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Lehi's dream and today's Sunday School lesson
askandanswer posted a topic in LDS Gospel DiscussionOur Sunday School lesson today was about Lehi’s dream. I see this dream as a metaphor for our journey through mortality towards exhaltation. In his dream, Lehi saw both helps to exhaltation – the path and the iron road – and hindrances – the mists of darkness and the filthy river. It occurred to me that in real life, in this mortal situation we are all now in, both the nature and the degree of the helps and hindrances, and the relative balance between helps and hindrances, might not be random. In the context of Lehi’s dream, how was it decided how thick, or thin, the mists of darkness should be, and how was it decided how wide or narrow the path should be? The value of these variables would have had a significant impact on how many people ended up at the tree and how many ended up at the river. To give a more concrete example, one help we have on our path is the guidance of the Spirit, and one hindrance is the temptations of the devil. I suspect that to a certain extent these two forces – the pull towards good from the Spirit, and the pull towards evil from the devil – are an ever present, constant part of the conditions under which we all live, but the degree to which they influence individual’s actions depends to some extent on factors specific to the actor. So then I started to wonder who decided, and how was it decided, what the helps and hindrances would be, what the balance between them would be, and what factors determined what the balance was going to be. It seems to me that the relative balance between these two forces will have a greater impact than a great many other factors in determining the ultimate outcome of the Plan of Salvation, so I think it might be worth wondering how that balance came to be. I’m wondering if it’s something that God decided entirely according to His own free will, or was it something that had to be decided in accordance with some sort of universal law that God is subject to, or did He simply approve a recommendation from the relevant Plan of Salvation design committee, or perhaps it is what it is because that’s how it has always been, worlds without end. Any thoughts, comments, questions or answers on any part of these musings would be welcome. I realise that much of this is speculative and that there might not be a lot that is readily transparent in the scriptures or modern day prophetic teachings on these questions however I don’t see that as a barrier to considering different possibilities; it just means that we have to exercise caution in how much reliance we can place on any conclusions we may come up with.
I've seen a few discussions in various locations regarding the Plan of Salvation. One of the more recent ideas someone floated to me was that there were multiple ideas of the Plan of Salvation given through the years and it's constantly changed. I did not agree with many of these and frustratingly enough when I was about done with them I was directed to a website that posted that Prophets and apostles all disagreed with the Plan of Salvation and even posited that Bruce R. McKonkie and his son Joseph disagreed upon how the Plan of Salvation worked. It listed half a dozen different (and what I see as bogus ideas in my research as an amateur Church Historian) 'plans of salvation' that were given through the years. This comes from people younger than I who are pointing me to this idea (though not all of them, one was on this site a while ago I believe), and apparently it's changed since I've been a member of the Church (I've been a member for a little over 50 years now). I was polite, but what I wanted to say was...Not to my recollection it hasn't. One of the main themes revolved around Reincarnation. The church has never officially taught that reincarnation occurs as far as I've seen (and the closest was the idea that Celestial Beings have children in a mortal like state, but than after that they return to where they came from after several centuries...but that was a brief moment in time that was even discussed, much less taught). It was included in a majority of their presentations of the "Plan of Salvation." My thought on this stuff was...that's a bunch of rot. So, this is partly a vent and partly just to lay out clearly what the Church taught about the Plan of Salvation. The first post is basically what the Church taught from the time when I investigated, to what I believe it still teaches now. I will probably at a later date post this in my personal thread on my thoughts on the Church's Culture and such but with added stuff included of my own opinions and such. However, this thread is to reiterate the basic Plan of Salvation. So, onto the basics of the Plan of Salvation as was taught to me. As far as I know, the basics have stayed the same since at least the late 19th century. The doctrine of the various Kingdoms of afterlife have been around since the time of the Prophet Joseph. I will use his words on them for a basis in D&C section 76, some that were added as Canon later with Abraham Chapter 3 and D&C section 138. I will also use Section 131. There are a few other things that will be included that were taught over the years to me, but are for the most part understood (such as the veil of forgetfulness). Beginning at the start, as per section 76:24, the worlds were and are created by the Father of us. Utilizing Abraham as well, we are his begotten sons and daughters and we were with him before this worlds creation. This is what we call the Pre-existence. In the Pre-existence a war started. There, two individual Sons of our Father had two different plans. One was in accordance with the Father and had the decision to give us Free Agency to Choose good and evil. If we chose to do evil this son would come down. Through him we would have the atonement in which we could repent of our sins and return to our Father. The other plan was in rebellion and it was that instead of choice, we would be forced to choose good. This was also an idea of to supplant the Father and sit in his place, to steal his glory, and give all the glory to the leader of this plan. This plan of rebellion was led by Satan. A third of the hosts of heaven followed him. Those of us who are on this Earth chose the former plan and followed Jesus and our Father. In selecting to follow them we kept our First Estate. Those who followed Satan will not have glory in the same Kingdom as those of us who did. This plan was to prove if we will do all the things whatsoever the Lord our God will command us (Abr 3:25). Those of us who keep our second estate will have glory added upon us. After this premortal life we are sent to Earth to live in mortality. When we come here we pass through the veil of forgetfulness. We forget our pre-existence in mortality. Here we are given choices. We are here to see if we will follow the Lord. After we die we go to the Spirit World In the Spirit world we will go to either Spirit Paradise or Spirit Prison. Those of use who are of the just, who have been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality and thosewho have offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God and have suffered tribulation in their Redeemer's name.departed this life firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ will be filled with joy and gladness. (D&C 138 12-15) Those who are such will go to what we call Spirit Paradise. There is another place also that the wicked go called Spirit Prison. There are others that may be in the waiting for the gospel and we will be organized and sent to preach the gospel to them, teaching them the principles and ordinances (ordinances for the dead) where we who are among the living can act as proxy so that those who are dead but did not get their living ordinances, can receive them as if they were alive. After this we go to a judgment where our final destinations after this life is determined. The following is almost straight from D&C 76. The Lowest are the Sons of Perdition. They denied the Holy Spirit after having received it and denied the only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame (76:35). The go to outer darkness and are the only ones the second death has any power over. The rest are brought forth by the resurrection of the dead through the triumph and the glory of the Lam (76:39). These are divided into 3 Kingdoms of Heaven, that of the Celestial Kingdom, that of the Terrestrial Kingdom and that of the Telestial Kingdom. Into the First are those who received the testimony of Jesus and were baptized, that kept the commandments and cleansed from all their sins and received the Holy spirit of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, overcome by faith, sealed by the Holy spirit of Promise, are of the Church of the Firstborn, who are Priest and Kings and received of his fullness and glory, are priests of the Most High after the Order of Melchizedek. Therefore they are gods, even the sons of God. (76: 51-58). These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever (76:62). This is the Celestial glory and the Highest degree of glory. This glory is that of the Sun. We also know that those who did not receive the law in this life but who would have accepted the gospel if they had the opportunity will also be able to receive this Glory. (D&C 137:7) This glory is unending. Those shall dwell there in the presences of God and his Christ forever and ever (D&C 76:62). There is no end of this if we believe in it being forever and ever. This Glory is also divided into 3 Kingdoms, into which to enter the highest a man must enter into the order of the Priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage] (D&C 131: 1-2) The next degree of Glory is that of the Terrestrial world. This glory is that of the moon differs from the sun. These are they who died without law. They are who the spirits of men kept in prison who the son visited and preached the gospel to that they might be judged according to men in the flesh. These are they who received not the testimony of Jesus in the Flesh but afterwards received it. These are honorable people of the earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men. They are those who receive of his glory but not of his fullness. These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus. They shall be visited by the Son, but not of the fullness of the Father. (D&C 76:72-79) The third degree of Glory is that of the Telestial. These are they who did not receive the gospel of Christ , neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy Ghost. These are they who initially are thrust down to hell and are not redeemed until the Lord finishes his work. They do not receive the Son nor the Father in their Kingdom of Glory but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the Terrestrial. They shall have administering angels who are appointed to minister for them. (76: 82-88) There are as many different glories in the Telestial Kingdom, or divisions in the Telestial Kingdoms as stars, for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world (76:98). Those in the telestial will be as innumerable as the stars or the sand upon the seashore. They will be servants of the Most High: but where God and Christ dwell they cannot enter, worlds without end. (D&C 76:109, 112) This then is the general idea of the Plan of Salvation that I learned and has been the same since I've been a member...at least from what I've been taught (unless it's changed without me knowing it). Much of this (Especially that about the three Kingdoms) was taught in the Doctrine and Covenants and has stayed the same in writing since it was written down (as far as I know). Saying that this has changed... I don't think so. Anyways, that's the Plan of Salvation in it's basic idea with Scriptures as the background for reference.
Need help re. Plan of salvation
Aaddaamm posted a topic in LDS Gospel DiscussionI am not looking for a 'primary' answer to this subject. Just asking for some in depth thought. My thoughts have been around the plan of salvation but more specifically the purpose of Mortal existence. It does not seem so clear to me that the purpose of Mortal existence is fair or is what we think it to be. For example the scriptures say and the prophets teach that the purpose of this Earth life was to come here and gain a body and have mortal experiences such as: suffering, physical pain and death in the physical sense. They also teach that God ordained it to be a space of testing to see if Man will do what they ask of him. I think it is safe to assume other kinds of non physical pain such as emotional cognitive pains may have been experienced in the pre mortal existence and do not necessarily become a part of the purpose for us being here. So my question is: what is the point of this life for a person that knows nothing about Christ or God or their ways, lives their life and then dies and then perhaps they hear about it in the afterlife. If they were going to hear about it and accepted in the afterlife why did they go through mortal experience and why is this mortal experience so crucial to our eternal progression? Why couldn't I go through life without knowing God, then accepting in the afterlife. Seems there are different rules for those that are born into a place where Christ and his ways are known as opposed to those who know nothing of Christ. More to the point my question is what is the point of the mortal experience. Because it does not seem so clear to me that finding Christ and relying on him and keeping covenants and repenting in this life is the only way to enter the celestial Kingdom. I hope I am clear.
Not wanting kids
Flowerthatdoesntwilt posted a topic in General DiscussionI am a convert(meaning I joined the church later in my life instead of born into church) of 10 years. My family joined the church together. I love the gospel and the church. As a YSA (Young Single Adult), I hear a lot about importance of family and mother’s role in the family and having children. I fully understand why it’s important to have a family and have children. But it’s becoming clearer everyday that I don’t want to have kids. I wonder if I will ever be able to find someone to get married in the temple when I don’t want to have kids. I have dated someone seriously and this was one of the things we couldn’t agree on and we ended the relationship after dating for couple of years. Coming from a single-parent home, I am fully aware of the hard work that is required to be a good parent. As much as it’s taught in the church to have children when you are married, I sometimes feel that importance of being a good parent is not emphasized as much. Although I fully respect and love my mother for doing what she does to raise me and my siblings, I sometimes wonder how much happier she could have been if she didn’t have kids. She would have been able to leave her abusive husband much sooner. She would have been able to pursue her dreams and goals to be the person she wanted to be instead of being a stay at home mother like it is often asked of in woman. I thought that maybe I don’t want kids because of what happened between my parents and because I understand the struggle when the marriage falls apart. I’ve done therapy, prayed and fasted to know what it is I should do. I studied my patriarchal blessing and hated myself for being so different. But I just can’t seem to be the person woman are taught to be in the church. Should I give up hope to find someone to get married in the temple? I don’t know if I should date anyone or even put myself out there. Part of me feels it would be selfish of me to look for an eternal companion when I can’t be the ideal person they look for. I sometimes feel like a damaged good for not being able to want the life that every girl dream of. Is it wrong for me to want the eternal companionship without wanting to have kids? Some of you may say that it’s just a phase because I have been told that when I talked to people in church about this. But it’s not that I don’t love kids. I work with kids and I really think they are so precious and such a sacred blessing to have in this world. It makes the cruel world a little better place. But I really don’t want my kids to go through the pain of having a parent who didn’t want to have kids. Children deserve better and I can’t be what they need. I don’t want kids when I will love them and take care of them because that’s what I am obligated to do instead of doing it because I want to. I think about this everyday and I would appreciate your input.
Are animals damned?
EricM posted a topic in LDS Gospel DiscussionI've been reflecting upon the plan of salvation and how, as part of this, animals will be taking part in the resurrection. As we know, for mankind, there will be resurrection unto eternal life, and resurrection unto damnation. Salvation unto eternal life means eternal progression and an eternal increase. Damnation in this context will mean limited progression due to not attaining the highest degree of glory. Animals, on the other hand, seem to be locked into where they are as far as I can tell. Wouldn't this be damnation? Some additional thoughts I have on the topic are the idea that resurrection for animals seems troubling. As you recall, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword were placed before the Tree of Life lest Adam and Eve partake of its fruit and "live forever in their sins." Again, this sounds akin to resurrection unto damnation, but would be immortality unto damnation. So would resurrecting a lower level of intelligence stop its progression? When humans were only intelligences, were we still different from animals, or are animals part of the progression? Lastly, I feel that one piece of the puzzle could be related to the beasts in the revelation of John. We learn in D&C that these beasts are not merely symbolic, but actual animals. Do animals maybe have a different path of progression than humans do, serving different roles in the kingdom than man? (Which wouldn't be far-fetched, considering that is the case in mortality.) I'm interested in your ideas and experience on this subject!
I've reached a conclusion that I don't like based on the revelations. I've always liked the idea of being the literal offspring of God the Father, but now I'm not so sure. My question is if there's anything wrong with my conclusion. First, some statements of fact. Fact #1: God was once a man on an earth. Joseph Smith confirmed this in the King Follet sermon. Fact #2: Exalted couples continue to have offspring in eternity. (D&C 132:19, also in the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, trust me it's in there) Fact #3: Joseph Smith basically confirmed that God the Father is himself a Christ in the sermon in the Grove. I am merely saying it's a fact that Joseph Smith said it, not that God actually is a Christ (though I think he is.) Fact #4: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and man are all the same race of being. I.e. God is not different in kind from us. After all, he did say "Man of Holiness is my name." Now for some assumptions based on the revelations and logic which flows from them. Assumption #1: there's an infinite progression and regression of gods. (eg. Heavenly grandpa, Go as far back as you want) Assumption #2: God the Father's mortal life was that of a Christ. He lived without sin and was divine. Assumption #3: God cannot give the pains of atonement to Jesus unless he himself has experienced an atonement. I assume this for two reasons. Reason #1: omniscience wouldn't cut it, "now the spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the son of God suffer at the cording to the flash that he might take upon him the sins of his people" Alma 7:13, which could potentially mean that God the Father would have needed to know these things by experience in order to cause Christ's suffering in Gethsemane. Reason #2: All things being equal between God and Jesus as far as degree is concerned. Christ having experienced the atonement would logically make him greater than God, having more intelligence by virtue of his experience as Christ. And that doesn't sound right. Assumption #4: by reason of assumption #3, we can conclude one thing: that only a Christ can bring forth a Christ. Or in other words, a man who has not been a Christ does not have the intelligence required for such an endeavor. Now for the progression of logical steps which lead to the conclusion. Step #1: Exalted persons have spirit children, not children in the flesh. (being born in the flesh in the presence of God would be a state of damnation, like that of the garden of Eden) Step #2: Said spirit children cannot have a fullness of joy and cannot be gods themselves, unless they have bodies. Step #3: Said spirit children will therefore require a Plan of Salvation. Step #4: Said Plan of Salvation requires a Christ. Step #5: Problem; none of these perfected, exalted persons are capable of bringing forth a Christ, because an atonement for said Christ requires more intelligence than they possess. Step #6: Solution; Jesus Christ, Our lord, presents a Plan of Salvation, and brings forth his Christ. Which would make Jesus Christ the God of the children of the exalted of this Earth. CONCLUSION: Therefore, God the father is not the literal father of our spirits, but the redeemer of our parents in the spirit. Now, some contradictions. Jesus Christ is said to be the firstborn in the spirit, this first born status is relative. Meaning God had other children. Also, Joseph F Smith and his counselors declared that we are God's offspring. Another thing I'm not sure about is how a Christ atones for intelligences which are not yet born in the spirit but are later born in the spirit to parents who's earlier children have already been redeemed. This system of mine implies some kind of eternal progression of messiahs, and I have no idea how this really works. This entire conclusion rides on the idea that God needs to have experienced an atonement in order to give an atonement. (But then there's still the issue of Christ being "greater" than God) So if you would be so kind as to poke holes in my conclusion, I would be most grateful. Cheers
Ankh_ posted a topic in LDS Gospel DiscussionA few days ago I watched a documentary, First Contact The Lost Tribe of the Amazon. This film sparked something I have been pondering and debating in my head for some time now. Maybe someone here has been able to reconcile this issue in their own mind. When looking at the earth population as a whole, 7 Billion people, I start to ask myself about the pre-mortal circumstances that placed me to be born in a semi-active, good natured LDS family vs. the circumstances that allowed for one of God's children to be born and live their life in total isolation to not only the gospel, but the entire world as we know it, such as some of the people shown in the documentary. These people have to worry about scavenging food each day and hoping the other tribes don't come and murder their family in the night, while we debate here about the fate of "unrepentant" people in the Telestial world. And not to focus on just extreme poverty or isolation, there are plenty of "civilized" people that go through very similar circumstances today as well. The spectrum is so broad and its difficult to account for the whole group under the Plan of Salvation as I understand it. The first inner conflict is that I just don't feel like I am that lucky. Out of 7 billion people, I just happened to be born into the Gospel, ended up serving a church mission ( I was certainly not prepared at the start, but I was able to gain a real testimony during my service), sealed in the temple and have access to higher temple knowledge, by chance? And that doesn't even take into account the amazing point in time during the earth's history. I don't believe there is any randomness in the Plan of Salvation. I feel that there must be something I did or requested to be where I am, but I can't tell if that makes me feel better or worse. Without a doubt, there are plenty of people I know, outside of the LDS bubble, that are in many ways much closer to Christ that I or my fellow church members. So I don't believe it can't be solely based on merit, however looking at the doctrine of Foreordination it gets messy in my head. A .002% chance to be born in the true Church of Christ on the earth gives me pause. I am never ever that lucky at anything. Take it a step further an look at of those .002% how many will actually truly be saved after receiving higher ordinances and knowledge. Its difficult to imagine or such a small fraction of God's children becoming exalted. How would so many by into a plan they might not ever be exposed to? LDS.org states, under Foreordination, "In the premortal spirit world, God appointed certain spirits to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives. This is called foreordination. Foreordination does not guarantee that individuals will receive certain callings or responsibilities. Such opportunities come in this life as a result of the righteous exercise of agency, just as foreordination came as a result of righteousness in the premortal existence." So am I really to believe that my foreordination to be born in these relativity abundant circumstances as compared to others is because I was potentially more "righteousness" than others? I suppose the only way for me to accept that perspective is to acknowledge that now I am under a much greater condemnation than those that started with "less," so it wouldn't be viewed as an un-fair advantage. The "what if's" make me really wonder if I would have been able to listen to the spirit of Christ enough to be pulled towards the Gospel and become converted from the outside. Could that be the only reason I had to be born within the Gospel? Because I wouldn't have been strong enough to find or accept it otherwise? That line of thinking just leads to more questions and doesn't feel right. This begs the question of what is fair? At least in the context of everyone's starting mortal condition. It doesn't seem fair that I was placed where I am, given so much without much "temporal" effort on my part, and then I see others that will possibly never even hear the name of Jesus Christ in the right context. I don't buy into the pre-mortal "fence sitter" line of thought so how does everyone else reconcile their situation with that of those on the other extreme of life? Are any "Noble and Great Ones" born into an amazon tribe in the middle of the rain forest? Is that the "mission" some feel they have been assigned in life? Can any of these missions be unrelated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Great Muslim leaders for example? When we were all sitting their during that great council in the beginning, were we thinking about how this could all be fair to everyone? I can imagine that maybe this topic might have been something that caused some others to choose the other side, complaining "How could that be fair?" Honestly it is hard to imagine a new, excited spirit child of God giving their "buy-in" to a plan in which they will have no part while in their earthly state. A plan that so many will never learn about. Were we able to see what path we would be starting in our earthly existence? Did we all agree to our birth time and surrounding circumstances, or parents even? It just seems too easy to say to ourselves, that they "deserve" their lot in life because that is how they chose to exercise their agency in the pre-mortal existence. Seeing these people make contact with the outside world makes me really wonder about the Garden of Eden setting. How close are these people to that same state of "innocence"? They must have some inkling of the Light of Christ somewhere, but things like taking another person's life don't seem to impact them spiritually in the same way. How different could these people be from the time of Adam and Eve and Cain and Able? Go and watch some of the first time encounters and tell me what thoughts run through your head as you attempt to view life through their perspective. Maybe I am just overthinking all this. I trust in God's plan, but I would really like a way to fit this part in my understanding. Elder Holland's recent talk in GC, "Songs Sung and Unsung", touches on the fact that it can be hard to focus on singing happy hymns in the face of extreme poverty. This talk touches on the topic I am getting at, but its not just the poverty, its the access to the Gospel knowledge. Not only do they not have the basic Gospel teaching or temples, but they don't know who their savior is in any sense of the word. Its impossible for us to decide what constitutes a "Fair Chance" to accept the Gospel of Christ, but at least the majority of people get to hear the watered down story of who Christ was. Long story short, I just don't feel that I am lucky enough or was righteous enough to deserve my life over the life of someone less fortunate, in both a Gospel sense and temporal well being. How am I and that tribal chief different in God's plan? How is it all fair to everyone without thinking you are or at least were better in some way, than someone else?
Plan of Salvation Cards
a mustard seed posted a topic in ShareI'm helping my aunt with girl's camp this year and one of her lessons/activities has to do with the plan of salvation. You know those card kits missionaries sometimes carry around, very simplified pictures on them to show the plan and they either come in a folder or on a ring to keep them together? well, when looking it up on Google, we found a set by LDSTools that was pretty cool that was all circles. Going from big to small, the cards fit together like a ripple and come apart as their own free moving circles of different sizes. The kit was 1. a little pricey for a girl's camp handout and 2. a little too detailed to keep as a black and white scan for the girls to color on their own. So, we decided to do the circle idea and make the designs our own. The girls will color them and we'll laminate them and cut them out and the girls can have their own sets to take home or give to missionaries or whatever. Here are my designs for that. Just wanted to share this with you guys. I know, I spelt Terrestrial wrong. I'll have to redo that one.
Confusion about Plan of Salvation
goldenorange posted a topic in LDS Gospel DiscussionHello everyone, I have grown up in the Mormon church my whole life, but feel the need to get clarification about the Plan of Salvation. I'm confused by the concepts of eternal progress and eternal damnation, as I do not fully understand them. My current level of understanding feels those two concepts contradict each other. I've heard that we learn more about the plan of salvation in the temple, but I should point out that I haven't been to the temple yet. On one hand, people say the gospel is a gospel of progression, and after dying some will have the opportunity to receive the gospel and live in the celestial kingdom, even if they were not church members or not righteous while here on Earth. But the scriptures always talk about eternal damnation, hellfire, and say that misery is eternal. So which is it? Will all people receive the opportunity to learn, grow, and progress in the afterlife, or are some people eternally stuck in the lower kingdoms? Eternal damnation is a very confusing concept for me. Is it true that many people will be stuck where they are, miserable and not able to progress? Ive always felt like ALL or a majority of God's children should be able to repent, progress, and turn to God again in the afterlife, even if it takes some people longer than others. Shouldn't the end goal be for ALL or a significant majority of God's children to end up in the Celestial Kingdom? Yes, I know everyone has free agency. I have heard many people will choose to reject the gospel even after seeing it in heaven. But I feel like anyone in heaven who chooses they want to accept the gospel and work towards repentance should have that opportunity, right? I've heard many people say that church members who don't live the gospel here on earth won't have the opportunity progress later in heaven. This seems contradictory to the concept of eternal progression. Thanks for for helping me to learn more about this gospel concept. GoldenOrange