Eternal Law: The Most High God of Mormonism

By: Michael Flournoy and Paul Nurnberg

Mormonism has a unique view of God and the universe. Many of its adherents believe God the Father was once a man like us, and was deified by obeying the commandments of his Father. Prior to that, he was formed from an eternal amorphous substance called intelligence. Or he was something called an intelligence that is different somehow to a spirit child. Mormon doctrine is ambiguous on what the state of existence was prior to spirit birth.

In the King Follett Sermon, Joseph Smith said:

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see.[1]

In the Sermon in the Grove he said further:

I learned a testimony concerning Abraham, and he reasoned concerning the God of heaven. ‘In order to do that,’ said he, ‘suppose we have two facts: that supposes another fact may exist — two men on the earth, one wise[r] than the other, would logically show that another who is wiser than the wisest may exist. Intelligences exist one above another, so that there is no end to them.’

If Abraham reasoned thus — If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it.

I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys. I know it is good reasoning.[2]

According to this logic, there is an infinite regression of Gods, and therefore no being is truly eternal. Instead of an eternal God who governs the universe, Mormons believe that an eternal law holds sovereignty.

They often use this idea to mock Christians, saying it is ludicrous to believe God sent Jesus to atone for sins that He fashioned. They say it’s essentially God saving us from Himself.

Alma 32:13 in The Book of Mormon states that if justice were destroyed then God would cease to be God. The implication is that something higher must govern God and His children.

This position is appealing because it separates God from the problem of evil. If good and evil are eternal, then no one can pin the blame on God.

However, while this seems to tie the mysteries of the universe in a nice little bow, there are more problems than solutions under the surface. In this article we will discuss six problems with the doctrine of a law that predates and governs God.

Problem #1: Where Does Agency Come From?

According to some LDS sources, agency is an eternal law. It’s something we’ve always had. Other sources say it’s a gift from God. However, both assertions cannot be true. If we already had it, it couldn’t be given to us.

Moses 4:3 says that God gave man his agency. This is also stated in Doctrine and Covenants 101:78 which reads:

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.[3]

However, in a talk entitled, “The Gift of Agency”, Wolfgang H. Paul of the seventy said:

When we came into this world, we brought with us from our heavenly home this God-given gift and privilege which we call our agency. It gives us the right and power to make decisions and to choose. Agency is an eternal law. President Brigham Young, speaking of our agency, taught: “This is a law which has always existed from all eternity, and will continue to exist throughout all the eternities to come. Every intelligent being must have the power of choice.[4]

So which is it? Is agency an eternal law, something possessed by all intelligent creatures? Or was it something that had to be given? It cannot be both.

Either way, the implications are staggering. If God gave us agency then He had to force something onto us without our consent. Seeing as one-third of the hosts of heaven (in LDS theology) fought against agency, it’s clearly a gift that would have been rejected in some cases if it had been possible.

If God gave us agency, He also gave us the tendency to use that agency for evil. Ether 12:27 in The Book of Mormon confirms this:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.[5]

If God gives us agency and weakness to succumb to sin, then He’s no longer excused from the problem of evil, but is directly responsible.

If agency is eternal, then God could not have given it to us. Even if it began by virtue of creation, it’s still not technically correct to say it’s a God-given gift since He couldn’t withhold it.

If this is the case, then evil is also an eternal principle. This means we naturally had agency and the tendency to either use it well or badly. It means God has no ability to destroy evil, because good and evil have always existed.

So either God is the author of evil or He is powerless to stop it.

Problem #2: The Council in Heaven

If agency is a natural byproduct of intelligent existence, then Christ had no right to propose a plan where agency would exist on earth. What other choice was there? LDS doctrine states this was the Father’s plan, but it was actually the natural order of the universe. God deserves no credit.

Lucifer’s plan was equally illogical, because there was no way to quell human agency. If God couldn’t do it, how could Lucifer?

Things get even more interesting if God did give humans agency, because Lucifer’s proposal to relinquish it was a return to the natural order of things. God would have broken the law because the advent of agency brought evil into existence.

God’s plan involved so much evil stemming from his gift of agency, that it would necessitate the death of His Son to set things right. Lucifer was merely returning to the eternal law and saying in effect, “Let’s not bring all this evil into the world.”

Latter-day Saints claim that Lucifer’s plan was born of greed, but even so, that one sin pales in comparison to all the evil that would have been avoided.

It also makes sense that Lucifer would claim God’s throne, since in breaking the law, He would cease to be God. Alma 42:13 says Godhood ceases when justice is destroyed and Mormon 9:19 says it ends when a divine being changes.

The god of Mormonism is guilty of both charges since he forced agency on mankind but no longer believes in forcing anything, and since he brought evil into the world through the gift of agency. As such, he has forfeited his right to the heavenly throne.

Problem #3: The War in Heaven

In Problems #’s 1 and 2, we introduced questions related to where agency comes from. Is it an eternal law, an inherent quality of all intelligent beings as Brigham Young taught? Or is it a gift given to spirit beings by their God-father when they’re formed from intelligence? This is the age-old Mormon question…sorry, this is the almost 200-year-old Mormon question: did we exist as individual entities prior to spirit birth?

If we lacked agency prior to spirit birth, then God forced us into a state of existence (spirit bodies) that we didn’t choose for ourselves, unless we also freely chose spirit birth to God in order to traverse the ontological chasm between intelligence and spirit being. The idea that God would force anything upon us goes contrary to the common LDS refrain that God won’t abrogate agency.

LDS theology has a “war in heaven” myth to demonstrate that prior to the ontological change from spirit beings to embodied, mortal beings, a war was fought over whether or not agency should be a part of this earth. No such myth exists in LDS theology for the change from intelligence to spirit being. Were there multiple wars? Is perpetual war over agency a necessary part of existence?

On the one hand, this leads to uncertainty about the nature of humans and Gods. It also suggests that at some point in the plan of eternal progression, a change in type of being was forced upon us against our wills. So not only is God guilty of change, but the entire law of eternal progression hinges on human progression from intelligence to spirit being to physical being to glorified, physical being. According to Smith, we have got to learn how to become Gods as all Gods have done before.

Each step of that progression represents a change. If the eternal law requires both agency and the absence of change, is God really free if he is beholden to something external to himself? At what point must one stop changing to ensure one achieves and maintains Godhood?

On the other hand, if we inherently possessed agency as individual entities prior to spirit birth, then who’s to say that we couldn’t have figured out how to traverse the ontological gulf from intelligence to spirit being on our own? Besides, for Mormons who reject Joseph Smith’s “Infinite Regression of Gods” model, isn’t that just what they believe the Father did? Either that, or God has always been God from all eternity and Smith was wrong.

Problem #4: By How Many Eternal Laws is God Bound?

According to the LDS law of eternal progression, God formed spirit children from eternally existent intelligence. Or He may have formed spirit children from eternally existent intelligences. LDS scripture is ambiguous on that point. Nevertheless, according to Mormon theology, God later fashioned physical bodies for the spirit children he had formed. We are told that the highest form is to be a glorified, physical being.

The God of Mormonism, as a glorified being, still seems to have physical limitations. According to Joseph Smith, God, himself, cannot dwell in the heart of man, and cannot be omnipresent. Doctrine and Covenants 130:22 states:

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.[6]

According to this LDS scripture, only the Spirit can dwell in the heart of man. As if this logical inference from physicality isn’t enough, Smith made his dedication to the physical limitation of God even more plain earlier in his remarks that are canonized in Section 130. Commenting on John 14:23, Smith said:

The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.[7]

With that claim, Smith overturned the meaning of Jesus’ promise, that in the indwelling of the Spirit, the Father and Son make their abode or dwelling place with believers. In John 14:15-24, “all three persons of the Trinity are said to indwell the believer: the Spirit (v. 17; cf. Rom 8: 9, 11), Jesus (vv. 20, 23; cf. Col 1: 27), and the Father (v. 23).”[8]

What’s interesting is that the Greek word used in John 14:23 to describe the manner in which the Father and Son make their abode with believers (Μονήν) is the same word used in verse 2 to describe the many mansions Jesus is going to prepare for his followers.

If God and Jesus are limited physically from dwelling in the hearts of humans, then how can we trust that Jesus can fashion physical dwelling places in the life to come that will be fit for his physically resurrected followers?

If we follow Smith’s method of ignoring what the Bible says and attempting to logically reason to what Smith thought possible, we cannot be certain that the “covenant path” that God has traversed — a path that leads from spiritual to physical — actually leads to a higher level of existence. A God bound by one external law is a God bound by too many.

Problem #5: What is Agency’s Opportunity Cost?

The more vexing challenge posed by this problem comes in when one considers what Mormons are taught in the Endowment ritual performed within temples. The Endowment confers — contingent on one’s enduring to the end in a state of worthiness — a person’s exalted inheritance as a king or queen, priest or priestess, god or goddesses. Each spirit child of God who becomes exalted increases God’s power and glory.

Without discussing the parts of the Endowment ceremony that Mormons covenant not to reveal to others, the LDS plan of eternal progression is presented theatrically, including the fall of humanity brought about by the serpent’s beguiling of Adam and Eve. When Lucifer is confronted by God, about his introduction of sin into this world, Lucifer retorts:

If thou cursest me for doing the same thing which has been done in other worlds, I will take the spirits that follow me, and they shall possess the bodies thou createst for Adam and Eve!

Assume that what Lucifer is presented as saying here is true; that he and his unembodied followers can possess the bodies of Adam and Eve and their children. Agency is something that seems to have caused a lot of trouble!

First, it made one of God’s eldest spirit sons his enemy and one third of his spirit children aligned themselves with Lucifer in that “war in heaven.” They were cast out — bodiless — their eternal progression halted; they were damned eternally. God’s future glory was reduced by one third before the mortal probation on earth even began. Second, it renders sin necessary. Unless Lucifer is lying here and he did something different in introducing “agency” to Adam and Eve than what had been done on other worlds. Third, it allows God’s enemy to do something that Joseph Smith said even God himself can’t do. Namely, dwell within the hearts of humans (see Alma 40:13). If the path of eternal progression and agency means that God cannot do something his enemy can, how can we be assured that God will ultimately prevail in ridding his worlds of evil?

Problem #6: Is Agency Really Free?

Thus far, we’ve focused on the classic model of Mormon cosmology. Let’s remind ourselves or where we are. On Mormon cosmology, if we step back to that moment before spirit birth, we were either: A) amorphous intelligence (unorganized spirit matter) lacking agency or B) we already existed as individual free agents prior to spirit birth. Let’s call Option A the “Elohim is the First God” model and we’ll call Option B the “Infinite Regression of Gods” model. The “Elohim is the First God” model seems to be on the ascendancy among Mormon thinkers because the “Infinite Regression of Gods” model presents a host of problems.

The “Elohim is the First God” model is replete with its own issues. We’ve presented one in Problem #4. In this model, not only is there a point at which God forced an ontological change upon something (amorphous intelligence) that lacked the ability to choose otherwise, but he forced agency itself upon his resultant spirit children. Since we couldn’t choose to have it in the first place as amorphous intelligence, then agency presumably must be a gift given rather than an inherent quality.

But Lehi in 2 Nephi 2:11 taught his sons that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.”[9] The “God is the First God” model that Mormons are clinging to more and more of late either ensures that God broke eternal law by introducing agency, or it fails immediately to offer a cogent systematic ordering of Mormon doctrine, since there would be no opposing choice in any sense in the ontological state of amorphous intelligence. Neither for Elohim to first figure out how to transcend that state nor for others to follow later.

Further down the line, there are other theological problems with this model. Mormons generally buck against the doctrine of unconditional election to salvation. In their system, one must be able to accept or reject a gift — the gift of grace, for example. However, on either Mormon cosmological model agency is a gift that cannot be rejected. If agency cannot be turned down, why must it be necessary that grace can be rejected?

“Not so!” a Mormon may cry. “We must be able to choose God over Lucifer. But there will come a time when Lucifer and his followers will be locked away in Outer Darkness for all eternity. They will not have agency to leave that space and trouble the saints of God any more.”

Apparently, agency can’t be rejected but can be abrogated on Mormonism. Work out that logical inconsistency! Additionally, God breaks eternal law on both models. If Elohim is the first God, then he jumped the shark by discovering all on his own that he possessed agency and went through an ontological change that Mormon theology suggests only a literal Father of spirits could bring about. That is, unless, God has been God from all eternity.

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve primarily explored the classical model of understanding who God is within Mormon thought and discussed some problems that result from trying to understand Mormon theology in a systematic way. While the “Elohim is the First God” model is certainly on the ascendency, Mormon scripture canonized remnants of Joseph Smith’s “Infinite Regression of Gods” model, which he most fully presented in the final two sermons he preached before his death.

That fact makes it difficult for latter-day saints to fully embrace the “Elohim is the first God” model. One of the appealing factors of the “Elohim is the First God” model is that one can avoid the “embarrassment” — as one recent Mormon commentator described it — of the “Infinite Regression of Gods” model. The avoidance of embarrassment comes from the fact that adherents of the “Elohim is the First God” model — unlike their “Infinite Regression of Gods” counterparts — get to claim that God has always been God and is the God of Gods. In this, they may think that they are closer to Biblical theology and can avoid criticism. But the remnants of Smith’s plurality of Gods teachings in Mormon scriptures make a consistent, systematic Mormon cosmology impossible. It’s the challenge that every deep LDS thinker faces. One cannot fully embrace the “Elohim is the First God” model without damaging the thing that Mormonism tells its adherents is their destiny. Namely, to learn how to become Gods.

In this article, we presented six problems with Mormon cosmology, which places eternal law above God. We close by posing two questions to for our readers to consider:

1) Does Elohim have agency inherently?

2) Does Jehovah have agency inherently?

If your answer to the first question is ‘yes’ but your answer to the second is ‘no,’ then there was a point at which Jehovah was not God, and agency had to be given to him. According to 2 Nephi 9, the eternal Creator himself must carry out the infinite atonement for it to be efficacious. If Jehovah was not God in every sense, he fails the requirements of the atonement per the Book of Mormon.

If your answer to both questions is ‘yes,’ then humans can never be Gods, because Mormonism suggests that agency — if it is something that humans have — is a gift given by God. If agency had to be given to us, then there is a sense in which we will never be fully like Elohim and Jehovah.

If you’re an LDS adherent of the “Infinite Regression of Gods” model, congratulations! The God you worship has broken eternal law.

If you’re an LDS adherent of the “Elohim is the First God” model, congratulations! The God you worship has broken eternal law. If you’re feeling a bit frustrated at this point, but you’re okay with the idea that God has always been God. Congratulations! Mormonism may not be for you!

All you have to do is jettison the teaching that eternal law external to God is greater than God. The conclusion is simple! You cannot have your Biblical theology and imbibe Joseph Smith’s theology too.

References:

  1. Smith, Joseph, The King Follett Sermon, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng
  2. Smith, Joseph, The Sermon in the Grove, https://emp.byui.edu/jexj/courses/sermon_in_the_grove.htm; also cited in History of the Church 6:473-479; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 369-376
  3. Doctrine and Covenants 101 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/101?lang=eng
  4. Paul, Wolfgang H., The Gift of Agency, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2006/04/the-gift-of-agency?lang=eng
  5. Ether 12 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/ether/12?lang=eng
  6. Doctrine and Covenants 130 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/130?lang=eng
  7. Ibid. verse 3
  8. Harris, Murray J.. John (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) (Kindle Locations 8446-8447). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  9. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2?lang=eng

1 thought on “Eternal Law: The Most High God of Mormonism”

  1. 2/14/21

    Mr. Flournoy and Mr. Nurnberg,

    I had a hard time following your logic in this article, which has led to the following comments and questions, which will hopefully clarify the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    As you know, the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints are defined by the revelations given by Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith, who was called by God to restore the fulness of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth in these latter days, and by revelations given to the prophets who followed him as Presidents of the Church. Those beliefs are not the result of systematic theology; they are derived from the revelations of Christ to living prophets, as they were anciently. As the Prophet Amos said, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) Those revelations are canonized in 4 books of scripture—the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and in the Pearl of Great Price—and in the official proclamations from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Many talks and ideas have been expressed by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other prophets and apostles in talks and in print over the last couple of hundred years, which contain wonderful doctrine and are full of light, but those do not define the official doctrine, practice, and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. You may want to make that clear in your next post.

    You say that many Latter-day Saints believe that “God the Father was once a man like us, and was deified by obeying the commandments of his Father.” Many of us believe this because Joseph Smith taught it, and even before he taught it, Lorenzo Snow received a revelation stating that “as man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” His sister, Eliza R. Snow, expressed similar ideas in the beautiful hymn “O My Father”:
    1.O my Father, thou that dwellest
    In the high and glorious place,
    When shall I regain thy presence
    And again behold thy face?
    In thy holy habitation,
    Did my spirit once reside?
    In my first primeval childhood
    Was I nurtured near thy side?

    2.For a wise and glorious purpose
    Thou hast placed me here on earth
    And withheld the recollection
    Of my former friends and birth;
    Yet ofttimes a secret something
    Whispered, “You’re a stranger here,”
    And I felt that I had wandered
    From a more exalted sphere.

    3.I had learned to call thee Father,
    Thru thy Spirit from on high,
    But, until the key of knowledge
    Was restored, I knew not why.
    In the heav’ns are parents single?
    No, the thought makes reason stare!
    Truth is reason; truth eternal
    Tells me I’ve a mother there.

    4.When I leave this frail existence,
    When I lay this mortal by,
    Father, Mother, may I meet you
    In your royal courts on high?
    Then, at length, when I’ve completed
    All you sent me forth to do,
    With your mutual approbation
    Let me come and dwell with you.

    But before these latter-day prophets taught this principle, Jesus Christ himself said this:

    19 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
    20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. (John 5:19-20)

    Jesus saw in vision what His Father had done before Him and then went forth and did likewise in His own life, death, and resurrection.

    But after all is said and done, we believe exactly what Paul said:

    5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
    6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)

    The only Heavenly Father we have anything to do with is our Heavenly Father, and the only Lord and Savior we have anything to do with is Jesus Christ, and you know this. You should make this clear in the articles that you write. God has not revealed to us His origins, and as for our Savior, the Bible makes it very clear that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and that He is the firstborn of every creature (Colossians 1:15). Since many were born before Him in the flesh, this Scripture obviously refers to His birth as a spirit son of God, the very first one. Various creeds have declared that “only begotten” doesn’t really mean what it says and that His was an eternal begetting, but we believe the Bible means what it says—Jesus Christ was begotten of the Father and is His literal Son, both spiritually and physically.

    You say that we believe that the Father “was formed from an eternal amorphous substance called intelligence.” Where in the LDS revelations is intelligence defined as “an eternal amorphous substance”? It is not, and you should clearly state that. As far as I know, the Lord has not defined what intelligences were or are in this sense of the word. Abraham received the following revelation:

    22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
    23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
    24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
    25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
    26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
    27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
    28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him. (Abraham 3)

    In this revelation, the Lord appears to be using the term “intelligences” to refer to His spirit children and to be saying that He was the one who had organized them, or fathered them. Paul references this Fatherhood of God, when he says:

    9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)

    The Lord revealed the following to Joseph:

    29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
    30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
    31 Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93)

    This is a fascinating Scripture, and we are free to speculate about what it means, but clearly the Lord is telling us that all of us were with Him in the “beginning.” Which beginning is not exactly defined, but the implication is that our individual identities are somehow co-eternal with God. You’ll also note that the principle of agency is essential to existence itself.

    But “intelligence” is not defined anywhere that I know of as “an eternal amorphous substance.”

    In referring to Joseph’s teaching that God was once lived in a world like we do, you say that “according to this logic, there is an infinite regression of Gods, and therefore no being is truly eternal.” If we are coeternal with God, then why is no being truly eternal? He never had a beginning, and neither did we, and that means we are co-eternal.

    You say that “instead of an eternal God who governs the universe, Mormons believe that an eternal law holds sovereignty.” Where do you get that idea? Laws don’t govern anything; God governs everything, but he does so in a lawful way. He is not arbitrary and capricious. As you know, He said,

    20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
    21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130)

    He has also said,

    10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82)

    In other words, when God makes a promise, He keeps it, unlike many of His children.

    You say that Latter-day Saints “often use this idea to mock Christians, saying it is ludicrous to believe God sent Jesus to atone for sins that He fashioned. They say it’s essentially God saving us from Himself.” I have no idea what you mean by this statement, and Latter-day Saints believe no such thing. Also, we do not mock any other Christians for their beliefs. We disagree with them on many issues, but we do not mock them, as you have mocked the Latter-day Saints in this article.

    You say, “Alma 32:13 in The Book of Mormon states that if justice were destroyed then God would cease to be God. The implication is that something higher must govern God and His children.” It implies no such thing. God does not break His own laws, and that is why the atonement was necessary. The demands of justice had to be met, because God had affixed a punishment to those laws, and when His children broke them, they would have to suffer that punishment, which was physical and spiritual death. In order to rescue them from that punishment, our Heavenly Father sent his Only Begotten Son into the world to take upon Himself the sins we had and have committed and will commit. This was the ultimate expression of love, to heal us with His stripes. As you know, He said this to the Prophet Joseph:

    11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
    12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.
    13 Wherefore, I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name;
    14 And it is by my almighty power that you have received them;
    15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
    16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
    17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
    18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
    19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (D&C 19)

    So, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53) This revelation given to the Prophet Joseph expands and deepens our understanding of what He went through for us. It gives us some inkling of how much He and His Father love us and were willing to endure for us. Because of this revelation, we understand more completely what the Lord meant when He said,

    16 ¶ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3)

    God is certainly not separated from the problem of evil. He is infinitely concerned about that problem and has done everything in His power to deliver us from evil. For that reason, He has commanded us to pray that we may be delivered from evil, and He has the power to answer that prayer. He has not caused evil; evil is the result of men and women breaking His laws, and He has provided a way for us to absolutely escape the power of evil, through the atonement of His Son and obedience to His commandments.

    You speak of principles such as justice, righteousness, evil, agency, faith, hope, and charity as if they were separate independent entities floating around in space—possibly eternal amorphous substances—but they are not. They are completely meaningless and nonexistent in and of themselves. They are simply descriptions of the character, thoughts, actions, and intents of God and His servants. Men often speak of the atonement, as if it were some disembodied thing which saves us, but it is not. The atonement is absolutely nothing, without the Savior. It is simply a description of what He went through for us to satisfy the demands of justice, and of course the demands of justice don’t exist by themselves either. They are the demands which a just God makes because of the laws which He has established. If there were no God and there were no sons and daughters of God and if there were no universe in which or beyond which these beings existed, then the concepts and principles mentioned above would of course have no meaning whatsoever and would cease to exist.

    In your article, you seem to confuse freedom and agency, and as with the principles mentioned above, agency means nothing without people exercising it. It is an eternal law, because God is eternal and agency has no meaning outside of Him or His children. It is a gift from God, because He gives and teaches this eternal principle to us. Do you think that if something is eternal it cannot also be a gift? The atonement of Jesus Christ is eternal, but it is also a gift from Him to us. Faith, hope, and charity are eternal principles in those who exercise them, and they are given as gifts to people who will accept those gifts from the Lord’s servants and directly from Him Himself. Eternal life is a gift, but it is also eternal. Likewise, agency is both an eternal law and an eternal gift. It is also eternal, because it is something an intelligent being does automatically when he comes into existence. His intelligence gives him the ability to perceive different things and to choose between them, and when he does this, he is exercising his agency. If he had no intelligence, he would have no agency. Again, agency is not an eternal amorphous substance; it is the description of what intelligent beings do. As you know, Joseph Smith taught that “faith is the moving cause of action in all intelligent beings.” We would be inert if we did not exercise faith. And in exercising faith, we choose between alternatives, and that is the description of agency—it is agency personified, and it exists in no other way. So, in my opinion, God gave to man his agency simply by bringing him into a higher state of existence from his primordial state of existence, but one other thing was needed, and that was the light of Christ. That, along with his native intelligence, allowed a person to perceive right and wrong and thereby enabled him to exercise moral agency.

    I love the scripture you quoted:

    78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. (D&C 101)

    When men and women were born as spirit sons and daughters of God in the pre-mortal life and were able to exercise the intelligence God had given to them and which they apparently had from eternity, and once He had given to them the light of Christ, then they were in a position to perceive, choose, and act. And then they became accountable for their own actions. When on earth, a person’s right to choose can be severely limited by authoritarian regimes, but the U.S. Constitution, which the Lord is talking about in this section, makes it possible to exercise our moral agency more completely here than in any other country which has ever existed.

    You ask, “So, which is it? Is agency and eternal law, something possessed by all intelligent creatures, or was it something that had to be given? It cannot be both.” That is not true. It can be both, as explained above.

    You say, “If God gave us agency then He had to force something onto us without our consent.” Where do the Scriptures say that God forced agency onto us without our consent? He has not given to us any details about the transition from being an intelligence to becoming one His spirit children, and yet you make the declaration that He forced agency onto us without our consent. That is your declaration and conclusion, but the Scriptures say no such thing. It is my opinion that we were given the choice whether or not to become His children, and that if we refused the offer, we were left to continue as the primordial beings we then were. But, as mentioned, nothing has been revealed about that.

    You say, “If God gave us agency, He also gave us the tendency to use that agency for evil,” and then you quote from the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon, though only part of it. Here is the whole thing:

    26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
    27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12)

    Weakness is not sin, and it is given to us precisely so that we can more completely exercise the agency God has granted unto us to avoid and escape sin —we can recognize our weakness, realize our need for God’s help, and turn to God for strength and help we need, or we can curse Him for the weaknesses we have and turn to another source of help, which is from beneath. In your articles, you should be more careful not to fall into the description made in verse 26.

    You say, “If God gives us agency and weakness to succumb to sin, then He’s no longer excused from the problem of evil, but is directly responsible.” As mentioned, weakness is not a necessary precursor to sin. Lucifer was not weak, but he sinned. Adam and Eve were intelligent, powerful beings, but they chose to transgress one of God’s commandments. Weakness allows us and motivates us to exercise our agency more completely and hopefully in the direction of God.

    You say, “If agency is eternal, then God could not have given it to us. Even if it began by virtue of creation, it’s still not technically correct to say it’s a God-given gift since He couldn’t withhold it. If this is the case, then evil is also an eternal principle. This means we naturally had agency and the tendency to either use it well or badly. It means God has no ability to destroy evil, because good and evil have always existed. So either God is the author of evil or He is powerless to stop it.” This is very curious reasoning. As we have already discussed, agency is eternal and it is also a gift. Agency could not be exercised if we did not exist, and God gave us the power to exercise this agency by bringing us into existence as His sons and daughters. It is technically correct to say that it is a God-given gift. What do you mean when you say that, “because we have the tendency to choose either good or evil, God is either the author of evil or is powerless to stop it?” That is a non sequitur. God is not the author of evil—we are the authors of evil by choosing to exercise our agency in an evil way. If you mean that God is the author of evil because He gave us existence and identity as His children, then you might as well say that Henry Ford was the author of auto accidents, because he invented cars. God could eliminate evil by sweeping us all off the face of the earth, but He doesn’t do that because He loves us and has an eternal plan for us which includes the trials, tribulations, suffering, choices, mistakes, and consequences of fallen, mortal life. But He will only let evil go so far. As you know, at the last day, Satan and those who have chosen to follow him completely will be sent into outer darkness to vex the children of God no more, and evil will be eliminated. But that day is still to come.

    You then say something very strange: “If agency is a natural byproduct of intelligent existence, then Christ had no right to propose a plan where agency would exist on earth. What other choice was there? LDS doctrine states this was the Father’s plan, but it was actually the natural order of the universe. God deserves no credit.” Why did Christ have no right to propose a plan which enabled the children of God to exercise their agency? Agency can be destroyed, or abrogated, as you say—perhaps not entirely, because even in the extremity of suffering and coercion, men can still make choices. But the Father proposed a plan in which the agency of man would not be destroyed or abrogated. It was designed to allow us to exercise that agency to the maximum degree so that we could truly demonstrate whether or not we wanted to become like Him. You then say, “Lucifer’s plan was equally illogical, because there was no way to quell human agency. If God couldn’t do it, how could Lucifer?” As you know, from the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price:

    1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
    2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
    3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; (Moses 3)

    Lucifer’s plan was to force everyone to return to heaven and be “saved,” thus denying the agency which God had given to all of His children, including Satan—the right not to be saved, if that was their choice. That is how agency can be destroyed—do not allow the consequences of choice to take place, but drag a rebellious soul to heaven against his will. For doing this great thing, Lucifer thought he would then deserve to become God. But he was not cast out of heaven for advancing his nefarious plans; he was cast out for rebelling against the Father. You say that Lucifer was returning to eternal law and saying “Let’s not bring all this evil into the world.” So, do you think his motives were benevolent? Of course, given moral agency, some men would choose, like Lucifer himself, to rebel, to choose evil instead of good, and to bring evil into the world. But unless men are free to do this, they cannot be held responsible for their own actions and cannot become the individuals and beings they choose to become, and this is the intent and purpose of the agency given to man by God—to enable them to become like He is, if they choose to do so. The evil which comes of badly exercising this agency is the price that needs to be paid to enable men to make that ultimate choice. As the Prophet Lehi explained:

    22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
    23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
    24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
    25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
    26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
    27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

    As you know, it is God’s work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39), but this can only be brought about by allowing man to exercise his agency and make the choice which Lehi describes in Verse 27.

    You say, “Latter-day Saints claim that Lucifer’s plan was born of greed, but even so, that one sin pales in comparison to all the evil that would have been avoided.” So, do you think Satan’s plan should have been adopted? Would heaven as a Luciferian Concentration Camp be preferable to the fallen world and fallen lives which men are temporarily having to endure on this earth?

    You then say, “It also makes sense that Lucifer would claim God’s throne, since in breaking the law, He would cease to be God.” I assume you are referring to God when you talk about breaking the law, but, again, no law was broken by God. Satan wanted to destroy the agency of man, and that is an eternal law which God will not abrogate. Breaking God’s law is not the best way to ascend to the throne of God.

    You then say more extraordinary things: “The god of Mormonism is guilty of both charges since he forced agency on mankind but no longer believes in forcing anything, and since he brought evil into the world through the gift of agency. As such, he has forfeited his right to the heavenly throne.” Enforcing agency upon mankind? What did mankind have before He forced agency upon them? What state were they in, if they were not in a state to exercise agency? Were they robots, or automatons, or some creature like that who did nothing, said nothing, and had no self to begin with?

    You say, “Did we exist as individual entities prior to spirit birth?” I think we did, but the Lord has not specifically said that we did. You can speculate about this, but He simply hasn’t revealed it, and we won’t know until He does. However, in D&C 93, the Lord says that we were in the beginning with God, which leads me to think that we did exist as intelligences before we became His spirit children. And then you make the strange assertion: “If we lacked agency prior to spirit birth, then God forced us into a state of existence (spirit bodies) that we didn’t choose for ourselves, unless we also freely chose spirit birth to God in order to traverse the ontological chasm between intelligence and spirit being.” Where do you get the idea that God forced us into spirit bodies, if we did not have our agency prior to that spirit birth? Again, we know nothing about our existence prior to the birth of our spirits. If we had the intelligence and the ability to make a choice in that realm, then, because God honors agency, He must have given us the choice whether or not to become His spirit children. There may be an infinite number of intelligences which chose not to progress to that point. The Lord simply has not revealed anything to us about that state. You rightly say that God would not force anything upon us, and He did not. And yet you say that that is what He did.

    You call the war in heaven a myth, so, you must not believe what Isaiah, Jude, or John say about it. We do believe that they said, and we believe the additional knowledge God has given to us about that conflict. You then say, “No such myth exists in LDS theology for the change from intelligence to spirit being. Were there multiple wars? Is perpetual war over agency a necessary part of existence?” I’m not sure what your point is. The Scriptures tell us about the war in heaven and about Satan being cast out. They do not tell us about any other wars. So, I think you can rest assured that there were not multiple wars or perpetual wars, though we certainly have a perpetual war against Satan here for the salvation of our own souls and the souls of others.

    You say that all of this “leads to uncertainty about the nature of humans and Gods. It also suggests that at some point in the plan of eternal progression, a change in type of being was forced upon us against our wills.” This is really bizarre! Where are you getting all of these suggestions from? I see no uncertainty about the nature of humans or God. I see simply a plan which our Father put forward to enable us to become like Himself, because there is absolutely no better way to be and no happier way to be, and as the Prophet Lehi said, the purpose of our existence is to have joy. That is the nature of our Father and it is also fundamentally our nature. It can be perverted by disobedience to divine law, and that perversion results in sin, unhappiness, and if not repented of, becoming like Lucifer himself, who is also a son of God.

    You say God is guilty of change. How is He guilty of change, what guilt is there in change? When the Scriptures speak of God as being unchangeable, they are obviously referring to His unchangeable character, righteousness, and perfection. Jesus certainly underwent fundamental changes by becoming incarnate, suffering death, and then rising from the dead with a glorified, resurrected body. And if he did only those things which He saw His Father do (John 5), then His Father must have undergone the same changes in the infinite past. But the perfection of their righteousness and intelligence has not changed. You say that eternal law requires both agency and the absence of change. Where do the Scriptures say that? God is not beholden to anything external to himself. He is, however, beholden to the laws which He has instituted and given to us, because to act and live according to those laws is to do the things God does, and if we do not do the things He does, then we do not become like Him, and if He were to decide not to do the things which He has decided are perfect and right, then He would not be Himself, and if He were not Himself, He would not be God. Once we have become like Him, then I don’t think we will have to change anymore. What do you think? We can then devote all of our energies to helping others become like Him. In fact, to become like Him, that’s exactly what we have to do both during mortality and in the eternities. As you know, His work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, and by extension, that must become our work as well. He declares this to be the case in D&C 18:

    10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
    11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
    12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
    13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!
    14 Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.
    15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
    16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

    You say, “If we inherently possessed agency as individual entities prior to spirit birth, then who’s to say that we couldn’t have figured out how to traverse the ontological gulf from intelligence to spirit being on our own?” Who’s to say? Well, God for one. He said, “For behold, this is my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) He must bring it to pass; we are powerless to cross the ontological chasm by ourselves, either as intelligences, spirit sons and daughters of God, mortal corporeal creatures, or as resurrected beings. For all of these transitions, we depend upon the almighty power of God the Father and the atonement of Jesus Christ. Here is how Abraham described these ontological miracles:

    22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
    23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
    24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
    25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
    26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
    27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
    28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him. (Abraham 3)

    God has been God from all eternity as far as our reckoning of time and eternity goes, because, as Paul said, for us there is only one God, and one Savior, even Jesus Christ.

    You say that LDS scripture is ambiguous as to whether God created His spirit children from intelligence or intelligences, and it is. The Bible, part of LDS Scripture, tells us that when God created the earth, all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Again, He doesn’t give us any details, and if you want to call this ambiguous, then that’s fine. He’ll reveal to us more light and knowledge on the subject when we are ready to receive it.

    As you know, the highest form for Jesus Christ was to become a glorified, resurrected being, like his Father is. To Philip he said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:6) Like Father, like Son. Joseph Smith also testified that the Father and the Son exactly resemble each other in appearance and feature (1842 Account). These facts being true, the highest form the children of God can receive is to become like their Father and their Savior. In fact, as you know, Paul said that we should

    5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2)

    This is not Mormon theology; this is Biblical doctrine.

    You say that the “God of Mormonism, as a glorified being, still seems to have physical limitations.” The God of the Bible, and therefore the God of Mormonism, confirms this. Jesus said to his disciples, “39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24) But the fact that He and the Father are both corporeal does not limit them in the least. They are everywhere present by the power of the light which emanates from Them. As you know, the Lord said this to the Prophet Joseph:

    6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
    7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
    8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;
    9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;
    10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
    11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
    12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
    13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. (D&C 88)

    In this way, both the Father and the Son are omnipresent and can dwell within each of us simultaneously—through the light of Christ.

    You cite D&C 130: “The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” And then you say that Joseph’s words “overturned the meaning of Jesus’ promise, that in the indwelling of the Spirit, the Father and Son make their abode or dwelling place with believers.” But they don’t! These words give us the supernal promise that there will be times when both the Father and the Son will personally visit us if we are worthy; it will be a personal appearance. But at other times, they will dwell within us through the power of the Holy Ghost, or the light of Christ, which will fill us with Their love and intelligence. In His great intercessory prayer, Jesus prays “21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17) What do you think Jesus meant when he asked that his apostles might be “one in us”? Were they going to meld together into one and then meld into the same being as the Father and the Son? Of course not! He prayed that they would be one in purpose, in love, in righteousness, in all their desires and feelings and all their goals to advance the kingdom of God, and that they would be one in all of these things with Jesus and the Father. The oneness, the indwelling, is metaphorical, but is even beyond metaphorical, because it is accomplished by the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ. Do you think that the incarnate Lord will literally dwell in the heart of a person? Joseph is just pointing out that this makes no sense and then gives us the true meaning of these verses. To “in dwell” means to have the influence of all 3 members of the Trinity in one’s heart and mind by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    You then ask this very strange question, “If God and Jesus are limited physically from dwelling in the hearts of humans, then how can we trust that Jesus can fashion physical dwelling places in the life to come that will be fit for his physically resurrected followers?” Are you saying that Christ, a physical, resurrected being of flesh and bone, can personally dwell in the hearts of humans? Is this a logical or sensible belief? You say that Joseph ignores what the Bible says, but in reality, he is the one who pays close attention to what the Bible says. On one occasion, a minister asked him how the Latter-day Saints differed from other Christian churches, and Joseph replied, “We believe the Bible, and they don’t.” The more I study the Bible, the latter-day revelations, and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the more I see what he meant. We can indeed trust that the covenant path will lead us to the highest level of existence in the presence of and in the similitude of God the Father.

    You describe the endowment as a vexing challenge, but quite to the contrary—receiving one’s endowment is one of the most exalting and edifying experiences a man or a woman can have during their mortal lives. You say that you will not discuss the parts of the endowment ceremony that we covenant not to review, but the you go ahead and discuss them.

    I think that one of the problems with your essay is that you confuse free agency with freedom. Agency is the right to choose, and it might be described as the freedom to choose between alternatives. But freedom includes the power to actually carry out the decisions and choices you have made. As the Savior said,

    31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;…
    36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8)

    That is true freedom! And it is the result of the righteous exercise of agency. To repeat Lehi’s wonderful summary:

    27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Nephi 2)

    Righteous choices lead to eternal and divine liberty. Unrighteous use of agency leads to captivity and death. It’s that simple.

    You ask, “Why must it be necessary that grace can be rejected?” It’s necessary, because one assumes that you are a being who can observe, reason, make judgments, evaluate, and make decisions. If you are not, then it will not be necessary for grace to be something chosen or rejected. But if you are, and you are not a robot or an automaton, then faith must be exercised and a choice must be made. If this is not the case, then we are not truly the sons and daughters of God; we are not made in His image, in His likeness, in His similitude, and we are not the offspring of God which Paul said we were. So, as Joseph pointed out, Latter-day saints believe the Bible. Those who do not, are rejecting much of what the Bible says.

    You say that “agency can’t be rejected but can be abrogated on Mormonism.” Do you mean “by Mormonism”? Anyway, if a person rejects agency, he has exercised his agency to reject it! That is the whole meaning of agency!

    You talk about the difficulties Latter Day Saints have in deciding which “model” of belief in God they will adopt, but there is no difficulty. For the 3rd or 4th time, we believe what Paul said that our Heavenly Father is the only God with whom we have to do, and our Savior is the only Lord we have to do. Elohim is the Man of Holiness, and I think you are familiar with this incredibly profound description of him and our Savior and the supernal plan of happiness they have put into effect and offered to us:

    55 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
    56 And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.
    57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
    58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:
    59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
    60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
    61 Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
    62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.
    63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me. (Moses 6)

    If this passage were all we had from the pen of Joseph Smith, it would be incontrovertible evidence that he was one of God’s great prophets. I hope you will reconsider some of the decisions you have made and renew the covenants that once blessed your lives.

    Sincerely,
    Scott Laird

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