Revelation Driven Human Evolution

May 18, 2011    By: Matt W. @ 12:02 pm   Category: Theology

Stephen Finlan, Author of “Options on Atonement in Christian Thought”[1] ends his book with a modest proposal. It is that our understanding of divine revelation is subject to a form of evolution. Finlan Suggests that “God always seeks to deepen and expand the revelation of truth, but we humans (including the biblical authors) only perceive a part of the message. We adapt and domesticate new ideas to old and familiar ways of thinking. We always pour new wine into old wineskins, but the new wine expands and bursts open our containers (Mark 2:22), our old ways of thinking.” [2] Finlan calls this “progressive development in religious conceptualization”.

The idea is simple enough. We receive revelation from God. This is filtered through our perception and ability to understand. We arrive at a certain conclusion, a paradigm of how reality works. This may or may not be in line with the revelation we receive. Time passes, the revelation works upon us, and we adapt to it. This may take centuries. Like evolution, revelation’s process is slow.
As a set of revelations either gets too mired in personal interpretation (ie- not what God intended to reveal) or fulfills its purpose (we adopt the attributes God desires of us, and abandon undesirable attributes), God gives us more revelation.

 

I think this concept is and should be appealing to Mormons for several reasons.

1. We already have scriptural precedent for this. We learn “Line upon line, precept upon precept.” We’ve been told we will receive new revelation when we obey the revelation we’ve already been given.

2. In my opinion, John Widtsoe taught this idea. [3]

3. This helps to explain where we do not follow biblical teachings, or early church teachings (Like worship on Sunday, Proscriptions against eating pork, stoning, exact temple rituals)

4. This gives space for moves like the end of the  priesthood ban, the move from polygamy, and other doctrinal shifts.

5. This allows us to not be locked to 2000 year old (or 20 year old) notions regarding modern religious practice (interpretation of temple language, gender issues, nationalism, dress codes, adam-god theory)

6. It allows us to rely more heavily on personal revelation and choice in the here and now.

7. This emphasizes the communal relatedness we teach in the temple. It also fleshes out the concept of eternal progression.

 

 

I think this concept can also be challenging for several reasons

1. This notion removes some of the capability of historical precedent and scriptural authority to anchor us with certainty of action in any specific situation. Doctrinal certainty, or confidence in one’s standing before God, is a vital principal of faith.

2. It leaves us with the dangerous potential of being out of step with the current teachings of the church, but actually in step with some future iteration of teachings of the church. (example: the priesthood ban.)

3. We are faulty receptors of revelation (that is the thesis after-all) so we could get false positives due to our own confirmation bias.

4. It challenges the “trueness” of the church at any given single moment in time.

5. It requires a high level of universalism. People cannot be expected to (or penalized because the did not) outperform the communal norm of their time. Sometimes, factions of the church feel opposed to such a view.

 

 

So what do you think of this concept of revelation driven evolution?

Do the positives out-weigh the negatives?

 

 

[1]- One of the most thought-provoking books on the atonement I have ever read. Buy it here. I previously referenced Finlan’s Book here.

[2]- http://www.universalistfriends.org/uf045.html#Finlan

[3]- See my section on epistemology in this post.

37 Comments »

  1. I don’t think this is even a heterodox idea. Your post has just described what I thought the Church has always taught (and Joseph Smith certainly taught). That’s how the General Authorities can say that Confucius and Muhammad could receive light from the heavens. In many ways this evolutionary, changing revelation (the Baha’is call it “progressive revelation) is the most orthodox teaching of the Church!

    “This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.” – GK Chesterton

    Comment by Syphax — May 18, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  2. I had Finlan’s ‘Options on Atonement’ in my Amazon wishlist, but this finally sent me over the edge. Amazon prime should be having in here on Friday, along with Meier’s A Marginal Jew, volume 2.

    I very much believe in an evolutionary view of revelation. I think the appeals and challenges you outlined are very astute, and are as I currently see them.

    However, I don’t view the ‘challenges’ as ‘negatives’. I think it presents revelation as something real that we grapple with, and not ephemeral and ‘out there’, or something that just happens to Capital P Prophets.

    It allows for the Framework Story (or ‘Myth’) by which we learn to change, evolve, and adapt. What it would also suggest is that details of historicity in the Sacred Narrative are secondary when it comes to teaching, presenting, discerning and carving out truths.

    For a while, I’ve been of the opinion that God is far more interested in us rising to state of perfection as a people than in disseminating the raw details of history. God presents truth. We interpret it and present it through the existing frameworks (current Story, science, culture, etc) we’re familiar with.

    Comment by David Tayman — May 18, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  3. Oh, but there’s one more thing. Obviously Jesus Christ was obedient to a law that was way, way advanced beyond the people who he lived amongst in the 1st Century AD in Palestine.

    …but he still got baptized. Which means that knowing a higher law doesn’t necessarily absolve us from being perfectly obedient to the law that exists in your time and place. God might choose to reveal more commandments to an individual due to his or her diligence and faithfulness (D&C 59:4 comes to mind), but that doesn’t release them from the current demands of the law.

    Comment by Syphax — May 18, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  4. Syphax: Great Comments! #3 was something I hadn’t considered and really enjoy the idea. It’s definitely going in my Rolodex of ideas.I agree it’s not very heterodox on it’s face,but I do think it has some challenging implications, especially for classic LDS notions like “All LDS doctrine must and can be found in the bible”.

    David: Let me know what you think of “Options” I have been reading it on and off for quite a while now, slowly only because there is so much to think about on each page. I am on my second time through, and just haven’t come across anything else that has made me think as deeply.

    I don’t mean that the challenges are all negatives, but I definitely think they can be negatives for others who don’t share my personal perspective. For example, I think that church membership is very important and desirable, but the universalism here requires me to accept it may not be that important or desirable. Or It may make motivation to do things like wear Garments or obey any given commandment seem trivial. Or I may get so caught up in my political views (liberal or conservative) that I push all my doctrinal positions through that filter. I like the framework, but the application can be scary.

    Comment by Matt W. — May 18, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  5. Matt W, great to see you posting on Finlan. I’ve been digesting Options for several months now. I found his work initially compelling and the more I reflect on his work, the more compelling I find it.

    Comment by aquinas — May 18, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  6. Aquinas: I probably could squeeze one or two more posts out about his book. It’s the “By The Hand of Mormon” of atonement theology, if that makes sense.

    Comment by Matt W. — May 19, 2011 @ 7:15 am

  7. I’ve just read the first 22 pages of ‘Options’. Yeah. This one’s going to be a keeper. Thanks Matt W. and aquinas for the recommendation. It’s particularly fascinating reading it side by side with Meier’s ‘A Marginal Jew’.

    I’d totally be up for a Bloggernacle Book Club discussion of ‘Options’ :)

    Comment by David Tayman — May 20, 2011 @ 5:39 pm

  8. I’ve not read the book, but I agree entirely with the concept. I’ll have to check out the book when I get a chance.

    Comment by Jacob J — May 20, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  9. Matt W and David: It’s probably the fact that Finlan presents a history of atonement theology that I’ve found extremely fascinating and insightful. It’s one thing to list the various atonement models and discuss them, as books and articles of atonement theory often do.

    However, it’s quite another thing to follow the historical journey of an idea and its most influential proponents. Such method has great explanatory power as to why we have the atonement models that we do and also why they take the form that they do. So while I find the content and conclusions insightful, it’s also his method and approach that really resonates with me. As someone interested in the history of theology, I would say it is a great model for what a solid theological history should look like.

    Several times during my initial reading, at the moment my mind asked a question, that exact question was raised in the next paragraph or section, and the next inquiry began. I really appreciate it when an author can take the reader through his or her arguments methodologically and carefully, in an natural sequence, answering questions as they arise, rather than never answering them at all, or failing to anticipate objections. So, it doesn’t hurt at all that it is a well written work. I’m embarrassed to be so laudatory about the book, but I definitely think anyone doing work in atonement theory should not write or publish anything unless they have read this book.

    In addition, don’t be fooled by the size of the book. It’s a rather slim volume, but a highly concentrated one, and my assessment is that it contains his major themes that he has covered in his previous books.

    I think an series of online discussions on Finlan’s work would be quite interesting.

    Comment by aquinas — May 21, 2011 @ 6:12 am

  10. Finlan’s view is very similar to the evolutionary theory of revelation as co-participation that I presented in my Expansion Theory article so it isn’t really new (Avery Dulless presented a similar view in the 80s). Such a view is required by the development of Mormon doctrine and revelation.

    However, that doesn’t mean that careful doctrinal assessment and even propositional arguments regarding the viability of beliefs isn’t important. After all, that is what drives the next break-through of revelation. The view that revelation is evolutionary doesn’t mean that earlier revelations weren’t important, they just weren’t the final statement on the matter because our grasp of matters is increasing line-upon-line as Matt stated in his post.

    Further, I believe that there is a lot to argue with in Finlan’s take on Israel’s views of sacrifice and its relation to later developments.

    Comment by Blake — May 21, 2011 @ 9:14 am

  11. BTW don’t Finlan’s views on progressive revelation require modern prophets who receive revelation on an ongoing basis?

    Comment by Blake — May 21, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  12. Jacob J.- Email me your address and I’ll send you a copy. That’s how strongly I feel about the value of this book.

    David and Aquinas: I’m not quite sure how to run a book club online, but I’ll see what I can do. Let me mull it over for a bit.

    Blake(!): I tend to agree that that such a view is required by the development of mormon doctrine, but I think a more literalist/fundamentalist view is often applied. By the way, where can I find this Avery Dulless article?

    I’ll look forward to your responses to Finlan as we dig deeper into his book.I think a lot of what Finlan writes is very complimentary to LDS faith.

    (glad to see you)

    Comment by Matt W. — May 21, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  13. Matt: You can read about Dulles here

    Comment by Blake — May 21, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  14. Matt: You can read an interesting take on Dulles’ Symbolic Communication Model of revelation here

    Comment by Blake — May 21, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  15. Matthew and Revelation, got ears?

    Comment by stevej6x7 — May 22, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  16. All I’ve read of Finlin’s ideas are what I have read here. So I will address these few comments. These comments seem to imply a static universe against which revelation is given. Man perceives only part of the message so more is need. We receive revelation and form paradigms of how reality works. As those paradigms become dysfunctional He sends additional revelation.

    I find this line of reasoning problematic. Man does not have to rely on his own understanding of the fullness of God’s revelation. He has been given the Comforter to help him. The function of revelation is not to understand how reality works. The function of revelation is so we may change ourselves from natural man to beings that can return to our Father-in-heaven. Any “depthness” should be viewed from this perspective. I ask myself did the early saints have all the revelation needed to return to their Father-in-heaven once Joseph’s work was done? I have to say yes. Do we today have all the revelations necessary to return to our Father-in-heaven? Again, I have to say yes. I see no evolution in the message the Lord has given the early saints and us. Both have all that is needed to return to Him.

    Rather than a static universe we have a changing universe. The problems we see today are different from what the early saints faced. We receive revelation to help us with those changes. These revelations are no “deeper” than what previous saints received. They are simply different. Don’t mistake change for progress.

    As far as 2Nephi 28:30, this is a contingent promise. It is contingent upon us living the law we have. It is also a warning. If we do not live up to the law, we can loose what we have; hardly an evolutionary thought.

    Comment by Rich — May 23, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  17. Rich, Early followers of God killed animals on alters as gifts to God. This is no longer considered acceptable behavior. Was it God that caused this change (via new revelation through Christ and Paul) or the changing universe? (via views of people against animal sacrifice) Either way, it could be considered either progress or change. When Christ taught the higher law in the sermon on the mount, which was more exacting than the ten commandments (Thou shalt not commit adultery being increased to though shalt not lust), it could be considered progressive or just change.

    It says nothing of the people at any point in time not doing what is required to return to their exalted Father, it merely says that God is moving all of us forward to a better state of being. One I don’t think we’ve arrived at yet.

    Comment by Matt W. — May 23, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  18. Just finished this book. I really can’t wait to discuss it. Thanks again, Matt W. and aquinas for the recommendation.

    I’m amazed at how Finland linked together a few scattered thoughts and models I’d been working through that I had thought were unrelated. In many ways, some thoughts presented in the book served as a “missing link” of sorts for some of my thoughts.

    There’s quite a bit to munch on here.

    Comment by David Tayman — May 25, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

  19. So what do you think of this concept of revelation driven evolution?

    It is possibly the most accommodating approach for most, if not all issues of revelatory conflict in the church.

    Do the positives out-weigh the negatives?

    I think so. This is very reflective of my personal approach to revelation, since I have no other choice but to allocate somewhere in my approach what I consider the possibility of human factors filtering into any revelatory statement. Therefore, I think I automatically mitigate I my mind most of the challenges listed.

    For example, challenge No. 1 (removal of precedence and scriptural authority)- Although the notion removes some of the capability of historical precedent and scriptural authority (of only some practices may I add), it can also go the other way reasserting other practices as correct and thus also reasserting the scriptural authority of their historical precedents to back them up. True, some of these reasserted precedents can only work at a moment in time and not as infinite absolutes, but I think any reasonable individual can manage to live with that openness.

    Challenge No. 2 (the possibility of being wrong) is probably one of the most problematic for most members of the church because it challenges the notion that one must be obedient to something even when sometimes that something may not be fully understood, which is applicable in some cases. The idea that individuals can decide when something is wrong or right (against authority figures or independently from authority figures) is not completely alien to our teachings though. And even when individuals may misjudge or misuse their agency and create serious deviations and missteps, I think those individuals (if truly making an effort to choose that which is right) could and would most likely be compelled to correct their ways as they implement their personal lessons learned.

    I believe this absolutely outweighs the severe dangers of masses of people relying 100% on possibly faulty guidance of human leadership (i.e. MMM, Priesthood Ban, Polygamy, United Order, Apocalyptic Predictions like Tent Cities, etc.). This is probably something that begs to be addressed by the Leaders of the Church in an all encompassing manner, making a true effort to take a hard look at our past and admitting where we went wrong. This is the only feasible corrective action to our present culture of passive denial and passive/aggressive cover up efforts in order to uphold an unrealistic image of cuasi-infallibility.

    Challenge No. 3 (our limitations understanding revelation) – This is something we all must learn to live with for our own good. I don’t see this as a challenge but as something that could affect people’s approach to life in positive ways. I can think of so many times people did something unwise on a basis that it was an answer to a prayer, even when later it becomes very evident that it most likely was not an answer to a prayer. They hold on to it, sometimes so much so that it seriously hampers further progression in related areas. I think it is ok if sometimes we take a hard look at our actions and decide something we did based on the belief that it was according to personal revelation may have been simply our own will. It is ok to admit that what made the best sense to us at a certain point in time was not the right thing to do. Accepting that we made a mistake notwithstanding we were trying to our best is sometimes necessary to move on, grow, learn and progress.

    Challenge No. 4 (The Church must not be true if…) – The approach can challenge the “trueness” of the church depending on how that is defined by the individual. If the definition is: every single word uttered by a leader, every single practice ever practiced by the church and every single word of scripture ever printed is part of an eternal, unchanging and absolute truth, or else the church must be false, then yes. But I think that would be a very extreme approach, and one that hopefully few members will be inclined to take. Defining the “trueness” of the church is probably another issue that begs to be addressed in a more specific way than it previously has.

    Challenge No. 5. (Universalism vs accountability) I see this as a true challenge with endless fuzzy lines. I think the issue lies in authority figures drawing lines between that which leads to salvation and that which leads to condemnation with absolute-truth-like claims (see previous paragraph). When leaders themselves claim something they received through revelation to be absolute, infinite, unchanging and directly received from God, it leaves almost no room for individuals to use their agency and their light of Christ. It puts members in the difficult position of being against God if they feel something is wrong with the statement. It puts Leaders in the awkward position of having to justify endlessly past mistakes or never mention them again and pretend they never happened.

    Frankly, I consider inappropriate for any leader to make such claims about any revelation. People are supposed to get to know whether things are true through a process of personal revelation, through a testimony.

    I remember well how leaders in the past spoke fervently of the evils of birth control; it was no less than a very serious sin. That stance has changed significantly (almost 180 degrees IMO) and today planned parenthood is not equated to serious sin at all. Leaders need to be open and understand that our beliefs truly evolve, no matter how passionately we may feel about something in a given point in time.

    Syphax Re: #3
    It doesn’t seem to me that Jesus Christ complied very well with the interpretation of the law by the religious leaders of his time. Do you forget that he was constantly getting himself and his disciples into trouble (per the interpretations of the self-righteous people of his time) for “breaking the law” constantly. Jesus would teach them the principles behind the laws, but ultimately, it was this type of condemnation from the religious people that led to his execution. According to them, he broke the law. I think He is the utmost example of someone who understands the principles behind the law and acts accordingly, regardless of what silly laws were in place and doesn’t just follow 100% the capricious interpretations of the leaders of the time. I am not sure your example is applicable.

    Comment by Manuel — May 26, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  20. Matt W. you bring up a good point. What is interesting is, for Israel, the sacrifice of an animal was for unwitting or unintentional sin (Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:5, 15 and Numbers 15:30). Once in the land of Israel, sacrifices could only be performed at the temple. When the temple was first destroyed, the Jews were commanded not to make blood sacrifices. Hosia 14 : 3 [JPS (Jewish Publication Society) Tanakh]

    3: Take words with you
    And return to the Lord.
    Say to Him:
    “Forgive all guilt
    And accept what is good;
    Instead of bulls we will pay
    [The offering of] our lips.

    Personal repentance was to be sought through prayer and not by a blood sacrifice. (Psalms 32:5, 51:16-19). The sacrifice for personal sin was a broken spirit and a contrite heart. [compare 2 Nephi 2:7 and D&C 59:8] There is no real difference in the understanding of sacrifice for personal sin between the Israelites, Nephites and today’s saints. The Jews stopped offering a blood sacrifice after the destruction of the second temple because these types of sacrifices were only allowed within the temple and nowhere else. I find change but no progress.

    Comment by Rich — May 26, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

  21. Sorry all, I’ve been away for a while. Had some family emergencies.

    Dltayman and Aquinas: I’m not sure I’m going to be able to drive the Finlan book club. If you build it, I will come.

    Manuel: A well considered comment. I hope Syphax sees your response. I liked his comment, but I can understand your perspective as well.

    Rich: We have hundreds of temples today, and no sacrifice…

    Comment by Matt W. — May 31, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  22. Matt,

    I think my main issue with this whole idea is that it assumes God wants stuff from us humans but whatever it is he doesn’t want it badly enough to tell us in a crystal clear, unmistakable fashion. Rather the premise seems to be that God mumbles things to us through all kinds of static and we humans mostly get the messages wrong so God mumbles more and more over thousands of years.

    That may indeed be the way things work. But if it is it brings up an entirely new set of metaphysical and theological questions.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 3, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  23. Geoff: That’s an interesting perspective. I’d like to say God isn’t mumbling, but that we’re standing here with our hands in our ears yelling “I’m not listening”, but that just isn’t true.

    For whatever reason, In my experience, revelation is indirect and often elusive. It is feelings or simple phrases picked up deep within, rather than lengthy instruction. Is that because of us, because of the universe or because of God? I don’t know.

    I definitely see where it either raises questions about God’s potency, or God’s charity, or both. I’ll have to think about it.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 4, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

  24. Or perhaps rather than God’s potency or charity, God’s objectives.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 5, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  25. Very well said Jacob. Are you reading my mind again?

    What does God really want, and why? These are the deepest of metaphysical/theological questions for theists like us.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 5, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  26. I don’t think there is any question that is more clear than that of what God wants. As the scripture says, he wants to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind, with all that entails.

    The question of why is equally transparent. Namely, because there is no greater objective that he could choose instead, nor any alternative that would not end in some degree of misery and death.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 5, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

  27. That’s all well and good if you completely reject the theory presented in this post Mark. But if you accept the theory in this post then all scripture is a muddled attempt by humans to figure out who God is and what God wants. So while there are scriptures that make clear claims, the theory here calls into question the reliability of all revelations/scriptures when it comes to spelling out metaphysical realities.

    I think this theory has a similar destabilizing effect as the implications of D&C section 19 that we have discussed here in the past.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 5, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

  28. I don’t think there is any question that revelation is fallible in certain respects, but for this particular proposition to be wrong, the vast majority of everything ever recorded in the scriptures would have to be worthless.

    Some people may think that scripture is largely a jumble of mumbles where inspiration only breaks through the static on rare occasion, but I certainly don’t feel that way. I would place the signal to noise ratio at at least 80/20.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 6, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  29. Yep — that signal to noise ratio is really the crux of the question here.

    Well maybe the question is in two parts: What is the signal to noise ratio and why is that the ratio?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 6, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  30. I don’t think that question is reasonably answerable Geoff. I think the question I think is more a matter of “Why is there a noise ratio?” In other words, since I think everyone is reasonably agreed that Man’s understanding of God’s will is imperfect and that “we see through a glass darkly”/”walk by faith” etc. etc., What is the objective/requirement of God which calls for him to allow/need this life to be lived in a way that almost completely separates us from him?

    Often the response is that we need to learn to exercise faith, but I am not sure I have personally examined this principle with any depth. Not deeply enough anyway.

    Comment by Matt W. — June 6, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

  31. Inspiration and revelation are spirit to spirit communication spirit is more fine matter apparently so fine we can’t yet detect it. I’m an Audiophile I enjoy perusing the finest sounds possible I’m not an electronics engineer but as I understand it they come from small low power high frequency response amplifiers with small components and short signal pathways driving efficient headphones this high sound quality cannot be maintained when it is scaled up by amplification and speaker cone for large rooms. Signal to noise ratio is certainly a part of it, the frequency response of each of the components also plays a part by slowing with increasing size so that a speaker cone (mortals) cannot reproduce what a headphone driver (spirits) can. It doesn’t surprise me that it either sounds like mumbling or must precipitate upward from our subconscious as if it were our own idea not to mention that our ways are not God’s ways and that we must rely on our current knowledge and frames of reference to interrupt the mumblings or inspirations in an attempt to understand what He is telling us about His ways.

    Comment by Howard — June 6, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

  32. I don’t think it does God any good to pull the rug out from under theological propositions that while flawed, undergird the faith of millions.

    If someone does realize through study and inspiration that something is wrong and that something else is a closer approximation of the truth, the most effective approach might be to let that idea sink in over a period of centuries.

    Of course the problem is that some theological systems are so rigid they have to be abandoned completely to make any real progress. I believe this is why many “creeds” are an abomination. They leave no room for continuing revelation. We have scholastic Calvinism, for example, which for all its merits is still stuck on some ideas which were state of the art for the 4th century BC.

    But God is not going to start making this plain as day to most people whose whole lives revolve around the gospel interpreted through such a lens, because unless something is offered that is superior and all the infrastructure and willingness and effort is there to make the alternative plain to entire families and congregations, it is better to inspire one from a family and two from a city.

    Comment by Mark D. — June 6, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

  33. I think you are right Mark.

    The interesting question is what does the fact that God doesn’t seem to mind that much when people believe incorrect stuff indicate about God and us and the universe? As I said in #22, this brings up some interesting metaphysical and theological questions.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 7, 2011 @ 12:42 am

  34. “God doesn’t seem to mind that much when people believe incorrect stuff ”

    I think He does mind very much, Geoff, over the long haul. But over the short haul, the only thing necessary is to show that we are responsive to the Holy Spirit. If we are responsive to it, correct understanding takes care of itself in the long haul, since the Holy Spirit is an agent of knowledge. The signal to noise ratio is entirely an individual matter.

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — June 7, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  35. I think He does mind very much, Geoff, over the long haul.

    The problem with this assertion is that no individual lives over the long haul Thomas. People are usually lucky to live 70-80 years.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 7, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

  36. I thought that we lived forever. The short haul is this life.

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — June 7, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  37. Ok. Well when I said “God doesn’t seem to mind that much when people believe incorrect stuff” I was referring to human beings here on earth. Humans are only here in the short run.

    Honestly if we are talking about the LONG run then there is another conundrum to figure out. Namely — if our spirits/intelligences/minds are beginningless how can we claim that we are unfinished. Seems to me that if there is a finish line of perfection/exaltation there would need to be a starting line too. (I think Joseph Smith taught that as well).

    I actually think most of much of Mormons theology works better if we assume we are not beginningless.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 7, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

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