Musing on Moses: 4 (From the Pearl of Great Price)
Using material from Moses 4 and the Bible, we fashion a plausible scenario for discussions in the Grand Council and the descent into the world we live. We assume that The Father is loving, merciful, and just. He wishes to give us agency to act for ourselves and explains again the Plan of Salvation. Lucifer offers another approach which we reject. We discuss properties of spirits, the Preexistence, and the world we are in now.
Although the scenario is consistent with LDS theology, it is merely one of several plausible hypotheses. This is not the official position of the LDS church or theology. I have added some ideas which are logical extensions of LDS doctrine to stimulate thought. An LDS description of the properties of spirits follows.
According to LDS teachings, our spirit parents organized us as male and female spirits from spiritual matter in the Preexistence much as our parents organized us from matter on earth. As we became self aware and matured, we began to experience all of the mental emotions (fear, guilt, love, friendship, intimidation, loneliness, etc.) we do on earth. As spirits, we were telepathic, had memories, and developed and projected our personalities and self images. We interacted with our spirit peers much as we interact with our peers here on earth. During the long period in the spirit world before this world was created, we formed proto-families, friendships and made alliances. These relationships continue now “on Earth as it is in Heaven”. Much of the trouble in the world today is the result of underlying contentions in the Preexistence. What was done in Heaven is now playing out on Earth with consequenc
As spirits, we could not influence or interact directly with normal matter (D&C129). Because of this, we lacked our five physical senses of sight hearing, feeling, smell, and taste. Although we could not see the physical world clearly with our spiritual eyes, with telepathy we could see the world through the eyes of those on earth. We could project our self image into their minds and influence their emotions by projecting feelings such as happiness or dread. We reflected no light and cast no shadows. We could neither feel physical pain nor commit sin. Thus, even though we were imperfect spirits, we could coexist with our Celestial Family in the perfection of the Celestial Kingdom. We could not fully see the physical Kingdom of God. As spirits, we could not partake of the energy of the universe: we ate at Our Father's table.
When we were summoned to the Grand Council to discuss our future, we all knew that we were destined for the immortal, perfect, altruistic, physical Paradise we had created under Jesus' leadership. We also knew that it was certain and necessary that we would break Father's commandments and that our transgression would change Terrestrial Paradise to a flawed, mortal, Telestial world. We all knew we would become mortal, flesh and blood, know good and evil, make choices, have children, be tested, suffer, and die. We knew that our telepathic capabilities and our memory of the Preexistence would be largely hidden behind a veil. Separated from God and with only faint memories* of the Preexistence and a “sixth sense”, we would be tested and trained. Separated from God, we would form families and societies to provide the physical bodies necessary to house our waiting spirits. This world would be both an arena and an incubator.
This world would also be the incubator for all the creatures of the Earth created for us and given the breath of life by Jesus. These are God's fixtures and wallpaper. Because of our inevitable transgression, Terrestrial animals of flesh and bone would fall with us to become animals of flesh and blood and require food. When we are resurrected because of the Atonement, the other preexistant creatures will join us. Although Jesus also created Adam from the dust of the Earth, only The Father – not Jesus – could give Adam the breath of life because we are Our Father's children not the creation of Jesus
We knew that our proxy Adam would be forced to break an earthly commandment with his Priesthood and that we all would be forced from the Terrestrial Paradise into a Telestial earth. There, Celestial Justice would require a sacrifice worthy to atone for any Celestial Law broken and for ALL subsequent pain and damage caused by the transgression. This necessary Atonement would be performed by a person in an office called The Only Begotten. His sacrifice would satisfy Justice and allow us to reunite our immortal spirits with resurrected, immortal physical bodies. We would then be placed in the various three kingdoms (Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial) prepared for us according to our desires and capabilities.
Many of us wanted remain with The Father or to be born into and stay in the Terrestial Paradise. However, since Terrestrial reproduction is not possible, and since spirits must be born physically to gain a body, that choice was unavailable. Like Jesus, we must all descend into this Telestial world to be resurrected. Hopefully, if the Atonement is properly accomplished and resurrection assured (Jesus had his free agency also and might have refused to carry through on this painful task)**, we can return to the Father.
Father called the Grand Council to explain this to us again and to allow us to select the individual to be The Only Begotten. Father had made us agents to ourselves and responsible for our decisions. This was to be our first significant choice using the free agency Father had given us. Jesus was expected to be chosen since He was Father's Firstborn, His favorite, a great leader, and had directed the creation of the earthly Paradise. But there was a problem
Even though Father covenanted with us that we could return to Him, many of us were afraid to come to Earth. Many thought the risk and pain of the Plan of Salvation was too great. Many did not wish to use their agency to chose the path leading to the Telestial world. Lucifer, another great leader, stepped forward and offered a second option, a seemingly painless way to return to the Father. In his plan, we would pledge the agency of our souls to him. In return, Lucifer would volunteer to be The Only Begotten. All would then proceed as planned: Adam and Eve; knowledge of good and evil; children; death; resurrection; and immortality.
But there would be one major difference. Being pledged to Lucifer and having given up our free will, we neither could nor would commit a single sin. We would live out our mortal, Telestial lives in perfect harmony in an altruistic society similar to that of the Celestial Kingdom. With no sin, no pain, and no contention, we would all strive together as worker bees to Lucifer's queen. With no sin and only the transgression of knowledge of good and evil to offend Celestial Justice, Lucifer's atonement would be more like a coronation than a sacrifice. Of course, we would all be baptized since that is a requirement to remove the inevitable curse on Paradise and all in it so we could be born in a Telestial world and leave Our Father's house***. In this scenario, childbirth would be painless.
Lucifer was a persuasive telepath, a salesman, and a deceptive demagogue although he did not wish to lie in the Father's presence. Lucifer knew each of us and could sense our fears, strengths and weaknesses. And so he promised us and The Father: “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” Indeed, we would all be redeemed since under his plan we would all return to the Celestial Kingdom and to The Father. But our souls would be lost to The Father since we would be completely pledged on Lucifer. Only Lucifer's soul would have agency: only his soul would not be lost. In the confusion of the heated debate, many spirits thought Lucifer had said “not one soul would be lost” – an entirely different meaning. Thus, many were deceived when they cast their vote for Lucifer as the Only Begotten.
Lucifer had offered a painless way out of the covenant the Father wanted us to make. Father wanted us to grow up and be like Him - agents to ourselves. He had offered us our free agency. We were to be the ""heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17). But we had to accept the covenant to be born; God could not force us to accept this obligation and, at the same time, let us keep our agency. And so we voted and one third of us chose to follow Lucifer
There is some controversy as to what happened next. Many Christian churches believe a great war in Heaven ensued. The good spirits lead by Archangel Michael contended with Lucifer and his angels. Lucifer's group lost and was cast down to earth to become demons. This story makes some sense if God the Father is a pure spirit. One might imagine a revolution with the many lesser spirits hoping to overthrow the greater Spirit - God.
LDS, however, are taught that God has a physical body and that spirit Jesus (the Word) created the earth using the delegated power of The Father. As we have discussed, by virtue of His body, God the Father has capabilities far beyond those available to Lucifer. We assume that Lucifer was an intelligent, rational being, and, knowing his limitations, he went to earth peaceably with his spirits to live among and tempt man. These who followed him were those who refused to covenant with The Father and kept not their First Estate. These were they who were sent to earth to become demons without the pain of birth and life and without a physical body. This is Satan's world. We know this because he told us so when he tempted Jesus in Luke 4:6. (In general, Lucifer does not lie. He relies on deception. Perhaps this is to avoid responsibility for the results of his advice. For example, with respect to the apple, Father said we shall “surely die.”. Satan said we shall “not surely die..”. These words have exactly opposite meanings and yet both are true. One exception is when Satan claimed to be The Only Begotten in Moses 1:19; but Satan had lost his temper – a common demonic failing.)
Those spirits who agreed to the covenant were born. For us, those who kept our First Estate, the question is how well we will keep our covenant in this earthly arena. The covenant we made is also binding on the Father (Moses 4:30). God cannot infringe upon our free agency.
And so, Adam came to earth as our first representative with the authority of the Priesthood; he held our proxy given to him in the Preexistence for his actions. When Adam made his choice, it is likely that he was behind the veil since he did not know the purpose of the sacrifices that he was commanded to make to God after the Fall. Although he talked to God, he did not ask for God's advice in the decision he was about to make. Adam was on his own.
Eve had listened to Satan's deception, eaten, and now she knew that there was a difference between good and evil. Adam had a choice: 1) follow the commandment not to eat the fruit and therefore divorce Eve; or 2) follow the commandment of Moses 3-24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh". He chose to follow that second commandment. Then, they both knew good and evil and were ashamed.
Eve was the First Cause of Adam's dilemma. Was Eve just a gullible young woman who was lead astray? Or did she know more than we think she did? Perhaps Eve ate the fruit because she wanted children and a family and knew the Plan. This is one of several instances in scripture where the female seems to be the only one who knows what is required while the male seems clueless. But since only the male has the authority to invoke the Priesthood, Adam himself had chose to violate one of the Celestial edicts. One can only speculate what would have happened if Adam had chosen divorce. Would he have lost a second rib?.
And so, when God came and asked how they knew they were naked, Adam responded. In Moses 4:18, "And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat." At the very least, this verse is Adam's defense of his use of his priesthood authority to cleave to his wife and leave his father (God). But Adam's choice may also be the specific affirmation on this earth of the covenant we all made in the Preexistence. Again, what was done in Heaven was playing out on earth.
For an example of the precious things that have been removed from the Bible, compare Moses 4:18 (above) to Geneses 3:12; “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” The text in bold above is missing. To repeat, that missing text - a reference to a written commandment by God shown Moses 3:24 and also in Geneses 2:24 - is both Adam's defense of his choice and also an earthly affirmation of our covenant with God that we made in the Preexistence. The missing eight words show Adam to be a intelligence capable of reasoning with God rather than a doofus (n. a stupid or foolish person).
Following that interchange with God, and according to the Plan of Salvation, God placed the four curses on Satan, Eve, Adam, and the Earth.
The curse on Satan means that Satan is no longer our brother. He has become our enemy and we have become his lawful prey and his food. We belong to him if we invite him into our lives. After the resurrection, demons will become parasites on the bodies of those in the Telestial Kingdom. So, although Satan will feed on Cain, Cain will rule over Satan.
The curse on Adam requires an Atonement by one not tainted by descent from Adam – in other words, the Only Begotten – someone “begotten not made”. Adam was made.
The Curse on Eve requires us to be "born again" - in other words, to be baptized by water immersion to break the connection to Eve. And, if we cannot be baptized for ourselves while we are alive, then our baptism must be done by proxy by the living in an ordinance we call Baptism for the Dead. Born again implies that we have been born once and thus, unlike Satan and his demons, we have earned an immortal, physical, resurrected body.
The curse on the Earth is specifically mentioned as being done for our sake - i.e., to protect us. This changed earth and every creature on it from the Terrestrial to a Telestial state. [3/6/2018 Since Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, it is possible that Eden was a special relatively small location on the Earth. The animals may not have changed worldwide.]
Note that knowledge of good and evil is NOT, by itself, a sin. The first sin happened when Cain slew Abel. There, one agent (Cain) took away the agency of another (Adam). That was murder done for gain. Lamech committed another far more grievous sin noted in Genesis 4:23-24 but explained far better in Moses 5:47-57 (more deletions from Genesis). That greater sin was murder for an oath's sake. Historically, examples of this sin type were common worldwide as the various religions strove against each other. Now, in these latter-days, one religion is especially virulent.
God the Father must have had tears in his eyes when He pronounced these curses: tears of joy and pride that His children accepted His invitation to try to be like Him - agents for themselves; tears of sadness for God knew of the pain and sacrifice that would be required - especially from His most Beloved Son, the Only Begotten.
Note that after the Curse, God showed Adam how to make clothes from animal skins. He probably also gave them a bag of seeds (agriculture started about that time). This was not an angry parting: this was a Father's loving goodby to a young son and daughter setting out into the world to make their own way. (Gen 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them: and also Moses 4:27 Unto Adam, and also unto his wife, did I, the Lord God, make coats of skins, and clothed them.) They went with their Father's considerable blessing.
Science teaches evolution to explain our existence. Perhaps the other creatures did evolve as they say. However, without the preexistence there could be no covenant. Without a created Adam, there would be no one to act on our behalf to affirm our agreement from the spirit world. Without a spirit and with self awareness only from the connections in the physical brain, man would have no free agency. Without agency, there is no sin and no soul. That is neither the world that I see nor the world I hope for. Evolution is a terribly lonely belief.
It is ironic that the Story of Creation and the Virgin Birth - two stumbling blocks that almost drove me to reject the church in my youth - are now some of the building blocks of my faith.
How could an uneducated farmer formulate such an elegant philosophy by himself? This work by Brother Joseph is indeed a Pearl of Great Price.
* Memories, motives, and attitudes define us as individuals and are a part of the agency Father has given us. While we must forgive, we need not forget. There is no hate in Heaven but there is eternal guilt [Mosiah 2:38]. Since we are telepathic, we broadcast perfect memories (we were there) to the world as if from the rooftops. Since we are not perfect, we will understand. Judah sold his younger brother Joseph into slavery, Judah will forever defer to him and his superior birthright. Perhaps, we will find companionship with those of similar profiles. We may judge ourselves.
**Lucifer also had his free agency. He could have chosen not to propose his path or not to go to earth without a body after he lost (if permitted). If Lucifer actually volunteered or was required to rebel to enable the Plan of Salvation to proceed, he would become an agent of God and would be our partner rather than our enemy.
***Since Eve's action was only the First Cause but not the actual Priesthood transgression, her part might have been modified or eliminated.
These are other scenarios.
Link to further information about spirits - also reprinted below.
See this page in the original 1992 publication.
Author: Jensen, Jay E.
The existence of both good and evil spirit beings is a prominent doctrine in LDS theology. Spirits are intelligent, self-existent, organized matter and are governed by eternal laws. Moreover, all living things had a pre-earthly spirit existence. LDS understanding on this subject is formulated by biblical and latter-day scripture and the teachings of latter-day prophets.
Latter-day revelation declares that "all spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure" than the physical materials of earth life (D&C 131:7-8). The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: A very material difference [exists] between the body and the spirit; the body is supposed to be organized matter, and the spirit, by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latter statement we should beg leave to differ, and state the spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic and refined matter than the body; that it existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection, be again united with it [TPJS, p. 207].
Although the Lord has revealed much in ancient and latter-day scripture about spirit matter and spirit beings, many unknowns remain, especially the full meaning of such terms as "intelligence," "light," and "truth," which are used in the revelations in association with the word "spirit." Spirit matter is identified with intelligence or the light of truth (D&C 93:29). Joseph Smith taught that elements were not created or made, but can be organized into a spirit being. This spirit, intelligence, or light has always existed, being coeternal with God. It can act and be acted upon; it can be organized, but it cannot be destroyed. Spirits exist upon a self-existent principle, and "all…spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement" (TPJS, pp. 351-54), meaning that they are capable of intellectual growth and maturation and that "there is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God" (TPJS, p. 191).
It is LDS doctrine that human spirits are the literal offspring of perfected, exalted parents, a Father and a Mother in Heaven (cf. Num. 16:22; Heb. 12:9). God instituted a Plan of Salvation whereby his spirit children could advance and become like him (see Council in Heaven). Paul said that the human family is God's offspring (Acts 17:29). All men and women lived as personal, individual spirit children with God in a premortal life before they were born into physical bodies. Likewise, one's personal, individual spirit existence extends beyond the death of the mortal body.
Jesus Christ was the firstborn of all God's spirit children and is thus the elder brother of the rest of mankind (see Jesus Christ: Firstborn in the Spirit). Because of the faith of the brother of jared (c. 2200 B.C.), he was permitted to see the Lord's premortal spirit body. The Lord explained to him, "Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image. Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; …and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh" (Ether 3:15-16). Since spirits are the offspring of Heavenly Parents, they are in that image and likeness, both male and female (Gen. 1:26-27; Moses 3:4-7; Abr. 3:18-23).
Enoch was shown a vision of the spirits of all men and women who had lived or who would yet live on the earth and who were first created as spirits in heaven (Moses 6:28;7:38-40, 57). Abraham also saw the premortal spirits of mankind and noted that they varied in intelligence and obedience (Abr. 3:18-19). Among these were many noble and great ones whom God said he would make rulers and leaders in his kingdom. Abraham was told that he was one of these and was chosen before he was born (Abr. 3:22-23). Many were foreordained to perform certain tasks when upon the earth (see Foreordination). In the premortal state, spirits received their first lessons in the gospel and the work of God that they would do on the earth (D&C 138:55-56; cf. Jer. 1:5; Eph. 1:3-4; Titus 1:2). Many of these spirit beings were called and prepared from the foundation of the world because of their faith and good works, to bear the priesthood and teach the gospel and the commandments of God in mortality (Alma 13:1-6).
Inherent in the makeup of their intelligent nature, spirits have agency and are able to make choices. The scriptures teach that spirits are capable of all the emotions, passions, and intellectual experiences exhibited by mortals, including love, anger, hate, envy, knowledge, obedience, rebellion, jealousy, repentance, loyalty, activity, thought, and comprehension. Using their agency, some of God's children rebelled in the premortal life, and war in heaven ensued. The rebellious spirits followed Lucifer and with him were cast down to the earth and became devils or evil spirits, never to receive physical bodies on earth (Moses 4:1-4; D&C 76:25-27; cf. Rev. 12:4, 7-9; D&C 29:36). Satan and his followers remain spirit beings made in the image of God but are still rebellious and evil. They are desirous of having a mortal body. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, "The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine's body to having none" (TPJS, p. 181; cf. pp. 297-98).
Latter-day revelation has not identified or clarified the nature of seraphim or cherubim mentioned in the Bible (Gen. 3:24; Isa. 6:2) and whether these are spirit beings or merely symbolic representations. Some spirits are messengers of the Lord and minister to mortals (Heb. 1:14; D&C 129), but spirit ministrants cannot perform all the functions of those angels who have resurrected bodies (TPJS, pp. 191, 325).
A spirit being who has never entered mortality is in an "unembodied" state. A spirit with a mortal body is in an "embodied" state and the body and spirit constitute the soul (D&C 88:15). Death is the separation of the mortal, physical body from the spirit (James 2:26), after which the spirit lives in a "disembodied" state in the postmortal spirit world, while the mortal, physical body, without life, decays in the grave. In the postmortal world, the spirit awaits being "reembodied" in the resurrection, which is the reuniting of the spirit and the body, never to be separated (Alma 11:44-45). Every person in the mortal world has come from the spirit world, and all will eventually die and then be resurrected.
Latter-day revelation teaches that God the Father and Jesus Christ are resurrected, exalted beings, meaning that they have glorified bodies of flesh and bones (D&C 130:22). Man exists that he "might have joy" (2 Ne. 2:25), and the revelations teach that a fulness of joy can be experienced only in the resurrected state-with the spirit and the body inseparably united (D&C 93:33-34). Therefore, existence as a spirit alone in either the premortal or postmortal spirit world has its limitations. Departed spirits who know the plan of God and the value of a physical body are anxious to be resurrected (D&C 45:17;138:50). Because they rejected God's Plan of Salvation, Lucifer and his followers have been denied forever the privilege of having a physical body and thus are limited or curtailed in their progress. The Lord declared, "Where I am they cannot come, for they have no power" (D&C 29:29).
The spirit creation pertains not to the human family alone but to all living things. Latter-day scriptures teach that the human spirit is in the likeness of that which is physical, as was demonstrated in the case of the spirit of Jesus Christ, who appeared to the brother of Jared, noted above. Thus, "the spirit of man [is] in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created" (D&C 77:2; see also Animals). Moses wrote that every plant of the field, every herb, indeed every thing, was created "in heaven" before it was naturally upon the face of the earth (Moses 3:5-7). [See also First Estate; Hell; Spirit Body; Spirit Prison.]
"The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve." AF, pp. 465-73. Salt Lake City, 1963.
Millet, Robert L., and Joseph F. McConkie. The Life Beyond. Salt Lake City, 1986.
"The Origin of Man," An official declaration in MFP 4:200-206.
Packer, Boyd K. "The Law and the Light." In The Book of Mormon: Jacob Through the Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, ed. M. Nyman and C. Tate, pp. 1-31. Provo, Utah, 1990.
Smith, Joseph. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ed. Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 202-215. Salt Lake City, 1938.
Top, Brent, L. The Life Before. Salt Lake City, 1988.
JAY E. JENSEN
Gratitude (Written 11/2012)
My 10 minute talk assignment is about gratitude. At first, I thought Brother Chris said “Attitude”. Oh, oh. He wants me to talk about my attitude. He’s on to me, I thought. So I said “what”? “Gratitude” OK, that makes sense for Thanksgiving week.
Gratitude is a sincere appreciation for blessings or help we have received.
So my talk is about gratitude. Thanksgiving is a good tine to “Count my many blessings – one by one” and think about what and how I have received these blessings.
I am thankful that I enjoyed a good time with my family of seven, this week. It is sad to be alone during the holidays. People are not designed to be alone. This is especially sad during the holidays. So, we families should always invite an extra person to our table, if we can.
Writing this talk, I reflected on how Humans are social beings. Alone, we are almost nothing – weaker, slower, and more vulnerable than the animals. But we have a valuable asset and it is not just intelligence. It is that we have an impressive capability to work together so we can specialize in what we do best. All of the major achievements of mankind have come from the gradual accumulation of knowledge, specialization. and customs over time. I suspect that heaven will be made up of people from many cultures and religions. They may even help us in our Eternal Progression.
Your cell phone is an example of how many societies all over the world have worked together with various talents, inventions and differing capabilities to make these marvelous systems all connected by a vast network of satellites. This worldwide network was unknown in the past and is probably a sign of the Latter Days. Think about a life without these things and be grateful you live today and not during the past when, it is said that life was “painful, brutish, and short”. Just look at the world news and be grateful you live in a place where the blessings of free agency abound for everyone. Free agency, free enterprise, capitalism is Jesus’ way. Compulsion, regulation and socialism is Satan’s way.
But don’t get too complacent, fat and happy. There are many ways these blessings could change very quickly. I still remember the Cuban Missile crises which could have ended civilization. So, fluff up your two years supply if you have one, refinance into fixed rate mortgages and get out of long term bonds. But, I digress.
I am grateful to have lived past the human expiration date of 72 (as I learned last week in Brother Norman’s class (3 Nephi 28)). I have been pretty lucky during my long life so I have lots of Gratitude.
One such piece of luck was meeting the missionaries – quite by chance. I was not looking for religion. I was a second year graduate student in physics and had pretty much decided that all religion was evil in concept. Just look at the world news to see abundant evil – much of it caused by religion. On a second date, the girl (not a girl friend) wanted to go to an LDS discussion. I found out about baptism for the dead (a requirement of a just God) and the nature of God. We believe that God is just like us only more advanced. He has a body, a family and a society. We are his children. We are like him. I could never hae believed in a wrathful God made of spirit only as the rest of the world does. I am grateful that when we die, we will not be “Strangers in a strange land”. We will be among friends. We had better deserve them. I am grateful to be able to believe this for life without belief is a lonely thing..
I have gratitude to those of you who kept me in touch with the Church while I was inactive and to the Steinfield couple (my home teachers) who asked me to come to church – and I did. At first, I was only going to attend Sacrament meetings. Then Brother Carlos, my go to man with doctrinal questions, asked me to attend Gospel Doctrine classes. Think of it as graduate school in religion, he said. So I attend and there I have formed my theories about God.
I am trained as a physicist, trained to be skeptical, and to require plausibility for everything. God is not discussed in science since the study of the natural sciences does not allow free agency to exist within the laws of nature. That does not mean they are not there – just that science assumes they are not. One of the nice things about a religion that believes in free agency is that it implies that religion does not need a logical proof. If religion could be proved valid, then guys like me would prove it. Then, no faith would be required, and without faith, there would be no free agency. Thus, a religious belief with free agency must always be provided with a possible alternative explanation to explain why things are the way they are. It is up to us to choose the best belief. For example, consider creationism vs. evolution. That controversy has always given me some problems. I am a physicist seven days a week, so I had to use the free agency arguments to justify my hope and belief - especially since the LDS faith is so explicit on this point. I am grateful that I have been able to do that.
Let me close with some particular scriptures I am grateful for. In D&C 93:33, Brother Joseph says "For man is a spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy." In verse 38, “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning”. He also said, “All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; we cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter" (D&C 131:7-8).
It is a small step from these statements to see why the Atonement and Baptism are required to achieve a “fullness of joy” in the Celestial Kingdom. I view these as physical procedures required to unite our beings in spirit world from which we came to the beings in the physical world we are in now to form a complete being. Both procedures must be done correctly using our free agency. Jesus had to do it freely “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 42:22). And we must also do it freely. “He that believeth (free agency) and is baptized (done with the proper procedure using His authority, the Priesthood) shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Note especially that Jesus did not say “accept me as your personal savior and be saved”.
And, Brother Joseph also said "The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc., had their existence in an elementary state, from eternity". (Joseph Smith, in HC 3:387). "Now, the word create…does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos-chaotic matter, which is element…. Element had an existence from the time [God] had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end" (HC 6:308-309).
This is a statement of Conservation of Energy, a fundamental part of modern physics. How did they know this? Einstein discovered this and the equivalence of matter and energy in the early twentieth century. Modern String Theory requires that matter has (5/14) 9 dimensions + time. And we cannot see the other (5/14) 6 dimensions. Are they spiritual? Even “Black Holes” do not destroy matter but radiate it back out into some of the many universes that may exist in the multi-verse theory.
Today, Modern physics seems to be in disarray. For example, what we see, all the stars etc. are only 5% of the matter/energy that must exist to make sense. No one really knows what the other stuff is. There is plenty of room for Human science to eventually discover God living there. And I believe that we will. That we are so near to a complete theory of everything may be another sign of the Latter Days.
I am grateful for these scriptures that are some of the considerations that allow me to put the LDS religion on a logical basis (at least for me), to form a theory unifying science and religion, and to believe in it while remaining a physicist.
St John 3: Rewrite (Written 11/5/2011)
Speculation about the Story of the Visit of Nicodemus to Jesus (John Ch. 3)
The first verses of the Gospel according to St. John are examples of how Satan might distort and confuse the Bible through the ages. Questions that arise are:
1) In Verse 3, Jesus responds to a question from Nicodemus. What was the question?
2) Jesus’ first and second responses talk about requirements to “see” and “enter” the Kingdom of God, respectively. The verbs “see” and “enter” are different. Was Jesus responding to two different questions? What was the second question?
3) The first response is translated “born again” in the King James Bible or “born from above” in the Catholic versions. The Greek word has both meanings. Which meaning is correct? Perhaps both? Is there a difference?
4) The second response talks about “born of water and of the spirit”. Considering the difference between “see” and “enter”, is “born of water” the same as “born again” and is “born through the spirit” the same as “born from above” or are they different?
At the very least, these 13 or so verses of John seem to be a confused shortening of what actually happened.
We have assumed two questions relating to the Kingdom of God and a follow on question about baptism.
Let us fill in the blanks of the Gospel of St John: Ch 3.
The “Believe and be baptized” quote is from Mark Ch.16, v16. The last section is taken from Revelations: Ch. 21. Is there water in the Kingdom of God? Is that why the resurrected body is “flesh and bones” rather than “flesh and blood”?
We are also intrigued by the fact that Jesus did not baptize (meaning immerse in the Greek). Perhaps only those in the male line from Adam had the power to perform this ordinance. As the “Only Begotten”, Jesus was not a “Son of Adam”.
(Words added here to clarify a point of view; refer to the original for the actual phrases.)
St. John Ch 3
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Teach us about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus said, 'How can anyone who is already old be born? Is it possible to go back into the womb again and be born?'
Jesus answered: Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again.
That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The resurrected body is of flesh and bones. To be resurrected you must first be born. The resurrected body is your second birth.
The wind blows where it pleases: you can hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with every one that is born of the spirit. We are all the spirit children of God. The spirit guides the body. The body gives the spirit a home, senses and feeds it. Only the resurrected body can see the Kingdom of God. Satan and his angels chose not to be born and can never see it.
Do not think that you deserve a resurrected body by your good works and heritage. Nevertheless, all that are born shall be resurrected by God’s gift to His children
Nicodemus said unto Jesus: Master, how may we enter the kingdom of God?
Jesus replied, in all truth I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. For by water you keep the commandment; by the spirit you are justified; and by the blood you are sanctified [PGP: Moses Ch..6; v60].
Nicodemus asked: Is that why you and John immerse your followers? (Though Jesus himself immersed not, but his disciples. [John Ch4 v2])
Jesus answered: The earthly flesh itself must be immersed in water by free choice of the spirit under the priesthood authority from above. Believe and be immersed and be saved. Believe not and be damned. All those born of woman shall be resurrected but not all those so born shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Nicodemus answered and said: “How can these things be?”
Jesus replied: Nicodemus, you are a teacher of Israel. You are of the Pharisees and believe in the resurrection. You do not know these things? In all truth, I tell you, we speak about what we know and witness only to what we have seen and you people reject our evidence. If I have told you earthly things like immersion, and you believe not, how shall you believe me when I speak to you about heavenly things? That no man ascended into heaven but that he came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven. What shall you think when I say that the first heaven and earth shall pass away, there will be no more seas, and that God will live in His holy city of Jerusalem?
Of LDS Christianity
The Logic and Physics
Theory of God
Guest Testimony (Written 2/2014)
During our Sacrament Service, members of the congregation deliver talks assigned to them the week before. They speak to an assigned topic and use their own experiences and their knowledge of the scriptures. Youth speakers have 5 minutes followed by talks of 10 and 20 minutes from more senior members. The talk below is an example selected to illustrate that LDS have well thought out and sincere beliefs about a Christian God and that Christianity is a vital part of their spirituality and their lives. It is also an excellent description of the LDS concept of the Godhead.
Aloha Brothers and Sisters,
Today I was asked to speak on the Godhead. We believe in God the Eternal Father and in his son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. The definition the church gives for the Godhead is as follows. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost make up the Godhead. They preside over this world and all other creations of our Father in Heaven. The Mormon view of the members of the Godhead corresponds in a number of ways with the views of others in the Christian world, but with significant differences. Latter-day Saints pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. They acknowledge the Father as the ultimate object of their worship, the Son as Lord and Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as the messenger and revealer of the Father and the Son. But where Latter-day Saints differ from other Christian religions is in their belief that God and Jesus Christ are glorified, physical beings and that each member of the Godhead is a separate being.
They are three separate beings but one in purpose. I asked some of my family what aspect of the Godhead stood out to them most at this time in their lives and why my brother in law Jacob spoke about divine investiture. He said because they are three beings and one in purpose any time the voice of one says something we know that the message is coming from all three. He feels that is what we should strive for in our marriages, to be that in tune with one another. So if my sister Mary says something, it could be the same as would come out of his mouth.
My dad added to that then why are there three if they have one purpose and he said that it is in order for each of their important roles to be filled. Heavenly Father as administrator, Jesus Christ as Savior and the Holy Ghost to guide us and be with us at all times.
Larry said because we know they are three separate beings it is important for us to get to know each member of the Godhead and have a personal relationship with each of them. So let’s get to know them.
President Brigham Young said, Some believe or conceive the idea that to know God would lessen him in our estimation; but I can say that for me to understand any principle or being, on earth or in heaven, it does not lessen its true value to me, but on the contrary, it increases it; and the more I can know of God, the dearer and more precious he is to me, and the more exalted are my feelings towards him (DBY, 18).
Let every person be the friend of God [see James 2:23] (DBY, 18).
If we go to LDS.org we can learn that God the Father is generally the Father, or Elohim, who is referred to by the title God. He is called the Father because he is the father of our spirits (Mal. 2:10; Num. 16:22; 27:16; Matt. 6:9; Eph. 4:6; Heb. 12:9). God the Father is the supreme ruler of the universe. He is all powerful (Gen. 18:14; Alma 26:35; D&C 19:1–3), all knowing (Matt. 6:8; 2 Ne. 2:24), and everywhere present through his Spirit (Ps. 139:7–12; D&C 88:7–13, 41). Mankind has a special relationship to God that sets man apart from all other created things: men and women are God’s spirit children (Ps. 82:6; 1 Jn. 3:1–3; D&C 20:17–18).
There are few recorded instances of God the Father appearing to or speaking to man. The scriptures say that he spoke to Adam and Eve (Moses 4:14–31) and introduced Jesus Christ on several occasions (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; John 12:28–29; 3 Ne. 11:3–7). He appeared to Stephen (Acts 7:55–56) and Joseph Smith (JS—H 1:17). Later he appeared to both Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon (D&C 76:20, 23). To those who love God and purify themselves before him, God sometimes grants the privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves that he is God (Matt. 5:8; 3 Ne. 12:8; D&C 76:116–118; 93:1).
God the Son
The God known as Jehovah is the Son, Jesus Christ (Isa. 12:2; 43:11; 49:26; 1 Cor. 10:1–4; 1 Tim. 1:1; Rev. 1:8; 2 Ne. 22:2). Jesus works under the direction of the Father and is in complete harmony with him. All mankind are his brothers and sisters, for he is the eldest of the spirit children of Elohim. Some scripture references refer to him by the word God. For example, the scripture says that “God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), but it was actually Jesus who was the Creator under the direction of God the Father (John 1:1–3, 10, 14; Heb. 1:1–2).
President Brigham Young teaches that the Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father [in the flesh], who came in the meridian of time, performed his work, suffered the penalty and paid the debt of man’s original sin by offering up himself, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended to his Father; and as Jesus descended below all things, so he will ascend above all things. We believe that Jesus Christ will come again, as it is written of him: “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven [Acts 1:10–11]” (DBY, 26).
Our faith is concentrated in the Son of God, and through him in the Father (DBY, 26).
God the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost is also a God and is called the Holy Spirit, the Spirit, and the Spirit of God, among other similar names and titles. With the aid of the Holy Ghost, man can know the will of God the Father and know that Jesus is the Christ (1 Cor. 12:3).
The Holy Ghost will teach you what you should say :Luke 12:12;
The Holy Ghost is the Comforter :John 14:26; ( John 16:7–15; )
Jesus gave commandments to the Apostles through the Holy Ghost :Acts 1:2;
The Holy Ghost bears witness of God and Christ :Acts 5:29–32; ( 1 Cor. 12:3; )
The Holy Ghost also is a witness to us :Heb. 10:10–17;
By the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things :Moro. 10:5;
The Holy Ghost is the spirit of revelation :D&C 8:2–3; ( D&C 68:4; )
When my grandparents lived in Utah, my Grandpa was a community leader. He listened to complaints. He had an assistant that usually took care of one side of the highway and he took care of the other. There was a man who lived on the assistant's side of the road and he came to the assistant's home raging with anger. He threw bikes and other large objects at the assistant's home. The assistant did his best to try to figure out what the man wanted but between a language barrier and this man’s tantrum, the assistant got nothing and became fearful for what else the man would do. The assistant called my grandpa and he dropped everything to try to figure out what was wrong. There were multiple side streets between the assistant and my grandpa's home and somehow my grandpa missed it but the outraged man ended up at grandma's home with no one there but my grandma since grandpa had gone to the assistant's home. The man pounded on the door and grandma thought the door might come down. She said she’d never been so fearful. She said a prayer asking for the Lord’s guidance and answered the door. She felt overcome with the feeling that she needed to treat this upset man as an honored guest. He yelled at her for my grandpa and she said Oh I’m so sorry but he isn’t here at the moment but he should be home in a couple of minutes, please come in. She let him into her home and offered him refreshments. The man seemed to calm and eventually told her, never mind I don’t need to see your husband. I no longer have a problem and he left her home. My grandpa came home moments later and couldn’t believe my grandma's story. He told her there was major damage done to the home of the assistant and didn’t see how a man that upset could calm down so quickly. My grandma then remembered her prayer to God and her ensuing answer from the Holy Ghost.
President Brigham Young taught the Holy Ghost is [the Father and the Son’s] minister to bring truths to our remembrance, to reveal new truths to us, and teach, guide, and direct the course of every mind, until we become perfected and prepared to go home, where we can see and converse with our Father in Heaven (DBY, 26). I want to see men and women breathe the Holy Ghost in every breath of their lives, living constantly in the light of God’s countenance (DBY, 31).
Now that we’ve learned or reviewed all of these facts on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, what does that do for us?
Well as in any relationship the first step is getting to know the person. But now we need to move beyond that and delve deeper. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) testified: “They are interested in us, and we are the substance of Their great concern. They are available to each of us. We approach the Father through the Son. He is our intercessor at the throne of God. How marvelous it is that we may so speak to the Father in the name of the Son.”
Because the members of the Godhead love us and want the best for us, our choices matter, especially the little things we do each day that bring us closer to Them. We have limitless potential, and God cares about our success, even in the small things.
As much as we want to know and be like the Godhead, they know and love us so much more. They are doing their part, so let’s do our part.
So get to know them better. Facts are great but knowing a person’s works brings them closer. The scriptures are full of the works of the Godhead. The world around us, nature are full of their works. The modern day prophets' words and the words and thoughts that the Holy Ghost will testify to us bring us closer to them. We can also study the relationship between the members of the Godhead to know how we should be with them. Larry told me that although it is God’s plan and we pray to God we do it through Jesus Christ. God always speaks first even though it is Jesus’ church. It is Jesus’ way of showing humility and his way of acknowledging God is who we should worship most. We can look to Jesus’ example on how to treat God. Likewise we can look to God to how to treat Jesus. He introduced Jesus as his beloved son. A beautiful word of endearment. Do we treasure our Savior and older brother like that?
I’ve now spoken a bit on the who and what and how of the Godhead but now the why? Why do we want to know the Godhead? What will that help and even who will it help?
I want to know the Godhead because I want to know who loves me. I want to know the God that was willing to sacrifice his son for me. I want to know the God who was willing to sacrifice his life for me. I want to know the hands that created the world I live in and I want to know the supreme being I worship. But all of those reasons sound pretty selfish. How can our testimonies of the Godhead help others?
Well the obvious one in my mind is missionary work. My sister taught her relief society lesson on knowing God last week and a woman in her ward brought up that one way that she does missionary work is to ask the person who do they imagine God to be. A lot of times people get stumped by that question. They don’t know much about the God they worship. She then takes the time to share her testimony about who she believes God is. This woman is an amazing woman and lets the light of Christ shine through her. I have no doubt in my mind that she knows her God and therefore is able to share with others her testimony of him.
As Elder Holland instructed various mission presidents and their wives he first cited a statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith that it is the first principle of the gospel to know for certainty the character of God, he went on to say, “I wish to expand the Prophet’s challenge and say that we, our missionaries, our members, and our investigators must know for certainty the character of the Godhead. We must have a correct idea of Their individual perfections and attributes and admiration for the excellency of Their personal character.”
He declared that when missionaries teach, “there is no point in going on to any other gospel truth we believe if we have not fixed in our minds and in the minds of those we teach the preeminent role of the Godhead in our doctrine and in our eternal destiny.”
He added: “We are to know these divine beings in every way we can. We are to love Them, draw near to Them, obey Them, and try to be like Them. We are not baptizing people into the church of a man, whether that man be Joseph Smith or Brigham Young or Gordon B. Hinckley or Thomas S. Monson, revered as those prophets may be.
“And we’re not baptizing people into the church of the happy families or the church of the Tabernacle Choir … or the entire BYU athletic program, beloved as all of those may be. We baptize ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ In doing so we are bringing people to the Father through the ministry and Atonement of His Son, with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We must keep it uppermost in our minds always as we undertake our missions.”
If they are to embrace the restored gospel and truly find salvation for their souls, it will have to begin with some knowledge and understanding of these members of the Godhead,” he added that ultimately true and saving worship is found only among those who have that understanding.
I love my sweet son’s simple testimony of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. He knows they love him and he loves them so they won’t be mean. Jesus will help us if we need anything and if Zack prays he knows that the Holy Ghost will help to answer his prayer.
I would like to add my own testimony of the Godhead to that. I know that God is our Father and he is ruler over all that we see. I know that he is a majestic and almighty God but at the same time I know that he is a mindful God. Mindful of me in all of my insignificance. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know that he came to earth and walked before us as he still walks before us so that we can return to live with them all someday. I know that the Holy Ghost guides us and can and will be with us as long as we allow him to. I know that we will never be alone. As long as we do our part God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost will always be with us.