Introductions & "Eternities that come and go"


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I'm new here. I was looking for an article by BYU Professor Stephen E. Robinson, and Bing took me here. I live in Florida and I'm not LDS, but I did live in Salt Lake CIty for 15 years. I'm a Lutheran Pastor, and appreciate dialogue between people who respectfully disagree. Does anyone know where I can find the article "Eternities that come and go" ? It was mentioned in the book "Claiming Christ" by Professor Robert L. Millet and Gerald R. McDermott, and the quote made me want to read more, in context.

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Not sure where to find the article. I did a search of a couple places and did not find it. However, it is an LDS belief based on some LDS scriptures.

Doctrine and Covenants 3:2

For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

Alma 37:12

And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

1 Nephi 10:19

For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

Alma 7:20

I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round.

The term for eternity for the ancient Hebrews and Middle Eastern nations did not necessarily mean "forever" as we know it now. This came later as a Greek philosophy that became attached to the Bible through Hellenized Jews and Christians.

God works in cycles or rounds. These are Creation/Destruction cycles that equate to an eternal round. Often, he will nest these cycles within a larger cycle. We can see that in our earth's history: cycles of creation and destruction that have occurred 230 million years ago (destroyed 90% of all life on earth), 65 million years ago (death of dinosaurs), and a few thousands years ago during the Great Ice Age. From these, God could create new things to advance his goals for this earth, which include placing mankind upon it. All of this is encompassed within the Great Creation that began our eternal round, and will end with great destruction at the end times (starting a new eternal round for a paradisaical earth).

In Doctrine and Covenants 19, we read:

6Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.

7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.

8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.

9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.

10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—

11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.

12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

So, "eternal" takes on the ancient understanding of a period of time chosen by God.

Is there an eternity that goes on forever in both directions? Yes. However, as explained, it may not apply to all the scriptures that use that term. We need to be able to consider the terms "eternal", "eternities", "endless", etc., in both ways so as to try to understand the will of God.

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  • 8 years later...

The article is available here:  
Stephen E. Robinson "eternities that come and go" religious studies center newsletter vol 8 no 3 may 1994
That said, Joseph Smith also clearly taught that there was NO BEGINNING to that which is Eternal. It is not so simple as to discard the contemporary definition of "eternal."
“I believe that God is eternal. That He had no beginning, and can have no end . Eternity means that which is without beginning or end. I believe that the soul is eternal; and had no beginning; it can have no end…But the idea seemed to be that the soul of man , the spirit , had existed from eternity in the bosom of Divinity.”
(5 February 1840 (Wednesday Evening) . Washington , D.C. History of the Church, 4:78-80)

One will say that we affirm he has a body, and thus his body had a beginning, in that it was formed out of element.

"We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple and first principles of the gospel, to know for a certainty the character of God." (published in Times and Seasons, 5 (August 15, 1844))

“The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be Eternal. & earth, water &c—all these had their existence in an elementary State from Eternity.” Before 8 August 1839

Abraham 3:18 spirits had no beginning. The spirit matter, its substance.

- But God the Father, having always been God, is God without his body, and today his body is the reciprocal of his substance/intelligence/mind which itself is God.
“The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God” (Doctrine Covenants 93:35). So, his body consisting of elements, though eternal, are not God. Rather what is inside the elements is God.

That’s why John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit.” And why DC 93:33 Jesus says, “Man is spirit.” We have bodies, but who and what we really are is the eternal Spirit.

Thus, God is entirely Eternal, and the beginning of his body does not take away from his Eternal existence. One might say well that constitutes a significant change and God cannot “change.”
Jesus Christ also it is written is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” However, it is obvious that he first as a spiritual being entered into flesh, which to us appears to be a “change,” but in reality it is not because Jesus retained his Eternal substance/intelligence/mind and godhood within himself unchanged.
Jehovah was spirit, then embodied in mortal flesh, then spirit once again, and finally immortal spirit and body. He underwent all these changes, and yet the various prophetic witnesses of Him assure us of His unchanging nature.

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1 hour ago, Ezra Pax said:


Hi @Ezra Pax, welcome to the forum!

This thread is 9 years old, and the original poster hasn't visited in all that time.

Generally speaking, it's most effective to comment on threads which have been updated in the last month, or post a new thread (even if it's an old topic).  

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3 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:


Got it. But don't you believe in Resurrection jajaja.
My friend was looking for the article, now it is all in one place and google searchable.
This forum is a great resource!

That is the point I was trying to make. The adjective "eternal" does mean without end.

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1 minute ago, Ezra Pax said:

That is the point I was trying to make. The adjective "eternal" does mean without end.

Yet eternal marriages have an apparent starting point, before which they (ostensibly) did not exist. I wonder if that's true, or if there are aspects of the issue that we simply do not perceive.

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Or perhaps it is has more to do with our understanding of the true nature of time.

Possibly. I tend to disbelieve that explanation, but it's popular and I realize it's pretty much unassailable, seeing as how we have no perspective from which to judge such ideas.

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19 minutes ago, Vort said:

Possibly. I tend to disbelieve that explanation, but it's popular and I realize it's pretty much unassailable, seeing as how we have no perspective from which to judge such ideas.

I remember.

But I don't believe it is unassailable.  I just find that it is "quite convenient" in explaining an awful lot... without actually explaining anything.

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