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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : 5 Popular Doctrinal Ideas That Probably Should Be Dumped » 5 Popular Doctrinal Ideas That Probably Should Be Dumped

5 Popular Doctrinal Ideas That Probably Should Be Dumped

Guest - July 29, 2009

Submitted by Geoff Johnston

1. God exhaustively knows the future.

Unless you are ready to embrace fatalism dump this one immediately. And don’t spout some nonsense about why a fixed future and real free will are compatible. They aren’t.

2. Our spirits gestated in the womb of a resurrected celestial woman.

Look, you can believe this one but it means spirits have a beginning and Joseph Smith clearly taught that spirits have no beginning. It takes way too many mental gymnastics to avoid that contradiction. Besides, since when did resurrected persons with physical bodies bear children with no physical bodies?

3. This life is our only chance to become at one with God and there is no progression between kingdoms.

If believing this motivates you to be a better person in this life then by all means stick with it. But it’s not true in my opinion. If we always retain free will then we can always choose to turn to God and God will never shun his prodigal children.

4. The world is coming to an end any day now.

I highly doubt it. Sure, you might die soon but I doubt all of humanity will. Further, expecting everyone to die soon encourages slothful stewardship over the earth.

5. We really understand the atonement.

Turns out we don’t. In fact we are mostly taught a smorgasbord of old atonement theories lifted from creedal Christian theologians. (Popular theories to lean on include penal substitution theory, satisfaction/commercial theory, and ransom theory)

Further, it turns out God hasn’t clearly revealed the details on any of the above five issues and GA’s opinions on them vary as much as ours do.

Happy 5th birthday 9Moons. I’m sure no one will disagree with any part of my post…

130 Comments »

  1. I don’t see any conflict with number 1. Consider the way CS Lewis describes it in Screwtape Letters, in which he explains that since all times are one to God, God simply watches what happens, but that watching a thing and making it happen are not at all the same thing.

    How is it “nonsense” to believe that God sees all things at all times, but that WHAT he sees is entirely dependent on the actions that our free will lead us to take.

    Comment by Heidi — July 29, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  2. Heidi,

    If our future exists to be known we can’t actually write it ourselves. If the future is fixed we only have the illusion of being morally responsible agents since we can’t actually choose anything but our fixed fate. All attempts to get around this fact are nonsense and believe me I’ve watched a lot of flailing attempts at getting around it.

    If one wants to give up believing in moral agency so one can believe in a fixed future one certainly is free to do so though.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 10:47 am

  3. To see lots of those flailing attempts for yourself see these posts.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 10:48 am

  4. Only if you think of time as being a fixed linear construct, which our doctrine teaches us it is not for God.

    Comment by Heidi — July 29, 2009 @ 10:49 am

  5. Not so Heidi. If your future is fixed you are not able to escape it — linear or not. So if you are fated to hell you can’t solve that problem through better choices now.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 10:56 am

  6. Off to a good start here.

    Comment by Jacob J — July 29, 2009 @ 11:00 am

  7. Awesome. Heidi, the work-aound I have seen for forth dimensionalism (which is what you seem to be espousing) is that all free agents made their choices at the point time began, and now we just are acting them out.

    Comment by J. Stapley — July 29, 2009 @ 11:30 am

  8. “Not so Heidi. If your future is fixed you are not able to escape it — linear or not. So if you are fated to hell you can’t solve that problem through better choices now.”

    You are viewing this as some sort of Calvinist Mormon, if that were the case Jesus would have never told people to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven in at hand… The fate of those who reject Christ right up until the end is fixed, they have made a choice to follow themselves, their own religion over Jesus Sacrifice on the Cross of all of our sins, then yes their fate is sealed once they died, Jesus Spoke of this with the “rich man and Lazareth” Show there is not only a complete separation and punishment at death for the unbeliever, but there is no return, hence no why there is no need for “Baptizing for the dead”

    Throughout the Old and New Testaments it shows that we can repent, turn to God and change what might our destruction, Jonah and the Ninevites as an example, the thief on the cross beside Jesus as another example, only hours or less he was insulting and taunting Jesus, then had “a change of heart” repented and believe and Jesus welcomed Him into the Kingdom, you may try and argue Paradise, but is not the Kingdom of God just that, Paradise?

    So our fates may be drawn out as believers and non-believers, Heaven and in the presence of God for the believer and Hell and separation from God as the non-believer, but how will live our lives and the choices we make with be determined but who we follow, God and His Word, the Bible, or Satan and everything else that influences the world, the choice is yours…

    j.

    Comment by erase — July 29, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  9. Sheesh Geoff, how many “Heidi’s” are there?

    Not many gymnastics for 2. Spirit bodies as an intermediate step between intelligences and flesh and bone bodies. Not exactly balance beam stuff. And it depends on just what is reproducing that determines what comes out.

    I’ve become sort of agnostic on kingdom hopping.

    I’m with you on the last two.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — July 29, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  10. Geoff, speak for yourself on #5. I have all the answers about the atonement, but if you don’t know already, I’m not going to tell you.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — July 29, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

  11. On #1, the problem with God knowing the future perfectly is that he himself would have no ability to act in any other than he would foresee himself acting. He would not be able to change one thing he could do. If he were truly static (just watching himself act on autopilot), he would basically turn into a force of nature like gravity rather than a being who can be persuaded and related to. I believe in a world where God has free will too.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — July 29, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  12. erase (#8),

    Actually I am trying to excise the Calvinist-like fatalism that a fixed future necessarily entails. In the rest of your comment it sounds to me like you are arguing for a non-fixed, open future. If so then I agree with you. (But of course if the future is open and unfixed it cannot yet be fixed and known)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  13. Eric (#9),

    I suppose that the amount of gymnastics it takes to call some kind of pre-spirits “spirits” is debatable. It is adding a substantive theological step to the process that we find nowhere in the teaching of Joseph Smith. But aside from that, I think this problem of multiplying not after their own kind is devastating in itself. What response do you have for that one?

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

  14. Stapley (#7),

    That “we made all our real choices before this world and are and only have the illusion of free choices here” model works logically but it hardly solves all of the problems of a fixed future. It just makes this life a rather useless movie since our fates are sealed before we even arrive. Further, if the future is really fixed then God is impotent and stuck with it as is too.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  15. 5. We know about the Atonement through its effects, not through a perfect understanding of its metaphysical mechanations. Any cursory model of the latter that helps us get to the former is sufficient to start.

    4. Any day now? No way. Sooner rather than later? Sure, you betcha. I don’t give this world 60-70 years.

    3. Wrong! Unfortunately, you’ll need at least some scriptural or traditional back up for this, and I don’t see any. It’s just one’s personal sensibility foregrounding.

    2. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard this exact thing in church, ever. I’ve heard, though mostly not in church, that there is some process that involves male and female that is necessary to clothe intelligences in spirit. And I don’t see much reason to not believe that. I don’t personally see “intelligence” as fully individuated or self-conscious, even, in the same way that “spirit” is, and I’d buy any traditional speculation along these lines.

    1. Agreed. But He does have functional foreknowledge due, at least in part, to limitations on our freedom. I think we need to be able to conceive of degrees of freedom, and understand that our freedom in this world is sometimes limited to, for instance, being able to choose good over evil, or even to choose our attitude – and sometimes barely that! We do not choose the fray we are fighting in, and we are, often as not, profoundly limited by it. This goes back to number 1. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 29, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  16. nice post Geoff. I largely agree with every one of them.

    Comment by DavidH — July 29, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  17. Thomas Parkin,

    I’ll respond in the order you gave.

    We know about the Atonement through its effects

    I have no idea what this means to you. I don’t even know what exactly you personally think the phrase “the atonement” entails. (The pain in the Garden? The cross? All of eternity?) That is half of the problem. See lots of discussions on this subject here.

    Sure, you betcha. I don’t give this world 60-70 years.

    I disagree. I think 6000-7000 is just as likely as 60-70.

    Wrong! Unfortunately, you’ll need at least some scriptural or traditional back up for this

    See the parable of the prodigal son. Then see here.

    I don’t personally see “intelligence” as fully individuated or self-conscious, even, in the same way that “spirit” is

    That’s fine. It appears from the records that Joseph Smith did. But that is debatable.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

  18. My last comment appears to be stuck in moderation

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  19. Wow, How many years of New Cool Thang basically built into 1 post?

    Awesome.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 29, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  20. 1. Of course God knows the future. I am baffled that anyone could think he didn’t. It is not incompatible with free will and I don’t why people think that if God knows the future you can’t choose. God knows the past and I had free will with all of those choices. God knows the future and I will still have free will.
    We are contrained by time in ways God isn’t. God can “remember” the future.

    Comment by JKS — July 29, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  21. 1- With time travel and space time continuum available to God, HE does know our past, present and future
    2-agree
    3-agree
    4-agree
    5-agree

    Comment by Tex — July 29, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  22. So JKS, does God have free will if he can’t make choices (since the future is fixed and all)?

    Comment by Kent (MC) — July 29, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

  23. What? I’m personally looking forward to bearing spirits/being pregnant and barefoot for the rest of eternities with my presiding husband’s many wives that he’ll need because of all the planets that will need populating! We’ll all just add to his glory! (MAJOR SARCASM IF YOU COULDN’T TELL)!!!

    So I really have to agree with two and I want to agree with the rest of them since they all sound so great to me! But I don’t know of any of the prophets teaching about kingdom hopping, just more progression within the same kingdom. I mean how many scriptures say that this life is the time we prepare to meet God. So I’m not sure. But right now I just take what I like and throw the rest out!

    Comment by kaylana — July 29, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  24. People,

    Why is this foreknowledge thing so hard to comprehend? It is really simple. If God knows you are going to hell the there is nothing he or you can do to prevent it. Period. Simple foreknowledge requires God to be impotent to influence the fixed future and us to be equally impotent.

    It is really very simple. Besides, what good is knowing what will happen if you can’t influence it at all?

    The simple solution is to say we all know that any one of us might go to hell if we choose but nobody can or does know until we do choose. If our fate is already fixed why are we even here?

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  25. Kaylana,

    If any of the admins at this site would pay attention they would release my comment #17 from moderation. Then you would see this link with prophets teaching progression between kingdoms.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  26. Oh I see #17 was just released. Cool.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  27. Thanks Geoff J,
    I really didn’t know anything was said about it. I feel like it’s all up in the air anyway. There are so many quotes from prophets that contradict each other in almost any “doctrine.” I give up!

    Comment by kaylana — July 29, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  28. Preach on, Geoff; I agree with every point (though it was enlightening to me to realize that I was on the completely other side just four years ago…)

    Comment by Ben — July 29, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  29. Geoff,

    I haven’t been around lately. I did read Ronan’s post a few days ago (Thanks for the mention) But reading your post has kind of re-interested me again.

    It’s this kind of discussion that I like to read….and sometimes comment on.

    I love to hear both sides of this kind of exchange. I can see both viewpoints, or the several veiwpoints and they help me to better understand, or confirm my feelings.

    Thanks….I’ll have to jump over to Cool Thang and catch up too!

    Comment by Don — July 29, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

  30. Geoff J said, “If God knows you are going to hell the there is nothing he or you can do to prevent it.”

    Why? If God knows I am going to hell, who are you to limit his ability to prevent it if he chooses? There are examples in the scriptures of individuals who were visited by angels to get them to change their attitude and behavior. I submit that God knew with certainty that Alma the younger would succumb to the influence of the Holy Ghost and begin a process of conversion just as surely as he knew that Laman and Lemuel would continue to harden their hearts after their visitations. He also knows what I will choose in my lifetime without visitations of heavenly messengers.

    Why is it implausible that God had Knowledge of the outcome of those events regardless of the ability of the visited to choose? I’ll admit that I am not steeped in the language or concepts of philosophy that you employ to come to your conclusion, but mine makes sense to me.

    His knowledge of the outcome and my choices are probably based on the same thing: who I am as an individual spirit, and who I am as a mortal individual, and the interaction of the two. I just don’t see his knowledge and my choice as incompatible.

    Comment by Russel.G — July 29, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  31. A little homework for you about #2:

    Read D&C Section 93 carefully, then examine what the words “spirit”, “intelligence”, “matter”, “tabernacle” and “element” might mean here. If Spirit is matter, that can be “united” with “element”, then element != matter/spirit (“does not equal” is the meaning of != ; a workaround for the missing correct math symbol).

    It may be a little bit confusing, that at some points spirit = intelligence. I figure it is pretty hard to go by hard analysis on this. I figure that spirit = intelligence. It is some kind of matter, but not like the stuff we see and touch. And with that, remember, that we sense only a small amount of all electromagnetic radiation, wavelengths of light (heat radiation, essentially, AFAIK), passing cosmic rays etc. But that tabernacle = element — meaning, by logic, that tabernacle/element is probably something here that is organized differently, like the gases and metals that are inactive/inert chemically vs. active, e.g. sodium.

    I am not saying this is gospel truth here, just conjecture on what Joseph Smith may have meant by his words. Remember, these are essentially his words. If he got the revelation from the Lord (as I do believe), the Lord spoke to him in English, if He used words at all. And in doing so, the kind of English, that Joseph had some chance to grasp; again, if there was a “voice” in his head talking to him or something.

    A blog comment is hardly a place to start on the whats and hows of revelation, though, so that much for that…

    Oh, and I’m sorry for the sophistry, but we have dictionaries and stuff so that we would have a common language. Joseph’s language isn’t always as clear as it could be, but he did make good progress, being tutored by fairly eloquent men like OC and SR — and he was obviously very intelligent. Rough to begin with, but very intelligent.

    Comment by Velska — July 29, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  32. #1: If time is linear, no, there is no fixed future, because future is created by our actions. If it is not, there is no “future” as we understand it now. So either way, there is no fixed future. I utterly reject the Calvinist idea, that we are predestined. God can guide us, warn us, etc. but not compel. That means, that if I choose today to start doing something totally different, my future as I understand it will be quite different, and will not have existed before I made that decision. The thing about God seeing time vs. how we do, as explained in Slaughterhouse Five re Tralfamadoreans do doesn’t really do anything to me, but it’s a “nice” way to solve the conflict of how God can see the end from the beginning.

    Then, with the multidimensional stuff, I don’t know. I believe God sees possibilities and has an infinite mind capable of seeing the moves we can make. Think of it as an extremely complicated four-dimensional chess game. I have trouble with the 64 squares and 32 initial tokens of chess, but God can move around His tokens on this game, and be able to calculate what’s going to happen some time from now because of how I’m most likely to act. He’s supposed to know what I’m thinking and feeling, so He has pretty good chances to figure out my reactions.

    Related subject: We do not pray to God for Him to be edified in any way. He doesn’t need it; we do. Prayer is purely a moment of meditation when we concentrate our thoughts on Him and what His role is or should be in our lives. That is when He mostly talks to us, unless we just parrot words that have already lost meaning, while thinking of something else.

    I used four-dimensional on purpose. Time is the fourth dimension. As I said, I don’t know about other dimensions, but some theoretical physicians have created very credible mathematical constructs for seven dimensions altogether at least. You know, a bit of extrapolation here, some interpolation there… can’t really test it, but it’s so fascinating.

    Oh, and sorry about the condescending tone at the beginning of the preceding comment by me. I am quite certain, that the regulars here have read and pondered that section amply.

    P.S. Have you thought of enabling nested comments?

    Comment by Velska — July 29, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

  33. Russel.G: Why? If God knows I am going to hell, who are you to limit his ability to prevent it if he chooses?

    It is self explanatory. If God can change the future then he doesn’t know you are going to hell — he knows you might go to hell. That makes all the difference.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  34. Velska: It may be a little bit confusing, that at some points spirit = intelligence. I figure it is pretty hard to go by hard analysis on this.

    Yep — you are giving a fine example of the excruciating mental gymnastics people like to go through to defend the tripartite model of spirits. I personally no longer buy it is all.

    chess game

    I think the chess analogy works pretty well (though not perfectly well) in explaining how God predicts the open future so accurately.

    We do not pray to God for Him to be edified in any way. He doesn’t need it; we do.

    I actually don’t agree with this sentiment. It flies in the face of what it means to be in an actual loving relationship. It is like saying that my little children need me but I don’t need them. Yes I could physically survive without them but my love for them creates my need for them.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

  35. The others don’t get a rise out of me.

    #5 We obviously have heaps to learn about the Atonement, I know I do. Simple penalty substitution doesn’t do. But there’s a risk of getting too metaphysical.

    #4 The destruction of the wicked is drawing nearer. Our problem is to not be wicked. Because wickedness never was happiness. Because “wicked” means those, who won’t repent, but curse God even when they know the signs and wonders come from Him for them to take heed. Some personal speculation in the last sentence.

    #3 I wonder what made BRM be so blunt and outspoken about it? D&C 76:74 kind of suggests, that those, who didn’t receive the testimony of Jesus in the flesh (they in flesh or Jesus in flesh?), but did afterward, will not be able to enter Father’s presence (ever?). Nothing in scripture explicitly states “no progression between kingdoms”, AFAIK. But the Lord says, that “eternal punishment” is “God’s punishment”. So I’d keep my mind open, but hedge my bets on no progression and try to keep sober anyway. ;/

    ;)

    Comment by Velska — July 29, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  36. Dang Don (#29) — where have you been? I guess one can escape blogging after all…

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  37. It is like saying that my little children need me but I don’t need them.

    Touché. But that’s nitpicking! ;)

    But you’re also right: Our eternal life is His work and glory, and He’s doing it because He loves us; of course He wants a relationship with us. But it doesn’t make the same kind of difference to Him if I stop praying as it does to me. That’s what I was getting at.

    Comment by Velska — July 29, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  38. God’s ability (or inability as you argue) to act does not alter my ability to choose, specifically if God forbears from acting except in a few cases which we read about and call “miracles” because of their magnitude. If my birth, life, and death are not separate events as I experience them because of how I measure time, but are one eternal event along with pre-mortal and post-resurrection as God experiences it, then how does that limit God’s power to act on me, or my power to act for myself?

    Let me ask this, when God showed Moses the entire human race, as I understand Moses 1:8, was he merely laying out the order of everyone’s destiny like a blueprint, or was he collapsing time and space so that Moses beheld the created universe as God sees it?

    Comment by Russel.G — July 29, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  39. Russel.G,

    Again, the concept if a complicated one. If God currently knows you will go to hell and that event is a fixed and present fact for hem it means he also knows he won’t and can’t prevent you from going there. It means he is not a participant in the play but only a spectator as we fated meat puppets act out our pre-scripted fates.

    Now if God knows that you might go to hell but the future does not yet exist he can participate in our lives to help influence and guide you away from that path right now.

    Seriously — what is the fascination with exhaustive foreknowledge? It would be completely useless to God. It seems people don’t have faith that God can accomplish all of his purposes without the future already existing to be known.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  40. Doh! — that should be “the concept is not a complicated one”

    (This is why I like commenting at my blog — I can go back and fix my typos)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

  41. Geoff J, if God does not have foreknowledge of the end from the beginning, what do we do with Moses 1:8? What was God showing Moses?

    Comment by Russel.G — July 29, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  42. Here’s another one for you to shoot down, Geoff: It seems to me that you’re the one without sufficient faith in God to allow him to be aware of an outcome, allow free will to man, and not step in to abrogate that free will.

    If God knows I’m going to hell, it isn’t because he decreed it, or even desires that it be so. He knows it because he knows my character well enough to know I won’t listen to the spirit counseling me to change my ways, he knows my dreadful sins and the horrible path that I have undertaken, and he knows the destination of that path. He still grants me my free will — I *could* change, if I so desired, and he may actively provide me with every possible warning and enticement to change, but he isn’t going to force me to change any more than he forced me to take the first steps down the wrong road.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 29, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

  43. Geoff (13):

    This gets into just what is the resurrection? Could a resurrected body be something like an permanent eternal exo-skeleton for the spirit, but it is the spirit that reproduces?

    This may be a bit goofy, but I think it is a conceivable possibility.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — July 29, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  44. Russel.G: What was God showing Moses?

    In Moses 1:8 Moses the whole world as it existed then. (It is “the ends thereof” not “the end thereof”) Of course God could also have shown Moses a detailed mockup of his plans for the world. God has enough power, knowledge, and influence to bring about his purposes. He doesn’t need to time travel do that.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 5:55 pm

  45. Ardis: If God knows I’m going to hell, it isn’t because he decreed it, or even desires that it be so. He knows it because he knows my character well enough to know…

    Sorry Ardis — this is just a variation on the casual determinism position. If we have real free will we as causal agents choose our character and mold it moment to moment. If we are totally predicable based on the causal chain of universe then it is the great causal chain that causes our every action rather than “us” as agents.

    Again, if you are saying God is good at predicting our actions I agree. But predicting something is different than knowing it. And being good at predicting the future is worlds away from exhaustively knowing the future.

    I *could* change

    Well which is it? Does God know you will go to hell or not? “Could” implies a real possibility but if your going to hell is a done deal then it is false to say you really could change.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

  46. Every other use of “end” in Moses 1, refers to a cessation of existence, or more accurately a lack thereof (“Endless”). Further, God told Moses he would show him “the workmanship of [his] hands, but not all for [his] works are without end.” After saying “all things are present with [him], for [he] know[s] them all,” he shows Moses all of the children of men which are or were created. Are you saying he only showed Moses humans living at that time, and maybe humans that lived before, but not humans that came after?

    After all, I’m created. Wouldn’t that mean that God showed Moses me?

    Comment by Russel.G — July 29, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  47. After all, I’m created. Wouldn’t that mean that God showed Moses me?

    Your spirit is beginningless so God could have used you in a mockup for his plans for this planet if he wanted.

    The main point is that there is nothing is Moses 1 that supports exhaustive foreknowledge and a fixed future in my opinion.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 6:21 pm

  48. 1. I agree completely. The future doesn’t exist yet. That is not to say that God lacks the capacity to bring to pass his fundamental objectives in due process of time.

    2. I agree. I wouldn’t conclude that spirits (especially post-mortal spirits) do not have bodies though, or are shape shifters that do not have a stable form without sheer dint of mental effort. If resurrected beings have bodies, I don’t see why spirits, especially post-mortal spirits, cannot, bodies that are constructed on the same general principles as the ones we now have – particulate “matter”, stable bonds between particles, and so on.

    3. I agree.
    4. I agree.
    5. I agree. We don’t. I think I do though (smile).

    Comment by Mark D. — July 29, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  49. Geoff J—”Then you would see this link with prophets teaching progression between kingdoms.”

    Certainly you don’t believe idle statements of prophets mean anything doctrinally? If true, imagine all of the Brigham Youngisms that would be doctrine and yet aren’t.

    Comment by Holden Caulfield — July 29, 2009 @ 7:09 pm

  50. What on earth are you talking about Holden Caulfield?

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

  51. Geoff, back in #17,

    “We know about the Atonement through its effects

    I have no idea what this means to you”

    Most of the discussion on this blog has to do with the metaphysics of the Atonement. I simply think that collectively* not much in known about how it works. What we do experience and can know is the effect of the Atonement upon us – that is, we draw nearer to God, have our sins, including our ignorance, cleansed from us, and find ourselves acquiring increasingly the mind and nature of Christ etc. If that isn’t happening, then all going on about the mechanics of it doesn’t amount to much more than a good time.

    I’m not sure about the metaphysics, beyond what the scriptures say that there is justice and a law to be satisfied. I imagine it like this: that the law is in some way written into the universe; that it is simply a fact, an unmendable part of reality. (If it could be mended or amended, there would be no need for the Atonement. God could simply have created the universe on some other basis that allowed for us to choose independently, or not choose at all.) One cannot get around it. God cannot get around it. But we are able to bypass the effects of the law by believing in Jesus as He is, because His sacrifice has worked within the law to grant Him freedom and power to claim those who follow Him.

    As to when it became effective – I think we would have to say at the moment Christ accepted responsibility for it, in Abr 3. There is no point after that in which inhabitants of this world have not had access to it.

    re: progression between kingdoms. Who knows. For me, it is Abraham 3 again that is definitive.

    “And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. ”

    There doesn’t seem to be an allowance for eternal increase to those who fail to keep their second estate. However, maybe there is. I still doubt, based on my experience with folks, that many people in the Telestial Kingdom are going to care one way or the other. Do you see that people hunger and thirst after it here? What will be the difference there?

    * I always want to say collectively, because I’m not going to put a limit on what individuals can know. I think there are folks who do have a very good idea about these things, and that they aren’t talking, based on Alma 12:9.

    I’m bowing out. I always know I shouldn’t even start. There is no chance I’ll have time for more in the coming couple days.

    Groovy. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 29, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  52. You define the terms — “knowing” vs. “predicting” by an infinite mind, even “could” — in infinitely narrow ways to support your position, while ruling out of bounds any other understanding of those words. English just isn’t that precise, Geoff, so this all amounts to “I win because I say [literally] so.”

    You will always win every debate where you make the rules. This is one area where we can ALL claim exhaustive foreknowledge.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 29, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

  53. Oh come on Ardis. I use the words “knowing” and “predicting” and “could” based on what they basically mean in English. If you are asserting those words mean something different than their English meaning to an “infinite mind” (whatever that means) then you are the one making up rules (and definitions) to win a debate.

    It is not complicated. If God knows something will happen then it will happen, right? If God predicts something might happen, or even if God makes a conditional if/then prediction of what will happen depending on the choices of a free individual, that is something completely different. The future does not have to exist to be known for God to bring about all of his purposes. He is plenty competent to bring about his will even though the future does not exist to be known.

    So back to our example: If God knows you will go to hell how is it possible that you might not go to hell? You haven’t offered an explanation of that yet.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  54. BTW Ardis — please forgive my tone in this thread if I have offended you. I am just in sparring mode and occasionally do a little too much verbal rough-housing when I get in sparring mode.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

  55. I *could* take the onyx bookend on my desk and pound the TV remote to smithereens — I have free will to do it, I have the legal right to do it, nobody is near enough to stop me, even the minor resulting inconvenience is not enough for my self interest to prevent me from doing it.

    But I’m not going to do that, even though it is completely within my power. The element of *could* still exists, despite my knowledge that I’m not going to do it.

    If I can know that with my puny mortal mind, how much more can the infinitely great mind of God understand that something is or is not going to happen, despite his leaving open an option? He knows I’m going to hell, knowing that I’m not going to take advantage of the *could* of repentance, because he knows my circumstances and personality and the hold that [whatever sin we're positing is sending me to hell] has over me. *Know* and *predict* are identical concepts, even in plain English, when the one doing the predicting is as smart as I think God must be.

    But you don’t think he is nearly as smart as I think he is.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 29, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

  56. My God *is* smarter than your god. We should have them meet on the playground after school some day, and my God will whup your god’s behind.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 29, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

  57. Geoff J – When we say the Father knows in advance what we will do, it doesn’t mean we’re predestined to do it. It simply means the Father, after long eons of observing our progress in the spirit world, can predict the probabilities of certain outcomes with reasonable certitude.

    Case in point: Cain. The Father knew that Cain had a high probability of becoming a son of perdition. But it wasn’t a 100 percent probability, and Cain, by keeping his first estate, had earned the right to mortality. So it was still worthwhile to send Cain down nonetheless, for he could have easily chosen to exercise his free will not to slay Abel.

    I suppose if you want to interpret this as meaning that the Father does not know in advance exactly what we will do, you can, but that would seem to be a technicality. Free agency is the variable in this equation.

    Comment by Jack Mormon — July 29, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  58. Ardis,

    You can certainly predict your own actions. And you are certainly free to choose each of those actions. I am not sure what that has to do with the future being fixed or not.

    despite his leaving open an option

    As long as you agree that options are indeed open we are largely on the same page. That means the future is open and not fixed. It sounds like you are saying God is shockingly good at predicting the open future. If so, I agree.

    But you don’t think he is nearly as smart as I think he is.

    Well as long as you aren’t claiming the future is fixed then we are probably tied on that count. However since our libertarian free will means our choices are sometimes unpredictable (by definition) we might not agree on how God uses those smarts. I say he uses them to bring about all of his purposes despite the future not being entirely predictable beforehand.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  59. Jack Mormon,

    I’m ok with claims of predictions based on probabilities. That does not entail a fixed future nor is it incompatible with real free will.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

  60. 1. I mostly agree. The question of whether or not we really have a choice matters a lot to me. The recent deprecation of “free agency” seems to me to be a step towards the false idea that moral agency does not include a real ability to choose. From my point of view, a world in which the future can be known exhaustively does not make sense. On the other hand, my understanding of space, time, and eternity is limited, and if it turns out somehow that glimpses of the future can be more real than I imagine them to be, it will be fascinating to learn or relearn how it is possible.

    2. I mostly disagree. I have no knowledge of the exact mechanism, but I am confident that our father and mother in heaven are literal parents of our spirits, just as I was confident that my parents on the earth literally were my parents, before I had any detailed understanding of what that meant. Since when did resurrected persons with physical bodies bear children with no physical bodies? Probably since long before any of us obtained spiritual bodies. The question, “Do you think that you could ever, through all eternity, find out the generation where Gods began to be?” will still have the same answer even if future LDS hymnals no longer ask it. Words like “spirit,” “soul,” “body,” “death,” and “intelligence” have different meanings in different contexts. The truth that we always have existed in some form does not imply that we always existed in the form that we had before our mortal birth on the earth.

    3. I think that you may be right. If it turns out that some us are limited forever to lesser kingdoms, I hope that it will be an eternity of progress and happiness in a limited sphere rather than an eternity of regret. Because section 130 seems to suggest that the celestial kingdom is not the highest kingdom, I imagine there may be progress beyond the celestial kingdom, and this makes it seem to me that progress into the celestial kingdom may be possible as well. The idea that we already are in the telestial kingdom and have an opportunity to progress out of it has some plausibility, but it may not be true in a literal sense.

    4. I agree, and when the world does come to an end, it will be a transformation rather than a complete halt.

    5. I agree.

    Comment by kamschron — July 29, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  61. Ardis,

    One of the things you learn real quick in Philosophy 101 is that they’re using language far more precisely than the average Joe. They spend a lot of time defining all terms and dealing with absolutes and technicalities.

    For example, I just tried (and failed –you guys talk about this issue at NCT a lot) to find a comment by Blake Ostler that says Christ’s prophecy of Peter’s denial (given that we understand it as a prophesy and not an instruction) isn’t incompatible with free will because he’s saying that by the time the cock crows Peter will have denied him thrice, at any given time before the cock crows Peter has choices.

    So while it strikes a philosophical tenderfoot like myself as a distinction without a difference, there is a consensus among people who think about this stuff all the time that exhaustive foreknowledge is incompatible with free will, and so I’m quite willing to defer to them.

    Comment by Bryan H. — July 29, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  62. Geoff,

    I bet you have already answered my question over at NCT sometime, but indulge me anyway.

    I understand the logic of your position about the limits that our free will imposes on God’s foreknowledge. But how do we arrive at that same conclusion if we start at the other end? Is it possible for God’s purposes to fail? We assume that God has a plan, and that Good will ultimately triumph over Evil. So God must have some kind of foreknowledge, right? In order for the big plan to work, it is necessary for the little plans (yours and mine) to work.

    Please tell me what I am missing.

    Comment by Mark Brown — July 29, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  63. 1) I think they are only incompatible if you are insisting on the absolute versions of each. Do any of us have perfect free-will? If we did, we could defeat each and every temptation ourselves, and even force ourselves to never sleep. That extreme is too far, of course. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, God has a perfect knowledge of how we will make the future. Perhaps, also, like the atonement, this is another thing we don’t understand. I would like a more perfect understanding of time and knowledge before I get dogmatic about what is impossible.

    2) We serious need some more data before we get dogmatic one way or the other. I think that it is interesting, that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (take it for what you will) there are different layer and interfaces (for lack of a better word) between our spirits and our physical bodies. Regardless, any solutions posted here are certainly oversimplified.

    3) This life is 99% of getting ready. If you don’t have a bit of momentum built up, you are in for quite a climb. Statistical Mechanics suggests limited exchange between kingdoms.

    4) I don’t think we are capable of lasting indefinitely. God has a timetable – and I think the only safe thing to say is that we don’t know what it is.

    5) Agreed.

    Comment by Zen — July 29, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

  64. Mark Brown: Is it possible for God’s purposes to fail?

    That is an insightful question. My personal answer is I don’t know what is possible or not. It certainly seems logically possible and it is probably scripturally possible based on those “God would cease to be God” passages we have. But I have faith that God can indeed be trusted when he says he his purposes will be accomplished. I think that is a major part of having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    If it is possible that God could fail would that make God unworthy of worship? I certainly don’t think so.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

  65. Zen,

    You are using a definition of free will that is foreign to me.

    Also, I agree that this world won’t go on forever. However I don’t think God has decided when the second coming will be. I think he is in wait and see mode on that one.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 29, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

  66. Mark Brown: If I may comment, ultimate effective triumph over evil does not require exhaustive foreknowledge. It simply requires the principles that the plan of salvation is based upon to be inherently superior to the degree that in the long run no one in their right mind would refuse it.

    There are conceivable contingencies that could set back this process years, perhaps even millennia, but that is of no particular significance if the long run trend is towards individuals choosing good over evil.

    Ardis P: What we are saying with regard to exhaustive foreknowledge is that it is not logically possible for a fixed future to be compatible with a real possibility of choosing to do otherwise. If the future is captured on film, there is no real alternative to do anything other than what is already on each frame.

    Of course, if one maintains that reality is not constrained by rationality, then all bets are off, including the truth of anything we can say about God or anything else. i.e. if one jointly claims “God knows the future in exhaustive detail” and “reality is not governed by rationality”, the consequence is that second statement, contradicts not only itself but the first sentence as well.

    i.e. there is no objective truth about X if X is not both real (something that one can be wrong about) and describable in rational terms. It doesn’t matter whether X is God, the world, the future, or whatever.

    Some religious traditions (e.g. some varieties of Eastern orthodoxy) take this seriously and simply maintain that nothing can be said about God – that He is the ultimate mystery.

    Comment by Mark D. — July 29, 2009 @ 11:35 pm

  67. Of course there is nothing logically inconsistent about a fixed future and the illusion of being able to choose among multiple alternatives…

    Comment by Mark D. — July 29, 2009 @ 11:43 pm

  68. On God knowing the future vs. free will, I’m kind of a believer in the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. I think of the spacetime continuum as a sort of simulation running on God’s computer. He can tweak the initial conditions and also the random quantum fluctuations of the vacuum to give optimum results. I see our time as being time inside the simulation, whereas God’s time is the outer time that lets him stop, backup, restart, etc. as many times as he wants. Therefore he can know what’s going to happen (which I happen to know for personal reasons that he, in fact, does) even though the physical laws of our universe specify that the future is unknowable. He’s not IN our universe, basically, though he can affect it.

    Anyway, it’s a vague theory informed by science, though not itself scientific. That’s my working hypothesis at the moment.

    Another way to think of it is we’re in the score hearing the internal musical time, meanwhile God is the conductor and can have the orchestra practice a few bars at a time, back up to the beginning, skip straight to the end, etc. Still the overall symphony makes sense but God has the ability to know what’s coming in the end.

    We’re eternal actors sharing the same spacetime as God but the veil temporarily allows us to forget the outer continuum and experience only the inner time of the “simulation”.

    Comment by Tatiana — July 30, 2009 @ 5:29 am

  69. Is it possible for God’s purposes to fail? We assume that God has a plan, and that Good will ultimately triumph over Evil. So God must have some kind of foreknowledge, right? In order for the big plan to work, it is necessary for the little plans (yours and mine) to work.

    foreknowledge of this sort does not require time travel though, in that I can know flipping a light switch will turn the light on. Or I know if I jump of the top of my house, I will fall.

    On the other had, the little plans do fail sometimes, right? Take the case of Zion in Independence, MO or The Followers of Moses refusing the priesthood, or the great apostasy, or the guy down the street you know and love who is miserable.

    I choose to go with the idea at the macro level that God understands what we need and the law of cause and effect, and is thus providing us with means yo get the correct effects.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 30, 2009 @ 6:31 am

  70. Ardis @42, Geoff @45 and so forth:

    First of all, somebody already said that philosophy, theology, psychology and all scientific discourse is all about defining concepts narrowly enough for them to be meaningful enough for systematic theoretical constructs. Gotta know what the other guy is talking about. AFAIK, that is. That is why Geoff seems to be nitpicking his way through your words, Ardis.

    And it has, IMO, to do with what God showed Moses. Did he actually show every single human being and all their lives? Or did he show him enough about the big picture for Moses to a) be able to understand that great things would happen — both glorious and sad — and b) be totally overwhelmed by what he saw and figure he must must have seen all of everybody’s life. After all, as a human, he likely would have lost count after a few tens of thousands at the latest.

    Further, how detailed was Moses’ vision? Jonah/Nineveh has been mentioned in this connection, but there are plenty of prophesies that didn’t come to pass, because people repented otherwise made choices they were warned against.

    Could it be, that some of us have been specifically coached and tested for long enough for specific things in our lives — like Moses and JS? Based on what God had seen about what they would do under pressure, he knew they wouldn’t budge at the crucial moment.

    And that brings us to the Savior. He was like the Father from the beginning. During an eternity by our perspective, he learned to emulate Father in everything. He may have been asked to do some incredibly difficult things before, like banish a brother he loved — despite his rebellion — from Father’s presence; why not? Pure love of Christ is not conditional, yet he will have to say, in the end, to some few, that they will not enter his kingdom or any other kingdom of glory because of their outright, informedly chosen rebellion.

    Or when Jesus was in the desert to be with God, and the Devil came to tempt him; and afterward, when the Devil moved away, frustrated for the time being, angels came to strengthen him (although JS also put it that Jesus sent the angels to strengthen John). Was Father just yanking his chain, to create an illusion of choice? “You’re pretty much as omnipotent as I, so I have to give you an illusion, that your choices do matter.”

    Sorry about going so far into my arguments, but I just am trying to make a reasonable synthesis of what I know and believe, and make it into something “logical”.

    I think the chess game analogy holds, just that it’s so much more complicated than anything I know, that it’s difficult for my limited mind to come to terms with the amount of different variables, strategies and outcomes, and how they keep constantly varying — infinitesimally from a universal point of view, even if it is quite revolutionary from ours. In other words, accurate is it to say, that he saw “everything”?

    I think we are staring the “mysteries of God” in the eye. Remember, there are no secrets that are outside of our grasp, if we’re one of the elect. How can we be “elect”? The Lord puts it this way: “{The elect] hear my voice, and follow me.” I don’t need incontrovertible evidence before I can move forward. I just want to live a good life, and I do it by being true to my own conscience.

    The last sentence also covers the fact that I understand people, who do not join the Church, or leave it. If something is missing, I may have to learn something else first. A brother, who supported his wife from the “outside” for almost 40 years, was sealed a couple of years ago, another was sealed after almost 30 years of trying to extricate his wife from the “grasp” of Mormonism. I’ve made mistakes that I wish I hadn’t made, but had I not made them, would I know what I know now? Were they in fact necessary for me to realize I mustn’t try to use my own “wisdom” exclusively? I think of that.

    A God, who would play games like that sounds like the Calvinist one to me. (You should probably put a word limit on comments, so I couldn’t run quite this wild…)

    Comment by Velska — July 30, 2009 @ 8:11 am

  71. I agree with all except for 4. I think we are still living in the Latter-days, despite the many millennial reboots. If you don’t believe in the Second Coming, you may as well be a Universalist. Besides, the world won’t end, it will just transform. What good is planet God made if he never eventually comes here to make it his own. Read your Old Testament.

    Comment by pjbrownie — July 30, 2009 @ 9:11 am

  72. Thank you! It’s about time someone brought these things up again and got people thinking! Just so happens I agree with every one of them, but don’t tell that to my family or my bishop. It would break their hearts ;)

    Comment by tristin — July 30, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  73. Tatiana (#68) — A lot of people like to speculate about how God time-travels. The problem is that how God might time travel is moot. If the future is fixed and currently exists to be traveled to then we don’t have the kind of free will required to make us morally responsible actors. That is why I flat out reject a fixed future — because a fixed future obliterates important fundamentals of restored gospel in my opinion.

    pjbrownie (#71) — Read your Old Testament.

    I’ll give you a reading assignment too: Read the post and comments here more closely. No one here claimed there will be no second coming. The issue is about the timing of the second coming.

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

  74. God’s foreknowledge and free will.

    This is not a Mormon issue. This is a fundamental issue in philosophy that carries over into various religious traditions. So says my daughter, a philosophy graduate (I am just a philosophy observer).

    The techical term in philosophy, I am told, is compatabilism versus incompatabilism. In philosophy, the compatabilism debate turns on whether determinism (the law of cause and effect) is compatable with free will. It bleeds over to theology in systems that posit omniscience of a god, because if the god knows all that exists, and if everything has a cause (i.e., is “determined”), then determinism implies that the god can know exhaustively the future. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism_and_incompatibilism

    I personally am largely an incompatabilist (i.e., Geoff’s position, theologically)–and yet I do believe in cause and effect (determinism) and free will. I have no idea how to reconcile the conflict in my own mind.

    However, I know that there are people much smarter than me (and perhaps as smart as Geoff), who have defended compatabilism philosophically and theologically at least since the Greeks.

    I don’t think Geoff was necessarily advocating that the Church teach incompatabilism; rather, I read him as suggesting that the Church not teach affirmatively compatabilism in a form that suggests God’s complete and exhaustive foreknowledge (determinism) as being compatable with free will.

    In other words, at least for me, I think the Church can bow out of that debate, or at least not stake a firm position (i.e., sort of like bowing out of the evolution debate).

    What matters to me is that, at a minimum, I appear to have free will, and when I exercise what appears to be my free will, there are real consequences. I have no idea whether God knows exhaustively in advance what I may choose. I like to think I surprise him from time to time.

    Comment by DavidH — July 30, 2009 @ 11:05 am

  75. Geoff J, forgive me, I’m really not trying to beat a dead horse. I’m just trying to determine if the way in which I have read interrelated scriptures is a dead end.

    The way I read Moses 1 relates to Alma 40:8, in that both describe God’s knowledge: “all things are present with me, for I know them all,” and “all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.” Add D&C 130:6-10 to that and you have a solid scriptural account by various prophets in different dispensations that God’s knowledge isn’t bound by human philosophical constructs of “time” and “fixed future.”

    I always tell my children not to use absolutes like “all” or “never” if they don’t really mean “all” or “never.” Yet, here, prophets have expressed in absolute terms that God knows “all things” and “all is one day” with him. Surely this means something more than he is a really, really ridiculously good guesser, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Russel.G — July 30, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  76. Russel G. – While time is measured by us, from Geoff’s point of view, all is as one day with us as well as God, as we are fixed in the present. I recently heard a report of Thomas S. Monson saying much the same thing, that all we have is the split second of the present and memories of the past, so we need to do the best we can with our now, so we can have june roses in our december winter. (Paraphrased, sorry)

    Comment by Matt W. — July 30, 2009 @ 11:22 am

  77. DavidH — See here for a long debate we had with some smart Mormon compatibilists. They put up a good fight but in the end fail in my opinion.

    Russel.G — We debated at length on the concept of God and time here. I think you would find that thread interesting.

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

  78. Thank God (literally) that we don’t have to force revelation to fit the word games of philosophers.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 30, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  79. Geoff J:

    I was thinking about these five and I don’t think we really teach them. Hear is what I typically hear:

    1. God knows the future. We don’t typically talk about it in terms of “exhaustively” and I think from your owns statements on God’s predictive power, we can agree he does know the future.

    2. We are literally children of God. Outside of a few unfortunate stories that almost border on folklore, and some statements from the 1800s, and the blogs, I don’t hear much about this. We’ll have to wait and see if these sorts of things make it into “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” when we get to J. Fielding Smith, but I think we are leaving that stuff behind.

    3. We believe this life is essential for us to be at one with God Temple work indicates we have opportunities after this life to progress, but I think the church does teach we have to have this life experience to be proven, tested, gain a body, etc. etc.

    4. We believe the last days are coming No one knows when. My favorite line on this one is WW saying he’s still planting cherry trees…

    5. We benefit from the atonement and understand some things about it. I remember President Hinckley talking in conference about what he doesn’t understand about the atonement. Most of the time, I find that we have the opposite problem, where when trying to talk about the atonement, we get hammered with “It’s impossible to understand.”

    Anyway, just trying to look at what the course correction is for these ideas.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 30, 2009 @ 11:45 am

  80. All interpretation of revelation adheres to one philosophy or another Ardis. We all have philosophies through which we view the universe. The issue is which philosophical lenses most accurately portray things as they really are.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 30, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  81. Geoff,

    How does specific prophecy work into your thoughts?

    For example: How does free will and the prophecy about Cryus and his role in delivering Israel work. Here’s a guy “mentioned” by name who accomplished a specific fole 500 years later.

    What about the BOM prophecy about J.S. and his role work out in your view of a fixed or non-fixed future?

    What about all the details of Christ’s life and ministry prophecied in the O.T.?

    How does God know specific events, and specific names of the people involved in future events? And if He knows these specifics then doesn’t that infer he can know or does know the specifics about other future events and people…even about you and what you’ll do?

    Comment by Don — July 30, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  82. I agree with pretty much all of them. I did want to expound upon #3 some-

    LDS doctrine as a whole has a gapping problem where it tries to bridge the gap between a heaven/ hell dichotomy as found in both the bible and bom and that of three heavens as separate worlds as interpreted by LDS from the D&C sections 76 & 88. And then on top of that problem, you still have to deal with the temple endowment ceremony where in my opinion it answeres and bridges the gap. It may be more appropraite to answere the question in a problem solving direction and then point out some contradictions. It may go like this-

    Does LDS doctrine teach there is progression to become like God? YES

    Does LDS doctrine teach that there is repentance after death? YES

    Does LDS doctrine teach in an actual everlasting hell? YES & NO- yes in that it can last forever for an individual and no in that there will be an eventual end.

    Does LDS doctrine teach progression through kingdoms? YES, go to the temple

    Is modern LDS doctrine concerning heaven compatable with the BoM and Bible heaven? Yes and NO- yes in that we still do teach a heaven and hell dichotomy and no in that we say we don’t teach a heaven and hell dichotomy.

    The last question points out the obvious contradiction. LDS doctrine really must decide on whether its one heaven or three. If its three then get rid of the BoM and Bible as they contradict the doctrine too much. If its just one heaven then get rid of the old notions of having three separate worlds of glory for the saved to dwell on.

    What we as LDS need to get through our thick skulls is the mere fact that we are already “kingdom hopping” right now! If we are not limited now,why would we be limited in the future. wouldn’t that make God an unjust individual? Does God ever stop in doing his work with us individually? Isn’t it true that Gods Laws are for the purpose of bringing us into exaltation? Isn’t it true that we are either moving away from that point or moving towards it? Would God put an impenetrable barrier in the way at some point in our progression? Doesn’t that mean that godliness is unachievable no matter how hard the desire and obedience?

    Comment by Rob Osborn — July 30, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  83. One other thing on free will and time and Gods foreknowledge-

    The future cannot be fixed! If it was fixed, who is the author of it? Our futures are left for us to decide. God does not know which one will be saved and which one will be damned from the beginning. If he did know then God of coarse is evil and actually would delight in evil! This because he would intentionally create people for the purpose of becoming evil and others for the purpose of becoming good. This would mean of coarse that the bad would at some point be good and then turn to bad all on a perfectly calculated level. It thus means that Gods work and glory would be to bring to pass “both” the immortality and eternal life of man and to bring to pass mans eternal damnation. It would also mean that God himself is not really omnipotenet because he wouldn’t actually be able to control the future or anything for that nmatter. It would mean that God could never make his own decision ever, he would just have to do exactly what the future already says he must do- so much for divine agencey!

    As for time travel- c’mon folks, time travel is for Hollywood. God only exists in the “present” just as you and I only also exist in that frame. Both the past and the future as physical places do not exist. Once an event has happened it has happened and cannot be changed because it is impossible to go back in time and change it. It is also impossible to travel into the future or exist there because it hasn’t happened yet. God seeing the future is his ability to see events as they “may” transpire not as they actually will. The scriptures are replete with God changing his mind and giving either/or prophecy. Some things must happen to bring about prophecy, but, there must be gods hand in that event to make it happen- things just aren’t going to randomly fall into place- The birth of Jesus was foretold and yet Mary still had to be told in a dream what was happening and what she must do. God just can’t sit on the sodelines with prophecy. If he sat on the sidelines then prophecey wouldn’t happen at all.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — July 30, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  84. Don (81),

    I can’t speak for Geoff (though I consider myself an Open Theist like him), but I have a suspicion that when God gives mankind prophecies, they often reveal not things that will simply happen, but things that God himself is going to do.

    To be clear, I don’t believe that God manually controls every detail of what happens to me (due to the free will of others, nonlinear dynamics, etc.), but I think that he steps in here and there to make something happen.

    Then those individuals who find themselves in a position to fulfill God’s prophecies or promises must make a choice, but perhaps God prepares them to have a better understanding of the ramifications of that choice somehow. See Mormon’s comment here. I’m sure the voice of the Lord can get pretty insistent if necessary (cf. Alma the Younger).

    Comment by Ben Pratt — July 30, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  85. Good response Ben. I agree.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 30, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  86. So, Ben and Geoff, I’m still trying to understand your view that God does not know the future, so I’ll leave that aside.

    When you say, though, that you “don’t believe that God manually controls every detail of what happens to me,” is it because our free will prevents him, or because he forbears? In other words, is our free will independent of God and therefore a limitation on his actions, or is our free will a result of his choice to forbear thereby allowing us to be agents unto ourselves?

    Comment by Russel.G — July 30, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  87. I think free will needs to be more clearly defined here. A quadriplegic in solitary confinement has as much free will as you or I so free will is an independent concept of things like physical constraints. I further hold that such free will is part of our beginningless spirits and it is metaphysically impossible to separate our indestructible spirits from free will.

    So it is is best to define free will as our power to be causal agents in the universe. It is our power to choose our reactions to any stimulus. It is certainly the power to choose our intentions. So while God or others or circumstances can limit our liberty to act in certain ways, our actual free will to make choices of intentions and desires cannot be impinged upon while we remain conscious and sentient.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 30, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

  88. “often reveal not things that will simply happen, but things that God himself is going to do.”

    Yup. Great comment, Ben. I did a brief look but couldn’t find … somewhere Christ when asked why He is doing this and that, responds that He is doing things in order to fulfill prophecies. Prophecies in which an independent agent is required to act or not act are conditional … see Patriarchal Blessings and about 1/3 of the D&C. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — July 30, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  89. The 5 articles of things we don’t want to have faith in anymore.

    Comment by danithew — July 30, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  90. Word about determinism just in case someone doesn’t go to Wikipedia:

    Determinism says, that every effect has a predetermined cause. Right, Geoff? Take it you’re the closest one to a philosopher here so far?

    Otherwise, how would simple cause and effect be incompatible with free will? The effect is caused by my actions, not something that was decided aeons ago, if we have free will.

    Paul says “predestinate” (proorisen) four times in Romans 8:29-30 and “predestinated” twice in Ephesians 1:5, 12, which could all, for all I know, be talking about us being foreordained to come forth in the Resurrection of the dead. Which is true in any case, us being on Earth…

    Comment by Velska — July 30, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  91. That’s right Velska. A hard determinist would say that our every thought, word, deed, and intention is caused by prior states or conditions in the universe. To use the terms Lehi used, a determinist thinks we are all things that are acted upon and the great causal chain of the universe is the thing that acts upon us.

    Libertarian free will claims that we as agents have the power to consciously deliberate and then choose our response to stimulus and thus our actions are not entirely caused by prior events. I believe Mormonism requires libertarian free will.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 30, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  92. #1 – Don’t dump the omniscience of God

    But when I read Jeremiah 32:35 last week, I thought immediately of the open theists and Geoff.

    God says, “. . . neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination . . .”

    Sounds like the God of the OT is surprised and shocked by the free will of man. Eh?

    Comment by Todd Wood — July 30, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  93. If we insist on using the term free will, we have to admit that we do not always have perfect ability to choose our options. At the extreme end, we see addiction where few choices can still be made. Give a drug addict a choice between a good clean life (rational) and more crack (addiction) then they will not always make the right choice.

    Probably a better term than ‘free will’ would be agency. We may not have perfect freedom from sin, but we do have the agency to follow Christ or Lucifer.

    The future is fixed by us choosing. God will let us choose, and will bless us when we choose right, and curse us when we do wrong, as he did David.

    Comment by Zen — July 30, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

  94. Todd,

    Good scriptural quote. I agree that it does sound like God was surprised by the free willed choices of people. That is what free will and an open future entails.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 30, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

  95. Zen: Probably a better term than ‘free will’ would be agency.

    Only if you prefer to be less precise in language (since agency can mean any number of things to most people). I prefer more precision when thinking about important topics.

    The future is fixed by us choosing

    I’m afraid I cannot discern what this sentence is supposed to mean.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 30, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

  96. MattW (79:2)

    I completely disagree with this. Proclamation on the Family as one recent authoritative source.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — July 31, 2009 @ 5:48 am

  97. The Proclamation on the Family doesn’t really say anything about the origin of the relationship of a “spirit son or daughter” to his or her “heavenly parents”.

    Comment by Mark D. — July 31, 2009 @ 6:15 am

  98. Eric: In case I was unclear in 79:2, I am saying what the church does teach instead of “Our spirits gestated in the womb of a resurrected celestial woman.” Is to teach “We are literally children of God.” Looking Back, It may not sound that way, and I wish I could edit it, but alas, I am not a moony.

    In any case, I think we do definitely teach the latter, and not the former. I think in teaching the latter we leave room for lots of different ways this could be brought about without requiring sexual spirit procreation.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 31, 2009 @ 7:12 am

  99. Thank God (literally) that thinking carefully about things allows us to understand their implications more clearly. Curse God (no, not literally) that this looks to some people like it is just a bunch of word games.

    Comment by Jacob J — July 31, 2009 @ 8:02 am

  100. There’s something I’d never think I see, a member of the fluffy bunny nice-nice club using OT scripture to further some members of the Mormon bloggernacle to a belief contrary to Evangelicsm.
    Weird.

    Comment by psychochemiker — July 31, 2009 @ 10:40 am

  101. I agree with #1 completely. The concepts of predestination, fore ordination, and “everything happening for a reason” are all contradictory to free agency and the theory of coming to earth to be tried and tested.

    #2 should be dumped on the weirdness factor alone.

    #3 are there really hierarchies of kingdoms in heaven? If heaven is perfect are there “classes” in heaven too? Does that mean I’m doomed to the middle class for eternity?

    #4 Glenn Beck comes to mind. We need less nuttiness and more sensibility. So yeah stop talking about the end of the world.

    Comment by AYdubYA — July 31, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

  102. Still about #3:

    Is there something in scripture that would require the three different kingdoms of glory to be physically separate places, like planets or something? Am I missing something obvious, when to me it seems like they could exist in the same physical sphere? If we take God to have a physical body, then he can only occupy one space at one time, in which case separation from him does not have to mean parseks necessarily (although it could) to be effective.

    And if they can be physically near each other, does that mean that it would be easier to progress from one to another (I don’t think so)?

    Comment by Velska — August 1, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  103. Yeah not only separate kingdoms but hierarchies of gods too.

    Comment by AYdubYA — August 1, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  104. Point one:
    According to the Bible, we do not have free will.

    Romans 9:
    8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
      9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
      10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
      11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
      12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
      13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
      14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
      15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
      16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
      17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
      18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
      19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
      20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
      21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
      22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
      23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

    Point two:
    The reason we can’t move up a kingdom is because once our bodies are resurrected, they cannot change, they are permanently that glory. Read Alma 41. But my question is why can’t the resurrection just wait for those until they have progressed to the level that they can be resurrected with a celestial glory?

    Point three:

    Paul explains the atonement quite well in Hebrews. It is based on propitiation (to appease God) and patterned after the Day of Atonement in the Law of Moses. The high priest was responsible for making sure the covenant group (church) kept their covenants. If one person broke his covenants, wrath would be poured out upon the whole group if the sin was tolerated. They become accomplices. To make atonement (appease God) the sinner (law breaker) had to die (blood shed) if it was an intentional sin such as murder, adultery, etc. Sins that were unintentional or done out of ignorance, could be forgiven with the offering of sacrifice of an animal in place of the person who sinned. God was being merciful to accept this substitution. Of course it was meaningless if the person did not repent. The sacrifice was to remind the sinner of what he deserved. On the Day of Atonement the High Priest (Jesus) would atone for the unintentional sins of the Church. The guilt was put on the priest because he was responsible for them as their spiritual leader. He is like a father taking responsibility for his minor children. Christ becomes our father and we become his children or seed.

    Comment by onika — August 4, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

  105. Onika,

    1) You are free to believe we have no free will based on that reading of Paul. You might make a good Calvinist with that sort of hermeneutic. The problem is that the no free will position is at odd with Lehi, Joseph Smith, and basically every modern prophet. Further, Mormonism fails if we have no free will. (But since you might be a Calvinist that might not bother you too much)

    2) As I said, you can believe in no progression between kingdoms. It is not an uncommon position. I just think it is wrong.

    3) If Paul clarified the atonement there wouldn’t be so many competing atonement theories in Christianity in general and in Mormonism.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 5, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  106. Geoff I was just pointing out what the NT says about it. God made some to be good and some to be bad. So, you would rather believe God is not omniscient?

    You could look at it this way: Every action causes a reaction. All our actions are a result of a chain of reactions. Why does one react one way and another another way? Could it be because we have different values depending on our perceptions. And why do we have different perceptions? Because sometimes we’re deceived. I believe if we were never deceived we would never make a wrong choice because it would not be in our self interest to do so. If you don’t believe this then you think some are inherently bad and some are inherently good, so then you would not believe in free will either because God made them that way.

    Comment by onika — August 5, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  107. Onika: Geoff I was just pointing out what the NT says about it. God made some to be good and some to be bad.

    Not in Mormonism God didn’t. In Mormonism every spirit is eternal and uncreated. Further every spirit freely chooses for himself or herself whether to be bad or good.

    So, you would rather believe God is not omniscient?

    I prefer to believe God knows all that exists to be known. (That doesn’t include the future which does not yet exist)

    Every action causes a reaction.

    Not when it comes to morally responsible agents. Morally responsible agents freely choose their response to stimulus. That is what makes them morally responsible. In other words, the stimulus does not cause the reaction of the agent, rather the agent chooses his or her reactions.

    Of course I believe in libertarian free will and believe that Mormonism requires LFW. You clearly don’t since you seem to be preaching causal determinism here.

    Are you a Mormon BTW? The doctrines you are preaching sound more like Calvinism than Mormonism to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 5, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  108. Paul did clarify the atonement, but people don’t understand it because they aren’t Jewish and haven’t studied the Law of Moses. The controversy is whether God is merciful enough to be satisfied with our repentance and the sacrifice of a goat in our stead, or if it was necessary for a human being/part god to be sacrificed in order to obtain forgiveness for us. (I forgot to add the high priest transferred the guilt to the sacrificial goat, so God was showing mercy to the high priest as well.) Paul says the blood of goats was not enough.

    The atonement was only good for unintentional sin in the OT and Paul says the same thing:

    Hebrews 10:26:
    For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins…

    This basically covers the “fall” of Adam and the guilt that is transferred to us as his seed (children, those without the law, etc.). Jews also interpret unintentional sin as sin done knowingly/wilfully, but the sinner repents before he gets caught. (I don’t know if this was the original interpretation in Moses’s time.)

    Anyway, according to Paul and the Book of Mormon every mortal would be lost (including babies) if it weren’t for the atonement. In other words God could not forgive us for unintentional sin caused by the fall of Adam! God could not resurrect us because we deserved to die, and we all do die because of the fall of Adam. We are being punished for Adam’s transgressions by dying, and we would be separated from God (in hell) for eternity if no atonement were made. On the other hand Jews believe God can forgive us if we repent, and he can resurrect us without the atonement because it’s not our fault we die. So, if any atonement had to be made it would have to be for Adam, but since we’re his seed, we inherit his fall/guilt.

    D&C 93:
    38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

    Mosiah 3:

    11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.
    16 And even if it were possible that little children could sin they could not be saved; but I say unto you they are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins.

    Moses 6:

    54 Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.

    55 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.

    Comment by onika — August 5, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  109. I said, “I believe if we were never deceived we would never make a wrong choice because it would not be in our self interest to do so. If you don’t believe this then you think some are inherently bad and some are inherently good, so then you would not believe in free will either because God made them that way.”

    If you believe in free will then you must believe the reason one chooses to do evil is because he is deceived. Right?

    Comment by onika — August 5, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  110. Here is a list of traditional atonement theories onika. Which of those do you think most closely resembles the truth?

    If you believe in free will then you must believe the reason one chooses to do evil is because he is deceived.

    I would have to know more details about your definitions of good and evil to be able to adequately respond to this question.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 5, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  111. Know then that ev’ry soul is free,
    To choose his life and what he’ll be;
    For this eternal truth is given,
    That God will force no man to heaven.

    He’ll call, persuade direct him right;,
    Bless him with wisdom, love, and light;
    In nameless ways be good and kind;
    But never force the human mind.

    See also James 1:13-15.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 5, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  112. Geoff,

    Each of these theories has parts of the truth.

    Ransom theory (exchanging our souls in hell for Christ’s) isn’t right because Satan would know if Christ could resurrect (the plan in heaven), and really, how is justice met if Christ doesn’t stay there? It says if God doesn’t execute justice on all sinners, then God (justice) in the bodily form of Christ, would have to die. This theory incorporates the Satisfaction theory, that Christ’s soul is worth all of ours.

    Substitution isn’t correct (the one LDS believe in) because Christ isn’t suffering in hell for eternity instead of us. Our Church teaches that God is eternal/endless so in that sense the punishment was an eternal or endless punishment. I think it’s a play on words. Plus if it’s really substitution the punishment is paid and we wouldn’t have to worry about being punished; we are all saved. The Calvinists (Pauline doctrine) point out that according to the scriptures not all are saved, so the ones who are saved had to have been predestinated to be saved. (Election theory)

    The theory that is closest to the doctrine of the OT is a combination of the Governmental and Scapegoat theories. Interesting that they said a similar ritual was performed in Ebla, where many names from the OT have been found.

    Comment by onika — August 5, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

  113. As I said in the post:

    we are mostly taught a smorgasbord of old atonement theories lifted from creedal Christian theologians

    Looks like you are in line with the smorgasbord approach onika.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 5, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

  114. Geoff,

    I’ll try to define good and evil. There is the theist way and the atheist way.

    Theist: Good is obeying God’s will. Since our imperfect rational minds may not always foresee the long term or short term consequences of our actions (lack of knowledge) we need to trust in God (have faith) that what he tells us is for our own good, will make us happy, is in our self interest.

    Atheist: What ever is in our self interest (will make us happy) is good and we must use our rational minds to determine objectively what that is. If we want to live with others peaceably and function and prosper in society, and have friends, and have our social needs filled, we had better treat others the way we would want to be treated.

    It’s all the same (Natural Law) except with God we have a perfect all-wise mentor to help us; without God we have to figure it out on our own or have people whom we admire as mentors to help us.

    Comment by onika — August 5, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

  115. Geoff,

    I don’t know why you said I was in line with smorgasbord. I said they were all wrong except for a combination of two I mentioned. Anyway, what’s your point? You think no one understands the atonement; I disagree. Some are right and some are wrong. I just happen to be right.

    Comment by onika — August 5, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  116. Whatever you say onika.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 5, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

  117. Geoff,

    Sorry, I was feeling a little irritated.

    Comment by onika — August 6, 2009 @ 7:40 am

  118. I agree that most people don’t understand the atonement.

    Comment by onika — August 6, 2009 @ 7:43 am

  119. Anyway, I would like to know if you think the atonement is necessary for God to forgive us. Atonement (kpr) means to repair a broken covenant. The threat of death was the enforcement of the covenant. If we break a covenant and God doesn’t enforce the consequence then he would be lying. In our church the blessings of obeying are emphasized, as if the only consequence was not getting blessings, but originally fear of death (physical and spiritual) was a consequence as well. I guess the Israelites had to make covenants because god did special favours for them like give them other people’s land. there had to be a way to make sure they kept their part of the agreement after God had already kept his part. The judges became wicked and would not enforce the law on the law breakers, bringing condemnation to the whole nation, so God had to take the land away.

    Comment by onika — August 6, 2009 @ 7:54 am

  120. onika: Atonement (kpr) means to repair a broken covenant.

    You will need to establish when humankind individually made the original covenant with God with your theory. If you hold that it was before we were born then you would need to show why it is enforceable to people who have no knowledge or memory of it. If we did not individually make the covenant and break it you would need to show why we would be held responsible for promises we never made.

    I think a better view of atonement is that God wants us to be at one with him. Therefore atonement is really the entire plan of salvation not just the Gethsemane or Golgotha events. See all of the posts and discussions here.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 6, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  121. Atonement means not only to repair our relationship with God, but to repair our relationship with everyone else, and in particular those who are making the same effort. Otherwise there is no heaven worthy of the name.

    Comment by Mark D. — August 6, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  122. Mark, that’s for sure. How can God forgive us if things have not been repaired with others. He would not be upholding justice. That’s why I can’t say that I forgive someone who has murdered someone else, unless and until the victim can forgive him.

    Geoff:

    “You will need to establish when humankind individually made the original covenant with God with your theory. If you hold that it was before we were born then you would need to show why it is enforceable to people who have no knowledge or memory of it. If we did not individually make the covenant and break it you would need to show why we would be held responsible for promises we never made.”

    Exactly my point about being born guilty.(See earlier post. I don’t know how to link it.) We can’t be held responsible for promises we never made and we couldn’t have made any valid covenant before being born, so why would we be lost without the atonement? That would not be just. Maybe it’s not just, but it’s the situation. Maybe God could forgive us without the (sacrificial) atonement, but the necessity for it is to overcome death. But the scriptures say otherwise. We inherit our guilt/mortality. Adam is mankind; we are all connected. That’s why we all have to be sealed, so we can resurrect.

    On a side note, this brings up the subject of the story of Adam and Eve. It is about how we humans became gods/judges/elohim. God said, after they had partaken of the tree of knowledge, that they had become like God, knowing good from evil. In other words they could make judgments and act as judges and establish government. Notice Adam and Eve also became creators after they had partaken of the fruit ( there is no mention of children until after they left the garden). A god is not just a creator, which all humans are, but he is also a judge. Adam and Eve had free will and could be deceived, so their natures were the same before they ate the fruit as they were after. The only difference between God and humans is the mortality/immortality factor.

    Comment by onika — August 6, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  123. Look onika, if you would like to engage any of the many posts and discussions about the atonement that we have had over at New Cool Thang feel free. If you manage to think of any interesting insights people will be happy to engage you I’m sure.

    As it stands in this thread, you have said nothing that leads me to believe you have any more insights into how the atonement actually works than anyone else off the street so I stand by my original assertion that we (including you) don’t really understand the atonement.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 6, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  124. What do you not understand about it?

    Comment by onika — August 6, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

  125. I’m done onika. Read and engage the posts I linked to if you really want to discuss the atonement further.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 6, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

  126. I get it. You’re experiencing cognitive dissonance. Sorry.

    Comment by onika — August 6, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

  127. Hehe. No — If you must know it is that I mostly think you are an under-informed blowhard so I’m disengaging because I’m getting bored with our exchange.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 6, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  128. The reason there are many different theories is because non-Jewish people don’t understand the Law of Moses. They emphasize certain elements and develop a theory around them. I have no new theories for you; the way I explained it is how it works; it doesn’t have to match one of the theories developed by religious scholars. The confusion comes when the atonement becomes incorporated into Christianity, a new, heretical religion.

    Comment by onika — August 7, 2009 @ 8:58 am

  129. [...] Johnston, from New Cool Thang, recently suggested in a Nine Moons guest post the following five doctrinal ideas that should be dropped from LDS [...]

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  130. [...] literally God’s spirit child. What does this mean? Well, I’m sure we can talk about the dynamics of spirit procreation later, but whatever the method, he means that we are literally related to [...]

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