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Posts posted by Webster

  1. CV75:  Wow.  Very nicely said.

    Five Solas:  My intent in participating in this discuss was to 1) answer your poll, and 2) leave a comment regarding my view of agency and the atonement.

    I don't care to be drawn into a bigger discussion.  I've participated in forums in the past and I find that they're a poor form of communication.  Real-time verbal communication is always better.  If you'd like to communicate further, leave me a message and I'll get back to you with a phone number and we can set up a real conversation; otherwise, CV75 said things well enough that I'll just say Amen.

  2. 1 hour ago, Five Solas said:

    First, . . . many millions die before the LDS "Age of Accountability" and therefore have no need of repentance/baptism/atonement (because they "cannot sin" as numerous LDS authorities have stated over the years).  No sin.  Nothing to "atone" for.  Full stop. 

    Second, your words "eternal life or death" simply serve to generate confusion among LDS. . . .

    First, those who are unaccountable and without sin still need the atonement.  The atonement covers more than personal sin.  Under the law of the gospel, little children are deemed innocent and unaccountable—it's an unconditional benefit of the Savior's atonement and mercy.  Full stop.

    Second, the idea of eternal life or eternal death comes from the Book of Mormon.  They're not my words.  It was not my intent to create such animosity.

  3. "The Atonement makes our agency meaningful."

    That's how I would say it if I had to come up with a short statement that relates the Atonement to our agency.

    I would say that the Atonement covers our sins (which happen because of our agency), and makes redemption, salvation, and exaltation possible.  I don't think the Atonement made agency possible in the sense that it created it or that we have it only because of the Atonement.

    Without the Atonement, it wouldn't matter what we did---there would only be one outcome:  Death.  Therefore, agency without the Atonement produces only one outcome which is meaningless.

    But with the Atonement, our agency is meaningful because it makes it possible for us to choose either life or death.  " . . . ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life." (2 Nephi 10:23)  To me, agency is being free to act for yourself---we are agents unto ourselves.  Being able to make the ultimate choice between eternal life or death is what we have when we couple our agency with the Savior's Atonement and God's plan of redemption.  The Atonement allows us to use our agency (through repentance, etc.) to make the ultimate choice between life or death, therefore the Atonement makes our agency extremely meaningful.

  4. I believe the Lord knew the meaning of the word agency, and so did his listeners, and that neither He, nor they, ever redefined the word during the early history of our church (say, the lifetime of Joseph Smith). The idea of agency being equated with free will or the freedom to choose comes from the philosophical term, "free agency," which is not what the Lord used in the revelations (although He could have). The term, "free agency," and it's specialized definition, gradually entered the vocabulary of the church, principally during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The even newer idea that "agency" really only has to do with choices or actions that are righteousness is yet another step away from it's real, historical definition.

    Satan may have been lying. I don't know. Either way, it doesn't change the definition of the word agency.

    I've read that talk by Elder Hales before. It's very much like many other talks on agency. I don't see your definition of agency in it, in fact, there are several examples of people using "agency" to make wrong choices. That talk for the most part uses the traditional, Mormon idea that agency is the freedom to choose (or, lately, the freedom to act) and the idea that wrong choices limit our ability to make right choices.

    Elder Bednar and Elder Christofferson have had several talks lately where Agency is defined more in terms of Acting, not Choosing, showing that they're trying to work the actual definition of agency in there, but the main idea still seems to follow the traditional, Mormon definition (the one that's not in the dictionary). Here are three examples from Elder Bednar:

    And Nothing Shall Offend Them, Ensign, Nov. 2006, Seek Learning by Faith, Ensign, Sept. 2007, Watching With All Perseverance, May 2010. (All three seem similar)

    I also found Elder Hales recent talk on agency amusing (Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life, April, 2011 Conference). He was surprised that his non-member friend didn't understand the meaning of the word "agency", but when he looked in the dictionary, he couldn't find the Mormon definition (surprise!) He then seemingly brushes that aside and goes on with his talk. He also uses some language that gets agency more in line with the dictionary, so I applaud him for that.

    Anyway, he did offer a definition of agency which is fairly close to what I've said about agency being the foundation of our accountability: "Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions." He simply stated the principal. I actually tied the concept of agency (using the scriptural definition that men are "agents unto themselves") to show how it causes us (as our own agents) to be legally responsible for the actions that we do (like the principal is accountable for the actions of his agent).

  5. Ok, fair enough. Let's take Moses 4:1. What do you think of Satan's statement that he would save everyone that not one soul would be lost? Do you think he was telling the truth or telling a lie?

    Personally I think he was telling a lie because the Lord makes the point here to Moses that he was the same being then as he is now- namely, a liar.

    I think Lucifer claimed that if he were chosen he would redeem all mankind that one soul would not be lost. Of course, any 'salvation' he offered would have been far less than the salvation and exaltation which is available under God's plan with Jesus as the Redeemer.

    Did Lucifer believe he could do it? Maybe. Do I think he could have done it? Probably not. Definitely not the way we think of salvation. Definitely could not have offered exaltation and Eternal Life. He may have been able to do it if he were talking about some lower form of salvation, like all being saved in a lower kindom of glory--for instance. All could have been 'saved' in the Telestial Kingdom, and his claim would have been correct (since it's a kingdom of glory and none were 'lost' to outer darkness).

    Lucifer may have known that what he was proposing was a lie, or he may have believed that his idea could work (even though it couldn't). Either way, what he was saying was untrue, but I don't know his intent. I find it interesting that whatever he proposed, it was plausible enough to convince a third of the host of heaven to follow him.

    Satan has said true things from time to time, so I wouldn't go so far as to say that everything he's ever said is a lie. You can be a murderer and not kill everyone you meet (a murderer may even save someone's life). Similarly, you can be a liar, but that does not guarantee that everything you utter is a lie.

    (In a funny way he was perfectly correct--one soul would not be lost--they ALL would be!)

  6. This question is not meant to derail, but could someone please tell me where the Lord said this?

    In the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants (section 1), the Lord declared that the revelations were given using the language of his servants:

    D&C 1:24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

    The prophet Nephi similarly testified that, " . . . the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding." (2 Nephi 31:3), and Moroni said that Jesus spoke with him face to face in his own language (Ether 12:39). The revelations were given of the Lord through his servant Joseph Smith and were presumably recorded using terms known to and used by Joseph, or at least using terms that were known to Joseph's contemporaries.

  7. I have a few problems and differences of opinion with what's been said:

    First, Lucifer never said that he would save all mankind. What he said was that not one soul would be lost. He could not grant anyone Eternal Life, so whatever type of 'salvation' he offered would have been something less. My guess is something like the Terrestrial Kingdom--middle ground--not Exalted, not Damned. Probably similar to the conditions that Adam and Eve experienced in Eden.

    I find it hard to compare what Lucifer proposed to do as the redeemer with what Satan is currently trying to do now as the adversary. I don't think he is trying to destroy agency during our mortal existence--I think he is using it against us.

    It's also hard to assume what Lucifer's seeking to destroy agency in the pre-mortal existence really means. Did he seek to destroy agency as a means to insure that no one would be lost, or would his plan of forcing some lesser type of salvation on everyone have the effect of destroying their agency? It's a chicken or egg thing; the statement can be read either way.

    You said that being an "agent" and "agency" have different meanings (I presume you mean in the scriptures). I completely disagree. There's no indication that God redefined the word "agency." He's told us that he speaks to men in their own language so they can understand. I take Him at His word.

    You said that "agency" is used differently to define the quality of one's actions and later talked about agency meaning only acting in righteousness, etc. This is Brother Joseph Fielding McConkie's (fairly new) idea. Again, there's no indication to that effect from the scriptures and the actual words used therein. I understand what you're saying, and I agree with many of the principles you've stated, but I disagree with saying that the concept of agency in the scriptures really means all this other stuff. I also agree in freedom of choice, free will, etc., but I don't thing the word "agency" means that either. It has its own meaning. God did not have to redefine an existing word to get His point across.

    If agency did have some special meaning that only had to do with acting righteously, then D&C 29:36 becomes a problem, since Satan turned a third of the host of heaven away from God because of their agency.

    The actual Book of Mormon text never uses the word "agency," so I find the appeal to Lehi a little strange, and just because some will be "acted upon" by the law at the last day does not necessarily mean that they will have lost their agency. It may be abridged or restricted in certain ways, but they will still be able to, "act for themselves," within their sphere of existence (that sphere may be less than the full agency allowed in the Celestial Kingdom) (see D&C 93:30, etc.).

    I still prefer the dictionary's exact definitions over the loose ones you've offered.

    "It is wholly impossible to remove the consequences of ones actions." Unless you are unaccountable, like little children, and then all bets are off.

    You said, "What we do know is that Satan sought to destroy the agency of man. So, we know that it is possible to do so." Satan also sought to overthrow God, so I assume you will agree that overthrowing God is possible too? This is really just poor logic.

    You said, "What must be understood is that Adam and Eve fell . . . because they sinned." (I completely disagree again.) "A sin, according to God is disobedience to his commands." (Correction. Technically, it's a known disobedience, even though the Atonement is broad enough to cover all transgressions, including those that are done ignorantly.) Adam and Eve did not sin by partaking of the fruit any more than little children sin by fighting with each other when they're three years old.

  8. Agency as defined in the dictionary is "the power and freedom of operation/ instrumentality".

    Ok, let's look at agency as "instrumentality" for instance. If mankind were promised some sort of salvation without any conditions, then the agency (i.e., instrumentality) of man would, in fact, be destroyed, because men would not be instrumental in their own salvation--they would have no power (another synonym for agency) over their own salvation--it would be completely out of their control.

    I don't mind using the primary definition of agency (i.e., action, acting, operation, power, instrumentality) to understand the scriptures, but the scriptures themselves seem to indicate that the secondary definition of agency (i.e., where an agent acts in someone's behalf) is actually being used since they consistently define either Adam as an "agent unto himself," or men as "agents unto themselves." The keyword "unto" is always used in our scriptures to denote the agent's principal--five places in a doctrinal context and five places in a secular context. The phrase, "agents unto themselves," implies that we act as our own agents--we legally represent ourselves and act in our own behalf, and therefore, are accountable for our actions, just as a principal is bound by the actions of his agent.

    Agency as defined in the dictionary is "the power and freedom of operation/ instrumentality". A person bound in chains does not exersize this power. A person in prison does not enjoy this power. A person in h*** does not exersize this power.

    Don't confuse agency with freedom. The dictionary and thesaurus don't.

    By the way, I did a bing search, a google search, and a google books search on the phrase, "the power and freedom of operation", and got no results. I was very surprised. Could you please tell me in which dictionary you found that definition?

    The ultimate question is "How did Satan seek to destroy our agency?"

    By taking away our instrumentality in the plan, by seeking to take away the consequences of our actions, by telling us we could still act without being held accountable. All of which was a lie, granted--he just wanted to convince others that he could do it. Apparently the lie was pretty good since he got a third to fall for it (pun intended).

    If we assume that he wanted to really save everyone by removing accountability then why would it be required that he come into the world to save "fallen" man?

    That's really quite easy. Even little, innocent children need a saviour. Without Christ, little children, although innocent, would be damned, and their innocence could do nothing about it. If we have to leave God's presence to gain experience, or whatever, then we're going to need a saviour to make it back. A lack of accountability does not save little children from this fallen world--the Saviour does.

    But, if man had fallen then it was obvious that consequences were already in place.

    There were consequences in Eden--true, but not all consequences come from accountability. I believe Adam and Eve fell while they were still innocent, before they gained the knowledge of good and evil.

  9. Agency has a real definition in the dictionary which we should use. An agent (as defined in the dictionary) is not someone who acts for himself. He legally represents another (the principal), acting in his behalf, and for his benefit, and the actions of the agent are attributed to, and are legally binding upon the principal.

    In the D&C and Moses, it is said that men are "agents unto themselves", thereby defining who our principal is--it is ourselves. The special (and unusual) way in which the word is used in our scriptures is what ties the concept of agency to our being able to act for ourselves--our being able to legally represent ourselves and to be legally bound to the consequences of our actions. The idea of agency in our scriptures is that we can legally represent ourselves and are thereby held accountable for our actions. Agency is the foundation of accountability, the ability to legally enter into binding covenants, and to be bound to consequences.

    I believe that if agency were removed from the plan, Satan could suggest that no one would be lost, since none would be accountable. Justice could not condemn anyone who was unaccountable.

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