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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Stump the Christians » Stump the Christians

Stump the Christians

Don - May 10, 2005

I was talking with a non-member friend and posed a question I love to ask. “Why did God create us?”

I have yet to find anyone outside the church that has an answer to this that makes any sense at all. This friend told me “Because God wanted fellowship.” I’ve had several tell me that “God wanted to give us a chance.” These and many other answers just don’t cut it.

What does a perfect God need? Does He need someone to worship Him? I don’t think so, in fact that sounds like someone else’s plan. Did God decide He was lonely so He created some “army men” to play with – like we did as kids? These creatures He created, why give them a spirit – whatever that is – because He had to create that too, and why a body? What good would His creation have been if they had remained in the Garden of Eden forever…even if they could have had kids? Did the Garden provide a place for this God to come and visit His creations…what so He could “play” with them. Why not create them in heaven instead, and “play” with them there?

Maybe I just haven’t found the right Christian to talk to. Have any of you gotten any good answers to this question from your Christian friends?

1 Comment »

  1. I hope it’s okay if I comment on this post too. You are asking for non-Mormon answers to the question, right? And since I’m not Mormon I thought I might give at least one other viewpoint on the matter.

    I’ve always been taught answer A: we are here to fellowship with God. Obviously you don’t like this answer. But here is why I was taught this. It is written in Genesis that God walked in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. Many take this to show how God used to walk and talk and “hang out” with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve had a fellowship with God that we can’t understand now: they walked in His presence and spoke with Him face to face. Wow. That’s awesome.

    And 1 John speaks frequently of having fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ if we believe in Him and all that is in the Gospel.

    And in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren discusses God’s desire for a family and His desire that we be a part of it. I tend to go for this answer.

    But do you mind answering your own question, cause it seems to be a different answer than mine obviously. What do you or the LDS church think is the reasoning for God creating man?

    I think your question can be broadened out a lot too. Why did God create Earth, or animals, plants, night and day? Did he *need* a place to live? No, He has one. So in reference to your post, He doesn’t *need* a little man army or world or anything like that; He *wants* them for His own pleasure.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 3:01 pm | #

    Superb question, Don.

    I think the LDS answer is that God did NOT create man. Humans have existed sempeternally with God. He gave us bodies and a chance to progress because he loves us.

    I think that as long as other faiths insist that God created man ex nilho, they will not be able to provide a sufficient answer to the question.
    Eric Russell | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 3:19 pm | #

    Annie,
    You’re sounding LDS again. Stop that before your pastor hears of it or you will be in trouble .

    Obviously, I don’t believe the LDS plan is all that different. We believe that God bothers with the process because he loves us and considers us family (who are we to argue with that?). We do take it a step further, by implying that this earth life is a means for us to fulfill a greater divine destiny (ie. eventually becoming like God). So, I think, God bothers with the process because he loves us, sees our divine potential, and wants us to fulfill it.
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 4:08 pm | #

    Well hey, I can’t help it if you guys get a few things right! And yeah, we’ll just have to keep all of this limited to the blogger world, or I might be burned as a heretic.

    But whoa! Big difference here. We don’t believe we existed in the spirit world before coming to Earth… yeah, no offense intended, but I must admit that I gave a hearty chuckle when I watched the video on the LDS website about humans existing and then being born and then going back… you have to admit they look kinda funny, all white and glowy and violins in the background. But ahem, anyway. I think that Eric (hello!) has a point in having difficulty finding a good answer to a question like this. We don’t pretend to know the will of God, His mind is too awesomely huge and above us for that. So for all we know He could have just gotten bored one day. But from reading His Word for us, we see that He wants a family and a unique love relationship with each of us and that our fellowship with Him is what He desires.

    So the question given to a Mormon would have a different result than when it’s given to a non-Mormon. Since you believe you existed already, the question’s more, why would God give us a body instead of letting us just stay in a spiritual world… which would be as you said to allow you to elevate to godhood… but for us it’s, why would God want to create a world and its inhabitants in the first place.

    But then I’m thinking… you say God considers us family, true. But if you do all you should do on Earth, and then die and become elevated and like God, then doesn’t that mean you’ll become separated from Him, having your own world and your own children to love and care for? When God was a man on another world, he had a god of that world, right? Well, where is he, does God see him, talk to him? Will you be able to see and talk to him and God after death? It all seems like a long cycle to me… so the creation of other worlds and other Earths seems to need no real reason, it’s just the way things have always been and will always continue to be. It seems like it makes the question less important… for the SBC there is and only will be one Earth, one world, so the reason for its creation seems much more important and the reason as to why we’re here more important also.

    One more thing. I’ve read somewhere that the LDS view is something along the lines of the fact that we have received a physical body in the first place shows our will to obey and follow God’s laws. So if this is the case, then every person born on this earth accepted God’s plan in order to receive an earthly body. If that’s the case, then how come we’re not all Mormon? If God’s true plan is the Mormon one, and we had to accept His plan in order to be born on Earth, then how come some of us don’t accept the Mormon worldview? Did I totally misinterpret what I heard, or does this make sense?
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 4:37 pm | #

    Eric, you’re right!

    Annie, let me go a little farther. If you believe God is a “spirit” then 2 questions come to mind. 1st why does He want a family, was this God lonely, did he need someone to worship Him…or to hang out with? (What kind of God is that?..not my 2nd question) If there is a reason that a God would be lonely, needs someone else to complete His wants or desires then why create men who have a body?

    Why did he choose to create man, and give him free will? Then because this man whom He created used that free will to disobey Him, this God had to transform Himself into a God with a body, like the man He’d created (become Jesus Christ) to die for him. By this death and suffering this man can now live with God in a resurrected.

    How does that make any sense?

    Why not just create man so he could automatically hang out with God? It seems to me that God some how didn’t think this thru very well. If He wanted someone to play with He should have created them fit to play.

    In answer to your question about the L.D.S. belief.

    God is the father of our spirits. These spirits existed prior to the creation of the earth. To allow those spirits to progress to their fullest exent He provided an earth for us to live on. Here on this earth our spirit bodies are “clothed” with a physical body…a temporal body. He created a veil across our minds so we do not remember our pre-mortal existence. This allows us to have faith in Him. If we could remember, we would need no faith. With this physical body and our agency (free will) we are also tested to see if we will keep His commandments.

    Since He knew we could not keep all His commandments he provided a savior for us. Jesus Christ is our savior, he suffered for our sins to make us clean, so we can return back to the presence of God and live with Him again.

    Obviously that is a very brief description. What a wonderful plan a loving Heavenly Father has provided for his children.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 4:37 pm | #

    I think that we both see a God motivated primarily by love for his children (a motivation that we can both (er, both meaning the SBC and the LDS) understand). And I think your criticism is just, we are both ultimately saying that the way we understand it is the way it has always been done (whether you believe in “multiple earths” or not). So, the difference appears to be one ultimately of degree in addition to approach (and, possibly, moreso).

    Don’t misunderstand me either. I am not really an ecumenialist (as my bitter, bitter comment here probably shows ). But I am interested in understanding how the SBC and the LDS have come to the point that they are at now (one of general mistrust, really (currently commenting parties excepted)).
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 5:24 pm | #

    Well, let’s see. I posed this question to my sister and got the general SBC response: “How should I know what *God* wanted or why? He’s *God* and I’m not, so I don’t know His reasons and probably wouldn’t understand them.”

    I don’t know if God was lonely. (What kind of God is that? Well… we could argue that since God made man in His likeness, then we share some of His traits. Perhaps some of the emotions we have came from God Himself. So who’s to say that God can’t feel lonliness… He feels joy, happiness, anger, and disappointment, right? Why not lonliness? But I’m not sure how I personally feel on this subject yet.)

    I don’t know why God gave us a physical body. He made Earth and wanted inhabitants on Earth in His image is all I get. He gave us free will to choose if we believe in Him, love Him, worship Him or not because He wanted His creations to do so because they wanted to and not because He made them, like robots. Having a person worship the Living God of his own will brings glory to His name.

    I think we see Earthly life somewhat similar to the LDS view. We’re here on Earth in a type of test atmosphere. Whether we choose to follow Him or not decides how we will live for the rest of eternity. We grow strong and close to Him through life experiences, and struggling through hardships makes us stronger if we still follow Him through it all. Kind of the life adage of learning from your experiences, getting more out of experience than from someone just telling you how it would be.

    I don’t know. It makes sense to me.

    I don’t quite understand the point of Christ in your explanation though. We couldn’t keep all of His commands, so Jesus had to make up for what we couldn’t do? Why didn’t God allow us to be able to fully obey Him? To me the SBC Christ makes more sense: we were perfect, but we screwed up and God knew we would, so He sent Christ to save us from all of our sins to be the blood sacrifice that God required of His people. To me the LDS Christ plays a much more minor role in the whole game, simply stepping in to help out what we couldn’t handle. If God made Earth as a test for those spirit children, then why make it so difficult that no one could pass without help?

    Though whatever either of us believes, I do agree that allowing either His actual Son, or His human manifestation, to be brutally crucified on our behalf is definately the work of a loving Father (which I think John will agree with as well).

    And John, I mentioned on the other post that I read that comment. Ahem. And thanks for the noted exception, of which I hope you were including me of course, ’cause I’ve worked hard in my life to be the least offensive and accusing as possible. You kinda have to if you live in the Deep South and don’t want to be considered a redneck, racist, close-minded, uneducated dunce who never wears shoes and can’t speak or spell to save her life… but no animosity here at all, really. Again, I think I got the better end of the deal a bit, since most of the people in the South are SBC or Baptist of some kind. It would suck to be SBC in Utah or at BYU. I keep hearing about all the Starbucks closing down! Ah! We’re getting more and more in my city every year. Though it would be nice to walk on a college campus and not be bombarded with cigarette smoke outside of every building, beside every trash can, or on every sidewalk. Hmm… BYU not lookin’ so bad afterall? I could deal with a lot less drunken sorority girls bangin around in the middle of the night too. I think you guys might be on to something here.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 6:34 pm | #

    “To me the SBC Christ makes more sense: we were perfect, but we screwed up and God knew we would, so He sent Christ to save us from all of our sins to be the blood sacrifice that God required of His people. To me the LDS Christ plays a much more minor role in the whole game, simply stepping in to help out what we couldn’t handle.”

    Annie,
    I apologize for being obtuse, but I fail to see the difference here. Isn’t Christ stepping in necessary either way? In God’s infinite foreknowledge, knowing that we would screw the whole thing up (which I think is acceptable to both systems), isn’t the fundamental need for a Savior self-evident?
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 7:38 pm | #

    Annie, the bible tells us God/Christ made more worlds than just this one.

    How can a God who does not have a body create us in His image. If we are in His image then He must have a head, hands and feet similar to mine.

    Christ was resurrected with a physical body. His apostles felt it, and everytime He appears after His reserrection He eats. So what happened to that body?

    All this really has gotten a bit off my original post. Is there any answers to the question heard from other Christians. I really don’t think “We don’t know God’s mind and will” is much of an answer, more of an excuse for not knowing. Opps that sounds a little harsh.

    I just have a hard time with this God who has no body, parts, or passions creating man in His image, which He doesn’t have so He won’t be lonely and He wants a family. Sorry I guess I’m too simplistic minded for that.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 7:43 pm | #

    Just another vote for uncreated spirits.

    Annie, you better be careful – ascribing things like lonliness to God is not very…um, shall we say, trinitarian.
    J. Stapley | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 9:48 pm | #

    Ah! Okay, I’m sorry I sounded so off at times up there. I was tying to multitask and wasn’t doing such a hot job of it, so I didn’t really make complete sense. Sorry.

    John, you’re not being obtuse. My brain wasn’t functioning properly at the moment and that sentence came out all wrong. I guess I just meant that I didn’t quite understand Don’s explanation of the role of Christ in the LDS view of things. I’m having a hard time explanining myself here, but I’m just having a hard time dealing with the LDS view of Earth and life. Maybe if someone helped me out with the LDS view of Adam and Eve and original sin and the Fall and such I could understand better. I’m just having a hard time with the whole, everyone lived as a spirit child with God before Earth bit, ’cause it doesn’t make sense to me that He would then create a world to esentially get rid of all His children.

    Maybe I misunderstood the role of Christ as Savior as well. I thought of… we couldn’t obey all His laws, so we needed help, whereas I think of Adam and Eve made a mistake and cause all their descendents to be sinful as well, and in need of a Redeemer, but that we’re perfectly capable of obeying God’s laws if we try. Again, I’m explaning this all horribly, I’m having a hard time typing this out instead of being able to say it all out loud and change words, and word order, and use my hands and all that good stuff. Sometimes I have a hard time with not being face to face. I apologize. I’m sorry. And I’m getting frustrated.

    Alright. Let’s try again. I finally found my Purpose Driven Life book, ’cause I knew there was something in there to help me describe what I meant. Now, I want to make sure I say that when I talked about God being lonely I said I didn’t know how I felt about that subject but that it was an argument that people could make. So personally, I have to agree with Rick Warren when he says that God wasn’t lonely when He created man, though He does show emotions throughout the Bible. I think God created men in order to express love. He had perfect love in the Trinity so He didn’t *need* to create us, but He wanted an object to express His love to. So He made Earth and created man and woman for His pleasure to give and express His love. He wanted to create us to love us on Earth and so we could eventually spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

    But when we betrayed His love by sinning, God didn’t abandon us, though He did punish men with the Flood, instead He sent His Son, HImself, to die for us and redeem us so that we would once again be worthy to dwell with Him in Heaven. Like I mentioned before, God walked in Eden with Adam and Eve, showing them care and love as only He could.

    And I know “we don’t know” isn’t much of an answer, but I don’t think it’s an excuse. It’s simply the truth, we don’t know. A lot of SBCers have faith in what the Bible teaches even if we don’t quite understand it completely. So there are some questions that we simply don’t know the answer to, ’cause we don’t think God can be fit into a box or necessarily should be. God is *God* if we knew everything about Him, or everything He knew then we’d be gods too in a sense. We don’t try to mold God into something that will make sense to us or be logical by human standards because God isn’t a human, so He’s above all our logic and standards.

    And as far as creating us in His image. I just can’t answer that right now. Firstly because I’ve written enough already and secondly because this is one of the questions that SBCers simply believe and don’t really ask a lot, so I’ll have to do some SBC research for it.

    I hope I sound somewhat more sane now. Again, I’m sorry for being so off before, I can go a little ADD sometimes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have more info. And as far as answers to this questions from other Christians… I don’t know. I have a small, tightknit group of friends, only two of which go to church on a regular basis (they’re Episcopalian), one is a straight up atheist, one is “Christian” but not in the organized sense, and one is agnostic looking into Buddhism. I’m pretty cultured for a girl from Alabama, huh? But I could ask my Episcopalian friends what they think if you’d like, but the Episcopal church is so… well, I just don’t think they’ll have anything other than “I don’t know either” but I am interested at what other denoms have to say, so if anyone has any other answers, please share.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.10.05 – 11:22 pm | #

    “He sent His Son, HImself”

    His son, or himself? Which one?
    Eric Russell | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 11:15 am | #

    God the Son
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 12:48 pm | #

    “Maybe if someone helped me out with the LDS view of Adam and Eve and original sin and the Fall and such I could understand better.”

    Annie,
    You may find this to be of interest. http://scriptures.lds.org/a_of_f/1
    It is a link to the basic tennants of our faith. The Articles of Faith, by title.

    If you look at the second article, you will see that we believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. In other words, each of us is responsible and held accountable for our own actions. We seperate ourselves from God by ourselves, not by Adam.

    I would say, as far as I understand, that Adam and Eve are honored in the LDS faith for their role in God’s plan. They made it possible for all of us to come to earth, and receive bodies. Without Adam and Eve leaving the presence of God, we could not (as human beings and their descendents) truly be tested. (As both the SBC and the LDS faith agree to be one of the purposes of being on Earth). There would be no need for faith in God because we would be in His presence. It really wouldn’t be much of a test. It would sort of abdicate our agency to choose.
    Jon | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 3:38 pm | #

    Sorry Annie. I know. I justed couldn’t help myself when I read that.

    “Why did God create us?” is a good question, but I think my favorite one to ask my evangelical friends was, “So just who the heck was Jesus praying to? The other manifestation of himself?” I never understood the answers given.
    Eric Russell | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 5:06 pm | #

    Annie,
    Don’t sweat the “I don’t know”. It is always a perfectly legitimate answer (and more often than not, the only honest one). I don’t use it as often as I should .

    May I be so bold as to suggest that once again the need for a Savior is a place where the SBC and the LDS converge. Both believe that it is theoretically possible for someone to live a sinless life (Christ did, according to both), but, for whatever reason, just about everybody doesn’t. Hence, both groups acknowledge the need of a Savior (Christ) who can come in and fix the situation, allowing sinful people (aka. ourselves and everyone we know or have heard of) into the presence of God.
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 5:19 pm | #

    “I’m just having a hard time with the whole, everyone lived as a spirit child with God before Earth bit, ’cause it doesn’t make sense to me that He would then create a world to esentially get rid of all His children.”

    He’s not getting rid of His children–He’s giving us a chance to progress. Part of that progression is the opportunity to have a physical body. We of course believe God has a physical body, a celestial body, and we believe the only way for us to gain one is to be born on earth, die, and be resurrected.
    Susan M | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 9:37 pm | #

    Okay, first off. The LDS church teaches that God is currently, right now, inhabiting a physical body somewhere? And that Heaven is a physical place, and when we die we get another physical body in Heaven? I’m sorry, the last comment by Susan (hello!) confused me. Please correct all of the above if it’s wrong; I was under the impression that you thought God *had* a physical body, but didn’t now. I’m confused once again.

    And thanks, John, I will be one of the first to advocate the use of “I don’t know” as an answer.

    And I read the Articles of Faith. So, what’s the LDS view on Adam and Eve being sinless at the beginning? I understand not holding all men accountable for Adam’s sin, but it doesn’t mention the Fall, or them being sinless at the start. And I think I can understand Adam and Eve being the pioneers in leaving God’s side to help the transition. But I found this verse: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25. And I was reading and it talks about if Adam had not transgressed, then the rest of humanity wouldn’t have been born. But that doesn’t make sense to me either, because God created the world so that His spirit children might progress, right? So why would He create it and have Adam and Eve be perfect and only allow the rest of His children to progress if Adam sinned? It seems that if He created the world for His children to be tested and progress into the next life, then He either wouldn’t have created A&E sinless in the beginning, or He would have allowed His children to be born of Earth sinless too. Does that make any sense? At all? I’m having trouble explaining myself.

    And, yes, I’ve been asked the question of who Jesus prays to before… all by non-Mormons too. I don’t think I ever got very good at explaining it either. We see all three beings of the Trinity as having different attributes but all connected in essence. But we’re so off topic here, that maybe we should save this for later… and it’s a little late for me to try to explain this right now.

    And maybe I’ll admit that the SBC and the LDS both view Christ as a Savior in the same sense. But I do have a question. You admit that Christ is God’s Son. Was He one of God’s spirit children like the rest of us, or is He special? And if He’s special, how so? And what about the Holy Spirit, who exactly is He and how did He get started? And don’t you think Satan is God’s son as well? Is he special too? … Maybe I don’t know as much about the LDS church as I thought. But y’all have a lot of new and different doctrine to learn, so I’m makin’ some headway I think.

    And I also want to say that I also posed this question to my mom. Answer? Fellowship with God. It seems like the SBC is in agreement on this. Again, anyone know of any other denom’s opinions?
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.11.05 – 11:28 pm | #

    I’ve heard the Trinity explained as three different aspects of the same thing. However, this view confuses me. By necessity, this view would make Jesus only PART of God, and thus not WHOLLY God, and thus somehow deficient of God’s perfection. Yet the whole point for most mainstream Christians is that Jesus is WHOLLY man and WHOLLY God. But if Jesus is just one aspect of God, then exactly how is he WHOLLY God? Isn’t this a problem?
    Benjamin K | Email | Homepage | 05.12.05 – 1:08 am | #

    Annie,

    You’re asking questions now that are right in the confusing parts of LDS doctrine. So, I’ll stop all contact with you from now on…

    Ok, instead I’ll follow your example and try to explain how I see it.

    We do believe that we’re all brothers and sisters (incl. Jesus and Satan). That said, we do seem to believe that Jesus is different from the rest of us. I believe that the standard explanation is that he was around God for a long time before we arrived on the scene, but that is by no means the universal opinion. We have, as I am sure you have noticed, an awful lot of flexibility in how we approach our theology. Regarding the Holy Ghost, er, I don’t know (I think you’re going to find that to be a universal answer (even with 3 more books of scripture, his origin is never discussed)).

    About Adam and Eve, I admit it seems counter-intuitive but I think that there are things in the eternal perspective that you can only understand by screwing up. I try to explain it here with only moderate success, I think.

    That said, you seem more interested in the mechanics of the fall. Erm, I don’t have any idea why it had to be this way, although I would be curious as to why the SBC thinks God put that tree in the garden. I suppose I just assume it was the way to do it and leave it at that (man, what a cop-out).
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.12.05 – 7:05 pm | #

    The Trinity is extrememly hard to explain to skeptics… little kids in Sunday School at the local SBC church will simply go “ah, really, three *and* one? cool” and be on their way. Christ is both divine and human in the sense that He is completely human: He came down to Earth, was born of a woman, ate, breathed, slept, walked, talked, was human, fully and completely. But He was also fully divine: He is God who humbled Himseld enough to be born onto Earth as a human. There was a big problem in the early church with people saying that Christ was either all God and not human (some kind of floating spirit, which is not true) or either He was all human and not God (a man only, with no divine essence anywhere in His body, also not true). Christ was both God and man.

    This is a problem when describing Him to Mormons, you view the Godhead as three separate beings. The SBC sees the Trinity, every aspect (God, Son, and Holy Spirit) is wholly God. But since Christ humbled Himself enough to come to Earth, then He’s both fully God and fully man. I think I’m just writing myself into circles here, but it’s a hard concept to explain to a Mormon, or anyone who denies the Trinity, and I’m not an expert theologian. And since you’ve all already got your view of things, you’re going to be unaccepting of mine even if you are nice enough to hear it and accept me personally. But hey, it goes both ways.

    John, the church doesn’t have an official side on the idea of where Christ and Satan came from? How come He was there before the rest of you… us… ahem? I’m sure you’ll also notice that the SBC doesn’t have a lot of flexibility in its theology, and I like that. Too much flexibility I think leads to confusion, discention, Methodism? I think it leaves room for people to take things into their own hands and stop listening to their religious leaders. But that’s another topic altogether.

    And while I see that sin can lead us closer to God, He still doesn’t like it when we do so. Maybe this is another difference in the LDS/SBC view… you have sin to help you learn, draw closer to the Father. We have sin because we screwed up and God had to get us out of our own stupidity by sending His Son to die for us. Now, while we can still grow closer to God through sin and repentence, sin wasn’t brought in by God in order to help our progression, as you say. Woman was tricked, man fell, we suck.

    God put “that tree” in Eden as you put it… I don’t know, ’cause He can do whatever He wants! And maybe He wanted us to learn some obedience while He was at it. Obviously we fell short of the glory of God and couldn’t help ourselves.

    Just one thing. The LDS church doesn’t hold men responsible for Adam’s sin, but just each individual person’s. But do you say that Adam’s sin had anything to do with everyone else’s sin? Cause the only sinless person on Earth was Christ, and Adam and Eve’s sin seems, then, to have lead the way for everyone else’s sin to me. Maybe not that each person is punished for the eating of the fruit, but that Adam’s sin started it all and now no person can be sinless. You’re not a cop-out. I like that answer.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.12.05 – 10:59 pm | #

    Annie,
    I feel a need to point out that my ideas about the relative value of sin likely represent a minority view within Mormonism (perhaps a minority of one). So, don’t read too much into anything that I have to say on the matter. That’s always the problem of dealing with people who don’t have a systemized theology.

    And we do have somewhat of a theology. There are certain ideas that all Mormons adhere to (the need for a Savior, the existence of God, etc.). So, while to an adherent of a denomination with a more fully elucidated dogma might find our approach too fluid, We feel like all the important bits have been settled, that we don’t really know anything about the rest and won’t until after we’re dead, and therefore we are free to speculate like crazy. We just call it doctrine, not Doctrine.

    ” Maybe not that each person is punished for the eating of the fruit, but that Adam’s sin started it all and now no person can be sinless.”

    This was the point I was trying to make in my post at my website. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, the world changed and we became capable of sin and death. We believe that both of these obstacles to communion with God have been overcome in Christ. Because of His resurrection, we believe that all people will be resurrecting (thus overcoming physical death). Because of His Atonement, Our spiritual separation from God, caused by our sin, can also be overcome via sincere repentance. So, I don’t think we disagree so much on this. (Also, for the record, I would like to publicly acknowledge that I think sin is bad and I think God thinks so too. In case there was any question.)

    The question regarding the tree gets back to the imponderables of why God does anything. If He has infinite foreknowledge, then He would have known that we would eat the fruit. So, if He didn’t want us to, why did He put it there. There really isn’t a good answer to the question (which kinda was my point).
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 05.13.05 – 8:57 am | #

    “The question regarding the tree gets back to the imponderables of why God does anything. If He has infinite foreknowledge, then He would have known that we would eat the fruit. So, if He didn’t want us to, why did He put it there. There really isn’t a good answer to the question (which kinda was my point).”

    Prefacing this as being my own thoughts on the subject.

    As either Rusty or Don pointed out in some post or other, I believe that there are certain things that God will not do. For example, He will not lie or be deceptive. He has created certain laws and rules that He subjects Himself to. Another good example– He will not violate our right to choose.

    As has been discussed, perhaps our reason for creation was for God to have something to love and to be loved by. I am not sure that anyone, let alone God, would trust a love that was not freely given. Would anyone trust love gained by fear or compulsion? Would anyone trust obedience under these conditions either? I wouldn’t.

    Being a just and merciful God, I cannot see Him creating Adam and Eve, giving them free agency, and then forcing them out of His presence by no action of their own. Under His own laws, I am not sure He could.

    In order for agency to exist, there has to be choice, and there has to temptation. Adam and Eve had to be given choice and temptation to pave the way for us to be tested. They had to leave God’s presence by their own actions, and they had to have children– by God’s mercy and love, we are given a way to return to His presence through obedience, and repentance made possible by Christ’s atonement.

    God created a way for us to learn and to grow, and he created a way for us to return to Him if we are worthy.
    Jon | Email | Homepage | 05.16.05 – 11:49 pm | #

    Jon, you explained that really well and I completely agree.
    Annie | Email | Homepage | 05.17.05 – 11:05 am | #

    One could take the view that Adam and Eve were “set up”, although I don’t mean to imply it was a “trap”.

    Being placed in the Garden in an immortal state, it was just a matter of time before one of the two would succumb to temptation. If not the first century of their existence, then maybe the next.
    Brent | Email | Homepage | 05.19.05 – 12:40 am | #

    Jon,

    You have gotten almost all the way there. God is perfect and cannot tolerate the least degree of sin. Additionally, God cannot create an imperfect, fallen world; because of His nature He can only create a perfect world. However, God, knowing that for His children to progress they would need to be tempted in a world of opposites (good v. evil, right v. wrong, pain v. pleasure, etc.), had to devise a plan whereby His children could be tested, could fall and learn from their experience, and be rescued from the effects of sin (which include pain and death).

    So, God created a perfect world (Eden). He placed Adam and Eve therein along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He then gave a commandment not to eat fo the fruit of the tree and attached a consequence to the breaking of that commandment, which would be death (or separation from God). Being perfect, He could not tempt His children to break the commandment He gave them. So He allowed Satan into the garden to do the tempting. Adam and Eve, using their own moral agency (free will), at some point succumbed to the temptation and God, keeping His word, sent them out of His presence (spritual death) and changed their physical nature so that their bodies became subject to mortality (physical death).

    The point is that God wanted Adam and Eve to experience mortality and live in an imperfect world where they would be tempted to do evil and learn to do good by having the opportunity to resist evil and choose the right. That is why God did things the way He did. He also knew that, being mortal and being inexperienced, they (and all their children) would at least occasionally falter and fail to keep all the commandments.

    In other words, He knew that every one of Adam and Eve’s posterity capable of sin would commit some sin at some point. So His Plan called for a Savior, One who would be His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, One who would live a perfect, sinless life–an unblemished Lamb who could serve as a sacrifice for all the sins of all the world. Thus, Jesus Christ would serve as the Savior for all of God’s children. Jesus is different by virtue of His being the Firstborn spiritual Son of God, by being chosen from before the foundation of the world to perform the atonement, by being the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh (and thus being fully divine) and also the Son of the Virgin Mary (and thus being fully mortal), by being the only one who ever lived on the face of the earth to live a perfect, sinless life, by being the one who took upon Himself the sins of the world in the garden of Gethsemane and the Cross of Calvary, and by being the first to be resurrected.

    As for the original sin of Adam and Eve. It is a matter of some debate (a semantic one) as to whether Adam’s disobedience in partaking of the fruit in the garden of Eden was a “sin” or less seriously deemed a “transgression” but his act had the effect of causing his own spiritual death and changing his body to make it susceptible to physical death after a probationary period on this fallen earth. We all inherit mortality (susceptibility to physical death) as a result of Adam’s transgression. Christ’s atonement will rescue all from this consequence of Adam’s transgression because it would be unjust for God to punish eternally you or me for something Adam did. For this reason, LDS believe ALL who ever lived regardless of their attitude toward Christ and the gospel will be resurrected and receive an eternal physical body. As for the spirtual death, this came upon Adam as a result of his own transgression. Since each of us sins at some point, we cause our own spiritual death, or separation from God, and God is justified in perpetuating this spiritual death if we do not repent. Christ’s atonement allows us to reenter God’s presence and overcome this spiritual death by faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in our discipleship of Jesus.

    We can choose to accept the freely offered gift of Christ made possible by His actions in the garden and on the cross. In this way, Christ’s atonement overcomes both the fall of Adam and the “fall of me.”
    Eric | Email | Homepage | 05.26.05 – 4:20 pm | #

    As for the spirtual death, this came upon Adam as a result of his own transgression. Since each of us sins at some point, we cause our own spiritual death, or separation from God

    So is it possible for someone (besides Jesus) to live a sinless life during their mortal probation? Why is it that no one has?
    Greg | Email | Homepage | 05.28.05 – 5:07 pm | #

    Yes, infants for example. As for those who have reached the age of accountability, I would say no, it is not possible. Theoretically, I suppose, there are two paths to salvation: One is to keep the whole law perfectly and never sin. Such an individual would be saved from spiritual death as a result of perfectly keeping the law and saved from physical death by virtue of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Christ alone followed this path. But because all others fall short in this regard, the law serves not to save but to condemn man. So, the alternative path to salvation, the only path available to the rest of humanity, is to exercise faith in Christ, repent, and rely wholly upon His merits for the blessings of salvation.

    As a tangent, it is true that, were it not for Christ, the failure to keep one commandment would be the same as failing to keep them all–not that the nature of the sin is equivalent but that without the atonement of Christ, one sin would condemn a person to eternal damnation as easily as a thousand sins. People often misunderstand this doctrine, thinking that if one sin would result in eternal damnation, then all sins are equal in their gravity. It is only in condiering the hypothetical state that humanity would be in were it not for the Savior that all sins have equal effect, soteriologically speaking.

    Because the Savior did accomplish His work, however, faith and repentance are operative, and sins may properly be viewed in this context as having various degrees of severity.
    Eric | Email | Homepage | 05.31.05 – 12:00 pm | #

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