What exactly do our scriptures mean when they say “salvation”?

July 4, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 12:44 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology,Scriptures,Theology

My post on Blake Ostler’s views on LDS soteriology quickly ballooned to more than 100 comments and revealed that there are a lot of differing soteriologies among us. In this post I will describe the various things I think scriptures mean when they use the term “salvation”.

A) Salvation sometimes means exaltation in scriptures

RT wrote a post arguing that our scriptures are nearly univocal in meaning that salvation = exaltation. Here are some verses that support his theory:

If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation. (D&C 6:13)

If salvation is the greatest gift God can give I think it is safe to say it is synonymous with exaltation in this verse. In addition to this, the term exaltation is usually synonymous with the term “eternal life” in scripture and there are several verses that equate salvation with eternal life. Here are just two examples of the six I found – one from Alma and one that is included in the Abrahamic covenant:

And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. (Alma 11:40)

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal. (Abr. 2:11)

B) Salvation sometimes means being saved from an eternal hell and slavery to the devil, or “outer darkness” in LDS-speak.

In that last thread Mark Butler was insisting salvation always means saved from eternal hell or at least from a “kingdom of no glory”. Here is an instance of salvation used in that sense:

And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation. (D&C 76: 88)

I wasn’t able to find any others that clearly describe admission to the Telestial kingdom after a season in hell as salvation, though. If there are others please share.

C) Salvation often is used in an non-specified way and probably means something between A) and B)

My sense is that most of the scriptures that were received prior to section 76 use the term salvation as sort of synonymous with exaltation but leave leeway for referring to anyone who avoids even a temporary hell. That would then include both heirs of the Celestial kingdom and heirs of the Terrestrial kingdom if my sense is correct. The reason I suspect this is because I think the prophet Joseph still saw the afterlife as roughly a heaven/hell dichotomy prior to 1832. As a result I think the scriptures that came through him reflected some of his paradigm. Now I’m not sure if the Book of Mormon prophets also saw the afterlife as roughly a heaven/hell dichotomy and wrote specifically with that in mind or if they understood nuances that Joseph, as the instrument of the translation, did not pick up on in the translation process and convey. Whatever the case, it is virtually impossible to tell exactly what many scriptures mean when they use the term salvation – do they mean exaltation or simply Telestial glory after rotting in hell for a millennium? I suspect they mean the former far more often than they mean the latter, but it is impossible to tell exactly.

My next post will be on the absolute requirements for salvation, such as the absolute requirement to live a Celestial law to inherit Celestial glory, and relative requirements for salvation as described in the parable of the talents.

[Associated radio.blog song: The English Beat – Save It For Later]


  1. I think that the question is ill posed. “The Scriptures” don’t “say” anything at all about salvation or anything else, but rather the sometimes very different authors who wrote the scriptures say stuff about “salvation” in differing contexts, and there is no reason why there must be a guarantee that all such usages will be uniform in meaning, even in the various usages of the same individual over time (e.g. JS’s change in terms from pre-Nauvoo to Nauvoo).

    Comment by Jeff G — July 4, 2006 @ 10:39 am

  2. Jeff,

    That’s really the point of this post — to show that the term salvation means all sorts of things to all sorts of different authors in the scriptures.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 4, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  3. Geoff,

    I do not deny that their are degrees of salvation – my point is that nowhere is salvation spoken of as synonymous with exalation.

    Your argument in (A) fails for that reason, just because something is the greatest gift of God does not mean the gift does not come in degrees (e.g. light, glory, knowledge, …). Exaltation is simply the highest form of salvation – if exaltation were not a mode of salvation, then your argument would succeed, however since that is not the case, i.e. exaltation is a mode of salvation, then there is no problem with the scripture.

    My point is exaltation and entry level salvation are not metaphysically distinct – they are founded on exactly the same principles, just to different degrees.

    Now the second part of your argument depends on the semantics of the term eternal life. In order for your argument to succeed, you must like likewise defend the proposition that eternal life does not come in degrees, that it is synonymous with exaltation alone and not synonymous with salvation in some degree of glory in the kingdom of God.

    As primary evidence that eternal life is used in the same sense as salvation in the scriptures (despite contemporary convention), I offer the following:

    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    (John 3:16-17)

    Note the three part parallel between (eternal life, everlasting life, and “saved”) and the contrast to (perish, perish, and condemnation).

    For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
    What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
    But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
    For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    (Romans 6:20-23)

    Note the conditions for everlasting life – to be made free from sin and become servants to god, to have fruit unto holiness. Now what does this sound like if not the entry level conditions to the telestial glory, as described by Joseph Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith?

    Now granted those in the telestial glory do not have a fulness of any of these things, but being made free from sin they have salvation, everlasting and eternal life as ministers unto those worthy of a greater weight of glory, being made partakers of the heavenly gift.

    Truly Jesus Christ saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.

    But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth-yea, even all.

    And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father;

    Wherefore I will say unto them-Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

    And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.
    (D&C 29:26-27)

    Note that everyone on the right hand of God is gathered unto *eternal life* (of some sort), and that all those on his left hand at the last day (see context – this is the last resurrection) are sons of perdition, for whom there is no definite prospect of ever being saved, but rather the definite judgment of departing into everlasting fire with the devil and his angels.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  4. Jeff G,

    That argument works when actually supported by explicit textual evidence, however, it is most commonly used to defend pre-conceived, non-textual interpretations of the scriptures – interpretations that have only external and not internal evidence.

    The main reason why we can rely on the semantic consistency of scriptural terms is that later prophets read earlier prophets, and radically redefining a term is intellectually dishonest. It can only be done properly if one maintains that was the inspired meaning of the original scriptures in the first place. Otherwise, one invents new terms, like “exaltation”, instead of perverting old ones.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 11:08 am

  5. I have argued repeatedly that I think the Book of Mormon prophets taught a heaven/hell dichotomy, so I guess this post is my chance to back that up. Thanks Geoff. A couple of examples from the Book of Mormon are necessary to make the point.

    15 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.
    16 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.
    18 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. (2 Ne 9)

    The setting here is judgment. The righteous shall be righteous, the filthy shall be filthy still. The wicked go to everlasting fire which has “no end” (contra D&C 19:6). The saints are those who have endured the crosses of the world and will inherit the kingdom of God. Cleary, this describes outer darkness and exaltation. No mention is made of middle ground after the judgment. No room is made for a telestial or terrestrial salvation in these verses. This same approach is found throughout the BofM.

    Alma 41:2-7 gives a similar scene, the setting is resurrection and judgment, and everyone is “raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil” (Alma 41:4). Again, only the two ways are presented.

    I recently saw one of those roundtable discussions on BYUTV with Millet, Fronk, Skinner (and I think JFM), and they were talking about Alma 40. I almost fell out of my chair at the lack of understanding that was demonstrated. They were talking about how strange it is that Alma seems so uncertain about the resurrection in Alma 40:19-21, given that Abinadi made such a plain statement of the situation. Skinner actually hypothesized that they may not have had access to Abinadi’s words! Now, it is obvious to me that Alma is clearing up a misunderstanding caused by those very words of Abinadi the panalists were referring to. Abinadi sets the Book of Mormon people up for a misunderstanding years down the road by skipping from the first resurrection to the judgment with a hand-waiving manuver.

    20 But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.
    21 And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ-for so shall he be called.
    22 And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.
    23 They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.
    24 And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.
    25 And little children also have eternal life.
    26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.(Mosiah 15)

    Here, Abinadi introduces the idea of a “first resurrection.” Verses 22-23 say that the righteous are raised in the first resurrection and gain eternal life. Verse 24 adds those who died in “ignorance” and “little children” to the list of people resurrected in the first resurrection. Verses 26-27 says fear and tremble if you are wicked because you won’t be in the first resurrection.

    Here comes the hand waive, pay close attention: Then, Abinadi stops and quotes some Isaiah in verses 29-31 where Isaiah says that at some point all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God. He gives some commentary on this Isaiah in Mosiah 16. Verse 1, Abinadi says the time Isaiah was talking about is at judgment. So, Abinadi jumps from the first resurrection to the judgment by quoting Isaiah, and he doesn’t give any idea what goes on in between. Of course, this (the time between first resurrection and judgment) is where the restoration squeezes in the work for the dead and says that everyone will be taught the gospel and given a chance to accept/reject it. D&C 19 and 76 add all the stuff about the wicked suffering in temporary hell and preparing themselves for a telestial salvation during this time as well.

    Abinadi skips this time because he doesn’t know about these doctrines. He just jumps forward to the final judgment and warns that those who have “persisted” in their wickedness until the final judgment will be as though there were no redemption made (Mosiah 16:6). He concludes with the standard Book of Mormon dichotomy:

    If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation (Mosiah 16:11)

    Now, what happened is that people looked at these verses and they started to argue about what this first resurrection meant. In Alma 40:12-14, Alma says he has enquired diligently to know about the time in between death and the resurrection. He says that while the dead wait to be resurrected, they are divided up: the righteous live in “paradise” and the wicked go to “outer darkenss.” Obviously, this is not the first time he has taught this doctrine, because in verse 15 he says:

    Now, there are some that have understood that this state of happiness and this state of misery of the soul, before the resurrection, was a first resurrection. (Alma 40:15)

    So, Alma had been teaching this doctrine, and some of the people had gone back to Abinadi’s words and concluded that the separation of the righteous from the wicked in the spirit world is what Abinadi meant by the “first” resurrection. Alma is trying to correct that misunderstanding:

    16 And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
    17 Now, we do not suppose that this first resurrection, which is spoken of in this manner, can be the resurrection of the souls and their consignation to happiness or misery. Ye cannot suppose that this is what it [Abinadi] meaneth.
    18 Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ. (Alma 40)

    Having cleared up this misunderstanding, Alma goes on to make it clear that he is still VERY uncertain about why it says there is a first resurrection. I think these verses are the most uncertain in all of scripture:

    5 Now, whether there shall be one time, or a second time, or a third time, that men shall come forth from the dead, it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case-that there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead.
    8 Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.
    19 Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in other words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ.
    20 Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven.
    21 But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works. (Alma 40)

    He can’t really be more clear than this. Even this great prophet who had inquired diligently to know about the time between death and resurrection had no idea what the different resurrections were for. These Book of Mormon prophets simply did not have the concepts of work for the dead or salvation in varying kingdoms revealed to them. He concludes with the same dichotomy as everyone else:

    25 And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.
    26 But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup. (Alma 40)

    No room for telestial/terrestrial salvation. There will eventually be a judgment and everyone will go either to “shine forth in the kingdom of God” (celestial kingdom) or they will be unclean (filthy still) and will “die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness.”

    Now, I think the entire Book of Mormon needs to be read in the context of these scriptures. I can tell the prophets didn’t know about the three degrees of glory, or even how salvation for the dead would work, so I read the rest of what they say with this in mind. When they give a blanket waiver for those who died without a chance to hear the gospel, it is clearly because they didn’t know that those people would get a chance to hear the gospel later. When they talk about salvation, it is clear to me that they only had it mind exaltation in the celestial kingdom, because as far as they were aware, that was the only “good” state possible after the final judgment.

    Comment by Jacob — July 4, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  6. Jacob,

    I agree. However, I do not believe any of the modern scriptures demonstrate that the theology of the Book of Mormon prophets regarding heaven and hell has any fundamental problems.

    All D&C 19 does is explain how God is going to save nearly all the works of his hands even though very many going to hell on a temporary basis – indeed how he turns that condition to his name’s glory. At the last day, the conditions are exactly the same as what the Book of Mormon prophets taught.

    In fact the conditions are almost exactly the same at the moment of physical death as well. We just need to be careful not to assume that the judgment that comes upon men at death is permanent, which is one of the most prominent errors of BRM.

    All D&C 76 does is explain the division of labor and degrees of glory in heaven. No contradiction of the Book of Mormon or New Testament doctrine of heaven and hell, just more detail, mostly about heaven.

    In short the doctrine of redemption from the dark side of Sheol (spirit prison), perhaps incorrectly translated as hell by the KJV translators (Sheol is properly speaking the post-mortal spirit world), doesn’t change anything. The Book of Mormon prophets, indeed Jesus Christ himself, and all the New Testament apostles, were right on.

    Salvation is everlasting life in the kingdom of God. There are just different modes of salvation, corresponding to diligence and obedience – one can be saved as a ministering angel, or as presiding father / mother. One cannot say that being a ministering angel is a sad lot, that it is not coupled with eternal glory and everlasting life, it is just not the same degree of glory as exalted persons enjoy.

    By the way, I might add that “telestial kingdom” is misleading language. The kingdom of God has one true king, God himself (or the divine concert of gods) – the telestial glory is not ruled by other kings, nor is the terrestial. At best those who preside in the telestial glory are vassals, more likely rather less than that, described in the scriptures as “servants” or “ministering angels” unto God. We are not talking about an independent sovereignty here. There is only one true God.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  7. Let me quote J. Stapley from the first comment in the linked LDSLF thread:

    Truely, I haven’t made up my mind on all of this yet, however, there is a major logical flaw here.

    Salvation (A) is the greatest gift (B)
    Eternal Life (C) is the greatest gift (B)
    Exaltation (D) is therefore the same as Salvation (A)

    There is no scripture saying that eternal life is exaltation.
    (J. Stapley, LDSLF: Salvation, August 10, 2005)

    This is one of the points I was trying to convey in #3. The RT style argument rests upon a non-scriptural assumption that is indeed prevalent, but essentially begs the question.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  8. Mark,

    I am not arguing that the Book of Mormon theology is fundamentally flawed. I am arguing that whenever the Book of Mormon prophets talk about salvation (in whatever language) they have in mind what we would refer to as exaltation. That means whatever understanding you impose on their words based on your understanding of D&C 76 is just that, imposed on the text based on more understanding than the prophets themselves had when they wrote those words.

    I gave an example in my comment of where this has the potential to go wrong, which is with the scriptures about the salvation of “those who die in ignorance” and “little children.” I think the Book of Mormon gives them a blanket waiver because it didn’t have the necessary doctrinal framework in place to deal with the real plan for their salvation. You’re argument that the scriptures are univocal about salvation is objectionable to me for this reason: it leads people to interpret those scriptures without realizing the limits of their application. Also, I mentioned that the Book of Mormon does say that hell has “no end” and the prophets clearly had no understanding of D&C 19:6. This must be factored in when trying to understand the meaning of D&C 76 as another in a sequence of revelations expanding Joseph Smith’s understanding of salvation. After D&C 76, salvation came to take on meanings not associated with it before that time. It is not that the Book of Mormon has a contradictory understanding of salvation, but it clearly has a less developed sense in very imporant respects.

    Comment by Jacob — July 4, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

  9. Jacob, as I said before the problem is that the fact that Joseph Smith used the same word in both cases, is extremely strong de facto evidence that the word refers to the same thing. Otherwise we could not do theology at all.

    If someone wants to maintain that a word means two different things, we need some textual evidence – some basis for concluding that some scriptural instances of the term ‘salvation’ refers to something different than others.

    I have argued that all scriptures speak of salvation univocally, because all of them speak of salvation as having the same basic terms, conditions, and fundamental nature. This is uniform throughout the scriptures, including the words of Christ himself in the New Testament, and I hardly think he was uninformed on the matter.

    All the evidence in the scriptures, including the first principle of linguistic exegesis – that all terms have a uniform sense until demonstrated otherwise, supports my argument.

    The only evidence that supports the contrary argument is BRM’s opinion in “Mormon Doctrine”, which he did not bother to explain or give any argument for. That is certainly adequate for those who think BRM is infallible, but I rather think the scriptures are more infallible than he was.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

  10. A few New Testament quotes:

    He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
    (Mark 16:16)

    I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
    (John 12:47)

    And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
    And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
    (Acts 16:30-31)

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    (Romans 1:16)

    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

    And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
    (Romans 11:25-27)

    For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
    (1 Timothy 2:4)

    Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
    (Hebrews 7:25)

    All of these scriptures demonstrate a consistent sense of salvation. Note that Christ is able to save them “to the uttermost” that come unto God by him. That anyone who sincerely believes in God will be eventually be saved. That Christ gave a ransom *for all*, on condition of faith and repentance.

    These are the entry level requirements of salvation. In other words the main difference here is that what BRM thought was the gate to the celestial glory is actually the gate to the telestial glory – faith and repentance in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise all of these scriptures are wrong – none of them talk about some permanent state for most of mankind in some sort of limbo between salvation and damnation.

    Rather the scriptures repeatedly assert that Christ is capable of saving all who will believe on his name, eventually all except the sons of perdition. So we have a great irony – at death so very many will not (yet) be saved, at the resurrection nearly all will.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

  11. Mark,

    The scriptures you cite in #10 do not demonstrate a consistent sense of salvation–they all mention salvation. The fact that God “is able” to save everyone, or that he gave himself a ransom “for all,” or that he wants everyone to be saved does not imply that he will, in fact, save all the works of God’s hands except the sons of perdition as D&C 76 teaches. Seriously, if you held a contrary view, would that language be precise enough to convince you of your actual view? I think not.

    Now, we have evidence that the New Testament prophets actually did understand salvation for the dead (unlike the BofM prophets), so if one was inclined, one could make an argument that these scriptures use salvation in the same sense that D&C 76 does. But, a argument would be required. It is not obvious on its face, and even if it is true, it would not mean that all other books of scripture use salvation in the same way and with the same understanding.

    D&C 76 introduced the idea that salvation can come in degrees, and it said that the wicked people of the earth are bound for eventual salvation. This idea was shocking to those in the church at the time it was received and there were many people who left the church over it. I happen to agree (as you know) with the idea that faith and repentance are required for telestial salvation, but I don’t think this is evident simply from the fact that Joseph Smith used the word “salvation,” and the Book of Mormon says faith and repentance are required for “salvation.” The fact that the concept of salvation was expanded quite dramatically calls such a conclusion into question quite legitimately.

    Comment by Jacob — July 4, 2006 @ 2:40 pm

  12. Jacob (#5),

    Reviewing your argument more closely, I think there is a major problem. You have made the unwarranted assumption that the Book of Mormon references to salvation leave no room for telestial or terrestial salvation in the kingdom of God.

    In particular, you have made no argument that Alma 40:25 *”then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God”), refers only to celestial glory. Same deal here with “salvation”, “everlasting life”, “happiness”, “eternal life”, and so on.

    The D&C makes very clear that the only people who will be “filthly *still*” at the last day, will be the sons of perdition. Before I quote D&C 29, it is important to remember that Joseph Smith heavily edited the D&C to clear up earlier mistakes, (to David Whitmer’s annoyance), so we can rely generally on “earlier” revelations as much as later ones.

    22 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season; And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.

    For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.

    But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth-yea, even all.

    [27] And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father;

    Wherefore I will say unto them-Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

    [29] And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.
    (D&C 29:22-29)

    Again, the context clearly established we are talking about the “last day” or final judgment, after the Millennium.

    Now notice that this is the same roughly bipolar divisions as elsewhere in the scriptures, including of of Christ’s own mouth during his mortal ministry. All of the righteous shall be gathered unto eternal life (of one mode or another), all of the ones who are *still* wicked will depart into everlasting fire, where the Lord has given no promise that they will ever be able to depart (but hints in v.30 that it may be a possibility – q.v.).

    Now how do we know that the telestial and terrestial are on the right hand of God? It is because of this very scripture in D&C 76:

    Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come- Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.

    [36] These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels– And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

    Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.

    [40] And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us-

    That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

    That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;

    Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.

    Wherefore, he saves all except them-they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment-

    [49]And we heard the voice, saying: Write the vision, for lo, this is the end of the vision of the sufferings of the ungodly.
    (D&C 76:34-44)

    Verse 49 is an important clue – the end of the vision of the sufferings of the *ungodly*. Implying that the other three glories are rewards for the godly and repentant, of course.

    Note also verses 40-41 – Jesus came into the world, to be crucified for the world, and to sanctify *the world*, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.

    It does not say that Jesus came to be sanctify a small minority – it say the Jesus came to sanctify *the world*. This is the glad tidings of the gospel – that through him *all mankind* might be saved *in due time*, through faith on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, not just the cream of the crop.

    Now compare the account in D&C 88:

    And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.

    For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

    For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body. They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.

    Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    [32] And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

    For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

    And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

    [35] That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
    (D&C 88:21-35)

    Now the key verse for comparison to D&C 29 is verse 35. It says that those who break law, abide not by law, but seek to become a law unto themselves, willing to abide in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, mercy, justice, etc. Therefore they must remain filthly still.

    Now D&C 76 makes quite clear that *all* except the sons of perdition will be forgiven, redeemed from spiritual death, will be saved (three different verses). In other words, the telestial are not those who are filthy still – they are among the repentant.

    Indeed D&C 88 teaches the doctrine of proportional sanctification through law. Those who are quickened with a portion of telestial glory shall receive of the same, even a fullness. Same with terrestial, same with celestial.

    The germane point here is that the telestial glory is the home of sanctified individuals. Not with the full measure of the greater glories, but by no means filthy. The people who are filthy still at the last day, are the sons of perdition – the nature of which are described better in D&C 88:35 than perhaps anywhere in the scriptures – pride, law unto oneself, disobedience, unfit for civil society.

    And so they cannot be sanctified, they may receive some minimal reward but will at best remain in their own place (88:32), and more likely end up with the devil and his angels (D&C 29:28, 76:48).

    So the long term plan of salvation can be seen as gradually bringing souls from a condition of rebellion and self-willed anarchy (on the left hand of god) over to a condition of repentance and sanctification (on the right hand of god).

    The greatest glory of God is that he will be able to do this for all the works of his hands save the sons of perditions – practically the whole *world*, in due time.

    For God so loved the *world*, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the *world* through him might be saved.
    (John 3:16-17)

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

  13. Jacob,

    My whole point here is that the terms, and conditions, and nature of salvation have *never* changed. The only thing that has changed is the understanding of the power of the Lord to bring people unto him, to abide within those terms and conditions.

    This is something that many apparently have no faith in, they do not believe that the Lord can lead men unto repentance after this mortal life. I am not preaching salvation for the wicked, but rather the power of Christ to persuade the wicked to become righteous.

    Now as far as salvation, anyone who wants to maintain two radically distinct senses carries the burden of proof, revelations do not overturn previous revelations – they only clear up generally minor misunderstandings of previous revelations. Neither the Book of Mormon prophets, Jesus Christ, nor his New Testament apostles were wrong – the only difference is that they have been misunderstood, (or sometimes did not understand themselves) that the work of salvation extends to the last resurrection.

    That is a very trivial difference in principle – indeed it is the fulfilment of the law, not the abandoning thereof. How can one respect a plan of salvation where the vast majority of those who lived (to the age of accountability) and died end up in some sort of penal colony? Do you think the vote in the council of heaven would have carried?

    On the contrary, Joseph Smith says there was a war in heaven because a *small* minority would not be saved in the end. In other words BRM doctrine is first class hell fire and damnation with no hope of recovery, hardly worth preaching at all, more like Calvinism – salvation for a tiny elect – than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 4, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  14. Mark,

    There are so many points to take issue with, I don’t know where to begin.

    (#9) All the evidence in the scriptures, including the first principle of linguistic exegesis – that all terms have a uniform sense until demonstrated otherwise, supports my argument. The only evidence that supports the contrary argument is BRM’s opinion in “Mormon Doctrine”

    Given that I just made an argument from the scriptures that BofM prophets had a different understanding of the word than prophets who knew about the three degrees of glory, where in the world do you get off saying that “all the evidence in the scriptures” supports your argument? And please, no one, by which I mean not one single person on this blog, has used BRM or Mormon Doctrine to support their view of salvation, so could you give it a rest bring them up every five minutes. (By the way, you’ll be hard pressed on this one to claim that it is logical consequence of my view that I must be relying on BRM).

    Re #12:

    You have made the unwarranted assumption that the Book of Mormon references to salvation leave no room for telestial or terrestial salvation in the kingdom of God.
    In particular, you have made no argument that Alma 40:25 *”then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God”), refers only to celestial glory. Same deal here with “salvation”, “everlasting life”, “happiness”, “eternal life”, and so on.

    Perhaps you missed my argument, but a big portion of it went toward demonstrating that the doctrinal background necessary for an understanding of work for the dead and salvation by degrees was unknown to these prophets. I am not just making a weak semantic argument which assumes the telestials are miserable all the time.

    I did cite 2 Ne 9:18, do you think that those who “endure the crosses of the world” and “inherit the kingdom of God” where their “joy shall be full forever” are telestials? I didn’t give a lot of backup for my reading of Alma 40:25 (due to restrictions of length), but I did cite Alma 41:2-7 which is part of the same speach. It divides people up into two camps once again. The righteous are those who have “repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days.” Enduring to the end in righteousness is the hallmark of those who go to the celestial kingdom. So, I feel my analysis is a bit more robust than you give it credit.

    The D&C makes very clear that the only people who will be “filthly still” at the last day, will be the sons of perdition.

    Yes, I agree, which is why the Book of Mormon, which is constantly throwing people into this category for basic unrighteousness demonstrates its lesser understanding of salvation.

    The whole rest of #12 is spent, as far as I can tell, trying to convince me of things I have been championing here over the last several weeks, so I am at a loss. Maybe you intend someone like Geoff as the target audience since he does not believe the telestials are sanctified. Your arguements seem to veer off into trying to convince me about the nature of telestial salvation, but the topic here is whether the term salvation is used with a uniform meaning throughout the scriptures.

    Now, let me add another text as evidence of my point (note that this comes from the Book of Mormon, not Mormon Doctrine:

    22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you?
    23 Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness?
    24 Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?
    25 I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil.
    26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
    27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?
    28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.
    29 Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless.
    30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
    31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved! (Alma 5)

    Now, this is a gem of a text. It sets up the standard of righteousness quite explicitely in verse 24 as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white.” Nothing ambiguous here, he is not talking about becoming telestial. For those that don’t reach this standard, the only thing these verses offer is “the kingdom of the devil” (vs. 25). No mention of a telestial/terrestrial option in between.

    It goes on to ask them if they’ve been humble, stripped of pride and envy, and if they mock their brethren. If they haven’t, then they “cannot be saved.” Now, obviously you can argue that this means all the telestials will have to be sufficiently humble, stripped of pride, and stripped of envy. However, I think it is clear that this would be a misuse of the scripture. Clearly Alma was presenting two ways, and his questions are designed to help people become celestial. Salvation in the verses above means sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God with all the holy prophets. That is what Alma means by salvation and he says as much.

    Comment by Jacob — July 4, 2006 @ 11:05 pm

  15. Bravo Jacob. You have made some very compelling arguments that the BoM prophets did indeed use the term salvation synonymously with exaltation. I think it is clear that there was no real conception of the nuances in salvation until section 76 came along.

    Mark (#9): the problem is that the fact that Joseph Smith used the same word in both cases, is extremely strong de facto evidence that the word refers to the same thing.

    What sort of logic is this? It seems to rely on the assumption that Joseph could not have gained more knowledge over time. Jacob and I have argued that Joseph learned details about the afterlife that were unknown to him (and the BoM prophets and perhaps many Bible prophets) prior to 1832. There is no “de facto evidence” otherwise.

    Otherwise we could not do theology at all.

    Huh? A prophet learns more details about a term like “salvation” and that additional information means we can’t attempt to construct a theology anymore?

    just because something is the greatest gift of God does not mean the gift does not come in degrees

    Hmmm… So the greatest of all the gifts of God will be given to ultra-righteous and charitable people like Abraham, but God will also give his greatest gift to Hitler? (after Hitler rots in hell for “a thousand years” of course…) You might be comfortable calling the latter the greatest Gift that God has to give but I’m not. I think you’ve stretched the meaning of the saying “the greatest of all the gifts of God” beyond recognition.

    (#3) Truly Jesus Christ saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.

    Here is where your argument fails. Several church leaders have opined that only a small handful of people will merit becoming sons of perdition. The idea some take from section 132 and other places is that one must have their calling and election made sure and then change and begin to hate Christ so much that they would personally shed his innocent blood if they had the opportunity. I am not saying they are right, but the evidence does point to a very small number of people becoming sons of perdition. Are you implying that 99.9999% of all people will be “saved”? (It sure sounds that way to me.) If so, what are all the prophets so worked up about? Why are they all telling us to repent or be damned throughout scriptures if they are not referring to us missing the opportunity to be exalted? Why are they so worked up about us not procrastinating the day of our repentance if they aren’t referring to our exaltation in the BoM (even though they call it “salvation”)? And with those kinds of odds, why on earth would a third of the host of heaven choose any other plan?

    I think that it is self evident that the position you are taking — that “saved” univocally means avoiding eternal hell as sons of perdition and that damned always means becoming sons of perdition — is untenable and that your extended definition of the word salvation is decidedly not what most prophets are talking about in the Book of Mormon and most other scriptures.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 5, 2006 @ 12:04 am

  16. Arguing over semantics? The Scriptures use the terms “save”, “saved”, or “salvation” five different ways. See the below for a discussion:


    Comment by Kurt — July 5, 2006 @ 4:05 am

  17. Geoff (#15)

    Are you implying that 99.9999% of all people will be “saved”? (It sure sounds that way to me.) If so, what are all the prophets so worked up about? Why are they all telling us to repent or be damned throughout scriptures if they are not referring to us missing the opportunity to be exalted?

    I know it wasn’t directed at me, but my answer to your question is that the prophets were worked up because that repentance they keep telling us to do has to happen at some point. Saying that they will all be saved eventually so it doesn’t matter misses the point that there is a lot of stuff in between now and salvation. You are going back to your “incentives to repent” argument which we argued about before. I have argued previously that D&C 19 rests on this very logic, that Christ doesn’t want us to tread a thorny path when there is a much more pleasant one (albeit straight and narrow) right there.

    Comment by Jacob — July 5, 2006 @ 8:35 am

  18. Thanks Kurt (#16). Your conclusion is right in step with what Jacob and I have been arguing here: “When Latter Day Saints use the word Salvation they are typically referring to exaltation.”

    Jacob (#17) – I agree with you. The point I was trying to make had more to do with damnation than salvation in that part. That is, the prophets seem highly concerned about our damnation after this life — even though we later learned that said damnation/hell will not be endless for all. (This is a nice lead in to my forthcoming post on absolute vs. relative salvation/damnation though. I’ll try to post that today.)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 5, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  19. Geoff,

    I see your point, and I was too hasty in my reponse. Although I think there are good reasons to repent now even given the model you were mentioning, I believe the BofM prophets had eternal-hell-fire in mind when they were preaching.

    Comment by Jacob — July 5, 2006 @ 9:06 am

  20. My response to RT’s original post is here. Joseph taught in the KFD that Jesus was to give salvation to everyone except the sons of perdition. As far as I can tell, he was pretty consistent with that usage.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 5, 2006 @ 11:50 am

  21. Jacob: Nice arguments and insights, esp. regarding Abinadi as a source of confusion that Alma is referencing.

    I noticed Kurt’s article listed 2 Ne 2 as referring to something less than exaltation—I’d be curious to hear how you you read that passage.

    In particular, verse 10 mentions that “because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God.” In verse 8 it says “there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the . . . grace of the Holy Messiah” and then in verse 9, “they that believe in him shall be saved.” It seems one could argue (in my mind a bit flimsily, but I’d still like to hear your take) that verse 9 conspicuously only mentions belief, not a robust faith, and there is no mention of attendant works. Why couldn’t we read this as a description of being saved in the Terrestrial Kingdom (whether or not Lehi had an understanding of the difference between Terrestrial type salvation vs. Celestial exalataion)?

    Comment by Robert C. — July 5, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

  22. (Only read the first few – so forgive me if I’ve missed comments)

    Mark: The main reason why we can rely on the semantic consistency of scriptural terms is that later prophets read earlier prophets, and radically redefining a term is intellectually dishonest.

    I don’t think that’s true. For instance there were independent traditions most likely. Further sometimes rhetoric would be used even after the original “sense” of the rhetoric was lost. There are plenty of scriptural language we use as LDS that are more than a little distorting of the original passage. Likewise we have the situation of the Nephites being isolated from main body of Jews and having an unknown equivalent of the Jewish Tanack. Likewise we have what most scholars think is the editing and compiling of the Hebrew scriptures some time after the exile.

    So while I don’t doubt there is often consistency of rhetoric I think the exception is often the rule.

    As for radical redefinition, it’s hard to get much more radical than the re-definition of endless torment and endless suffering in say D&C 19.

    I think such consistency of rhetoric simply has to be taken on a case by case basis. Sometimes it might be significant while other times it is more accidental.

    Comment by Clark — July 5, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

  23. Mark,

    I should note that I agree with your argument in an important respect. You have been arguing against the idea of a radical redefinition of salvation. I agree with this to the extent you are talking about a definition that is in direct conflict with previous definitions. For example, when people try to argue that the telestials are saved, but that their existence is characterized by the sadness and disappointment of knowing what they could have had, this seems untenable to me. I don’t agree with people who try to make salvation a form of damnation. D&C 76 says there are three degrees of glory and outer darkness. Some people seem to want to switch this for three degrees of hell and exaltation. I am opposed to that form of radical redefinition.

    Comment by Jacob — July 5, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

  24. Perhaps a few comment are in order. I have stayed out of the discussion thus far because it flourishes better when I am away and because I’ve been riding ATVs for four days in the back country where not even a cell phone could interrupt.

    First, regarding “salvation.” I agree that most LDS use that term synonomously with “exaltation.” However, the LDS scriptures seem to me to be much more consistent in using the term — and D&C 76 and the BofM in particular are consistent in their usage. “Salvation” means merely escaping God’s wrathful punishment — which we bring upon ourselves. This type of salvation is a gift. It is a matter of grace. It is given to all except those who reject Christ and put him to open shame after having once known Him.

    We do not earn or merit this salvation. However, it is conditioned on repentance which consists in: (1) the free choice to re-turn to God after having walked away from Him to accept the relationship graciously offerred by God; (2) the willingness to eschew and give away everything in our lives that gets in the way of having such a relationship. Such salvation is followed by sanctification, which is the growth in the spirit and relationship with God that makes us holy — it is the process of the light and image of Christ growing in us day by day as we perform works of love and learn to love one another as Christ and the Father love us. (Contary to what Mark has asserte, all works tha tlead to our growth and that are enabled by atonement are works of love and not anything at all that we do).

    Second, by “saved by grace after all we can do” I contend means something like “we are saved by grace even after all we can do because all we can do to accept grace is made possible by grace.” I reject the notion that we must first do all that we can do to be saved by grace — that is internally incoherent.

    Robert — I don’t contend that our guilt is transferred to Christ in atonement. Only that in entering into relationship with us Christ is willing to experience that pain that arises from being in relationship with us. It is not a necessary nor is it a sufficient condition of having our sins forgiven that Christ experiences such pain; it is merely the natural result of entering into relationship with people like us who it is painful to be in relationship with. The biggest problem of atonement is to explain why Christ’s suffering is necessary to empower God to foregive us. Answer: it isn’t. However, the scriptures are crystal clear that Christ suffers as a result of our sins — he suffers pain; not guilt. To reject the notion that Christ suffers because of our sins is to reject the scriptural record. The simple explanation is that for a divine person, the kind of indwelling and interpenetrating relationship leads to experience relationship with us in a way that as mere mortals we do not. He experiences pain to enter into relationship with alienated and sinful humans like us. Once in the relationship, he also experiences the joy of our repentance. His is a fulness of experience. Jacob admits that his explanation of atonment doesn’t explain how or why Christ suffered for our sins. Well, any view that ducks those issues really isn’t much of a theory of atonement is it?

    Robert has also asked why repentance leads to forgiveness and why we suffer if we don’t repent. I see our sinful condition as a condition of choosing to be alienated and to experience pain in relationships. Sinful conduct (conduct that violates the law of love) naturally
    leads to interpersonal pain in our relationships and feelings of guilt of breching the law that is written in our hearts. We have a past — a history that leads us to adopt certain ways of being in the world that continue that alienation and pain. However, thru repentance we change these ways of being in the world and let go of the refusal to forgive and be forgiven, and in letting go we no longer experience the pain that is the natural result of choosing such alienation and refusal to love.

    Let me give an example. My grandfather was an alcoholic. He didn’t support his family and he became somewhat abusive when drunk — and he always was drunk. I really hated him for what he did to my mother and her family. I became angry when I thought about him and I judged him as unworthy of my acceptance. I suffered greately for my refusal to forgive. Yet I just couldn’t do it. There came a point when I felt a particular grace, a sense of divine love and perspective, that placed my grandfather in an entirely new light for me. How would I have reacted if I were in the midst of a depression, if I had had his childhoos and parents, if I had not had the advantages that it did? I came to see that my judgmental attitude was the real problem here. Yet how could I forgive him? I came to see in a moment of insight that he was not the one hurt by my hatred and judgments. He was not he one who failed to love. He was giving me an opportunity to learn about love and forgiveness. So I let go of my agent, my hatred, my judgments. I turned them all over to Christ to be the judge — greatful that I no longer had the burden of being the judge myself. In that moment I knew that he had experienced sorrow for my sins. He knew my hardened heart intimately and was waiting for me to open it so that he could enter into my heart and reign as Lord and Master therein. When I let go of my jdgument, I experienced the release and joy and I no longer had to suffer for me sins. However, as judge he suffers for my sins. He also rejoices in my repentance. Does that place it in a perspective that speaks to you?

    Comment by Blake — July 5, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  25. Blake: Well, any view that ducks those issues really isn’t much of a theory of atonement is it?

    Ohhh, that cuts deep. [grin]

    Comment by Jacob — July 5, 2006 @ 6:29 pm

  26. Sorry Jake – like I said, I really liked your article. You had the grace to admit that you were not addressing these issues; and perhaps you were wiser than I in your choice. However, it seems that the scriptures compel some theory of why and how Christ suffers pain for our sins instead of us if we repent.

    Comment by Blake — July 5, 2006 @ 6:50 pm

  27. Jacob (#14),

    From your later comments, I think you understand my basic point, and I understand that your position is not one of those that I am in serious disagreement with. The point that I intended to disagree with you on, is the suggestion that when the Book of Mormon prophets spoke of salvation they were necessarily speaking of exaltation, and not salvation in general.

    The possibility that they indeed did not understand that there are degrees of glory in in salvation furthers my point – that their may be some inaccuracy due to speaking of salvation in general, but they cannot be speaking of exaltation alone unless they understand and explicate the difference. They speak of salvation as the opposite to damnation, or being completely cut off from the presence of the Lord, subject to the second death. Any schema that has all saved persons in a sanctified state of some type, whether as a servant or as a ruler, is in my view fundamentally compatible with the BofM and NT teachings on salvation.

    My point was that the telestial and terrestrial glories of the kingdom of God (in the post resurrection D&C 76 & 88 sense) cannot be the realm of unredeemed and unsanctified sinners, without making the word of God through his prophets void.

    I am of course, in complete agreement that later prophets can learn more about a concept, but disagree with the idea that they overthrow the fundamentals of the previous understanding. And if they do on some points, a specific published revelation (e.g. D&C 19) is generally required to do so.

    It is one thing to use a word in your own personal way, with appropriate warning and qualification, but hijacking prior statements about the same concept to mean whatever you prefer them to mean is intellectually dishonest. The only way fundamental changes (especially changes so fundamental as to flip the senses of the terms salvation and damnation in a large number of contexts) in hermeneutic can possibly be justified is by the spirit of revelation, ultimately canonized as such, otherwise the canon becomes clay to be molded in favor of every wind of doctrine.

    Is is not at all natural for common people to maintain two or more radically different senses of the same word. There is a precedent of course that Joseph Smith used telestial and terrestial in two different senses, one temporal and one eternal, in each case. However such semantic degeneracy (in the mathematical sense) is dangerous. It becomes to easy to substitute in the sense that you want, instead of carefully considering which sense should apply and whether the senses are really distinct in the first place, or how so if they are.

    Now please do not take a positive statement in one of my comments as implying that you necessarily disagree. I just add that to make my position clear, so people do not read out of context – nomenclature does not matter so much as the underlying structure, as I hope to demonstrate in a moment.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

  28. Geoff (#15),

    As I said to Jacob, it is practically impossible to argue that the Book of Mormon prophets used salvation synonymously with exaltation if they did not understand the distinction to begin with. Some of their descriptions may indeed be a little excessive for *all* modes of salvation, but they are certainly consistent with all the other scriptures that talk about salvation as such.

    Again, prophets learn more about the details of fundamental concepts, but they never up-end them without an explicit revelation. Turning salvation into an upgraded version of hell is certainly an up-ending of every scripture on the subject.

    Your comment about Hitler is specious because you are arguing in terms of a theology foreign to mine, and indeed foreign to that of Jospeh Smith, Brigham Young, and Joseph Fielding Smith, with regard to the necessity for sanctification, repentance and receiving the gospel before inheriting a kingdom of glory. As I have said before there is no way sins can be paid for, no matter how long one ‘rots’ in hell. Hell (in the spirit world) is for the reformation of the sinner – the exact opposite of rotting. Otherwise it is useless.

    Now this idea that a small handful (say a couple) of people will become sons of Perdition is radically unscriptural. Joseph Fielding Smith is one of those who taught otherwise. I don’t know a good estimate, but I would say the scriptures imply that it is a *relatively* small percentage of those who come to this earth. By relatively small, I mean somewhere on the order of one percent to five percent.

    As I understand the scriptures there are two ways to become a son of Perdition – one is to taste the goodness and power of God and to turn *altogether* therefrom (cf. D&C 84:41, Heb 6:5), the other is to acquire the spirit of the devil, which is essentially the spirit of gratuitous bloodshed, sinning against the Holy Ghost by killing for the sake of killing (cf. 1 Jn 3:15), or simply to “get gain”. Whether a character like Hitler was ignorant or a devil in this sense is hard to say, but the scriptures describe many such characters – occasionally whole societies become infected with blood lust, and destruction is swift to follow. Not to say that all are inevitable SoP, but someone who delights in the killing of others is a first class candidate (cf. Alma 39:5, Mormon 4:11, Moroni 9:10).

    When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me, he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the devil-the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life-the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance; they make open war, like the devil, and awful is the consequence
    (TPJS, 358).

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

  29. Mark,

    Fair enough, I see your point. I will also grant you that D&C 76 is “fundamentally compatible” with the BofM as you have claimed.

    As you correctly point out, our disagreement boils down to a question of what the BofM prophets meant by salvation (which is, I think, the topic of this post, so we are on a sure footing). You just claimed in #27 that:

    The possibility that they indeed did not understand that there are degrees of glory in in salvation furthers my point – that their may be some inaccuracy due to speaking of salvation in general, but they cannot be speaking of exaltation alone unless they understand and explicate the difference.

    I disagree. If they understood salvation in one sense, and that one sense maps directly to what we call exaltation, then they need not understand or explicate the difference for my claim to be correct.

    Comment by Jacob — July 5, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  30. Geoff (#15 continued),

    Your last paragraph here misreads my position – I maintain that yes *at the last day*, being damned means becoming a son of perdition or otherwise inheriting a kingdom that is not a kingdom of glory (cf. D&C 88:32).

    However, if the final judgment were tommorrow, a rather large percentage, say 30-40% of the earth’s population, would indeed be damned in such a sense, of there were no opportunity for repentance. One of the primary purposes for both this earthly life and the more severe judgments of hell in dark side of the spirit world is to provide a space for repentance, so that judgment does not come upon us immediately because we are unfit to dwell among the sanctified.

    So the most urgent part of the gospel is to teach that salvation requires obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that without such repentance, sanctification, and obedience by the grace of God through his Son, that one will be damned to hell, either temporarily (until one goes through a sore repentance in the next life) or if one is completely incalcitrant, forever.

    There is no free ride to salvation. It is simply a question of either getting with the program now, suffering immensely and figuring out the program is worth getting with later, or suffer the winds and tumults of hell forever.

    Repent and be saved, or disobey and perish – becoming dead as to all things pertaining to righteousness. That is the plan – to save all those who can possibly be persuaded that salvation is worth the personal costs – humility, repentance, obedience, sacrifice, and so on. Anyone who will not accept salvation on the terms offered will simply be subject to the relative chaos without the gates – the true natural state of mankind before any sort of righteous government enters the picture. We can only be sanctified through obedience to law – the laws of God in particular.

    Now some people may indeed sin so much in this life that they cannot ever merit exaltation. The scriptures about the second resurrection imply as much, but I see no reason to make it a hard and fast rule. My point is simply that salvation only comes on certain terms and conditions, and that there is no other way to be saved (and to stay saved) but by meeting those terms. Mankind can be saved no faster than he gains knowledge of the details of those terms – no one ever is or ultimately ever will be saved in ignorance. I understand that those who died in infancy as well will have to learn, obey, and consent as we, lest the word of God be made of none effect. Only in and through the name of Jesus Christ can we be saved (cf. Mosiah 3:17).

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

  31. Kurt (#16),

    Arguing for a number of senses of terms is common rhetorical device. However, if done without sufficient argument, it can be used to mold the scriptures to fit any theological position. I haven’t read your paper in detail, but I will say that I believe that *all* five of those senses are fundamentally related, in particular that physical and spiritual salvation go hand in hand according to the fundamental metaphysics of the spirit, obedience, sacrifice, and the rule of law. The reasons why probably belong in a thread on the Atonement.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

  32. Geoff (#18)

    I have not been arguing against that proposition. I have been arguing for the scriptural sense of the term, which I take as normative, not contemporary usage. However, in my experience in the Church, the contemporary usage of the term salvation corresponds to “salvation in the celestial kingdom”, with baptism and endurance to the end as the gate to the lowest degree within, and endowment, marriage in the temple, and consecration as the gate to the highest degree.

    Now there are those who make the argument that D&C 131:1 is using “celestial” in a different sense, which of course begs the question of where those who are good baptized members of the Church who are not willing to live up to the higher law of consecration will end up. Part of my argument is what we contemporarily call the lowest degree of the celestial kingdom more accurately corresponds to the telestial glory as defined in D&C 88, and the post-resurrection portions of D&C 76. Ultimately nomenclature doesn’t matter, but it sure helps for effective communication.

    If we adopt the contemporary schema (mutatis mutandis), I would argue that no one is saved eternally in the telestial or terrestial glory, but rather the telestial glory is not what is spoken of post-resurrection, but the temporal state here in this world now, and the same with the terrestial glory not being post resurrection, but the temporal state of this world and others during the Millenium, and that the three post-resurrection states correspond to degrees of glory within the celestial kingdom. That is mostly just a shift in nomenclature, probably an easier sell, given the current common understanding of the terms.

    The difference of course is now we have several temporal states of glory to go along with the three eternal states of glory. If we so desired we could name them like this:

    1. Temporal telestial (Aaronic priesthood)
    2. Temporal terrestrial (Melchizedek priesthood)
    3. Temporal celestial (Melch/Patriarchal – marriage, consecration)
    4. Eternal telestial (or celestial degree one)
    5. Eternal terrestrial (or celestial degree two)
    6. Eternal celestial (or celestial degree three)

    Of course we would have to add six more non-degrees of glory:

    1. Temporal rule of men (damnation degree 1, earthly government)
    2. Temporal chaos / anarchy (damnation degree 2, law unto oneself)
    3. Temporal reign of the devil (damnation degree 3, org. crime)
    4. Eternal rule of men (damnation degree 4 – D&C 88:32)
    5. Eternal chaos / anarchy (damnation degree 5)
    6. Eternal reign of the devil (damnation degree 6 – SofP)

    I trust the picture is reasonably clear. Damnation degrees 1 and 4 are not bad per se (they are better than chaos, but less than salvation), perhaps properly occupying a neutral zone.

    But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils
    (D&C 46:7)

    As Christ said unto the Pharisees:

    Well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
    This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
    But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
    (Matt 15:7-9)

    So we have a spectrum from left to right that goes roughly (law of the devil, anarchy / chaos, commandments of men, aaronic or lesser law, melchizedek or higher law, patriarchal or highest law). Perhaps the adversary has his own degrees of “glory” to go along with his false priesthood.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 9:18 pm

  33. Clark (#22),

    I am not saying that sense loss doesn’t happen, I am saying it either occurs in ignorance, according to direct revelation, or is intellectually dishonest. Prophets have to maintain the coherence of the scriptures, by inspiration if necessary, or we cannot rely on them.

    One principle taught in D&C 19 and 29 is that sometimes the Lord doesn’t give us the full story on purpose. It is acceptable for him to explain further details, even very suprising ones, but we can’t play the same game without the spirit of prophecy, and in severe cases an explicit canonized revelation. As rule a semantic elaboration should be consistent with the greatest character of God, not something that weakens him arbitrarily. D&C 19 does this, “limited salvation” does precisely the opposite.

    Note that in D&C 76 the Lord hints there is a possibility for later salvation of some past the final judgment, but says that “never out of mine own mouth have I declared [such a doctrine]”. Until he does, it is as Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery said “truly a doctrine of devils”.

    In BofM times perhaps the same thing was the case of with regard to the possibility of redemption from hell. However, the following commentary from Mormon indicates he almost certainly understood the truth of the matter:

    Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved.

    And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works.

    And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord;
    (Helaman 12:23-25)

    This is strikingly consistent with this statement of Joseph Smiths:

    The contention in heaven was-Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him.
    (TPJS, p. 357)

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  34. Blake (#26),

    I think it is relatively clear that as long as we are in this life, Christ suffers the consequences of sin whether we repent or not. He no doubt suffers less if he withdraws his spirit from the sinner, but generally speaking his suffers the consequences of sin in anyone who has part or parcel of the Spirit of the Lord, right?

    I have mentioned elsewhere that I do not believe it is possible to pay for ones sins. One can make restitution sometimes, but suffering never pays for sins per se, it can only in some cases heal wounds (Christ’s suffering) or bring one unto repentance (the suffering of the sinner). I maintain those two types of suffering are radically different, and that neither “pays” for sins. Sins cannot be paid for – the damage is done. It is all a mop up action after that.

    Of course Christ can require certain types of restitution to be made, but as a rule any restitution on the part of the sinner is woefully incomplete, only the grace of Christ can heal all wounds. No amount of suffering in hell can have any positive consequence whatsoever except the reformation of the sinner.

    The undeniable fact that two wrongs do not make a right is the first principle of understanding how the Atonement works, and indeed why lex talionis does not. The spirit of revenge is ultimately the spirit of the devil, because one wrong cannot cure another, it at best can only deter future wrongs.

    So while it makes for nice symbolism in the Book of Hebrews, the shedding of the blood of Christ – per se – cannot make restitution for sins. He has to suffer in a very specific way, or it is all for nought. I think we are on the same page in that regard.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  35. Jacob (#29),

    The reason why I can say that BofM salvation cannot be synonymous with exaltation is the BofM prophets always describe salvation and damnation as a pair with no middle ground. So one might move the line around, but any form of salvation that is not exaltation, and does not entail being cut off from the Spirit of the Lord, falls into what they meant by the term, by their very own words.

    As Blake has commented here, the scriptures are a lot more consistent on the meaning of the term salvation than we often give them credit for.

    Now as I mentioned before, I am willing to entertain alternative temporal semantics for telestial and terrestrial worlds – Joseph Smith certainly did from time to time, and the temple appears to as well, semantics that are more consistent with temporary usage.

    However under such semantics, no one will ever be saved eternally in a telestial or terrestial world, and it is the Lord’s plan (and he can certainly be rather persuasive, especially given prior consent in the council in heaven) to save everyone in a degree of glory in the celestial heavens.

    Salvation in a telestial world like this one, or a terrestial world like we will soon become, is not a salvation worthy of the name. If we were stuck here that would be damnation, not salvation. Now there seems to be a thread that connects Joseph Smith’s dual use of these terms, but it is certainly an odd one.

    So to keep these usages straight, and having actual evidence that they are different (subject to disproval ala MMP) I have adopted the “temporal/eternal” qualifiers. The this-world-is-telestial sense, is “temporal telestial” – the millenial-world-is-terrestrial is “temporal terrestial”.

    The real question is whether the eternal telestial and eternal terrestrial are part of the “celestial heavens” or not. Brigham Young certainly thought of the eternal telestial very similarly to the way Joseph Fielding Smith though of the lowest level of the celestial (e.g. requiring baptism to enter).

    So are there five eternal degrees of glory in the heavens or just three? (setting aside D&C 130:10 for the moment) I think just three – meaning either telestial and terrestrial are temporal, or eternal telestial and eternal terrestrial are the lower two degrees in the celestial kingdom.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

  36. Mark: I am confused by your comments. I don’t claim that salvation means exaltation — ever. As I stated, salvation is merely escaping the wrath of God and beginning into a relationship with God thru Christ. Exaltation is much more than that — it is sharing all that God has and is. I don’t know why you think I suggest that salvation means exaltation.

    There is another point that you attribute to me that I don’t suggest or state: that the members of the Godhead are somehow unique and we can never achieve what they are. Everything that the members of the Godhead are; we may be. However, there is a category difference between what we are as alienated and seperated individuals and what we are when we enter into a relationship of indwelling unity by learning to love one another as they love us. It is analogous to the difference between water and hydrogen and oxygen, or between an acorn and an oak tree; or between an embryo and an adult human. Together we are more than the sum of the parts; we are more in relationship than we are alone. We are magnified and and made greater in relationship that we are alone.

    However, i believe that equating salvation with exaltation or stating them as a binary concept is a mistake. It is true that we are either saved or damned. However, it not true that we are either saved or receive no reward. We are judged by and receive according to our works. Thus, we are saved by grace, but we are judged by and receive according to our works. Further, sanctification (which is the BofM concept rather than exaltation) is precisely the growth in the spirit of holiness and the likeness of God that admits of degrees and constitutes a continuum rather than a binary equation. So I believe that exaltation is more like sancification as the BofM speaks of it; salvation and justification by grace are not a matter of degree. Either one has turned to God and is justified or one has not. Either one is saved by grace or one is not; however, it is not the case that either one is sanctified fully or one is not. It is not true that either one received all rewards for works or no reward at all. We all receive in varying degrees according to the works we do, and that equation is the same for both the Book of Mormon and the D&C 76 — and indeed every scripture that I am aware that speaks of judgment by works.

    Remember, salvation is by grace; but judgment and reward are by works. So it is not either salvation by grace or reward according to works, but both salvation by grace and also reward in varying degrees according to works.

    Comment by Blake — July 5, 2006 @ 10:40 pm

  37. Robert: I noticed Kurt’s article listed 2 Ne 2 as referring to something less than exaltation-I’d be curious to hear how you you read that passage. (#21)

    I must say that I think 2 Ne 2 is one of the most difficult chapters to interpret in the BofM. I’m not sure I know what Lehi is getting at some of the time. The problem I have with most of the commentaries is that they give commentary on a phrase-by-phrase basis, which tends to obscure the significance of each phrase in the context of the speech. So, we see “salvation is free” (2 Ne 2:4) and we ask ourselves: “What kind of salvation is free?” The answer is obvious: of course, resurrection is given to everyone without condition, so salvation here must mean resurrection. We look forward and see that universal resurrection is mentioned five verses later (2 Ne 2:9) and now we feel quite confident. The argument is very compelling on a certain level and I can hardly criticize it. Of course, other people don’t choose resurrection, but some other form of conditionless salvation–same basic approach.

    However, I fear we are missing the connection between the first half of 2 Ne 2 and the second half. At the risk of public ridicule, let me point out the following parallel statements (everything is in order, but I don’t know how to do columns here, so bear with me, and hopefully it comes through)

    3: Thou has beheld that in the fulness of time [the Redeemer] cometh to bring salvation unto men.
    26: The Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem…

    4: And the way is prepared from the fall of man
    26: …the children of men from the fall

    4: and salvation is free.
    26: And because that they are redeemed from teh fall they have become free forever,

    5: And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil
    26: knowing good from evil

    5: And the law is given unto men
    26: to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law

    Now, this is enough to make me wonder if the word “free” in the phrase “salvation is free” (vs. 4) might be related to the concept of freedom Lehi talks about verses 26-29. I know this would lead to a fairly uncommon interpretation of “salvation is free,” but its the sort of interpretation I am likely to go for. There is a lot more of this kind of thing in 2 Ne 2, so this is just a hint at the direction I would go with that chapter.

    Comment by Jacob — July 5, 2006 @ 11:14 pm

  38. Blake (#36),

    I did not mean to suggest that, I certainly didn’t in comment #34, where I hardly mentioned the term. Now in comment #35, I only mentioned your name to say that I agreed with your statement in #24 as follows.

    However, the LDS scriptures seem to me to be much more consistent in using the term-and D&C 76 and the BofM in particular are consistent in their usage.

    Now as to the other issue, I am glad to hear you say that (e.g. water vs hydrogen and oxygen). It helps me understand your position a lot better. I have a similar position, with the difference that I believe it God can only be God in the maximal power sense, through the process of bringing the hosts of heaven into unity with him. That is the prophetic expression of his power – speaking of things to come as thought they had already come – that the plan of salvation is sufficiently persusasive to bring virtually all mankind, certainly all the forces of righteousness together, and that unity far overshadows any conceivable challenge, in the long run. For now the battle must be fought and won, from a foundation of faith, looking forward to the final victory over sin and death, at least insofar as this world is concerned.

    Now I did remember some of your comments before, understanding that you were not a personal singularity theorist, but rather a three person or social trinitarian singularity theorist – singularity because I understand you to maintain that first class divinity is possible now and forever through the unity of only three divine persons, where in concert theory, first class divinity requires common consent, and indeed the salvation and exaltation of a host of others, that without the plan of salvation God (as a person) would not be God. He cannot be saved without us, nor we without him. If he ceased to save others, he would cease to be saved himself. (cf. D&C 121:46).

    In other words, God is God because he continues, from everlasting to everlasting, and the way he continues is by saving and exalting his children. (cf. D&C 132:18,19)

    So my comments on your position came up in the context of the propisition that we can be saved by grace *alone*. I certainly agree that grace isn’t some 5% thing added after all we can do. However I think the balance is metaphysically fundamental. God has to work to be saved, his work to be saved and exalted is grace unto us. Our efficacious (non-backsliding) sacrifice to be saved and exalted is grace unto someone else – Christian service. So I say that ultimately speaking there is an equation of grace and godly works, or more properly speaking grace and sacrifice – the fundamental equation of the atonement.

    Just like economists like to say that savings = investment. I say the sum total of grace equals the sum total of sacrifice, when measured in the same units. Of course in reality, there are very positive synergistic effects, the ultimate economy of scale, that makes the blessings worth far more than the sacrifice. Otherwise there would be no “rest” in heaven, purely a zero sum game.

    The miracle of the gospel, a metaphysics I do not understanding, is the exponential value of social unity – how we can all become far, far greater than the sum of our individual capacities. Not linear a linear combination, like the Borg, but an exponential combination, more like nuclear fusion, except with an endless fount of grace not found within us as persons, but opened up through coming together under the law of Christ – loving God with all our hearts, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourself – the ultimate good – the Law of Consecration.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

  39. Jacob (#37),

    There is a first class puzzle in the scriptures with regard to the resurrection of damnation. Jesus, (if he is quoted accurately) taught the resurrection of damnation in John 5:29 and 3 Ne 26:5. Abinadi taught the same in Mosiah 16, Amulek in Alma 11, and Alma in Alma 41.

    However, I think the resurrection of damnation is kind of pointless. God puts off resurrecting the wicked until they repent, so why not put off resurrecting the SofP forever. Well D&C 76 implies just that, giving me hope that there is no resurrection of damnation, but only a resurrection of salvation:

    These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels- And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

    Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.
    (D&C 76:36-39)

    Verse 39 all but says that there is no resurrection of the SofP, and in context no resurrection of damnation (given that the telestial are heirs of salvation).

    Now the only way “salvation is free” makes any sense to me is in the 2 Nephi 26, counter-priestcraft sense:

    He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

    Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.

    Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

    Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

    Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden
    (2 Ne 26:24-28)

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 5, 2006 @ 11:57 pm

  40. Mark (#32,35).

    I’m glad to see you have come up with a more creative and interesting explanation for the clearly taught idea that we are currently in a telestial (and perhaps terrestrial) kingdom here on earth than you did in the last thread when you basically said “that’s just false.” I obviously prefer the idea that this earth is indeed our current opposition-filled spiritual-progression-or-retrogression-inducing telestial/terrestrial kingdom, but I don’t get bent when others disagree.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 6, 2006 @ 12:01 am

  41. Mark: I am not saying that sense loss doesn’t happen, I am saying it either occurs in ignorance, according to direct revelation, or is intellectually dishonest.

    Well I was primarily addressing the “ignorance” issue. But I think what is called semiotic drift plays a part as well. Contexts change. Terms and phrases are often applied in various guises of metaphor to different settings. Even “proper” (so-called) uses come to acquire connotation. So even outside of ignorance and dishonesty I think terms fluctuate a lot. Far too much to trust as a default position consistency. I think consistency often is present but can’t always be assumed.

    Mark: One principle taught in D&C 19 and 29 is that sometimes the Lord doesn’t give us the full story on purpose.

    The other principle is that he’s a tricky bugger with his language. To such an extent one often fears for discerning the content of most scriptural language. D&C 19 is just a big wrench in any simple hermeneutics if things like that happen often.

    But I do agree that vagueness is an important and essential aspect of the scriptures. The problem is we often can’t be sure how vague the terms are. Further (and this is my big complain in how people read scripture) all too many people read scripture as if there were little or no vagueness in it. I know that’s my hobby horse and I’ve brought that up often here. So I’ll not push it again.

    Comment by clark — July 6, 2006 @ 12:16 am

  42. Geoff (#40),

    Well I thought you would be happy about that. I am not so stupid as to stay stuck on a position for pride’s sake alone. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, right?

    However, I never said that there is a law of nature requiring term ABC to have meaning XYZ. My argument was and is simply about what it means to be an heir of salvation (D&C 76:88). That is the eternal, post-resurrection telestial. I am just willing to admit that there is adequate evidence that Joseph Smith used the term telestial in a temporal sense as well, based not so much on the way he used ‘telestial’ but rather the way he used ‘terrestrial’ to apply to the temporary state of the earth between the first resurrection and the second. In short, my position on the fundamentals has not changed, just nomenclature.

    Sometimes I think Joseph Smith was trying to convey both senses of the terms at the same time in D&C 76, in a way that comes out either unusually ambiguous or holding a mystery we haven’t figured out. There are some verses about the terrestrial that describe not so much the state after the second resurrection, but after the first:

    Behold, these are they who died without law;
    And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh;
    Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.
    (D&C 76:72-74)

    Now if those verses were intended to apply to the eternal terrestrial, that is just plain wrong, because it makes God into a respecter of persons. On the same principle if Joseph Fielding Smith’s interpretation of 1 Cor 15 is correct, about different kinds of bodies, then we can safely assume that all sufficiently righteous people in this situation will be both resurrected with a temporal terrestial body and then transformed (twinkled) to a eternal celestial body, or transformed to a eternal terrestrial body, if not quite so righteous, or even an eternal telestial body.

    This is the best effective evidence I know against the idea that post-resurrection progression is impossible. We are talking about large numbers of people here. I would just like to find an argument for or against the proposition that the eternal telestial and terrestrial are degrees in what we generally call the celestial kingdom.

    Clark (#41),

    As I read scriptural passages again several years later, I never cease to be amazed at how often language that seemed to simply be awkward, obscure, or purely poetic, is used to teach second and third level themes. I readily admit that much of what Isaiah had in mind is beyond me, though I am making progress, but passages where I thought Paul had lost his mind or had been thoroughly corrupted make sense to me now.

    I think the strength of the Book of Mormon is extremely great plainness of speech – a plainness that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the mysteries, but isn’t as easy to misinterpret either (as much of the writings of Paul were, according to Peter).

    Isaiah on the other hand was sufficiently opaque in his second and third level themes that one could hardly corrupt him if he tried, for lack of a starting place.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 6, 2006 @ 4:33 am

  43. Blake #24,

    Some niceties first: If I haven’t made it clear, I’m a huge fan of your book. Kudos and thank you. If I come across as frustrated or dissatisfied, it has more to with my own impatience at being able to understand, and perhaps some dismay that you don’t have all the answers to every question I’ve ever had. Also, I very much like your examples and descriptions of grace and works. My experience and understanding suggest that indeed grace is something that is a motivator or cause of good works rather than a result that is in any sense earned by my works.

    I don’t contend that our guilt is transferred to Christ in atonement.

    Sorry for this confusion. I think at this point I was stumbling around in the dark with my own thoughts mingling some of your concepts in, not addressing your view per se.

    He experiences pain to enter into relationship with alienated and sinful humans like us.

    But isn’t D&C 19 saying that He has experienced (or is experiencing) more pain than we experience if we repent? If I am right, then perhaps you are saying that this pain that God experiences is more painful to Him than it is to us b/c he’s divine and we’re not. But verse 20 says we’ll experience the same suffering as Christ if we don’t repent. Although I understand how Christ could experience the same pain of sin we feel by entering into relationship with us, I don’t get why he suffers more than us if we repent like D&C 19 is suggesting (cf. v. 20: “in the least degree you have tasted”).

    When I let go of my judgment, I experienced the release and joy and I no longer had to suffer for my sins. However, as judge he suffers for my sins..

    Thank you for the touching and insightful story about your grandfather. I agree with how the process of forgiveness works and I’ve experienced it similarly. But I still don’t see how Christ suffers instead of me in the D&C 19 sense, or in the sense that you are using the term transferred on p. 231: “The pain for sins of the world are transferred to Christ b/c he is one with us.”

    One possibility that your story brought to mind which I hadn’t considered previously is something like the following: If I as a sinner don’t ever repent, I will continue to experience the pain of sin that I am currently experiencing. This would then result in eternal (never-ending) suffering for me. This is the magnitude of suffering that Christ experiences since he experiences everyone’s suffering (and/or he commits to bear our pains any time we need him to). So if I do not repent, I must suffer in some never-endinging-magnitude sense that is similar to Christ’s suffering. Somehow I don’t think this is quite how you would interpret D&C 19….

    The way I originally thought of interpreting transference in your quote above is in more of a trade-off way: Christ bears our pain and in so doing, he gives us the motivation or ability to overcome our own sins. So in this sense, by him feeling our pain we are released from our pain. If this is indeed what you meant, I take issue with the following: First, I think this is stretching the meaning of the word “transference” a bit (though I’m not striclty opposed to this view). More importanlty, I don’t see how this squares with D&C 19 b/c I think D&C 19 is suggesting that if we don’t repent we will suffer some consequence of sin beyond what we are currently experiencing from our sins (though I could possibly accept an interpretation like what I was just trying to describe where “how exquisite you know not” refers to the fact that we don’t know it b/c we’ve only experienced it a short time; another view I’d consider would be to incorporate the notion above that Christ’s Atonement is so intense b/c he bears such a large number of people’s sins, and our suffering will be much more intense than we experience now b/c we will eventually feel complete alienation from God if we do not eventually repent, whereas now still feel the some of God’s gracious love even when we are in sin…).

    I understand how sin causes me suffering and how Christ bears this same suffering by offering to enter into a relationship with us. What I don’t get is this notion of transference of sin. Elsewhere, you talk about expiation and there seems to be some sort of build-up of sin-pain that is released that Christ has to bear when we repent (a pain that we don’t have to suffer). Here again I take your view to be referring to some sort of tranferred pain that I don’t fully experience b/c Christ bears it for me. This is what I don’t understand, though I realize I may just be misunderstanding your view….

    Comment by Robert C. — July 6, 2006 @ 7:43 am

  44. Robert: I appreciate your kind comments. First, you have understood me to the extent that we suffer for our sins if we don’t repent because being in a sinful condition is painful (spiritually, interpersonally and emotionally). If we don’t repent, we continue to suffer for our sins just as we do if there had been no atonement made. We suffer until we repent. Christ’s suffering for my sins is not greater than my suffering — that would be unjust. However, he suffers not merely as a result of my sins, but for yours and everyone elses. The BofM is clear that Christ’s suffering is infinite because it is universal (he suffers the sins of all). So the intensity of his suffering is greater in these respects: (1) he suffers everyone’s sins or “for the sins of the world” in the sense that it is painful to love people who don’t repent and to have a perfect knowledge of what that suffering is like (this type of suffering is analogous to the suffering of a father when his child goes astray); (2) he suffers when we repent because he accepts the pain that we otherwise would have suffered because he has a type of experience that we don’t when he accepts us into his life to indwell in us and we in him (this type of suffering is the transference of what I have called painful energy). I would point out that even tho we repent, Christ continues to suffer in sense (1) because we continue to sin even tho we have entered into relationship with him. Suffering in sense (2) is a capacity that only a divine person has because only a divine person has the capacity for indwelling sharing of life. It may seem strange because the natural man cannot grasp it (by that I mean that it cannot be experienced thru mortal senses). I maintain that the scriptures teach that there is a spiritual dimension to sin — the dimension of light that is darkness — and that this apiritual pain also arises from a real kind of energy (in the sense that it causes pain). We release this darkness in repentance and it is transferred to Christ because it is entailed in entering into relationship with us int he sense that a divine person does.

    I don’t hold that Christ suffers “for” us in the sense that he suffers because he is guilty of our sin, or that our guilt is transferred to him, or that such suffering is a logically necessary condition of forgiveness. God can forgive us without suffering occurring first; however, such suffering is a natural result of Christ entering into relationship with us.

    Comment by Blake — July 6, 2006 @ 8:31 am

  45. Very good topic to post. I think one of the very things that is so confusing is that the revelation that the BofM prophets put forth is one that is lacking in further light and knowledge. It is on this point that makes the BofM so realistic and true. The revelation about work for the dead did not come until later because the BofM peoples would of prolonged their sins to the point of no return sealing themselves up to damnation always thinking they could put off repentance until tomorrow.

    The BofM is true in it’s classification and use of the word salvation to mean being saved from both physical and spiritual death. One could argue strongly in favor that the prophets were not using the term to mean exaltation because they had no revelation consisting of eternal parenthood that entails what exaltation is. The saved/ damned dichotomy of the scriptures is structurally sound. If one is saved he-
    1. receives eternal life
    2. found on the right hand of God.
    3. recieves salvation

    just as one who is damned gets-
    1. receives eternal death
    2. found on the left hand of god.
    3. receives damnation.

    The use of the word exaltation is used very sparringly in the D&C and from a purely scriptural view is meant to mean only the highest degree of glory within the Celestial kingdom. The word exaltation is a separate meaning from the word salvation. By this I mean that amongst those who recive the greatest gift of salvation will be a reward of exaltation to those who through their own good works shall be lifted up above the others and become God’s themselves.

    Had the BofM prophets known and taught about the great work for the dead, they would not of changed their meanings of the word salvation, nor would they have changed them if they had known and taught about the doctrine of glory and exaltation.

    It gets way too confusing in our church when we use the term salvation= celestial glory= exaltation. No wonder other churches think we are a cult- we can’t even get our own doctrine to jive with our own scriptures!

    Comment by Rob Osborn — July 6, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

  46. Blake #44: Thanks, that helps me understand your view and conception of Christ’s suffering. As I’m sure you know well by now, it’s the type 2 suffering that many of us are having a hard time with, both b/c it’s hard to identify with (as you say, “Suffering in sense 2 is a capacity that only a divine person has”) and b/c it’s seems hard to find direct scriptural justification for (you make a good argument building on the symbolic examples of the scape goat and blood sacrifice relating to our sacrifice of broken heart and contrite spirt, but it’s not a definitive argument to my mind; I also think D&C 19 provides some evidence for this kind of transferable pain-energy, though I’ve already explained some of my thoughts and other ideas regarding D&C 19 in #43).

    I do have a couple follow-up questions if you (or anyone else) gets time:

    (1) Regarding the experiential knowledge of mortal suffering, I thought your view was that there was an interval of time that the Father was mortal and not fully divine (Ch. 12, p. 435). If so, why would Christ also have to undergo a mortal existence? Why wouldn’t the Father’s experiential knowledge be sufficient?

    (2) Regarding double-punishment, I understand why double-punishment for a sin is unjust, but that doesn’t imply that double-suffering is unust does it? For example, a father seems to suffer emotionally (empathetically) when his child suffers creating a double-type of suffering. Why wouldn’t this kind of suffering be sufficient for a theory of Atonement (building on the type of arguments I started in #43)? That is, Christ (double-)suffers empathetically when we sin (b/c he’s in relationship w/ us), and by so doing he effectively prevents our future suffering from continued sin b/c his relationship with us (eventually) turns us from future sin. I think this is building on Dennis Potter’s empathy theory (which I haven’t read yet, I’m taking Jacob’s summary of it at face value…) by adding your (Blake’s) notion of indwelling compassion which causes Christ to suffer and motivates us to repent (I think this would address Jacob’s concern about how Christ’s suffering can save us in Dennis’s theory).

    The following metaphor occurred to me when reading Blake’s chapter on self-deception which I think builds on this empathy version of Blake’s indwelling-suffering idea: I inherited a tendency toward self-doubt and often thought in dating relationships, “She loves me only b/c she sees certain good traits that I have, but when she really gets to know me and all of my faults, she will quit loving me.” Christ, through his indwelling, suffering relationship, knows us and our pain intimately and thus is able to overcome all such self-deceptive doubts and fears. It is this kind of suffering, empathetic love then that both causes Christ’s atonal suffering and makes it possible for me to repent.

    Comment by Robert C. — July 6, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

  47. Clark #41: But I do agree that vagueness is an important and essential aspect of the scriptures.

    This sounds very interesting. I can guess a few reasons why you might think this (e.g. allows for more personal revelation and applicability, allos for multiple layers of meaning, etc.)but can you point me somewhere that you expound on this?

    Comment by Robert C. — July 6, 2006 @ 1:12 pm

  48. Robert: I will atempt to answer your questions at least to the extent we have something light and knowledge on the issue:

    (1) Experiential knowledge is necessarily first hand and personal. For example, the Son cannot know what it is like to experience bodily suffering, alienation, isolation, being alone and being tempted merely by experiencing the Father’s memory of such experiences. Each divine person has a reason to gain such first hand experience to gain such experiential knowledge (I discuss this in the very last section of the last chapter of vol. 2 and at some length in vol. 1). Thus, the Father’s experience is not sufficient for the Son to have experiential knowledge of such things.

    (2) I do not believe that either empathetic or indwelling/participative suffering is sufficient or necessary for atonement. Remember, I don’t believe that suffering is instrumental or necessary as a basis for atonement. However, it is a necessary result of a divine person entering into a loving relationship with sinful and imperfect people like us. A person who loves us with suffer empathetically. A divine person who loves us and enters into our life and we into his/their experience thru indwelling sharing of life suffers as a natural result of entering into such relationships. However, mere empathetic love is not atoning — we all have empathetic love to the extent we love, but my suffering doesn’t atone for your sins. So it is crystal clear that something more than empathetic love and suffering is involved. The scriptures reveal that a divine person suffers our very pains, and the very pain of our sins is transferred.

    I like your metaphor. What such divine love does for us is demonstrate that we are in fact loveable and accepted into relationship just as we are. We can give up our self-deception and facade to try to prove that we are good enough when we know we have nothing to prove.

    Comment by Blake — July 6, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  49. Just as a note, we have an active thread “Ostler on Salvation” for questions particularly germane to the atonement. It would probably be better all around if we divided the discussion by topic.

    Rob (#45), Nicely said.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 6, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

  50. Mark: Now the only way “salvation is free” makes any sense to me is in the 2 Nephi 26, counter-priestcraft sense (#39)

    I agree that this is a promising angle for interpreting Lehi. You may be right. My concern is that the internal evidence of 2Ne2 steers me in a different direction. Isn’t it at all suspicious that we have this statement that “salvation is free,” which is the source of a lot of debate (i.e. the meaning is unclear), in the same chapter where Lehi spends so much time talking about the importance of agency to the plan, and where he couples “liberty and eternal life” and “captivity and death”? Add to that the striking parallel I pointed out in #37 and you get a new option for interpreting this, which I have never heard anyone suggest, which is that salvation is free[dom]. This idea is the launching pad from which the rest of the discourse takes off.

    Incidentally, I think Alma 42 is largely Alma’s commentary/rewording of 2Ne2. Compare, for example, (2 Ne 2:5 – Alma 42:7) (2 Ne 2:21 – Alma 42:4-6) (2 Ne 2:13 – Alma 42:16-23). So, I think that Alma 42 can be used to help untangle the “ends of the law” (vs. 7) and “ends of the atonement (vs. 10) in 2Ne2.

    Comment by Jacob — July 6, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  51. Jacob (#50),

    I commented previously on my conception of the term agency as essentially liberty (under law) + moral accountability. However I think conditions necessary to maintain agency are more a pre-requisite for a robust salvation rather than salvation itself, although perhaps properly viewed as a critical component of salvation, a component that requires considerable suffering to maintain, so that we can act, and not be acted upon by others, except by the judgment at the last day.

    D&C 101:76-80 talks about redeeming the land through the shedding of blood – the alternatives being either despotism or chaos. But now that our liberty is established under a government of constitutional law, indeed a preliminary form of salvation from the devil, we must, not leaving first principles, go on to sanctification through willing consent to the higher law, the law of anxiously being engaged in a good cause of our own free will, individually and collectively, to bring to pass all righteousness. That is the purpose of religious freedom, and if we don’t do it, we are like salt that has lost its savor, good for nothing but to be tossed out. We have to be a city on a hill, and let our light shine forth as an example unto the nations.

    The sad thing about American history is that many have come to understand our heritage as nothing more than the liberty to do good or evil. While the freedom to be left alone is a necessary part of the plan of salvation, that is not what freedom is for. Frredom is upheld at great sacrifice to give people room to do good, neither having their arms twisted, nor granting an implicit warrant to engage in every form of licentiousness.

    The way I see it, liberty is established mostly by a regime of “thou shalt nots”, allowing us to become justified. Religion is established as a freely, and creatively entered regime of “thou shalts”, allowing us to become sanctified.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 6, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

  52. Mark,

    I am always interested in the varying distinctions between justification and sanctification. The one you suggest above (justification–coming into conformity with the “thou shalt nots”; sanctification–coming into conformity with the “thou shalts”) is an interesting take.

    Comment by Jacob — July 6, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

  53. Jacob (#52), It is one of my favorite topics too. I believe the best source for this is D&C 88:

    And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.
    (D&C 88:38-39)

    That is a definition of justification there – anyone who does not abide the bounds and conditions of the law of a kingdom are not justified, i.e. they come under judicial condemnation.

    Of course all of us violate these bounds and conditions, the law of the kingdom, from time to time. All have sinned, for sin is the transgression of the law. That is where grace comes in – the second means whereby we may be justified.

    We apply to the judge (Jesus Christ) for clemency, demonstrating in good faith that we have no further intent to continue violating the law. Then he forgives and we are again justified before the law, i.e. society has no claim upon us. So as Paul said, we are justified by faith through grace. Not just any old faith, of course, but faith unto repentance. That makes us a law abiding citizen once again, free from the claims of the letter or lower law. No one arrests us and brings us before the law for minding our own business, but rather for injuring others.

    Now the higher law, the law of the spirit, is different:

    And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.

    Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory; For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;

    That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.

    And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
    (D&C 88:17-21)

    Note sanctification is not simply abiding within certain bounds and conditions – the conditions of residency and civil behavior, but rather being purified from all unrighteousness, seeking after the spirit of the law, and not just the letter. For Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it, by establishing a higher law, the law of Christ, also known as the law of consecration.

    With some minor exceptions, the lower law does not go away, instead it sets the bare minimum bounds and conditions for residency within a kingdom. When we abide those bounds and conditions, we are justified, but not necessarily sanctified – that is much harder.

    And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
    That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
    (D&C 88:34-35)

    If we follow the spirit of the law, and not just the letter, we can be sanctified by it. To me the spirit of the law is only obtained by inspiration, often on the spot – to judge righteously between good and evil in every circumstance – not to judge others, but to guide our own actions. The spirit of the law is the deep semantics – the inspired meaning of the law with reference to the fulness of all truth, and the will of God in heaven.

    Transgression of the the letter of the law is generally speaking an open and shut case. Usually it means one committed a crime, or neglected a clear cut responsibility. Transgression of the spirit of the law is usually beyond the capacity of any mortal to judge. Only God knows.

    As Jesus said:

    I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
    (John 5:30)

    Even Jesus Christ recognizes, that as a person, his capacity is limited – he must seek the guidance of *the* Father through the Spirit.

    Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice-yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command-they are accepted of me.
    For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.
    (D&C 97:8-9)

    I submit that the first verse describes justification – being accepted of God. You have to be willing keep all the commandments, and have a broken heart and a contrite spirit to be accepted or justified.

    The second verse is a prophecy of sanctification for those who are not only *willing* to keep the commandments, but who actually do so, wo actually observe their covenants by sacrifice, not perfunctory compliance alone, but by living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

    In short, any true believer can become justified by faith almost overnight, but sanctification is usually the work of a lifetime, the process of having the higher law, the law of the Spirit, written in one’s heart.

    And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
    And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
    And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
    But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
    (Isaiah 11:1-4)

    Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
    (1 Cor 2:12-15)

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 1:36 am

  54. Blake: D&C 76 and the BofM in particular are consistent in their usage. “Salvation” means merely escaping God’s wrathful punishment-which we bring upon ourselves. This type of salvation is a gift. It is a matter of grace. It is given to all except those who reject Christ and put him to open shame after having once known Him. (#24)

    I have argued in #5 that the BofM prophets did not understand the concepts of salvation for the dead or salvation by degrees. Instead, they believed in a heaven/hell dichotomy. It is true that they taught judgment by works, but did not make the connection between this view and salvation by degrees (the one Joseph Smith reports as the impetus behind his receiving of D&C 76).

    Further, I have argued that when talking about getting to heaven (in whatever language), the BofM prophets taught that it required a high level of righteousness and endurance to the end. In #5 I mentioned 2 Ne 9, and at the end of #14 I gave the example from Alma 5.

    No one has really debunked my line of thinking yet wherein I am arguing that salvation, for the BofM prophets, required the type of righteousness we associate with those destined for the celestial kingdom. Let me add a couple more.

    10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?
    11 Behold, I can tell you-did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
    12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
    13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved. (Alma 5)

    Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. (Omni 1:26)

    And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day. (3 Ne 27:6)

    Given that the BofM prophets believed in a heaven/hell dichotomy, and they set the standard for heaven as complete consecration of one’s whole soul with a requirement to endure to the end, how can this be said to be the same view of salvation taught in section 76 where absolutely everyone but the sons of perdition are saved in some degree of glory?

    Do I win, or is someone going to refute me? (there, that should get a response)

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  55. Jacob (#54),

    The reason I have not “debunked” your conclusion that “salvation, for the BofM prophets, required the type of righteousness we associate with those destined for the celestial kingdom”, is because you are right, and furthermore the Book of Mormon prophets were right. One cannot be saved in their sins, no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God, by the time anyone ever inherits the eternal telestial, they will be better and holier than the current state of many members of the Church on this earth, for example:

    For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    (Matt 5:20)

    Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
    Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
    Without understanding, covenantbreakers
    , without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
    Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
    (Romans 1:29-32)

    We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
    (1 John 3:14-15)

    For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
    (1 Cor 3:3)

    The testimony of the scriptures is that no one who is not cleansed from these sins shall inherit the kingdom of God. As Joseph Smith said:

    Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things.

    It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

    When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

    So what then distinguishes the degrees of glory? Not the giving up all of all earthly things – that is required of all from first to last. All must be sanctified, cleansed from all unrighteousness. The difference is not abandoning all the “thou shalt nots”, even in every thought, but in the intensity of the sacrifice required in terms of the “thou shalts” – sanctification is not enough, exaltation requires making ones own being a living sacrifice in favor of the truth, roughly speaking making the same kind of sacrifice that Jesus Christ himself did, and not only Christ but all the Saints:

    And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
    Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
    Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
    Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
    And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
    They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
    (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
    (Hebrews 11:32-38)

    The “might obtain a better resurrection” phrase is notable here. Anyone who is sanctified is ready to be resurrected. No one gets credit, per se, for giving up their own sins, but rather for the suffering sacrifice they make on behalf of others – Christian service in other words. Sanctification alone is the entry level requirement of the kingdom of God. The degree of sacrifice makes all the difference after that.

    Christ was holy on the day he began his ministry, but his work, his sacrifice, that which the Lord required of him for his exaltation, had just begun.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  56. Jacob: I would suggest that misunderstand the role of salvation in the BofM. It is indeed an escape from death, hell, divine wrath and servitude to the devil. However, there is another category, that of sanctification, that is a matter of degree and takes a lifetime to develop and grow into.

    However, enduring to the end is not a necessary condition for salvation except in the sense that salvation can be forfeited once it has been received by grace. For example, it is clear that all will be resurrected (one of the benefits of salvation) regardless of their conduct. All will be brought back into God’s presence to be judged (and in this sense all are redeemed from the fall and are saved). As for winning – what was the game you were playing and how do we determine a “winner”?

    Comment by Blake — July 7, 2006 @ 11:02 am

  57. Blake,

    What then are we to make of the following scripture, which all but declares that the Sons of Perdition will *not* be resurrected:

    These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels- And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

    Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.
    (D&C 76:36-39)

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  58. Blake (#56),

    I maintain that sanctification is required for salvation in any degree of glory in the kingdom of God:

    And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.
    (Alma 11:37)

    But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.
    (Alma 40:26)

    Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.

    Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:

    That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

    For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
    (Moses 6:57-60)

    In other words, I conclude that one will spend as long in the spirit world as necessary to become sanctified from all unrighteousness before being resurrected into a kingdom of glory.

    Do we have any reason to believe that salvation and everlasting life in any degree of glory of the kingdom of heaven comes on any other basis?

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

  59. Mark: Look again — the resurrection spoken of is the first resurrection in which the SofP have not part. Do I really need to the list the scripture that say that all, virtually eveyone, will be resurrected?

    Mark: I agree that at the moment of justification the process of sanctification begins. You really need to get my book where I discuss it at length (at least with respect to Paul’s thought). However, the two are conceptually distinct. Salvation is being saved from something (death, wrath, hell the devil) and sanctification is the reception of something (light, holiness, divinity). So we don’t disagree; you simply fail to make the distinction that I believe is necessary.

    Comment by Blake — July 7, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  60. Mark Butler,

    People will not indefinitely sit in the spirit world until they are ready to leave or have sufficiently repented of something. At the Second Advent, all celestial quality will be resurrected and at the end of the Millennium all terrestrial and telestial quality will be resurrected, per D&C 88:99-102. The end. Finite time period, not indefinite. There is no need to repent of anything to get into the telestial kingdom, that is where the unrepentant go upon being resurrected and judged, hence the description of those who inhabit that glory per D&C 76.

    The very idea that everyone must repent and be sanctified prior to resurrection makes no sense. If this were the case, then there would be no degrees of glory at all, because everyone would end up in the Celestial kingdom. There would be no telestial or terrestrial glory, because everyone would have repented up to celestial quality if sanctified in the manner you suggest.

    Sanctification, in the soteriological sense the Scriptures use (e.g., Paul’s discussions of sanctification, and elsewhere), is necessary only for celestial glory, and not any other.

    And, you are so prolific in your posting here on NCT, it makes me wonder why you havent started your own blog already.

    Comment by Kurt — July 7, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

  61. Blake (#56)

    what was the game you were playing and how do we determine a “winner”?

    Of course, I was just kidding about “winning.” Just trying to provoke a response because I think the central issue raised by this post still has life in it.

    Your commment in #56 mentiones two senses for salvation: (1) resurrection and (2) coming into the presence of God for judgment. These are not the same sense in which salvation in used in the scriptures I have cited.

    But still, I have cited scriptures in Omni and Alma 5 which use salvation in a way that seems to rely on sanctification, and you haven’t addressed those scriptures at all. Alma 5 in particular is very explicit that the kind of lifetime endevour of sanctification you refer to is required to be “saved.” Omni talks not just about enduring in having accepted Christ, but enduring in having consecrated your “whole souls as an offering.” Now, these scriptures seem to contradict your claims, so I disagree that I am misunderstanding salvation in the BofM. I am open to correction though.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  62. Kurt (#60)

    Sanctification, in the soteriological sense the Scriptures use (e.g., Paul’s discussions of sanctification, and elsewhere), is necessary only for celestial glory, and not any other.

    D&C 88 speaks specifically of progressive sanctification for everyone who is ruled by law, which in context of that section means everyone in the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial kingdoms. In fact, it explains the differences between these kingdoms as differences in the degree of sanctfication.

    The idea that you must repent to be saved is not only pervasive in the BofM, but when further light and knowledge was given as to the nature of damnation in D&C 19, the main message was: “this doesn’t change what I’ve been saying about repentance.” So, we have reason to believe repentance is still required for any level of salvation. I think it makes a whole lot less sense to say that you can be saved in a kingdom of glory as an unrepentant murderer. That view (which you seem to be advocating) seems simply untenable to me.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

  63. Jacob re # 61: Yes, I did address the issue of continuing salvation. Because salvation can be forfeited, it is something that is not guaranteed until the end of morality. However, that possiblity of falling from grace is entirely consistent with salvation being a matter of grace and something done at the time of accepting Christ. It is just that one can also reject Christ. Further, salvation is a gift. It is just that the gift can be rejected and only a repentant heart will be willing to open to receive it. In fact, opening the heart to receive Christ is precisely what the BofM views as redemption and salvation — and so does D&C 76. The statement in Omni is also consistent with the view that we must endure to the end, and if we do, then the salvation that has been given to us will be our because we have not turned from Christ. Omni doesn’t say that santification or being perfected in Christ are necessary conditions for salvation; Omni points out that if one does so,however, then salvation is assurred.

    Comment by Blake — July 7, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  64. Jacob,

    D&C 88 :14-35 is a discussion on both resurrection (i.e., physical sanctification) and salvation (i.e., spiritual sanctification), and it seems likely you, and others, are equivocating on the sanctification of the body (i.e., resurrection) and mixing it up with soteriological sanctification. A resurrected body or any degree of glory is sanctified from the Fall, but if that person cannot abide the Law of the Celestial glory, then they are not soterilogically sanctified, in the sense of repenting of all their sins and abiding the fullness of the Law, so they end up with some other glory, even if their body is resurrected/sanctified.

    Comment by Kurt — July 7, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  65. Jacob,

    I had to try and speed read through most all of the posts of the other thread and this one to try and catch-up. For someone that is not a speed reader – well, you can imagine how much I have probably missed that has already been said. So if I revisit something that has already been kicked around please forgive me.

    I am not sure of your point about the BOM scriptures, because if I take only what I understand at this time, it would seem that you are taking the same position as the old RLDS folks, Community of Christ, or something like that now.

    They do not believe in temple work for the dead, because of the very position you seem to be taking now. This is the time to prepare to meet God, after this life, you either go to heaven or hell.

    You do seem to have a valid point about the BOM prophets though. I am not sure if Mark’s explanation is adequate to explain it, or maybe the concept I heard from a minister in the mission field would work.

    We were talking about something, I forget now what it was, but he said that the reason I was wrong is because what happened before was still under the law of Moses, and we are under grace now. I had no idea what he meant, and he could see I did not understand and was somewhat irritated by that fact. Anyway, could it be that the BOM prophets were talking about the law of Moses and now we are under grace.

    I realize the above is simplistic and probably won’t work, but just another way to see things to try and put everything together.

    Comment by CEF — July 7, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  66. Blake (#59),

    I agree that *virtually* everyone will *eventually* be resurrected, but no one before they are ready. Also, D&C 76:39 says nothing about the “first” resurrection. It says that all except the sons of perdition will [eventually] be brought forth by the “resurrection of the dead”. The telestial included, just generally in the last resurrection, not the first (D&C 76:85).

    Nowhere in the D&C does it state that the SofP will be ever be resurrected. Now there are other scriptures that imply that all will be resurrected, and I maintain that they are wrong in that respect.

    In particular 2 Ne 9:22 and Alma 40:21 have the order of judgment and resurrection backwards. No one needs to be resurrected to be brought to stand before God and be judged according to their works – the type of resurrection on receives is the final *result* of a process of judgment.

    Indeed we have multiple preliminary judgments, where the Lord decides whether we are ready to be resurrected or not. That is why the telestial typically have to wait a thousand years longer than everyone else – because the Lord determines that they are not worthy of resurrection at the start of the Millennium.

    Now the material point is that it is not in God’s best interest to resurrect anyone before they are ready – the SofP are never ready, so there is no point in resurrecting them, the rest are resurrected in the due time of the Lord, as they become worthy of an inheritance in the Kingdom of God, the resurrection, the type of inheritance they receive not being in accordance with how many sins they committed, nor how many much uncleanness remains in their souls – for all the heirs of salvation will be both justified and sanctified, but in accordance with their positive works of righteousness – the suffering service and sacrifice they made in the name of Jesus Christ.

    The scripture says no unclean thing can be saved in the kingdom of God. Justification comes by faith through grace – being *willing* to keep the commandments, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Sanctification is no more and no less than being purified of all unrighteousness. That is not the end, then comes Service, Suffering, and Sacrifice. I understand our participation in the latter three will determine our inheritance in the Kingdom of God, and not sanctification per se, although certainly sacrifice is an effective agent unto sanctification.

    Here is a good reference on what it means to be sanctified, in the ordinary sense:

    Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

    I maintain that the eternal telestial glory is part of the *rest* of the Lord, that no unclean thing can be saved in the Kingdom of God, and that indeed all the citizens of such will be unable to look upon sin save it be with abhorrence.

    Now exaltation requires much more than ordinary sanctification, as described in the following scriptures:

    And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
    For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
    (Romans 8:17-18)

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
    (Romans 12:1-2)

    For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
    And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
    And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
    (2 Cor 1:5-7)

    But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
    (Gal 6:14)

    Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
    It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
    If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
    (2 Tim 2:10-12)

    For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
    For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
    (1 Pet 2:20-21)

    Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
    But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
    If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
    But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf
    (1 Pet 4:12-16)

    In short the Book of Mormon focuses on the requirements for salvation – faith, repentance, baptism, sanctification from sin, and faithful endurance. That is sufficient to inherit salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God, but not sufficient for exaltation.

    The New Testament does a much better job of teaching the doctrine of exalation – becoming joint heirs with Christ by suffering *with* him, indeed a fulness of sanctification – not purification alone but becoming glorified as Christ is, by Christian service, suffering, and sacrifice, inheriting the same blessings as Christ himself, for the same reasons.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  67. CEF (#65)

    I hope I have been clear that I personally believe in temple work, salvation for the dead, degrees of glory, etc. So, I am not taking the old RLDS position from that standpoint. That is crucial.

    I am only talking about what the BofM prophets themselves understood, and it seems clear to me they didn’t understand those concepts. That is not a slam on them, it is simply a matter of what the Lord chose to reveal to them at that time. In the dispensation of the fullness of times, God has revealed some things that were not previously revealed, it doesn’t make us better. If we understand the context, all the stuff they are saying is still very relevant to us, and this shouldn’t call into question the usefulness/importance of the BofM in general. I am merely suggesting we should understand their statements in the context of their own beliefs.

    As the the line about the Law of Moses vs. being under grace, I have found that this is usually used as a big broom to sweep the better part of the Bible under a big rug. Most of the BofM happened under the law of Moses too, after all. Lehi’s and Nephi’s statements about grace were made while they lived the law of Moses. Alma’s discourses on mercy, justice, and atonement were made while he was under the law of Moses. So, without knowing the exact point the minister you refer to was making, I can guess that I wouldn’t buy his argument.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

  68. Kurt (#60),

    That is a nice summary of a very conventional, BRM style position. However, we have been discussing the problems with that position here for months, and if you want to make any progress here you will need to defend it from the scriptures, not just assert it BRM style.

    In order to succeed, you will need to establish from the scriptures that the eternal telestial glory is not part of the kingdom of God, that the salvation referred to in D&C 76:88 has nothing to do with the salvation taught in the BofM and NT, that the description of the type of people in D&C 76 refers to their eternal state, and not their present state, that D&C 88 is all wrong with regard to the sanctification required to inherit any kingdom of glory, and so on.

    Take this excellent pair of scriptures for example:

    And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
    That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
    (D&C 88:34-35)

    And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.
    (D&C 88:24)

    Ergo, those who abide the law of a telestial kingdom, are preserved by law, and sanctified by the same. Those who cannot abide by law, cannot abide a kingdom of glory, but rather must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

    Sanctification only occurs through obedience to law – any who do not abide law, but insist on being a law unto themselves, will remain filthy still, and will remain:

    And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
    (D&C 88:32)

    There is no free ride to telestial glory in the kingdom of heaven. The incalcitrant will inherit a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory, precisely because they are not willing to humble themselves enough to be sanctified by obedience to a law of glory. Anarchy is damnation, simple as that. The kingdom of God does not run that way.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

  69. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
    (Luke 18:17)

    And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
    And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
    (3 Ne 11:37-38)

    (1) The eternal telestial glory is part of the kingdom of God
    (2) One must repent, be baptized, and become as a little child in order to inherit the kingdom of God


    (3) One must repent, be baptized, and become as a little child in order to inherit everlasting life in the (eternal) telestial glory of the kingdom of God.

    And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.

    And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.
    (2 Ne 9:23-24)

    Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness.
    (Helaman 14:17)

    Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come-
    Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
    These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-
    And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
    Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.
    (D&C 76:36-39)

    (1) Whosoever repenteth not suffers the second death
    (2) The SofP are the only ones on whom the second death has lasting power


    (3) All except the SofP are *eventually* redeemed from the second death, by repenting and being sanctified through obedience.

    By the way, it is critical to recognize that the identity of the filthy still (the SofP / incalcitrant – i.e. those who fall under D&C 88:102 instead of 88:101) is not firmly established *until* the last resurrection.

    I am not completely clear on whether the SofP and the D&C 88:24,25 incalcitrant are technically identical, but either way they will be damned and inherit a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory at the last day. The humble and repentant will be saved in a kingdom which is a kingdom of glory.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 2:57 pm

  70. Jacob,

    Thank you, that does help me to understand your position much better. Again, I think you make a good point.


    I have come to appreciate the time you have spent thinking on subjects that I have never even thought about. But I do have a little bit of a hard time justifying certain scriptures with what you have said. Unless I have misunderstood what you have said, it seems that you maintain that the celestial kingdom is only gained by a lifetime of service, commitment and righteousness brought about by ones own good works.

    How would you explain the parable of the labors in the field and course the thief that was crucified with Christ when juxtaposed with what you have said in this thread? It would seem to me, that whatever kingdom we receive, it is still by the grace of God that we will be there.

    Please do not think that I think works are not important, they most certainly are, but only in their proper context.

    And to say that certain prophets are wrong in certain scriptures is certainly an easy way to explain apparent discrepancies, but I think it places one on the slippery slope that is very hard to extricate ones self from. At least with any degree of graciousness. :)

    Comment by CEF — July 7, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

  71. Blake (#63)

    Have you been sufficiently humble? Have your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ? Are ye stripped of pride? Are you stripped of envy? Do you make a mock of your brother? If can’t answer correctly, you must repent or you cannot be saved! So says Alma (Alma 5)

    I would characterize these requirements as being more than just “opening the heart to receive Christ.” Alma is saying that we must achieve a high level of righteousness or we cannot be saved.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

  72. CEF (#70),

    Thanks for the compliment. Now about works vs. grace – most of those scriptures about Christian suffering are from the writings of Paul, a fact that (along with other evidence) clearly indicates that Paul had a much narrower definition of “dead works” than many of his later interpreters.

    Not any works will do – the kingdom of God must be built up by the direction of the Spirit, any other works are generally in vain. Indeed the works of the lower law, without the faith of the higher, are also in vain, and that is what Paul was trying to get across to the Romans. The lower law is pretty much just technical compliance, at best justification, and often very little in the way of sanctification – broken heart, contrite spirit, and all that.

    Now the second principle, which I take as a matter of course, is that salvation is jointly possible through a combination of grace and godly works. I look at grace and works like an air-fuel mixture to an automobile – grace without works is dead, and so is works without grace.

    From a personal perspective, any blessing you receive in a celestial society, indeed in any righteous society, is due far, far more to the sacrifice of others than due to one’s own contribution. It is like the blessings we receive from the sacrifice of the defenders of liberty in the United States, except many times over – at a minimum one would have to add culture, heritage, literature, art, music, the gospel, family, constitutional government, and so on.

    From a celestial perspective, we then add everything spiritual on top of that, and that is all grace – the blessings we receive from the sacrifice of others, most particularly that of God through his Son Jesus Christ.

    Everyone in every degree of glory receives the blessings of that grace, some people contribute to it more, but not to get personal credit, but rather to ascribe all credit to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Becoming a ruler in the kingdom of heaven instead of a servant, doesn’t necessarily mean one is blessed more, it means one has taken upon more responsibilities, to be disciplined according to a stricter law. That leads to its own kind of reward, but it is surely not all roses.

    Now I do not believe that in general, people will obtain a better resurrection for how *much* service they performed, but rather for how much service they have proven themselves willing to perform, with the both strictest of discipline to certain principles, as well as creative, inspired exercise of discretion within those bounds.

    Somehow, the kingdom of God, at least the celestial kingdom, is a regime where people are “equal in heavenly things”. There must be a way to be equal even when one person is presiding and another not. Otherwise Adam or Abraham would always be ahead of me, and I am not quite convinced that is the case. I think when people are righteous enough, presidency reduces nearly to a formality, and all share the same blessings as citizens of the household of God.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  73. Hi Jacob,

    I will not try and answer for Blake, but I would answer all of your questions in the affirmative, because I am “willing” to do all of those things and repent when I fall short, as in daily.

    You seem to be interpreting 2Nephi 25:23 in the traditional way. But I thought it was earlier established that the traditional interpretation is not correct. If you have to earn it, it is not grace. If it is grace, it cannot be earned. Worked for yes, but not earned.

    Jim Faulconer has a book out on Romans chapter 1. In the his book, he explains that when Paul referred to himself as a servant, that in Greek, servant means slave. So Paul was really calling himself a slave. So in this sense, we are all bought and paid for, (not sure if Blake agrees with the terms) and as such, we must work, but we do not earn anything. Slaves work, but they do not earn a wage.

    Nibley put it like this. “Work we must, but the lunch is free.” So I think we should couch our beliefs along these lines more than the orthodox way we have done for too many years. But just my opinion, nothing set in stone.

    Comment by CEF — July 7, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  74. CEF (#73),

    I am all for emphasizing the importance of grace, and how in the end, the blessings we receive are far more creditable to grace than to our own sacrifice, and indeed how we do not “earn” grace in any sense of the term.

    However, the problem is, we cannot receive the blessings of grace unless we both do certain things, and become a certain kind of person. That involves enormous effort on our part. On might say that Christian service is the key to receiving the blessings of grace, in fact in the end it makes grace possible, in the broad scheme of things. We only receive of grace because of Christ’s sacrifice – his very works.

    Now many cannot understand why Christ should have to sacrifice at all, and if one does not understand the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice, it is impossible to understand why we must sacrifice with him, to be joint-heirs in the kingdom of God.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  75. Mark, you are more than welcome.

    I do think Paul’s writing’s “can” lead people to the wrong conclusion. But it would seem that it is the gospel of Paul that was taken out to the world that helped to spread Christianity a way that a gospel of works might not have been so successful. And I am keeping in mind that the Catholic church does put a lot of emphasis on works, but it still teaches grace much more than I have ever seen in our own church. After all, without grace, where is the “good news?”

    Aside from that, I don’t really have a problem with your last post, it is nice to see us reaching more of a consensus than I normally see with such issues.

    Comment by CEF — July 7, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

  76. Mark,

    We seem to be writing at the same time here. I think Nibley again explained it quite well. He tells of a time when he was given a Fellowship, (or something like that, I did not go to collage, so I am not really familiar with the terms), and he said that his job and salary was guaranteed no matter what he did. He said something like, do you think I just took things easy, no, not at all. I never worked so hard in my life. Why, because I was so thankful for what they had done for me.

    I think that is the way true grace works for us. I am so thankful for what Christ has done for me, that I want to help and be a better person more now than I ever have. And, I even want to do it for the right reasons.

    Comment by CEF — July 7, 2006 @ 7:05 pm

  77. Nibley’s examples never seem to make complete sense to me (as much as I would like them to!). No matter how you twist them (his examples) and turn them and girate them in order to get a fix on them they never seem to make sense without acknowledging the fact that some poor soul somewhere on this dusty planet must be working in the field in order that “free lunches” might be made available. And that, well, doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by Jack — July 7, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

  78. Jacob re: 71: The answer to your various questions is “no”, but I am saved. First, my view is that the BofM is generally consistent in its use of terms like “redemption” and “savlation” — but not entirely so (I wouldn’t expect it to be because it wasn’t written by analytic philosophers). However, section 76 is entirely consistent in its use — to be redeemed is to acknowledge Christ and inherit a kingdom of glory. To inherit a kingdom of glory is to be saved. Second, I believe that what Alma is saying is that those who are saved and/or redeemed have received Christ and thus the process of sanctification has begun. If this proces of sanctification begun at the moment of redemption doesn’t continue, then it is of no effect because such redemption can be forgeited. It may be that all that is being said is that if we do these things, then we will in fact be saved — if we don’t, then we may lose our salvation. Look at the scriptural texts that I exegete in this chapter on savlation where I treat it thoroughly (and so I’m really reluctant to do it again and just repeat myself).

    CEF: I believe you are correct. We are slaves to, or sons of, either Christ or the devil. We may work, but salvation is free (in the sense that it is a gift of grace that is not merited or earned). Our works follow from our grateful hearts seeking more intimate relationship with Christ.

    Mark: If little children don’t need baptism and have no need to repent (as Mormon clearly states), but are saved and exalted (as Mormon and D&C 137 clearly state), then you argument in #69 is not sound. In particular, premise (2) is false according to Mormon and other revelations that say that all little children who die in infancy are exalted. Perhaps all “men” must repent and be baptized, but not all persons. Only those who have need of repentance have need of baptism — and that doesn’t include little children.

    Mark re: 66 — if you believe that the Book of Mormon has the order of judgment and resurrection backward in both 2 Ne. and Alma, perhaps it is time to go back to the drawing board so that the text controls rather than your theory about the text.

    Comment by Blake — July 7, 2006 @ 7:25 pm

  79. CEF (#73)

    If it wasn’t clear, all the “personal” questions I asked Blake are taken directly from Alma 5:22-31 (see the end of #14). These were Alma’s questions for his audience, and he says at the end that if we can’t answer them correctly then we “cannot be saved!” To me, that use of salvation does not seem to correspond to the idea that salvation is simply a matter of opening our hearts to Christ.

    Now, I can understand why you would be confused by my comments relative to 2 Ne 25:23. I do reject the standard interpretation which says grace only saves us after we have done everything in our power. Maybe it seems like I am going back on that position since I have lately been arguing that the BofM prophets say salvation requires a high degree of righteousness.

    This actually gets to the heart of this post, which asks whether salvation is used consistently in the scriptures. I have been trying to talk about the scriptures say more than my full view of the matter, but maybe a few comments will help clarify where I am coming from. I am of the opinion that the scriptures commonly use salvation in different senses and that we must use some care in interpreting because of this. So, I think it is true that grace is a free gift (the scriptures say this), and I also think that salvation is free in some senses, and I also think that salvation is in some ways a matter of personal development.

    I believe that the atonement made us free and gave us a knowledge of good and evil, making it possible for us to repent and become celestial through character shaping choices. So, my view stresses both grace and works. Our works make us who we are and determine our final destiny, but every good work we do is enabled and influenced by the light of Christ in us. We can’t say we earned it on our own, because we were helped literally every step of the way by grace. However, we can’t say works are merely an outward expression of our love and gratitude, because our works also play a central role in making us into celestial people. I believe Samuel the Lamanite frames things in exactly this way:

    29 And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation.
    30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.
    31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you. (Helaman 14)

    Hopefully that helps make sense of my various comments on seemingly different sides of the issues.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

  80. Jack,

    That was just too funny! :)

    But the point is more along the lines of the labors in the field. Someone worked for one hour and received the same payment as those that worked all day. That is what Philip Yancey calls the atrocious math of grace.

    So yes, we can work and not earn anything. Just like a slave. Faulconer makes the point that a slave can be adopted by his master and inherit the masters estate. He (the slave) did not earn it, but receives it by the grace of his master.

    Comment by CEF — July 7, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

  81. Jack #77

    It is the drawback of analogies that they always end up breaking down at some level. Certainly this one from Nibley does if it is taken too far. I get frustrated by that too, which is why I try (to the extent it is possible) to avoid speaking in analogy.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

  82. Blake,

    The answer to your various questions is “no”, but I am saved.

    Same for me.

    my view is that the BofM is generally consistent in its use of terms like “redemption” and “salvation”-but not entirely so

    I like this position better than your first one in #24. I agree, although we might quibble as to the extent of the consistency.

    However, section 76 is entirely consistent in its use

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    If this proces of sanctification begun at the moment of redemption doesn’t continue, then it is of no effect because such redemption can be forgeited.

    I am in agreement with all your recent comments about the role of enduring to the end.

    Look at the scriptural texts that I exegete in this chapter on savlation where I treat it thoroughly

    I enjoyed this chapter and found a tremendous amount of common ground with my own views.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  83. “…so that the text controls …”

    Is it possible for anyone to be that objective?

    I think we ought to consider the idea that it is only at a certain point that God’s grace becomes *sufficient* for our salvation. (as per Moroni ch 10) This idea coupled with the Savior’s directive–that the work we are to do is to believe on him (as per St. John 6)–seems to indicate that we have to do SOMEthing to allow His grace to be fully operative in our lives. I don’t love the word “merit” but I’m hard-pressed to find a better term that suits what I’m trying to convey.

    Comment by Jack — July 7, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  84. I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their good faith and uplifting dialogue here. As an author, it is an honor to have such intelligent people of good will tackle and challenge my work. But there is something I value even more. I appreciate the faith and commitment expressed in these posts. After wandering the boggernacle, it is so refreshing to engage with people of faith, of deep commitment to learning from scripture and the cordial and truly Christian manner of disourse. I am deeply moved and grateful for your willingness to engage in such dialogue. I am moved by your faith and good hearts. I love the sweetness of the spirit that speaks to me, pervades me and caresses me when I ponder such doctrines. I am grateful to my Savior for the actual work of atonement that was accomplished as a gift long before I was born — and his grace is so palpable to me that it often moves me to tears. So let me say thanks once again.

    Comment by Blake — July 7, 2006 @ 8:04 pm

  85. Amen and amen.

    Comment by Jacob — July 7, 2006 @ 8:11 pm

  86. CEF & Jacob,

    With regard to this particular subject, the door of context tends to get kicked off its hinges by intrusions of socio-political biases. So I guess I kinda agree with you, Jacob, about the breakdown of analogy–when it comes to Nibley, that is. Generally I love analogy and generally I love Nibley. I just don’t love his anaolgies, err, generally.

    Comment by Jack — July 7, 2006 @ 8:18 pm

  87. CEF (#75),

    One of the most prominent principle of both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament is that grace is not free, as in zero cost, but rather made possible by the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, slain / suffering from the foundation of the world. Grace comes by sacrifice – not any old sacrifice, but a very particular kind.

    Now grace may be free “unto us”, but that doesn’t mean that we do not have to do all sorts of things, including participate in Christian suffering ourselves, to make the gift of God fully effective in our lives.

    Now, roughly speaking, Nibley’s arguments appear to be based on the Santa Claus theory of grace, a violation of the laws of economics, those very laws taught in the Book of Mormon with regard to the necessity of sacrifice for at-one-ment, indeed an infinite and everlasting sacrifice. Grace is not free in the economic sense, even for God.

    Now the “good news” is the hope of a glorious resurrection – to overcome death and live as families, in an eternal, peaceful society, to enter into the rest of the Lord. Now eternal rest of some sort requires that our labors diminish, otherwise salvation would be a linear-sum game – pretty good news, but not great news.

    The great news is that salvation is not a linear sum enterprise, but an exponential sum enterprise, in other words there are network effects – the blessings of salvation in almost every sense imaginable increase with the number of people who are actually saved. No law of diminishing returns here, exactly the opposite. The more the glorier, roughly speaking.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 8:57 pm

  88. Blake (#78),

    Little children have no need to repent because they are incapable of committing sin. They also have no need (right now) to enter the waters of baptism, because they are not accountable – they cannot make such a covenant that has any meaning:

    Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach-repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
    (Moroni 8:10)

    I made an extensive argument on this point in comments #95 and #100 of the following thread:


    Now as to letting the text control, this is a point on which the scriptures contradict themselves, and I choose to let D&C 76 and 1 Corinthians 15 control rather than Nephi and Alma, in part because they are more modern and complete revelations. Paul teaches no end of higher doctrines that the Book of Mormon hardly touches on, the D&C more so.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  89. Jacob (#79),

    All gifts are free to the receiver, in some fundamental sense, or they would not be gifts. That does not mean that gifts are generally free to the giver, quite the opposite. Grace is purchased at an enormous price.

    CEF (#80),

    I think the idea that there is any inherent justice in slavery is ridiculous. We are servants indeed, but if the Lord of the Manor does not pay us a fair wage, or something beyond a fair wage, for our service, he would not be just.

    Now of course grace is that which is in excess of a fair wage, that which we did not earn. That does not mean that we just idle in the pasture and receive all grace at the end of the day. Rather we work hard and at the end of the day receive more, far more, than we earned.

    If we sat around and did nothing, the Lord of the Manor would have precious little grace to dispense, because his work would be frustrated.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

  90. Jack (#83),

    I am not afraid of the word “merit”, as long as it is clearly understood that the reward is far greater than the contribution. The total inability folks generally want the reward to have nothing to do with the contribution, which is scripturally untenable. Paul himself contradicts that idea in dozens of places, e.g.:

    And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
    (Romans 8:17)

    For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
    (2 Cor 1:5)

    For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
    (Heb 2:11)

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 7, 2006 @ 9:35 pm

  91. Wow. What a conversation — I just caught up. Good stuff, all. I am pleased that we are discussing salvation through Jesus Christ in such great detail here.

    Before I go to sleep I’ll leave one challenge for Mark —

    It is well established in D&C 88 that one cannot inherit telestial glory without abiding a telestial law. But what we have not agreed upon is what a telestial law consists of. I submit that sufficient faith in Christ to repent and be baptized is at least a terrestrial law and is not a telestial law. Why should I assume otherwise? (And please don’t go rattling off scores of scripures that say baptism is required for “salvation” or to enter the kingdom of God. The point of this post is that such language is equivocal and many times salvation means a much higher kind of salvation that the type of salvation we learned about much later in section 76. Jacob has done a very good job of demonstrating that point regarding the BoM usage of the term salvation here I think.)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 8, 2006 @ 1:07 am

  92. Oh that I were an angle and could have the wish of mine heart, I would have a bigger vocabulary and the poetic ability with words that Randy Paul has. It is frustrating to lack the ability to put into proper words and explain something like grace. Philip Yancey said it best. He said that trying to explain grace is like dissecting a frog, the thing dies in the process. So he had rather convey grace, something he has done (in my opinion) better than anyone, in his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” Here is a quote form the book, I think it is kind of neat.

    “Forgiveness – undeserved, unearned – can cut the
    cords and let oppressive burden of guilt roll away.
    The New Testament shows a resurrected Jesus leading
    Peter by the hand through a three-fold ritual of
    forgiveness. Peter need not go through life with the
    guilty, hangdog look of one who has betrayed the Son
    of God. Oh, no. On the backs of such transformed
    sinners Christ would build his Church.”

    Forgiveness is what cannot be earned, God does not have to forgive us, but he chooses to do so. And he chose to do so before I was ever born, knowing what a jerk I was going to be. Did I earn that?

    Peter was forgiven, did he earn that? What did he do with that forgiveness? Nothing? God forbid! Peter gave his very life for what Christ had done for him. That is the power grace has, it is indeed the “enabling” power of the atonement.

    I know this thread is not all about grace, so I apologize for taking so much of your time with it. But, to me, what good is it to understand the difference between salvation and exaltation if we do not understand what it is that allows us to enjoy either? The following is another quote from Yancey. It is kind of long, but hopefully, you will enjoy it as much as I do. First I have a question for Blake.

    Blake, I have known for sometime now, that you have been changed by grace. It is apparent in your writings. How did you come to understand grace the way you do? If you had rather not answer this, no problem.

    I asked Stephen Robinson how he came to his understanding, and he said it was through the BOM. He also said (in his opinion) that the reason we are under condemnation for not reading the BOM is because we are missing the grace that is taught there.

    Not being a great scriptorian, I am sorry to say, I had to go outside the Church to find grace. It seems that when one finds grace, it becomes very pressing to share it with others. In the same light, for some reason, I found it compelling to find grace. I went looking for it and never knew what it was I was looking for. Here is the quote from Yancy.

    “One summer I had to learn basic German in order to
    finish a graduate degree. What a wretched summer!
    … Five nights a week, three hours a night I spent
    memorizing vocabulary and word endings that I would
    never again use. I endured such torture for one
    purpose only: to pass the test and get my degree.
    What if the school registrar had promised me, “Philip,
    we want you to study hard, learn German, and take the
    test, but we promise you in advance that you’ll get a
    passing grade. Your diploma has already been filled
    out.” Do you think I would have spent every
    delectable summer evening inside a hot, stuffy
    apartment? Not a chance. In a nutshell, that was the
    theological dilemma Paul confronts in Romans.
    Why learn German? There are noble reasons, to be sure
    – languages broaden the mind and expand the range of
    communication – but these had never motivated me to
    study German before. I studied for selfish reasons,
    to finish a degree, and only the threat of
    consequences hanging over me caused me to reorder my
    summer priorities. Today, I remember very little of
    the German I crammed into my brain. “The old way of
    the written code” (Paul’s description of the Old
    testament law) produces short-term results at best.
    What would inspire me to learn German? I can think of
    one powerful incentive. If my wife, the woman I fell
    in love with, spoke only German, I would have learned
    the language in record time. Why? I would have a
    desperate desire to communicate mit einer schonen
    Frau. … I would have learned German unbegrudgingly,
    with the relationship itself as my reward.
    That reality helps me understand Paul’s gruff “God
    forbid!” response to the question “Shall we go on
    sinning that grace may increase?” Would a groom on
    his wedding night hold the following conversation with
    hid bride? “Honey, I love you so much, and I’m eager
    to spend my life with you. But I need to work out a
    few details. Now that we’re married, how far can I go
    with other women? Can I sleep with them? Kiss them?
    You don’t mind a few affairs now and then, do you? I
    know it might hurt you, but just think of all the
    opportunities you’ll have to forgive me after I betray
    you!” To such a Don Juan the only reasonable response
    is a slap in the face and a “God forbid!” Obviously,
    he does not understand the first thing about love.
    Similarly, if we approach God with a “What can I get
    away with?” attitude, it proves we do not grasp what
    God has in mind for us. God wants something far
    beyond the relationship I might have with a slave
    master, who will enforce my obedience with a whip.

    Indeed, God wants something more intimate than the
    closest relationship on earth, the lifetime bond
    between a man and a woman. What God Wants is not a
    good performance, but my heart. I do “good works” for
    my wife not in order to earn credit but to express my
    love for her. Likewise, God wants me to serve “in the
    new way of the Spirit” : not out of compulsion but out
    of desire. “Discipleship,” says Clifford Williams,
    “simply means the life which springs from grace.”
    …If we comprehend what Christ has done for us, then
    surely out of gratitude we will strive to live
    “worthy” of such great love. We will strive for
    holiness not to make God love us but because he
    already does. As Paul told Titus, it is the grace of
    God that “teaches us to say No to ungodliness and
    worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright
    and godly lives.”

    I think the above is very close to what Blake has said in his book.

    Comment by CEF — July 8, 2006 @ 8:11 am

  93. Geoff (#91),

    The point is that I have scads of *positive* evidence for my conclusion, and the only evidence I have seen for the opposite is “that is puzzling, or that is not the way we normally think of it”, (granted the assumption we are speaking of the post-resurrection, eternal telestial glory, and not a temporal “telestial” state – which for this earth will likely end in less than a century).

    Joseph Smith:

    God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved unless he has committed that unpardonable sin… God has wrought out a salvation for all men… So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation. If a man has knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins, he will be punished for them. But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved.
    (TPJS pg. 356-357)

    The idea here is that the Lord plans to eventually persuade almost everyone to consent to keep the commandments, obey the gospel, and be saved, whether here or in the world of spirits. As long as one will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation (e.g. in a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory). As soon as one consents to keep the commandments and obey the gospel (note – not just *accept* the gospel, but *obey* the gospel), he is saved, though ye may yet fall from grace.

    Brigham Young’s statement is similar:

    I will now tell you something that ought to comfort every man and woman on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith, junior, will again be on this earth dictating plans and calling forth his brethren to be baptized for the very characters who wish this was not so, in order to bring them into a kingdom to enjoy, perhaps, the presence of angels or the spirits of good men, if they cannot endure the presence of the Father and the Son; and he will never cease his operations, under the directions of the Son of God, until the last ones of the children of men are saved that can be, from Adam till now. (Brigham Young, [JD 7:289])

    i.e. Joseph Smith will be calling forth people to be baptized by proxy and will never cease until the last ones of the children of men are saved that can be, from Adam till now. And this salvation, consists at a minimum of bringing them into a kingdom to enjoy the presence of angels or the spirits of good men (Aaronic priesthood blessings), if they cannot endure the presence of the Father or the Son (Melchizedek priesthood blessings). Presence literal here of course.

    Joseph Fielding Smith testified on similar lines:

    They have no part in the first resurrection and are not redeemed from the devil and his angels until the last resurrection, because of their wicked lives and their evil deeds. Nevertheless, even these are heirs of salvation, but before they are redeemed and enter into their kingdom, they must repent of their sins, and receive the gospel, and bow the knee, and acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world.
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:22).

    i.e. before being redeemed and entering into a kingdom the telestial must repent of their sins, receive the gospel, and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the world.

    All the scriptures are consistent and supporting of the perspective outlined here. The only real doctrinal dispute is the ordinance of baptism. There is a consensus on repentance and receiving the gospel (not *accepting* the gospel, but *receiving* the gospel), to inherit any kingdom of glory.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 8:30 am

  94. CEF (#92),

    I agree that no one “earns” grace, because a gift cannot be earned, if it were earned it would no longer be a gift. However, I do believe that one “merits” or “qualifies” for the fulness of grace, i.e. it is a conditional gift. God is bound by his word alone to give its fulness to us, under the terms and conditions he has outlined.

    The greatest heresy in modern times is that God gives (or is even capable of giving) a fulness of his grace to those who do not repent of their sins. That is a metaphysical impossibility – God *cannot* save people *in* their sins, only *from* their sins, by their willing consent to be justified by faith, and sanctified through obedience, and glorified through his presence, the Holy Spirit of Promise that he sheds forth on all those who are just and true, and none else.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  95. Mark,

    I have actually come around to the idea that one must indeed acknowledge and accept Christ as savior and the plan of salvation to inherit a telestial glory. I have also come around to the idea that doing so does indeed require some level of repentance for the truly wicked who must abide in hell (spirit prison) until the second resurrection. So I will agree that those things are the minimum requirements to inherit telestial glory.

    You will not be surprised that I do not think one must accept baptism to inherit telestial glory. Further, I don’t think the minimum repentance and faith in Christ required of the wicked to inherit telestial glory would be sufficient to pass any baptismal interviews. That is, they must acknowledge Christ and show a willingness to try to follow him but they need not actually change enough to be “saints” (persons faithful and repentant enough to live the baptismal covenants.)

    The primary reason I have come around to this is because the prophets have made it clear that everyone who made it to this world accepted Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation and we have it on very good authority that this world is (at least) a telestial kingdom. (As I mentioned earlier, I personally think our world is also a terrestial kingdom right now for those who live a terrestrial law.) So that leaves you and I much closer on this overall subject than we might have been previously. The points of disagreement boil down to a) whether accepting baptismal covenants is essential to inheriting telestial glory and b) whether there are two types of telestial/terrestrial kingdoms as you opined in #32 & #35 or not.

    BTW – I agree with your last response to CEF’s #92

    Comment by Geoff J — July 8, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  96. Geoff: re: #95: I’d say that leaves us in nearly exact agreement as well. It is very clear in the Book of Mormon that baptism is not essential to salvation — being saved from death, wrath, hell and servitude to the devil. I don’t see that issue being addressed in later revelations and the references to baptism being necessary seem to me to refer to exalatation.

    Comment by Blake — July 8, 2006 @ 9:55 am

  97. On the topic of whether baptism is necessary for the lower kingdoms, I asked this question on a previous thread and it got no response. If anyone has a take on these verses I would still be interested. It is hard to find any commentaries which say anything about it, so I don’t know what the prevailing wisdom is.

    57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.
    58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
    59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation. (D&C 138)

    The fascinating thing is that it says some group of people who have “paid the penalty of their transgressions” will repent and be redeemed “through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God.” This could refer to the telestials, since they are refered to as “in darkness and under the bondage of sin” and also it says they will be “heirs of salvation,” harking back to D&C 76:88. Joseph Fielding Smith frequently used the phrase “paid the penalty of their transgressions” to refer to the telestials as well. I’m not sure how people would want to sync this up to Brigham Young’s statement that “the ordinances of the house of God are expressly for the Church of the Firstborn” (JD 13:154).

    Even if it doesn’t refer to the telestials, but rather to people who accept the gospel in the spirit world and become celestials, it is then interesting that it says they must pay the penalty for their transgressions. That would seem to imply that the “outer darkness” half of the spirit world (see Alma 40:13) plays the same role for those spirits that the thousand years in hell plays for the telestials.

    What do you guys think this verse refers to, celestials or telestials?

    Comment by Jacob — July 8, 2006 @ 10:00 am

  98. Mark,

    I tried to make it clear in the other thread that even the evangelicals believe that one has to repent and accept the grace that is offered before it has any effect upon one. So I do not think we are in any kind of disagreement here. If everyone is in agreement, then I think we can turn more to the topic at hand, and I think you and Geoff seem to be coming to a meeting of the minds. Which is more in line with the way I have always understood things, with a few minor exceptions.

    I have always had the understanding that we have not been told just what the requirements are to entering the lessor kingdoms.

    I would agree that one must not only repent and accept Christ, but must be willing to abide the law of his/her kingdom. As far as baptism goes, I have never heard that baptism is necessary for the lessor kingdoms. That would seem counter intuitive.

    If we are going to put the same requirements on the lessor kingdoms, why would they not be able to inter the celestial kingdom?

    Comment by CEF — July 8, 2006 @ 10:03 am

  99. Geoff (#95),

    I consider the following theory to be a plausible interpretation of the scriptures, plus Joseph Smith’s other statements:

    (1) There is no eternal telestial or terrestrial world, the only eternal world is the celestial world

    (2) Planets in the state we are now in, compose the telestial order

    (3) Planets of the state this earth will be in during the millennium, compose the terrestrial order

    (4) All who are resurrected will inherit some role or function, in one of the three degrees of the celestial order

    (5) The celestial order will not be cut off from itself – the scriptures in D&C 76 refer to the presence of the Holy Ghost in the telestial order, Jesus Christ in the terrestial order, and the Father in the celestial order.

    (6) However, whether one will be a ministering angel or a ruler in the celestial order will depend on the degree of faithfulness one attains in this life, the world of spirits and/or tenure in the terrestrial order (the millennium)

    (7) Anyone so incalcitrant as to refuse to obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel at the last day, will not hang around on some telestial or terrestrial world, but will be indefinitely damned to a kingdom of no glory.

    (8) The salvation in the telestial order is a conditional blessing given to those who demonstrated faithfulness in their first estate, however it may be lost if that faithfulness does not continue.

    (9) Not until one receives an inheritance in the eternal world, is there really any perseverance of the saints. One knows this fact (that ones calling and election has been made sure) by receiving the Holy Spirit of Promise, or more sure world of prophecy. One may still fall from grace by committing a serious enough sin (shedding of innocent blood, generally speaking).

    The scriptures are rather explicit that the plan of salvation does not involve indefinitely saving the lukewarm in a lukewarm state – God knows what to do with people who are either hot or cold, lukewarm people are problematic. Sometimes I think the plan of salvation is like annealing metal – first fire, and then water, and then fire again, whatever it takes to purge us of our impurities. Lukewarm people are like salt that has lost it savor, good for nothing but to be cast out, until they decide whether they are going to be hot or cold.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 10:10 am

  100. Jacob (#97), Good pull. I forgot all about that scripture. That is probably the best scriptural reference to something akin to baptism being required *by the Father* before inheriting a salvation in the eternal world.

    As to whether that is celestial or telestial, I would say it depends on which telestial you are talking about. If eternal telestial (if such exists), then yes. Verse 59 appears to be a direct cross reference to D&C 76:88. However, if eternal telestial is an oxymoron, then the lowest degree of the celestial heavens (D&C 131:1).

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 10:30 am

  101. CEF re: #98: Just for the record, there is definitely a large group of evangelicals (primarily free grace Calvinsits) who don’t believe that one either has to repent or to accept grace to be saved — for them God does it all. In fact, they vastly outnumber the more moderate Arminians who believe that we have free will to reject God’s grace when it is given.

    Comment by Blake — July 8, 2006 @ 11:30 am

  102. Blake,

    I have read a few things here on the web about TULIP, but it is mostly in your books that I have been exposed to it. I have never talked to anyone in person that holds to such concepts, at least that I knew at the time. So having never had to defend myself from such beliefs, I tend to not give it the consideration it might deserve.

    The christian authors that I like to read, Yancey, Lucado, Manning, and Eldredge do not subscribe to a Free grace Calvinists point of view. But I do appreciate your pointing out that not all evangelicals believe the same thing.

    Comment by CEF — July 8, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  103. CEF (#102),

    Arminianism (as taught by Methodists, Free Will Baptists, Pentacostals, etc.) has some significant differences from classical Calvinism, and even modern Calvinism (as taught by Presbyterians, Particular Baptists, Reformed Baptists, and Congregationalists, aka the “Reformed” churches) often is given some twists uncharacteristic of classical Calvinism, because among other things classical Calvinism doesn’t go over that well even with Calvinists.

    The best expression of classical (scholastic) Calvinism I know of is the Westminister Confession of the Faith, the Presbyterian creed of 1648, when Presbyterianism was briefly recognized as the official religion in England, the document produced by order of Parliament during the Cromwell era.

    In any case, it is must reading for understanding where Protestants are coming from, nearly all of Protestantism can be read as a support or a reaction to the precepts clearly taught in this document:

    Some notable excerpts:

    There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his won glory, most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal most just and terrible in his judgments; hating all sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty.

    II. God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them; he is the alone foundation of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.

    III. In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

    Sound familiar? Note how clearly they proscribe all sorts of things they consider to be heresies, e.g. that God has a body, or that the Son is not co-eternal with the Father (Arianism), or that the Father was ever born in any sense whatsoever.

    I. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

    II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions.

    III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

    IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.

    V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

    VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

    VII. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

    VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending to the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

    The interesting part about (I) is it is almost self contradictory – “God freely ordains whatsoever comes to path, but is not the author of Sin, and somehow people have liberty and will despite God ordaining their every decision”.

    Now recognizing that this doctrine was also the doctrine of the Puritans, who were the ancestors of many of the first members of the Church, and the dominant influence in American culture for two hundred years, plus the continuing basis of about half of modern evangelicalism, the document is definitely worth reading – it is not very long – The most enlightening short introduction to Calvinism that I know of.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  104. Now listen to the specific doctrines condemned in the Synod of Dort, where the first Arminians were excommunicated by Dutch Calvinists:

    P7. Who teach: That the grace whereby we are converted to God is only a gentle advising, or (as others explain it) that this is the noblest manner of working in the conversion of man, and that this manner of working, which consists in advising, is most in harmony with man’s nature; and that there is no reason why this advising grace alone should not be sufficient to make the natural man spiritual; indeed, that God does not produce the consent of the will except through this manner of advising; and that the power of the divine working, whereby it surpasses the working of Satan, consists in this that God promises eternal, while Satan promise only temporal good.

    But this is altogether Pelagian and contrary to the whole Scripture, which, besides this, teaches yet another and far more powerful and divine manner of the Holy Spirit’s working in the conversion of man, as in Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26).”

    P8. Who teach: That god in the regeneration of man does not use such powers of His omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend man’s will to faith and conversion; but that all the works of grace having been accomplished, which God employs to convert man, man may yet so resist god and the Holy Spirit, when God intends man’s regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed that man often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration, and that it therefore remains in man’s power to be regenerated or not.

    For this is nothing less than the denial of all that efficiency of God’s grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty God to the will of man, which is contrary to the apostles, who teach that we believe accord to the working of the strength of his might (Eph 1:19); and that God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power (2 Th 1:11); and that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).”

    P9. Who teach: That grace and free will are partial causes which together work the beginning of conversion, and that grace, in order of working, does not precede the working of the will; that is, that God does not efficiently help the will of man unto conversion until the will of man moves and determines to do this.

    For the ancient Church has long ago condemned this doctrine of the Pelagians according to the words of the apostle: “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (Rom 9:16).” Likewise: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it (1 Cor 4:7)?” And: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Phil 2:13).”

    Note that free will is not allowed any credit for conversion – instead it is God’s grace that works in a man, irresistably causing him to be converted to righteousness. (The implication of course is that God saves whom he will save, and damns whom he will damn, there is no resisting his will – he infallibly decrees whatsoever will come to pass).

    The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

    P1. Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of election, or a gift of God gained by the death of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant which (as they declare) man before his decisive election and justification must fulfil through his free will.

    For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election, and is given the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection, and the intercession of Christ: “What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened (Rom 11:7).” Likewise: “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ (Rom 8:32-35)?”

    P2. Who teach: That God does indeed provide the believer with sufficient powers to persevere, and is ever ready to preserve these in him if he will do his duty; but that, though all though which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God will use to preserve faith are made us of, even then it ever depends on the pleasure of the will whether it will persevere or not.

    For this idea contains outspoken Pelagianism, and while it would make men free, it make them robbers of God’s honor, contrary to the prevailing agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which takes from man all cause of boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this favor to the grace of God alone; and contrary to the apostle, who declares that it is God, “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:8).”

    P3. Who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this and are lost forever.

    For this conception makes powerless the grace, justification, regeneration, and continued preservation by Christ, contrary to the expressed words of the apostle Paul: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him (Rom 5:8-9).” And contrary to the apostle John: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).” And also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:28-29).”

    P4. Who teach: That true believers and regenerate can sin the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit.

    Since the same apostle John, after having spoken in the fifth chapter of his first epistle, vs. 16 and 17, of those who sin unto death and having forbidden to pray for them, immediately adds to this in vs. 18: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin (meaning a sin of that character); the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him (1 John 5:18).”

    P5. Who teach: That without a special revelation we can have no certainty of future perseverance in this life.

    For by this doctrine the sure comfort of the true believers is taken away in this life, and the doubts of the papist are again introduced into the Church, while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance, not from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks proper to the children of God and from the very constant promises of God. So especially the apostle Paul: “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:39).” And John declares: “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24).”

    P6. Who teach: That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and of salvation from its own character and nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals, prayers, and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is praiseworthy to doubt.

    For these show that they do not know the power of divine grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they contradict the apostle John, who teaches that opposite with express words in his first epistle: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3).” Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of the Old and the New Testament, who though they were assured of their perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and other exercises of godliness.

    P7. Who teach: That the faith of those who believe for a time does not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration.

    For Christ Himself, in Matt 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other places, evidently notes, beside this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers, when He declares that the former receive the seed on stony ground, but the latter in the good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but the latter have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.

    P8. Who teach: That it is not absurd that one having lost his first regeneration is again and even often born anew.

    For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God, whereby we are born again; contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable (1 Pet 1:23).”

    P9. Who teach: That Christ has in no place prayed that believers should infallibly continue in faith.

    For the contradict Christ Himself, who says: “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:32)”, and the evangelist John, who declares that Christ has not prayed for the apostles only, but also for those who through their word would believe: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name,” and “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:11, 15, 20).”
    (CANONS OF DORDT, Synod of Dordrecht, November 13, 1618 – May 9, 1619)

    Now those condemned doctrines should more than establish that Mormonism is heavily on the Arminian side of the Calvnist / Arminian divide, and more so, because we reject both Original Sin and total depravity which the Arminians generally do not, at least not traditionally.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  105. If I may go on, listen to the original Arminian side of the story, from the Remonstrant Articles:

    Article 1

    That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

    Article 2

    That agreeably thereunto, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And in the First Epistle of John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

    Article 3

    That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of an by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving Faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

    Article 4

    That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can nei­ther think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. but respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible; inas­much as it is written con­cerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost. Acts 7, and else­where in many places.

    Article 5

    That those who are in­corporated into Christ by true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory; it being well un­derstood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the Word of Christ, John 10:28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginning of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was deliv­ered them, of losing a good conscience, of be­coming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, be­fore we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our mind.

    These Articles, thus set forth and taught, the Remonstrants deem agreeable to the Word of God, tending to edification, and, as regards this argument, sufficient for salvation, so that it is not necessary or edifying to rise higher or to descend deeper.
    (The Five Arminian Articles, 1610)

    Now this should sound roughly like LDS doctrine by now, although total inability is definitely not a formal doctrine of the Church.

    Here is the Methodist equivalent, much abbreviated, 174 years later:


    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


    The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures-that is to say, the Godhead and manhood-were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for the actual sins of men.


    Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.


    The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he can not turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.


    We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.


    Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, can not put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgments; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.
    (Methodist Articles of Religion, 1784)

    Now the notable doctrine here, as with the original Arminians are the joint doctrines of total inability and total depravity – i.e. at least since the fall of Adam, not only can we do any good thing (even believe) without God’s help, we cannot help but do evil, and that continually.

    Now we do not believe in Original Sin, or transitive depravity, but there is certainly room in LDS doctrine for certain forms of natural depravity, even from before the fall. I maintain that they have to be conditioned on free will, however.

    Remember sin is defined as the transgression of the law – that means that while there are certainly forms of natural evil, the fulness of the definition of what is good and what is evil did not precede the authorship and ratification of the plan of salvation.

    Nowadays it is evil to ignore God and his plans, but way back when one might simply say – I want do to it my way (i.e. be a law unto oneself). That is fine, it just means that people are ultimately on their own, which is damnation, not because God is pushing them down, but rather because they are unwilling to let God lift them up, on the terms and conditions he has specified.

    That is my account of natural depravity – self-willed-ness (pride), no more, no less. Anything worse is freely chosen – i.e. to do something that is definitely a natural evil (e.g. destruction of the work of others).

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  106. I would actually suggest a read of the Works of Arminius. They are a good read, a good lesson in the history of ideas and a good defence of a view that was not merely under fire, but threatened the lives and jobs of all those who agreed with him. See here: http://www.godrules.net/library/arminius/arminius.htm

    Comment by Blake — July 8, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  107. I suggest it is also a good idea to sample the work of John Calvin,
    in his magnum opus, Institutes of the Christian Religion, to get a feel for the kind of man he was, and the detailed reasoning that lead him to espouse his most famous doctrines. The four volume set is completely written in a persuasive, theological style, although he seems a bit hasty with some of his conclusions:


    I am not a fan of theological Calvinism (quite the contrary), but I am a fan of Calvin. It is worth noting that Calvin’s own opinions are *slightly* softer and more similar to modern Calvinism than the peak of scholastic Calvinism, e.g. as represented in the Westminster Confession.

    Isaac Watts (1674-1748) was a softer Calvinist who wrote the following nine hymns in our hymnal, which certainly give a taste for the doctrines Calvinist / Puritans emphasized the most (the majesty and soverignty of God, mostly):

    O God, Our Help in Ages Past, 31
    Praise Ye the Lord, 74
    With All the Power of Hear and Tongue, 79

    Great God, Attend While Zion Sings, 88
    From All that Dwell below the Skies, 90
    Come, We that Love the Lord, 119

    Sweet is the Work, 147
    He Died! The Great Redeemer Died, 192
    Joy to the World, 201

    Now for Methodism, which is very closely related species of Arminianism, I recommend the following two pamphlet sized works of John Wesley:

    John Wesley, “The Question, ‘What Is an Arminian?’ Answered by a Lover of Free Grace”
    [this one is very short]

    John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
    As Believed and Taught by The Reverend Mr. John Wesley,
    From the Year 1725, to the Year 1777.

    Wesley stays away from technical disputes in this work, and teaches a doctrine of Christian Perfection which is very similar to what we advocate, to the degree we have to give him credit for having the inspiration to elucidate it in the first place.

    To get an additional taste of the spirit of Methodism, it is worth examining the following six hymns in our hymnal written by John’s brother Charles Wesley:

    Rejoice the Lord is King!, 66
    Jesus, Lover of My Soul, 102
    Ye Simple Souls Who Stray, 118
    Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, 200
    Hark the Herald the Herald Angels Sing, 209
    Come Let Us Anew, 217

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 8, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

  108. That should be (fixing the links):

    John Wesley, “The Question, ‘What Is an Arminian?’ Answered by a Lover of Free Grace”
    [this one is very short]

    John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
    As Believed and Taught by The Reverend Mr. John Wesley,
    From the Year 1725, to the Year 1777.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 9, 2006 @ 1:02 am

  109. By the way, CEF, the particular perversion of Calvinism that has so characterized the South for the past fifty years or so (though somewhat on the wane now), is generally known as the doctrine of Eternal Security, or “once saved always saved”.

    Reformed Calvinists generally regard this as a heresy, because the doctrine maintains that Christ will save all those who confess his name, regardless of their sins. That is not what classical Calvinists mean by “Perseverance of the Saints” (the P in TULIP). You see to a orthodox Calvinist, serious sin is evidence that one has not only not been saved, but that God probably has not elected that person to be saved in the first place, i.e. that the person is not actually a Saint after all. So the grand paradox of classical Calvinism is that people are always trying to prove, to themselves and others, that they are among the elect of God.

    Where with the Eternal Security perversion of Calvinism, people confess Christ, and then many feel justified in continuing their life of sin. Actually that is not like Calvinism at all, in fact it is more like a 16th century perversion of Lutheranism – i.e. works are not necessary for salvation, so we can believe and then do whatever the h*ll we want – the doctrine of Antinomianism, something that Luther himself was vulnerable to from time to time.

    This is a pretty interesting story about the practical effects of the doctrine of Eternal Security:

    Carl Giordano, The Story of Texas Tech


    Comment by Mark Butler — July 9, 2006 @ 1:29 am

  110. It keeps zapping the underscores:

    Try again here.

    Comment by Mark Butler — July 9, 2006 @ 1:32 am

  111. Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Where Am I Going? How does “Mormonism” answer those questions for us? And how do those answers differ significantly from the answers provided by pre-restoration doctrine. The BOM doesn’t tell us much about the pre-mortal WHO YOU ARE. The Bible only hints at it but doesn’t explain much about what it means to suggest that God is our Father; The Father of Spirits.
    Restoration doctrine seems to much more clearly drive home the notion that we are the children of God, in that we are His spiritual offspring. The concept rings true and is particularly comely in that it makes us pretty special. But just how special, depends on who God is. God, we are told, (post-restoration) is a Being, like us except exalted. He was once like us but became God over time. (For whatever reasons, we have those among us who balk at the notion that our “Father-in-Heaven” BECAME GOD. I suspect that it stems from the human nature to hold on to old “doctrines” and mythologies since they have so many quotable sources and apologists. But become God He did and BECOMING LIKE HIM is what post-restoration doctrine is all about. Too many including apparently Bro. Ostler, have incorrectly ascribed to Heavenly Father, the attributes of NATURE. But our Heavenly Father isn’t Nature, He’s a Being in Nature. He didn’t create Nature, He exists in it. He didn’t create Natural Law, He exists in it and abides by it. Post-restoration revelation clarifies that NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING. MATTER CAN NOT BE CREATED OR DESTROYED. THINGS…NATURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN…BEINGS HAVE ALWAYS EXISTED IN NATURE AND AS A PART OF NATURE. THERE IS NO ULTIMATE BEGINNING TO NATURE OR ULTIMATE BEING IN NATURE BOTH HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. Our Father in Heaven is one of those beings and so are we. HE HAS ALWAYS EXISTED IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER AND SO HAVE WE.) THERE IS NO CONUNDRUM IN THIS. FOREVER IS FOREVER…IN BOTH DIRECTIONS…NATURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN, NATURE WILL ALWAYS BE…HOW COULD IT BE OTHERWISE? IT JUST IS! THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ENDLESS STREAM OF BEING AND BEINGS IN ENDLESS VARIETY AND IN ENDLESS STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT…IF WE ARE TO ACCEPT ENDLESS PROGRESSION, WE NEED NOT ALSO ACCEPT AN ENDLESS “REGRESSION” BUT WE SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE AN ENDLESS HISTORY OF PROGRESSION AND BEING.

    In His exalted state, God has the ability to procreate. When He and His eternal mate procreate, They have spirit children. According to post-restoration information, we are the spirit children of heavenly parents. Our parents are Gods. Post-restoration doctrine seems to suggest that before we were “born” as spirit children we existed in some other way as “intelligences”. In any event if we are the children of Gods, we have their NATURE. AT THE SPIRITUAL CORE WE HAVE THEIR DNA. WE ARE THEM,… AS MUCH SO AND MORE SO THAN ANY ACORN IS AN OAK TREE. BUT UNLIKE EARTHLY SEED AND TREE, OUR SPIRITS ARE ETERNAL.

    Pre-restoration our other Christian brothers and sisters were left to hold to some second rate notion that we are merely “creations” of the ONE GOD who, because He likes us so much, wants us to eventually surround His throne and worship Him forever. But only if our sins have been properly atoned for.
    To make this atonement happen, Classic Christian doctrine informs He was willing to come down to earth as His other self (JESUS) and atone for us in some curiously bizzare whipping boy excersie in which Jesus would take our whipping for us if we would just accept Him as the only true whipping boy. At which point Jesus would suffer to satisfy the “demands” of some amorphic principle called justice who is in some ridiculously arbitrary way “satisfied” by allowing a pure and innocent being to suffer in the stead of the guilty.

    Oh and by the way, under the OLD Doctrine, those who failed to repent and accept Jesus as the only true whipping boy, would be cast down to HELL. (Interestingly enough, pre-19th Section of the D&C, WE USED TO BE TAUGHT THE VERY SAME CONCEPT, INSOFARAS HELL IS CONCERNED. THAT IS WE WERE TAUGHT THAT THE UNREPENTANT GO TO SOME ENDLESS LAKE OF FIRE AND ARE PUNISHED ETERNALLY. It was only after the Prophet JS received the 19th Sec. that we were “clued in” to the “mystery of Godliness” and were let off the really really bad HELL hook. Prior to that in both the Bible and the BOM God was teaching us that we would burn in Hell endlessly if we did not repent. In the 19th Sec. the Lord explains that He used to teach a forever Hell because he wanted that concept to “work upon” our hearts.)

    Post-restoration, we have the “new” doctrine which teaches us that we are the literal children of a loving God who loves us like any loving Father would love his children. For some reason, however, we are now taught that even though most of us don’t go to Hell and burn forever, if we don’t repent “well enough’ while we are here, we will have to suffer until we do repent and then, all but the “best” of us will go to some “lesser” place and yearn forever. (I personally think we will one day find that just like the “old” doctrine about Hell, this “newer” doctrine of a kinder, friendlier Hell where we only yearn, instead of burn, is also merely a concept taught so that it will “work upon our hearts”. The Lord knows many of us will want to be just as good as we can be as mortals so we can avoid the “lesser” “rewards”. Having this concept in the heads of some balances out the crazies on the other end of the spectrum who don’t give a _____. But this mortality the Lord has designed for us was never about losing His Children. In the final analysis, our Eternal Father has endless time and resources (CHIEF AMONG THEM THE ATONING SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST) to “help” us become like Him and since we are HIS ETERNAL SEED, WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF MAKING THAT HAPPEN…ALL OF US…TOGETHER.

    Something we don’t spend alot of time talking about when exploring the Who Am I question, is what happens to a Spirit Child of God who has an opportunity to live in His presence for a few billion years. My guess is, if we are His children and have His capacity, we might have learned a thing or two. Yet, because we have this mortal viel over our eyes we don’t have all that knowledge and experience. I suspect that a Being like God living in a Celestial environment for eons of time is going to be a incredibly sophisticated in his or her vocabulary, reasoning, perspective, opinions, feelings etc. Certainly significantly more so than any purely mortal man could ever be. So truth is…FROM AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE WE REALLY DON’T HAVE MUCH OF A CLUE AS TO WHO WE REALLY ARE. KNOWING ALL THAT WOULD INTERFERE WITH HAVING THIS MORTAL EXPERIENCE WHICH THE LORD HAS “CREATED” AND “CONTROLS” FOR US.

    WHY ARE WE HERE? The post-restoration “gospel” on the subject is that we are here on AN earth that our Father made for us as part of a test and to gain a physical body. How we score on the test supposedly determines our eternal reward. This makes mortal life pretty darn important. I like to think the 19th Section gives us a reason to HOPE that, like the “old” doctrine of Hell, this “newer” doctrine that says we are here to EARN OUR WAY IN TO SOME DEGREE OF GLORY, will be shown to have only been taught as a way of “working upon our hearts.” I suspect not ENOUGH of us would “be good” if we weren’t motivated by the “quest” for some higher degree of glory. AND WE NEED TO HAVE A CONTINGENT OF DO GOODERS MOTIVATED BY THE THINGS THAT FLIP THEIR MORTAL SWITCH TO BALANCE OUT THE DO BADDERS WHO ARE MOTIVATED BY THE THINGS THAT FLIP THEIR MORTAL SWITCH. IF NOT, WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING MORTALITY. BUT MORTALITY IS APPARENTLY WHAT WE NEED TO HAVE ALONG WITH ALL ITS PERSONALITIES, FLIPS AND SWITCHES.

    We are here to have a mortal experience. BUT every one of us is having one that is uniquely different. Through the miracle of the Lamb’s Book of Life, we will all learn from the experience of the rest, and we will ascend TOGETHER. I like to believe that our Father knew we would act like mortals and sin and that in this dynamic of mortality we would have every possible mix of experiences. EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING AS IT SHOULD BE. IF IT WERE NOT, WE WOULD NOT BE HAVING THE MORTAL EXPERIENCE THAT WAS INTENDED.

    WHERE ARE WE GOING? Under the “newer” post-restoration information, we are going to go wherever we DESERVE TO GO. And where we deserve to go is all about NOW…HOW GOOD WE ARE…WHAT WE EARN…IF WE’RE GOOD ENOUGH, JESUS CAN HELP US IF WE’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, WE ARE DOOMED TO AN ETERNITY OF YEARNING. I like to think that the 19th Section opens up the possibility that the Lord has yet to reveal “many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” and that these things will clarify that mortality is just one exciting step in the process of our BECOMING like our Father and that it was not designed to weed us out but rather to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life…ALL OF US TOGETHER…!


    Comment by Dave Cluff — July 15, 2006 @ 3:23 pm

  112. Dave,

    You make several good points. However, you are way off when you accuse Blake Ostler of pantheism. You obviously haven’t read too much of his work or you haven’t understood it if you make that mistake.

    By the way, WHY ARE YOU YELLING ALL THE TIME? Are you upset about something?

    Comment by Jacob — July 15, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  113. Jacob,
    Guilty as charged. I haven’t read Bro. Ostler, only the hearsay. (and precious little of that) I’m feeling rather sheepish…. I will do my due diligence next time. Sorry about the YELLING. I’m not upset… just not very good at modulating I guess. Thanks for reading my rambling comment.

    Comment by Dave C. — July 17, 2006 @ 11:32 am