uses the SitG to reinforce the doctrine. Joseph is making a case for more Gods not trying to assert that we are all Children of God (a principle that assuredly wouldn’t have pissed William Law off).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

  59. Actually, the more I consider your comment, Jacob, the more incredulous I become. It seems as if you just don’t care about a rational analysis of this. Joseph is saying (paraphrased):

    Look, I have always said that there was more than one God, i.e., Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Three. But what is more, Heaven is like Earth, and God has a Father like Jesus does, so there are even more than three!

    To import an unrelated text as a means to change the context of the discourse, makes me think that either 1) you haven’t really thought about what you are saying 2) you are just trying to make something up to salvage a position that is indefensible or 3) you are trying to yank my chain.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  60. Jacob (#56): why would God…

    I don’t know. I could speculate but that would probably not help keep this discussion on track. Perhaps in another thread we could discuss the whys.

    I think his logical claim is demonstrably incorrect

    Ok. Sounds like a good response. I think he meant what he implied though even if he did indeed make a statement that was overly broad (when taking mathematical theories into account). We can reasonably disagree on that subject.

    And yes, I am fairly certain that much of what we would call personal identity has a non-eternal nature to it. The difference between that and a “mind” is also a separate conversation that would require much more nuance than we ought to explore right now if we are to stay on track. (So perhaps you are right that on 1 out of the 5 answers J. gave in #32 we are not in lock-step. I’m not sure that is particularly important right now though. J. and I and not in theological lock step on several things. But we are in complete agreement that viviparous spirit birth is an absurd notion that ought to be discarded.)

    (#57) The whole point of using Paul and particularly the “hence” seem mistifying to me if Joseph is just talking about God being Jesus’ father by virtue of being the father of his physical birth into mortality.

    My assumption is that God the Father was also Jesus’s Father by covenant prior to Jesus’s mortal birth here. That is why I am mystified by this latest argument of yours. What part of it points toward VSB? Everything I have seen can (and I think ought to) be explained with covenantal spirit birth. I still see no evidence for VSB in your logic at all. Am I missing something here?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  61. Geoff (#55),

    It is the stress talking, I appreciate your measured response. I did misread #49 for which I am sorry.

    I standby the fact that my #42 does not try to smuggle in VSB as the only way to become a son of God. I presented my (1)-(4) summary and asked questions about how you both account for the logic of the statement.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  62. J (#58),

    Parley wasn’t at the SitG, I never said he was. I believe he offers insight into the thought of Joseph Smith during the time period in which spirit birth and mother in heaven were emerging in LDS thought. I am not fixated on a single source, I feel that everything taken together leaves room for disagreement as to what was in Joseph’s mind on this issue.

    It seems as if you just don’t care about a rational analysis of this.

    This seems unfair to me.

    1) you haven’t really thought about what you are saying 2) you are just trying to make something up to salvage a position that is indefensible or 3) you are trying to yank my chain.

    If these are the most charitable possibilities you could come up with, then what is the point of discussing. How about 4) I don’t understand the reason you brought up a quote from Parley Pratt after talking about the SitG.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

  63. No worries Jacob. I’ll back up and respond to your comments in #42 more thoroughly. Here is your summary of JS’s logic:

    1) We see a pattern here on Earth that every living thing has a progenitor. This is true for everything from trees to people.
    2) Paul said that the earthly is in the likeness of the heavenly.
    3) We know that Jesus has a father in heaven.
    4) From 1,2,3 we can conclude that Jesus’ father has a father as well.

    1) Seems ok generally. Every currently living mortal thing has a mortal progenitor. This can be taken only so far though since Joseph surely was not taking evolution into account. Further, the earth did have a beginning so it is not possible to say that there is not a first mortal progenitor of any living thing. So the analogy would ultimately not apply to beginningless spirits that he preached about.
    2) Seems generally ok. People become children of Christ here by covenant and thus we became children of the Father there by covenant, right? (grin)
    3) Yep. By covenant he was spiritually born as a child of God the Father there and perhaps he was born by biology here as well.
    4) Yes. And that in order to fully become as the Father is one must become a savior in the eternities to come as well… (The difference between Stapley and I is that he thinks we can never get on that progression track and I think Joseph taught that we can.)

    Does that help you see where I am coming from on your 1-4?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

  64. I apologize for my comment Jacob. I was a bit frustrated.

    As you are stating that the key to your understanding of spirit birth is the SitG, I am interested in continuing a discussion of it. Let’s get back to my context paraphrase of the SitG (#58-59). Do you agree with it or disagree? If you disagree, how do you disagree?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 13, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

  65. Geoff (#63),

    This helps, let see if I can move it forward some more.

    The problem I see with your response is that you seem to be taking each point in isolation rather than seeing it as one argument. For example, your comment about 2) introduces something that is “the same” about heaven and earth, but it is not the thing that Joseph was saying is the same. The thing on earth that he cites is 1) that everything has a progenitor. That is why 4), which relies on 1) and 2) is interesting. The conclusion projects something on earth (biological parentage) onto heaven, and thus he concludes that if Jesus has a father, this his father must have a father, and his father must have a father as well.

    You seem to want to limit this argument to Jesus’ mortal father, but that seems like an very unnatural thing for him to be meaning. When people talk about our heavenly father, and Jesus’ heavenly father, it seems they almost always have in mind that God is our father in heaven and was so before mortality.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 3:40 pm

  66. Good point Jacob. We should look at the argument as a whole. So the problem is you left out the conclusion that Joseph was using that argument to prove. Here it is:

    If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also.
    (I’m using the TPJS version here to be consistent with your quotation)

    So the entire argument is used as a vehicle to prove a plurality of Gods and that the person who is the Heavenly Father of Jesus is not the ultimate God (as Stapley mentioned earlier) but that the Father has a Heavenly Father as well and so on. Therefore I think you are wrong about biological parentage being projected into heaven in the argument. The argument is designed to simply prove a regress of divine parentage in general — not to project the specific variety of parentage (viviparous births) used in the analogy from earth to heaven. (Again, the tree part of the analogy shows that such a projection becomes absurd quickly.) If JS were making such projections from earth to heaven about viviparous births in the analogy then the argument about every God having a Father would fail miserably because there is not an infinite regress of biological mortal progenitors.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 3:57 pm

  67. J (#64),

    I can’t respond for a while, but I didn’t want to just disappear after this last comment. I will pick up where we left off later tonight (hopefully).

    Comment by Jacob J — June 13, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  68. A frequent reader of the Thang but I rarely have time to comment.

    Seems like one camp has Joseph Smith: I have re-read all of his comments tonight on the subject and he definitely states that spirits were not created. Having Joseph is pretty strong in my book.

    However the only one of his thoughts that actually made it into scripture is D&C 93:29 “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.”

    I suppose the word begining means here begining of the earth and it doesn’t say spirit weren’t created or made only intelligence. It also seems clear that there is a distiction between spirit and intelligence in this chapter. Intelligence is light and truth and Spirits need to receive more of it.

    The other side basically has all of the rest of the prophets. Brigham Young, John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, George Albert Smith, David O McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W Kimball, Ezra T. Benson, and Gordon B Hinckley all use the words that we are the offspring of God. For me the word “offspring” is a hard one to get around. Lots of support on this side which again adds a lot of weight.

    My however on this one (and I could be reading too much here) is that The Family: A Proclamation to the World tip toes around a few issues when it says “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.”

    It says sons and daughters of heavenly parents not Heavenly Father and says Spirits knew and worshiped God as their Father but doesn’t explicitly state that we are his offspring just that we knew, worshiped and accepted. I could easily say the same thing about Christ in his role as the Father.

    I guess I probably didn’t add anything to this discussion but I don’t necessarily see an unquestionable argument on either side.

    Comment by Greg — June 13, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  69. Welcome to the Thang Greg. I’m glad you commented.

    Just one response: I know the scriptures say we are the offspring of God, but I don’t see how that is any stronger that saying we are the “seed of God”. In fact “seed” implies viviparous birth more strongly that offspring since seed in synonymous with sperm. But the scriptures I quoted in the text say that we are the seed of Jesus Christ as a result of our covenants with him. So I would argue that our being the offspring of the Father is not useful evidence to support the notion of viviparous spirit birth (VSB) at all.

    The problem is that a lot of people have made the assumption there is such a thing as VSB for a long time. So long that it has become somewhat of a tradition to assume VSB in the church; and false traditions are hard to root out.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2007 @ 11:28 pm

  70. Geoff,
    I hear what your saying about what you call VSB. I don’t know how spirits are created I think it could be VSB I also think it could be the same way the world was “organized”. Abraham taught ” Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;” I don’t think organized in this context means he put together a meeting. Abr3:22

    Comment by Greg — June 14, 2007 @ 8:42 am

  71. I don’t think organized in this context means he put together a meeting. Abr3:22

    I do (see Abr 3:18).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 8:46 am

  72. Geoff (#66),

    I hardly left out the conclusion. I have to stop somewhere when I quote a passage, but my 4) in #42 is exactly summarizing the conclusion you accuse me of leaving out.

    4) From 1,2,3 we can conclude that Jesus’ father has a father as well.

    The argument is designed to simply prove a regress of divine parentage in general — not to project the specific variety of parentage (viviparous births) used in the analogy from earth to heaven.

    If the argument is designed to prove a regress of divine parentage (I agree with you on this, although I’m not sure if J agrees or not), then can’t you see that the manner of proof (that everyone here on earth has a parent and the same is true in heaven) implies that God is Jesus’ father in a manner which is akin to biological parentage? The argument goes: everything on earth has a biological parent HENCE we can conclude Jesus’ father has a father. If I interpret the argument as you suggest, I can’t see why Joseph would ever put a HENCE between those two statements.

    Your arguments against this being the implication are that if we take the analogy further than this we can reach something absurd. But this is always true of analogy. I am focusing on the point Joseph did try to make with the analogy, not possible extentions of the analogy which he did not make which you find absurd. Every analogy can be taken too far, so your point about this one being taken too far doesn’t seem like good evidence that I shouldn’t take it as far as it was taken by Joseph.

    Obviously, any time we interpret a text like this, we are trying to square it with a whole bunch of other considerations, so I can understand why you would downplay the association between earthly biological parentage and heavenly parentage which is implicit in the argument. I downplay plenty of other things of similar weight myself. However, I don’t know why you insist on refusing to acknowledge that the reading I am suggesting is a very obvious possible reading. I suppose it is because if you do, then you can’t say all the people who believe in spirit birth are nincompoops. (g)

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:46 am

  73. J (#58-59),

    Obviously, I agree with the general historical setting of the KFD and the SitG. I agree with your general characterization of the SitG. However, in your paraphrase, I am still unclear about what connection you see between the statement about earthly being patterned after heavenly and the conclusion that God has a father:

    Look, I have always said that there was more than one God, i.e., Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Three. But what is more, Heaven is like Earth, and God has a Father like Jesus does, so there are even more than three!

    I am still genuinely unsure of how you interpret the connection. In what way do you think heaven is like earth? How does that similarity lead Joseph to his conclusion that Jesus’ father has a father, and his father has a father as well?

    If I can understand your position on this I think I will be able to connect in our discussion better.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:50 am

  74. Jacob (#73), as it was Joseph’s intent to prove the plurality of Gods and show that there are more Gods than the three in the current Godhead (there are contemporary accounts showing that this was his premeditated intention), Joseph was showing that when there is a father and a son, we know that the father has a father too. The same is in heaven. There is God the Father and God the Son, there must also Be God the the Fathers, God the Father. This raises the question as to how Jesus is the Son of God. The same way God the Father was the Son of his Father, namely the scriptural account of Jesus’ conception.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  75. J,

    This raises the question as to how Jesus is the Son of God. The same way God the Father was the Son of his Father, namely the scriptural account of Jesus’ conception.

    But aren’t you ignoring that God was also the father of Jesus before Jesus’ mortal conception? How can you rule out this kind of parentage as the kind being referred to here? It seems to me that this pre-mortal parentage is the kind most people refer to when they are not specifically referring to the other.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

  76. Jacob, I make the conclusion I do, because Joseph was being pretty explicit in the matter. Let’s look at teh discourse. After introducing what his subject, Joseph states:

    the apost[les] have disc[overe]d. that there were Gods above-God was the Far. of our Ld. J.C. -my object was to preach the Scrip-& preach the doctrine there being a God above the Far. of our Ld. J.C.-I am bold to declare I have taut.

    After some interjections, Joseph returns to this and states:

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

    Note here that Joseph describes the relationship of the Father and the Son. As the Son “laid down his life and took it up, same as his Father had done before.” So we see exactly what Joseph was talking about. We see that Joseph was saying that God the Father came to Earth and had a Father like Jesus. This is very strait forward.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  77. J,

    I feel like I am talking to Blake again on this as this is nearly identical to his argument. It seems you line up with what I described as Blake’s view in #42 (correct me if I’m wrong). I hashed it out with him (here is one relevant comment in the thread) previously and since he is smart and persuasive, I think I understand the main things in favor of that view.

    For me, it seems hard to sell the idea that the text straightforwardly says something when there is massive disagreement, even among experts. I am surprised you don’t believe that someone could read the text and reach a different conclusion.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  78. J,

    By the way, I never responded to your #32. I think you make a good point about Joseph never talking directly about spirit bodies. He made a lot of statements which have direct implications on the idea of spirit bodies though, don’t you think? We discussed D&C 129 in the past in regard to this issue. There are plenty of other examples, or course, of pre-mortal spirits appearing and the like. So, in light of the silence of Joseph on what constitutes a spirit (does it have a body, what is the body like?) I see some ambiguity as to which parts of a spirit are eternal. I said something about this here, but the comment ordering killed that discussion.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  79. Jacob, a couple things. To my knowledge, when Joseph used the term Heaven, it was typically a post mortal destination, or a place where God dwells. When talking about pre-mortal existence, he doesn’t talk about heaven. I’m not aware of any experts that debate what that excerpt means (though I would be interested). As far as I understand, Blake does not believe that God the Father was a Savior on another planet. Some important things to consider that Joseph is saying:

    1. Joseph clearly states that God the Father lived on a world and did what Jesus did on that World (despite what Blake might say).

    2. When God the Father was being a Savior he had a Father.

    If Joseph wanted to make it an argument about spirit birth, he could have said, “we are all children of God, as things in heaven are as they are on earth. God must have a Father in Heaven as well.” But that is not his argument at all. To add it in is simply wishful thinking.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 5:12 pm

  80. Jacob #72: The argument goes: everything on earth has a biological parent HENCE we can conclude Jesus’ father has a father. If I interpret the argument as you suggest, I can’t see why Joseph would ever put a HENCE between those two statements.

    The problem is that this argument of yours ends up crashing into a tree. Here is the quote you gave in #42:

    And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly. Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?

    So your argument goes something like this:

    a. Earthly fathers have sons by having sex with their wives
    b. Joseph quoted Paul on saying things here have a likeness in heaven
    c. He then connected that idea with the word “hence”
    d. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to assume Joseph was arguing that all spirits are born via HF having sex with his wife in the Celestial kingdom

    So setting aside the whole “offspring after their own kind” problem, you face the problem of that tree comment. By the very same logic you just used we would also have to assume Joseph meant the following:

    a. Earthly Oak trees reproduce by dropping acorns
    b. Joseph quoted Paul on saying things here have a likeness in heaven
    c. He then connected that idea with the word “hence”
    d. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to assume Joseph was arguing that the spirits of all oak trees are spouted via the Heavenly Oak dropping acorns in the soil of the Celestial kingdom

    Does any of this sound absurd to you yet? Joseph mentioned both Fathers and Sons and Trees and their offspring in the quote after all.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

  81. Geoff,

    I already responded to this criticism of yours in the second to last paragraph of #72.

    “ends up crashing into a tree” was a good line though.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  82. Jacob,

    The second to last paragraph in #72 doesn’t address my criticism. All you say there is that the analogy shouldn’t be taken too far. I haven’t taken the analogy any further than you have. I took it to the exact same place you took it in fact.

    (Though I’m glad you appreciated that quip)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

  83. Geoff,

    Yes, it does address your criticism. As I said, Joseph used the analogy to make a point. Discussing the implications of the analogy on the exact point Joseph was making is taking the analogy as far as Joseph did. The only thing he applied the earthly pattern of progenation to is the parentage of Jesus, the Father, and his father.

    You want to point out that if we apply the analogy to oak trees you think it becomes absurd, but Joseph didn’t apply it to oak trees, so I see no requirement that I must. So, no, you didn’t take it to the exact place I took it. I didn’t take it anywhere other than to analyze Joseph’s use of it. I hope you can see the distinction, it seems fairly obvious to me.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 15, 2007 @ 12:41 am

  84. Perhaps I can add one more thing on this point since you seem to feel it is a winning angle. I don’t think the logic Joseph advances here is compelling at all as a logical argument. I would never pick up the verse from Paul and make such an argument myself. The value, then, is not in the logic of the argument per se, but only to the degree that it offers an insight into the way Joseph was thinking about the issue.

    This is also applicable to J’s point at the end of #79. I don’t for a second think Joseph was trying to make a point about spirit birth in the SitG. (And never said I did.) I think the way that Joseph talks about the relationship between the Father and the Son (even while doing so for an entirely different purpose) can give us hints into hit thoughts on the matter. Despite all of J’s confidence and bluster about his view being straightfoward and mine being wishful thinking, all I am looking for is hints, since Joseph never ironed out the details and we have various statements which do not all make sense together without further explanation.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 15, 2007 @ 12:53 am

  85. Jacob,

    The exact application of Joseph’s analogy is to prove that the Father also has a Father. For that reason the earthly tree analogy works just as well as the earthly father and son analogy and nothing becomes absurd. The minute one tries to also apply the analogy onto the question of how the Father has a Father and project that into something like VSB one has already stepped into the territory of the unsupportable and absurd and in such cases my point in #80 is very valid.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 8:52 am

  86. Jacob, your explanation in #84 is quite helpful to me. You are not asserting that the SitG really does teach Spirit Birth, you are asserting that it hints at it. While I think that such a perspective isn’t particularly helpful, the reality is that it is about the same as Geoff’s use of the ring analogy to support MMPs (which I also think is wishful thinking).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 15, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  87. Geoff (#85),

    The analogy doesn’t suggest that the Father has a Father unless the why of sons always having fathers on earth is relevant to fathers and sons in heaven.

    It would be nonsensical for Joseph to say something like “the sun always appears to be yellow in the sky, hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also.” This would have the property you are going for. The sun always appears to be yellow and sons always have fathers. So these two things are the same in what you are calling their that. Nevertheless, it would be nonsensical precisely because there is nothing about the why of the sun always appearing yellow which is relevant to whether or not a father would always have a father.

    What Joseph said was:

    If Jesus Christ was the Son of God and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a father, [then] you may suppose that he had a Father also–[why?]where was there ever a Son without a Father?

    As I noted in #42, Blake’s (and J’s) reading doesn’t bomb out on this analogy as badly as your reading because they think it refers to Jesus and the Father and his Father being born on an Earth, which clearly has something in common with regular biological birth into mortality. Their reading bombs out for other reasons (in my opinion), but not as badly as your reading which wants this to be referring to a covenental fatherhood.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 15, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  88. J (#86),

    So perhaps at least part of your frustration was that you thought I was using the SitG text for a very different reason than I was. Glad to clear that up. In fact, my approach of looking for hints from all over is what led me to bring up Parley Pratt’s comment, and it was the point of my second to last paragraph in #19 where the SitG came up initially. It is when I consider all the unanswered questions together (about the nature of spirits and spirit bodies, the necessity of eternal marriage, comments in SitG, teachings about MiH, etc.) that I become uncertain as to how they are all best resolved together.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 15, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  89. I shouldn’t have said “bombs out” in #87 as I am trying to be less inflamatory. Please bear with me and mentally replace it with something less offensive.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 15, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  90. Good point Jacob. I agree that the “why” is the real heart of the argument Joseph made rather than the “that”.

    That concession of course does nothing to prop up your argument about the “how” though. Your “how” argument is still totally unsupported by the text as far as I can tell.

    And it doesn’t bother me if Joseph was indeed only talking about the mortal birth of Christ in this specific case. My main point is that it is not a reasonable reading to try to superimpose VSB into this sermon from Joseph.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  91. I have a vague recollection of a quote from Brigham Young that talked about the way the plants and animals got to this earth. I’m sure you guys know it. He argued that they were transplanted here from other earths and his reasoning seemed to be along the lines of what Smith used in the SitG about fathers and sons. Does this put Young in the Heavenly Carrot camp? Is that bad?

    Of course, maybe the whole discussion is off track since Slate recently showed that dads aren’t even necessary at all for reproduction! :-)

    Comment by Bradley Ross — June 16, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  92. Jacob: re: #77. I take up the issue again in chap. 1 of the third volume of Exploring Mormon Thought and give further reasons that I believe the SintG is best read as referring to every son who becomes mortal having a father, not that every God has a father qua God.

    Comment by Blake — June 16, 2007 @ 11:21 am

  93. I’ll look forward to it Blake. Bradley, Brigham taught that a celestial Adam and Eve came to earth and at mortal food and through that process became mortal themselves.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  94. RE:93
    I hope you don’t mind J Stapley, if I link to your post on that Brigham quote. The comments were also interesting.

    Comment by C Jones — June 16, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  95. Cheers, C Jones.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 1:56 pm

  96. J., I recall that post. It was interesting. The BY quote I’m thinking of (or that I think I remember) was not about Adam and Eve, but about the plants and animals of this earth. He said the whole earth was composed of pieces of older earths and that the animals all came from other earths, too.

    The closest I could find in my quick internet search was this quote by Bruce McConkie. “Life did not originate on this earth; it was transplanted from other and older spheres.”

    If there really is a quote such as I think I remember, does that put BY in the “Heavenly Carrot” camp (comment #41), and is that bad? It isn’t occuring to me at the moment why that might be a wacky notion.

    Comment by Bradley Ross — June 16, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  97. Bradley,

    Here is a post on the recycled planets idea. It tends to get blown way out of proportion. Also, the “Heavenly Carrot” idea that we have been tossing around in this discussion is the absurd idea that the is a carrot god reproducing carrot spirits in heaven. Nobody is taking that seriously though.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

  98. Geoff (#90),

    Okay, so while I was at 11-year-old scout camp today, I decided what I really need is to get a very specific answer from you to the following specific question:

    We know that all living things here on earth have progenitors. What reason do we have (if any) to suppose that this earthly pattern has any implications on whether or not God has a father?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 16, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

  99. Jacob,

    First, all things alive on earth today have progenitors, but that is not true for all living things ever on the earth. The earth has a beginning and thus life on earth also has a beginning. Therefore going back in history on that pattern does not map to beginningless spirits at all.

    What reason do we have (if any) to suppose that this earthly pattern has any implications on whether or not God has a father?

    I think Joseph was really trying to say was that our Heavenly Father (who he said used to be like us) had/has a Heavenly Father of his own and that pattern goes on and on backward in time (presumably forever). Reading a lot more than that into the SitG is over-analyzing the one point he was making in my opinion.

    Yes I realize that this simple reading of this part of the sermon is directly contrary to Blake’s read, but I think it is the best reading of the SitG. My main point in this the last bunch of comments in this thread is that I don’t think the SitG is any evidence in favor of VSB at all. If you want to find evidence to support VSB I think you ought to hunt elsewhere is all.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 17, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  100. Goeff,

    Your continued declarations that you don’t find “any evidence in favor of VSB at all” don’t really add anything to the discussion. Especially so since you failed to answer my very specific question in #98.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 17, 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  101. Hmmm… I thought I did answer your question. I must be missing something. What part remains unanswered?

    Maybe I can add to my answer first if it helps:

    What reason do we have (if any) to suppose that this earthly pattern has any implications on whether or not God has a father?

    Since everybody any of us knows has a father and every one of those fathers has a father, etc., Joseph was using that as an analogy to the concept that the Father of Jesus has a Father as well.

    The doctrine he was trying to teach was as I stated in #99. Does that help or is there something still unanswered?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 17, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  102. Geoff,

    Yea, still unanswered. I am not asking what Joseph was trying to teach, I am asking about the connection (if any) between the earthly pattern and the conclusion that God has a father. You are telling me what you think Joseph was really trying to say. I am asking about the logic that exists between the premise and conclusion of an argument. If you read the question closely, it asks precisely the question I am trying to ask. One easy way to see that your response doesn’t answer my question is that my question starts out with “what reason do we have (if any)” and your response doesn’t provide a reason (or deny that there is one). Does that help?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 9:48 am

  103. I am asking about the connection (if any) between the earthly pattern and the conclusion that God has a father

    Well I think there is really a rudimentary and basic connection. Jesus called HF his father; HF called some other person his father; and so on. That is comparable to my son calling me father and me having a father and so on. That’s it. Nothing more complicated than that.

    Does that answer your question?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 18, 2007 @ 9:58 am

  104. Okay, so the only connection you accept is that they both use the word “father.” You explicitely reject any other connections derived from implications of this shared word “father.” So, although they use the same word, the word means entirely different things in each context.

    Thus, your answer to my question appears to be that there is no reason to suppose the earthly pattern would have any implications on whether or not God has a father. The earthly pattern is completely unrelated, except that it coincidentally shares one word with the situation in heaven.

    So, going all the way back to #42, we have now determined that you cannot account for the word “hence” in Joseph’s argument. He believes the earthly pattern can be used to derive the fact that God must have a father, and your shared-word-father connection is not enough to allow for such a conclusion. The unavoidable consequence is that Joseph had in mind more of a connection than you allow for. This is demanded by the logic of his argument.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 10:38 am

  105. You explicitely reject any other connections derived from implications of this shared word “father.”

    Ah, I see the angle you are going for now. There are some things that can inferred from the use of the term father. One is that in whatever way HF is the father of Jesus, HF also has a father. So that could be by adoption or VSB or perhaps some other method we haven’t thought of yet. (And I’m thinking of the father-son relationship that existed before Jesus was born here since the Blake/J. model works for the mortal father/son relationship part.)

    So we have to decide which of those is the most likely form of fatherhood JS meant. Since on the surface VSB seems to directly contradict the eternal nature of spirits as taught by JS, and for the other reasons to reject VSB that we have discussed in this thread, it seems to me that adoption remains as the most likely available option by a wide margin.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 18, 2007 @ 11:47 am

  106. One is that in whatever way HF is the father of Jesus, HF also has a father.

    Once again, you are putting the “hence” of Joseph’s argument in the wrong place. You are trying to put it between Jesus having a father and his father having a father. J did the same thing in #43. In reality, the “hence” in the argument is between the earthly pattern which is projected into heaven /and/ the conclusion that if Jesus had a father he (the Father) also has a father.

    In case it is not clear, I have been trying to engage you on this point since #42, here is a brief history:

    #42 – I summarize Joseph’s argument
    #43 – J puts the hence in the wrong place
    #57 – I put the hence back in the right place
    #60 – G says he still doesn’t understand what I am getting at
    #72 – I try to make it more explicit by using caps (HENCE) with things on either side
    #76 – J avoids addressing the “hence” by bringing in his opinion that the Father was a Savior on another world
    #80 – G avoids the “hence” by going on offense with the “crashes into a tree” counter-attack
    #87 – I try to describe the role of the word “hence” in a logical argument in a new way
    #90 – G sticks to his guns about VSB, but still no response to why Joseph put a “hence” where he did.
    #98 – I decided to just ask you for the connection which would justify a “hence”

    Maybe I am totally off base and missing Joseph’s point and need correction, but I will never believe it until someone explains to me why there is a “hence” in Joseph’s argument in the place it actually is. So far, no one has done it.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  107. Alright, I see what you are sticking on. Let me address that (while holding true to the “crashes into a tree” argument). Here is the exact sequence you used minus the first sentence you quoted:

    Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly. Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?

    Here is a summary:

    1. Every living tree currently on the earth had a progenitor tree on earth.
    2. “Everything” has a progenitor in one way or another.
    3. Things on earth are similar to things in heaven
    4. HENCE (or THEREFORE): If Jesus had a Father we should assume that HF had a Father also.

    So I assume you don’t think this argument directly contradicts JS’s other clear teachings on the beginningless nature of spirits. So then how does it translate into the tripartite model you want to leave room open for? How does the fact that every every living tree currently on the earth had a progenitor tree on earth support a tripartite model in general? Are you saying that when an earthly acorn that falls from an oak tree begins to grow, a tree spirit is sent from heaven to inhabit it; and so likewise when a celestial acorn that falls from the resurrected Heavenly Oak begins to grow, an unformed intelligence/spirit is pulled from somewhere to inhabit the growing intangible spirit-tree-sprout that emerges from the tangible resurrected acorn?

    If you do think that’s how things happen with trees then at least it would be consistent with the human tripartite model that people like to suggest. But accepting the tripartite model for trees (and all other forms of life presumably) is the only way I can see that “hence” supporting a tripartite model for humans.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 18, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  108. Continuing my brief history from #106:

    #107 – G avoids dealing with the “hence” by going on offense again (and with the same offense used previously in #80 which was already answered in #72, #83, and #84).

    Am I to conclude from your unwillingness to address the argument in relation to your own position that you can see they don’t work together? If not, why do you keep trying to change the subject from your own position to the tripartite model?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 4:39 pm

  109. Jacob,

    How have I avoided dealing with the “hence”? I even went as far as conceding that the “hence” might be consistent with a tripartite assumption as long as one also believes in a tripartite model for trees as well. What else are you hoping I’ll say? How else could I even address it to your satisfaction?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 18, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  110. What else are you hoping I’ll say?

    I am looking for you to do one of the following. Either concede that my conclusion in #104 is correct and your reading does not (cannot) explain why Joseph put a hence between the two statements he did, -OR- explain why it makes sense to put the hence where he did.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

  111. Here, I’ll even take another stab at satisfying your demand for an explanation of that “hence”…

    We have ruled out that “hence” pointing toward a tripartite model. It could be pointing exclusively toward the mortal birth of Jesus. But that doesn’t explain the premortal father/son relationship of Jesus and HF.

    There also is always the possibility that Thomas Bullock threw a stray “hence” into his shorthand notes from whence we get the sermon:

    where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence witht. a progenitor-& every thing comes in this way-Paul says that which is Earthyly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly 26- hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also

    Or, since it was a live sermon that Joseph was giving it is entirely possible he said hence and simply didn’t realize it would cause Jacob J some confusion 163 years later.

    Any of those are legitimate possibilities I think. That last set of possibilities is why I focused on what I thought Joseph was really trying to say in my comment #99. Does that help?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 18, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  112. So, you offer two possibilities in #111. One is that it is misreported by Bullock, the other is that Joseph said it, but didn’t realize what he was saying didn’t make sense (because he was speaking live).

    Okay, fine, I can accept either of those as genuine possibilities. But then you must accept the third possibility which is that Joseph was correctly reported and meant what he said and it conflicts with your understanding of his view. This third possibility introduced some of that uncertainty we were discussing in #17 #18 and #19.

    In #19, I started this painful thread on the SitG with this claim:

    [Spirit birth] is implicit in his argument that there was never a son without a father, the earthly being patterned after the heavenly.

    I stand by this statement that it is implicit in Joseph’s argument. Maybe the argument is misreported, maybe it slipped out without Joseph thinking it through carefully, but there it is in the report, and it is at least one piece of evidence that must be dealt with.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

  113. We have ruled out that “hence” pointing toward a tripartite model.

    No, I have simply been refusing to let you change the subject to the tripartite model until you deal with the fact that this argument of Joseph’s doesn’t make sense according to your view.

    Since we seem to be bottoming out on the point I was trying to drive home, I will say something briefly about the tripartite model. I think the essence of the tripartite model is that there is something eternal in each of us which constitutes our eternal identity. Joseph refers to this variously as intelligence, the spirit of man, and the mind of man. This uncreated essence of a person is able to be clothed with a spirit body and later a physical body. Since we have already discussed Joseph’s failure to address where spirit bodies come from (or if they are uncreated) this view seems like one reasonable interpretation of his view. When speaking of the eternal “spirit of man” I see no way to rule out the possibility that he was speaking of this uncreated mind who had not yet gained a spirit body.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  114. I stand by this statement that it is implicit in Joseph’s argument.

    I stand by my assessment that you are simply wrong.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 18, 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  115. Yes, J, but you have yet to explain the “hence,” so your assessment is without support.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 18, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

  116. I believe I have, but I see your analysis of the importance of “hence” to be flawed. But, if you want something according to your analysis, then it is just as well:

    Heaven is inhabited with people that are sealed together kinship relationships. If you are in heaven, then you have been sealed to someone who is your father (the Law of Adoption asserts that this need not be your biological father). The liberality of these kinship ties in heaven is easily demonstrated in the contemporary writings of early church pioneers. It is important that Joseph is talking about “heaven,” for such a concept is a post-mortal consideration. In heaven as it is on earth, fathers and mothers many. As everyone on earth has a father, so to must everyone in heaven.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 18, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

  117. Goeff re: # 107: You reason:

    1. Every living tree currently on the earth had a progenitor tree on earth.
    2. “Everything” has a progenitor in one way or another.
    3. Things on earth are similar to things in heaven
    4. HENCE (or THEREFORE): If Jesus had a Father we should assume that HF had a Father also.

    What actually follows is: 4.* Therefore, if Jesus had a father, he had an earthly father. Note that 4. doesn’t follow rom 1, 2 and 3; rather, 4* follows. Note also that this comment which you quote is immediately followed by Joseph’s discussion of how the Father was once on an earth just like Jesus was. He appears to me to be saying that just as Jesus had a Father when he became mortal, so the Father also had an Father when he became mortal on another earth. Further, Joseph doesn’t say 3.; rather, he says that: “Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly.” Thus, it isn’t things heavenly that are in the likeness of the earthly, but that which is on earth is in the likeness of heaven, i.e., the Son had a father as well when he came from heaven to become mortal on an earth. So it seems to me that you have it backwards. In any event, your argument is clearly a non-sequitur unless amended as I suggest.

    Comment by Blake — June 18, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

  118. I would add that 2 is false given Joseph’s view of intelligences. They did not have a progenitor and Joseph specifically states twice in the KFD that intellgences are eternal and uncreated and there is no creation about them.

    Comment by Blake — June 18, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

  119. Hehe. This thread is cracking me up now. Four guys and at least three very different views on the same subject. (At least J. and I are agreeing on this one thing — we can disagree on other stuff later.)

    Jacob, are you willing to take the baggage of the Heavenly Oak dropping celestial acorns and thus taking unformed intelligences and creating spirit bodies for oak trees too? If not then I think you have no legs to stand on with your argument in favor of a tripartite model being implicit in that statement by Joseph. In other words, if you pick up one end of that stick (or twig?) you must pick up the other as well.

    If you do accept that required baggage you will at least have a consistent position — you will just come off looking goofy…

    Comment by Geoff J — June 18, 2007 @ 10:21 pm

  120. Gentlemen, Brethren, IMHO, the way I see it is that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning. This would seem to make Him ontologically, physically and biological different than we humans. He being possibly vivparously born (begotten) of our Heavenly Father and presumably a Heavenly Mother (Feminine Divine) may have been involved as well.

    Jesus Christ’s birth through Mary was His condescending mortal incarnation. Do you understand the condescension of God? 1 Nephi 11:16

    We humans have entered this familial unity (oneness) and relationship via adoption covenants. Thus Jesus Christ’s Parents become our literal Divine Parentage as well and we there Their literal divine adopted offspring. Children of God.

    To add another scripture supporting the initial topic of this thread that we are the seed (children) of Christ, God our Father gave us, His adopted children, to Christ to be the children of Christ by virtue of His atonement. See 3 Nephi 19:29 which reads as follows:

    29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me aout of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.

    On the issue of God the Father having a Father I would like to add for consideration the following quote I received recently from Latter-Day Light Daily Devotion about this teaching from Joseph Smith in June 1844.

    1844 – The Prophet Joseph addresses the Saints in Nauvoo twice—once in the morning and again in the afternoon. He discusses the nature of God and the plurality of Gods saying, “Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son?” (History of the Church, 6:476).

    These are some of my thoughts. I hope this might help clarify some things or contribute in a possitive way.

    Thanks

    Comment by Jothan — June 19, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  121. Good grief Jothan. Have you even followed along with this thread?

    1. Joseph Smith clearly taught that spirits have no beginning so your assertion about Jesus “possibly vivparously born (begotten) of our Heavenly Father and presumably a Heavenly Mother” directly contradicts that notion. (BTW – this is the very topic we have just spent 100+ comments debating).
    2. That quote you added is from the very same 1844 sermon we have been debating for the last 100+ comments too. See here to read the sermon in full.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 19, 2007 @ 9:37 am

  122. J (#116),

    Your analysis is strikingly like Geoff’s in #85. So, I am back to asking you to answer my question in #98.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 9:45 am

  123. Geoff (#119),

    You have been trying to nail me to the heavenly oak tree for some time, but you seem to be ignoring my response. The following three points go together. First of all, Joseph only applied the earthly pattern to Jesus and his father and his father. He didn’t say anything about oak trees or carrots, so it is entirely unclear what Joseph thought of oak tree spirits and carrot spirits.

    Second of all (and this is a really important point, so please pay close attention), I don’t think Joseph’s argument here is a good one (see #84 where I already said this). You obviously have not internalized this, because you keep arguing against Joseph’s argument as though it is my argument. I am using the argument as evidence that Joseph believed there was a similar pattern of parentage in heaven as exists on earth. It is a hint as to how Joseph thought of things. I am not saying that the logic of the argument is compelling proof of vsb, I am saying it is hard to understand why Joseph reasoned as he did on this occasion if he did not have something like spirit birth in his mind.

    Third of all, I don’t think Joseph arrived at his view of heavenly parentage through the argument he presents in the SitG. Thus, it doesn’t seem at all unlikely to me that he would choose an analogy which was reflective of his view on God and his father, but which could not be followed to its logical conclusion concerning carrots. If Joseph actually got to his position through this argument, he would be exposed to your criticism in a much more serious way. Since he is simply trying to make a point about God, I don’t see any reason to extrapolate the logic beyond the exact application he advanced himself.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 10:25 am

  124. Blake (#117),

    I am still unclear what you think the earthly-heavenly connection is. You said:

    Thus, it isn’t things heavenly that are in the likeness of the earthly, but that which is on earth is in the likeness of heaven, i.e., the Son had a father as well when he came from heaven to become mortal on an earth.

    The Son had a father as well as what? If the earthly is in the likeness of heaven, what is it in heaven that is “like” earthly procreation.

    As to your formulation:

    4.* Therefore, if Jesus had a father, he had an earthly father.

    This is not at all the conclusion advanced by Joseph. His conclusion was: “Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?”

    Changing it from Jesus’ father himself having a father to being about Jesus’ father being an earthly father is to totally change the meaning of Joseph’s conclusion.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 11:21 am

  125. Jacob (#122): I am back to asking you to answer my question in #98. From #98: What reason do we have (if any) to suppose that this earthly pattern has any implications on whether or not God has a father?

    Joseph taught repeatedly that Heaven was constituted of individuals in kinship relations. (You know, sealed back to Adam, and we can’t be saved without them, same sociality there as here, etc.) In asserting that Heaven is as Earth, Joseph is simply highlighting his teachings on the matter.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 19, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  126. Geoff (#121)

    First of all thanks for the response. I hope this means my comment was acceptable.

    re 1. I am just trying to introduce myself in this discussion by stating my agreement with certain points. I agree with Joseph’s teaching of spirits being eternal and uncreated. However to say that Christ was not the Only Begotten is to throw out a lot of scripture even by Joseph. I think that “begotten” infers some kind of physical biological relationship ontologically different from ours. This thread was initially about “Child of God…The Son”. Maybe we should start another thread to discussion how Christ is the Only Begotten and define what that might mean.

    re 2. I am just stating my ageement with certain teachings to introduce myself. I am full aware of SitG and KFD.

    It would seem to me that you are maybe debating for debates sake and not for meaningful understanding.

    I have to leave for youth temple trip now.

    Thanks

    Comment by Jothan — June 19, 2007 @ 11:37 am

  127. Jothan: It would seem to me that you are maybe debating for debates sake and not for meaningful understanding.

    You are mistaken.

    I still am suspicious that you are a fundie troll in disguise but have not banned you yet. But even if you aren’t, taking subtle potshots at me and others here like this one is not helping your cause mate.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 19, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  128. J (#125),

    In asserting that Heaven is as Earth, Joseph is simply highlighting his teachings on the matter.

    That response would work find if Joseph didn’t follow that statement directly by the word “hence.” I’m sorry to repeat myself so many times, but for some reason, it continues to be necessary. From the dictionary:

    hence -adverb
    1. as an inference from this fact; for this reason; therefore

    “Hence” is a connecting word between some fact and some conclusion which can be inferred from that fact. In the case of Joseph’s argument, its function is to connect the earthly pattern of biological progenation (fact) to the conclusion that if Jesus had a father, his father also had a father (known by inference). My question in #98 asks you (or anyone) to tell me what basis there is to infer something about Jesus’s father having a father from the fact of earthly biological progenation and the scripture from Paul. Until you can do that, you are ignoring the word “hence.” You are in good company though, since it seems many people here want to ignore the argument as it stands.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

  129. Jacob, if you want to be the voice crying in the wilderness stating that no one is considering the hence besides you, that is fine; but you aren’t being rational. We have all addressed the usage of hence.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 19, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

  130. J,

    I don’t know how to make it more clear than in #128. You have done absolutely nothing to explain the basis of the inference. Saying you have doesn’t make it so. Sorry.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  131. Fine. Let’s do this one more time, explicitly. Let’s start with the source material and then break it down:

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

    1) ASSERTION I: if J.C was the Son of God & John discd. that god the Far. of J.C had a far. you may suppose that he had a Far. also.

    2) SUPPORT FOR ASSERTION I: where was ther ever a Son witht. a Far.

    3) SUPPORT FOR ASSERTION I: where ever did tree or any thing spring into existence witht. a progenitor-& every thing comes in this way

    4) ASSERTION II: Paul says that which is Earthly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly

    5) INFERENCE I: hence if J. had a Far. can we not believe that he had a Far. also

    6) ASSERTION III: I want you all to pay particr. attent. J. sd. as the Far. wrought precisely in the same way as his Far. had done bef -as the Far. had done bef.-he laid down his life & took it up same as his Far. had done bef-he did as he was sent to lay down his life & take it up again & was then committed unto him the keys

    Joseph starts out by asserting that the Father has a Father. after supporting that assertion, he states (paraphrased):

    Paul says that which is Earthly is in likeness of that which is Heavenly, [therefore] if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that the Father has a Father as well?

    Here he is using Paul to assert the logical possibility of his former ASSERTION I. It seems that we all agree that in heaven, there are kinship relations, including father-son. It seems that your sticking point, Jacob, isn’t on “hence” but on “likeness.” Regardless, it is important to note that INFERENCE I is to show the logical possibility of ASSERTION I (Could be labeled SUPPORT FOR ASSERTION I) and isn’t the prime message.

    Joseph further explains the prime message in ASSERTION III: That God the Father came to an earth and laid down his life and took it up again. This assertion requires that he have a Father as well (the whole point of his discourse).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 19, 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  132. Jacob: It seems to me that J. has accurately captured what Joseph was after.

    For example, you asser: This is not at all the conclusion advanced by Joseph. His conclusion was: “Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also?”

    You’re missing the point. Look at it again. Is it:

    (a) Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also WHEN HE BECAME MORTAL?

    or

    (b) Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also WHO BEGOT HIM AS A SPIRIT ONLY LATER TO BECOME A GOD?

    J. and I argue that the context demands (a), and yet you assume that only (b) is possible. Yet in context Joseph is explaining the fact that the Father was also at one time mortal; not that the Father had a spirit birth. Thus, (a) is the better supported by context and analogies used by Joseph.

    Comment by Blake — June 19, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  133. Blake,

    “Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also WHEN HE BECAME MORTAL?”

    I am wondering if you are espousing a relatively trinitarian model of God the Father, at least when he was God AND Savior during his own mortal existence. If so – it seems to to be the opposite of the non-trinitarian stance taken by the our early church leaders.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 19, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  134. Bravo for #131 and #132, both of which refreshingly make arguments about the logic. Thank you.

    J (#131),

    I will use your breakdown of (1) to (6). Notice that (1) and (5) are basically identical statements. As you said (and I agree), (5) is in support of (1). Where I think you have gone wrong is by decoupling (2) (3) and (4) as though (2) and (3) are independent support and (4) is a new assertion leading to (5). In reality, inference (5) is based on (2) (3) and (4) in combination. Joseph states (1), then goes back to provide support for his point, which he does by offering (2)-(4) and inferring from those (5), which was his original point. Thus, it is clear that (1)-(5) go together.

    Point (1), which is the existence of a plurality of Gods, was Joseph’s prime point and the main point of this entire discourse. Note carefully that there are potentially 4 different Gods spoken of in (1)

    a) Jesus
    b) Father of Jesus
    c) Father of b)
    d) Father of c)

    All of those are mentioned specifically. How can we be sure that all of these Gods exist (this plurality of Gods)? According to Joseph, it is because of (2) (3) and (4). Notice that (2) (3) and (4) don’t include the ideas found in (6). They state that the earthly pattern of everyone having a father can be used to infer that God has a father, he has a father, he has a father, and so forth.

    It is true that in a sense it comes down to “likeness” as well as “hence.” But, we don’t get to make “likeness” mean whatever we want it to, because Joseph tells us exactly what likeness he has in mind by giving us (3). Your position accepts (2), but downplays (3) simply because you don’t accept spirit birth. But (3) is there all the same.

    Now, it is interesting that you and Blake have more of a disconnect on the meaning of this passage than I thought in #77. If I understand your #116, #125, and the second to last paragraph of #131, you have it as:

    earthly pattern of everyone having a father < => everyone in heaven being in a father-son relationship by sealing (not necessarily related to biology in any way)

    However, I think that Blake has it as:

    earthly pattern of everyone having a father < => everyone in heaven taking a turn to be born on an earth and thereby having a father

    One interesting ramification of Blake’s view is that it is actually the earthly which is after the likeness of the earthly, since both things refer to mortal birth.

    Do I have that right?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  135. Blake (#132),

    To add to what I said above, the reason I think that the context demands (b) is that (2) (3) and (4) don’t imply (a). They don’t include anything which would imply the idea that God was himself born on an earth. They don’t include anything which would suggest they are based on that foundation. They don’t provide any reason to suppose that although Jesus needed to be born on an earth, God himself did not. So, (a) does not follow without additional premises.

    They do, however, imply (b) because they take as a premise that Jesus is the Son of God (1). This fits with the pattern that sons always have fathers (2,3), and by transfering that pattern to heaven (4) we can infer that Jesus’ father in heaven has a father as well (5). It all hangs together with (b), but not so much for (a).

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

  136. Jacob, ok, first a historical reading: yours doesn’t add up. Joseph never preached spirit birth publicaly, so the audience wouldn’t be familiar with it. Why would he use a concept that no one understands to argue for plurality of Gods (remember, he had been preparing this talk for days). Now, you need to be careful as well, because even though I think (as well as Joseph) that spirit creationism is false, I do believe in a non-viviparous spirit birth.

    Second, the logic of your argument isn’t coherent. Even if you assume that 2 and 3 apply to 4 and not to 1 (a very, very strained reading) Blake’s and my reading still holds. As to my downplaying of 3, it is you who are playing the shell game in not accepting the ramification of your anachronistic reading by recognizing the logical necessity of a Heavenly Oak tree that creates all oak spirits.

    As I see it Blake, Geoff and I are in agreement as to the meaning of the SitG as outlined in #131. As to my other comments that you note, you will note that I was applying your analysis to the sermon, not mine.

    It seems to me that you are unwilling to let go of your strained, anachronistic reading of the SitG so that you can mine your hints about viviparous spirit birth from it. You are free to do so.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 19, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

  137. J,

    I keep picking up a tone of contempt. Have I done something to draw your ire? I thought we were getting past it, but it seems not.

    At any rate, I don’t think I ever said spirit birth was taught publicly by Joseph Smith, so I’m not sure where that came from. You said my argument was incoherent, but didn’t say what was incoherent about it. You said that I claimed 2 and 3 apply to 4 and not 1, when I said the opposite, that 2,3,4 together were said for the sole purpose of supporting 1. I am not sure how to respond, but your closing sentence sounds like you are tired of discussing anyway.

    I was just becoming interested that by breaking it out and being very explicit about the argument (as in #131) I was seeing that you and Geoff and Blake all have somewhat different views about how to read it, but apparently you have come to the opposite conclusion.

    Anyway, I am sorry if I have done something to offend. If it is just that you think I am an idiot, I am sorry for that too. I have always had a lot of respect for your opinion.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 19, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  138. Gilgamesh re: # 133: I don’t believe that the Father was a Savior on another planet. I believe that what Joseph said supports only the view that the Father became mortal; not that virtually everything done by Christ was done by the Father (otherwise the Father’s mother was also Mary etc.) However, I do adopt a view that can be called social trinitarianism.

    Jacob: I don’t think J. is upset, just a little frustrated. It seems to me that there is some warrant for reading the text as you do. I don’t believe it is the best reading for the reasons I’ve stated, and it does have fairly far reaching theological import, but it certainly isn’t a position that cannot be defended based on the text. Darn that Joseph for not being philosophically trained so that he could speak with greater clarity. I guess the problem is God’s for not making all prophets also philosophers — what a mess that would be.

    Comment by Blake — June 20, 2007 @ 8:35 am

  139. Jacob, Blake is right, I was just a bit frustrated. Thanks for your patience.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 20, 2007 @ 8:50 am

  140. These kinds of scriptures teach of spiritual adoption by Jesus Christ. I don’t see that as us having two Fathers, but rather being contingently adopted from one Heavenly Father to another.

    We belong to the Heavenly Father (in the sense of a child belonging to a parent). Due to Christ’s atonement and His role in the salvation of our Father’s children, those that are celestialized will be given to Christ. He will become our Heavenly Father while the Father – our Heavenly Father now “once removed” so to speak – will remain Christ’s Heavenly Father.

    Paul spoke of this when he said, “Ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:23). Jesus also prayed for those people which the Father had given him (John 17:9); we belong to the Father and are literally given to Christ to be his children (spiritually reborn/adopted). This is a consequence of his atoning sacrifice because we are “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20) by Christ.

    After his resurrection, Jesus continued to identify Heavenly Father as our Father and God to Mary (John 20:17). However, once the Earth is celestialized, Christ indicates that He will be our God, and we shall be His sons (Revelation 21:7) – that He will be our Heavenly Father.

    As for VSB, I don’t find it necessary but I think it’s a possibility (and so agree with the stance). If a fluid made up of spirit matter can flow through the veins of a physical body, I see no reason why a body made up of spirit matter can’t develop in the womb of a physical body.

    Comment by Eso — July 15, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

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