Begotten of God

Flesh and bone. While many consider such to be the vulgarity of mortality, to Mormons, this is the substance of transcendence. Flesh and bone is but part of the iconoclasm that quickens the faith of Joseph’s followers; but, it is also from the corpus of the Prophet that the seed of controversy emerges. This uncertainty is nowhere more evident than when we consider our origin as children of God.

Many read the revelation that exaltation, in its “continuation of the seeds,” requires a corporeal union between celestial man and woman. They associate Abraham and the “promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins” with the idea that all humans are conceived by celestial sexual union. The difficulty is that we have no record that Joseph believed or thought that such a union was the source of our relationship to God. Moreover, I submit that the evidence indicates that he did not.

Joseph taught that we are children of God, that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. He also taught that the spirit and mind of man cannot be created. Later scholars and leaders have posited two primary hypotheses to rectify this seeming contradiction: tripartite existence as intelligence-spirit-soul; and the spiritual atomism of Orson Pratt.

With the tripartite model, we are, at a fundamental level, minds. By an act of creation (which some believe is sexual) we were clothed with a spirit body. Orson’s atomism posits that independent intelligent particles self assemble in the womb of the celestial female to a unified oneness. While many leaders have championed either of these syntheses (the former much more so than the later), these beliefs have no basis in revelation or the extant teachings of Joseph. Moreover, the tripartite existence is viewed by many to be antagonistic to Joseph’s teaching.

If then, the popular conceptions of our spiritual progeneration are, indeed, the fruits of cultural over-belief, what other options have we to resolve the tension between our eternal existence and our relationship to deity as children? We can only speculate; yet, there are significant precedents in scripture and the teachings of the Prophet.

Most obviously, through the atonement, we are made sons and daughters of Christ. The scriptures are unequivocal that we become His. Joseph taught that this relationship is contingent, emphasizing that, “the Lord loveth [whom] he chasteneth & scourgeth every son & daughter whom he receiveth & if we do not receive chastizements then are we bastards & not Sons.”

Joseph also taught that we became children of God by becoming heirs to Him in exaltation:

Those who keep no eternal Law in this life or make no eternal contract are single & alone in the eternal world (Luke 20-35) and are only made Angels to minister to those who shall be heirs of Salvation never becoming Sons of God having never kept the Law of God ie eternal Law The earthly is the image of the Heavenly shows that is by the multiplication of Lives that the eternal worlds are created and occupied that which is born of the flesh is flesh that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit (1). (Franklin D. Richards account, WoJS pg. 232)

This concept was presented clearly by Joseph Fielding Smith in the 20th century:

You know what it says about servants in the scriptures. Those who become servants are those who are not willing to receive these blessings in the House of the Lord and abide in them. They are not sons, they are not daughters. They are children of God, it is true, for all men are his children. But they do not inherit, and therefore remain servants throughout all eternity. (Doctrines of Salvation vol. 2 pg. 41)

It is powerful imagery and the feelings that parents have for their children, the flesh of their flesh, is easily translatable to our relationship with God. We are, indeed, sons and daughters of God (though how is speculative). We become sons and daughters of Christ through the atonement. And we have this hope, that in the end, when we stand arraigned in flesh and bone of our own, we will be sons and daughters anew, heirs, priests and queens to God.


1. Ehat and Cook note the following in a related footnote:

Joseph had previously taught that resurrected beings will have “spirit in their [veins] & not blood” (Wilford Woodruff account of 20 March 1842 discourse). The implication is that if your body is not resurrected, your children will be born flesh and bones, but that if your body is resurrected and has spirit in its veins your children will be spirits. (Note 9, WoJS pg. 269 – 270.)

This remark of the prophet would seem to be the source of the long related syllogism that because God has spirit in his veins, any progeny will be spirit. Whatever you think of it, you have to admit that the logic is horrible.


  1. Interesting. As you seem acknowledge, abandoning the tripartite model leaves us at a loss to explain our relationship with our Heavenly Father. How exactly can we be thought to be spirit children of our Heavenly Father and joint heirs with Christ if not for some sort of spiritual creation from our Heavenly Parents? Maybe it’s just too culturally ingrained, but I don’t see an obvious way to remove this concept from LDS theology.

  2. I guess that I am sugesting that as we were not physically begotten to become children of Christ nor will we be so begotton to become children as hiers of God in exaltation (these being both mediated by covenant), that perhaps our spiritual birth could be something similar.

  3. Okay, that makes some sense. Then I take it that you are arguing by analogy rather than suggesting that the concept of becoming “children of Christ” replaces the idea of divine spiritual lineage (which is how I initially read your post).

    I’m still not wholly convinced. Mormonism, as I understand it, relies too heavily on the concept of literal, not metaphorical, divine lineage and our eternal and spiritual familial connections to all of God’s children.

    I’m also curious about how the concept of continued divine revelation plays into your thesis. It seems to me that you are taking the view that because Joseph Smith didn’t talk explicitly about Heavenly Father being the father of our spirits, that we are limited to what he did teach. What about statements by prophets since Joseph Smith? If Gordon B. Hinkley, say, or Spencer W. Kimball, stated that we are literally the spirit children of our Heavenly Father, or were spiritually born of Heavenly Parents, shouldn’t this be given consideration? (I haven’t done the research, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find such statements. Moreover, the Proclamation on the Family, which seems to be moving closer and closer to canonization, seems fairly explicit in this respect.)

  4. I’m also curious about how the concept of continued divine revelation plays into your thesis.

    This is the point really. Joseph is the Revelator on these matters. There hasn’t been anyone, besides Brigham, who claims to be setting the record strait on this matter with revealed doctrine, everyone else is propogating the status quo.

    Plenty of Church leaders have adopted views consistent with celestial physical propogation. As I see it, this is a holdover from Brigham’s Adam-God (stripped of the obvious herisy) and does not consider the teachings of Joseph on the matter.

  5. If Gordon B. Hinkley, say, or Spencer W. Kimball, stated that we are literally the spirit children of our Heavenly Father, or were spiritually born of Heavenly Parents, shouldn’t this be given consideration?

    From what I understand, J. is not disputing that we are “literally the spirit children of our Heavenly Father” or that we were “spiritually born of Heavenly Parents.” That is indeed core Mormon doctrine. I think he is suggesting that the mechanism some have in mind (e.g. “celestial sex”) is simply an educated guess based on our own finite logic. As J. says, one can be a literal son of Christ through the atonement.

  6. The whole topic seems to be a fine illustration of a doctrine built on confusion between a literal and a metaphorical reading of text or scripture. But it is obvious the term “spiritually begotten” or the more general term “born again” does not refer to the literal, physical birth process somehow transposed to heaven, the Preexistence, or the celestial realm. So we are children of God in a different sense than we are children of our earthly parents. But the constant invocation of the analogy (with no additional discussion) tends to confuse that difference rather than clarify it.

  7. From what I understand, J. is not disputing that we are “literally the spirit children of our Heavenly Father” or that we were “spiritually born of Heavenly Parents.” That is indeed core Mormon doctrine. I think he is suggesting that the mechanism some have in mind (e.g. “celestial sex”) is simply an educated guess based on our own finite logic. As J. says, one can be a literal son of Christ through the atonement.

    I’m not sure I see it that way. (Either that or the word “literal” means something other than what it’s generally understood to mean.) I see now that this discussion is really an extension of the thread over at T&S about sex and procreation. In my mind, the sex discussion (while related) is collateral. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about “celestial sex,” and I’ll readily admit that this pervasive believe seems very speculative.

    Either all beings are literally the spirtual children of our Heavenly Father (i.e., we were somehow spiritually born of a Godly parents, we are all part of the same spiritual family, and Jesus is our elder brother), or we are not, and have gone through some more metaphorical process of accepting God as our father. I don’t see the latter view as consistent with LDS teachings or doctrine. Or, rather, I should say that I’m not yet convinced that it’s consistent.

    This is the point really. Joseph is the Revelator on these matters.

    I think you’d be hard pressed to support your view that the Church views this matter as being closed to revelation. Continued revelation is part-and-parcel with the concept of a living prophet. Otherwise, Sidney Rigdon was right when he argued that all the Church needed as a caretaker leadership after Joseph was killed.

  8. Thanks for posting this J. I’ll have to get back to the discussion later.

  9. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about “celestial sex,” and I’ll readily admit that this pervasive believe seems very speculative.

    Greg, that seems to be all this is about really and it would seem that we’re in agreement. Hooray!

  10. Yes, Ronan makes a fine point. Thank you. I do not dispute that we are all literally children of God. I also am a firm believer in coninuing revelation and the living Church…but absent any such revelation, I’ll stick with the primacy of Joseph.

  11. I admit the statements I’ve read and collected on the topic are speculative/ personal belief/ not stated as direct revelation. But I have to ask, why would you object to the idea that we really are made in the image of our Heavenly Parents, procreative functions included? Why except these aspects of the divine image? I personally hope that my belief that we really are in the image of our Parents is right!

  12. I tend to think that the sex in heaven theory (which I subscribe to) arises more out of Joseph’s statement that the same society exists there as here.

  13. J., I understand you to be arguing that the “continuation of the seeds” (D&C 132:19) that constitutes exaltation, and the statement that wives are given in order to “bear the souls of men” (D&C 132:63), are both to be understood as being similar to us being ‘adopted’ sons and daughters of Christ, and ‘adpoted’ heirs of the Father.

    That’s an interesting reading, and one that many may find desirable to move towards; but it sounds like you’re going further and claiming this was in fact Joseph’s reading. I don’t think you’ve presented anywhere near enough evidence—or any, really—to sustain that conclusion. Frankly, it seems completely counter to what we can discern about his motivations for and the nature of his practice of plural marriage.

    Aside from the question of whether this was Joseph’s interpretation, the reading itself has a couple of serious (if not fatal) flaws. First, I don’t know if the purpose of wives in eternity being to “bear the souls of men” in D&C 132:63 can sustain an adoptive reading, when elsewhere in the same verse the purpose of wives is to “multiply and replenish”. Second, the adoptive reading cannot account for the necessity of marriage for exaltation. If it were adoptive, why would remaining “separately and singly” imply “without exaltation” (D&C 132:17)? As we are spiritually begotten of Christ without participation of a (literal) wife, presumably so could singles (and gays) be exalted in your model. Again, this might be desirable to many, but that fact remains that it contradicts D&C 132.

  14. To clarify, I am not stating any opinion as to the existence (or not) of physical relationships between resurected beings. I am just stating that spirit progenation, by copulation is not construde from revelation or scripture.

  15. Somewhat in line with Clark’s comment on the ‘same sociality that exists here,’ I forgot to add D&C 132:19 to the question of the viability of the adoptive reading. Notice the word “continuation” in the “continuation of the seeds” that constitutes the exaltation of a husband and wife: the most straightforward reading is that they are continuing the same procreative, as opposed to adoptive, process they started in mortality.

  16. I actually have to run to catch a plane, but to be frank, I don’t know what Joseph thought, but it is he who stated that spirits are uncreated. All we have is the extant documentation…sans explicit exigesis, we are simply left to fumble.

  17. J., it may not be explicitly spelled out in that language; but D&C 132 certainly can be construed that way, and may not have been more explicit because the procreative reading seemed so obvious.

  18. Yes, reconciling Joseph’s teaching that spirits/intelligences are eternal with D&C 132 is what forced the tripartite model of the individual.

    Another possibility, not at all popular these days of course, is that an Adam/God type of scenario is what Joseph had in mind: that the celestial procreation of husbands and wives was of pre-Fall physical bodies, into which eternal spirits were placed, and that spirit procreation never comes into play. Given that elsewhere (D&C 88 I think) Joseph defines the “soul” as the spirit and body rather than the spirit alone, this scenario actually fits quite nicely with the phrase “bear the souls of men”.

  19. Christian, when you say D&C 132 forced the tripartite model, what do you mean and to what are you referring? I suspect that people musing on D&C 93 along with whatever was mysteriously taught in the school of the prophets or in other places had as much to do with it as anything.

  20. Clark, all I mean is that the combination of the ideas of uncreated individuals with procreation in eternity drove the tripartite model of the individual. If Joseph had only ever taught one or the other—uncreated individuals or procreation in eternity—one could get away with a dualistic model instead.

  21. Brigham’s Adam-God (stripped of the obvious herisy)

    Just curious, Bro. Stapley, what was the heretical portion of the doctrine that was stripped out?

  22. I’m coming quite a bit late to these discussions, but want to add a bit– there was an anti-Mormon movie, about early 1980s, I think, called The Godmakers, which said that through “Endless celestial sex” mormons believed that they would populate future worlds. I think that’s where the term came from, and I think even though supposedly no good Mormon went and watched it, enough people did go and watch it, to cement the idea in the culture that we were talking about literal physical sex to create each little spirit. I realize that the idea is rooted in earlier teachings, but I think you can’t discount the influence of “The Godmakers” on the concept.

  23. I have probably missed all of this discussion, but I did find it interesting, and even linked to it in one of my own (see comment 24, that’s me!). I feel I should, however, express how I feel on the matter.

    First, is sex evil? I know that others may not like my bluntness on this subject, but I admit, it’s a personal (and fairly widely held) belief, not official doctrine. Yet, what is wrong with it? God sanctions and upholds it, as long as performed within the bonds of marriage. He could have found some other way to perpetuate humanity, but he chose sex. I don’t believe it is the dirty thing that society makes it out to be. It is a sacred thing that should be performed properly and held in solemnity, just like any other sacred thing (the sacrament, the Endowment, etc.). If God literally created his children in his image (as was pointed out) why would he give us a different means of perpetuating the species? It may seem bizarre to members of other faiths to look at God that way, but the view of the Latter-day Saints is that our similarity to God exalts us, it doesn’t abase Him. I believe that during the formation of doctrine during the Great Apostasy, many things about flesh took on an evil connotation. Celibacy came about because of this. Jesus couldn’t have possibly been married (again, it’s not official that he was, but to most, it’s completely ruled out). Children are born in sin because of the method by which they were conceived. Not only was Christ born to a virgin, undefiled by intercourse, but Mary too was conceived immaculately, else whe would have been impure and unable to bare the Christ. This view, though perpetuated, is untrue. I recommend listening to or reading Jeffrey R. Holland’s “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.” There, we can learn of the sanctity of sex. “Celestial Sex,” as it has often been derogatively termed, should not be considered a bad thing, whether it’s true or not. It would be sacred to the highest Being, as well as to us.

    Second, the King Follett sermon is not official doctrine any more than the Family Proclamation, The Father and the Son doctrinal exposition, or last November’s conference Ensign. We accept what our leaders say as doctrine, but must acknowledge that all of them from Bishop Joe-Bob to Joseph Smith are humans with flaws. Not every word to come out of their mouths is completely true. That is why we need continuing revelation: to refine our understanding. And remember Pres. Benson’s talk called “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” Number three is “The living prophet is more important to us than the dead one.” Not that a deceased prophet’s words are null, but that God is helping us better understand what we hadn’t yet learned. If today’s prophets teach that we are all literal children of God, I am inclined to believe that it is literal. This isn’t merely the adoptive method for those who accept Christ. Everyone, including heathens, athiests, and anti-christs, is still a chold of the Divine.

  24. Jonathan, I agree that we need continuing revelation to refine our thinking…I just think that we don’t have any on the topic. I accept the primacy of Joseph on the topic until corrected by revelation. Some might not accept that, but that is fine. The challenge then becomes one of opinion. If not Joseph, then was Brigham correct (everyone shakes their head no)? What about Joseph Fielding Smith? We are simply in the realm of speculation, not revelation.

    As to your conclusions on the verbiage, how are we any less children of Christ than we are sons and daughters of God? We, as a church, accept the literality of both. Of the three types of parent/child relationships we can have with deity, 2 are unequivicably entered into by covenant. I’m just saying that it is not a stretch to think that the 3rd would be as well…In fact it resolves a lot contradictions.

  25. I am still inclined to disagree with you for two reasons.

    One, because even without actual official revelation on the subject, I am required essentially to accept the primacy of more recent prophets who have indicated closer to what I have stated here. It may not be through canonized statements, but I still believe that we must accept the current prophets uncanonized statements above the uncanonized statements of Joseph Smith. I recommend the Origin of Man by Joseph F. Smith’s First Presidency in 1909 to see more recent prophet’s statements on the matter.

    Two, what you accept as being literally a child of God through Christ, I do not. “Literally,” to me, can only refer to genetic reproduction. John 1:12 says that Christ gave the power to those who receive him to become the sons of God. That first requires accepting Christ, which most of the world has not. Yet everyone is a child of God, even if they have not accepted him. This power that Christ gives to become children must refer to some other meaning of child.

    You see, when we come into this world of sin, though we may maintain the literal (by my definition) relationship with God, we disown him through our actions. This is just like any other parent-child relationship: a young boy will always have a biological mother and father, even if they have socially severed that tie. But Christ adopts us back into God’s family. See Romans 8:14-15. As prodigal sons returned to home, we are able to inherit all that God has.

    I bring all this up to distinguish between the two types of sonship (as I am seeing Christ’s restoring us and being God’s heir as one and the same). One has to be literal, biological (in a sense), unconditional, and everlasting, regardless of the choices made by the child. The other is adoptive, conditional, dependant on righteous decisions, and only made possible through Christ. I only see one as a covenant, and I only see one as literal by the definition I m using and that I believe the prophets use.

  26. I bring all this up to distinguish between the two types of sonship (as I am seeing Christ’s restoring us and being God’s heir as one and the same). One has to be literal, biological (in a sense), unconditional, and everlasting, regardless of the choices made by the child. The other is adoptive, conditional, dependant on righteous decisions, and only made possible through Christ.

    First, I think it is very important to note that Christ’s restoring us and being God’s heir are very different. The angel’s in heaven will be restored by Christ yet not be heirs. A good illustration of this concept was published in the Millennial Star in 1847:

    Such as have not received the fullness of the priesthood, (for the fullness of the priesthood includes the authority of both king and priest) and have not been anointed and ordained in the temple of the Most High, may obtain salvation in the celestial kingdom, but not a celestial crown. Many are called to enjoy a celestial glory, yet few are chosen to wear a celestial crown, or rather, to be rulers in the celestial kingdom. (vol. 9 pg. 23-24)

    The Doctrines of Salvation quote (vol. 2 pg. 41) from the original post is extracted from a speech entitled “The Pearl of Great Price,” carried in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1930, pg. 97–104. One of the subheading is entitled No Exaltation Without Fulness of Priesthood. A post describing a bit about this can be found here.

    I would also state that everyone here has kept their “first estate” which can easily be viewed as a covenant relationship. I don’t see the dichotomy you present as being very robust.

  27. I think an important thing to bear in mind through all of this is that we must follow the sayings of the prophets to really understand doctrine. And as I pointed out earlier comments on both of our blogs, we are supposed to follow the teachings of the most recent prophets on the matter. All prophets are fallible, including Joseph Smith, and therefore not all that is taught is absolutely true (see my brother’s blog on the matter). But we are obligated to follow the most recent prophet in any areas of potential disagreement.

    I have some quotes that might be of some benefit to us:

    Our spirit bodies had their beginning in the pre-existence when we were born as the spirit children of God our Father. Through that birth process spirit element was organized into intelligent entities.

    All men in the pre-existence were the spirit cihldren of God our Father, an exalted, glorified, and perfected Man…the offspring born to him in that primeval sphere had bodies of spirit element.

    This spirit element has always existed; it is co-eternal with God. (Teachings [of the Prophet Joseph Smith], pp. 352-354.) It is also called intelligence, or the light of truth, which was “was not create or made, neither can be.” (D. & C. 93:29.)
    Speaking of pre-existent spirits, Abraham calls them “the intelligences that were organized before the world was.” (Abra. 3:22-24.) Thus, portions of the self-existent spirit element are born as spirit children, or in other words the intelligence which cannot be created or made, because it is organized into intelligences.

    Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1998.

    Now believe me, I am not one to accept the absoluteness of those things taught in Mormon Doctrine. I know it is flawed (and actually enjoy reading some of his statements). But Bruce did his research, and as you can see here, the changes suggested don’t include his interpretation of the pre-existent spirit. The doctrine taught in this case was perfectly consistent with all that was taught over the pulpit, and still is.

    I also have a number of scriptures and other references that truly support the traditional interpretation.

    “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28).

    You see, “offspring” again is generally interpreted to mean biological descendant. That is likely not referring to the other senses you have brought up.

    “For I, the Lord God, created all things if which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were created temporally…For I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven I created them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air” (Moses 3:5).

    It is very clear there that all things were created spiritually in heaven, including us. The whole verse is clear on that, that in some way, we were created spiritually. I don’t believe that could possibly be interpreted as an organization of a council or anything else.

    Another thing is that leaders have taught that Satan is, too, a son of God. Jeff Lindsay gives a nice little bit about that . He absolutely made no such covenant, with the Father or the Son. Yet, he remains a son of God. But how is that possible? Another explanation must be true.

    Next, I can point to the Bible Dictionary, completely read and approved by the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles. I offer the link, but here is probably the most important portion:

    “Every person is literally a son or a daughter of God, having been born as a spirit to Heavenly Parents previous to being born to mortal parents on the earth (cf. Heb. 12: 9).”

    Finally, as many have said on your blog, why is there a Heavenly Mother? What purpose has she served? Why is a sealing necessary to obtain Celestial glory and attain godhood for us? If you don’t need two parents to have children, why is it such a pre-requisite? There are so many good people who only fail to attain this requirement (based on choice, and not unfortunate circumstances), and therefore miss out on the promised blessings. A family in this life is for the purpose of preparing for an eternal family. It is a pattern after that of God’s. Why would he create such a misrepresentation? He didn’t. Our family is like his. The definitions and distinctions of the meanings of spirit are given, therefore rectifying the statements of Joseph Smith (if he meant it to mean this, and I believe he did) with modern doctrine. It is quite clear that God is my literal Father, and one day, I want to grow up to be like him.

  28. Frankly, appeals to Mormon Doctrine are a bit, shall we say, less than compelling…espcially when coupled with exhortations to follow the more recent “prophets.”

    McConkie indeed did his homework, but his opinions on this matter are not based in revelation. Much like many of his other interesting beliefs.

    Once again, I fully accept that we are literal children of our heavenly parents. The scriptures are pretty clear. Your assertions, however, are not scriptural. Period. You can make a case for it with the scriptures, but they could just as well argue for other perspectives. e.g.:

    Gal. 3: 26
    For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

    Mosiah 5:7 emphasis added
    And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

    Eph. 1: 4 & 5
    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

    Luke 20:34-36
    And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:

    But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:

    Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

    You bring up Satan. Once again, I would be interested in reference to scripture or revelation to support your position. You state that latter authorities have doctrinal primacy over the Prophet Joseph Smith. I disagree except by revelation.

    Again, I will admit that many people believe as you do regarding spirit birth, Jonathan. Fine. You want some McConkie-like certitude that your perspective is incontrovertible. Fine – but you can’t have it because it doesn’t exist. Simply put, you have nothing to support that position but your reasoning and personal beliefs, which are not the revealed truth of the restoration.

  29. It sounds like I may have irritated you, and if so, I genuinely apologize. I will say this, and then speak no more on the matter.

    I admit (and already admitted) that Mormon Doctrine is nothing conclusive. But if we reject a book of that nature simply for its contoversial 1st edition, the lack of apostolic authority at the time of its original writing, or simply because it is not canonized, we could reject a number of other books along with it. It is Mormon Doctrine’s scholarship that I am appealing to, and it certainly has plenty of reason to back it up.

    The scriptures you give and I gave both contradict, if we are to take birth to mean the same thing. But one cannot accept one verse in preference above the other. They both mean different things it would seem, and therefore there must be reconciliation. The verses I mentioned, most particularly Moses 3:5, cannot be disregarged by anyone, simply because other verses mentioning birth disagree. They simply are referring to a different type of birth. And I honestly see no other explanation for those I gave.

    You are quite right, there is no official revelation on Satan being a son of God. However, my appeal this whole time has been to the teachings of all the prophets. It is upon that facet that we disagree.

    I guess in the end, it comes down to some questions. What is doctrine, or revelation? Very little taught has been canonized since Joseph Smith’s day. Does that mean it is untrue? I’d say no. We could go into things such as changes in the temple endowment, garments, etc. Changes are made, and no revelation is published along with it. What I believe is that it is safer to stick with what current prophets teach. If you disagree in this case that’s fine. I just have enjoyed a good debate. I guess the one thing we do agree on is that neither of us can prove our case to the other. We just have ideas backed with our preferred evidence.

    Fun debate. I should address some of these in my own blog.

  30. Actually, I need to appologize. I couldn’t sleep last night and was not a happy camper when I wrote that post.

    I would simply submit that McConkie’s scholarship isn’t very good. You do raise an important point, and that is what we accept as doctrine. I draw the distinction that I do because without it, people accept the authorities beliefs as revelation, which they are not. The best example of this is all the horrible reasoning people came up with to justify the prohibition on ordaining black africans. People thought it was doctrine!…and that is very sad.

    I guess my main point is that one can reasonably take your postition and one can reasonably take my postion. What is unreasonable is to try to say that one or the other is the ultimate doctrine of the Church.

    And again, I appologize for my previous tone when trying to make that point.

  31. I would simply submit that McConkie’s scholarship isn’t very good.

    Bravo, J. The DNTC is a prime example.

    BRM’s fundamentalism is way over the top, IMO. I have long since thought that if you take BRM’s theological bent and add polygamy to the equation, the result would be the quintessential southern Utah fundamentalist. It breaks my heart sometimes that his influence was so heavily involved with the 1980 edition of the LDS scriptures (he wrote all the chapter headings — Nahum chapter 1 still makes me laugh out loud), and that his presence trickled its way into the Correlation Committee.

    As with the 1st edition of MD, I just look the other way, or give the Larry King Rule in response to BRM’s influence: “That’s behind us.”

  32. 2nd edition too, actually.

  33. Well, thank you. I truly value your apology. It means a lot to me. It’s nice that we come to a point of agreement. I too feel that accepting all that our leaders say is foolishness and unwise. Brigham Young (of all people) encouraged praying and knowing for yourself the truth of a doctrine:

    “What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.”
    -Journal of Discourses 9:149

    And again, on the frailties of the minds of the leaders:

    “I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, groveling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities.”

    Journal of Discourses 2:314)

    Though our views of Elder McConkie and his sholarship may differ, as well as where we draw our lines of accepting the words of the prophets, we ultimately come to many of the same conclusions. You may be interested in reading the discussion my brother and I (with a little extra help) had about leadership humantity on our forum.

    I look forward to future discussions.


  1. […] In Mormondom, there’s doctrine and there’s speculation. Sometimes there isn’t an obvious difference between the two, which is why I have what I call the “Larry King Rule.” This rule imagines what President Hinckley would say about a given doctrine if he were being quizzed by Larry King (as he occasionally is). So, in relation to the threads both here and at T&S that have discussed “celestial sex,” I suggest we create the following imaginary conversation: […]

  2. […] That’s my theory. There’s an interesting article written by J. Stapley that delves into this matter in great detail here. […]

  3. […] This society also adds a potential dimension to the doctrine of sealings. The promise of the Abrahamic order is the “continuation of the seeds.” The mechanics of spirit birth are debated but its existence is not. There is perhaps no other principle that promotes belief in the accessibility of the Godhead to general humanity than this aspect of eternal marriage. There is, however, nothing in the sealing ordinance that suggests access to the Godhead (8). A potential reconciliation of the concept of eternal fecundity to Godhead inaccessibility is that we are sealed as a grand family with Christ taking the place as the Father (9). This concept meshes quite well with the idea of the celestial society previously mentioned as we all currently raise our children together. […]

  4. […] While perhaps iconoclastic to common belief, the doctrine of eternal and uncreated spirits is much easier to reconcile to concepts of free agency, predetermination (i.e., doesn’t support it like created spirits) and evolution. There is also a significant body of teachings that the parent child relationship with God need not be physically procreative. […]

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