A Review of LDS teachings regarding a Heavenly Mother.

September 29, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 7:59 am   Category: spirit birth,Theology

Next year’s manual for Relief Society/Priesthood will be Gospel Principles, and chapter 2 begins with the following quote:

“All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity. . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” [1]

The concept of Heavenly Parents alludes to the teaching within the church that there is a Mother in Heaven. I went over a brief survey of statements regarding Heavenly Mother, mostly from the church website and magazines, and wanted to put up some characteristics that have been taught about her by prominent church members.

First, she was involved with Heavenly Father in the pre-mortal world with the teaching of spirits. [2] Had we not known in our pre-mortal existence that we could become like our Mother in Heaven, we never would have come. [3] Her glory was like the Father’s Glory, and she was “side by side with Him” [4] Further She is “equally exalted” with Heavenly Father.  [5] She was Essential to Him. [6] She has endowed her special traits and attributes upon her daughters, such as love, charity, and faithfulness. Coarseness and vulgarity is contrary to Her nature. [7] She is the “ultimate in maternal modesty, of the restrained queenly elegance” and Her Influence upon us will be great if we live our lives here “so as to return there” [8] She values her children “beyond any measure” [9] In the grand order of things, we do not pray to her, but this lack of prayers in no way denigrates or belittles her [10] This may be perhaps because she is in perfect unity with her spouse, and thus prayers to him are equal to prayers to her. [11] Alternatively, she is prayed to (sort of) each time the Song “Oh My Father” is Sung.

There is some disagreement as to the origin of teachings regarding Heavenly Mother within the church, with possible alternatives being that Joseph received a revelation and shared it with Zina Huntington, that Joseph Revealed it to Eliza R. Snow, and that Eliza, having claim to prophecy in her own right received it directly from God. Perhaps all three occurred. [12] Alternatively, other members has referred to teaching of her as a case of “over-belief” (sorry, no citation available)

In recent years, the church has publicly clarified some points in regards to our Mother in Heaven, noting that she is not referred to as “The Mother” among church members and acknowledging that there are no teachings about her in Latter-day Saint Scripture. [13] This should not concern members however, as she is mentioned in conjunction with the Father as Heavenly Parents in the First Presidency Declaration regarding Families [14], and Joseph Fielding Smith noted “the fact that there is no reference to a Mother in Heaven in either the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a Mother did exist there.” [15] In any case, while the Mother may seem veiled to us, the typical saint trusts that God has his reasons for revealing as little as he has. [16] And in any case, the Lord has provided for us an ample Role Model and Confidant for both Sexes in the Savior Jesus Christ. [17]

1. (Joseph F. Smith, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78, 80).

2.    Julie Beck (“You Have a Noble Birthright,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 106, 108) also in Aug 2008 Ensign, p 69

3.    Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 148; also Gospel Doctrine, 13

4.    Melvin J. Ballard (Apostle), Journal History, 8 May 1921, p. 2

5. Ida Smith, “The Lord as a Role Model for Men and Women,” Ensign, Aug 1980, 66

6.    James Talmage, Deseret Evening News, April 28, 1902

7.    Vaughn J. Featherstone, “A Champion of Youth,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 2

8. Spencer W. Kimball, “The True Way of Life and Salvation,” Ensign, May 1978, 4

9.    Spencer W. Kimball, “Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters,” Ensign, Nov 1978, 101

10.   Gordon B. Hinckley, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 97

11.    Theodore M. Burton, Love and Marriage, BYU Speeches 3 June 1986; See also Erastus Snow (Apostle), Journal of Discourses, vol. 19 (3 March 1878)

12. See Wilford Woodruff, Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 9 April 1894, p. 229 for Eliza receiving the revelation, Joseph F. Smith (President), Deseret Evening News, 9 February 189 for Joseph revealing it to her, and Linda P. Wilcox’s article in Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective for Zina receiving the revelation.

13.    Lds Newsroom, Response from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Newsweek cover story, 10 September 2001 edition.

14.    The Family: A Proclamation to the World

15.    Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 3:142

16. Patricia T. Holland, “ ‘One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ,” Ensign, Oct. 1987, 26

17.    Ardis Parshall, Does Jesus Understand Postpartum Depression?

198 Comments »

  1. While I could have referenced Blake Ostler as the source of my statement regarding over-belief, I was fairly certain there had to be a better source than comments on my previous post. Also I could have noted the alternative that some promote that Heavenly Mother is an extension of Adam-God doctrine, but am only familiar with one late poem from Snow about this.

    Comment by matt w. — September 29, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  2. Excellent work Matt. Thanks for passing this along.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — September 29, 2009 @ 8:35 am

  3. The earliest teachings on Mother in Heaven (aka: Queen of Heaven) are by W.W. Phelps in late 1844.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 29, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  4. Reading through these statements is interesting. Most of the things said strike me as entirely made up. It seems we feel free to say whatever we want about Heavenly Mother as long as it is something good.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 29, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  5. Matt W., In the context of this statement:

    The concept of Heavenly Parents alludes to the teaching within the church that there is a Mother in Heaven

    the following paragraph is reading more into the text than there really is:

    This should not concern members however, as she is mentioned in conjunction with the Father as Heavenly Parents in the First Presidency Declaration regarding Families

    The pertinent passage is:

    All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny

    This passage fairly implies that each of us has a heavenly father and a heavenly mother. It says nothing about the identity of our heavenly mother as “Mother in Heaven”.

    I don’t mean to imply polygamy either. Here the problem is all capitalization again. If you capitalize a term like that, you imply that it is a proper name, i.e. there is only one mother in heaven, namely “the Mother”. The Proclamation on the Family doesn’t say that, as you indirectly imply later.

    It is the same deal as before – if we capitalize “the Father”, we imply either that there is only one father in heaven, namely “the Father”, *or* that all heavenly fathers work together to such a degree that each is the Eternal Father by investiture.

    The theological problem with “the Mother” here, is that it implies that “the Mother” or “the Eternal Mother” is a rival and independent authority in heaven, a sort of divine relief society of sorts, where all the mothers get together as a group and debate whether to countermand what the fathers decided.

    That might actually happen of course, but as a matter of formality, I suggest that the normal practice is for each heavenly couple to be rather more unified than that, and furthermore that by investiture all heavenly mothers and fathers represent “the Father”, and that technically speaking there is no “the Eternal Mother” at all, any more than “the Eternal Father” can properly be considered to be a single individual.

    If “the Father” or “the Eternal Father” properly referred to a single individual, both the use of the word “the” and the following capitalization are misleading and incorrect unless there is and will be one and only one individual who will ever properly hold that title.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  6. In the last paragraph of my comment, “properly referred to a single individual” should read “are proper usage”.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  7. I think to understand the coexistence of male and female gods as Eloheim, or father/mother combinations, is to understand the teaching that the name Adam given of the Lord meant both of them. I think we have a pattern of that in the Abraham account of Adam and Eve.

    Forgive me if that was jumbled.

    Comment by Tod Robbins — September 29, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  8. Sorry Tod, I require more from you. Try again.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — September 29, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  9. Most of the things said strike me as entirely made up.

    Amen Jacob. That is how they strike me too.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  10. Not everything that is useful is true.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — September 29, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  11. Jacob and Geoff: Would you say the same thing regarding Heavenly Father?

    Mark D. The idea of a father and mother coming together to for one unit is mentioned by brother Burton in my footnotes.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  12. Matt: Would you say the same thing regarding Heavenly Father?

    No. Because there are, you know, actual revelations from and about the being we refer to as Heavenly Father (aka God).

    The problem with all the speculations that you have quoted in the post is that they are all just speculations. Sure, famous or semi-famous people made them but they are still just speculations. Oddly, the way you quoted these various guesses it sounds like they were presented as facts.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

  13. Geoff, the benefit in any discussion we have about God is that we have an Old Testament which pretty much shows God as having every human emotion, yet being just. As long as you acknowledge that God is just you should be able to find support for most things you’d like to say about his character. But in the end, I think we use Father in Heaven as a prop more than we use the idea of a Mother in Heaven as a prop, even though we can say we know more about him (ie. that he actually exists because a prophet saw him).

    Comment by Kent (MC) — September 29, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  14. Hehe. It would be funny to see some talks about HM that gave her all the characteristics we see in God in the OT. I can see it now:

    “Heavenly Mother is the pinnacle of the especially feminine traits of jealousy, wrath, and vengeance.”

    I doubt we’ll hear that any time soon…

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

  15. Eric: Thanks

    J. Stapley: Good point. I believe you are referring to this. Correct?

    Jacob: To say these statements seem made up based on my selection of generally positive statements seems sort of lacking. I mean, look at General Conference talks referring to Heavenly Father from the same time period I drew quotes from (Mainly 1970 to today) and find non-positive references to Heavenly Father. On the other hand, I am completely open to the idea that this is all made up, It’s more a matter of there really being no legitimate way of knowing outside of personal revelation on the subject, which I can not claim, nor would I if I could.

    Mark D: I agree that the Idea of an Individual Heavenly Mother does pose a problem for the concept of a divine concert as you’ve hitherto propose.

    Tod: I am so sorry, I think you mean that the word Adam in Hebrew refers to mankind and not just man, but am not sure I grasp your reasoning.

    Kent MC (10)- not everything that is cryptic is understandable.

    Geoff: (12)- I’d say they were presented as facts 99% of the time. Your self-assurance that they were all speculation is some what disconcerting. Like I said to Jacob, I am not at all certain there is any reasonable way outside of personal revelation to discern any such thing, and then even if you or I did have personal revelation regarding it, there would be no reason for either of us to believe there other unless we both had revelation indicating the same thing. That being the case, I think we have to accept that Heavenly Mother has been referenced multiple times in official statements from the first presidency, which does carry with it a doctrinal and “revelatory” weight, albeit unequal with the scriptures. Of course, the scriptures make no statement precluding the existence of a mother in Heaven…

    Also your (14) – I am willing to lay a fairly strong bet that we won’t be hearing much about Heavenly Father’s OT characteristics in General Conference next week…

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  16. GeoffJ is opposed to presenting speculations?! Am I in the right place?

    It probably depends on the speculations…

    Comment by Eric Nielson — September 29, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

  17. Me opposed to speculations? Heck no. But speculations do need to be properly labeled. When they are presented as facts there are problems.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  18. Matt: Your self-assurance that they were all speculation is some what disconcerting.

    Why is it disconcerting? I would say it is rather obvious that they are speculations (since they are not presented to the church as revelations and all). There is nothing wrong with speculations. Plus, just because they are speculations doesn’t mean they can’t be true. We just don’t know for sure is all and God hasn’t yet clarified it.

    I am not at all certain there is any reasonable way outside of personal revelation to discern any such thing

    Well the obvious answer is a general revelation on the subject given through the prophet and presented to the church new scripture, right? (But of course that would require individual confirming revelation too so you may be right)

    That being the case, I think we have to accept that Heavenly Mother has been referenced multiple times in official statements from the first presidency

    No one disputes the popularity of the idea. But of course an idea’s popularity does not necessarily correlate with its veracity.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  19. Matt, yeah, though he also wrote a letter the day before the dedication to William Smith, in which he talks about her as well. That wasn’t published until the first week of January, if I remember correctly, though.

    I think that most ideas about Heavenly Mother are as Jacob says, generally made up. There isn’t any revealed basis for most of the beliefs. But we like them, so they get reiterated.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 29, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  20. Geoff: Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps the issue with general revelation is we haven’t had a doctrinal revelation added to our cannon since Joseph F. Smith (OD 2 was praxis). I’m not saying we won’t have another, I just don’t see any reason to believe one is forthcoming. If they announce one in conference I will gladly stand all amazed.

    Again I am open to the idea that Heavenly Mother is made up (My mission president held that view). For the post here, I was more interested in what has been taught about her. In part because J. Stapley once suggested an inferior mother to a father, which I found no evidence of in the majority of the statements (with the single exception being a few outlying statements from Orson Pratt). It seems she is generally presented as co-equal, co-eternal, co-divine, and even essential to the divinity of the Father. Another reason is I was trying to think through what implications there would be due to her, or if she can safely be ignored theologically as Blake suggests. I’m still working that out.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  21. I don’t think that Jacob implied the idea of Mother in Heaven is just made up. Rather I read him to be saying that most of the things people say about the subject sound made up.

    If both men and women can be exalted and become gods as our scriptures teach then there must be some accounting for the divine feminine. But there are countless ways to do that and God has not revealed the details so when people try to fill in details in authoritative sounding ways I think it is important to remember that it is all speculation in the absence of revelation.

    I might write a post on the interesting ways we can account for the divine feminine in a Mormon theological context.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

  22. I’d love to read it. My speculative best guess is that Disney’s Mary Poppins is inspired exegesis on what Heavenly Mother is like.

    In any case, I thought it was cool that Erastus’ idea of the feminine being part of a single exalted being was still looked to as reasonable by the a member of the 70 in 1986.

    He said:

    when one speaks of the Father, meaning God the Father, one also speaks of the Father’s wife (our Heavenly Mother), for they are one flesh. We use this same expression on earth. When, for instance, we speak of the Bensons, the Hollands, or the Burtons, we speak of a pair. If these married partners were as perfect as our Heavenly Parents are, these couples would act and do things as a team, working together in perfect harmony and oneness–literally as one flesh. I personally believe that the word “Elohim” (a plural word) is a title and includes this connotation of oneness, even though when I write or speak of God the Father, I speak of a living, single being, but realize in my heart that they make up a heavenly pair.

    Made me think of your post on Erastus’ Quotes.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  23. Say it isn’t so Matt. Did you already forget this post of mine?? (Or maybe that is the post you were referring to)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  24. um no, that’s why I said:

    “Made me think of your post on Erastus’ Quotes.”

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

  25. Ah yes. Now I get your #22. You were quoting a member of the seventy who quoted Erastus Snow in a 1986 talk.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

  26. My point about disparity, that you refer to, Matt wasn’t necissarily something that has ever been taught explicitly. Instead it is implicit consequence to the theogony presented in the KFD and SitG.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 29, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

  27. J. Stapley- Fair enough. Let’s just say I respect (and even esteem highly) your opinion, but don’t see it as the only possible reading.

    Geoff- Burton didn’t quote Snow directly, he just taught the same idea.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  28. Matt W, Although some few private individuals have taken positions to the contrary, the Church has never taught that exalted women will not become heavenly mothers and has indeed spent great time and effort teaching the opposite, to the point that the assertion that there is only one “Heavenly Mother” in all eternity, or even in any random family reunion in heaven, would strike most members as false doctrine, a cardinal heresy, and a contradiction of virtually everything that has ever been taught about D&C 132:19, to say nothing of what is taught in several other ordinances.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  29. Matt,

    Would you say the same thing regarding Heavenly Father?

    It depends on what the person was saying, but I think the answer is “yes.” I am on the record arguing something along these lines. I often hear people say things about Heavenly Father (and Jesus for that matter) which I think are entirely made up (have no basis in revelation).

    To say these statements seem made up based on my selection of generally positive statements seems sort of lacking.

    No, that was not the basis of my saying they struck me as being made up. They seem made up to me because (1) they appear to me to have no basis in recognized revelations and (2) they seemed to be suspiciously specific about whatever topic the speaker was already addressing. Seriously, how do we know she is the “ultimate in maternal modesty.” It seems like a harmless thing to assert because it is a modesty is good, which is why I think people feel comfortable saying this about her without any specific basis. The same thing happens with respect to Jesus all the time. People ask “what would Jesus do” and then go on to answer without any basis in the life of Jesus. They just answer with whatever seems to them the good thing to do. I have mentioned this problem as one of the big problems for the moral influence theory of the atonement.

    Again I am open to the idea that Heavenly Mother is made up

    As Geoff correctly said in #21, I was suggesting the specific things they asserted about Heavenly Mother seemed made up, not the idea of Heavenly Mother herself. I think the idea of Heavenly Mother is implicit in his ideas of heavenly marriage and deification. I believe the evidence leans in favor of the possibility that Joseph Smith taught close associates of the existence of Heavenly Mother and I’ve argued that position in opposition to Blake on multiple occasions here and elsewhere.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 29, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  30. And that is why I claim that the term “the Father” or “the Eternal Father” is either ultimately a reference to the divine concert, or a double grammatical error that nullifies the assertions made in a large number of scriptural passages, or a practical contradiction of Church doctrine as it has been taught for at least 150 years.

    The idea that we are ultimately of the same species as any or all fathers and mothers in heaven, including out Heavenly Father is so critical to the common understanding of Church doctrine that an authoritative pronouncement to the contrary it would likely create a new schism to overshadow the one created by the end of polygamy.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  31. Jacob: I have mentioned this problem as one of the big problems for the moral influence theory of the atonement.

    This is a minor detour from the topic at hand but it dawns on me that this could be a strength of the Moral Exemplar theory of atonement. That is, if people attribute all things good to Jesus then moral exemplar models are much more effective on a practical level than they would be if we limited his example to the small amount of canon/text we have about the actual life of Jesus.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  32. I think assertions like “the ultimate in maternal modesty”, though not canonical, are a direct implication of the doctrine of exaltation as we understand it.

    Would an immodest or vain person be deserving of everlasting honor, and glory, or any kind of worship whatsoever?

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  33. J. Can you enlighten me about the theogony in the KFD and SintheGrove?

    Jacob: You still haven’t explained to my satisfaction how Joseph could teach that spirits are uncreated and that they are eternal and that there “is no creation about them” and still teach about a Mother in Heaven who births them.

    Let’s say that for purposes of Mormon theology there are some things that could implicitly suggest the existence of a MinH. We know nothing of her beyond the bare possibility of her existence from the public revelations.

    I especially love this statement from Joseph Fielding: “the fact that there is no reference to a Mother in Heaven in either the Bible, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants, is not sufficient proof that no such thing as a Mother did exist there.”

    Replace MinH with Easter Bunny and the argument and logic are just as sound.

    Finally, I don’t suggest that MinH doesn’t exist. I suggest that we cannot responsibly speak of her — and any theological discourse regarding her is not well grounded speculation based on sound logical inference of open possibilities, but simply made up.

    I especially suggest that those who use the MinH for their political purposes, who use the politically potent notion to fuel their psychological and political purposes as feminists or otherwise (like the Mother Mary was used in early Christianity) have created an idol in their own image. One is not justified in worshiping or adoring Mary simply because one needs to fulfill some felt need. I know its not PC — I don’t care. Evil isn’t PC either, but it would be foolish to suggest that it just doesn’t exist because it’s brutish. (I’m not suggesting that any of those who have posted here have committed these mistakes, I’m just venting at those who have made these mistakes in the misguided services of their own egos by creating the MinH as their own image and political convenience).

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  34. Blake, I believe there are several ways to resolve the issue that you raise:

    One is the tri-partite model of souls, where eternal spirits (later called “intelligences”) acquire a spirit body by some means, and then later acquire a physical body.

    Alternatively, any form of heavenly motherhood that does not entail viviparous spirit birth has no such problem. Motherhood by adoption, for example.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  35. Jacob J. “I believe the evidence leans in favor of the possibility that Joseph Smith taught close associates of the existence of Heavenly Mother and I’ve argued that position in opposition to Blake on multiple occasions here and elsewhere.”

    I believe that the evidence suggests otherwise. We know quite a bit about what Joseph taught and the argument from silence and the supposed implications are weak indeed. That said, let’s suppose that the evidence even weighed strongly in favor of this view rather than merely leaning somewhat in favor as Jacob believes. What difference would it make? There are still no revelations, no scriptures and no guidance. We still don’t know anything we can even speculate about.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  36. Jacob: Sorry for misunderstanding you. I can admit I included the “Maternal Modesty…Queenly Elegance” quote as well as the preceding idea regarding virtues from foot note number 7 in order to try to be complete. (I did omit one quote which inferred Heavenly Mother was somehow in charge of some sort of homecoming committee for us. ughh.)
    I was more interested in the conception of her as coequal with Father and essential to him, which as you say is implied via D&C 132.

    Blake: I don’t think it is reasonable to say anyone here fits your description of political agendaists. I’d say we just want to make sure we are taking into account all reasonable components of our theology. To put it simply:

    1. God was once as we are now (Joseph Smith)
    2. We must be married in the new and everlasting covenant to be like God is now.
    3. Since God was once as we are now, and is now like God, he needed to be married.

    I believe your point of view is to say God was not once as we are now in the sense we are discussing. Yes?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 29, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

  37. Mark: I suppose that one could solve the problem with the tri-partite view and suggest that eternal spirits acquired a spirit body. Joseph didn’t teach it. It isn’t isn’t in any revelation. Worse, the notion of eternal spirit contradicts the view of a newly born spirit that has a beginning. Further, the notion of an eternal intelligence isn’t “later.” Indeed, the notion of eternal intelligences was already expressed by Joseph in 1840. The terms intelligences and spirits and eternal spirits are used interchangeably by him rather consistently.

    I have no idea what the notion of a MinH heaven without some form of birthing children would mean. What in the heck is a “mother by adoption” in terms of spirits? Is there any such notion even hinted at in the revelation, scriptures or sermons of Joseph Smith?

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

  38. Matt. So was Jesus married for eternity while he was mortal? Is that a necessary LDS belief?

    If not, why is it necessary or even implied for the Father?

    Does it matter to your that your syllogism is invalid in several respects?

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

  39. Blake, Mother by adoption means the same thing as father by adoption, and it is pretty much the only alternative to viviparous spirit birth, other than nullifying the meaning of the terms “father in heaven” and “mother in heaven” completely.

    My biological parents are still alive and well on the earth today, so neither of them are particularly good candidates for my heavenly parents. Someone is up there answering my prayers right?

    If you say there is no heavenly parentage by adoption, no heavenly parentage by descent, and no heavenly parentage by viviparous spirit birth, what else is left? The idea that “Father in Heaven” is a rhetorical flourish for a being who has no paternal relationship with us whatsoever?

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

  40. Same thing except the person is female, of course.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  41. Mark: The Father gives us existence as mortals — he is our creator in this sense. In fact, one of the most ubiquitous assertions of the Father is that he is creator in this and other senses. Are you suggesting that we can affirm the same for the MinH?

    We become adopted only when we accept Christ and become his sons and daughters as far as I can find in scripture. Where the notion of adoption by the Father can found?

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

  42. Blake,

    I don’t think you addressed Mark’s point. In what way is the Father our Father on your view if not by adoption?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

  43. Geoff I addressed it in #41 — he is the creator of the world and of our mortal bodies. He is the source of the law by virtue of his spirit that is in and through all things. Read D&C 88.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  44. Blake,

    That would make him the figurative father of the earth (and thus all animals including humans) I suppose. How would he have been our Father before mortality on your view? Or do you assert the Father was not our Father before mortality?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 10:15 pm

  45. Matt: “Blake: I don’t think it is reasonable to say anyone here fits your description of political agendaists. I’d say we just want to make sure we are taking into account all reasonable components of our theology.”

    I agree with that. I tried to make that clear in # 33 in the last sentence. If I didn’t let me do it here. None of you are political agendaists as far as I can tell.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 10:16 pm

  46. Geoff: The Father is always the source of creative power and organization. He is the king of Gods from all eternity. He didn’t give existence or birth to our spirits or intelligences in my view, but the fact that we are able to be conscious as intelligences is an eternal co-creation based upon the Father’s power and light given to us as D&C 88 states (as I read it). Of course all of this is somewhat metaphorical because I’m not claiming that he is a father in the literal sense of donating spermatozoa to a biological process of cell division in a zygote residing in a female womb.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  47. I am not sure that answered my question Blake. On your view is God the Father properly titled the father of beginningless and uncreated spirits? If so why is he titled that?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  48. This is only an aside to this many-sided question, but being the curious person I am, I checked the manuscript history for the item mentioned in the link in 15 above. The entry only references the Times and Season vol. 6, p. 794. T&S mentions the hymn but does not give the words. Checking Utah newspapers gave me a blank. I have not checked Phelps’ papers, but if I get time I will. I wonder how and why the words of the hymn ended up in the HC? No doubt someone else has already answered this question. Does anyone here know?

    Comment by WVS — September 29, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

  49. Geoff: He is the Father because he is the creator and source of order. It is the most ubiquitous and sound scriptural suggestions I’ve ever made.

    How is he Father in your view?

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

  50. Blake, I agree that accepting what I call small cardinality divine singularity theory makes the idea of a “Mother in Heaven” as a single individual more or less theologically superfluous.

    However, as we have discussed before, small cardinality divine singularity theory has serious problems explaining divine power, particularly D&C 88:1-13 style power, unless the (three) members of the Godhead are of a different species.

    How else do you explain that three individual beings have the type of power that D&C 88 describes, in a manner that is essentially impossible for any other person or persons to ever duplicate, no matter how exalted they are?

    It is like saying the power density around these three persons is essentially infinite, and the power density of every other individual will always be the palest of shadows by comparison. Substitute power, glory, light, whatever.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

  51. Mark: I have no idea what you mean by “small cardinality divine singularity theory.”

    However, on my view the F, S & HG have and share divine power because the divine power emerges from and inheres in the divine persons when they are united as one in an indwelling relationship of love. We share this same power in the same way and for the same reason when we do the same thing. That can hardly be an ontological difference. In fact, it is an ontological equivalence.

    However, I agree that no single person not in such a relationship could ever have such power. That is how I explain it — and it how D&C 93 and the L on Faith explain it as well.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  52. WVS — I’ve had the same question. It doesn’t seem to be the 1844 source everyone quotes. Is there another basis for the assertion that the poem was in the Times & Seasons in 1844? I’m not aware of it.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

  53. The adoptive view is rather explicitly summarized by the following passage from the New Testament:

    Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
    Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:32:44)

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  54. Mark: You’re going to have to spell it out for me because I confess to not seeing adoption at all in this passage. Rather, we choose the devil as our father if we adopt him as our father — not him adopting us.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

  55. Blake: “small cardinality” – at most a handful of members of the one and only Godhead.

    “divine singularity” – full divine status implies infinite power in one’s own right. A singularity. For example, the point in space from which the light that governs all things originates, without which the universe would revert to chaos.

    So “small cardinality divine singularity theory” says that there are roughly three divine personages who each have nigh unto absolute power, and the power of everyone else collectively, regardless of degree of exaltation, is infinitesimal by comparison.

    In its more radical form, there is and can be no power independent of the power / grace that emanates from these divine singularities. That is an ontological difference. Three beings have power in their own right, everyone else at best channels their glow. Textbook Arminian theology – unavoidable with creatio ex nihilo, rather puzzling with eternal spirits – three are potent and the rest impotent, until subsidized by the first three.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

  56. Blake: the direction or mutuality of adoption is of no particular significance here. Both are forms of parental relationship by adoption.

    That said, “If God were your Father” is unusually strong language.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 29, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

  57. Blake: He is the Father because he is the creator and source of order.

    That would make him the father of order, but not of any spirits.

    How is he Father in your view?

    I am not certain it makes good sense to call God the father of beginningless spirits unless there was some kind of adoption at some point. (Although I should add I am ok with God not technically being the Father of beginningless spirits — I was just wondering what your views on that subject are)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 29, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

  58. Mark: “three are potent and the rest impotent, until subsidized by the first three.”

    They aren’t “subsidized,” it is simply the nature of beings having our species and properties to manifest the divine attributes when in a relationship of indwelling glory. It is the same for them as for us. It arises as a matter of choice. The difference is a matter of choices we have made. They made perfectly loving choices; we didn’t. That is the difference. Just as I can make unloving choices and you can make loving choices without having a different ontological status, so can they.

    Comment by Blake — September 29, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  59. Blake: The “rest” I am speaking of is all of us, who are fairly impotent prior to the reception of divine grace from one or more of the first three, in your view, are they not?

    In addition, I cannot conceive of any reason why a history of loving choices would raise a small handful of individuals to a status of infinite power independent of anyone and anything else.

    The physical universe doesn’t care either way, right? So if each individual has maximal power P in his own right, I maintain that the maximal physical power of any group of N individuals is N times P.

    It is like saying that by himself, a person equipped with a perfectly operating generator can generate 1 megawatt of power for some useful purpose. Now if we have 1000 individuals, and they have perfect coherence of intent and purpose, I maintain that at best those 1000 individuals can bring to bear 1000 megawatts of power in furtherance of their shared purpose. If those individuals operate at cross purposes, the usuable work accomplished per unit time may quickly drop to zero, or worse.

    So it seems to me that any theory of infinite power by small cardinality loving relationships needs a metaphysical theory of how such a thing can be possible, and in particular how this power, this physically manifest power, is “saved up” such that a small group with an infinite history acquires the infinite amount of stored energy or potential necessary to exercise infinite power -

    Where by comparison the potential power exercisable by a long lasting (eventually semi-infinite) loving relationship of any other number of exalted beings is always infinitesimal by comparison.

    And that if one grants that “saving up” this sort of potential over a very long if not infinite period of time is physically viable, which I seriously doubt. It is like someone sneezed and several galaxies got obliterated. The divine concert theory doesn’t have that problem.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 12:23 am

  60. So if each individual has maximal power P in his own right, I maintain that the maximal physical power of any group of N individuals is N times P.

    I’m trying to wrap my mind around this but can’t. Surely power isn’t a real number. What on earth do we mean by this?

    Comment by Clark — September 30, 2009 @ 12:32 am

  61. Physical power is most definitely a real number. Presumably spiritual objectives require some small exercise of physical power as well. Speak with a voice of thunder without consuming a milliwatt? I don’t think so.

    Suppose leader L wants to mobilize an army of N individuals to place sand bags. The maximal capacity of each individual is P sand bags per hour. The maximal capacity of the group is (N+1) * P sand bags per hour.

    You can avoid this problem if you say that there are no physical constraints on the amount of physical power than can be brought to bear on any objective with physical aspects.

    But that still begs for a theory of why some individuals have infinite physical power and others don’t. As an individual, righteousness (internal discipline) is a perfectly good finite force multiplier. “I have the strength of ten because my heart is pure”. The strength of a trillion? All by oneself? I don’t think so – not if the individuals concerned are of the same species.

    If we are of the same species, the idea that an individual or small handful of individuals can attain divine power in a semi-infinite amount of time is the ultimate form of the Pelagian heresy – i.e. we can be saved without at-one-ment with God.

    Suppose I get together (not that way) with two of my buddies. On this theory, if we get along perfectly, a semi-infinite time period from now, we should have physically manifestable divine power comparable to a three member Godhead now, right?

    That says if we wait long enough we don’t need God, don’t need to get along with him, don’t need his grace, his at-one-ment, or anything else, because we can duplicate the exact situation the he finds himself in, merely by maintaining the proper small cardinality relationship over a comparable period of time.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 12:53 am

  62. Power in physics is a real number. Power in the sense Blake is using it does not seem to be. Further with respect to divine beings even if you mean it merely as “a count of the unique acts one can do” you immediately run into the problem of transfinite numbers. That’s not a problem of just divinity but simply of possibilities due to combinations of sets of reals.

    So, for example, assuming space is continuous in the sense of being a real in the three directions plus time what is the cardinality of all possible states a being could be in within an infinite universe in the four dimensions? Obviously we’re computing permutations here.

    Comment by Clark — September 30, 2009 @ 1:49 am

  63. Blake 52. I cannot find the lyrics anywhere in 1844 as yet. Now I’m wondering if the verse in question may be a later addition.

    Comment by WVS — September 30, 2009 @ 6:43 am

  64. Power in physics is a real number. Power in the sense Blake is using it does not seem to be.

    So, he’s talking about not real power or simply power that is a reality inaccessible to a mathematical description (even hypothetically)?

    Comment by A. Davis — September 30, 2009 @ 7:12 am

  65. I have no idea what the notion of “infinite power” could be in this context. As far as I’m concerned, the designator “infinite” has no cognitive meaning in this context. When speak of divine infinite power, even if I adopted such a view, it certainly is not a mathematical notion but a notion of lack of limits. I happen to espouse maximal power which is a very different notion than some mathematical formula. I regard Mark’s approach from a physics standpoint as a category mistake.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  66. WVS: It may be time to explode the myth the W. W. Phelps taught about a Mother in Heaven in late 1844 — I just can’t find sources to support the assertion. I’m beginning to think that the verse was a later addition as well.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  67. The hymn was printed in W.W. Phelps, “A Voice from the Prophet. ‘Come to Me,” Times and Seasons, 6 (January 15, 1845):783. It indicated the tune to which it was to be sung as “Indian Hunter.” I think Sam dates the creation to fall, 1844, but I can’t remember off hand his evidence for it.

    On December 25, 1844, Phelps also wrote a letter to William Smith:

    A heap of dust alone remains of thee, ‘Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be,” while Mormonism, from an Abel, though dead, yet speaketh; from an Elijah though translated in a fiery chariot to heaven, yet, returns in glory with Moses, and blesses Jesus at the transfiguration on the mount! O Mormonism! Thy father is God, thy mother is the Queen of heaven, and so thy whole history, from eternity to eternity, is the laws, ordinances and truth of the “Gods”-embracing the simple plan of salvation, sanctification, death, resurrection, glorification and exaltation of man, from infancy to age, from age to eternity, from simplicity to sublimity: from faith, repentance, baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, to washing, anointing, presence of angels, the general assembly and church of the first born; to the unspeakable glory of seeing God and the Lamb, and to spirits of just men, made perfect, and to be ordained unto eternal life! (W. W. Phelps, “The Answer,” letter to William Smith, December 25, 1844, Nauvoo, Il, Times and Seasons 5 (January 1): 758.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 9:02 am

  68. J. – Wow. You are awesome.

    It seems to me that the off the cuff manner with which Phelps puts forth this idea makes it seem like it was commonly thought and taught. And doesn’t the title “Queen of Heaven” speak more highly of her than your theogony implies?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 30, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  69. Good Question. I think the title Queen of Heaven (see also Sam’s paper on “Paracletes”) is consistent with our Temple theology (And the SitG).

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  70. I guess there are two possible ways God can be the Father of beginningless spirits. Either he was always the Father or he became the Father via choice on his part to do so (adoption). To me, the scriptures imply the latter as they note the Father saw himself in out mist and then chose to help us, rather than his always helping us.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 30, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  71. Can you point me to Sam’s Paper?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 30, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  72. Matt: Behold.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  73. Blake, as I understand it your view is that no one else is so much as conscious prior to the reception of grace from the Father/Son/HG, and shall never become sources of similarly effective grace in their own right.

    That is the category difference that you have to explain. It either really is a category difference, and the Godhead are of a difference species, or there must be some explanation, using some conceivable physics or metaphysics for why these three are the font and origin of all grace and no one else is nor can ever be.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  74. Mark: “Blake, as I understand it your view is that no one else is so much as conscious prior to the reception of grace from the Father/Son/HG, and shall never become sources of similarly effective grace in their own right.”

    Not my view. I believe that the F,S&HG are a source of light and truth. I am agnostic about whether intelligences are eternally conscious, but if they are then it is a shared co-consciousness (and I lean toward the view that they are), then it is a shared consciousness with the divine persons (that is what follows from the fact that the light that proceeds from God’s presence is a necessary condition for such shared consciousness and from the notion of omniscience). We also share our light with all others when joined in unity with the divine persons. No ontological or category difference here.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 10:32 am

  75. J. W. W. Phelps seems to me to be speaking of mortal parents who are literally fathers and mothers who become exalted as gods and not of a primordial mother or mothers in heaven.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  76. Geoff (#31),

    Huh? If I’m following you, the Moral Influence theory would look like this: The purpose of the atonement was to set an example, but since it didn’t actually set a usable example, we are supposed to blindly attribute all good things to Christ and then follow that “example.” I don’t think that provides a plausible argument for why there needed to be an atonement (on the contrary, it says there definitely was no need). On that theory the atonement did precisely nothing.

    Blake (#33),

    You still haven’t explained to my satisfaction how Joseph could teach that spirits are uncreated and that they are eternal and that there “is no creation about them” and still teach about a Mother in Heaven who births them.

    This is quite simple, so I am not sure what you want me to explain. Physical mothers give birth to babies without creating their spirits, they simply provide a physical body in which the uncreated spirit dwells. I am simply saying that it is a coherent idea to say that a mother in heaven could give birth to a baby without creating an uncreated spirit in the same way–by simply providing a spirit body in which the uncreated spirit then dwells. Since Joseph Smith gives us no help in understanding how a spirit is related to its spirit body, this would be perfectly consistent with his statements about uncreated spirits.

    Blake (#35),

    We still don’t know anything we can even speculate about.

    Except that she exists and makes some sense out of female exaltation. I have never suggested we should speculate farther than that.

    Blake (#37),

    The terms intelligences and spirits and eternal spirits are used interchangeably by him rather consistently.

    Which is one of the major causes of the theological confusion. Joseph’s thoughts on this cannot be reconciled with themselves without adding assumptions he never confirmed. I gave specific examples in the “Complications” section of this post.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 30, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  77. No ontological or category difference here.

    I admit being a little confused. I saw:

    Source of all truth and light: Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
    Participants in that truth and light: everybody else.

    This is not a ontological difference how?

    Comment by A. Davis — September 30, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  78. Blake it does appear that you try to have your cake and eat it too on this topic. For instance you imply that there is no difference between the “Big Three” and the rest of us beginningless spirits but then you refuse to actually commit to the idea that all of us were eternally conscious. Or you say that a light proceeds from the presence of the Big Three but claim that is only because they always “chose” to be unified even though there was never a time before this choice. If divine power arises from three co-equal spirits unifying in perfect love what is keeping three of the billions of other co-eternal spirits from unifying into a separate Godhead?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 30, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  79. Blake, I agree that Phelps’ letter to William is very consistent with the SitG and Temple liturgy. The hymn does not appear to share the constraints that you claim, however.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 10:48 am

  80. Looks like J. beat me to it. (T&S Jan. 15, 1845). If I get time, I still want to have a look at Phelps’ papers. Thanks also for Sam’s paper.

    Comment by WVS — September 30, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  81. Jacob (#76)

    Sorry, I should have explained my underlying assumptions behind that comment better. If one assumed a Pelagian view of atonement (namely that the death of Jesus had no major physical affects on the universe or us), one could still assume that God through his grace works to help people make free choices that would lead to happiness and salvation. In such a world God could theoretically use Jesus as an archetype of all good choices.

    I am not saying that is the way things are, I was just thinking about the value in a Moral Examplar view of attributing more good to the mortal Jesus than the records could possibly describe.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 30, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  82. J. Can you explain to me when the 1 Jan. 1844 edition of Times & Seasons which you quote was actually published? Since it refers to Joseph’s death which occurred six months after its supposed publication date, it clearly was not published in Jan. of 1844. Are you claiming it was published or written in Dec. 1844? What is your source for that?

    Jacob: “a mother in heaven could give birth to a baby without creating an uncreated spirit in the same way–by simply providing a spirit body in which the uncreated spirit then dwells.”

    That is just the thing Jacob, human mothers give birth to mortal physical bodies because that is the same kind of being they are. But supposedly heavenly mother(s) is a resurrected and exalted being who is giving birth to spirits “in the same way.” But it ain’t the same way.

    Further, it seems inconsistent to say that spirits are eternal, as Joseph did, but they have a beginning at the time of spirit birth. You seem to admit in the same post that “this causes confusion.” As I see it, it also calls into question the coherence of the entire spirit birth scheme which, if I correctly understood you, was what you were asserting seems “quite coherent” to you.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 11:10 am

  83. A. Davis: “Source of all truth and light: Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Participants in that truth and light: everybody else. This is not a ontological difference how?”

    Perhaps you missed this: we are also a source of light for others when joined in this unity. Further, the F,S&HG are participants in the light as much as we are. The light and truth emerges from the relationship of persons into which we have been invited. No ontological difference.

    Perhaps you could spell out what you take to be an ontological difference and why you believe that my view entails one. Not all differences are ontological differences. Differences that arise out of choices or out of differing relations are not ontological differences.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  84. That is just the thing Jacob, human mothers give birth to mortal physical bodies because that is the same kind of being they are. But supposedly heavenly mother(s) is a resurrected and exalted being who is giving birth to spirits “in the same way.” But it ain’t the same way.

    Physical birth: a physical body is made for a previously existing object (a spirit body).

    Spirit birth: a spirit body is made for a previous existing object (an uncreated spirit/intelligence).

    “in the same way” applies here. A body is created for a prior agent. Without the prior agent, the birth is still-born (in both cases).

    Comment by A. Davis — September 30, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  85. Geoff: “If divine power arises from three co-equal spirits unifying in perfect love what is keeping three of the billions of other co-eternal spirits from unifying into a separate Godhead?”

    It is logically impossible for “a separate Godhead” because the light of the F,S&HG as one Godhead is in and through all things. There cannot be another Godhead because the divine power is entailed in participation in this one light that is in and through all things. Thus, if any others joined a Godhead, they would necessarily join this one Godhead.

    The divine persons have eternally chosen to be in this relationship that gives rise to this light that is in and through all things (see D&C 88). If such a choice entails conscious choice, then the intelligences must be eternally conscious. However, I’m not sure that such choices require self-consciousness.

    J – just what is the sense in which that Phelps’ poem is consistent with or implied by the SinGrove? It seems to me to discuss how humans become gods as the Father & Son. What are you seeing that I’m not?

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 11:26 am

  86. Perhaps you missed this: we are also a source of light for others when joined in this unity. Further, the F,S&HG are participants in the light as much as we are. The light and truth emerges from the relationship of persons into which we have been invited. No ontological difference.

    Ok, I start to see. Thank you. The individuals of the Godhead are not the source but the relationship between the individuals is the source. And then, if we become partakers of that relationship we then to become “sources”. Thus, source of light become nomological, not ontological?

    Comment by A. Davis — September 30, 2009 @ 11:27 am

  87. Here’s the relevant excerpt from Phelps to William (pub. date is Jan 15, 1845 – they were running about 6 weeks behind I think, so this may have appeared in March 1845). Phelps clearly connects the terminology with OT passages and temple terms – an extrapolation?:

    O Mormonism! Thy father is God, thy mother is the Queen of heaven, and so thy whole history, from eternity to eternity, is the laws, ordinances and truth of the “Gods”-embracing the simple plan of salvation, sanctification, death, resurrection, glorification and exaltation of man, from infancy to age, from age to eternity, from simplicity to sublimity: from faith, repentance, baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, to washing, anointing, holy conversation, baptism for the dead, to the presence of angels, the general assembly and church of the first born; to the unspeakable glory of seeing God and the Lamb, and to spirits of just men, made perfect, and to be ordained unto eternal life!

    And again, we exclaim, O Mormonism! No wonder that Lucifer, son of the morning, the next heir to Jesus Christ, our eldest brother, should fight so hard against his brethren; he lost the glory, the honor, power, and dominion of a God: and the knowledge, spirit, authority and keys of the priesthood of the son of God.

    Christ kept his first estate-Lucifer lost his by offering to save men in their sins on the honor of a God, or on his father’s honor.-Christ hated sin, and loved righteousness, therefore he was anointed with holy oil in heaven, and crowned in the midst of brothers and sisters, while his mother stood with approving virtue, and smiled upon a Son that kept the faith as the heir of all things! In fact the Jews thought so much of his coronation among Gods and Goddesses; Kings and Queens of heaven, that they broke over all restraints and actually began to worship the “Queen of heaven,” according to Jeremiah.

    Comment by WVS — September 30, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  88. Blake,

    I’ve often wondered what you meant by a statement you made in one of your presentations.

    In Mormonism, we come to earth already natural-born children of the Mother and Father, already natural-born children of God. And we come here to be adopted as children of God. Now I don’t know if it seems strange to you but have you ever asked yourself, ‘Why would natural parents adopt their children?’ Because that’s what we’re asserting is happening. You see we have these two different types of divine parentage; and the reason is that being natural-born children is one kind of relationship but choosing into a relationship of intimate fellowship, of deep abiding and sharing of life is a very different kind of relationship…

    Am I missunderstanding in thinking you were refering to a type of parentage before this life?

    Comment by Riley — September 30, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  89. Blake (#82), it was published in January 1, 1845.

    Blake (#85), my comment about the SitG was in relation to Phelps’ letter to William Smith. Particularly the part in the sermon which discuss Moses qua god and Kings and Priests.

    Regarding the poem. It was written as if declared by Joseph Smith, now dead and in heaven:

    Come to me, here are Adam and Eve at the head Of a multitude quicken’d and rais’d from the dead: Here’s the knowledge that was, or that is, or will be— In the gen’ral assembly of worlds: Come to me.

    Come to me; here’s the myst’ry that man hath not seen; Here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen, Here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be, Here’s eternity,—endless; amen: Come to me.

    I don’t see how you could read that as divinization. The first stanza I quote quote discusses the human family, the next discusses their heavenly Father and Mother, the Queen.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 11:40 am

  90. re 87, make that Jan. 1, 1845, so maybe it was actually printed in February.

    Comment by WVS — September 30, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  91. Ok, one more. Phelps in his short story Paracletes (see J’s link above in 77), writes (note his implication that spirits are “born”):

    Once upon a time, the most honorable men of the creations or universes, met together to promote the best interest of the great whole. The “head” said to his oldest son, you are the rightful heir to all, but you know I have many kingdoms and many mansions, and of course it will need many kings and many priests, to govern them, come you with me in solemn council, and let us and some of the “best” men we have had born in the regions of light

    Comment by WVS — September 30, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  92. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father”

    Doesn’t this quote from Gospel Principles seem a bit presumptuous, considering the lack of revelations on the subject, including the teachings of Joseph Smith Jr.?

    Comment by Clean Cut — September 30, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  93. When speak of divine infinite power, even if I adopted such a view, it certainly is not a mathematical notion but a notion of lack of limits.

    If it’s a lack of limits then how on earth does your equation work? It would appear that multiple beings with power increases limits if only because the beings have to agree to act, thereby decreasing choices.

    Comment by Clark — September 30, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  94. WVS, that is, I believe, the first documented evidence of the idea of “spirit birth.”

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

  95. Clean Cut- I’d recommend reading the comments and the article linked in #72. Keep in mind the quote in question is originally from on official proclamation which carried similar standing to “The Living Christ” or “The Proclamation to the World”.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 30, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  96. Is it that obvious I haven’t read the comments yet?

    That was just my first question after reading the OP. I’ll make sure to read the comments and the article. Looking forward to doing so…

    Comment by Clean Cut — September 30, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  97. Clark: “If it’s a lack of limits then how on earth does your equation work? It would appear that multiple beings with power increases limits if only because the beings have to agree to act, thereby decreasing choices.”

    I admit I have no idea what you’re referring to or talking about. Probably my limitation and not yours, but I still just don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Riley: I mean that we were already in a relationship with God before this earth that was not of our free choosing, and the purpose of this life is to freely choose whether we will have or continue to have a relationship with God.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  98. J: “O Mormonism! Thy father is God, thy mother is the Queen of heaven, and so thy whole history,” doesn’t seem to refer to any kind of father or mother in any sense that gives rise to the belief in a mother in heaven. It is poetic hyperbole. This statement is immediately followed by the notion of deification so I see it in that context because that is the context. I don’t see it as stanzas.

    Here is a kicker. Phelphs says in the same letter (if it was a letter at that time): “In fact the Jews thought so much of his coronation among Gods and Goddesses; Kings and Queens of heaven, that they broke over all restraints and actually began to worship the “Queen of heaven,” according to Jeremiah.”

    Jeremiah condemns that worship.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

  99. Clark: “If it’s a lack of limits then how on earth does your equation work? It would appear that multiple beings with power increases limits if only because the beings have to agree to act, thereby decreasing choices.”

    I admit I have no idea what you’re referring to or talking about. Probably my limitation and not yours, but I still just don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Suppose being A wants to move planet X a bit farther from its star and being B wants to move planet X a bit closer to its star. Both can’t happen obviously and this means that any divine unity will limit scenarios where such contradictory choices can occur – hence decreasing choices.

    At least that is my understanding of the statement.

    Comment by A. Davis — September 30, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  100. Blake,

    Thanks. I think I understood your intent that we have to choose into a new relationship. In fact, I really think that helps explain a lot about what really seperates our “likeness” or “unlikeness” with God. As opposed to just being god’s in embryo who will eventually grow up like God anyways.

    I guess I was just confused given what I’ve read from you in other places where. It seemed strange to me that you would elude to a “divine parentage” comprised of both a “Mother and Father”, to which we are “natural born” children.

    Comment by Riley — September 30, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  101. A. Davis: If the divine persons are not in complete agreement, then they cannot manifest the divine power or “maximal power” because possession of such power requires that they be in a relationship of complete unity of will. Thus, the scenario of competing beings with unlimited power cannot arise. They don’t limit one another; they empower one another.

    Does that make it clearer? I devote an entire chapter to discussing the problem of competing omnipotents in my third volume.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  102. Blake (#82),

    Further, it seems inconsistent to say that spirits are eternal, as Joseph did, but they have a beginning at the time of spirit birth.

    Sigh. I called them “uncreated” four times in my comment, how much clearer can I be? I said it is coherent to suggest that a spirit body was created for an uncreated spirit. I did *not* say the spirit had a beginning at spirit birth. Your response above indicates that you are not understanding the basic premise of what I am suggesting. To quote from my previous comment:

    I am simply saying that it is a coherent idea to say that a mother in heaven could give birth to a baby without creating an uncreated spirit in the same way–by simply providing a spirit body in which the uncreated spirit then dwells.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 30, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  103. Thanks for the quotes everyone.

    WVS: Great pull on the quote in 87.

    Blake (98): Just because Jeremiah condems their mode of worship, does not render the whole idea false.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — September 30, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  104. Eric: I want to recommend to you the paper in #72 for your article on Spirit Birth.

    J. Stapley, I am subscribing to the Samuel Brown fan club. I see in Paracletes where “Queen of Heaven” is also used to describe the “Eve” Character as well as a Mother in Heaven. Is this what you meant in #69?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 30, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

  105. Okay Matt, I’ve read through the comments and skimmed the article. I didn’t mean to say that GP is presumptuous by stating there is a Heavenly Mother (Heavenly Parents). What seemed presumptuous to me was in trying to define exactly how They became our parents. In other words, doesn’t that line seem to force the spirit birth issue and rule out adoption?

    Comment by Clean Cut — September 30, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  106. Matt, yes. If you look at the Sermon in the Grove and the 1844-1847 discourse surrounding kings/priests (and queen/priestesses) the usage is entirely consistent.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  107. the usage is entirely consistent.

    Not the entirety of “Paracletes.” There is loads of Phelpsian wackery going in that thing. But post-mortal Adam and Eve as King and Queen in Heaven over the human family is all over the place.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 30, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  108. CC, there is so much begotten and born rhetoric throughout our religion and culture, I guess I didn’t really think about it. I typically think of it metaphorically, but I am aware others do not. I’m interested to see how Givens treats it in his new book.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 30, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  109. Clark (#62), for the purposes of this discussion substitute “having a very high finite value a trillion or more times what is normal”, for “infinite”. My argument doesn’t depend on actual infinities.

    Blake (#65), You say “When speak of divine infinite power, even if I adopted such a view, it certainly is not a mathematical notion but a notion of lack of limits”

    The whole idea of a lack of limits is, among other things, a mathematical concept. It implies that the acquisition of any quantity of resources Q nominally required to accomplish task K, is either unrestricted for any quantity Q, or completely inapplicable.

    Now, if I, as an individual, want to move a pile of bricks from ground level up to the tenth floor of a building in a certain time T, I can accurately estimate the minimum power required to accomplish that task in that amount of time. If I do it manually with the help of two of my friends, it is going to take us so many hours or days, because the motive power we can exert with our own muscles is relatively small.

    So the question is, can three divine persons, without help from anyone or anything else, move these bricks from ground level to the tenth floor a trillion or more times faster than me and my two friends?

    If they can, and there is absolutely no hope that me and my friends will ever acquire the same capacity in and of ourselves, that is a fundamental and unavoidable category difference.

    It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about moving bricks, emanating grace, shining light, answering prayers, etc etc – anything that the three divine persons can do that no one else will *ever* be able to do means that they belong in a different category than everyone else does, by definition – they have properties are only held by members of that category, and no one else – not now, not ever. In other words, they are not really human, in any normal sense of the term, at all. They are “Gods” and no one else will ever be.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

  110. I should be clear, by the way, that if one fellow is taking bricks down from the tenth floor, while the other two are taking bricks up, it is going to take considerably longer to move all the bricks to the top floor. That is what I mean by “effective power”.

    Dissipation is easy, progress is difficult. Ask any general.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  111. Mark: “anything that the three divine persons can do that no one else will *ever* be able to do means that they belong in a different category than everyone else does, by definition.”

    Yeah, there isn’t anything that they can do that we cannot except make the choices earlier than we did. But then, they cannot make the choices they made earlier than they did either. So you assertion is without content.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  112. Jacob: “I said it is coherent to suggest that a spirit body was created for an uncreated spirit.”

    Yeah, I know that is what you said. What is an uncreated spirit if it isn’t a spirit body already? I don’t see any difference hinted at by Joseph Smith. So you have a spirit body created for an entity that already has one — seems contradictory to me.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  113. Yeah, there isn’t anything that they can do that we cannot except make the choices earlier than we did. But then, they cannot make the choices they made earlier than they did either. So you assertion is without content.

    So I can take out the word “ever” from my statement, i.e. if three people make comparable choices for the rest of eternity they will converge to the capacity where the three divine persons are now, even without outside help? Your position is the first three never had any outside help, right? Given half an eternity that ought to be logically possible for any other group of three, would it not?

    [Putting aside the issue of how any metaphysical theory can explain divine power from the choices of just three people]

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  114. A. Davis: If the divine persons are not in complete agreement, then they cannot manifest the divine power or “maximal power” because possession of such power requires that they be in a relationship of complete unity of will. Thus, the scenario of competing beings with unlimited power cannot arise. They don’t limit one another; they empower one another.

    A Davis represented my view accurately. I understand you point. But I think this undermines your equation:

    “So if each individual has maximal power P in his own right, I maintain that the maximal physical power of any group of N individuals is N times P.

    What you say now directly contradicts that.

    I also dispute that even maximally powerful beings can’t disagree, but we’ve had that discussion before and I’ll not revisit it.

    Comment by Clark — September 30, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

  115. Yeah, there isn’t anything that they can do that we cannot except make the choices earlier than we did. But then, they cannot make the choices they made earlier than they did either. So you assertion is without content.

    I think Mark’s point is that they were capable of unaidedly becoming God (or at least one of them was). We on the other hand cannot. There are two ways to take this. One is the more Pelegian approach of saying we could but merely choose not to. The other is that there is some fundamental divide between God and man that God the Father was able to bridge but we were not.

    The danger of the Pelegian approach is, of course, that it seems hard to reconcile to an LDS conception of the need for the plan of salvation.

    Comment by Clark — September 30, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

  116. So you have a spirit body created for an entity that already has one — seems contradictory to me.

    That is fine if human spirits, including post-mortal human spirits, have neither two eyes nor ten fingers. The claim that human spirits have always had two eyes and ten fingers is metaphysically absurd in a universe that wasn’t created by God out of nothing.

    So one is left with the position that either pre-mortal spirits are little blinky-blink things without any extended form, or they are shape shifters that can assume any form at will, assuming they keep thinking about the arrangement of the hairs on their head, of course. A body without any structure is not exactly structurally stable.

    Blinky-blink-ness of pre-mortal spirits is plausible I suppose, but the real problem comes with post mortal spirits. Are they little blinky blink things too? Or can a post mortal spirit will himself into any form he or she feels like? Do *really* good impersonations at parties? Remember where all the hairs on his or her head should be?

    Those are the type of questions raised by the assertion that spirits do not have material bodies prior to birth or between the time of death and resurrection.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  117. Clark, I am not sure who you are addressing in #114. If you are talking to me, are you sure I am not speaking in hypotheticals? Exploring the implications of another’s position? I don’t think I have contradicted myself.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  118. To be clear, I don’t hold any part of the position I suggested in #113. It is all just a line of criticism against the whole idea that three divine persons and only three are now and will ever be the font and origin of all grace.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  119. Clark: “they were capable of unaidedly becoming God (or at least one of them was).”

    well, it’s rather easy to point out that this assertion is just false. None of them could be “God” or fully divine without the others. There is no such thing as being God or fully divine all alone.

    Mark: “Your position is the first three never had any outside help, right?”

    Wrong, they had help from each other.

    Clark: “One is the more Pelegian approach of saying we could but merely choose not to. The other is that there is some fundamental divide between God and man that God the Father was able to bridge but we were not.”

    False dichotomy. We are able to choose because we are empowered by the others to be able to do so. No one can unilaterally choose a mutually indwelling and glorifying relationship.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  120. “Do *really* good impersonations at parties?”

    Oh my.

    Comment by WVS — September 30, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  121. Clark: “A Davis represented my view accurately. I understand you point. But I think this undermines your equation: So if each individual has maximal power P in his own right, I maintain that the maximal physical power of any group of N individuals is N times P.”

    I’m just befuddled my this assertion. That isn’t my equation. Divine power is necessarily cooperative power. I agree that even divine beings with maximal power can disagree — they are after all three distinct centers of will and consciousness and not just one — but that doesn’t mean that they could remain maximally powerful if they disagreed.

    Comment by Blake — September 30, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

  122. Blake (#119) it seems to me that the “help from each other” is quite different from our relation with them though. I don’t know, maybe you disagree. But it seems to me that the exaltation of the original three in your theology is quite different from the exaltation of say you or I.

    I think though that we’re talking at way too abstract a level which is why we’re talking past one an other. The real issue is how the Father was exalted versus us.

    Put simply, could three other beings become exalted independently from the three who are already exalted? (Obviously others have raised this point) That is, could we be exalted without God? I think you’re avoiding this by saying we have to be empowered by others. The issue isn’t that but which others we could be empowered by. So yes, it’s not exactly the Pelegian point, but it’s pretty darn close.

    Blake (#121), My bad. I misattributed a quote by Mark to you. My profuse apologies. Things make far more sense now. (Perils of reading blogs as a break while pulling an all-nighter to get caught up on accounting)

    Comment by Clark — September 30, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  123. Wrong, they had help from each other.

    When I say “outside help”, I mean what “outside help” normally means – help from outside the group – outside the company, outside the family, outside the organization. Nobody ever uses “outside help” to indicate the help for an individual, unless the individual is a sole proprietorship, perhaps.
    ————————————————-
    Now I should be clear that my position is that mutatis mutandis the eventual agreement and discipline of half the population of the universe plus one is sufficient to ensure divine power, provided the agreement is based on principles of righteousness – the sort that can lead to spiritual glory shared among the whole group, to one degree or another.

    Where I differ from Blake (as I understand him) is that he says that an eternity of right choices and cooperation on the part of three individuals is sufficient. I don’t think three individuals can save themselves the way we understand salvation. Rather I claim that God wouldn’t be God in any sense of the term unless he worked to save the rest of humanity (“this is my work and my glory…”), and wouldn’t be God in the full sense of the term unless he saved them.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

  124. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect…

    Comment by Mark D. — September 30, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

  125. Haven’t read the comments…and the conversations that go on here are usually over my head, as this one appears to be as well, but here’s my thought. Has anyone mentioned Genesis? A while back, I was pondering the concept of ‘leaving father and mother’ — of course, this is non-authoritative speculation, but isn’t it possible that that could be referring in some way to Adam and Eve leaving heavenly parents?

    Comment by m&m — October 1, 2009 @ 12:25 am

  126. m&m- Margaret Barker makes a similar claim, I think.To sum up the comments, the best evidence for Heavenly Mother being from Joseph Smith’s teaching are statements from 1844 from WW Phelps. These, connected with statements from Eliza Snow around the same makes a better case than Eliza on her own.

    Comment by Matt W. — October 1, 2009 @ 5:30 am

  127. m&m:

    Yes.

    Jacob:

    Go, Jacob, go.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — October 1, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  128. If the divine persons are not in complete agreement, then they cannot manifest the divine power or “maximal power” because possession of such power requires that they be in a relationship of complete unity of will. Thus, the scenario of competing beings with unlimited power cannot arise. They don’t limit one another; they empower one another.

    Oh, I quite agree that we wouldn’t want to have a maximally powerful beings at odds with each other. Still, choices will be limited but we may be mistaken to equate power with the quantity of choices available.

    As to the idea of competition, I take a much more social approach than a philosophical one. That is to say, gods shouldn’t be not unified rather than that by definition they can’t be out of unity (where by definition they wouldn’t be gods). This more social definition is probably only allowable because I suspect I conceptualize a much more limited maximum for the maximally powerful.

    Still, the question of competition rears its head as I explore Bohmian mechanics as a possible background in which to embed a libertarian agent to form a coherent model of free will. So far, a “social model” doesn’t quite cut it. /shrug

    Comment by A. Davis — October 1, 2009 @ 7:07 am

  129. Clark: “Put simply, could three other beings become exalted independently from the three who are already exalted? (Obviously others have raised this point) That is, could we be exalted without God?”

    These are good questions. We don’t have solid answers — certainly not scriptural or revelatory answers. However, my view is that God the Father is necessarily the person who he is — he is that individual essence or haecceity necessarily. However, he is not necessarily fully divine. Thus, it is logically possible that there could be no God at all.

    However, there is also the consideration, which is scriptural, that there is an intelligence that is more intelligent than all of the others. I don’t believe that it is logically necessary that there be a being who is so intelligent that this being would see by the light of reason and knowledge that the only choice that makes sense is the choice of intimate sharing of life in fulfilling relationships of love. It is a contingent fact that God the Father is just inherently this intelligent. However, given this intelligence and that his intelligence exceeded all others, it follows that he is the one who would see in virtue of his degree of light and commitment to love that it would serve to create the relationship of indwelling transparency.

    It follows that the Father isn’t logically necessarily fully divine or “God” and there isn’t any God of logical necessity. Further, it is logically possible that it could have been us who realized from all eternity that loving relationships of complete and trusting transparency serve us best. However, given the contingent fact that we lack the level of light that the Father possessed among the intelligences, He was the one who could raise us to greater light and glory and not us. It is, however, a contingent fact that the Father had this greater intelligence and glory.

    Thus, it is a revealed truth that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost have chosen to be in loving and indwelling union as one God from all eternity. It is logically possible that we could have made the choice, but as a practical reality we lacked the intelligence and light and had a lot of progress to make before we could share such a relationship. They have thus instituted a plan to assist us to share their light and glory and the fullness of deity that proceeds from them if we are willing to share their same relationship by keeping the commandments of the law of love that alone will assist us to be as they are.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 7:36 am

  130. Mark: “Rather I claim that God wouldn’t be God in any sense of the term unless he worked to save the rest of humanity (”this is my work and my glory…”), and wouldn’t be God in the full sense of the term unless he saved them.”

    I fail to see how this disagrees with anything I have said — and in fact I have a full volume on how divine love entails the desire for peers and necessarily entails the desire to assist others to share his same glory. So not only do I agree with you Mark, I beat you to the punch with an entire volume to support precisely this view of divinity.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 7:40 am

  131. Clark: To follow up on your excellent questions, perhaps an analogy may work. It isn’t exact, but perhaps it’s close enough to be useful. Is it necessary that Albert Einstein was the one who came up with the theory of relativity? Well, Einstein is necessarily Einstein, but he isn’t necessarily the one who comes up with relativity. Could it have been me instead? Well, not now. I was born too late. But it is logically possible that I could have been born earlier — it is just impossible in virtue of past necessity.

    However, it is possible that had I been born earlier, I would have come up with relativity first. There is just one problem: I’m not inherently a genius in physics. I would have had to do a lot more work to even have the capacity to engage the questions that led him to relativity. As a practical matter, given my physics intelligence quotient, I would never have come up with relativity on my own.

    The Father was so intelligent that he saw inherently that loving, fulfilling and indwelling relationships of love was the most sane and rational possible choice. He had only to suggest it to the Son and Holy Ghost and it was obvious to them that accepting the Father’s offer of love was the only rational and most sane choice possible. Could it have been someone besides these three? Yes, it is logically possible. But it far more unlikely than me coming up with relativity theory even if I predated Einstein. Further, given the necessity of the past, no other could have been “first” because there was no first. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost have always seen that love is the greatest power in all existence and that wickedness never was nor could be happiness. They are inviting us now to join them in this realization.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  132. J Stapley: “Not the entirety of “Paracletes.” There is loads of Phelpsian wackery going in that thing. But post-mortal Adam and Eve as King and Queen in Heaven over the human family is all over the place.”

    Do you see this as the beginning of the Adam-God wackery? Is Eve the Mother and Queen in Heaven as you read Phelps? That’s how I have read it in the past.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 8:14 am

  133. I fail to see how this disagrees with anything I have said — and in fact I have a full volume on how divine love entails the desire for peers and necessarily entails the desire to assist others to share his same glory.

    The wording I used is important. What if there are no more than three individuals in the universe?

    My claim is that God cannot be God as we understand him in a universe with only three people. I assert the reason for that is that divine glory requires the spiritual union of a very large number of individuals, albeit some may participate to a lesser degree than others.

    So when I say “God wouldn’t be God in the fullest sense unless he saved them”, what I mean is that unless or until there are a large number of saved individuals divine glory is more prospective than real.
    That is what I mean by divine persons not being divine “in their own right” – their status and glory depends on the *actual* salvation and exaltation of a large number of other individuals.

    Standing alone, or in a small group, independent of all others, they may be wiser, more intelligent than everyone else, but I maintain they are *not* more powerful than anyone else, and that any divine power is contingent on agreement, or rather that divine power and glory worthy of the name is a social phenomena that requires the participation of a *large* number of individuals, not just three.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 1, 2009 @ 9:07 am

  134. Blake,

    So you have a spirit body created for an entity that already has one — seems contradictory to me.

    Ah, but now you have advanced an idea that is not found anywhere in the teachings of Joseph Smith and has no foundation in the revelations. Your claim that uncreated spirits already have bodies from all eternity is based on no revelations, no scriptures and no guidance from Joseph Smith. It’s logically possible, but then, so are unicorns.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 1, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  135. Jacob: So what the heck is a spirit if not a spirit body? Are you suggesting that eternal spirits are entirely immaterial?

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 9:47 am

  136. Mark: “My claim is that God cannot be God as we understand him in a universe with only three people. I assert the reason for that is that divine glory requires the spiritual union of a very large number of individuals, albeit some may participate to a lesser degree than others.”

    And what is the basis of this assertion?

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  137. Jacob: It seems to me that Mark makes a good point about the kinds of options we have to ask about in post # 116 — tho there has to be better term than blinky-blink thing.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  138. Yes, Mark’s #116 brings up some of the points we have argued about here on several occasions. I would add to his comments that a spirit-body (I think I’ll start hyphenating this for clarity) is apparently material and it is joined to a mortal body (also material) so possibility of a distinction between spirit and spirit-body does not require that a spirit be entirely immaterial.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 1, 2009 @ 10:11 am

  139. Blake said,
    “Thus, it is a revealed truth that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost have chosen to be in loving and indwelling union as one God from all eternity.”

    This brings to mind a question that I may have asked before, but upon which I am still unclear.
    “Love must be a choice.” To me a choice involves some temporality.

    If the first choice(s) of all eternity was that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit united into the eternal divinity and many other eternal intelligences not choosing this; does this technically meet the condition that this divinity has ALWAYS existed.

    If the universe just existed with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit united into the eternal divinity and the rest of the eternal intelligences were not just existing in this divine unity and then choices began; then does this not place Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a different eternal box than the rest of us? Also, in this scenario the first choices in the universe were that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit chose to REMAIN in the loving relationship and we didn’t (were not yet capable of?) choose to enter the loving relationship. Their first choice had a different starting point than ours did.

    I am very comfortable with increasing the INITIAL separation between God and man, but I am less comfortable with postulating that somehow the state of indwelling love (present within the Trinity) just was and was thus at some point in time not CHOSEN.

    Charity, TOm

    Comment by TOm — October 1, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  140. It seems to me that Mark makes a good point about the kinds of options we have to ask about in post # 116 — tho there has to be better term than blinky-blink thing.

    So one is left with the position that either pre-mortal spirits are little blinky-blink things without any extended form…

    Intelligent matter. Without extended form would make it a point particle.

    they are shape shifters that can assume any form at will

    I have no idea what to call this. Primordial amorphous entity – a PEA.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 1, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  141. Yes, one problem with accounting for consciousness and intelligence by saying they emerge from material spirits which always existed and are intrinsically intelligent is that (in addition to Mark’s Platonic human form) this requires stability of form over time, which doesn’t fit well with being super stretchy (more elastic as JS said) and amorphous. It is hard to see how a single indestructible person can emerge from shape-shifting matter since the structure of the matter is supposedly what makes one individual different from another.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 1, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  142. Blake, I’ll answer your responses later. I want to make sure I’m fully awake when I do so (given my embarrassing misreadings in this thread)

    I think most of my complaints with your theology end up tied to temporal assumptions.

    For example you have the Father different in a certain way, yet simultaneously there never was a time when God wasn’t God. Even with an infinite past I’m not sure that works ultimately. Secondly if God could only be God with the other divine beings this seems to me to pose big problems to the relationship. It seems there simultaneously has to both be a time when they chose to enter into the relationship yet simultaneously never a time they entered into the relationship.

    I’ve been reading that feminist critique of your view of atonement in the recent issue of Element as well. The author (whose name escapes me at the moment) picked up on a lot of temporal concerns as well in your theory there.

    So I may just try and whip together a post at my blog that gets at some of these temporal issues. As I think more and more about your books I think the question of time ends up being my fundamental objection.

    Comment by Clark — October 1, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  143. And what is the basis of this assertion?

    To begin with, Moses 1:39, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to past the immortality and eternal life of man”.

    Also the implication of applying the doctrine of the priesthood described in D&C 121 to God himself:

    “without compulsory means [thy dominion] shall *flow* unto thee”

    There are a number of other reasons I have mentioned here from time to time related to the idea of a “divine concert”.

    One last reason is the apparent physical implausibility of generating and controlling universe shaking power from within a single individual. As I said, it would be as if he sneezed, and several galaxies were obliterated.

    The problem is *much* worse if a single individual is responsible for keeping electrons in their orbit. What kind of conceivable mental effort is required to keep that up? And more particularly, if that is the case would God’s own glorified body retain its material structure except by continued dint of his own mental concentration? Why have a body in the first place, if you have to think about it for it to work?

    That goes for grace as well – in tradition terms what I just described is an aspect of divine grace. No grace, no good or worthy thing exists, unless God actively wills its continuation? How is that not the most radical of categorical differences imaginable?

    Comment by Mark D. — October 1, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  144. Clark: I suspect that what you’re worried about is that if the Father is “first” then there must be a time before which the Father offered the relationship to the Son & Holy Ghost. However, in an eternal perspective, there is no temporal “before” and thus there is always a time prior to the time of the Son’s acceptance. There is always a prior time to any time.

    I’ve read the critique of my atonement view. I have withheld responding because I don’t want to scare off young students who have the ability to grow and to critique views that have been published. However, it would be good if you responded and stated her arguments because then I could respond to you and I won’t have the same reluctance to take on the arguments for fear of appearing to be too critical with a student. However, generally the feminist critique says essentially that “we like love and good relationships but pain is bad so we eschew it.” Is it really that shallow? That is what I want to discuss.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

  145. Mark: I just don’t see how anything you cite in # 143 remotely supports the view that there cannot be fully divine beings unless there are more than 3 of them.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  146. TOm, see my response to Clark in # 144.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  147. Blake, I should note that I disagreed with a lot in that article. And for the other points I wanted to return to the book to make sure she was representing you. However there was one key point on time I agreed with.

    Comment by Clark — October 1, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  148. Blake, Let me just say that if a single person with body, parts, and passions or worse, three of them, are the metaphysical font and origin of all grace and all law, that we would be a lot better off if they were the timeless quasi abstractions of classical theism than *anything* remotely resembling a living human being.

    It would be as if they inescapably held the whole universe hostage, and if they made the tiniest error worlds would collide. It is as if we combined the worst things about the Greek and the Hebrew conceptions of God and threw away many of the strengths.

    The strength of the Greek conception of God is that he is timelessly eternal. It is rather safe of course to have a timeless ground of all being. The strength of the Hebrew conception is that God is actually a person. Combining the two is in the manner of classical theism is workable, but tends to negate the strengths of the Hebrew perspective.

    So we come along and Joseph Smith explains all sorts of interesting things that we can read in the Bible by paying attention, but no one wants to give up the heritage of absolutist theism that was introduced by merging the Greek conception in the first place.

    In other words, many prefer something far worse: a temporal, embodied God with a real personality, real passions, the theoretical freedom to error, etc. but who is still the ground of all *being* (if not existence), the source of all grace as in classical theism, and absolute power. Absolute power in an embodied, temporal God is theological nonsense.

    We are in a world that has lots of individuals, etc. So, hypothetically speaking, what happens if the three divine persons take a vacation? Do we all fade back into chaos? Are we still conscious? Is there any possibility that anyone can start over? Or all we all doomed?

    If the three divine persons are the only possible font and origin of *all* grace, then we are dead. Not only that, the idea that they are the same species as us under such assumptions is laughable. An embodied, temporal three member Godhead upon whom all being depends is the worst of both worlds.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 1, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  149. Blake (#144): if the Father is “first” then there must be a time before which the Father offered the relationship to the Son & Holy Ghost. However, in an eternal perspective, there is no temporal “before” and thus there is always a time prior to the time of the Son’s acceptance. There is always a prior time to any time.

    Whoa. This is new.

    Until now I thought your position was that there was never a time when the Godhead was a perfectly unified and loving group. Now I see you think there was a time prior to the Son and the Holy Ghost accepting an offer from the Father into a relationship. Of course if we accept there is no beginning to time then there was necessarily an infinite amount of time before the Godhead existed.

    So that means the Son was not always God. And that means the Holy Spirit was not always God either. But apparently you still hold that the Father was always God even before unifying with the other two… Doesn’t that contradict what you have been saying in this thread about Godhood arising from that unity? What gives?

    Comment by Geoff J — October 1, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  150. Geoff: Does it ever get old to you to misstate my views? (rimshot)

    Look, for every time tn, there is a prior time tn-1 at which the Father had offered the relationship. However, the Son & HG had accepted at tn the offer of relationship at tn-1. It is the same for every moment prior to tn. So at tn-1, the Son and Holy Ghost accepted the offer of the Father at tn-2. So there is never a time at which the Son & HG have not accepted the Father’s prior offer and there is no first time but an infinite array of times at which the offer has been made and an infinite array of times at the offer has been accepted.

    It follows that for all times without beginning the Son & Holy Ghost have accepted he Father’s offer of relationship and at all times the Father has offered the relationship. It also follows that there is no time at which the Godhead does not exist and that the Godhead exists at all times of an infinite array of times.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

  151. Mark: Not a single one of the things you assert in # 148 follows from the fact that it only takes 3 to be fully divine. It is a massive string of non-sequiturs and, as I thought, you haven’t given any scriptural basis for your assertions.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 10:16 pm

  152. Blake: Does it ever get old to you to misstate my views?

    Hehe. Nah, your garbled comments makes it super easy. (zing!)

    Ok so you are saying that the offer has always been made and has always been accepted right? In other words, there was never a first offer of relationship. That is what I thought your position was.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 1, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

  153. Geoff: There is a logical priority. The offer is made logically prior to the acceptance. However, given the infinities involved, there is never a time at which a prior offer has not been accepted. Nor is there ever a time when there is not a prior offer.

    Comment by Blake — October 1, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  154. Look, for every time tn, there is a prior time tn-1 at which the Father had offered the relationship. However, the Son & HG had accepted at tn the offer of relationship at tn-1. It is the same for every moment prior to tn. So at tn-1, the Son and Holy Ghost accepted the offer of the Father at tn-2.

    So, the Father offered unity at tn-1 and tn-2 (for any given tn, provided tn = -infinity)?

    Comment by A. Davis — October 2, 2009 @ 6:40 am

  155. A. Davis: Yeah, except there is no -infinity — there is just infinity or the endless and beginningless expanse or array of times. For every time tn, the Father offered a relationship of loving unity at tn-1. You could also say that for every time tn+1 the Father offered the relationship at tn.

    Comment by Blake — October 2, 2009 @ 7:40 am

  156. Blake, I have given a couple of scriptures to support my view. You may not interpret them the way I do, but you have given no argument for why they should not,cannot, or must not be interpreted that way.

    Moses 1:39, “This *is* my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

    A literal reading of that scripture is that God’s glory is contingent upon that activity. It is an entirely reasonable proposition that if God doesn’t save others his glory goes away.

    So the question here is *why*. I have given a reasonable theory – that his glory and power is derived in large part from the support and spiritual union with those whom he saves.

    Where your position, to the degree I can tell, is that God’s glory and power is contingent only on his relationship with two other individuals, that if they go off in a cave somewhere and cease all other activity, that the quality of their relationship will ensure eternal glory and infinite power whether they lift a finger to help anyone again or not.

    The same goes with the D&C 121 reference to priesthood dominion “flowing unto” a person if love rather than compulsory means is used. The direct implication of this passage when applied to God is that it is strictly impossible for him to have eternal dominion any other way.

    If he cannot have divine dominion any other way, and indeed his dominion “flows unto” him rather than flows outward from him (as it would be if it were based on compulsion or intimidation, for example) his divine power and glory are contingent and conditional, not absolute.

    So I ask again, if the three divine persons take an extended vacation, or existed in a universe where there were only three of them, how or why would they retain infinite power and glory? Especially when this sort of independent power and glory is forever barred to any other group of three now and for eternity?

    Comment by Mark D. — October 2, 2009 @ 8:23 am

  157. Mark: Moses 1:39 doesn’t even begin to support the view that there must be more than 3 to be fully divine. At most it means that divine persons will work for the glory of whatever others happen to exist.

    Further, stretching D&C 121 to somehow imply that there must be more than 3 in the Godhead because it says that dominion flows to him by using his priesthood is to apply it way beyond what it addresses.

    If the 3 of them took a vacation, whatever that means, then they would cease to be divine if that means that just become selfish self-serving beings. However, that doesn’t entail that there must be more than 3 in the Godhead. What if 1,242,364 took a vacation? What is the magic number when divinity emerges on your view? According to the scriptures, the number is actually 2 with a third necessary if one of them chooses to become mortal at some time.

    Comment by Blake — October 2, 2009 @ 8:29 am

  158. Blake, dismissing things I say with “just so” statements isn’t very persuasive. “Why?” is the question of the day.

    Your last argument depends on a false application of the sorites paradox. There is no “magic number” for anything that comes in degrees. The question is one of proportionality – given a specific power requirement P, one in principle could determine the minimal number of persons N required to exercise that power. In the case of physical power, I can say that infinite physical power requires the agreement and joint action of an infinite number of persons, if those persons are anything like we are.

    According to the scriptures, the number is actually 2 with a third necessary if one of them chooses to become mortal at some time

    And you can cite a single passage to support that point of view? If not, you should say, according to this interpretation of the following scriptures, …

    Comment by Mark D. — October 2, 2009 @ 8:51 am

  159. Mark: Actually, the burden is on you to show that your scriptures somehow support your view. I stated why they don’t and that is all that is really called for. At least by my lights, I don’t see how they even apply to what you’re talking about.

    Look at the 5th Lecture on Faith regarding the Godhead to see how Joseph Smith marshaled the scriptures from Mosiah 15 and D&C 93 together with the scriptures explicitly cited to support my view.

    Comment by Blake — October 2, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  160. Blake: Yeah, except there is no -infinity — there is just infinity or the endless and beginningless expanse or array of times. For every time tn, the Father offered a relationship of loving unity at tn-1. You could also say that for every time tn+1 the Father offered the relationship at tn.

    Not sure what you mean by “just infinity”. Time is measured relative to some coordinate frame. If I call now t = 0, then there is a t = -1, t = -2, t = -3 etc until t = -∞ and similarly on the positive side until t = +∞.

    Granted, the mathematics of infinities are far from intuitive, but I think it a mistake to assign sequential events to the same temporal coordinate point. It makes no sense.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 2, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  161. Holy cow, Blake, did you just cite Lecture 5th in support of your view of the Godhead? We can disagree about whether or not Joseph wrote that lecture, but can we agree it represents a view of the Godhead that he *significantly* modified in later years?

    Comment by Jacob J — October 2, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

  162. From Lecture 5: “As the Son partakes of the fullness of the Father through the Spirit, so the saints are, by the same Spirit, to be partakers of the same fullness, to enjoy the same glory”

    Blake, as far as I can tell, that is not what you have been tellings us here. Where I have been making an argument for how that is even possible, especially given the conventional interpretation of dozens of passages that imply that it is not, i.e. that God and man are so radically distinct it is a category mistake to confuse them.

    To be clear the scriptures never give an account of the origin or nature of the Father’s fulness. You have given a theory here, and I have given one. As far as I can tell your theory has no more scriptural support than mine, because the scriptures just don’t directly address the question. The two scriptures I cited are the only ones that I know of that even come close.

    The standard Mormon theory for how all this happens is that power and glory are an automatic reward of righteousness. But a reward from whom? How does the Father get his reward? Is nature itself, divorced from sociality, so mystical that it judges and rewards righteousness? Or does the Father’s glory derive from the spiritual approbation he receives from those whom he saves? Otherwise it appears that he is manufacturing his power and glory out of nothing, or his power and glory have nothing to do with personal righteousness at all.

    Where I say that sociality is the most critical part of any viable measure of righteousness, that nature just doesn’t care, so any glory worthy of the name must be a social phenomenon. That is why I say God cannot manufacture glory, nor can he have any extraordinary measure of it except by the activities that he takes on behalf of others, and a large number of them at that.

    This *is* my work and my glory. Not this is his work only, but his glory *is* the work he does on behalf of others, or rather that it is inextricably connected. No work, no glory.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 2, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  163. Jacob: I disagree that Joseph changed his view of the Lectures on Faith significantly. He expanded on them — his KFD is a continuation of the requirements of manifesting the same attributes as God to be saved just as he is.

    We could also discuss who wrote Lecture 5 — but for the record it is rather clear that Lecture 5 is the one Lecture that appears to bear Joseph’s stamp.

    Comment by Blake — October 2, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

  164. A. Davis: your take on relativity is mistaken. Given the frame of reference of the Father as an embodied being, there is a before and after that is absolute given the light cone of his frame of reference. So we can just limit the temporal sequence to God’s frame of reference. I have also argued that has a particular frame of reference from which the present unfolds into the future as a process (which I have termed omnitemporality). What is clear is that there must be an inertial frame of reference with a temporal sequence based on the frame of reference of his material body from and after the time he has a material body. Further, there is an absolute future and an absolute past defined by what is in the light cone of that frame of reference. It doesn’t change anything about my argument.

    Comment by Blake — October 2, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  165. Yea, I’m aware the fifth lecture is most likely one to have been written by Joseph, but it is also very short, making identification of the author difficult. I trust the identification from the longer lectures much more.

    But, for the purpose of the conversation here, I’ll assume it was written by Joseph Smith. You don’t think that a change from 2 personages in the Godhead to 3 is a significant change?

    Comment by Jacob J — October 3, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  166. Jacob: Read it again. It expressly states that there are three in the Godhead.

    Comment by Blake — October 3, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  167. Jacob: Let me clarify. I’m well aware (as I’m sure that you are) that in the questions section, there is a question as to how many “personages” there are in the Godhead: the answer is two:

    “Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
    Q. Two: the Father and the Son. (5:1.)
    Q. How do you prove that there are two personages in the Godhead?
    A. By the Scriptures. Gen. 1:26. Also (2:6.) And the Lord God said unto the Only Begotten, who was with him from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:–and it was done. Gen. 3:22. And the Lord God said unto the Only Begotten, Behold, the man is become as one of us: to know good and evil. John, 17:5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (5:12.)”

    However, the notion of a “personage” bears some further comment. The Father is defined as a “personage of glory and power” and the son “a personage of tabernacle.” It appears to me that a “personage” is a personal entity that has a defined presence of physical appearance. Did I say “physical appearance”? Yup. The question as to how it is proved that the Son is “a personage of tabernacle” is, interestingly enough, proved by the fact that: “Thirdly, he is also in the likeness of the personage of the Father. (5:2.)” The Son is a “personage of tabernacle” because he is in the image of the Father — and that image must be of a tabernacle. The 5th lecture argues that the Son is in the likeness of humans and that he is also in the likeness of the Father:

    “The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;–he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father;

    The Holy Ghost is defined as the “shared mind” of the Father and the Son, but that hardly entails that the Holy Ghost is not distinct and noted separately when determining which entities constitute the Godhead:

    Q. Do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?
    A. They do. (5:12.)

    It also bears noting that there are three in the Godhead, but there are only two personages because (at this time at least) Joseph didn’t believe that the Holy Spirit had the form of a human “tabernacle” or mortal body. It seems to me that we have nothing in the KFD suggesting otherwise.

    Most importantly for my view, it is rather transparent that Lecture 5 is a summary and synthesis of D&C 93 and Mosiah 15-16. Joseph seems to me to have been doing his best to make sense of the revelations and writings he received and what they said about the Godhead.

    So summary: How may “personages” in the Godhead? A: 2. How many are there in the Godhead? A: 3.

    Comment by Blake — October 3, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  168. Blake: A. Davis: your take on relativity is mistaken.

    I have said nothing of relativity. Use the the well ordered temporal sequence (in the inertial frame of God’s material body if it so matters) from t=0, -1, -2, … -∞. As I understand it, you are taking two clearly finite and sequential actions (Father offering choice of unity to the Son, Son accepting offer) and assigning them to a transfinite coordinate point allowing you to conclude that there never was a time which the offer was not made and never a time at which the offer was not accepted (post #150).

    That is you posit the set of two times t = -∞ (acceptance of offer) and t = -∞-1 (offer made). But, this is not a well ordered set and so sequentiality goes out the window. Consequently, the assertion of post #150 is not based on mathematically sound reasoning.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 3, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  169. A. Davis: No action occurs at an infinite ordinal. Any action occurs at a given time within the array of times in the infinite sequence so what you propose is indeed nonsense — but it is your nonsense and not mine.

    Comment by Blake — October 3, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

  170. Infinite sets can be confusing. They can lead to odd paradoxes. It’s interesting how our critics amongst the orthodox Christian theologians often object to the common Mormon embrace of actual infinities whereas most major theologians have rejected them. (Scotus offering a famous proof on vicious regress)

    Blake, while like you I don’t see Lecture 5 as particularly problematic I think you brush under the rug the confusion over what to make of the Holy Ghost. A confusion that persisted well into the Utah period and arguably is still with us.

    BTW – what is your view on Joseph’s view of the Holy Ghost in late Nauvoo theology? (Say the year and a half before his death)

    Comment by Clark — October 3, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

  171. Just to add, it seems the January 29, 1843 sermon is most relevant on judging Joseph’s view.

    Comment by Clark — October 3, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  172. Clark: I agree that the status of the Holy Ghost remained vague and unclear — but it still is. Joseph was clear that the Holy Ghost had not taken upon himself a body but that he would one day.

    I also agree that the statement that the Holy Ghost cannot assume the form of a dove is telling — it implies that the Holy Ghost has some definite form.

    Comment by Blake — October 3, 2009 @ 9:11 pm

  173. The odd thing about the common objection to infinite time duration is that time is arguably not an *actual* infinity at all. It is literally ancient history.

    An actual infinity in God tends to cause far worse problems than an infinite history which arguably doesn’t exist any more, so much so that centuries of theologians have been inventing tight boxes to keep God in so that the contradictions don’t leak out.

    The worst problem by far of an actual infinity in God is theodicy. That should be obvious enough. About the only half way reasonable explanation for the inconsistency of absolute power, absolute benevolence and real evil in the world is to make that power rather less than absolute.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 3, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  174. Mark D. you might wish to read this paper. It seems to me that most theologies end up requiring actual infinities even if they attempt to flee from them.

    Note that the existence of an actual infinity simply doesn’t mean there are no limits.

    Comment by Clark — October 3, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  175. Clark, That is an interesting paper. I don’t think the future exists yet, so what can be known about it is rather limited. That is not a problem.

    If God needed to have personal knowledge in his head of everything that *can* be known, that is a potential problem. However, I don’t see why he couldn’t just find other things out whenever necessary. That is not to say that he doesn’t have general spiritual awareness of everything that is going on.

    My inclination is to solve all such problems with a divine concert theory – i.e. power, knowledge, responsibility etc. partitioned / delegated among members of the divine concert to the degree necessary and appropriate. So through the process of exaltation, the knowledge and power of the divine concert is ever increasing, with no limit other than perhaps the number of individuals in the universe.

    All conventional theologies are what I call “singularity theories” because they require divine persons to possess properties which are actual infinities, and is such persons have bodies, infinities located in a small region of space, i.e. singularities.

    I call my divine concert theory a “large cardinality non-singularity theory” because the idea is there are a *large* (and increasing) number of members of the divine concert, but none of them has personal properties which require the existence of singularities, or actual infinities, individually or collectively.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 4, 2009 @ 1:50 am

  176. Blake: No action occurs at an infinite ordinal. Any action occurs at a given time within the array of times in the infinite sequence so what you propose is indeed nonsense …

    It isn’t my proposal. I reject it. I interpreted your statement one way. You say that interpretation is nonsense. I agree. :) So, let’s move on to your clarification.

    You start of with a proposed time frame where t0=now, t1=-1, … tn = -∞, where n is some arbitrarily large number. Since you state here that no event can be at the transfinite point tn = -∞, then all actual events will be at a time tm > tn. (This is the clarification.)

    We will allow tn to be arbitrarily large (“far” into the sequence) and we wish tm to be arbitrarily close to tn (but finite – since no actual event can be at a transfinite point). Well, no matter how arbitrarily close tm is to tn, there will still be an infinite sequence of times t where tm > t > tn.

    Which again leads to a mathematical failure of the argument proposed in post 150. No matter how close we choose a point to be to the infinite past there will always be a time when the Father and Son were not in unity (given that offer and acceptance are allowed to be separate events).

    Comment by A. Davis — October 4, 2009 @ 8:28 am

  177. Mark D. you might wish to read this paper. It seems to me that most theologies end up requiring actual infinities even if they attempt to flee from them.

    Note that the existence of an actual infinity simply doesn’t mean there are no limits.

    This is Ostler’s take on the Kalam Infinity Argument.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 4, 2009 @ 8:31 am

  178. A. Davis: “No matter how close we choose a point to be to the infinite past there will always be a time when the Father and Son were not in unity (given that offer and acceptance are allowed to be separate events).”

    Look, I don’t want to be mean or even suggest that I’m better at infinite math than you are. But his is just plainly wrong. This is no point that is delimited as “the infinite past.” There is no closeness to “the infinite past.” The property of infinity is a property of the entire set of which particular points are the members. Each point is always a finite distance from now or tn. Your comment commits a logical category error by treating the properties of a class as a whole with the properties of its members. It is the fallacy of division. It is like saying that the state of Maine has the highest per capita income of any state in the U.S., Mr. Jones lives in Maine, therefore Mr. Jones has the highest per capita income in the U.S. I trust that you’ll see the problem.

    Comment by Blake — October 4, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  179. I call my divine concert theory a “large cardinality non-singularity theory” because the idea is there are a *large* (and increasing) number of members of the divine concert, but none of them has personal properties which require the existence of singularities, or actual infinities, individually or collectively.

    And demands that there be an absolute beginning to time as otherwise you have an infinite past and an actual infinity. (Note that the distinction of actual infinity and potential infinity doesn’t depend upon time – so even if you think the past non-real that doesn’t avoid it entailing an actual infinity)

    That’s fine and will solve that problem for you but I think you then have the exegetical question of how to deal with the many statements about infinity. You will be forced to reject even more of Nauvoo theology than Blake rejects. (IMO)

    Comment by Clark — October 4, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  180. Blake: Look, I don’t want to be mean or even suggest that I’m better at infinite math than you are. But his is just plainly wrong.

    Well, we’re are going to simply have to disagree then. You make the statement that

    So there is never a time at which the Son & HG have not accepted the Father’s prior offer and there is no first time but an infinite array of times at which the offer has been made and an infinite array of times at the offer has been accepted.

    and then make the statement

    Each point is always a finite distance from now or tn.

    I’m not sure how you don’t see the contradiction of these statements.

    If they accepted the offer at some finite distance in time from now in the past, then there is a finite time from now in the past in which they did not accept the offer. Making that finite point in the past part of a well ordered infinite array of times does absolutely nothing to change that fact. I trust that you’ll see the problem.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 7:22 am

  181. This is what Blake said:

    For *every* time tn, the Father offered a relationship of loving unity at tn-1. You could also say that for every time tn+1 the Father offered the relationship at tn.

    In other words, I believe he is saying that there never has been a time when this offer was not made, i.e. it was a beginningless series of offers, associated with a beginningless series of acceptances.

    Comment by Mark D. — October 5, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  182. In other words, I believe he is saying that there never has been a time when this offer was not made, i.e. it was a beginningless series of offers, associated with a beginningless series of acceptances.

    I read *every* time tn to mean *any arbitrary* choice of time tn. If it is as you say then I’ll some clarification of what is meant.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  183. A. Davis- Mark is correct. Having had this conversation with Blake a thousand times, Blake means that at every instant of infinite time, HF is making the offer, and at every instant of infinite time, the others accept the offer. Thus to Blake, the Godhead has no beginning or end.

    Comment by Matt W. — October 5, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  184. Now I suppose one could say there is the set T = {0,1,2,…,∞} (where t counts backwards into the past). And say there is a denumerable set T1 = {tn+1,tn+2,…,∞} where tn+1 is the point at which the offer of loving unity ceased to be offered and the set T2 = {tn,tn+1,tn+2,…,∞} is the set of times where the over was made where tn is the time at which the offer ceased to be made. Well, the cardinality of all three sets are the same.

    So, if one posits that the relationship is a continuous reaffirmation instead of a singular event then one could have the relationship “without beginning”.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  185. While my statement of finite events were quite right I let my intuition of bodies talking and agreeing with each other (and not having to do so continuously) color my perception of his statements (and apparently he of my statements). So, I guess we were talking past each other speaking of different things. Oops. My apologies.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  186. A. Davis, aren’t you confusing the makeup of a particular set with its cardinality or whether an other set is a proper subset of that set?

    While I’m dubious of the way Blake sets this up, it seems to me that the properties of the set he defines don’t cause the problem.

    Comment by Clark — October 5, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  187. A. Davis, aren’t you confusing the makeup of a particular set with its cardinality or whether an other set is a proper subset of that set?

    Nope. The subsets I outlined are proper subsets, but a denumerable set may have denumerably many members removed (in certain ways) without reducing the cardinality of the original set. The way I delineated subsets T1 and T2 is such a “certain way” (by removing the points {0,…,tn-1} and {0,…,tn} respectively).

    As such, I’m not in disagreement that the posited subsets T1 and T2 include the infinite past. Do I like it? No, not at all. But, it is mathematically sound.

    Prior to that I was arguing the finite sets {tn} and {tn+1} must be points in the finite past and there must exist older points. But that wasn’t what Blake was advocating. A misunderstanding.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  188. The subsets I outlined *in post 184* are proper…

    Comment by A. Davis — October 5, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

  189. I think you miss my point. The fact something is a subset doesn’t entail what you think it does.

    Comment by Clark — October 5, 2009 @ 10:48 pm

  190. Clark: I think you miss my point. The fact something is a subset doesn’t entail what you think it does.

    I think I miss your point as well.

    PS: These are the definitions I’m working with:

    Set A is a proper subset of set B iff all the members of A are also members of B, but not all the members of B are members of A.

    The cardinality of a set is the number of members it contains.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 6, 2009 @ 6:44 am

  191. A. Davis: “f they accepted the offer at some finite distance in time from now in the past, then there is a finite time from now in the past in which they did not accept the offer.”

    Clark is correct. There simply is not a point that is an infinite distance from now. Once again, infinity is a property of the entire set of points and not of any given point. Any given point does not have the property of being infinitely distant from anything any more than the number 4 has the property of being an infinite number though it is a part of an infinite set of numbers. You continue to commit the fallacy of division regarding infinite sets.

    Comment by Blake — October 6, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  192. Blake, I think you missed post 184 where once I understood the nature of the time frames you described, I agreed. While I was entirely correct about what I was talking about (in the posts prior to 184), it wasn’t, unfortunately, what you were talking about .

    Now, it shouldn’t be taken that my agreement with the math of your posited setup means agreement with the theology. One could equally posit that the Father offers unity every billion years {t1,t1+1E9,t1+2E9,…} and that the Son and Holy Ghost only accept every six billion years {t1,t1+6E9,t1+12E9,…} and still both sets will have the same infinite size. And by the same reasoning one is allowed to say in the above scenario “that there is no time at which the Godhead does not exist and that the Godhead exists at all times of an infinite array of times.”

    Disclaimer: Of course, this scenario is only valid if we allow time to be a discrete sequence of events (which I personally tend to believe). If we instead think of time as a continuum then the argument has to be adjusted.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 7, 2009 @ 6:32 am

  193. Just so we have clarity, I had understood Blake’s position on three levels. Only the last is correct.

    Option 1
    Heavenly Father offers unity at some t1 = -∞. The Son and Holy Ghost accept at some time t2 = -∞.

    I objected to this scenario saying it doesn’t make any sense – that it isn’t mathematically sound. Everybody agrees. /yay

    Option 2
    Heavenly Father offers unity at some finite time t1, and acceptance similarly comes at some time t2.

    If this is the case, then there will be a point in the past where the Godhead did not exist.

    Option 3
    Heavenly father offers unity repeatedly in some denumerable way creating a whole set of times T1 = {t1,t2,t3,…}. The offer is accepted in some denumerable way creating a whole set of times T2 = {ta,tb,tc,…}. Both sets, T1 and T2 have the same cardinality (aleph0).

    Conclusion, mathematically sound (given time is not a continuum).

    So, hopefully my initial confusion (my apologies) has been cleared up and everybody is on the same page now.

    Comment by A. Davis — October 7, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  194. A. Davis: By Jove, I think you’ve got it!

    Comment by Blake — October 7, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  195. Yeah, once we got past me disagreeing with what you weren’t saying and you disagreeing with what I wasn’t saying, it all worked out :)

    Comment by A. Davis — October 7, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  196. Is this reference in footnote 12 correct -

    Deseret Evening News, 9 February 189 ?

    I’d love to look up the original text.

    Comment by Mahonri — October 18, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  197. I recently came across a source on the names of God’s that noted El Shaddai, which we normally consider to be “God Almighty” could be rendered El Shadayim or “God with Breasts”. I thought this was pretty interesting, in light of Heavenly Mother. Just commenting here so I don’t forget.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 30, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  198. Our Heavenly mother is referred to over a thousand times in the Bible actually…
    Genesis 1:26-27
    and Galatians 4:26 are some blatant examples…

    Comment by Shimon — February 20, 2011 @ 1:14 am

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