No apologetics. I’m not going to preach to you or quote a lot of scripture because that’s not the point. I’m not trying to justify, rationalize, or apologize for Mormon doctrine because it is a mess. John Larsen is right. All I want to do is suggest that with a correct understanding of the scriptures and a little “mind-bending”, there is a possible way out. I wouldn’t be saying this to a traditional Mormon audience because they would freak out. I’m only saying this to you because you probably won’t believe it anyway, but hopefully are open to a new perspective.
What do atheists have to offer that’s any better? Before death: war after bloody war. After death: oblivion.
Do you think Satan’s plan is any better? Force people to be good. Reign with blood and horror on the earth. What do you think religion is doing if not forcing people to be good? What’s behind the bloodshed and horror on this earth if not religion’s desire to control and manipulate?
At least the Mormon plan offers something better. At least it offers a glimmer of hope for a few. But read on, there’s more.
Facing reality. John Larsen, I believe, accurately described the Mormon interpretation of the plan of salvation as currently taught and understood. He carried it out to its logical conclusion, thus “illustrating the absurd by the absurd”. As it is taught and understood, it is clearly not feasible, not sustainable, and ultimately as damning as the Mormon description of Satan’s plan. Einstein said in order to solve a problem we have to solve it from a higher level of thinking than what created the problem in the first place. Einstein could have called it “mind-bending”.
Why the Mormon plan is unworkable and unsustainable. The Mormon plan is based on several flawed assumptions, misunderstanding of scripture, and some false religious traditions.
Flawed understanding of God. God is not mean, jealous, petty, or vengeful. God is not arbitrary. He doesn’t get to just make up stuff. He is also subject to eternal law, otherwise He would cease to be God.
The gods do not just endlessly create. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35). “There will be a new heaven and a new earth and the first earth were passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-3). The course of God is one eternal round (cycle). And there are cycles of creation, change, and destruction. This is a fundamental principle of Eastern religions. Eastern religions believe that the universe is one great consciousness, and we as individuals are living under the illusion that we are separate consciousnesses, and that eventually, we will all merge back into a single consciousness, then the grand cycle will begin again.
Spirits are made from intelligences, which already exist. We are already co-eternal with God. So, the multiple billions of spirits, Gods, “breeders”, and “servants” that John Larsen discussed already exist.
You can’t assume that everything in heaven or eternity is just like earth. To Brigham, God is just a great big powerful man in the sky with the same abilities and goals that men have, only carried to a super level. He builds kingdoms and adds to his glory by acquiring more wives and ruling over his posterity with an iron fist. This may not be true at all.
Gender may not be what we think it is. Who says that a god family consists of one male and one or more females, and that spirits are procreated the same way we conceive babies? Adam was first made in the image of God: male AND female and told to multiply. How does that happen? If he (they) were in the image of God, then God is also both male AND female. If true, we can’t make any assumptions about “eternal procreation”.
It doesn’t say “1/3 of the hosts of heaven”. It says “a 3rd part”. So, these numbers could be all off.
Don’t rule out “eternal lives”. Speaking of numbers being off, you could make a good case for MMP (multiple mortal probations) using the scriptures. This point freaks people out who claim it denies the atonement, but I think it actually affirms the atonement. To be like God, you actually have to BE like God. There is no magic short cut, but we get lots of chances to make the grade. The atonement allows it. But, MMP could cut down on the billions of people you are talking about. It’s all just us – over and over again.
Not all of God’s judgments are given to man. (D&C 29) So, there is a lot more that we don’t know. For example, perhaps there is a way to come back from outer darkness. We don’t know anything about the two lower sections of the celestial kingdom. Maybe Dallin H. Oaks can explain them to us, but chances are he doesn’t have a clue.
The descriptions of hell and outer darkness are from God’s celestial perspective, not ours. This earth we live in is hell, and probably is, looking from God’s perspective. Samuel the Lamanite describes earthly mortality, outside of God’s Presence as “death”, and inside God’s Presence as “life”.
“Families are forever”. There are many more types of relationships in heaven besides the nuclear family. I can’t remember what John Larsen called it. “Patriarchal something”. I’d call it a multi-level Ponzi scheme. “… All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, …” (D&C 132:7) Just this covers a lot of ground, and according to this section, these various types of relationships between people be sealed in order to endure through eternity. There is a lot more going on up there that the church isn’t telling people about. Why not? Even if they knew, which they don’t, doing so wouldn’t fit their goals of controlling people and keeping them in the dark. (See Satan’s plan, above.)
God communicating with everybody at the same time. How about prayer? Billions of people talking to God at the same time, and he hears them all. This is not a unique Mormon concept. God speaking from heaven to crowds of people on the earth as in the Book of Mormon. It could happen. In heaven, people communicate telepathically. Communication is instantaneous across vast distances with the speed of thought. Travel is instantaneous. The speed of light doesn’t apply there.
Celestial “body parts”. I have often asked myself this question, and I don’t know, but I have a couple of ideas: (1) The body is formed in the image of the spirit, which serves as the blueprint for the body. (2) When angels appear to men, they have to look like men so they are relatable to men.
2 thoughts on “Response to John Dehlin and John Larsen on the Mormon “Plan of Salvation””
Another fantastic analysis and interpretation, John. I had a hard time getting through the video, but I did watch it all. Mormon Stories has become so critical and pugnacious, it’s a bit off-putting to me. Anyhow, your explanations are reasonable and helpful. Much like Adam-God, I have an innate feeling of truth towards the Plan of Salvation. Despite its problems, I have faith and believe.
PS. I don’t understand why people assume reproduction will be absolutely identical to reproduction on earth? Was this taught by the Prophets (fertilization, 9 months gestation, etc)? Maybe it’s like the Big Bang…. Exalted Father/Mother, male/female, whichever divinities come together and suddenly– all at once–everything rapidly expands.
Thanks. I owe a lot to you and Rob Lauer for helping me see things outside the box.