Chapter 2 – The War in Heaven

March 22, 2009    By: Kent (MC) @ 10:34 pm   Category: Plan of Salvation

See my three earlier posts (here, here, and here) if you don’t know what this series is all about and the table of contents.

Chapter 2: The War in Heaven

The Kingdom of Heaven, where God lives, is a place where people love each other and help each other. All who are there are pure and glorified. Those who are not clean and free from sin cannot stand to be with God, their consciences won’t let them (Mormon 9:3-5). But Heavenly Father knew that all of us who come to earth would hurt each other and be ashamed of ourselves and not be able to undo those things that hurt others.

For the Plan of Happiness to work, one person would have to be a Savior to take all the sin and pain away from those who would live on the earth, as well as help us love those that hurt us. Without a Savior, everyone who receives a body on this earth would later die physically and be cut off from the Spirit of God. This death would keep them from returning to Heavenly Father and they would be miserable forever.

The one who would be the Savior would be born like everyone else, would have the veil, and would have to learn like everyone else. But He would have to live a perfect life with no sin or giving in to temptation. And then, He would also have to experience all the sadness, injustice, pain and loneliness of all the people that would be created on our earth and throughout the universe. He would suffer all these things on His own without help even from Heavenly Father and suffer spiritual death as well as physical death so that He could really understand how to help us accept His love.

Heavenly Father asked, “Whom shall I send?” Two of His children spoke up. The first said, “Send me.” His name was Jehovah, or Jesus Christ. Another said, “Send me.” He was Lucifer. Jesus said He would follow Heavenly Father’s plan as it was, but Lucifer wanted to change it. (D&C 76:24-29) He didn’t like the consequences of the plan, including that not everyone would choose the right, and they wouldn’t return to Heavenly Father. Lucifer thought agency was a bad idea and people shouldn’t be allowed to make wrong choices. He wanted Heavenly Father’s glory so he could save everyone.

Heavenly Father said that His plan wouldn’t work without agency, people couldn’t become like Him without it. Jesus said He would be the savior and give all the glory to our Father. Heavenly Father said He would send Jesus. Lucifer became angry and he accused Heavenly Father and Jesus of making a huge mistake. He was then known as Satan, which means The Accuser.

Satan’s accusations probably were that Christ couldn’t live a sinless life if He were also given agency; that He would misuse the powers of the priesthood to serve Himself; and that He wouldn’t have enough love to continue to withstand the pain of the atonement in the flesh.

The arguments to accept or reject Heavenly Father’s plan is what we call the War in Heaven. Because a lot of people were afraid of getting bodies and didn’t trust Heavenly Father, a smaller portion of Heavenly Father’s spirit children doubted with Satan and did not believe Christ would fulfill the role as Savior. They argued against the rest who accepted the Plan and Jesus Christ, to the point that they lost their glory and had to leave God’s presence. They wouldn’t accept the risk of getting a body and so they are now Satan’s angels, miserable like Him because they no longer accept Heavenly Father’s love.

Again, I’m mainly interested in anything that seems to hit you as strange or incomplete in the portrayal. One question I have as I wrote this is: if original sin doesn’t exist, why do little children have to be atoned for? If Christ experienced mortality just like us and didn’t sin, when children die at birth without sin, why would they need atonement? Do they sin in the spirit world? I’m just seeing this hole in this chapter. Any others you see?


  1. I’m surprised you call him Jehovah. Are you trying to lay the groundwork for an Old Testament connection, a temple connection, or do you have a different reason?

    I like your stabs at what Satan’s accusations probably were. I think that paragraph is way out there in speculation land, but as long as we are there it is a reasonable set of guesses.

    I am not sure I would play up the sinlessness of Christ as much as you do, since I am open to the idea that Christ sinned, but I wouldn’t say that either, I would just probably leave that part out.

    As to why there must be an atonement for children, I think the standard answer must include the idea that even children need resurrection. In addition to that, it seems clear enough to me that they will sin in the spirit world. I take this to be the meaning of the line about being “judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit (D&C 138:10)

    I like this line: The arguments to accept or reject Heavenly Father’s plan is what we call the War in Heaven.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 22, 2009 @ 10:45 pm

  2. The Kingdom of Heaven you describe in your first paragraph is a bit confusing, as if it existed prior to mortality, we were not a part of it, as we were not “pure and glorified”. That is one point I would clarify.

    Also I might change “take all the sin and pain away from those who would live on the earth” to “to help us cope and overcome all the…”, but that’s a me thing.

    Instead of “His name was” I’d say “We call him…”, It’s subtle, but I think it make s a difference.

    That’s what you get from half a skim, I have to get back to work now…

    Comment by Matt W. — March 23, 2009 @ 8:09 am

  3. On the Jehovah name, I like Matt’s suggestion.

    Questions: Were we pure and glorified before coming to earth? Will people who die as little children sin in the spirit world? Could Christ sin and repent and still be one who we would accept for atonement?

    Comment by Kent (MC) — March 23, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  4. Were we pure and glorified before coming to earth?

    I don’t see any evidence saying they were, and we have evidence that at least a subset were not pure (Satan and his followers) and to me glorified beings implies exalted beings, but I don’t have anything to back that up, just what comes to my head.

    Comment by Matt W. — March 23, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  5. I am not sure about the ‘not allowed to make wrong choices’ statement. I know that is what we usually teach. I have a sneaky suspicion it was more like ‘not be held accountable for wrong choices’.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 23, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  6. By paragraph:

    1) I think talking of the “Kingdom of Heaven” in the first paragraph is a bit confusing in the opening of a chapter about the War in Heaven. I understand what you are saying, but I think it might work better to say something like, “All those who live there after their mortal lives . . .”

    2) “Without a Savior, everyone who receives a body on this earth would die and be cut off from God in the next life.

    3) “He would have to be sinless throughout his life.”

    (I have a very different view of “sin” and “perfect” than many members, so I don’t like using “perfect” without explanatory definitions.)

    “God would help him, just as he helps all of his children, but at the very end he would have to finish it all on his own.

    4) I like Matt’s suggestion in #2.

    Also, “He wanted Heavenly Father’s glory, because he thought he could save everyone.”

    5) I really like this paragraph exactly as is.

    6) Personally, I would ditch this one in a children’s book. I just tend to think he knew better and wouldn’t have to be selfless to get people back to God. I think he let his arrogance get in the way of understanding. That doesn’t matter, however, since I think type of “probably” doesn’t belong in a children’s book.

    7) “A smaller portion of Heavenly Father’s spirit children doubted with Satan and did not accept Heavenly Father’s plan.”

    As to your questions, I don’t see them as part of this chapter. I think they apply more to a chapter on accountability in mortality.

    As to Christ and the Atonement, I think you’ve read this post already, but if not:

    What Jesus Wouldn’t Do

    Comment by Ray — March 23, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  7. Matt, if Christ was glorified before coming to earth then we were too. I’m questioning the “pure” part more.

    Eric, do you care to opine on how Satan could propose that lack of accountability?

    Comment by Kent (MC) — March 23, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  8. Ray, as always, your suggestions are excellent. Yeah, the questions I asked are to mainly help me prepare for future chapters, but the issues of accountability really made me reflect on them.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — March 23, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  9. Kent(MC):
    if Christ was glorified before coming to earth then we were too.
    I don’t know about that. Christ, last time I checked, is a heck of a lot cooler than I am. I guess I would need to decontruct what is meant be the word “glorified” here. It’s not exalted (that requires a body), clearly, so what is it?

    Comment by Matt W. — March 23, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

  10. Kent(7)

    Propose or execute?

    As far as proposing, it sounds more tempting to say “I won’t punish you for your sins”. Than “I will force you to live righteously”. I am not sure his proposal would need to really ‘work’ or be in perfect harmony with ‘eternal law’ to be persuasive to some.

    Executing would be easier also. Just let everyone do whatever they want. Heck of a lot easier than trying to control every thought, word or action of everyone.

    The scriptures only say Satan sought to take away our agency. If you think of agency as a combination of free will and consequences I think it makes more sence for Satan to seek to take away the consequences than free will. It also seems more consistent with his usual approach.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 23, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

  11. If you think of agency as a combination of free will and consequences I think it makes more sense for Satan to seek to take away the consequences than free will.

    That’s exactly what predestination and easy grace do.

    Comment by Ray — March 23, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

  12. To (literally) play devil’s advocate for a moment – something that is nearly always glossed over in discussion of the war in heaven is that we only hear about Lucifer’s plan from the side that opposed it. As a thought experiment, suppose Lucifer had won the war and sent prophets to spread his message. What should we suppose they would have to say about Jehovah’s (failed) plan? I doubt there would be much positive said about it.

    If we really are here to exercise our agency, does it not seem that we might have a more direct reading of what the alternative plan was to begin with rather than the thin caricatures we get from scripture??

    Comment by NorthboundZax — March 23, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  13. how Satan could propose that lack of accountability?

    By ensuring that nobody advanced beyond a mental age of 7.9.

    As for Satan’s motives, I agree with the suggestions to leave them out of a children’s book. Personally, I don’t think Satan’s arguments had anything to do with Jesus’ competence, but rather that Jesus’ plan involved too much risk to the rest of us even if he fulfilled his role perfectly. The upside risk was exaltation and eternal increase, but the downside risk was punishment in hell and eternity in the telestial kingdom. Satan’s riskless plan would have resulted in the equivalent of everybody becoming ministering angels in the celestial kingdom.

    Comment by Last Lemming — March 24, 2009 @ 6:47 am

  14. Matt, I’m defining glory as intelligence, light, knowledge, truth, and a metaphysical additional physical property that “gathers” to glorified beings and is an extension of them (See Joseph Smith History 1:43). If Christ was “divine” in the beginning, he had glory (light, truth, intelligence). We were also in the beginning with the Father and were intelligent spirits (which is a state of enjoying glory). How familiar are you with the Kenotic theory of Christology? I don’t know how you can read D&C 93 and Abraham 3 and not think that we enjoyed glory previous to this life. “Estate” is the word used in Abraham and I think it is probably synonymous with the word glory.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — March 24, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  15. I’d definitely agree that Satan’s plan didn’t necessarily have to be a functional one, but only needed to sound good. But as far as how Satan’s proposal might have gone, I see something like not ever giving commandments, or even the light of Christ/conscience, keeping us in a state where we couldn’t be responsible for our actions. That way, we’d all come, get our bodies, die, and get on track to Godhood through his plan (perhaps including himself acting as savior, atoning for ALL of our sins, paying for ALL of them, getting no help from us, therefore deserving all credit and glory)
    Not exactly something for kids though…

    Comment by CoriAnton — March 30, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

  16. While you would not want some of this in a children’s book, I have been pondering over these things quite a bit lately.

    What I find so interesting is that we know that Lorenzo Snow stated that “As man is God once was, As God is man may become”. The plan of salvation was not a new idea. I believe it is the way that all Gods became who they are. Satan confirms in the Garden of Eden that he has simply been doing that which has been done in other worlds.

    If all that is the case, then Satan truly believed that he had a shot at taking Gods Glory. In other words Lucifer, a being who was not blinded by the veil and is extremely intelligent, legitimately believed he had a chance to shortcut the process of becoming a God and not having to suffer for sin because his plan would not allow it. What makes him so evil in my mind is the fact that he was in heaven at the time; a place where evil and sin cannot exist. Therefore Satan was not tempted by an adversary. What makes him so bad then is that he was not a follower of evil, but rather he was a creator of it.

    Just my thoughts though,

    P.S. Happy to be aboard

    Comment by Aaron Shifflet — April 4, 2009 @ 5:26 pm