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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Eternal Inequality? » Eternal Inequality?

Eternal Inequality?

Guest - August 8, 2005

Submitted by ARJ

After hanging around in the bloggernacle for a while now, I’ve developed a few pet issues that I’m sensitive to.  Probably on the top of the list if the concept of equality in the eternities.  This is a concept that I had never run into until reading Mormon blogs.  It bugs me in a deep way, probably because I don’t see the evidence for it.  In fact, my concept has always been that equality is impossible.

I think that this thinking emerged from some American concept of "all men are created equal", which itself denies the equality of women.  In any case it seems obvious to me that while the government holds this as an ideal, in practice there is no equality.  The government and other institutions all treat people unequally.  Even within a family there is no equality.  Each member of my family was raised differently.  If anybody out there is an identical twin perhaps they could add some insight here.

But what about those that make it to the Celestial Kingdom?  Will they all be equal?  For simplicity’s sake, let’s say the highest level of the CK, since levels imply inequality, right?  Also let’s leave polygamy out of this since it seems to bring in quite a bit of inequality as well.  So in what ways will this limited set of beings be equal?  In what ways won’t they?

Now remember that these people will be perfected right?  Does perfection imply equality?  I don’t think so.  No more than the similarly hard concept of "infinite" implies equality.  Here’s an interesting digression:  If you select a real number at random from the set of real numbers, what are the odds that it is a rational number?  Most people are surprised to learn that the odds are zero.  This is because while there are an infinite number of rational numbers, there are infinitely more irrational numbers.  The point of that digression?  I don’t know that "perfected" implies that anyone’s perfection will take the same shape as another’s.

Now for the scriptural backup.  I would start with Abraham 3.  The entire chapter is interesting, but verses 16 to 19 are probably the most pertinent.  These scriptures imply that there is no equality.  It seems that given any measure of any two things (stars and spirits are mentioned) there will one that is greater than the other.

Also D&C 130:18&19 teaches a similar principle.  While it isn’t as clear from this scripture that the distinctions are lasting, it makes it clear that there will be distinctions.

I’m not arguing whether this eternal inequality is good or bad, but that it is pervasive.  I could be totally off base here.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn more about the nature of eternity.


  1. Nice post ARJ. Equality is an interesting concept in the first place. I mean, is there ever a time or place in which people are equal in any way? Maybe some are given an equal opportunity, but that never translates into an equal end result, no matter what.

    Even the perfect husband/wife relationship isn’t on equal grounds because they have strengths and weaknesses that may counterbalance the other. They aren’t equal, but the combination may be perfect.

    Zion seemed more of a concept of needs being fulfilled, not equality of goods. Should we all have equal needs? I can’t imagine this would be the case.

    Comment by Rusty — August 8, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

  2. Rusty, if people are actually given an equal opportunity, it will definitely translate into an equal result. That is, if people are given the same internal (psychological, intellectual, emotional, personality) and external (financial, social network, political, physical) resources, then they will obviously have the same result–at least on average, since there may be some random chance involved. But if one person only needs four hours of sleep and another needs ten, that’s a difference in opportunity that will tend to favor the first person. Similarly, if one person is psychologically built to want to work hard whereas another person is psychologically built to have little motivation, that’s also a difference in opportunity.

    In a perfect world, as in the next life, righteous people will have equal opportunities, and hence equal exaltation. That’s my testimony. The scriptures, and the Doctrine and Covenants, in particular, provide a lot of justification for this. But more generally, what does it mean for us all to be one if we’re not meant to be equal?

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

  3. I’d like to know what you mean by “equal”, ARJ. 19th Century Mormons sure didn’t believe in equality in the Celestial kingdom, in the ways that you seem to be defining it (but I would like a clarification).

    I think it boils down to free will. Like RT said, if we are stripped from our physiological inequities and by the atonement are psychologically renewed in the Celestial Glory, then the variable becomes one of choice. I’m not willing to accept that we have different capacities for choice, and consequently we all have equal capacity for the consequence of our choices.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 8, 2005 @ 1:32 pm

  4. RT,

    I think you are confusing “perfect” with “equal”. You yourself point out that we all have different starting points which lead to inequalities. While I could imagine an arguement that the atonement levels the playing field, how do you address the Abraham scripture?

    Comment by a random John — August 8, 2005 @ 1:32 pm

  5. RT,
    I’m not sure exactly what the whole “intelligences before we were born” thing means, but it seems that we all had potential to do the same things, but we used that agency thing and some excelled and some didn’t. If you’re saying having an intelligence is the equality, then I agree with you, but once we started using our agency we can no longer be on equal grounds.

    Additionally, how do you make the jump from “righteous people will have equal opportunities” to “righteous people will have equal exaltation”? How does opportunity equal exaltation?

    I’m one with my wife but we’re not equal. Christ is one with the Holy Ghost but they aren’t equal. A quarterback is one with his wide receiver but they aren’t equal. Why should we suppose being one means being equal?

    Comment by Rusty — August 8, 2005 @ 1:38 pm

  6. I’m one with my wife but we’re not equal. Christ is one with the Holy Ghost but they aren’t equal. A quarterback is one with his wide receiver but they aren’t equal. Why should we suppose being one means being equal?

    Again, will someone define what equal means? I found this entire quote incoherent, becasue I don’t know what you mean.

    What is unequal about Christ and the Holy Ghost?

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 8, 2005 @ 1:50 pm

  7. J,
    I guess I’ve just been assuming “equal” means “same”. Whether that refers to quantity, ability, capacity or whatever, I interpret it as being “same”.

    Therefore, I stick with my statement that Christ and the HG are not equal. Christ goes about helping us achieve salvation in a different way than the Holy Ghost does. However, they are the same in purpose (equal in purpose), but not equal beings.

    Comment by Rusty — August 8, 2005 @ 2:32 pm

  8. J. Stapley,

    That is a great question. I’ve been trying to figure out a definition. I think some preliminary ones might be “equal in glory” or “equal in potential”, though I am open to suggestions. Perhaps “potential” is a bad term to use because it references the future…

    Comment by a random John — August 8, 2005 @ 2:44 pm

  9. Rusty, it looks like you are taking it as a mathmatical abstraction. 2 + 3 = 5 or five equal five. It seems to me that beyond writing that down on paper, there is no real equity in reality. In such a case inequality doesn’t mean anything. What you are saying is that the Holy Ghost and Jesus are not the same thing, which I think everyone here will agree with. I think, however, most people here will also believe that they are equal in many respects.

    So it seems to me that saying blanket statements about inequalities don’t really mean anything unless you specify what exactly is unequal.

    ARJ, the more I think about it, the more I think that your original proposition synches well with Brigham and his compatriots. Describing the Celestial Kingdom in the Millennial Star:

    Such as have not received the fullness of the priesthood, (for the fullness of the priesthood includes the authority of both king and priest) and have not been anointed and ordained in the temple of the Most High, may obtain salvation in the celestial kingdom, but not a celestial crown. Many are called to enjoy a celestial glory, yet few are chosen to wear a celestial crown, or rather, to be rulers in the celestial kingdom.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 8, 2005 @ 3:39 pm

  10. I think “equal” as “same in every way” is somewhat hopeless. I certainly hope that all people don’t have to be exactly the same. However, I do think that it is useful to talk about “equal” as “peer.” A litmus test for the kind of equality I’m talking about: can person A coerce person B to do something? Can person B coerce person A? If yes to either question, there’s no equality. If no to both, then you have a peer relationship and equality.

    It’s extremely difficult to distinguish between our mortal psychological limitations and our free will. Indeed, in mortality, there is never a moment in which one is operating but the other isn’t. In the next life, we’ll get free will with perfect knowledge and no psychological limitations. Hence I conclude that people of goodwill will eventually succeed equally–i.e., completely–in that context.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 3:39 pm

  11. RT,

    So everyone will have equal (identical?) goodwill? :)

    BTW, I have found the discussion that was source of this irritation, though there have been others:

    Comment by a random John — August 8, 2005 @ 3:41 pm

  12. J., I like your Brigham Young quote.

    There’s a lot of different material available on the frequency of exaltation, and some people within the church are much closer to being universalists. In other words, I think this topic taps a division within the church. Those, like some leaders and me, who think a lot of people will reach full exaltation would see this quite differently than those who see exaltation as a very elite destiny.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 3:43 pm

  13. ARJ, I don’t know that all people have good intentions. Some seem to have bad intentions. But I expect those who do have good intentions to inherit all the Father has. So, yeah, equality, since they all get “all.”

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 3:45 pm

  14. RT,

    So are they then equal to the Father? Are there ways in which they would not be equal? Doesn’t the Father’s glory grow as a result of his children gaining glory? Doesn’t this imply that there are aspects of God that we don’t simply inherit?

    I should probably also point out that I’m not trying to make an argument about how many people reach exaltation, but that within the population of the exalted there will be differences.

    Comment by a random John — August 8, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

  15. ARJ, I am sure there will be differences among exalted beings. I certainly hope that personality persists in some sense into the next life; otherwise I don’t know if there’s any sense in which the “me” in the next world would be the same as the “me” in this world. So I certainly think there will be differences.

    Now let’s think about “glory.” I read this idea as a claim that it makes God happier when we progress and become happier. Is this a reasonable reading? If not, what do you think “glory” is? I’m unhappy with “glory” as “power to command,” because that implies an eternity of rote obedience rather than an eternity of progress and increasing autonomy.

    I think an analogy to mortal parents is useful here. I never will become my dad’s father or brother–but I certainly do reach a point at which my dad no longer feels a need to treat me as anything other than a peer.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 3:55 pm

  16. RT,

    I am happy with the idea of being peers, especially with our spirit brothers and sisters. I have no problem with that. I also have no problem with the idea that God will give us equal opportunities. What I am trying to express is that assuming that you and I are both exalted, you might still be better at some things than I am, and I might be better at others. And there might be those that are better than either of us at just about everything. I also think that in the CK such “inequalities” won’t be a source of jealousy or bitterness.

    Comment by a random John — August 8, 2005 @ 4:04 pm

  17. ARJ,
    Your last paragraph is exactly what I had been trying to say (except much more concise and clear). That’s what I got from your post and remains a good question.

    I often juvinilely think about playing sports in the CK and how boring it must be if we are all equal. I mean, does “being perfect/exalted” mean that we have full capacity in everything possible? Or does it just mean that we’ve made enough changes to become like Christ (therefore exalted), but doesn’t extend to things such as ability to sing and draw and long jump?

    Comment by Rusty — August 8, 2005 @ 4:33 pm

  18. I have no objection to the different-capacities idea of inequality among exalted beings. And you apparently have no problem with the idea of peer-relation equality. So, once we’ve clarified terms, there seems to be agreement here! Let the rejoicing begin. I’ll kill my fatted calf if you’ll host the wedding feast.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 5:39 pm

  19. Wow! This post nd all it’s questions got resolved in a few hours! That’s amazing!
    I’m with Rusty on this that I figured from your post that everyone will not be “equal” in the CK. That doesn’t bother me at all. I’d be plenty happy as a God making worlds in the universe next to Abraham’s, even if his is way better.
    So, do you think this is what is meant by the phrase “for one star differeth from another star in glory”? (1 Cor. 15:41) This scripture has always perplexed me in a way, though I think I may be trying to read too much into it.

    Comment by Bret — August 8, 2005 @ 6:18 pm

  20. A Random John,

    In light of your post, what do you make of the parable of the labourers (Matt. 20:1-16):

    For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

    So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

    But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and
    thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

    But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 8, 2005 @ 7:41 pm

  21. J. Max,
    Being that I agree with ARJ on the topic at hand, if I could make a suggestion. I think that’s a good point, but I think there are different ways we can interpret the parable. I have thought of the parable as a reflection of quantity of service, not quality of character.

    In other words, it refers to the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge, who change late in life, but change fully. Scrooge’s reward will be no less for his past transgressions. But to the degree that Scrooge has become a more Christ-like person than the next man, the greater will be his light hereafter.

    Comment by Eric Russell — August 8, 2005 @ 8:01 pm

  22. I was only curious how A.R.J. interprets it.

    However, I am personally wary of comparative/competitive language in a gospel context, as it is a defining attribute of Pride–and I often wonder if it will even have any place outside of the context of our current, fallen state.

    It seems to me that if Individual A sits down with Christ in the thrown of his Father and receives all that the father hath, and Individual B does the same, that such comparisons between the two are of little concern or worth.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 8, 2005 @ 8:23 pm

  23. JMW,

    I know we have discused this in the past but here is another go at it.

    The question is how close is each at the end of this life to actually inheriting all our Father has. It is a very common teaching in the church that we will need to continue making progress in the eternities to come. If that is the case then is it stretch to say I will need to make a lot more progress in the eternities to come than, say, Abraham will.

    In other words, I agree with aRJ too. There is no magical leveling factor — not even the atonement changes our character for us. The atonement empowers us to make progress and frees us from payment for our sins but it doesn’t repent for us.

    BTW — I think that parable reflects payment for our sins. I agree with Eric.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2005 @ 8:46 pm

  24. Geoff,

    Yet, paradoxically, the teachings of the church are replete with the analogy of heir, inheritance, and inherit.

    Inheritance is, almost by definition, something that is granted from another, not acquired by oneself. I cannot reconcile the pervasive concept of inheritance in the gospel with your idea of earning your own exaltation?

    How do you reconcile it?

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 8, 2005 @ 9:04 pm

  25. Geoff, the atonement also entails the supernatural change in our hearts–or haven’t you read your King Benjamin lately? God certainly does change our character for us–that’s about half of the atonement.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 8, 2005 @ 9:08 pm

  26. How do you reconcile it?

    Ha! Good question. Well, basically I assume that the doctrine that says someone or something else repents for me to be false.

    I posted on my current conception of what the atonement does and doesn’t do here. (Plus we talked about it in the surrounding posts and in some posts by Don here at Nine Moons.)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2005 @ 9:19 pm

  27. Perhaps I have misunderstood you, Geoff. Is your reconciliation of my dilemma that you believe that all of the inheritance imagery in the scriptures and the teachings of the church are just plain false?

    If that is your answer then we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 8, 2005 @ 9:26 pm

  28. Well, since what we are talking about here is intelligence/light/glory here I do think that it is false to speak of “inheriting” that in the same way one might inherit money or stuff. If my father was a virtuoso on piano and he wanted me to “inherit” his virtuosity the only way I could do that is the same way he did. He could teach me and guide me but he could not just bequeath it to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2005 @ 9:35 pm

  29. And as my token interjection to this conversation, whenever it occurs:

    This only matters if you assume that you are inheriting all that the Father is. :)

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 8, 2005 @ 10:49 pm

  30. Ha! You just can’t resist, can ya J?

    (So do you have any takers on your theory or is it just you?)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 8, 2005 @ 10:59 pm

  31. JMW,

    I’ll respond to you scripture if you respond to the two that I cited, ok? Great, its a deal! My response is below and I look forward to your’s.

    Of course others have already done it for me, and my response is similar to the on that J. Stapley made. Here’s an example. Currently my son is my heir and my wife’s heir as well. As we are currently packing to move I can tell you that what I have is a bunch of IBM golf shirts and what my wife has is a bunch of scrubs and hundreds of pounds of medical books. If we were to both die tomorrow, what would our son inherit? He certainly wouldn’t get my computer skills or become a doctor, though he’d have the right wardrobe for the computer stuff and the right library for the medical stuff.

    I would imagine that what we inherit is more of access to knowledge and new opportunities rather than suddenly becoming the equal of God. I imagine it will be a long road from there and that no two paths are identical and the results are all individual.

    Comment by a random John — August 8, 2005 @ 11:29 pm

  32. We can all agree that Exaltation is us “becoming like Christ”, right? It’s not us getting a bunch of stuff (mansions, worlds, wives (heh), etc.). Those things might come, but are a result of who we become, they don’t precede it.

    So if we can agree on that, why would we think we will “inherit” the “becoming like Christ”? It’s a process not an object.

    Comment by Rusty — August 9, 2005 @ 12:52 am

  33. Chill out John. No need to get all “I’ll respond to your scripture if you’ll respond to mine…”

    Like I said, I personally have a hard time reconciling the two views and was curious as to how Geoff, and you, do it.

    I think that, when reading D&C 130, people place too much emphasis on the “more knowledge and intelligence” in verse 19, and not enough on the word “principle” in verse 18. While I am still trying to figure it out to my satisfaction, I think that, in this life, we are not trying to gain certain levels of comparative knowledge, but trying to attain certain principles of intelligence and progression.

    It is not the knowledge itself that is the emphasis, but the principles upon which knowledge is acquired. If the principles are internalized, the knowledge and progression are inevitable…either in this life or the next.

    As for Abraham 3, I look to verses 25 and 26. Those who keep their second estate “shall be added upon” and “shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”

    Geoff says that “there is no magical leveling factor — not even the atonement changes our character for us.”

    That is an interesting point of view, but I am not convinced that the Gospel teaches that. Those verse in Abraham about being added upon can conceivably be seen as referring to some kind of complementary, compensatory, equalizing power. Additionally, a lot of the language of the scriptures talks about becoming “new creatures” through the atonement. We do not develop his image in our countenance, we “receive” it. We cannot chisel the countenance of the Lord upon our own face, we receive it as we submit to his chisel. We do not change our hearts, they are changed by the Spirit. Charity, which I would consider the most Christ-like attribute, is a gift. It cannot be developed by one’s self, it must be received.

    The word receive seems to pervade the scriptures and to be a key concept in relation to the development of a christ-like nature and attributes.

    All that is required is that we be quickened by a portion of the celestial law and we shall receive a fullness.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 1:45 am

  34. The Nature of Exaltation

    Joseph Smith taught that Jesus would come to Earth and give salvation to everyone except those who committed the unpardonable sin (1). We know, therefore, that we are saved; yet as Mormons, we have also an additional hope – that of exaltation. Howev…

    Trackback by Splendid Sun — August 9, 2005 @ 1:51 am

  35. So, here’s the clear and vivid answer to the idea that we have to perfect ourselves:

    And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Mosiah 5:2)

    Did the Spirit change these people’s character? Or are they lying?

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 9, 2005 @ 9:04 am

  36. JMW,

    I am chill. I also just wanted to see what you thought. That said, I think that you’ve avoided the question of Abraham 3, and added things that are not there. I don’t see any mention of equality. What I do see is that if you take any two things, one is greater than the other.

    Also, I must have missed something because I don’t understand the scriptural basis for considering charity to be a gift. This came up in Gospel Doctrine a few weeks ago and for some reason I was pretty much the only person that thought this was out of left field, so obviously I must have been sleeping when this was covered previously. Can you help me understand that one?

    Comment by a random John — August 9, 2005 @ 9:48 am

  37. RJW “All that is required is that we be quickened by a portion of the celestial law and we shall receive a fullness.”

    RT “Did the Spirit change these people’s character? Or are they lying?”

    Yes, the spirit did change them, because they were quickened by a portion of the celestial law. BUT they were changed because THEY chose to be changed.

    The atonement can’t change me to become Chirstlike UNLESS I am willing to accept it. I have to want/desire to change. When I do Chirst adds what I do not have and make me a new/better person.

    Comment by don — August 9, 2005 @ 1:16 pm

  38. I believe that the idea that Charity is a gift comes from Moroni 7:48:

    Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

    While the word “gift” is not used directly with Charity, Moroni tells us that Mormon taught that Charity, like other spiritual gifts, is something that is “bestowed upon” us. Faith is also described as a gift.

    A change is “wrought” upon our hearts. We “receive” his image. We “experience” a mighty change of heart. He “bestows” Charity upon us, as he does Faith. Those who quickened by a portion of celestial law, shall “receive” a fullness.

    I intend, someday, to do a more thorough study into the cases used in the scriptures in relation to becoming Christ-like, but a cursory look at the grammar of how these words are being used seems to indicate that Christlike attributes are in the Dative case and we are in the Accusative case. In other words, we are the indirect object, to whom the object (attributes of God) are given.

    We look at D&C 7:14:

    And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

    Eternal Life, or a “God’s” Life, is also a gift–the greatest gift that he gives.

    The birth imagery of the scriptures is instructive. Because of our covenant, Christ begets us so that we become “new creatures” (Mosiah 5, Mosiah 27). The child receives the image of her parents by virtue of being born by them, not by anything that she has accomplished for herself. If we are born of Christ, through water, blood, and the spirit, we become his sons and daughters–new creatures–and inherit, as if genetically, his godlike attributes. All those who are so born will become like Him.

    The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature…. Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world.

    - President Ezra Taft Benson

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

  39. JMW,

    I still don’t see how charity is a gift of the spirit. There are several lists of gifts of the spirit in the scriptures and it is absent from all of them.

    Comment by a random John — August 9, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  40. Elder Hales included the “Gift of Charity” in his 2002 conference talk entitled “Gifts of the Spirit”.

    I suspect that the reason charity is often included as a gift of the spirit is because of the way Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 13. He has just finished listing gifts of the spirit in chapter 12, and is now expanding on the theme by listing some of those same gifts of the spirit and adding, “..and have not charity I am nothing.”

    Perhaps we can quibble over whether charity is a gift of the spirit in the same way that the interpretation of tongues is, but the broader point, that charity is a gift of a spiritual nature that is “bestowed”, still remains.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 1:56 pm

  41. From Elder Hales talk, and germane to this thread’s disagreement:

    President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) as he served as First Counselor in the First Presidency:

    “If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. … No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth” (Millennial Star, 23 Apr. 1894, 260).

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 2:12 pm

  42. So bringing this back full-circle, JMW, are you suggesting that because these things are all “bestowed” upon us that that creates equality among the exalted?

    Comment by Rusty — August 9, 2005 @ 2:16 pm

  43. JMW,

    I still don’t see where in the scriptures charity is listed as a gift. Paul has every opportunity to list it as one in Corinthians and does not do so. It isn’t in the BoM as one, and it isn’t listed in D&C 46.

    It seems to me that it is in a very different category from something like speaking in tongues. I don’t think that I could develop the true ability to speak in tongues. I do think that I can work on developing charity. I am not saying that I can achieve true charity on my own, but to me it is categorically different from the gifts of the spirit. I also think that calling it a gift in some ways removes our responsibility to cultivate it in ourselves.

    That said, I fail to see how even if you are right about charity being a spiritual gift, how does this concept of gifts lead to eternal equality? I am missing the connection here…

    Comment by a random John — August 9, 2005 @ 2:30 pm

  44. Something like that, Rusty.

    If perfection and godlike attributes are bestow upon us, not simply developed by our own efforts; If “Eternal Life” is a gift; a state bequeathed: then I feel comfortable interpreting the declaration that those who are quickened by a portion of the celestial law shall receive a fullness of the same to mean that each of us will be restored to a fullness of what we essentially are.

    I like Ben Spackman’s example, given months ago on the M* in a similar conversation:

    the celestial kingdom is like an Olympic training center that guarantees victory. You just need a pass to get in and if you can’t pay the full entrance fee, Jesus pays the rest on condition that you show him you are willing to do the work required to become olympic. In other words, the training center only takes people whose commitment is proven. Once you’re in, you still have lots of work to do, but you ARE in.

    In that context, comparisons between the exalted are of little concern or worth–to me at least.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 2:37 pm

  45. In that context, comparisons between the exalted are of little concern or worth–to me at least.

    This seems to be an odd way of conceeding the argument… In any case I agree with the sentiment (which I believe I expressed earlier) that the differences won’t be a matter of concern, but I do feel that it is instructive to contemplate the nature of this.

    Comment by a random John — August 9, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

  46. JMW: No need to get all “I’ll respond to your scripture if you’ll respond to mine…”

    LOL. That line made me laugh.

    Anyway, I think you have made some good points JMW. I have also thought in the past that Charity is indeed a gift of sorts from on high. I suspect that it might actually be a form of discernment — where God allows us to discern how He feels about those around us. In other words, I suspect charity is seeing others through the eyes of Christ. (I may post on this idea soon).

    But overall, I think that all of your examples (and the examples RT brings up) fit nicely into my piano virtuoso analogy (or aRJs doctor analogy). The Lord acts as a very close teacher and mentor. The pupil of a great, devoted, loving teacher will often say that the teacher bestowed upon them the skills or traits or characters that they ended up with in the end and it is true in a sense. But in another sense, the pupil had to work for it all too. So it is “bestowed” (figuratively) and it is worked for — these are not mutually exclusive concepts. So it is with a Celestial or exalted character in us — God is our loving mentor, teacher, guide, and friend; but a teacher cannot actually bestow anything on a student that is not willing to do his or her part to become like the teacher.

    BTW — As I mentioned at that post at M*, I think some of the the conclusions drawn from Ben’s Olympic training analogy are just plain false. Getting in to such a facility is no guarantee of success. And besides, who’s to say we are not in such a training facility right this moment on this earth?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 9, 2005 @ 3:19 pm

  47. This seems to be an odd way of conceeding the argument…

    Heh. Then I conceded back in my second comment!

    I personally believe that the Lord will, through his grace, equalize those who qualify for exaltation. He will take our fragmentary attempts at perfection and make them, and us, whole.

    However, if I am wrong, it doesn’t bother me at all. My efforts to be obedient in this life are not altered by the one view or the other.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

  48. Getting in to such a facility is no guarantee of success.

    In Ben’s analogy, the guarantee of success is an essential attribute of Ben’s the celestial facility. No earthly training facility is analogous, and Ben never suggested that it was. I believe that he is correct: that godhood is guaranteed for those who merely meet the qualifications for entrance into the kingdom, with the help of the savior.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — August 9, 2005 @ 3:55 pm

  49. JMW, but what about those that get in but don’t make an effort to do all the rest? And those that get in and make a major effort and do tons? Is there no difference? Lehi’s vision (though not talking about the exact same thing) suggests that once you reach this exaltation, happiness, whathaveyou, there is still opportunity for not finishing/perfection/etc.

    Comment by Rusty — August 9, 2005 @ 4:10 pm

  50. I agree that this subject (as with most discussed in the bloggenacle) is not one that should have any effect on how one lives their life.

    I do find the discussion interesting thought, and I’m fascinated by how different people are able to get such different meanings from the same scriptures.

    Comment by a random John — August 9, 2005 @ 4:29 pm

  51. Salvation = Exaltation

    The Mormon websites have been atwitter recently with speculation and discussion of the meaning of exaltation. Well, in this post, I’m going to step in with a scriptural syllogism intended to show that salvation and exaltation are actually the same thing.

    Trackback by Latter-day Saint Liberation Front — August 10, 2005 @ 5:41 pm

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