After writing last week’s post on God getting the boot on the Shark Tank, I got to thinking about the “Plan of Salvation” and I’m trying to figure out what God was thinking when he came up with it. Let’s take a brief overview of what God came up with. (Assumptions: 1. the LDS church is the only church that is in compliance with this plan, 2. I use the word “save” to mean exaltation in the Mormon lexicon.
First the goal: provide a way for all His children to return to him. But, He didn’t want “all” of them, just the ones that proved they were worthy.
So He gets everybody together and asks for suggestions on how He might do this, as any good leader would. We are told only two people offered suggestions. I find that hard to believe, given that there was probably over 120 Billion people in that meeting. (roll call anybody?). With that many people, the opportunity to crowdsource a good, or even great idea would be huge!
But we only get two ideas. One from Satan, and one from Jesus. I won’t bother to repeat the details. Bottom line is Jesus’s plan provide for freedom of choice, thus assuring that those that return to God were sincere, while Satan’s plan would have forced everybody to be good, and everybody would be saved. Since God could not stand being around anybody that had not followed his rules exactly, Jesus said he would take the fall for everybody that asked, and thus people could come clean, and return to God.
I’m not sure if this was Jesus’s plan, or if this was part of God’s input, but it all starts with just two people (Adam and Eve) on the earth, given conflicting commandments. God being all knowing, knew they would following the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. (Side note, replenish implies that they were restoring something that used to be there. Not sure who used to be on earth, but I’ll save that for another day)
So the plan is off and running, the earth is being populated, His children are given a chance to prove themselves worthy to return to Him. But then the plan hits a snag. Almost everybody is NOT proving themselves worthy. All His kids are being little brats! So what does He do? He hits the “reset button”. He declares bankruptcy (chapter 11). That lets Him out of his debts (bad children), by killing them all in a flood, but he keeps a few (as approved by the bankruptcy court) to continue on with the plan.
After several thousand years Jesus is born to do His part of the plan. Everything goes as anticipated (being omniscient has its privileges), and Jesus makes it possible for God’s children to be cleansed of their sins and return to Him.
The free agency part of the plan means people can pretty much do as they want, and they do. In the next 2000 years, several other competing Gods show up, over 2/3 of the world follow them. The 1/3 that do follow Jesus are splintered, and only a small percentage of that 1/3 are following the right way to get back (LDS church). So God figures out how to save people after the fact. If they don’t following His rules (as contained in the LDS church), they will be given another chance after they die. But if this was always the plan, and we have to assume it was because the plan is perfect, because its author is perfect, then why not just go with this in the first place? Why not given everybody a chance to show their loyalty to God after death and earn a place in his kingdom?
Turns out in this plan, less than .02% of the people that are saved and can return to God will do this during their earthy probation. Everybody else will get the second chance after death. Could this possibly have been a good idea? Seems like a lot of work having everybody live on earth for just .02% using that as a way home. If we accept God as all knowing and perfect, we have to accept that this plan is perfect, and God knew from the begging this is how it would turn out.
What are some of the other explanations for this plan? One extreme is there is no God, this is all just reverse engineered to provide an explanation for life. Another is that there is a God, but the unique LDS spin on it is not true, and God will save everybody after they have paid their penance. This is why most Christian churches do not believe that Mormons are Christian.
Three years ago I asked this same question: It you were God, and could start all over, what would your “Plan of Salvation 2.0” look like? Would there be a need of an atonement? Could a 2.0 have a better way of making sure everybody had an opportunity to hear and chose while in their earthy probation? Is a probation even needed? Could you just let all your kids come home, even the bad ones? How would you deal with people making up other Gods (Buddha, etc). Would you accept them as a surrogate?
What is your Plan of Salvation 2.0?
Two plans were not presented. Father’s plan (including Mother?) was presented. Christ offered self as the atoning one in support of plan. Lucifer also offered self as a savior, but with changes to God’s plan. We usually assume that no free agency means no choice. But would billions sign on for that? Having no choice? Perhaps Lucifer’s “no agency” was more like there would be no consequences for our choices so we would all return to God’s presence and Lucifer would be glorified for such a great idea.
No, when you look at the sheer numbers, the life experiences of the overwhelming majority of people coming through earth, it doesn’t seem like a great idea. It does reinforce the idea of being part of a small, chosen/saved group, which fosters loyalty. I think we know/understand less than we think we do, and others know/understand more than we give them credit.
The Plan of Salvation as we are taught seems terribly inefficient not only from a % saved but also for Jesus and even for God Himself from an administration standpoint. Each of the 120 billion people essentially has a different test to prove worthiness. Some die before 8, some are born in extreme poverty and others are born with privilege, some with health or mental issues, etc. Multiply by 120 billion. God and Jesus have to judge each of them and figure how much of a pass each gets because of their respective privilege or hardship.
If God wants to test spirits a more efficient way would to administer the same test to everyone via a “brain in a jar” type of test or a Matrix-style system where each body is plugged into the same computer program. Each spirit/brain/body would be subjected to the same set of scenarios designed to find out if we are worthy or unworthy.
Lately I’ve been subscribing to the ideas of “absurdism” where there really is no purpose in life. It’s pretty depressing but if I’m honest with myself I have to accept that there’s a good chance that humans are a random result of a infinite sized universe.
I don’t mean to be too snarky but you misunderstand the plan of salvation . Gods goal has always been to draw ALL men unto him John 12:32. It his his work and glory to to bring to pass the exaltation and eternal life of man. Moses 1:39 The Greek work draw Gk heiko in John can properly be translated “drag” See David Hart The New Testament. Further Joseph taught there was movement from kingdom to kingdom as did BY and Joseph F Smith. What is the meaning of eternal progression if we can not advance from one degree to the other until we arrive into the presence of the Father. Think isn’t this what is taught in the endowment ? Moving from one kingdom to the next until we enter into the presence of God The early Christians understood this . See Origen or Clement of Alexandria . Joseph F Smith taught Christs work wasn’t finished until he had redeemed and exalted everyone of Gods children who was willing to be redeemed even if that took eons and eons. By taught that eventually the Telestial and terrestrial kingdoms would be uninhabited because everyone who be exalted or a son of perdition. Forgive me but this is basic Mormonism 101. I grant in my lifetime these simple truths have been obscured by prophets who never prophesy and seers who can not see but look to the tenets taught by Joseph and you will see that you are only perpetuating a tragic misunderstanding of the plan of salvation
I’ve had some of the same thoughts recently. If 1) God loves ALL his children and wants ALL to return to him, and 2) the LDS church is the only way (because authority, temple ordinances, etc) then why is it only available to a very, very small percentage of people at the very end of earth’s history? I know that is where temple work comes into play according to the plan, but it seems terribly inefficient. If 1) and 2) are correct, I would think “the restoration” would have taken place the instant the truth or authority or whatever was lost, and many, many times at that! I know I’m just a finite-minded mortal, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
After my entire life serving in the church, I am having a tough time reconciling the good experiences I have had with the things about the church that just do not make sense.. Would an essential plan be revealed to someone who married 14-year-olds and then lied to his family, the church, and the public about it? Would an essential plan contain aspects like racial prejudice? Would an essential plan involve back to back prophets who disagree so strongly about the name of the church?
It seems odd that an essential plan would be presented to such a minuscule percentage of the population. And then, so many things about the church presenting the plan make no sense and drive a significant portion of the members away.
Of our four kids, three have left the church because they cannot trust the narrative and have found that they are happier outside. I could see our fourth child leaving if the church doesn’t quit fighting culture wars that are already lost.
How can that be the plan? A higher and higher percentage of young people leaving the church and their parents left with no reason to aim for a now famil-less celestial kingdom? That can’t be the plan.
Rudi if you believe Joseph married and had a sexual relationship with even a portion of his alleged 35 wives let me ask . Where are the child . Joseph was fertile. Emma’s was pregnant with David in June 1844. Most of those 35 “wives “went on to marry other men and on average had 5 children following Joseph’s death. So how many children were born to Joseph and his “wives “ other than Emma. The answer is none 0 nada. So the objective evidence is he was not having sexual relations with the women he was sealed to. If you insist on believing otherwise where is the evidence. Hint do rely upon peoples fauty recollections of things that happened decades before they write down the story
Almost every time I was at the temple for youth baptisms, we were told that virtually everyone in the spirit world would accept the gospel and be exalted. If that’s true, then what’s the point of missionary work? If we share the gospel with people and they accept it, but then aren’t valiant, they end up in the terrestrial kingdom instead.
I’d hate to be responsible for sending my brothers and sisters to sad heaven.
“Hint do rely upon peoples fauty recollections of things that happened decades before they write down the story”
Bellamy, I’m assuming you meant “do NOT rely..” That being said, how long after the first vision were the accounts recorded? Likewise, does every sexual encounter result in pregnancy? I’m not saying it was one way or the other with Joseph, I wasn’t there and I truly don’t know, but the logic you used to get to your conclusion is faulty.
Given all I’ve been through the last five years on my truth journey, I just can’t quit God. I just feel there is something there, thought I’m not sure he’s my Heavenly Father. I can’t prove any of it. And I believe there is a plan. But I don’t know what it is. I just know what it isn’t. And it isn’t signs and tokens.
The challenge with the test we are being given is that our tests are all so incredibly different, when you consider the life experience really depends on when/where you are born. So if I fail, couldn’t I just cry foul? Doesn’t the test need to be similar enough to be just?
Even lately I’ve been challenging the atonement. We often say Christ understands perfectly all our pain and suffering. But can that be true? What if I suffer from chronic pain? How can we say Christ understands lifelong chronic pain if he only experienced it for a few hours? If I were lose a child prematurely, I don’t think I would ever get over it. How can Christ experience lifelong grief if he didn’t experience it his entire life? So I also don’t believe that the atonement is our way out. I understand views may vary on this point and I could be wrong.
I think the closest thing I’ve come up with to explain the plan is Maya Angelou’s “When you know better, you do better.” The plan is education. And God does not micromanage the process, which can partially explain all the pain. I’m not quite sure he’s indifferent, but I don’t quite know how to explain it. I do not believe that God helps people find lost keys, for example.
Bellamy, I love what you offer, I believe it somewhat myself. But the issue is far from resolved among the church leaders and our doctrine. Please don’t gaslight into making us think WE are the ones who misunderstand. When RMN talks of sad heaven, it seems he may not be on the same page, for example. Also, I don’t care if JS had sex with these women or not. It’s still not cool to marry people’s wives you sent on a mission, and marry almost fifteen year-olds, essentially blocking their way to future relationships. You don’t need to prove sex occurred in order to argue the relationships were not healthy.
I’m with Toad in that the evidence seems to suggest that we are the byproduct of random chance in an absurd universe. This makes way more sense to me than all the convoluted retconning that goes on in religious cosmologies.
That said, I disagree that it’s a sad or depressing worldview. Yes, I had to grieve the loss of theism in my life, but I’m coming around to the idea that things (and people) do not have to be infinite to be infinitely valuable. I will end. My consciousness will end. Life in the universe will continue on without me. However, my life is no less beautiful or important because of it.
In Mormonism, we’re taught that the worth of souls is their potential to become like God. We are supposedly “gods in embryo,” entitled to eternal dominions and powers and kingdoms (if you’re male anyway) if you pay your tithing and stay away from coffee til you die. But honestly, how arrogant is that? The more we learn about the universe, the clearer it becomes that we are not the center of it. It is not all about us. If there is a God, why would we even assume such a being is human? Why not a Neanderthal or a dinosaur (whose kind ruled the earth far longer than we have) or a member of some further-evolved species who will be caretakers of the planet millions of years from now? The Mormon God, as this post illustrates very well, is small and petty. He fits neatly in a 19th century-sized hole but we tie ourselves in knots trying to make sense of him in the present. We need to look beyond to the universe that really is.
One plan, my friend – Jesus and Jesus alone. No works. No good deeds. No trying to be worthy or earn God’s favor. Only through Jesus’ death and resurrection can we gain salvation. And I will be eternally grateful that God extended His grace because nothing I could do would ever be enough to earn it. It is finished.
For a good read of additional history on this matter and how the church has revised or been enlightened (depending on your point of view)this came out during the time of Bishop bill’s post 3 years ago.
Quick summary, Ballard’s grandfather Melvin is the one who had us learn and to reinterpet the Doc and Cov scriptures about the “celestial kingdom”.with some off hand comments in a 1922 talk.
Interesting how it took a life of its own, like so many things in LDS church. This idea was started to be enhanced in 1950 with this Mecham illustration. (My sarcasm…..But is that the illustrator taking his own liberties or teaching gospel principles, like the translation of the plates).Then Sidny Sperry cemented the idea with the BYU crowd.
Anyways, the more emotionally I can detach from the church…all this history is a fascinating read. No wonder so many never- Mormons are following the blogs and podcasts.
We grew up in a _______culture. (You insert your own term)
Imagine what the plan of salvation version 14.0 will be?
I don’t really know why The Plan doesn’t fall apart for more people the minute they become parents. What kind of parent would only let their “worthy” kids come back to them? And what kind of parent would demand that one of their children suffer and die to “pay” for the mistakes of their other kids? And what kind of parent sets of hierarchies in heaven to divide the good, better, and best from one another?
Not any parent I’m interested in being, and not any God I’m interested in worshipping. It’s really just so absurd. And yes to the post & comments re the sheer inefficiency of it all (not to mention the inefficiency of creating 10%ish of your children who don’t want to marry / have intimate relations with members of the opposite sex when you built that into your plans). I guess if Mormons believe in a God that is truly that inefficient and has that poor foresight, then that’s why they are willing to believe in a God who would botch race and the priesthood and the POX. I for one don’t. (Oh, and what kind of parent wants to be “worshipped” anyway? I guess sometimes that might be nice, but I’m mostly just looking for connection and mutual understanding).
A friend of mine going through a faith transition recently described the plan of salvation as a “simulation” he’s been living in. Different cultures and religious groups have their own simulations. I actually think that’s a pretty apt metaphor. It’s nice to break free, even if sometimes it feels like a free fall.
I’m with Chadwick on believing in … something. Some kind of higher power / connection between people / living things and the universe (some of which science & quantum physics bears out). I like the idea that we are the universe experiencing itself. I think if people believe in some kind of afterlife that helps them live a better life *today* then more power to them and that’s pretty harmless even if they turn out to be wrong. Like, if it gives them hope or whatever. Personally as I’ve mentioned I’m for the Good Place heaven (once they fix it).
The problem with the Mormon plan of salvation (or POS … haha) is that I actually think it leads to people living WORSE lives in many ways. People who cut people and family members out because they think that’s what will assure their “eternal” relationships. I see too many *earthly relationships *suffer because that’s what the true believers think is the best thing to do for the *eternal relationship* and I think that’s awful. Ditto things like us telling gay folks not to marry and they’ll be “rewarded” in eternity (and endure a lonely life here).
If someone is selling a version or an afterlife that keeps you miserable and subservient here based on the promise of something better later – run. Escape that simulation.
I would agree with others that the way you present your understanding of the “plan of salvation” is really not my understanding. It seems like a distortion. Of course there are competing ideas.
Fascinating post. I have a lot of thoughts but I’ll try to keep it short. Things I believe:
1. I can’t help but believe in a higher power or God.
2. My favorite explanation for the purpose of life is that we are children of God, training to become like Him. (It may be arrogant, but I still like it. I don’t know of any other religions that teach it, except a different form of it in the Greek Orthodox religion. It’s a truth I take from Mormonism).
3. I do believe that God’s plan does allow all of his children to return to Him and live with him. (I think Joseph Smith was a universalist).
4. I think how we live, the choices we make, and how we develop our character will determine how much power and glory we can handle when we arrive in the next life. (There will be a difference between those who try to love others and do their best, and those who are terrible/abuse others and only care about themselves). The more you learn, and the better you become in this life, the better off you’ll be in the next. I don’t think there are certain cutoff points that you have to try and make-there are many mansions of all degrees in the next life.
5. I think God uses all religions to help people develop their character and become more like Him. And I think belonging to a religious community helps with our character development (keeps it on our mind, provides opportunities for service, etc…). I’m a big fan of the Dalai Lama, who interestingly does not encourage people to convert to Buddhism. “All major religions carry the same messages. Messages of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. I have Muslim friends, Christian friends. All have these same values….Logically it is better to keep to one’s own traditions.”
A couple of questions I have:
-I don’t know why there’s so much confusion/lack of clarity about who God is. Maybe our mortal minds can’t handle/understand who he is? So he presents himself to different cultures in a way that makes sense to them? Maybe every religion is a bit corrupted by humans- but there’s still good in all of them?
-Was Satan’s plan to “force” us to be good? I don’t think so. I think it was to eliminate consequences for our actions- but maybe that would stop our growth and not help us to become more like God?
-As Bishop Bill pointed out, if the LDS church is the ONE TRUE CHURCH, what’s with the inefficiency and such a small number of people being part of it/having access to it? I think that the church is just a small piece of the Kingdom of God. I’ve thought the church’s purpose is to build temples to ensure that all people can receive the saving ordinances- but I still run into problems with that theory. We have a problem of magnitude and lost records. I can see temples as helpful in building our characters and leading us to God- but I’m not so sure about their necessity. (And to me it feels like they are overemphasized in the church).
My conclusion? I think we should all try to be the best people we can be, and continually strive to be more loving and do good in the world around us, and it will be well with us in the end.
My “Plan of Salvation 2.0” would be the “Plan of Salvation 1.0”. In your cliff notes overview of the plan you left out 2 key pieces of information that are critical to understanding why.
1) The plan isn’t for God’s children (us) to return to be with Him it is for his children to be _like_ Him or to discover what it is that we really truly want (more on that in a minute).
To be like Him one must _choose_ to be like Him, to choose of one’s own free will to want what He wants. In the plan presented by Lucifer that wasn’t possible, no one would have been lost but also no one would have actually been “saved” (I.e. become like God). In reality only a small fraction of Gods children would choose the path of salvation because it requires us to change our natural desires. That is tremendously difficult. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t want His children to be happy. Which brings us to the second point you missed.
2) God wants all of His children to achieve the greatest amount of happiness and joy that they are willing to receive.
We will be happy in our next sphere of existence to the extent that we will be able to do what we want to do, not be forced to do things we don’t want to do (even if those think might be “better” for us). We will praise God for the wisdom of His plan because we will get exactly what we want. And, I should add, He will be happy for us because we are as happy as we could be. We will consider ourselves “saved” because we will recognize we have achieved exactly what we each individually really want. Of course those of us who don’t archive the highest level and continue on to be like Him will suffer some regrets but we will find that to be much more comfortable that having had to make the changes to our selves that are required to be on the path to be like Him.
Lucifer’s plan would have either made everyone miserable because we would have been force to do what we wouldn’t want to do, or more likely be thoughtless, emotionless drones that would merely exist but not have the ability to be like God because we never had that ability or even concept of choice and therefore the ability to grow.
Now to the point about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That church contains the _fullness_ of the gospel meaning not just doctrine but authority to bind Gods children to Him in sacred covenants.
Regarding the doctrine, the fullness of the doctrine isn’t actually currently present on the earth. The basics that are required to fulfill the requirements of the Plan of Salvation are but the rest is in the process of being revealed to us as it becomes necessary (remember the restoration of the gospel is a process not an event). The church doesn’t contain the “fullness “ of the doctrine but rather the conduit through which the fullness of doctrine is revealed (both through prophets, seers and revelators but also more importantly through the gift of the Holy Ghost where we each individually and personally receive the revelation as we need it and are ready for it). Many, if not all, other churches and religions contain truth (in amounts measured from the smallest truth to almost the fullness) and should be recognized and praised for as much. Just as God wants each of his children to receive and accept the level of happiness that we are individually willing to accept these churches/religions/beliefs structures provide ways that we can receive it. And, as we are ready to receive more, the opportunity to find the next place to receive it. Hopefully ending in the place where we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to have his constant presence and guidance (not just fleeting interactions) and where we can make the sacred saving covenants with Him sealed by the proper authority.
His plan is perfect because we each will get what we really want.
Don’t mistake this to mean that we should just settle. Quite the opposite actually because in this mortal life we have the unique ability to better discover what we really want and even change those desires as we recognize that we could have more true joy. That is the great quest of this life, to learn and change our natural desires to ones that more align with God’s because we recognize that they will bring us more joy.
To make these changes because _we_ want to. Just like with everything else in life (talents/careers/athletics/etc.) we grow and improve by stretching, failing some times (often even), learning from the failures and trying again. The great sacrifice and atonement performed by our savior Jesus Christ enables this process to be possible. We will all receive his free gift of atonement to the degree that we each will accept it. We accept it through the process of repentance and by not just giving up and settling but continuing to try and improve. We are judged more on our direction than our current position.
So, to sum up and reiterate my thesis statement, we don’t need a “Plan of Salvation 2.0” because 1.0 is perfect. We just need a better understanding of it to truly appreciate it. That comes both as we continue to study it, receiving greater clarity through the Holy Ghost and as we try to become more like our Savior.
When we say that only .02% of God’s children are in the Church, we are rounding up in two ways:
1. We are pretending like all members of record are members in reality. But we all know the Church membership is at least 50% inactive. So now we are down to .01%
2. We base the math on today’s population numbers (members divided by world population). But 100 years ago it was even lower. 192 years ago (1830) it was zero…all the way back to what, 50 AD when a few “Church members) were still around.
God’s supposed organizational plan wasn’t just inefficient. It was basically non-existent, a practical rounding error.
Green tea bad
Diet Coke good
The cynical part of me sees the current LDS paradigm/interpretation of the plan of salvation being drawn from Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism notion of “survival of the fittest”. God randomly creates a bunch of spirits by randomly combining a wide variety of personality characteristics (i.e. organizing “intelligences”). Seems He has no real idea what the emergent characteristics of each such combination is capable of, so to test them out, He throws them all down in an off-world arena. Eventually a few of them demonstrate real potential and get picked to be God’s apprentices (i.e. top-level CK), the rest of the billions go into “retirement ” (other kingdoms.)
Sure its massively inefficient and dooms the vast majority of God’s creation to “retirement”. But since God was only looking for a few good men (clearly in LDS theology He is biased toward men and is only looking for some women who could bare their babies), and He has an eternity of time and a universe of resources on hand, this survival of the fittest plan works just fine for Him.
Hmmm…the idea that a tiny fraction survive the selection process seems more like an idea whose purpose is to stroke the egos of those who believe they will be victors in this plan than a meaningful plan.
The plan of salvation that the characters on the TV show The Good Place come up with seems like a better one to me.
I am having an increasingly hard time believing that a true plan can be revealed by leaders who are so uninspired. I have to look at things in the light of my lives experience.
It is clear that church leaders had no plan for the pandemic. Despite their statements that two hour church was developed for the pandemic, it is clear that this is mere coincidence.
It is also clear that they expected the pandemic. To last for a few months at most. They called the missionaries back with the idea that it would be a short interlude. Then they sent them back to overcrowded stateside missions to be locked in apartments.
Now, it has become clear that there is no endgame. Indefinite masking, indefinite virtual meetings, etc. wouldn’t you expect more inspiration from the holders of the essential plan?
It is the church’s own essays on its own website that admit the Joseph Smith engaged in sexual relations with his polygamous wives. Explain that one away!
Putting down my barley drink to type this – Were temple cafeterias closed because D&C 89 was too high of a health standard?
Call me a sign-seeking Korihor but my mama (RIP 2016) has not appeared from the great beyond to tell me (or my brothers) to renew my recommend.
Like Chadwick and Elisa, I’m drawn to the idea of Something. However, our being the result of the random machinations of a near-infinite universe is too compelling to be ignored. I think it’s a both-and situation for me. There is more here than random machinations, but mostly (only?) because life makes it so.
In other words, I choose to believe in Something. But it’s a choice not grounded in any empirical epistemology, and it may be wrong. And I’m okay with that. The goal, for me is the smoothest ride I can manage for myself and the people in my life while we’re here, and kindness wherever I can reasonably extend it.
For now, that means after the current surge and once every member of my family is vaccinated, you’ll find me in the pews of a Sunday. First and probably most important, it’s vital to my aging parents’ health and well-being that I stay. They 100% believe in sad heaven with all its ramifications, and checking a few boxes every week and paying into the 100B fund seems a small price to pay to insure their last years here are as happy and mentally/physically healthy as they can be. I acknowledge my privilege here as a straight cis married with kids person for whom the environment isn’t actively hostile. Not everyone has the luxury of involvement being mostly an exercise in box-checking.
Second, it allows me to be helpful to groups of people who don’t get a lot of help. I am unfailingly polite and have had a lifetime of practice performing “non-threatening LDS woman,” so when I say that I am an LGBTQ+ ally or let it be known that I believe women, the white-shirts smile and shrug, but other people find me. It isn’t much. It’s painfully little, but I’ve made a difference to a few queer Mormon kids and some profoundly unhappy women.
Third, if I really do believe in practicing kindness even when it’s hard, it’s as good a place as any for it and maybe better than most (sometimes being kind there is -really- hard).
Also, I find the teachings of Jesus compelling. They’ve never let me down, which is kind of amazing. I’m still trying to be more like Him, though I recognize there are many ways and places to do that.
Tbh sometimes I think the real test God is giving us is to see how we react to a belief system that is hurtful to so many people.
I feel confident in saying that if Heavenly Mother was consulted, She would have come up with a plan that didn’t involve filicide.
I’m in the category of “deceived by the craftiness of men” so off I go to the Telestial Kingdom.
When I pulled back from the LDS church, it was the first step towards leaving Christianity too. I had a dysfunctional family dynamic that caused the faith break. My father had a very high opinion of me, so high, in fact, that he felt I could do no wrong. My siblings teased me about being dad’s favorite, even my mom knew I was dad’s favorite. Dad was also whimsical and angry and he could lash out for the most minor infractions of his ever-changing, nitpicky standards. He was scary. No way could I be as perfect as my dad thought I was, and I eventually fell off the pedestal. To the shock of everyone in the family, Dad was nice about it to me. He’d never treated any of his other imperfect kids with the sort of patience and compassion he extended to me.
Eventually, I found out that rather than aiming his judgmentalism at me (where it belonged), he’d aimed it my mom. He accused my mom of being a bad mother, and that’s why I couldn’t live up to his standards. She took the bullet for me. To preserve my relationship with my dad, she accepted the penalty for my ‘sins.’ She felt this was righteous – she’s always had a bit of a martyr streak. I was sick with stress and fear when I found out. I had to climb back up on the pedestal to protect my mother. Look how she suffered for my sins and imperfections because she loved me! My dad loved me too – look at how compassionate he was at my failure, and all the million nitpicky stupid standards and rules were because he wanted what’s best for me.
It took longer than it should have, but I finally realized both of them were emotionally manipulating me. I broke out of the relationship entirely. It was NOT right for mom to suffer for my sins because she loved me. It was NOT right for dad to place the burden of my imperfections on someone else.
After I’d articulated to myself that my relationship to my parents was completely dysfunctional, it got harder and harder to ignore the parallels to Christianity. God sent Christ to suffer for our sins. It’s all done out of love. Christ was willing to suffer (my mom was willing to suffer). We should be so grateful for his suffering that we follow all God’s nitpicky, ever-changing rules. This is somehow emotionally healthy and will lead us to be joyful about spending eternity with God.
The truth is, if someone wants you to behave a certain way, and hurts someone you love to motivate you, that’s sick and wrong. Mormonism’s Godhead makes this even worse than the Trinitarian view of God. God sent someone else – his son – to suffer. All those talks I’d heard about how God must have suffered watching his Son suffer creeped me out.
I’m with 10ac and Elisa – I want to go to the Good Place’s afterlife. There wasn’t a Savior on that show. I do believe there is Something, and I believe in an afterlife.
I can’t deal with the teachings about the atonement anymore. I’ve always been sick at the thought of Christ suffering for me, even before the dynamic with my parents came into focus. If God meant the atonement of Christ to be motivational and loving, he shouldn’t have implemented a plan with a dynamic that’s so obviously dysfunctional and manipulative when it’s imitated inside a family relationship.
Speaking of the Plan of Salvation, today at Church we were taught not only that Jesus started a Church when he was on the earth (not true, but I get that we’ve had that drilled into our heads for ages) but ALSO that Jesus perfectly followed the Covenant Path when on earth – meaning he was baptized, confirmed, ordained to the priesthood, endowed (!), and sealed (!!). Look, I know we’re really into this Covenant Path jargon but how can anyone say that without something in the back of their mind saying “hang on ….”
My plan of salvation is that we all must repent of our wrongdoings against others, forgive those who have wronged us, and become reconciled to God and each other in the process. Thus, I believe in universal salvation. As soon as we can repent and forgive, we’re saved.
What is your Plan of Salvation 2.0?
Focus on the here and now and foreseeable future. Not concern myself with the objectively unverifiable, what may or may not happen in the afterlife, or what some god or other god may or may not do to me in this life or the hereafter. Sorry, but I fail to see how God is punishing us for allowing same-sex marriage (funny how ever since it has been legalized I never hear from religious folks about all the damage that it has caused).
This post seems like Bishop Bill is either trying to speak for God or out think what his plans really were. How does he Know What god was thinking?
Here we are more than 2,500 years after the later Hebrew prophets rejected the idea that God demands sacrifice. Instead, we’re to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before God.”
Substitionary Atonement wasn’t the only atonement theory/doctrine, just the one that prevailed in the flawed institution of the church. God is Love. God created everything out of love and sent Christ into the material world as the great example of love, and continues to love and bless creation through the Body of Christ. No need to invent Satan, postulate a war in heaven, or claim that God covered our individual shortcomings/sins by killing Jesus. Not even the Roman Empire (principalities & powers) could stop God’s plan of love from succeeding. Peace not violence and abuse is God’s way. You might never know it the way Christianity has operated over the centuries, however. Anyway, it’s not really about heaven (sad or happy); it’s the kingdom/reign of God on earth as it is in heaven.
I don’t understand the 3 degrees of glory or the 3 degrees inside the Celestial Kingdom. And there are still questions about movement between the kingdoms. A lot of unanswered questions. My biggest problem is: I question whether there is an afterlife.
For me, the beauty of Church’s beliefs concerning the afterlife has nothing to do kingdoms or degrees of glory. I like the doctrine of eternal progression. And the idea of taking knowledge from our earthly sojourn into the hereafter. And similar beliefs.
I agree with the comment above about living in the now and near future. There are plenty of things we can do for our global neighbors. Let’s do them because it’s the right thing to do. Not because we want to go the CK.
What I find most interesting here is that we can’t even agree on what Plan of Salvation 1.0 is.
Great post. Sorry I’m late, but I agree with others who have called out the insidious notion of creating a plan that separates you from your children or that might cause one, as a parent, to “value” the more “righteous” children. I’ve seen a thread running through the church and through families I’ve known that there’s a LOT of anxiety and dysfunction around making sure one raises “righteous” children and making sure the family is “eternal” and of course, the only way to do that is to make sure everybody obeys Mormon teachings to the letter. That resembles no plan or belief system that I want to be a part of. Further, that so-called plan is nothing more than emotional blackmail. The story about God suffering and giving up his only begotten son is a narrative that is manipulative, IMHO. And Mormonism’s notion of love and parenting are extremely problematic. Not only because obedience is seen as proof love love (an extraordinarily damaging notion by itself), but also because Mormon parents are specifically told to do whatever it takes to get kids to seminary, to church, to serve missions, etc. There’s a lot of emotional and spiritual blackmail involved. And a lot of silent suffering on the part of kids who are also taught that pleasing their parents and being obedient are more important than developing their own moral compasses. For a religion that says we’re all about family, there’s a lot of dysfunction and silent suffering, as evidenced by some of the posts above.
If the afterlife is about anything more than simply joyfully being with the people we loved while we were here, then I’m with Elisa; it’s nothing I want to be a part of. And a God who would approve of what the church currently teaches about family and obedience being proof of love is not a God I believe in and is not a God in whose presence I would want to spend one second, much less an eternity.
With the exception of Universalism, I still feel the LDS Plan of Salvation is one of the most inclusive out there. I enjoyed reading “Odds Are You’re Going to be Exalted,” by Alonzo Gaskill, a few years ago. It’s all pretty well laid out. I do think “mortal probation” includes the Spirit World. I don’t think we ever emphasize the latter as much simply because repentance is best done with a body. I don’t think a person is automatically going to be relegated to a lower kingdom simply for slamming the door in the face of the missionaries, despite the over anxious attempt of bloggers and commenters here to put those very words in my mouth in the past. They’ll have ample chances to be taught in stark clarity.
Aside from the important aspect of the Atonement making everything right, I also feel the millennium and the time after will also be an equalizer of sorts. The millennium levels the playing field in a world of resurrected beings, new mortals, and those being taught pre-resurrection, then they all face the end on equal footing once those who haven’t had to face Satan yet experience him loosed for a short time.
I haven’t entirely ruled out progression between kingdoms, but given the ample chances received in the Spirit World, as well as the millennial and post millennial states, I don’t think it would be necessary.
I did have one CES educator make a pretty compelling case that all kingdoms of glory were in the presence of God. The designations themselves were more representative of the state and ability of our resurrected bodies. For those few who have more or less chosen a terrestrial or telestial state, I think this might make more sense since these would otherwise likely be relatively sparse and lonely places.
I’ve also seen the “Celestial Darwinism” analogy. I don’t buy it. I liken the Plan of Salvation more to building a new home for my family. My Father and older brother already have great homes—mansions really—but they are willing to give freely of their time and resources to ensure I develop the skills to make something comparable while still working right along beside me. No matter how wonderful that house might potentially be, it’s possible I might end up choosing a smaller house down the road, or an apartment a few blocks away. They won’t love me any less for that.
As far as efficiency goes, I don’t think we can underestimate agency in making it appear so inefficient here and now. But we apparently “shouted for joy” at what was coming while in our premortal state. I don’t think we would have done that if the rewards didn’t outweigh the heartache, or if most of our brothers and sisters weren’t going to be with us in the end as we and our Heavenly Parents are.
I don’t get all the people claiming this mischaracterizes the PoS. I had this visual aid so often growing up that we came to dread what we called “the circles lesson”. It now seems to have been replaced by the “covenant path” lesson which we had yesterday.
Sure, there are ways you can soften it and sure there are ways to interpret it to mean that most everybody gets in somewhere or ends up “where they are most comfortable” – but this is the plan laid bare, and I don’t think Nelson’s sad heaven / empty chairs heaven sounds very comfortable. And he’s big on that, no contest. If he really thinks everyone is getting to heaven then he needs to seriously chill out over the pulpit.
As for eternal progression – on the one hand, I like learning and of course want to be a better person. On the other hand, we Mormons are always hustling for our worth and earning love and eternal progression sounds a lot to me like eternal hustling. A race to nowhere. No thanks.
10ac: “The plan of salvation that the characters on the TV show The Good Place come up with seems like a better one to me.” That ending is just perfect. Thing is, it’s really close to what I envisioned the actual Plan of Salvation to be; we each (individually) continue to evolve and grow into the best version of ourselves (including gaining skills, not just “being good”), and we do likewise for others until eventually we are just sort of one with the universe. The ending just made me tear up. It’s so great.
It’s not super far off the idea of multiple mortal probations, but Elisa rightly points out that the problem is that Mormons are always all about the checklists and the approval of leaders, both of which are simply incompatible with personal growth. If you seek approval of others, you have your reward (and it’s not personal growth). Unfortunately, that means that the Church mostly makes people worse than their natural potential, not better. It’s good at making below average people average.
Great comments and discussion. It’s so refreshing to get all types of view and openness to non-correlated possibilities. Looks like we may have created an entire line of faulty doctrine about the existence and nature of the afterlife, based on some man’s journal entry, summarizing what another man said, on one given night.
In thinking about this issue, the viewpoints, and my personal experience, I just came back to a conclusion over and again that at the crux of this discussion is the fact that WE DON’T DEFINITIVELY KNOW WHO OR WHAT GOD IS, PERIOD. We certainly declare we do, more so than any other religious group I am aware of. We stumble as a people and as a religion because of that.
It seems to me that the concept and nature of God as taught by LDS doctrine is the cause for a lot of our confusion on the Plan of Salvation and many other church doctrines/policies. We teach that God is male, married (likely to many female goddesses, has a physical body similar to ours, has spiritual children similar to physical children, is omni-everything but still subject to universal laws, etc. These premises have consequences, they lead to conclusions based on logic and reasoning, they give space for further speculation and assertions that may or may not be warranted, let alone have any resemblance to actual capital T truth.
I am content at this time to rely on the simple verse that proclaims, God is love. That’s all I need to know. The other Truths about God as a person, entity, whatever, will be revealed in due time. Life is hard enough without drawing lines in the sand and perpetuate more pain and sorrow on humanity through religious and spiritual tribalism. If we simply extrapolated and built lives from that one verse, I think we could experience a lot of heaven on earth.
God is love. Amen.
@counselor, yes to this:
“Looks like we may have created an entire line of faulty doctrine about the existence and nature of the afterlife, based on some man’s journal entry, summarizing what another man said, on one given night.“
The foundation for everything we say about the PoS is so thin, and how on earth could anyone ever *know* that with such particularity anyway? And for some people, all our certainty about Why We’re Here, Where We Came From, and Where We’re Going is tremendously comforting – *if* those answers work for you. For example if you’re a heterosexual male who fits into church culture and whose kids all fit into church culture.
But those concrete answers have real implications for real people, many of whom do NOT find those answers comforting because they don’t fit into the plan. And, as I already mentioned, the focus on the afterlife actually places wedges between people here. All for what? Some man’s speculations that have morphed and crystallizes over time into something we think somehow we know so much (but also so little) about? Sure, we sometimes pay lip service to the idea that there’s a lot we don’t know – but we do claim to know enough to say there’s no room for gay marriage in the plan, and that the plan definitely includes polygyny.
One of my biggest breaking points with church was realizing I didn’t even want the version of heaven I was being sold. Thrones, kingdoms and principalities? Gee whiz, maybe it’s cause I’m not an narcissist but that actually doesn’t interest me.
So anyway. Yes to counselor we have made a huge deal out of some speculative theology that is painting us into a big corner now on a lot of pressing issues and it’s honestly absurd. Especially since Jesus Christ taught NONE of this – not one bit of it.
Ultimately, the most compelling plan of salvation I’ve heard is not a plan and does not involve salvation. In the film Contact, Jody Foster’s character meets an advanced alien life form who explains that his (her?) species searched the universe over and never found God, leading them to the conclusion that all they had was each other. It made sense to me when watching the film and still does now, even if there is a God and there are other species out in the universe. The heavens are silent, and all we can KNOW is that we have each other. So, I guess I subscribe to Carl Sagan’s non plan of no salvation, mostly because it makes more sense, given the complete lack of evidence, than the church’s elaborate sequence of hoops members are supposed to unquestioningly jump through.
I feel like I need to revisit the above idea that Satan’s plan was NOT about compulsion, but was about removing consequences for our mistakes. That is not at all my understanding of what I was taught. I was taught that Satan’s plan would prevent us all from making choices, essentially rendering us slaves. But if there’s some substantial number of Mormons out there who think “Satan’s plan” was just removing the consequences for sin, well, no wonder they don’t see (as I do) that our current Church’s non-stop focus on obedience to human leaders sounds, forcing people at BYU out the door if their beliefs change, firing BYU professors whose bishops won’t endorse them, etc., etc., is about as similar to “Satan’s plan” as you can get under the current laws in the US! (Oh, and of course, the Church’s thirst to expand religious freedom even further so they can discriminate more and not have to follow even more laws, instead preferring to exert total control). So if there is a pretty large cohort of Mormons who think to themselves: “Oh, that wily Satan just tried to remove consequences for sin, and people are terrible and must be controlled so they don’t sin!” then suddenly things make a lot more sense to me. I don’t even remotely agree with that perspective, but at least it makes more sense why they don’t recognize their need to control and punish people rather than allowing for freedom of thought and difference of opinion and see it as “Satan’s plan.”
Elisa–“One of my biggest breaking points with church was realizing I didn’t even want the version of heaven I was being sold.”
I told my wife during our Sunday morning walk that I speculate that when a man in the church realizes the Church and its teachings may not be TRUTH, he is likely to feel lost and depressed because of the loss of his eternal patriarchal privilege the Plan has offered (priesthood power, right to preside, many wives, become like Heavenly Father, etc.).
But I told her, when a woman realizes the same about the Church and its teachings, there should be a feeling of some relief by not having to accept those parts of our doctrine on the afterlife. That was true for my wife in many ways–relief!
Not sure if that is true for most, but sure seems that way to me.
+1 Angela. My understanding has always been that Satan’s plan was about removing our ability to choose – our agency – and forcing us to choose the right. Hence all our talk in church about the importance of agency because that was the whole point of choosing Jesus’s plan over Satan’s. But that if we don’t *choose* the right then we don’t actually grow and develop so we don’t learn anything.
Never have I ever heard that Satan’s plan was simply about letting us choose to do whatever we wanted but get into heaven anyway. That would certainly be agency to the maximum so I think that is absolutely not what has been taught historically in the Church.
This is a curious exercise I see so many apologists engage in where they dismiss criticisms of the Church by offering a doctrine or interpretation that may indeed be more palatable or superior to what we learn in Church but it’s like – not what we actually hear in Church, and if you said it in Church, you may get a lecture. Like a ton of what even the Givens’ say about the plan of salvation – it’s a way more beautiful formulation but it is absolutely not what we are taught in mainstream Mormonism and it’ll get you released from your calling to say some of what they say.
I’m all for people believing what they want to believe, but let’s also be real about the institution. There’s the Body of Christ that we are all a part of, and also kind of the church that we are all a part of – and then there is The ChurchTM. And if you don’t say the right things in The Church, they will kick you out. You can have your own secret beliefs but you aren’t allowed to voice them, and you have to play by their rules when you walk into their doors (or interact with their members), and you have to submit to their authority over you.
Anyway that’s a whole separate topic but again all these “that’s not what the plan of salvation is” have me like, cool, but actually, that IS what it is according to the official COJCLDS.
@Angela C I think there’s a miscommunication happening between us when I say I think Satan’s plan was not about compulsion, and I read your response.
First off- I’m just going on my own speculation and what I believe, which I know is dangerous, but I don’t think the scriptures clearly state one way or the other what his plan would actually look like.
Second – At church, I was (and am) absolutely taught that Satan’s plan would prevent us all from making choices, essentially rendering us slaves. I just don’t think the scriptures state that’s what his plan was. It only says that he “sought to destroy the agency of man.” The scriptures also say that he was “A son of the morning” that he “was in authority in the presence of God” he presented a plan to “redeem all mankind” and that “the heavens wept over him” and 1/3 of the hosts of heaven followed him. As I read it, He wasn’t cast out because he presented an alternate plan- it sounds to me like he was cast out for two reasons 1.He wanted the honor, and 2. He had a bad reaction to his plan not being chosen, and rebelled against God, and continued seeking to destroy the agency of man. (Once he went in full rebellion mode, I think he continued using the tactic of convincing people that there are no consequences for sin— and also that he uses tactics of limiting people’s agency by force.) Also, why would 1/3 of the hosts of heaven want to follow a plan that enslaved them? It makes more sense that 1/3 of the hosts of heaven would support a plan where the consequences for negative behavior are removed.
Anyways, I could be totally wrong all of that, it’s just what makes more sense to me.
The miscommunication comes in how you view the repercussions of this belief. Just because I don’t believe that Satan’s plan was to force us to be obedient, doesn’t mean that I believe I’m okay with
“our current Church’s non-stop focus on obedience to human leaders sounds, forcing people at BYU out the door if their beliefs change, firing BYU professors whose bishops won’t endorse them, etc., etc.,” I still think it’s bad. I just don’t think it’s what Satan originally proposed.
I also don’t believe “people are terrible and must be controlled so they don’t sin”. And I don’t remotely agree with that perspective either. I feel like I’m normally on the same page as you with most of your posts and comments, but I don’t think that the church’s emphasis on obedience/control comes from thinking that Satan was trying to get rid of the consequences of sin, rather than forcing us to be good. I’m not on your same page with that idea. (I also think most members of the church agree with the perspective that Satan’s plan was to force people to choose the right.)
From my decades of attending church, I know I often heard that Satan’s plan was to force us all to make right choices, and that level of control would remove our agency. But after reading the Book of Mormon with that question in mind (“how did Satan want to remove our agency?”), I’ve come to believe that Satan’s plan was to save everyone, regardless of sin or repentance or righteousness.
@Elisa: “Never have I ever heard that Satan’s plan was simply about letting us choose to do whatever we wanted but get into heaven anyway. ” I didn’t hear that in church either, but in Bloggernacle discussions, I would occasionally hear that Satan would just send everyone to heaven, regardless of repentance or righteousness. The Book of Mormon backs this up.
Before launching into the discussion though, I have to clarify which sins I’m talking about. “Church sins” are things like paying 8% tithing, not liking the right type of sex, having a beard at BYU and other minor rule violations. Those don’t matter. The sins that matter are abusing authority, crushing the poor, sexual assault, abusing your children, and so forth. THOSE are the sins that Satan wants to ignore. Satan would send Trump, the Taliban and Jeffery Epstein to heaven right along with their victims.
The doctrine of Nehor was the most threatening anti-Christ doctrine in the Book of Mormon. Alma called it priestcraft and said if it “would prove their entire destruction.” Alma 1:12. What is the doctrine of Nehor? It’s summarized in Alma 1:4. “And he [Nehor] also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and in the end, all men should have eternal life (Alma 1:4).”
That’s it – that’s the worst doctrine ever. Universal salvation. Why? Nehor taught that it didn’t matter what a person did, they would be saved by God without repentance and without faith in Christ. Nehor (Satan) would destroy agency by destroying accountability. Essentially, people who believed the doctrine of Nehor “did not believe in the repentance of their sins” (Alma 15:15). They believed in God, but also thought they could commit any sin and still go to heaven.
If God tries to save someone who does not repent, then mercy robs justice and God ceases to be God. “The plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men . . . for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God” (Alma 42:13).
The difference between Nehor (Satan) preaching that everyone should be saved, and Christ offering to save those who repent, is the difference between saving God and destroying God. Why? Because repentance preserves accountability. A repentant sinner recognizes his own accountability for his behavior and recognizes that what he did was wrong. He humbles himself before Christ to ask forgiveness; he humbles himself before the person he wronged and asks forgiveness. He changes on a deep and fundamental level so he no longer commits sins.
Nehor’s doctrine of universal salvation removes all consequences from choices by teaching that everyone gets the same reward no matter what. There is no accountability. The scam artist who swindles elderly people out of their life savings goes to heaven. The business owners who oppress their employees go to heaven. The dictator who had his political detractors beaten and killed goes to heaven. Politicians who corrupt the government by cronyism go to heaven. People who sexually exploit or assault other people go to heaven. Parents who abuse their children go to heaven. And so forth.
The reason it is wrong and evil to save everyone is because universal salvation shrugs off the impact of people who abuse power, forcing victims and survivors to spend eternity with their unapologetic tormenters and perpetrators. Universal salvation populates heaven with rapists, swindlers, unethical businesspeople, corrupt politicians, cruel dictators and the like. Universal salvation turns heaven into hell.
There aren’t an anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon who try to force everyone to be righteous. That tactic just isn’t very successful for Satan. Permissiveness and no accountability is lots more popular.
And again, I’m taking about *real* sins, not about drinking coffee.
The Church’s plan of salvation is a pale copy of real salvation and repentance. The Church focuses on lists of rules and the right appearances. Really, it should be focusing on abuses of power, the failure of charity towards the poor, pride and hypocrisy, sexual cruelty and the like. Instead, it peddles a gospel of rules and says nothing about real sins.
@janey, I’m with you on the sins that I think are worth focusing on. They’re consistent with what Jesus taught, which probably should be our guide.
I’m not as aligned with your view of universalism and the atonement, but that’s not because I disagree with your interpretation of the BoM – I don’t – but because I view the BoM as a 19th century creation addressing 19th century theological questions (such as universalism, which was an issue of division in Joseph Smith’s own family). I think the BoM has valuable insights on the topic but I don’t take it to be the definitive truth on the matter. But that is a whole different topic! I liked your comment & perspective and agree that whatever Plan of Salvation we’re teaching now has little to do with the teachings of Jesus whether in the Bible or BoM. It is frustrating to read those books and feel we are so, so far afield with focuses on purity and appearances.
@janey, I hear what you’re saying, but see your evidence differently. Your example of Nehor is interesting. However, I don’t think it proves your point. (Btw, this is all using BoM logic, not what I actually believe) Nehor is teaching the people universal salvation. I agree. However, that doesn’t mean that was Satan’s supposed plan in the pre-existence. Maybe even Satan can change ;). The reason why Nehor (Satan) is promoting that viewpoint in the BoM is because he (Satan) knows it will actually damn them. Because their choices DO matter and he is convincing him they don’t. I don’t see any reason to assume that what Satan is doing in the BoM has to be what he was supposedly doing in the pre-existence. After his fall, he’s essentially just trying to ruin God’s plan, not prove that his plan really would have worked or something.
At this point all I care about is the question of existence in some form after death. I don’t even care what the conditions are, anything but oblivion. That one assurance would be a pearl of such great price that I would almost kill myself to have it.
There’s secular humanism. Treating people well, caring about our world today, and it’s fate in the future.
But that’s now been identified as what the great and abominable church *really* is.
My view on removing consequences occurs way sooner than any heavenly reward. Consider it here, in our earthly probation:
-when people vilify mainstream media (allowing politicians, corporations, and governments to operate in darkness)(and churches)…
-when they want corporations without regulations (how does that work when it comes to your local butcher)(someone who wants to store the nation’s nuclear waste next door to you)(oil leaks along the coast of Alaska or Gulf of Mexico)(or how about regulators without regulations?)(the HOA you’re part of)…
Actions without consequences boils down to a lawless society.
It might not have been heaven, but Phil Connors’ progression towards finding and being what really matters is illustrated nicely in Groundhog Day.
p.s. Happy Groundhog Day, one day early!
||| Spoiler alert for Disney’s The Kid (2000) |||
Or when 7yo Rusty Duritz can’t return to his time until 39yo Russ Duritz *gets it* so Russ’ senior years can be worthwhile.
Maybe eternal progression would be a good thing.
Suggestion for a follow-up post-
I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s ideas and personal beliefs about what the plan of salvation is and isn’t, and hear some ideas about what people hope heaven will be like.
I think a great follow-up post would be to address- What do we really know about what heaven or the next life will be like? And what does everyone think they know about it?
Although we’ve all been taught the same plan of salvation, every time I’ve had a serious discussion with a member of the church about what they think heaven will be like, every one of them has had wildly different ideas. Very little has been revealed about it, so I think pretty much every member of the church has a different and unique idea in their head about what heaven will actually look like and be like. I’d love to hear some of those ideas here. (I’m a sucker for gospel speculation.)
@Elisa and @DougA, I didn’t mean to give the impression that my interpretation of the Book of Mormon verses was the only valid interpretation. I worked out those ideas back when I was still TBM. I’m still rather fond of my interpretation, but I have no problem with others having a different view. Obviously, none of know the details of Satan’s plan – conjecture that he was going to save everyone is as speculative as the idea that he was going to force everyone to make righteous choices.
IMO, and speaking very generally, each book of scripture has a different major category of sin it addresses. Much of the Old Testament preaching is against idol worship and worshipping different gods. Ergo, I concluded that idol worship was prevalent in OT times. Christ aimed a lot of his harshest words against religious hypocrisy and straining at gnats while swallowing camels. So religious hypocrisy was a huge sin at that time. The BoM (in Mosiah, Alma and some of Helaman) spends a significant page count preaching against universal salvation and chronicling the destruction of people (Ammonihah, for example) who believe it. The doctrine of Nehor was a real challenge for the decades/century when Alma the Younger was preaching.
I can’t actually think of a scriptural story in which Satan forced someone to be righteous. There is the story of Satan telling Cain to sacrifice some of the harvest, and God rejecting Cain’s sacrifice, but I can’t think of anything else. I may be missing something. Certainly religious conversion and observance has been enforced by war and other pressure throughout history, so religious conformity has been forced on people.
I don’t really like the idea of universal salvation, but that’s a personal opinion. I’ve encountered enough people who are doing the wrong thing, know it’s the wrong thing, know they’re hurting vulnerable people, and continue to do it, that I’ve given up on the belief that people just need to be taught right and wrong more effectively. I’ve gotten cynical.
@janey that makes sense. I was thinking when I read your initial comment that if I had someone close to me who was hurt by someone else in a very serious way, I probably would not want to run into that person in heaven and wouldn’t be a huge fan of universal salvation either …
I certainly agree that it’s a theme in the BoM. I just think the reason it’s a theme is because of Joseph Smith’s own wrestling and attempt to resolve a family religious divide (which succeeded), not necessarily because it’s a true version of salvation and the afterlife.
In one of the Avengers movies, Loki is facing down the Hulk. Loki points out the he is a god. Hulk proceeds to pummel him and then declares, “Puny god.”
I think that is an apt description of the Mormon god. So limited, bound up, needy, and vengeful. “This isn’t working, Gabriel/Michael/Joseph/Russell. Let’s give them another commandment.”
You know those little ants that appear out of nowhere by the hundreds at the edge of the sidewalk? You ignore them because they’ll vanish in and hour or so – unless they are too close to the house so you spray them and the universe is filled with their silent cries.
I’m not capable of knowing each of those ants or in caring about how Annie Ant’s day is going – or if she’s lost her keys and needs my help. And I don’t care. Maybe I’m a monster.
I also don’t hold out promises that I may or may not fulfill. If you don’t like what went down Madam Ant – it was all part of my plan.
A couple days ago was the 15th anniversary of my son Josh’s death. He had Down syndrome and was as near to perfect as anyone I’ve ever known. No one in the family was steeped in sin. That same day thousands of us “ants” died. Thousands got better.
We all want to feel that we are special enough to be “known of God” and even “favored of God”. What does that even look like in the game of life. Roll the dice and see what happens today.
We want to feel that we are special and known by an unimaginably powerful being.
And maybe I’m just having a crappy day and you should just ignore me.
Great post as usual Bishop Bill, though I have one minor critique to your parenthetical reference to Buddha. No tradition that I know of considers the Buddha to be a “god” in any conventional sense. (But as I’m late to the discussion, maybe I should have just kept that to myself). In terms of the PLAN – I think it made sense at one point as a nice compromise between Calvinism and Universalism in a 19th century American Frontier context – but is in desperate need of an update. Unfortunately, the current. group of leaders do not seem to be up to the task, and have instead leaned heavily on the stop-gap portion of the plan with a huge emphasis on vicarious temple work. I for one would like to see a new “plan” that stops presuming God’s will and imagining elaborate after-life scenarios, and instead focuses on “saving” human beings from poverty and oppression.
I don’t want a plan 2.0. I don’t want a plan 1.0. Joe Smith said we get to judge ourselves once we see the standard at completion. D. Snuffer, if you give him credence, says the same thing. God will forgive whom he will forgive. So, whatever you think about yourself, you’re in for some good news or bad news. The standard is that you don’t really know the standard. The judgment is that we don’t really know the judgment.
I feel sorry for the servant who returned the 1 piece of money to the master and then was berated and cast out (into outer darkness) for it. I feel sorry for the wedding guest who is questioned by the king about their lack of wedding garment and is cast out (into outer darkness) for not having a response. Here is the plan of salvation folks. Both from the mouth of Jesus himself.
So, want to be saved? Make money for the master. Want to be saved? Get married so you have a wedding garment. The saved are married and make money. That’s the word from Jesus.
I’m none of those things, so I know what to look forward to. D. Snuffer, in his annotation to T&C stated in the glossary, said that outer darkness was the diminishing reabsorbtion of a soul into the background of eternity. I just hope it’s really quiet there.