On the necessity of marriage (a theological conundrum)

June 13, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 10:56 pm   Category: MMP,Theology

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this border of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.
(D&C 131)

There is an interesting theological conundrum in Mormonism that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention. The above passage is the first part of it. The doctrine taught in section 131 teaches that a person cannot be exalted singly and separately — rather a man must be sealed to a woman (and vice versa) for either to exalted.

Here is the second part of this conundrum:

Jehovah is the premortal Jesus Christ and came to earth being born of Mary (LDS Bible dictionary)

Jesus was already exalted before coming to earth. The pre-mortal Jesus was God.

So the question is, how do we reconcile these two beliefs? We are taught that a major purpose of our mortality is to allow us to progress to become like God in ways that were impossible prior to our receiving a physical body. Among the requirements to do that is to become sealed in marriage by the priesthood authority. We are further taught that there are required ordinances that must take place in mortality because a physical body is required to accomplish them (and thus we do even proxy ordinances for the dead). So how then did the Savior and Holy Ghost manage to become exalted and full members of the Godhead without participating in these ordinances in the body?

There are three general methods I have seen people use to try to reconcile this seeming contradiction. People generally assume that:

(1) Gods are fundamentally different beings than us humans and thus the rules that apply to us don’t apply to them
or
(2) D&C 131 is just wrong and any one of us can become fully exalted in the absence of marriage
or
(3) Jesus had already lived a regular mortal probation on a previous world, was married by the proper authority there, was exalted as a result of that probation, and later left his resurrected body to condescend to be our savior

Of course most people in the church would find things to object to in each of these reconciliations. Solution (1) is objectionable because it places a massive gap between us and the Godhead. It either assumes unbridgeable ontological gap between us and them or at least something similar to that. While creedal Christians might love that idea, it seems to fly in the face of the teachings we got from Joseph Smith and his successors that we are of the same kind/species as the members of the Godhead. Solution (2) is objectionable because it requires a flat out rejection of clear and emphatic canonized revelation. Solution (3) is objectionable because it requires one to accept that a resurrected divine person could indeed choose to separate their spirit from their resurrected body and condescend to a mortal body (as opposed to being permanently and inseparably connected to their resurrected body).

So what do you think? Are there other general reconciliation methods that I have not heard or thought of yet? If not which of these three do you prefer and why? Just how do we reconcile the teaching that one must be sealed to a spouse in mortality in order to become exalted with the notion that the Savior and Holy Ghost were already Gods and full members of the Godhead prior to their mortalities?

130 Comments »

  1. Jesus was already exalted before coming to earth.

    Exaltation requires a resurrected body, so I think this possibly gives your conundrum a conundrum of its own.

    I also can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a semantic problem here of what being a god could mean. Can a god be a part of a divine presidency without being an exalted god? I think it has to be so somehow.

    We are also taught that the Savior was not perfected, although He was perfect, but grew from “grace to grace,” and could only say he was perfect after His resurrection (difference between Matt. 12:48 and 3 Ne. 12:48). He didn’t “receive… of the fulness at first,” and D&C 76 teaches that only those who “have received of his fulness, and of his glory” can be kings and priests and gods.

    My solution is to say the problem is semantics and perhaps a lack of conceptual understanding of possible different kinds of gods. I think you have assumed that godhood always equals exaltation (and I don’t know that we have that written anywhere). Might it be possible that this isn’t the case in some cases?

    The Holy Ghost is another example of one who has no body (resurrected beings have bodies and spirits “united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.” (D&C 138:17)

    I just think something is missing in our understanding of what a premortal and/or spirit God (or not-yet-perfected God) is vs. an exalted, resurrected, perfected god can be like.

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 12:29 am

  2. So help me understand what you are saying better m&m. Are you saying that Jehovah wasn’t really God in the Old Testament? Or that he wasn’t really perfect? I can’t really tell what you mean. (The same questions apply to the Holy Spirit too — are you saying the HG isn’t perfected and isn’t God the Spirit?)

    See here for scriptures on Jehovah as God, BTW.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 12:38 am

  3. Can’t I also reject the Talmage concept of Godhead and get away from our insistence that Jehovah is always Jesus?

    Comment by a random John — June 14, 2007 @ 6:57 am

  4. Option 4: Exaltation does not mean what we think it means.

    ie- obtaining the highest degree of heaven does not equal being like Jehovah in the OT.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 7:02 am

  5. Thank you m&m and Matt W.

    My take of D&C 131 says that the “deficiency” of one not in the highest level of the celestial kingdom is the inability to have increase – no spirit children. Other than the ministering angel designation, I have not found in scripture anything else that differentiates inhabitants of the celestial degrees. Also, there is the distinct implication that, for the inhabitants of this world, the pre-judgment celestial kingdom is different from the post-judgment celestial kingdom. One may be worthy to officiate as a “God” before the judgement without celestial marriage, but not afterwards.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 7:37 am

  6. One may be worthy to officiate as a “God” before the judgement without celestial marriage and resurrection, but not afterwards.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 7:46 am

  7. I don’t think it would be heresy to think of the Godhead as a presidency like the 1st Presidency or even a stake presidency. Each has a different role but really can act for each other. Each is called a president but only one has all the keys. I think this would fit into the idea of divine investiture of authority.

    If you believe the model of Christ = Jehovah then you really have God the Father only talking to man in the Garden or to introduce His Son. This seems to imply to me a difference between them.

    Joseph taught “If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.” (Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 244.)

    I think this is the closest thing that suggests how Christ obtained the fullness of the Priesthood and suggests that he had all of the Temple ordinances.

    Finally if you believe that those that die before the age of 8 inherit the celestial Kingdom then there are a lot of folks that didn’t need to prove themselves just needed to gain a body. They seemed to have already attained some level of perfection.

    Comment by Greg — June 14, 2007 @ 8:27 am

  8. I’m not going to stake out a position here, but I want to point out a fourth logical possibility–namely that the LDS Bible Dictionary is wrong and Jehovah is not the premortal Jesus Christ. There is certainly precedent in church history for that position, and it would not entail ignoring canonized scripture.

    Comment by Last Lemming — June 14, 2007 @ 8:28 am

  9. There are a couple of problems with this conundrum. First, if Jesus was indeed a spirit before this world was (which is the generally accepted perspective) then Godhood is not synonymous with exaltation. In fact the case of the Holy Ghost seals the deal. Godhood and exaltation are absolutely not the same.

    The other problem I have with the conundrum is that I think Orson Pratt’s interjection into William Clayton’s diary was mistaken. See here (esp. comment #3).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  10. arJ, LL,

    So you suggest we reject the teaching that Jesus acted in the of Jehovah. I should note that even our scriptures concur that The Father acted in the role of Jehovah at times, but are you saying that Jesus never acted in that role? What evidence is there to support that assertion? Are you of the opinion that Jesus was not part of the Godhead and divine before his mortality? You would have to throw out a lot of scriptures to make that claim…

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  11. m&m: Exaltation requires a resurrected body

    Matt: obtaining the highest degree of heaven does not equal being like Jehovah in the OT.

    Stapley: Godhood is not synonymous with exaltation

    Three of you have asserted that exaltation requires resurrection (and thus have claimed that Godhood and exaltation are fundamentally different) but no one has backed up that assertion yet. Are y’all just making it up?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 8:56 am

  12. Mondo: My take of D&C 131 says that the “deficiency” of one not in the highest level of the celestial kingdom is the inability to have increase – no spirit children.

    This is false. Christ did have spirit children before he came to earth. See here.

    One may be worthy to officiate as a “God” before the judgement without celestial marriage and resurrection, but not afterwards.

    Is there any evidence to support this claim? It sounds suspiciously like an ad hoc doctrine invented to protect other unsupportable doctrinal assumptions.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:00 am

  13. Geoff, your being anachronistic. For the early Saints, exaltation was something very specific. The editor of the Millennial Star in 1847 (vol. 9 pg. 23-24) included an interesting diagram of the “Kingdom of God” with the following description:

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

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 9:06 am

  14. Geoff J:

    1. I did not claim exaltation requires resurrection. I made no statement of what exaltation requires up to this point. If you do need backup for what exaltation means, here is the cheap and quick of it. I merely stated that there is no reason to say that Godhood requires exaltation or is equivilant thereto. In other words “no one has backed up that assertion yet. Are y’all just making it up?”

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 9:10 am

  15. Thanks J. (#12)

    Since I happen to know that you fall squarely into camp (1) from above I can see why this talk of Kings and Queens is useful in supporting your belief that there is an ontological gap between us and the race of Gods. As we have discussed many times in the past though, I think option (1) is untenable in light of the KFD so we don’t need to rehash that all. Suffice it to say that I grant that (1) is a coherent theological position to take even if I don’t believe it is an accurate one.

    So I do have an incidental question though. If you think that exaltation is something completely different than Godhood, can Gods become exalted too or is there a different name you like for what happens to them at resurrection (since they were Gods already and all).

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

  16. Greg: I think this is the closest thing that suggests how Christ obtained the fullness of the Priesthood and suggests that he had all of the Temple ordinances.

    I agree. For that reason I lean toward option (3).

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:15 am

  17. Geoff (#16),

    Do you feel the same way about the Holy Ghost?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:24 am

  18. re my 14- sorry, I sound like a real jerk there.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 9:24 am

  19. Matt,

    Help me understand what you are saying then. Perhaps we aren’t sharing the same assumptions.

    obtaining the highest degree of heaven does not equal being like Jehovah in the OT.

    What do you mean by this? Something like (1)? That we can be Kings and Queens but never fully Gods? I don’t understand what you are angling for.

    I merely stated that there is no reason to say that Godhood requires exaltation or is equivilant thereto.

    Again, what do you mean? One can be a non-exalted God? How does that happen in you estimation?

    Gospel Principles says this:

    Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives.

    So if exaltation is to live the kind of life God lives how could one be a God but not be exalted? The only thing I can think of is that you are leaning toward (1) or something.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:30 am

  20. Jacob (#17),

    I am assuming that since the Holy Ghost is God he is exalted. I am surprised that so many people are taking issue with that assumption. It never struck me as remotely controversial.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:33 am

  21. Geoff: So I do have an incidental question though. If you think that exaltation is something completely different than Godhood, can Gods become exalted too or is there a different name you like for what happens to them at resurrection.

    In light of Greg’s response, regarding temple ordinances, I think it is appropriate to say that Joseph may have believed Jesus received all the Temple ordinances; but, I very much view this in the same terms of his baptism, which is also required for exaltation (but wait, the Holy Ghost hasn’t been baptized!).

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 9:35 am

  22. Also, Geoff, you are using the term “exaltation” as if it is a concrete thing that Joseph talked about. It simply isn’t. It is a late invention, so it is rather unhelpful for you to keep using it as if it has some special meaning to the early saints.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 9:37 am

  23. Thanks J,

    Good answer.

    but wait, the Holy Ghost hasn’t been baptized!

    Hehe. As a person who leans toward (3) I am not so sure of that.

    It is a late invention, so it is rather unhelpful for you to keep using it as if it [the term exaltation] has some special meaning to the early saints.

    I’m not sure what you are talking about. I have not said anything about what it specifically meant to early saints have I? I mostly want to pin down what it means in this conversation.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  24. Geoff (#20),

    Joseph Smith is reported to have said:

    The Holy Ghost is now in a state of probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.” (Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 245; Sabbath address, Nauvoo, 27 August 1843. Reported by Franklin D. Richards.)

    I agree with you that the Holy Ghost is God. I don’t agree that he has previously lived a mortal life, been resurrected, and received exaltation with an eternal companion. How do you square your view of the Holy Ghost with this from Joseph Smith?

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:01 am

  25. Why can’t Jehovah (Jesus) be God the way counselors in the First Presidency are Presidents. They cannot act independently, however. Only the President of the Church can do that. When Gordon B. Hinckley dies, James E. Faust, technically, will no longer be a President, but will return to his position among the 12.

    So why couldn’t Jehovah be called to be God by virtue of his calling in the Godhead. This would not require Jehovah to be exalted before being considered God. Yet without God the Father at the head, bot Jehovah and the HG would return to their places as spirit children of God.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 14, 2007 @ 10:03 am

  26. What do you mean by this? Something like (1)? That we can be Kings and Queens but never fully Gods? I don’t understand what you are angling for.

    I am not going for (1). I am angling for the fact that Jesus being Jehovah does not make him exactly equal in all ways to God the Father at the time he was acting as Jehovah. I believe in what is commonly termed divine investiture of authority. (After all, other righteous spirits participated in the foundation of the world and Christ does say he does nothing of himself, but what his father teaches him.)

    Gospel Principles fully defines exaltation as

    1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76).

    2. They will become gods.

    3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.

    4. They will receive a fulness of joy.

    5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to his commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

    So only 1 in 5 is not exaltation.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  27. Gilgamesh, the most simple answer to that is that to be God, you can’t just have someone say that you are, you actually have to be a God. Basically, Jesus was different than we were premortally. He had the capacity to atone. He was perfect. He was not just technically God but actually God.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 10:08 am

  28. Jacob (#24): How do you square your view of the Holy Ghost with this from Joseph Smith?

    Without knowing the details, I would assume the Holy Ghost is in the same state now as Jesus was in before he came to this earth.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:14 am

  29. J. While I am a propopent of the requirement of self-effort, I am not sure I can support #27. For one thing, being “perfect”, would Jesus have been a God if HF had not asked him to take on that role? I guess I am seeing Godhood more as a role which requires a state of being, rather than a state of being itself…

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  30. Geoff (#28),

    So, are you comfortable saying that exaltation is a “state of probation”? This seems to be an inevitable consequence of your view as described here.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  31. Matt (#26): So only 1 in 5 is not exaltation.

    I’m confused again. Which one of the five is not exaltation and why?

    Stapley (#27): I agree. Godhood is not just a title that can be bequeathed on a spirit person — it is a state of being. That is why I think either (1) or (3) are the only really viable solutions to this problem.

    Matt (#29): I think you have a catch-22 on your hands there because a spirit person could not become a Celestial person in the first place if God were not graciously inviting her to be one with the Godhead.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  32. Jacob (#30),

    Well there is no question that Jesus was God before coming here and there is no question that the Holy Spirit is God now. Joseph also taught that the Son rose to a higher exaltation as a result of his atoning life here. So in that sense — the sense that there is more available still for the HG assuming he must follow in the footsteps of the Father and Son and eventually atone for a world — sure that could be described as being a version of probation still. It is very different than our much lower probation of course, but if there is more to be done by them in that state and it is contingent on free will I think the term is fine.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:29 am

  33. On the eternality of God, I tend to agree with Blake’s arguments.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 10:31 am

  34. Right J, you like (1) and so does Blake. But as I understand your position, you also think Joseph taught about a regress of Divine progenitors whereas Blake doesn’t. (I think that is what I’ve heard from you at least)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:34 am

  35. Geoff (#34), yep, though I am not sure that I believe in an infinite regress.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  36. Geoff J: (31) I’m confused again. Which one of the five is not exaltation and why? Wow, I must have said something wrong. 1 of the 5 is being a god, but being a god is only 1 of the 5 things exaltation gives us. If we only had that 1 and not the other 4, it is not exaltation. Does that clear it up?

    I don’t understand your catch-22. My point is that we need both the worthiness and the invitation. Another way to say this is to say we need both grace and works…

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  37. threadjack- I have to say I was about to give up on blogging as being “no fun anymore” Thanks for bringing it back to life.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 10:40 am

  38. I have to say I was about to give up on blogging as being “no fun anymore”

    Matt, that is because [deleted at author’s request].

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 10:43 am

  39. Matt: but being a god is only 1 of the 5 things exaltation gives us.

    I don’t think this is right. As I read it, the only one of those things a person could have without becoming a god is #1.

    I don’t understand your catch-22.

    I suspect this might because you assume that there are independent gods out there who are not part of the Godhead in any way? My assumption is that being part of the Godhead (and thus One with God) is what godhood means so they can’t be separated.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  40. Geoff: I feel like we are stearing away from the topic here, which is fine since it is your topic. My point on the original topic is that a viable 4th option is that marriage is not a requirement for Jesus to do the things he did in his pre-mortal state. (I’m trying to leave the terms Godhead and Exaltation out of that discussion, as there seem to be some issues of semantics between us there.)

    As for the other topic:
    I suspect this might because you assume that there are independent gods out there who are not part of the Godhead in any way? My assumption is that being part of the Godhead (and thus One with God) is what godhood means so they can’t be separated.

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “independent” and by “one with”. I am surprised by your statement here only in that I had assumed you believed our (potential) Godhood was independent of HF.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 11:03 am

  41. Matt: My point on the original topic is that a viable 4th option is that marriage is not a requirement for Jesus to do the things he did in his pre-mortal state.

    Ahh… so you are assuming up front that (3) is not correct. I disagree with that assumption. Maybe before we proceed you should vote for (1), (2), (3), or come up with a more viable (4). I haven’t really heard a viable (4) yet as far as I can tell… Hints at a (4) but nothing I could call a real theory yet. For instance, why would marriage not be required for Jesus to be a God whereas it is required for us? (1) gives a reason why that might be the case but you reject (1) so what is the reason in your proposed (4)?

    I had assumed you believed our (potential) Godhood was independent of HF.

    Nope. I think the unified Godhead is the One God our scriptures talk about and I don’t believe there are other Gods out there.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 11:14 am

  42. Geoff J. (#12):

    I think there has been plenty of discussion, teaching and doctrine about the difference between being “spiritually born” and being “born as a spirit.” Joseph F. Smith taught viviparous spirit birth. (sorry, I am not close to my copy of Gospel Doctine right now to give you an exact reference.) “Eternal Increase = spirit children” is not false. Just curious; but have you presented to any member of the presiding quorums of the Church your views regarding option #3 above (or MMP, etc.)? If yes, what was the response? If not, why not?

    Is there any evidence to support this claim? You mean besides Jesus Christ?

    Also, you honor me by ad hoc doctrine. I haven’t quite made it to where my opinions are immediately classified as doctrine. I think Jesus Christ is evidence for my supposition.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  43. I see no scripture that says marriage is required for us to be a God. The only scripture I see says that marriage is required to enter the highest degree of Glory. My option #4 hinges on this idea that these two are not the same, as I said in comment #4 and tried to add to with comment #14. The Onus is on you to either show that
    1. Marriage is required for us to be a God
    2. The highest degree of glory is the same as being a God.

    Nope. I think the unified Godhead is the One God our scriptures talk about and I don’t believe there are other Gods out there.
    This really helps me understand your view more. My issue here is that I think you believing this puts your (3) inside of (1). Further, by saying this, you are saying Jesus was not(and is not) a God, as there aren’t “other Gods out there”, but Jesus is only a part of the one God. Further, since I can not every become equal to the total, but I can only become one part of the total, Blake and J.’s position holds true that Man can not become God.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  44. So help me understand what you are saying better m&m. Are you saying that Jehovah wasn’t really God in the Old Testament? Or that he wasn’t really perfect?

    What is being a God in the premortal? What is being part of a Godhead? What is being a spirit God (the Holy Ghost)? Is this the same as exaltation and eternal lives? Is there something you have that suggests that these are all one and the same?

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  45. re 38- I thought it was funny.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

  46. eehhmm…gentlemen, please may I chime in here?

    This is certainly a very interesting dicussion.

    I for one will side with Geoff J on many points.

    To share my thoughts or opinions I would say that “exaltation” was very prevelent during Joseph Smith’s era and much scripture and revelations bespeak as such. Refer to D&C Sec 132 for example.

    I believe “exaltation” and “Godhood” are indeed the same as they refer to us humans.

    To answer the topic of this blog I would assert that yes indeed we must be married and even plurally married in order to be exalted and become as God and enter into His Kingdom.

    A monogamous marriage is not sufficient for exaltation according to God’s laws. Refer to parable of the talents.

    As for the proposed camps I would offer a 4th.

    God the Eternal Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ are indeed different than we and are not of the same eternal intelligence as we. (no I do not believe in vivaparous spirit birth as has been discussed on several other blogs).

    Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God from the beginning. Christ was born a God being physically begotten of God. We are His adoptive children through the atonement of Christ, which atonement could only be effectuated by a God.

    The temple ordinances and the priesthood are the Orders of the Son of God, Christ. these are what He requires of us to be adopted into His family, glory, exaltation.

    Well, those are my thoughts. I have more but I should probably keep these short. Let see where we go from here.

    Thanks

    Comment by Jothan — June 14, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  47. It would seem by my previous post that my comments are more in line with camp (1) rather than being a 4th alternative.

    Interesting.

    Comment by Jothan — June 14, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  48. Mondo Cool,

    We have a vigorous discussion going on about viviparous spirit birth (VSB) here. I have already stated my opinion there that I think the idea of VSB is poppycock. You are free to join that debate if you’d like.

    I’m confused about your question about me presenting my views to “the presiding quorums of the Church”. Have you ever done that? Do you know anyone who has? Why would someone even want to do such a thing?

    Also, you are free to simply assume that (3) is false. But my request in this post is for a vote on (1)-(3) or a viable (4).

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  49. Matt: The Onus is on you to either show that
    1. Marriage is required for us to be a God
    2. The highest degree of glory is the same as being a God.

    I am having the worst time understanding you in this thread.

    I presented section 131 as evidence for your question 1 above. I am baffled by your question 2 above though. Are you actually arguing that exaltation in the highest degree is not the same as godhood in our doctrine? This is so basic to Mormon doctrines that I am surprised if that is what you really mean.

    Again from Gospel Principles:

    What Is Exaltation?

    Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.

    If we prove faithful to the Lord, we will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. We will become exalted, just like our Heavenly Father. Exaltation is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father can give his children (see D&C 14:7).

    Exaltation in our church means “We will become exalted, just like our Heavenly Father.”

    My issue here is that I think you believing this puts your (3) inside of (1).

    Why do you think that? There is nothing I said that creates an ontological gap between us and the Godhead, yet that is the fundamental component of (1). Just because the unified Godhead can be called the One God does not mean that the individual members of that Unity can’t be called Gods on occasion as well. My point is that no individual can be a God if that individual is not unified with the One God — aka the extended Godhead.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

  50. m&m: What is being a God in the premortal?

    Isn’t that what this post is asking? As far as I can tell it is either (1) or (3). Either there are Gods out there that are so different from us that they don’t need probations and the ordinances of the gospel to be Gods (1), or the members of the Godhead already experienced mortalities in the past and were exalted as a result of those. I have heard no other viable reconciliations still.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 1:14 pm

  51. Jothan: A monogamous marriage is not sufficient for exaltation according to God’s laws.

    I totally disagree with this sentiment. I think the idea that there is polygamy in heaven is incorrect. But that is a debate for another thread so let’s just agree to disagree on that here.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

  52. Geoff J (51)

    Yes, I have read some of your posts on other threads that revealed as much. I will of course respect your sentiment.

    [edited]

    Comment by Jothan — June 14, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  53. My point, Geoff, is that the kind of life God the Father lives was not what the Savior lived premortally. He was a God, but I’m not convinced He was exalted.

    I think there is plenty to indicate that Jehovah and the mortal Jesus and even the immortal and resurrected Jesus still answer(ed) to God the Father. He may have been a God, but He wasn’t equal to God in all power and glory. There appears to be a hierarchy of sorts within that divine presidency from what I can tell. The Holy Ghost clearly doesn’t have the same power that the Father has; The Savior seems to have more power but still points us to Father, not stopping at Himself. The temple teaches an order as well that puts the Father at the helm. So this all suggests to me that being part of the Godhead and being Gods by that right aren’t necessariy equivalent to being exalted, like God in all ways.

    I still think that “being a God” as a member of the Godhead doesn’t necessarily mean that being part of a Godhead requires exaltation. I don’t know what would make someone be able to be a part of a Godhead as a spirit being, but exaltation in my mind has to fit all the characteristics of God, which includes having a perfected, glorified body, and presiding, not just conducting.

    I don’t think the answer can fully be 1 because we are asked to do what the Savior has done, and receive grace for grace until we can someday receive of a fulness, as He received grace for grace. I think the scriptures make it clear that the Savior did NOT have the fulness at first. Why would He have had to always give the glory to the Father? Why grace for grace? The Father held the council, it was HIS plan. The Savior was an instrument in that plan, but He wasn’t equal to God premortally, even as a god (Is it possible that Jehovah as God (or Holy Ghost, for that matter) are titles, not an indication of state of being/progression?)

    I reject the idea in 3 because I see nothing in our doctrine that says that resurrection will or can ever be undone. And resurrected glory by definition is necessary for exaltation (to be like God requires having a body). It just seems illogical to me to strip someone of something essential to being like God in His exalted state (the body) and then calling Him an “exalted” God. But I realize that still begs the question of how Jesus was a God premortally.

    So playing off a possibility I posed, I would consider perhaps some sort of investiture of authority that is a different spiritual priesthood office/position/assignment, perhaps that allows for one to be in a Godhead? I dunno. I just don’t find any of the three options completely viable and so I think there has to be a 4 but I’m not sure what that would be. So I’m throwing out one possibility to chew on ….

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  54. m&m: I think the scriptures make it clear that the Savior did NOT have the fulness at first.

    This is quite true, but it is also quite true that he never sinned. He was worshipable before this world was and had the capacity to atone. We strike out on all of those.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

  55. Geoff J. (#48):

    I guess you do not accept as a viable option that a being can be a God without tangible body, prior to resurrection, and not having participated in the sealing ordinance – without your option #3.

    I’m confused about your question about me presenting my views to “the presiding quorums of the Church”. Have you ever done that? Do you know anyone who has? Why would someone even want to do such a thing?

    Why?” Really? Because I believe a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator might be better qualified to teach about doctrinally related topics. And, because I believe that, I feel I just might be able to better direct my musings about the gospel.

    Point of clarification: “…any member of the presiding quorums…”

    “… ever done that…?” Actually, I have. One example: I discussed the nature of the Holy Ghost with Pres. Harold B. Lee. Specifically, I asked if the Holy Ghost was an individual person or was it more like a “position” that could be occupied by more than one individual at different times. I wondered if Michael could have been the “Holy Ghost Councilor” in the Godhead before assuming the role as Adam on earth.

    Pres. Lee said we should be “careful because not enough has been revealed about the Holy Ghost to make such speculations.” He said his understanding was that the Holy Ghost was an individual person who would have a specific time to obtain a body and the validating ordinances of the temple. He then related (in a lot of detail) what was necessary to be exalted, which, incidentally, belies MMP. He emphasized the doctrine of Judgment. (Ad hoc – yes. Improvised – no.)

    And, I’ll conclude by your response that you have not.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  56. Geoff (#32),

    Thanks for straightforward responses. Joseph says the Holy Ghost is a state of probation from which he may advance if he proves his righteousness. I don’t usually think of exaltation in those terms, so it makes me tend toward the something else, but I don’t want to suggest anything at the moment.

    As long as we’re explaining scriptures and conundrums, how would you make your theory work with the fact that the Holy Ghost doesn’t have a resurrected body?

    22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. (D&C 130)

    According to you, the Holy Ghost does have a body (if he is like the pre-mortal Jesus who you posit had a resurrected body).

    Comment by Jacob J — June 14, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  57. Geoff 49>

    Are you actually arguing that exaltation in the highest degree is not the same as godhood in our doctrine? This is so basic to Mormon doctrines that I am surprised if that is what you really mean.
    I am arguing that the highest degree of glory is more than godhood. It is having the kind of life our HF has. perhaps the issue is in how we define Godhood. On the one hand, If we say Jehova was a God, then we are defining Godhood one way, and on the other hand, if we are saying Godhood is the kind of life HF has, then we are defining Godhood, I believe in a different way with different parameters. I feel like you are assuming the parameters are exactly the same for both, and I do not see that as a valid assumption.

    and regarding unification with the Godhead, I guess I am personally doubtful that we can be exalted independent of God the Father, so I guess I am a proponent of this unification. I am not certain we would agree on all the details, of course, but I do not think we can be Gods independent of God. So, where were you going with that? Or should we just consider this subtopic dead now, and try to focus on the marriage connundrum?

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

  58. Mondo Cool (55) now this is a story you have not told. I think I am going to need to hear the fullness of this one Sunday for Dinner.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

  59. m&m,

    Stapley is quite right. Jesus was God before coming here, he was perfect, and he had the ability to atone. So it appears that you are leaning toward solution (1) with comments from you like this:

    He was a God, but I’m not convinced He was exalted.

    The word “exalt” means to elevate or glorify so I find it hard to comprehend how a God is not exalted. Sure, there was a higher level of exaltation the Son reached after his atoning sacrifice, but to say he was a non-exalted God is an oxymoron.

    I think there is plenty to indicate that Jehovah and the mortal Jesus and even the immortal and resurrected Jesus still answer(ed) to God the Father.

    Do you have any reason to believe that Jesus doesn’t still answer to God the Father? If not then how is this point relevant to this discussion?

    I think the scriptures make it clear that the Savior did NOT have the fulness at first.

    I agree. But to be clear, that passage you are quoting is talking about Jesus in his mortal ministry, not about his premortal condition.

    I would consider perhaps some sort of investiture of authority that is a different spiritual priesthood office/position/assignment, perhaps that allows for one to be in a Godhead?

    This is a variation on the “the premortal Jesus wasn’t really God” argument and I just can’t accept it as a viable alternative based on the evidence.

    So it seems to me that if you reject (3) outright you are closest to the (1) camp when it comes to finding a resolution right now.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  60. Geoff: The word “exalt” means to elevate or glorify so I find it hard to comprehend how a God is not exalted. Sure, there was a higher level of exaltation the Son reached after his atoning sacrifice, but to say he was a non-exalted God is an oxymoron.

    To be fair Geoff, you are applying to definitions to the word here. Of course Jesus was exalted in ther general definition of the word. However, Mormons tend to believe that exaltation is the state in heaven reserved for those who have Faith in Jesus unto Salvation and have received the ordinances of the Temple. Of course Jesus didn’t have this second type of exaltation before the world was.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 14, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  61. Mondo Cool,

    It sounds like you see the need for solution (3) but don’t want to go there.

    That is an interesting story about President Lee and you. Was he actually the president when you asked him or in the 12 or before that? Just curious — it seems to me that higher one moves in the organization the less likely they are to share doctrinal opinions.

    In fact for that reason I have no desire to ask anybody in the “leading councils of the church” about this stuff. First, I think I’d only get the correlated answer (some variation on “it is a mystery”) and second even if they had a personal opinion on it I don’t see why it should carry much more weight that the opinions of non-GA Mormon theology buffs if God hasn’t revealed anything to them on the subject to begin with.

    (I suspect many Mormons secretly think all GA’s really do know all thee answers but they aren’t telling us. I don’t think so.)

    So it sounds like you really don’t like (1) and you are uncomfortable with (3). Maybe I should make “Jesus wasn’t really God before his mortality here” (4)even though I think it is an absurd position to take. Do you have a vote on any of these or perhaps a (5)?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  62. Jacob (#56),

    If (3) were true then there are any number of possibilities to explain your question about the status of the Holy Ghost.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  63. This is quite true, but it is also quite true that he never sinned.

    That’s why I said he was perfect, but perhaps not necessarily perfected. I fully realize that still makes Him completely different from any of us, but I still think that we can consider both words separately because I think they might be.

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

  64. Geoff: HBLee died in 1973 while Mondo Cool (my FIL) was on his mission. Since HBLee was the president of the 12 when my FIL was 13, I would gather this must have happened between those two points.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 14, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

  65. Geoff J. (#61):

    The conversation took place in Feb. 1973 in the Salt Lake Temple during the first week of my mission. HBLee was the President of the Church at the time. He made it clear that there were no “do-overs.” When judgment occurs, rewards are given. What we’ve earned, we’ve earned and Jesus’ atonement closes the gaps, if we have done what He has asked us to do.

    Therefore, I do not see the need for solution #3. He really was God before His advent through Mary and was such without the benefit of a glorified body of flesh and bones and without the benefit of salvific ordinances such as baptism and sealing.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

  66. Alright Mondo. So it sound like you are leaning toward (1) instead of (3). Whereas we must have a mortal probation and the ordinances of exaltation to become gods, Jesus is a different type of being who didn’t need them. Is that right?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  67. I know I have missed a large portion of the conversation, but I think we are trying to have absolute definitions of things that are not clearly defined.

    We are not sure what being a god means. In the scriptures we are all called sons and daughters of god. That COULD make us all Gods. Just like I am a human and my children are human.

    if we believe priesthood is eternal, why can’t Godhood be eternal in the same sense. Once I am ordained, I become part of the eternality of priesthood. Once I am invited to godhood, I become part of the eternality of God. That would allow Chirst to not be God and still become God.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 14, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  68. Matt (#57): It is having the kind of life our HF has.

    On what do you base the opinion that Jesus had a substantially different kind of life that HF prior to his visit here? They were both God. They were one with each other. They shared omniscience and omnipotence (to the extent those can be achieved at least). They shared a fullness of love and joy and unity together. As far as I can tell the main difference was the physical body part.

    Of course I lean toward (3) so I suspect the only real difference was that HF had already atoned on a world whereas Jesus had not. But if not that then even with (1) there is a massive difference between them and us and thus they don’t need the ordinances and marriage like we do.

    So do you have any attempts to resolve this issue? Do you choose any of (1)-(4)? If not do you have any other solutions?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  69. Gilgamesh,

    You are pushing (4) again — that Jesus wasn’t really God before he came here. I think finding takers for that claim that is a hard row for you or anyone else to hoe. It seems more heretical sounding than any of the other solutions we’ve discussed to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  70. All,

    Here is some more from Gospel Principles on exaltation/godhood:

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “If we will continue in God; that is, keep his commandments, worship him and live his truth; then the time will come when we shall be bathed in the fulness of truth, which shall grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 348).

    This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345–46).

    This passage certainly comes down against (1). But (3) is still a possible solution based on this (as I suppose (4) might be if we were willing to wrest major portions of our scriptures).

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

  71. I must say also that I find it disturbing that anyone would be pushing the idea of (4) over (1) or (3). (4) assumes that Jesus was not God before coming here. But are scriptures are replete with claims that Jesus was God before coming here. Here are just a few examples:

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    2 The same was in the beginning with God.
    3 All things were amade by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1)

    5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay (Mosiah 3)

    Helloooo. Could the scriptures be more explicit about the Divinity/Godhood of the premortal Jesus?

    I find it more disturbing that people hold to the idea that “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” would be completely powerless to separate his spirit from a resurrected body and condescend to a planet like this. People find that idea so objectionable that the would rather assume (4) that Jesus wasn’t really God, or (1) that there is an unbridgeable gap between what Jesus is and what humans are? I seriously am baffled by the arguments people make on these subjects sometimes.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 5:46 pm

  72. Geoff J. (#66):

    I believe the same rules applied for Jesus except for the fact that He never sinned. If you’re on the road exceeding the speed limit and I am not, I will not be subject to the friendly conversation with the law that you will be when pulled over. Jesus said He needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness. So do we, but we need baptism for other reasons also. Ditto for other “requirements.” He chose to be fundamentally different than us. The difference is also (maybe, more so) due to our choices. The same rules apply, but because of our choices, the consequences are drastically different.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  73. So Mondo, it sounds like you are arguing for a variation on (1). Basically you are saying that the premortal Jesus was what our scriptures call “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” not by virtue of progressing to that point from a lower state as our Father in Heaven reportedly did (see comment #70) but by virtue of never sinning throughout all eternity. So in essence you assume that all of our spirits went through some premortal version of a Fall but Jesus didn’t? How do you reconcile that idea with the teaching from Joseph that the Father was once a man like us (sins and all presumably) who progressed to his exalted state? If Jesus was always God didn’t he use to be the God of our Father on the model you just proposed?

    And as a final monkey wrench for you. What do you make of this teaching by Elder Erastus Snow?:

    In other words, there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female.
    (Journal of Discourses, 19:266)

    Do you think Elder Snow was just wrong?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

  74. I never said he wasn’t a god, I am only suggesting that we mere mortals with a limited knowledge of things eternal may not quite understand what all that means.

    In addition, the couplet “as man is, God once was…” denotes that even God wasn’t “GOD” and that we, as men, who aren’t GOD, still may be gods.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 14, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

  75. This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. Joseph Smith taught: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345–46).

    This would imply that Jesus wasn’t God until after He had lived on the earth, so you seem to be contradicting yourself here.

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

  76. Geoff ,

    “I think finding takers for that claim that is a hard row for you or anyone else to hoe. It seems more heretical sounding than any of the other solutions we’ve discussed to me.”

    I actually think if I bore my testimony on sunday that Jesus lived a whole other life and death before becoming Jehovah on a different world and that all of us in the course of progression have also had past lives and future lives on other worlds, I would be seen as just as heretical, if not more, than suggesting the Jesus Christ was not the same God status as God the Father before coming to earth.

    It is a great discussion by the way.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 14, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

  77. We are also equating a modern definition on God which is different than the Israelites definition of God. There is a lot of literature out there that suggests that El and YHWH were considered the greatest gods in the larger Pantheon, and were jealous of the other gods – hence the first commandement.

    Again, we are trying to define a word that has different connotations throughout times, languages and peoples.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 14, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

  78. m&m (#75) — It only implies that Jesus wasn’t god until he lived on an inhabited planet like the earth, so no, I am not contradicting myself.

    Gilgamesh — It seems to me that claiming the premortal Jesus was not God would would be far more contra-scriptural than claiming he became God the same way Joseph Smith said the Father came to be God. (But you are right that none of these things are the stuff of testimony meetings)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

  79. I never said he wasn’t a god, I am only suggesting that we mere mortals with a limited knowledge of things eternal may not quite understand what all that means.

    Yup.

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  80. What, throwing in the towel on this conundrum so soon m&m?

    For what it’s worth, it seems to me that based on all the evidence some variation (1) or (3) are the only viable candidates we are likely to encounter. Anything else would require throwing out a lot of revelations.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  81. Geoff J,

    One way out of the problem is to read an implicit “eventually” into D&C 131:2.

    The second and in my opinion much more likely answer is to assume that Christ was not exalted until his resurrection. A few reasons:

    1. 1 Cor 15 teaches that celestial bodies are resurrected bodies.

    2. Philip. 3:20-21 teaches that a fulness of divine power requires a glorious (resurrected) body.

    3. The change between Matt 5:48 and 3 Ne 12:48 implies that Christ did not consider himself perfect before his resurrection.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 14, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  82. What, throwing in the towel on this conundrum so soon m&m?

    Yup.

    Comment by m&m — June 14, 2007 @ 10:16 pm

  83. Geoff J. (#73):
    I’ll see if I can parse this out a little better. I, too, agree that we are inadequate in our understanding of the complete nature of God and what it takes to become such.

    Basically I am saying that the premortal Jesus was what our scriptures call “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” by virtue of progressing to that point from a lower state and by virtue of never sinning throughout all eternity. As our Father in Heaven reportedly did, Jesus came to earth, gained a body, participated in ordinances, died, was resurrected, and obtained a fullness. Because we are the literal viviparous offspring of God, the condition of reigning “from all eternity to all eternity” is ours to lose if we don’t follow the prescribed course. We haven’t. We’re fallen. And, only through Christ is our hope of regaining that condition.

    So in essence I assume that all of our spirits went through some premortal version of a proving time / probationary period that earned us our soecific place and mission in this the second estate, but Jesus, through His choices, excelled enough to merit the title God.

    But, that no more makes Jesus the God of God the Father than are Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. (See D&C 132.) As Paul taught, “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
    But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
    Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge…

    I see no need to reconcile.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 14, 2007 @ 10:30 pm

  84. Mondo: As our Father in Heaven reportedly did, Jesus came to earth, gained a body, participated in ordinances, died, was resurrected, and obtained a fullness.

    Here is the problem with your logic. The most straightforward reading of Joseph Smith’s teaching imply that the Father previously came to an “earth” prior to this one not as God, but as a mortal like you and I. I assume you believe that too. So my point is that if you believe the Father was a regular old human-level spirit that means the Father must not have always been completely sinless. But you are saying that Jesus has always been sinless. Since they are both beginningless that means there must necessarily have been a time when the Father was a regular sinful mortal-level spirit (and mortal with a body) while Jesus was a God in the heavens watching him on that planet.

    See the problem? Either you will have to say that God the Father was also always sinless or you will end up placing Jesus above the Father in the past. But if you say the Father and Holy Ghost have always been sinless you are well on your way to endorsing (1) and you’ve already said you don’t like (1).

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2007 @ 11:25 pm

  85. Hi! A couple of thoughts:

    1) I see no problem with saying that Jesus was “above” the Father in the past. In fact, having a name like Jehovah (Self-existent I AM) sure sounds more impressive than Eloheim (could be referring to Heavenly Parents, Grandparents, etc.) The point is the Father is still ahead of Jesus by virtue of order. If I struggle to get through college, but afterward my son flies all the way through easily, I’m still his father, and I’m still more experienced than he is. Sinlessness isn’t everything.

    2) We’re all gods, most of us simply don’t act like it.

    3) On the possibility that Christ didn’t need the ordinances while the rest of us do: He didn’t say to John the Baptist, “Yeah, I actually can’t progress without being baptized.” No, he said, “Suffer it to be so to fulfill all righteousness.” In other words, Jesus was fulfilling SOME requirement unknown to us. Perhaps for himself, perhaps simply to show us an example.

    4) Finally, even if he didn’t need baptism/marriage for himself doesn’t mean he’s ontologically different. Maybe none of us would need any of these ordinances if we had simply made better choices in the pre-mortal life. Ordinances get us back on track. They help sanctify us.

    Saying the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are ontologically different beings from us because they may not NEED the ordinances for themselves is a little like saying Mozart must be a different type of being than the rest of us because he didn’t NEED piano lessons.

    Not a perfect metaphor, but hey. You get my point.

    Comment by britain — June 15, 2007 @ 12:09 am

  86. Geoff (#62), Such as…

    Comment by Jacob J — June 15, 2007 @ 12:56 am

  87. Geoff J. (#84):
    No, rather: Since they are both beginningless that means there must necessarily have been a time when the Father was a regular sinful mortal-level spirit (and mortal with a body) while Jesus was an intelligence in the heavens watching him on that planet waiting to be the Firstborn spirit child of HF.

    However, I am very much open to the possibility that HF was sinless ilke Jesus. The part I do not like about your option #1 is that the rules that apply to us don’t apply to them. The same rules apply. Gods are different because they have made better choices than us and thus have different consequences than us. If we had made the same choices, we would not be fundamentally different than them. If I step off the edge of the building and you do not, the same rules apply. The consequence of my choice is much different than yours. Through Christ, that difference can be obliterated.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 15, 2007 @ 5:03 am

  88. Geoff (68)

    On what do you base the opinion that Jesus had a substantially different kind of life that HF prior to his visit here?

    Differences in Life of HF and pre-mortal JC:
    1. HF had physical body
    2. HF had a fullness of Joy (Per JS we can not have a fullness of Joy without a resurrected body.)
    3. When exalted spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father.
    4. Heavenly Father’s power and authority sourced to himself (referenct power) While Jesus’ Power is via divine investiture of authority in part(legitimate power).
    5. Jesus could do nothing but what his father taught him. (Jesus did not have the fullness at first)

    Of course I lean toward (3) so I suspect the only real difference was that HF had already atoned on a world whereas Jesus had not. But if not that then even with (1) there is a massive difference between them and us and thus they don’t need the ordinances and marriage like we do. This statement ignores option #4 which I will properly state as “The life, power and authority of the pre-mortal Christ is different than the life, power and authority of HF”

    Both are Gods, but are different.

    So do you have any attempts to resolve this issue? Do you choose any of (1)-(4)? If not do you have any other solutions?

    I vote for 4, as I have stated it. It looks to me like so does J. Stapley, Mondo Cool, M&M, Jacob J, and Mark D., from what I read of their comments. I think MMP has absolutely NOTHING to do with the question at hand.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 15, 2007 @ 7:14 am

  89. britain — Your comments put you squarely in the (1) camp (which I’m leaving broad enough to take anyone who assumes for whatever reason Jesus didn’t need a mortality to be a God — unlike us regular folks). Your position seems to match up pretty well with Blake Ostler’s position who claims there is no ontological gap between us and them, only that those three incidentally never sinned and thus have never not been God.

    Mondo — You are pretty much in the (1) camp too it appears; especially based on your second paragraph. As I said, (1) is a reasonable camp to be in even if I find the idea that we are not on the same track as the members of the Godhead to be difficult to reconcile with the teachings we got from JS.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  90. Well, if Geoff will permit me I would like to share some thoughts relating to this topic.

    I believe that we are ontologically different than HF and JC. They are Gods from etrenity to eternity as has been mentioned in this thread. I believe the rules do not apply to them as they have required of us in the same way.

    As Matt W has eluded to I do believe that HF did condescend to a mortal probation to offer an atoning sacrifice on some previous of the millions upon millions and worlds without number. I believe this is the context in which Joseph Smith taught that HF was a man like us on another world as Jesus Christ is on ours. Remember that JC taught us the He does what He has seen His Father has done.

    In Comment (81) Mark D in his bullet 3 mentions the differences in JC’s perfection in Matt and 3 Nephi being related to His resurrection. I believe that this is more to do with His atoning sacrifice and laying down His life on the cross where in proclaims to His Father saying “it is finished, thy will is done” and yielded up the ghost.

    Is marriage required? Absolutely. Remember that JC is the Bridegroom and we are the bride. His atonement was His marriage offering to us if we accept it and the conditions and laws predicated thereon.

    I believe that we become the children of God through the atonement of Christ by way of adoption and marriage to Christ. Thus being exalted from our lower inteligences sphere to an holier more glorious and joyful sphere like unto God’s.

    Does this not bespeak the great love they have for us?

    I believe it does.

    Thanks

    Comment by Jothan — June 15, 2007 @ 8:40 am

  91. Matt,

    (4) is defined in this post as a version of Jesus wasn’t really God. Is that what you mean when you say you vote for (4)? (I can assure you that the other folks you listed don’t vote for (4) ) If not, what is your alternative again?

    Also, in response to your list of 5 points. 1-2 are not problems in camp (3) but I see your point. 3. is not accurate since our scriptures talk of people here becoming the children and seed of Jesus before he came in mortality. 4. is speculation that can’t be verified. For instance Blake makes pretty good arguments that Godhood and the unity of the Godhead are inextricably connected so claiming that the Father would fully be God even in the absence of his oneness with others is not a given at all. 5. seems to be moot since the Father and Son were of one heart and mind as part of being one in the Godhead.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 8:45 am

  92. Geoff J:

    (4) wasn’t defined in the post, but has been discussed in the comments. I think you are getting confused. In any case, I think “Jesus wasn’t really God” is technically incorrect, and is better stated as “The life, power and authority of the pre-mortal Christ is different than the life, power and authority of HF”.

    As to my 5 points, I think we are good on 1 and 2, which should be sufficient grounds to establish the legitimacy of my (4). (Try to keep in mind I am not arguing against your (3) but for my (4))

    Moving on

    I think there is a difference in my 3 and what you are saying. 3 says:

    exalted spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father.

    You say:

    our scriptures talk of people here becoming the children and seed of Jesus before he came in mortality

    Here is the difference, someone can be a spirit child to HF without being a spirit child to Jesus Christ. Someone can not be a spirt child to Jesus Christ without being a spirit child to Heavenly Father. Christ is dependent on HF.

    regarding #4, I would say Jesus’ power coming via divine investiture of authority can be verified by looking at Scriptures like John 5:27 Matt. 28:18 There are more, but I am trying to move quickly here.
    regarding 5- When we say the Father and son were of one heart and mind, how far are you taking this.
    A potential 6th difference occurred to me. As a proponent of the Royal Empathy Theory, You might say that HF knew how to Succor his people and Christ did not…

    Comment by Matt W. — June 15, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  93. Jothan:
    As Matt W has eluded to I do believe that HF did condescend to a mortal probation to offer an atoning sacrifice on some previous of the millions upon millions and worlds without number.

    When did I elude to this?

    Comment by Matt W. — June 15, 2007 @ 9:48 am

  94. Geoff J,

    I’m not claiming that Jesus wasn’t divine. I’m saying that I think Talmage’s Godhead is a simplification made in order to put Adam-God to rest and to be easy to explain.

    In any case, I have no idea what it means to be a god. According to the temple Adam participated in the creation. Seems like something a god would do. Was he a pre-mortal god? Was Abraham? Were you?

    Comment by a random John — June 15, 2007 @ 10:20 am

  95. Reply to Matt W (93)

    It was your post (88). But I see now that you were probably quoting from another post. I’m sorry. please forgive me.

    Comment by Jothan — June 15, 2007 @ 11:14 am

  96. Jothan, no worries, just worried I was sleep blogging again…

    Comment by Matt W. — June 15, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  97. Geoff

    Another answer to your statement

    You say:

    our scriptures talk of people here becoming the children and seed of Jesus before he came in mortality

    Adoption anyone?

    Nowhere does it state we are literally begotten spirit children of Christ in the same way we are of the Father. There is too much literalism in this world. Look at Rosie O’Donnel. She adopted and wasn’t married, straight or traditional, but she is still a parent.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 15, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  98. That was my point Gilgamesh. See the extended thread on that subject here.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

  99. Matt,

    So let’s sort things out. I have established option (4) as being:

    (4) Jesus wasn’t really God before coming here.

    It looks like no one is really willing to step up and claim to believe (4) in this thread though (despite several people brushing dangerously close to it earlier.)

    So you want to add “The life, power and authority of the pre-mortal Christ is different than the life, power and authority of HF” to the options. (As option (5) if you can defend it first.) I am just having trouble buying this as a full-fledged option because I am not convinced accepting it would resolve the conundrum at all.

    Here is the problem. You say Jesus was God, so resolution (4) is out. You apparently aren’t willing to throw out any significant portions of the canon out so (2) is out. So how does your suggestion really resolve the conundrum? Jesus was a full God before coming here. If you are going to throw (1) and (3) out then you have to explain how Jesus went from being an imperfect premortal spirit like us to being a God without having to do so via a mortal probation and the covenants and ordinances we must participate in the flesh to ever achieve such status. Simply saying “The life, power and authority of the pre-mortal Christ is different than the life, power and authority of HF” doesn’t explain that at all.

    (Also, how do you deal with that teaching by Elder Snow I quoted in #73?)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 5:56 pm

  100. But Geoff if we can be adopted by someone who is not a “god the Father” but eventually becomes a God, or becomes a God by virtue of adoption, not exaltation, than there are a number of options.

    Plus this is all assuming that Jehovah really was Jesus, since Joseph Smith never clarified that point in his lifetime and there is no canon stating it difinitively.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — June 15, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

  101. Geoff (99): I ignore the Elder Snow quote as non-canonical, so less relevant.

    So Here’s the thing with (5). We have to be married to enter the highest degree of glory, which we call in modern church venacular “being exalted”. Jesus Christ, in his premoral state, was not at the highest degree of Glory. He was a God, and this was by what we term Divine Investiture of Authority. To be a God he did not need to be married. To enter the highest degree he would need to be married (If this covenant was in place at that time he was on earth, which I am not sure it was.)

    Comment by Matt W. — June 15, 2007 @ 7:29 pm

  102. Gilgamesh — I’m afraid I have no idea what your point is. If it helps, I can say I don’t believe there is any such thing as viviparous spirit birth so any “spirit birth” is the adoption kind through covenant as far as I’m concerned.

    Matt — Come on — just say you think Elder Snow was out to lunch on that teaching…

    Anyway… on your proposed model how is it that Jesus managed to become God in the absence of a mortality and the required ordinances and covenants that we must adhere to if we are to ever achieve that status? Do you believe Jesus always sinless as Mondo settled on?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  103. Geoff: Out to lunch is too strong of language. I would say he was conflating “Being God” with being exalted. fair enough?

    Yes I believe that Jesus was always sinless. Jesus managed to become a God in the absence of mortality and the required ordinances because those aren’t requirements for receiving divine investiture of authority or for being a God. Those are required for being exalted.

    I will grant you that this is close (very close) to (1) in nature. The Difference is that in (1) as I understand it, Jesus is always God, and in (5) he becomes God. On thge flipside, in (1) we are never God, and in (5) we can become gods. Honestly though, I think that difference is almost irrelevant to the question of marraige, as the answer is the same. Just look at my first response and J.s first response. They are almost identical.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 15, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  104. This quote by Brigham Young is a little long so I apologize for that. It is interesting because if you believe BY then it seems to me to support #3. Logic being if you can’t hold the keys of the resurrection until your ressurrected how did Christ have power to “take it [his life up] again. John 10:18

    “We are in possession of all the ordinances that can be administered in the flesh; but there are other ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world. I know you would ask what they are. I will mention one. We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints, just as we receive the ordinance of baptism, then the keys of authority to baptize others for the remission of their sins. This is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more. We hold the authority to dispose of, alter and change the elements; but we have not received authority to organize native element, to even make a spear of grass grow.”
    Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p.398

    Comment by Greg — June 15, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  105. Matt: I would say he was conflating “Being God” with being exalted.

    As far as I can tell, you are the only person in the church who thinks one can be God without being exalted. Frankly, I think you are out to lunch with that claim. (I mean that in the nicest way possible of course…)

    If you think Jesus was always sinless then puts you in category (1), which I have left broad enough to include your variation on the theme. Whether one calls it an ontological gap or some gap based on choice, if Jesus was always one way and we have always been another way that is what I consider resolution (1). So what about the Father, do you think he was always sinless too? It sounds like you are pretty much saying the same thing Mondo said earlier. (You are also pretty closely aligned with Blake’s position it seems, BTW)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 10:55 pm

  106. Greg,

    Yeah, I think it is a no-brainer to say Brigham and many or most of his contemporaries would have gone for (3).

    Comment by Geoff J — June 15, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

  107. As far as I can tell, you are the only person in the church who thinks one can be God without being exalted.

    Make that two. Except add “one can be *a* God.” I at least think it’s a possibility. If one has to have a body to be exalted, and the Holy Ghost and the premortal Christ did not, and resuurrection is supposed to be permanent, in my mind there has to be something else going on than 1-3. Or possibly somehow in addition to.

    I also don’t think I’ve seen anyone consider what it might have meant that Jesus was the Firstborn. What could a birthright look like for a God’s firstborn Spirit Son? Maybe a “divine investiture”? A divine birthright that made Him different from the rest of us? Is that something to consider in all of this? I think it could be. Why would there be such a big deal about birthrights and firstborns in the OT if there wasn’t something to learn about Christ in all of that?

    And I know I said I was throwing in the towel, but I couldn’t resist jumping in so Matt didn’t feel so alone. :) At least, Geoff, now you can’t say there is only one person in the whole Church who says that maybe being a God and being exalted isn’t the same thing. :)

    Comment by m&m — June 15, 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  108. Geoff, you even Quoted J. yourself in your comment #11

    Stapley: Godhood is not synonymous with exaltation

    Perhaps I’m less alone than you think. Besides I’d rather be the only guy in the church to believe in the difference between Godhood and exaltation than be the only Guy who believes in MMP. (how do you make an smiley emoticon with devil’s horns?)

    More seriously, I guess the main issue I have with you throwing me in (1) is that “Jesus was Sinless” is NOT the answer to your qustion:

    how then did the Savior and Holy Ghost manage to become exalted and full members of the Godhead without participating in these ordinances in the body?

    The asnwer is that I have no idea where this teaching of “exalted and full members of the Godhead” comes from, and you have, up to this point been completely unable to prove it by any appeal to reason or appeal to authority which I have seen. I think it is a false assumption you are making.

    Finally, depending on what you mean by sinless, and on the speculative level, there is an extremely high probability that we were all sinless up to some point in our infinite existance, thus removing our gap. Jesus does have the ability to sin, after all.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 16, 2007 @ 6:15 am

  109. m&m: thanks for the group hug.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 16, 2007 @ 6:16 am

  110. Geoff: Fourth possibility. (1) Being exalted is a dynamic state of growth that is minimally and essentially to exist in a realtionship of indwelling unity that always seeks further growth; and (2) a subset of intelligences could grow to become exalted beings and thereafter continue to grow only if they were willing to marry. Thus, for a subset of intelligences only those who marry can become exalted beings (and thus not be damned in their growth) and can continue in their growth only by abiding by D&C 131 injunctions to marry. Jesus was not among those who require marriage for their further growth because he had never made the free hoice to become dis-united from the Father like we have been and thus did not require marriage to be re-united in indweling unity. Call this the “already fully united and never having sinned” solution.

    Beause I equate sin with any act that injures a relationship and thus is contrary to love, it follows that a sinless being would never have done anything to injure the relationship with God. Further, since Christ had always already achieved full deity from all eternity, never having sinned, he does not need the measures to overcome our disunity and alienation that we need in order to progress in relationships. It follows that the sacrament of eternal marriage is in furtherance of the atonement to overcome our alienation from God.

    However, the ontological disparity that you assert just doesn’t follow on this scenario. Christ is not ontologically different than we are — we are uncreated like he is and have all of the capacities for exaltation that he has. He has simply made differnt choices that have fully actualized his growth in all moments and we haven’t. However, that is true of every intelligence. Every intelligence is at a different state of growth due to or choices. We are ontological equals; we are different in glory because of the choices we have made.

    Fifth possibility: Marriage is a necessary condition to further growth; it is not a necessary condition to deity. Thus, marriage is necessary for exaltation at some point in our eternal growth; it is not necessary that it be achieved before this life or during it. Christ could be fully God without having reached the point where further growth required marriage. We have reached the point where we require marriage to teach us to love one another in a way that Jesus had learned without it.

    Sixth possibility: Prior to this life, Jesus had grown as far as he could, like all of us. To grow further he required a body, like all of us. To continue to grow for eternity, it was necessary for Jesus to marry. Two possibilities: (a) Jesus was married as a mortal. (b) Jesus will be sealed to a wife or wives in the millenium. I am open to both possibilities.

    Comment by Blake — June 16, 2007 @ 8:54 am

  111. Thank you for that comment Blake. As I want to understand your perspective better, would you say that, for example, an intelligent being that came to earth as a Neanderthal is ontologically equal to us?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 9:24 am

  112. …also, according to #1, do you assert that every spirit before mortality had the innate capacity to mediate an atonement?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  113. J. — Neanderthals are ontologically equal in one sense: there is an intelligece that is uncreated that is essential to their identity. In another sense I don’t know. Ontology deals with both the necessity and kind of being that one is. If Neanderthals are capable of eternal progression without limit, then I would say yes. But I just don’t know whether Neanderthals are capbable of such progression. I tend to doubt that they had moral obligations and could progress morally and thus are not the same kind as humans. In this sense they are ontologically differen.

    I don’t have a position on whether every spirit had an innate capacity to mediate atonement. I tend to believe that only Christ could qualify for scriptural reasons, but I’m not sure I have any other good rationale for that quasi-position.

    BTW, I would say that the sames “rules” apply to both Christ (even as the pre-mortal God) and all the rest of us. It is just that Geoff has drawn the rule too narrowly. The rule isn’t: “get married to be exalted.” The rule is: “do whatever will lead to the greatest growth and flourishing of life.” Marriage is just a means of furthering that ultimate goal. There are no “rules,” just the command to love as a means of growing in the way of happiness — so the “rule” is, if there is one, “act in a way consonant with the nature of happiness and that is therefore a fortiori consonant with the nature of God.”

    Comment by Blake — June 16, 2007 @ 11:17 am

  114. Blake, I tend to agree with your position on rules. I also am interested in following up as I find many similarities in our perspectives, but I think sometimes semantics get in the way of perceived harmonies. Would you say that the difference between two uncreated beings that have free will is ontological if one does have the capacity to mediate and atonement, but the other one does not?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  115. Matt,

    Alright, here is some evidence that one cannot be a God without being exalted. First from Gospel Principles (again):

    Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives.

    God means a lot of things including each member of the Godhead and the unified Godhead. There is no “out” here to exclude the Holy Ghost or the pre-mortal Jesus.

    Here are a few more though. D&C 132 explains what happens to those who do not choose to enter a Celestial marriage:

    17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

    So either this is not an eternal principle or Jesus wasn’t a god before he got here, or he was married before he got here (3), or he is fundamentally/eternally different from all the rest of us in one way or another (1).

    Here is the definition of exaltation from Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2 (pg 35):

    EXALTATION: TO BECOME LIKE GOD.

    In Jesus the Christ Talmage said the premortal Jesus was exalted:

    “His lamentation over Jerusalem evidences that, in His humanity, He had not forgotten His former exalted position: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, . . . and ye would not!’ (Matt. 23:37). (Chapter 4 footnote 21)

    McConkie said that Jehovah was the exalted name title of the pre-mortal Jesus:

    As we are aware, the chief designation of Christ that has been preserved for us in the Old Testament, as that ancient work is now published, is the exalted name-title Jehovah. (Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ; 367)

    Another interesting source:

    5 Jehovah is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with justice and righteousness. (Isa. 33: 5 , American Standard Version)

    More evidence is in the Joseph Smith’s King Follet Discourse. I’ll just quote the amalgamated version for convenience right now:

    Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. (TPJS 347)

    There is all sorts of evidence here. First, “eternal life” and “exaltation” are synonyms in Mormon parlance so if knowing God is eternal life it is safe to say that exaltation should also be defined as knowing God. Since Jesus was God and was one with God the Father his knowing God premortally is not really in question. JS further says that becoming a God requires going “from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power”. This is actually pretty solid evidence for (3) I think. If we take Joseph seriously here, then resurrection is required to be a God and “sit enthroned in everlasting power” as those in the Godhead do.

    Anyway I will gladly grant that even exalted persons can attain higher levels of exaltation by atoning for a worlds (Joseph said that in KFD later) but I think it is impossible to show that one can be a God without being “exalted” first. Now one could argue that resurrection isn’t really required to be a God or exalted, but trying to back into the claim that one can be a God but not exalted by assuming Jesus was not exalted before coming here is just begging the question rather than answering it.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  116. The problem Geoff, is that you know very well that the people quoted in your comment don’t believe in MMPs. Basically they are using words differently than you are. To assume that they are supporting you perspective is simply goofy.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  117. J.,

    You misread my intent with that comment. I am not trying to prove (3) in that comment (despite a passing comment in favor of it in the middle). Rather I am trying to show Matt that one cannot be a God without also being exalted (even if exalted persons can indeed raise to higher levels of exaltation).

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  118. Again, Geoff, it boils down to semantics. What does exalted mean?

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  119. Well we can argue between (1) and (3) in another post. I thought you agree that Jesus was exalted to one degree or another as premortal God — is that not the case? (Joseph clearly stated that even the Father went to a higher exaltation as a result of Jesus’s atonement so I am not claiming there is only one level of exaltation here.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  120. Sure. But when you when you start busting out quotes, they may be talking about a particular kind of exaltation.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 16, 2007 @ 2:15 pm

  121. Again that is really beside to my point. As long as they agree the premortal Jesus was exalted at all then my specific point #115 is made. (Remember, Matt was claiming that the premortal Jesus was not exalted at all and challenging me to provide evidence to the contrary.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  122. J. re: #114. I’m not sure that being able to atone, even if uniquely, requires an ontological difference. What if the ability is due to an ability to persuade more than anyone else? Or the ability to experience pain more than anyone else? Even the ability to experience pain is the same kind of ability that we have; it is just possessed to a greater degree than others. Differences in degrees of ability are not ontological differences.

    If Christ had the ability uniquely to forgive sins (as some Evangelical exegetes have suggested that God alone can forgive sins) then I believe that is an ontological difference. However, it just seems palpably and obviously false to me that only God has such a power since we forgive each other’s sins all the time!

    Comment by Blake — June 16, 2007 @ 5:04 pm

  123. Blake,

    Good suggestions and ideas in #110. Here are a couple of comments/questions. What you were calling a fourth option is what I am currently and broadly lumping together as solution (1). That is, it assumes Jesus was God because Jesus never chose to sin. I agree that this does not require an ontological gap. As it turns out a few others in this thread have arrived at a very similar conclusion as you have on this subject. However it does assume that the members of the Godhead are eternally different that all others even if it is by eternal choice and not an ontological gap so I have it all together under (1).

    Just a quick question. You said “and (2) a subset of intelligences could grow to become exalted beings and thereafter continue to grow only if they were willing to marry.” By subset do you mean “the three members of the Godhead”? I just want to be sure I know what you mean here.

    Fifth possibility: Marriage is a necessary condition to further growth; it is not a necessary condition to deity.

    Besides the three members of the Godhead do you think there are other spirits who have met this condition prior to a mortality? (J. does, but he assumes a gap between the Gods and the humans and I know you reject that idea so I was wondering if there is additional nuance you have in mind here.)

    Sixth possibility: Prior to this life, Jesus had grown as far as he could, like all of us.

    Again, this sounds like a variation under what I am calling solution (1) in this thread. It assumes that Jesus’s premortal capacity was fundamentally greater than any of ours.

    Just to be clear — I think solution (1) as I am broadly calling it is a theologically coherent approach to this question and can understand why it would have adherents. I have for some time thought that (1) or (3) are the only two general paths that could be taken to create a coherent Mormon theology.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  124. Blake,

    Let me also add that I agree with your definitions of sin and exaltation. I think you are right on that exaltation is oneness with God and that sin is alienation from God. I further agree with you that the ordinances and covenants are means to ending our alienation from the Godhead. Sorry if I gave impressions to the contrary.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 16, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

  125. Geoff J. (#5,12)
    I was going to get back to this and your #115 reminded me. (Just when I thought I was going to abandon this thread.)

    D&C 132:17 says “…from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.”

    Now my understanding of “henceforth” is “from this point forward.” SO, if from this point forward they are not gods, what were they preceding the point of reckoning? That is why I said the pre-judgment requirements for the highest degree of the Celestial kingom were different than the post-judgement requirements. Before they (we) could still be classed as gods (See John 10: 33 – 36.) but afterwards only as ministering angels.

    Oh, and a big “thank you” to Blake for his insight and ability to express such.

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 17, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  126. So Mondo are you saying that we were all “gods” already before coming here and if we don’t get exalted we lose that status and instead become ministering angels?

    First, why would we ever vote for such a high-risk, low-reward plan if we had a say in it? Second, Jesus wasn’t just a god in the sense you are using it — he was “God”, “the Lord Omnipotent” and a full member of the Godhead before coming here so I’m not sure what you’ve mentioned in #125 is even very relevant to this discussion since we are talking about the differences (or not) between the premortal Jesus and the premortal us.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 17, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

  127. Geoff (#126):

    So Mondo are you saying

    – Yes, I put that forth as a possibility if we don’t partake in the binding / re-uniting ordinances. Lucifer and his 1/3 of the hosts chose not to keep the 1st estate and are now fallen angels. Without marriage, we could make it to be ministering angels – or worse – based on the choices we have made here in the second estate, but not gods or Gods. We were born as spirit children of Heavenly Parents which makes us gods; part of the Heavenly Family. We can become Gods (capable of having our own Heavenly Family) by following the pattern that Heavenly Father has specified. Jesus had done enough of those things prior to his first Advent to merit the Title, Position, and Power of the Lord Omnipotent without the earthly ordinances.

    why would we ever

    – Because that is the way Father did it and we wanted to be like Him. I think Lucifer pointed out the “high-risk, low-reward” aspects of that plan. He had a different plan where he would “surely do it;” i.e., “low-risk, low-reward.”

    a full member of the Godhead before coming here

    – Yes, and preceding the time of reckoning. Prior to that time, marriage (among the other requirements) will need to have been done – to fulfill all righteousness. “…if not, …they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory…” (D&C 132:18).

    Comment by Mondo Cool — June 17, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  128. Well that is an interesting subject Mondo but I’ll hold off on commenting more on it here because I think it is sort of a side topic. Your position clearly falls within the general category (1) we have been discussing in this post (and as I said, that seems like a reasonable theological position to take). These things we are talking about now are nuances that fit under the (1) category I think. (I might post later on why I think (1) in all of its variations ought to be rejected based on the King Follet discourse and teachings from succeeding church leaders but I won’t try that now…)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 17, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

  129. Geoff J: Please keep in mind that exaltation can mean numerous different things,and that the exalted status of jesus pre-mortally is not the same as the glory of the third degree of the celestial kingdom. One requires marriage, the other does not. I agree with J. It is a semantics issue.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 17, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

  130. More fuel for the fire.

    Christ is the bridegroom. He is married to the church – at least for the purposes of this creation. We take upon ourselves his name through sacred covenant. We become his children through faith and ordinance.

    It seems to me that the church has its beginning in the pre-existence as people were foreordained to various offices at that time.

    On the other hand this “marriage” may be more figurative than literal.

    Comment by madera verde — June 21, 2007 @ 9:05 am

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