War! (In Heaven!)

W.V. Smith is a Professor of Mathematics at the BYU, and coordinates the Book of Abraham Project (BOAP.org), which among other projects is currently focusing on the funeral sermons of Joseph Smith. Current events at BOAP can be found at the BOAP blog. We’re delighted to have Dr. Smith as our guest for a while.

All Latter-day Saints in the know understand about the “war in heaven.” (Revelation 12:7) To the rest of the world, Rev. 12:7 is all about the devil and his cohorts. The precise theological explanations vary, but almost no one considers the idea that they are our relatives. That’s a little bombshell that Mike Huckabee likes to spring on those ignorant media people at just the right moment.

Naturally this is based on the singular Mormon doctrine of human preexistence. Protestants and Catholics, who seem to like killing lots of trees over the problem of evil, discarded this doctrine for more important reasons.

Joseph talked with some frequency of the idea of a “grand council” in heaven at which earthlings were present to engage in discussion over where we were going from there. Staying was apparently not one of the choices presented. We either come to earth and inhabit a physical body, or get out and stay out.[1]

God laid out the details for us. We’re going to a mortal probation, to see what we are made of. No memories of heaven, but there will be revelation, prophets from time to time, and whether then or after death, there will be a fair chance to see if we will do everything God asks of us. There is a staffing need and two volunteers. Someone has to attend to being a savior, make repentance/resurrection an option. One volunteer attaches a condition but sweetens the offer. Lucifer. He says that if he is appointed he’ll be savior by denying the possibility of sin. We don’t know how exactly. But it’s inferred that we just won’t be given the choice. Commandments in place, no choice to disobey. Oh yeah. And in return, Lucifer gets to take God’s place, or at least be first among equals.

The other volunteer, the eventual Jesus, says, no, I don’t want position, I’ll do the saving thing by the original plan, and everybody can choose to obey those commandments, or not.

There are of course, variations on this theme. But the basis for war is essentially both bullet points Lucifer has in his presentation. No one sins, so everybody comes home. And he gets the credit. This is the story many Latter-day Saints accept, perhaps in a slightly different form, but these are the main elements. And you can find scripture to back up at least parts of it.

There are factions in heaven. Some want Lucifer’s plan and vote with their feet.[2] In the end, God’s champion, Michael and his forces (us), remove the rebels from the heavenly premises. Of all places, they get sent to the original proposed landing place anyway. But with no body. A bit of irony. War happens because Lucifer wanted to violate a guarantee of God: No moral coercion from him. (The book of Moses makes something of the greed aspect too.)

Now Joseph Smith tells this story a little differently. It’s not the correlated version, but it is interesting and worth considering I think. The correlated version might come through Talmage.[3] (I have not carefully investigated the various tellings from Joseph on. But it wouldn’t surprise me to find the Pratt’s mudding up the waters.)

First, in Joseph’s theology, there is a very important class of persons who get significant space in modern scripture. In the long revelation on the structure of heaven, D&C 76, this class gets more ink that most everyone else. They show up again in D&C 88. Who are they? Yes, they are the sons of Satan (Perdition). In Nauvoo, they get yet more air time. Lots of Joseph’s sermons are devoted at least in part to this class of individuals.[4] This class of people have gradually become more and more mysterious lately. They have become unmentionable it seems. Just like the satanic influence at the First Vision, they have disappeared. ;) I think Joseph suggests the reason they are important: This group is the real cause of war in heaven. Why?

The contention in heaven was, Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved, and the devil said he could save them all; the grand council gave in for Jesus Christ: so the devil rebelled against God and fell, and all who put up their heads for him. [Bullock fusion text of King Follett Sermon.]

The sermon makes clear that the certain souls who would not be saved, who would actually choose non-salvation, were the sons of Perdition. They are the crux of the war. Everybody else gets saved, to some degree. Apparently the prospect of no salvation at all was a trip wire. And it was a trip wire for the best and the brightest. Not crud-balls like me who don’t have that prophet-like spiritual blue blood. We don’t seem to qualify for SOP status.[5] So there is danger there for the influential. It’s the best and the brightest that Lucifer is offering on his platter to God. Want these back for sure? Tempting God. Never a good idea.

Also we should note that in Joseph’s theology, there are more than just two factions in heaven. There are plenty of high rollers who have gathered followers. Politics and preexistence mixed. We should have guessed that.[6] It’s only the Lucifer party (they’re called Democrats now) and his converted influentials and their factions that won’t tow the line. That group won’t take the chance. The irony is even more pronounced in this version. Lucifer’s rebels get exactly what they were trying to avoid. But worse. No body in the bargain. How does Satan eliminate the sin against the Holy Ghost? Either he removes the choice as a possible one, or he devalues the sin against the Holy Ghost. The latter delivers more irony since it makes Lucifer and company guilty of the same sin they hoped to avoid on earth. War is hell.

——————
[1] I’m only guessing here. Maybe you could stay on. Maybe not. But it does seem to be only two choices. Either choice requires and exit. One should understand that this is an event which perhaps had been and will be repeated on other occasions. This is only a story about *our* cohort of God’s family. The ancient justification for earth-bound souls was either disobedience or boredom in preexistence. If asked, Joseph might have said the most preexistence sins are covered by atonement. We’re big on retroactive. What couldn’t be forgiven? You guessed it. Read on.

[2] Not exactly sure what the up side is here. Why choose Satan? Either there is more to this story or the story deserves a retelling. Read on.

[3] Talmage wrote in his Jesus the Christ, “all would be safely conducted through the career of mortality, bereft of freedom to act and agency to choose, so circumscribed that they would be compelled to do right – that not one soul would be lost.” Joseph’s view of being lost was more narrow than Talmage’s. Joseph remarked several times that at least his system saved the honorable unbeliever in some sense. Whereas most Protestants sent them to hell with no release date (along with all the rest of the unevangelized dead).

[4] In Nauvoo, SOP status is used as a kind of threat to insiders who might go rogue.

[5] SOP status can be conferred on women. That’s just my opinion, but I think they are quite as capable of achieving great spiritual status, and just as capable of discarding it for stupid ambitions.

[6] See for example his sermons of March 28, 1841 and May 21, 1843.

Comments

  1. WVS, interesting piece, although I am hoping your swipe at some of us who are faithful and Democrats was tongue in cheek.

    I am having a struggle with the concept of the SOP folks being “the best and the brightest”. As I read the various scriptural accounts, if there were some who would not be saved, or as in Lucifer playing his part, it seems to me that there is an element of not really understanding the plan of salvation. Why else would Lucifer both oppose God’s plan, and then fall into the trap of unwittingly playing a big part in its eventual unfolding in the Garden narratives?

    I’m not saying he was stupid, just that for some reason, he didn’t get it. Charismatic, probably. Articulate, certainly. Best and brightest? Not so much.

    And I think it is conjecture at best as to who may qualify for SOP status. And why would men be more likely than women to qualify? That also doesn’t make much sense to me.

  2. WV, love your style. And your footnote #5. It has caused me considerable angst that “daughters of perdition” are never mentioned. Not because I’m anxious for any of us to go there, but because of what it says about what we may not be capable of.

  3. Kevinf, yes smiley on the Democrats. But remember: political theology is pretty strict in Utah County.(grin)

    Bored in Vernal, I can’t feature it not being just a wonderful feature of mortality. At least some people even thought that Joseph allowed God to have the option.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    I don’t buy the “stupid Satan” theory any more than I buy the “stupid farmboy Joseph” form of apologetics about the origins of the Book of Mormon. He was the son of the morning, one of the greatest of the angels. As to ‘unwittingly’ playing a part in the Garden, we’re not sure it was unwitting, are we? In fact he says he is playing things out as has been done elsewhere. There is a reason to fear Satan, and it’s not because of sheer charisma or articulation.

  5. Julie M. Smith says:

    “Protestants and Catholics, who seem to like killing lots of trees over the problem evil . . .”

    And with this you lost a reader. Certainly we can discuss theology without dissing others who are also trying to understand things?

  6. Eric Russell says:

    I hadn’t heard the theology of multiple factions. Evidently this is truly a (spirit) world war and not just a bilateral conflict. Still, I have to wonder if this whole war could have been prevented if Jesus had put a little more effort into achieving a diplomatic solution. His party must have been neocon.

  7. WVS, there’s a reason I don’t live in Utah County. :)

    This whole issues seems to balance on the fulcrum of the nature of our preexistent selves. I realize it is primarily conjecture at this point, but if we are spirits at the great council who are freshly created by God from spirit matter, then some were imbued with inherent flaws that led them to reject the plan, so whose fault was it in the first place?

    If our spirits, as Joseph Smith said in these same sermons, is truly co-eternal with God, then it makes more sense that some came to the council with more on the ball than others, and made better choices. I prefer to think of the best and brightest as those who made the right choice there, and thus earned the right to be here in our mortal state.

    I also put the term “Sons” of perdition in the same category as “man”kind. Linguistics. If women have celestial potential (as I certainly believe), then they also have DOP potential.

    You have hit upon one of the things I wonder most about in our theology. Just what is it with Lucifer, anyway? While I find the petulant, simpering Lucifer in the one version of the temple film really annoying, it at least makes some logical sense. He didn’t get it, he doesn’t understand why he is being punished, and then thinks he has been tricked when he tries to ensnare others, further deepening his resentment and attitude. I just find it hard to picture one third of the hosts of heaven following that version, when the Michael Ballam version is available.

  8. Julie, not dissing the Catholics or Protestants at all. They gave up the doctrine of preexistence for other reasons. Ones they historically thought more important than the problem(s) of evil. It’s possible that keeping preexistence makes for some ease in dealing with parts of the discussion. I doubt that there would many fewer books on the subject, actually. Sorry if the humor was lost on you.

  9. Steve, I most certainly did not mean to imply a “stupid Satan” theory, and I agree there is reason to fear him. I just can’t quite, as an average lesser light, wrap my head around what he thought he was accomplishing. I concede that it is much more nuanced than we get from the scriptural and temple accounts, but how did I get it, and Lucifer not get it? Once he is cast out, I certainly understand his motivation to do everything he can to muck up the works, and we see all around us the evidence of his many successes. God did not weep in Moses Ch. 7 because the people were stupid who chose wickedness, but because they didn’t get it, and fell victim to the wiles of Satan.

    There has to be a better phrase than “didn’t get it”, but I can’t quite articulate it right now. I just think that there was something in his nature that led Lucifer to think he could circumvent the system somehow.

  10. Kevinf: The stories of Eden and the very brief narratives of preexistence read like Shakespeare in some ways. Lucifer almost comes across as being dropped in the middle of the stage, a stock villain like John the bastard in Much Ado, say. Putting it all together in a consistent picture is tough. Joseph I think, gives us a chance. I agree that the nature of human existence is an important question and plays into the whole story from the “beginning.”

  11. Steve G. says:

    I wonder if the 3rd temptation of Jesus was Lucifer’s way of rubbing his nose in the fact that Jesus couldn’t save everybody. I also wonder if it was the worst of the temptations, because Jesus couldn’t save everybody.

    Matt 4:9 All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

  12. The SoP concept/reality is scary. It’s not something I like to dwell on too much.

  13. WVS, I think you are right in that we have little to use to truly understand Satan, and that Joseph Smith at least gives us a bit more in terms of making Satan more than a cardboard cutout.

    Steve G, I had never thought of it that way, but that makes a lot of sense to me.

  14. I keep wondering if we’re really right to think Satan was completely out-foxed with the plan of salvation. After all, if he’s just continuing his battle with God by trying to claim souls on earth, isn’t it entirely possible he’s somewhat successful? I mean, maybe the original plan of salvation (or whatever was done elsewhere) has a lower casualty rate than our situation here.

    Also, if those with bodies have power over those without, does that mean the SoPs will end up bullying Lucifer?

  15. What about the possibility that the way Satan was going to “save” all was to eliminate the Celestial Glory as a possibility–except for himself (God’s glory)? Let everyone get either a Terrestrial or Telestial glory, but don’t risk anyone becoming SoPs (“lost”) by not giving them enough spiritual rope to hang themselves so to speak?

  16. It seems there is much more that Joseph offered in speeches and discourse that we don’t utilize perhaps as much as we could/should. It seems particularly odd and confusing, given what we understand of his as our prophet that we would slice and dice his words/sermons/letters and testimonies. Does anyone know why?

  17. Martin, the question of SOP’s maintaining embodiment is not a universal given apparently. Aside from the Brigham Young idea of getting recycled, Elder Packer told my several decades ago, that SOP’s don’t keep the body. He had a justification for this, but at the time it seemed obscure to me. I do think that this may be a minority view for people who have seriously considered.

  18. That’s “told me”.

  19. Robert Husted says:

    Kevinf – wasn’t Satan’s folly his pride and arrogance? Heavenly Father is meek and lowly in heart, so it was probably somewhat like the unruly teenager trying to tell his Dad how to manage the family. Pride and arrogance can make us do a lot of stupid things. But even now, doesn’t Satan still think that he can salvage the situation? Lucifer THINKS he can win, we KNOW HF will win.

    Martin – I think the idea of the SoP bullying Lucifer is interesting: Isaiah 14:12-16
    “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;” I never really thought of the “bullying” aspect – but you’re right, that’s a very likely scenario. So Satan is converting his own future tormentors?

  20. #15

    That’s how I’ve always thought of it. Satan wanted to eliminate the option of the Telestial Kingdom but also has to eliminate the highest degrees (at the very least) of the Celestial Kingdom as options as well. For everyone but himself, of course. Perhaps he promised his pre-mortal followers the Celestial Kingdom as their reward for backing him?

  21. I think the Laub text of the KFD is interesting here. It has the premortal Christ stating that he will save all except perdition and has Satan saying that he will save them all.

  22. Once upon a time we talked about this “No Celestial Option” idea (based on the Laub KFD statement) over at Feast Upon the Word:

    http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2008/09/07/rsmp-lesson-17-the-great-plan-of-salvation-joseph-smith-manual/

  23. Here’s my uneducated and unfounded guess at Satan “playing into” the plan:

    I don’t think God planted Satan in the Garden to give them the fruit, else why would Satan be punished for doing what would have essentially been God’s will? Satan’s affront was doing what had been done before, but that he was not authorized to do

    I think that after he gave Adam and Eve the fruit of one tree he was going to immediately offer them the fruit of the next tree. That ultimately would have frustrated the whole plan. The problem occurred for him when God intervened. He showed up on the scene and guarded the second tree. Rats! Foiled again. Now that it seemed mankind would in fact be mankind, he threatened to overpower the flesh (back to his original pre-existent game plan, only instead of forcing us home he hopes to drive us away from God by virtue of the flesh). And here we are playing out that battle, he trying to subjugate our flesh to his will and us learning to turn it over to God’s will.

  24. Umm, why aren’t we asking the question: how did Lucifer develop so much self-deceit and pride in the presence of God? I’ve read some thoughts on the matter, but from my belief in the eternal nature of the self: what caused Lucifer to wholly depart from the common direction being offered in the premortal realms?

  25. Taken as a literal account with fruit trees and the like, it is hard to make an argument that the garden story has net theological value at all. In other words, as a literal account, it raises far more problems than it solves.

    Brigham Young called it nursery school story, something akin to toad stools, I believe. To a degree it is as if one should just make up his own interpretation, because some things are just too wild to take seriously. It is hard to imagine anyone believing that the entire fossil record was created in the last six thousand years, for example. NDBF maybe, if the Fall was six hundred million years ago, perhaps.

    Then we have the unusual idea that God was obligated to punish Adam and Eve for what wasn’t a sin in the first place, or that they wandered into this decision by accident, that what they did was some sort of technical violation, that we are all better off because they gave into temptation, that all concerned couldn’t have just skipped the drama in the first place on the basis of manifest necessity, etc.

  26. Steve G.’s comment is very insightful. Thank you.

    As a mother of a wayward child, I can certainly see why Satan plan was so attractive. I love the idea that everyone we love will be saved. I sometimes am amazed I didn’t vote for that plan and can imagine why it was so appealing to so many ;)

  27. Elder Packer told my several decades ago, that SOP’s don’t keep the body. He had a justification for this, but at the time it seemed obscure to me.

    WVS: Brigham Young’s quotes on the fate of the SOP and their bodies was always fascinating to me, but to hear that Elder Packer had an opinion on it is very interesting. Can you tell us more about what he told you about it and his justification?

  28. WVS: Elder Packer told my several decades ago, that SOP’s don’t keep the body

    Here is scriptural support for this idea:

    Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead… (D&C 76:38-39)

  29. Perhaps he promised his pre-mortal followers the Celestial Kingdom as their reward for backing him?

    I hope it is obvious that Satan’s version of celestial glory would be nothing of the kind. D&C 121:36-37, etc.

  30. juzz, I think Mark D. may have the right of it. He may have also pointed to a couple of verses after those, as well as D&C 88:20-33. He didn’t teach (and as far as I know hasn’t taught) it in public, but it was a firmly held private opinion of his. I have no idea if he still holds that view. Caveat emptor.

  31. The way I have understood it, the SOP will not only not get to keep their bodies, but their very essences will be destroyed and their spirit matter will be returned to their original elements. Where is this quote from??

    I’m glad that Robert (#19) finally said the “pride” word. I think that’s the crux of everything. It’s not that satan is stupid or anything like that, but I think the pride of felling absolutely equal with HF can’t let him give up his idea. Haven’t any of us felt that our idea was just BETTER than our bosses or mom’s or bishop’s idea about something? If they would only LISTEN to us and see it OUR way, things could work out so much BETTER!!! :-) At least that’s been my experience. I always think of better ways to run things around my work place. Well, maybe that’s Satan’s idea. He just thinks he has a better idea and isn’t willing to let it go.

  32. They have become unmentionable it seems. Just like the satanic influence at the First Vision, they have disappeared.

    ???? Someone explain? Please? Did I miss something? What do you mean by this?

  33. man”kind which used to be a generic word with a different word for male mankind just as there is a different woman for female mankind. I found it fascinating that a number of gender implicating terms came because the male term dropped out and then was replaced with the generic.

    Similar to how there used to be Mr. for married men and Master for unmarried men, and now just Mr. for men, but Mrs., Miss and Ms for women.

    Back to the topic, everyone makes the assumption that Satan could have delivered on what he was promising. I think that unlikely.

    In addition, everyone makes the assumption that Satan believes what he is doing rather than playing a role. Nibley, at times, believed it possible that the Satan in the garden was as much embroiled in his position as the Satan in a play is — not at all, just playing an archetype role that he will step aside from at the end.

    If the fall of Adam is the way that Michael joined the human race, and if we are all children of Adam the way we are children of Abraham, then the garden narrative, aside from being a simplified version (cf. Brigham Young) is also much more limited.

    A number of people think Adam came to mankind about the time agriculture showed up, on the shores of the Black Sea before it flooded.

    Then you have the flood, Noah and his decedents dividing the land with other peoples who do not speak their language and then the Tower of Babel.

    Finally, a one third attrition rate seems terribly high. It makes me wonder a great deal about the foundation elements.

  34. meems — Joseph Smith was praying, Satan attempted to stop him, then God’s presence comes, saving him. Then the first vision proper begins. The preface portion gets dropped from the story sometimes, by some people.

    That is what he is referring to.

  35. Why don’t we ever acknowledge Milton’s Paradise Lost when we talk about the uniqueness of the Mormon doctrine on Satan and war in heaven?

  36. I don’t know if it’s all that important to know if Satan could have delivered on his promised in the pre-mortal council. (I don’t think he could have.) It is just important to consider whether he had an offer on the table, what it might have been and how plausible it sounded. Fraud never works out. That does not stop people from falling for it.

  37. meems, as Stephen says, sometimes our recent (Church) retellings leave out the Satanic preamble to the first vision proper. I believe this happens in the film “Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration.” I think there were reasons for that and I’m not complaining. The sons of perdition however are now left out of our gospel story at present. Recent conference addresses suggest that there is no real hell out there, everyone ends up in some kind of heavenly estate. I can understand not wanting to go into the complexities in a 10 or 15 minute message. But the SOP form an important part of JS’s theological position.

  38. And Penny, I wish you would elaborate.

  39. WVS,

    Satan is represented prior to the vision in the Joseph Smith film. It’s actually pretty creepy I recall, with a blurry darkened individual running around. Maybe I’m conflating it with another version, but I do recall there was a representation of that account in the film.

    And why hasn’t anyone responded to my question? How was Satan influenced to develop so much pride and seek to thwart God’s plan in His presence? That seems a fundamental issue to me at least.

  40. I guess to clarify: how could Satan become such a sour apple in the presence of God on his own? It seems to me we either have no clue what the premortal environment was like, or I’m missing something primary to an understanding of progression, or digression, in and out of the presence of God (especially in the case of Satan).

  41. Apologies, Tod. I was thinking something else. The creepy part is in there. In fact, Joseph himself leaves it out from a number of reports. Wentworth letter, for example.

  42. 40. I only offer that Joseph seems to suggest that pre-mortal life involved some of the same dynamics we experience now in interpersonal relationships. I suppose that this implies one can drift lower or higher on the scale of attributes. Apparently there is pretty wide latitude. The rules? Were they different there? People kicked out of town before and after what we call the “war?” (I think both are a given.) But Job suggests you can come back for a visit. ;) Some of our assumptions may be challenged in any thorough-going consistency test. Lucifer cannot be described as carnal, but I think you can check pride off the list. And there are clearly limits to how far you can go. Speaking out was apparently no crime, however. Recruiting like-minded folk: not out of bounds. Can evil be said to lurk in the hearts of the pre-mortal?

  43. CS Eric says:

    The chronology of events (such as it is) in Abraham has always kind of puzzled me. HF presents a plan, saying that we will have to prove ourselves on the earth. There may be other ways, but the only way that makes sense to me that we would have to prove ourselves would be if we were to forget the premortal life. So, we forget what happened in the premortal life, and there will be some kind of testing, and a need for someone to help show us the way back, implying both prophets to teach us, a Savior, and presumably an ability to sin–after all, the Natural Man is an enemy to God.

    After this plan is presented, HF asks for volunteers. We know the story, Jesus volunteers, and then Lucifer does. He is thrown out, and the next time he shows up it is in the Garden of Eden. Shortly after arriving there, he gives Eve the fruit, saying “There is no other way.” Really? The original plan probably didn’t have Lucifer/Satan instigating the Fall. I think he is smart enough to know that this action would start the original plan, he probably wouldn’t have offered the fruit. The reason he justifies his actions to HF is that he is doing “the same thing as in other worlds.” Maybe so, but what if the Plan for this world isn’t the same as in other worlds? Lucifer remembers the original Plan and decides to change the game. If it was okay for those other worlds, why not for this one? He is arrogant enough to think he has outsmarted HF by introducing a variable that wasn’t discussed in the Grand Council.

    Or maybe I’m just thinking too hard. Or not hard enough.

  44. Penny, #39: Milton’s war in heaven has some significant differences from LDS views. For one thing, humans were not on the scene yet, they were created after the fall of Lucifer and the others. The war did not take place between spirit children of God who continue to play out the war on a different sphere. Instead, angels (who are higher orders of beings than humans, as opposed to dead or premortal or resurrected humans) battle in a, epic style.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Milton. I think, if anything, Milton’s PL can help us better understand Mormon perspectives by offering a somewhat different vision of things.

    Check out John Tanner’s take here:

    http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=5627

  45. Rob Osborn says:

    The war in heaven was fought over good versus evil just as that same battle continues to war upon the earth at this very moment. Satan is still championing his same plans- that he will save us and that it is no harm to sin a little here and sin a little there- after all, he tells us,`it is natural for man to sin and that we should just be a law unto ourselves like he himself believes he is a law unto himself outside of Gods divine laws. Through this means he slowly but surely destroys our agency- making our hearts captive to the power of sin and the chains which bind man in both physically and spiritually.

    In the war in heaven Satan was of course a liar stating he would be the savior and save all mankind. All he wanted was to be born of an imortal (being Gods only begotten son) and have power over death to reign in wickedness forever. Satan glories in sin and accuses the Father and the brethren (us) of living inside a law that to him seems unhustified- after all, sin is nothing more than the natural course of events playing out…isn’t it? Shouldn’t we be glorified in the natural beauty of sin? Satan sure thinks so, and he is convincing a lot of mankind to give up their agency and trade it for a life of captivity and suffering all for the chance to live the quick but high flying risk adventure in sin.

    Satan is not a law unto himself. He is not the author of eternal laws, God is. Satan, as he sinks further and further in realizes now that the very law which he wants to see banished is the very law controlling his members and trapping him in. Whats at stake for him? His eternal non-existance. Its no wonder that he wants company for his miserable END.

    No, Satan never wanted to save us all- thats a lie- always was and always will be as long as he is around. It is a good thing that evil will be destroyed.

  46. Eric Russell says:

    Gosh, Rob. You have a lot of animosity towards this Satan fellow. Whenever I start to feel that way about someone I like to try to think of ways that I can serve them.

  47. Rob Osborn says:

    Eric,

    I feel the same way about meth dealers selling their filth to young adolescent teens.

  48. Rob Osborn says:

    Plus, I do not think Christ is going to start serving Satan anytime soon.

  49. Thanks for the clarification. I had no idea that there were versions of the first vision that left out the part where Joseph was overpowered by the adversary. To me that is an integral part of the experience, so it’s really surprising; however, if JS left it out of some his accounts personally, I understand.

  50. Heaven knows I wish the makers of the old First Vision film would have left it out. I showed that to an investigator once when I was a missionary and realized a bit too late that the part with the adversary looks like an acid trip or something. Not that I have the first clue what an acid trip looks like, but I bet it’s not far off. Not that I am a betting man, but you see what I’m saying.

  51. Me thinks thou dost protest too much…

  52. That’s because you haven’t ever tried explaining to a somber Finn why the man you call a prophet is writhing on the ground with trancy-music and color flashes & sparkly shadows half covering the screen.

    Step off, yo.

  53. Ha ha ha! I was referring to your quickness to point out your lack of drug use and gambling.

    But speaking of church videos and missions, I could never explain to people why the brother in “On the Way Home” was saying to his deceased sister, “Run away, Sarah. Run away.”

    I think I was already home before I figured out what he was really saying.

  54. Sunny, you have inspired me. I need to do a poll or a post about cringe-worthy movies made by the Church during the late 80s or something.

  55. Steve G. says:

    I always used The Mailbox as justification for not writing letters home. Better a family without letters than a family dead from heart attacks.

  56. I like to mix politics and religion in my blog. In a post about the War in Heaven, I argue that we are fighting the war in heaven here on earth through our struggle against socialism, with socialism being the plan of the devil. War in Heaven

    I also explain how the devil’s plan of guaranteeing us spiritual security/salvation would never have worked because Free Agency is a necessary component for this.

    Finally, I use the Tower of Babel to help explain just why socialism is so evil.

  57. Stephen Harper in his book “Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants” says on p. 99 “We too easily assume that Satan conspired to undermine agency by coercing his followers. Brigham Young taught that he intended, rather, to negate the consequences of exercising their agency to do evil.”

    Brigham Young said: “ ‘Who will redeem the earth, who will go forth and make the sacrifice for the earth and all things it contains?’ The Eldest Son said: ‘Here am I’: and then he added, ‘Send me.’ But the second one, which was ‘Lucifer, [a] Son of the Morning,’ said, ‘Lord, here am I, send me, I will redeem every son and daughter of Adam and Eve that lives on the earth, or that ever goes on the earth.’ ‘But,’ says the Father, ‘that will not answer at all. I give [unto] each and every individual his agency; all must use that in order to gain exaltation in my kingdom; inasmuch as they have the power of choice they must exercise that power. They are my children; the attributes which you see in me are in my children and they must use their agency. If you undertake to save all, you must save them in unrighteousness and corruption.’ ” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, pp. 53–54.)

    Cited by L. Tom Perry in the April 1990 Conference Talk “Family Traditions.” Also cited in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, p.51 (Shouldn’t these references have been caught by correlation?)

    I think using socialism as a model for what happened in the War in Heaven may be too limiting in our understanding of what was happening there. A better earthly example may be the philosophy of Nehor as noted in Alma 1:4. Nehor wanted all the entitlements for himself through priestcraft.

    I’m not saying here that socialism isn’t evil.

  58. I do not believe the example of socialism is the singular manifestation of the War in Heaven here on earth, but I do believe that statism in all of its forms is one example, even one big example, of a plan to control mankind and undermine our agency. If we discount this example and concentrate only on plans more similar to that of Nehor (although this would of course be an important example to concentrate on as well), then we miss many of the factions at play in the war. I believe there are many fronts to this war and that we must be aware of all of these fronts. The idea of statism being a continuation of the War in Heaven has been spoken of by David O. McKay, Ezra Taft Benson, and other prophets on numerous occasions. Perhaps I could just leave this quotation:

    “Satan argued that men given their freedom would not choose correctly; therefore he would compel them to do right and save us all. Today Satan argues that men given their freedom do not choose wisely; therefore a so-called brilliant, benevolent few must establish the welfare government and force us into a greater socialistic society.” (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1965)

    It is my new challenge to be able to articulate and support how some of the political ideologies currently being advanced are a continuation of the plan of old “to negate the consequences of exercising [our] agency to do evil.”

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