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I’m finishing up War And Peace this week, and first off want to recommend this book. It’s a long read (started reading it last January) but it’s a work that makes you think deeply about the human condition both individually and collectively, which goes to my OP discussion. As I’m reading the second epilogue, Tolstoy seems to indicate that as human beings our free will is actually more limited then we’d like to believe, as we are subject to political, cultural, and other currents that powerfully influence our behavior. This got me thinking about the LDS concept of agency. Even though I think Tolstoy has some good points about how we are influenced by our environment, I think Tolstoy underestimates how much the acquisition of knowledge can cause us to go against what some would consider fate or destiny and act more freely for ourselves. This causes me to think part of the blessings of Grace is that we are more aware of our sins and shortcomings and can choose to be changed.
So what do you all think? Are there limits to our free will? If so why? If not why not?
The church often teaches about the 3 degrees of glory. Within the highest glory, the Celestial Kingdom, there are also three subdivisions. It is taught that to achieve the highest level in the highest degree one must enter into celestial marriage. I further recall that the lowest level of the Celestial Kingdom will be home to angels and those who will be servants, ie those who did not enter the covenant of celestial marriage. I cannot seem to recall who resides in the middle degree of the Celestial Kingdom. There seems to be very little taught about the 3 degrees within the Celestial Kingdom but I'd love to hear ideas or see references about it.
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.
From an article by common consent I read this...
From D&C 76: 92 96 And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.
Also, from another thread where we have been discussing the teaching the Jackson County, Missouri (Independence) was the location of the Garden of Eden, it has been argued by some that despite a number of different prophets/apostles teaching that in various talks, conference, books, and Ensign articles, that because we don't have anything directly from Joseph (Even though Brigham cites Joseph) that it is an unreliable teaching. But this common consent article raises the same point about the 3 degrees within the Celestial Kingdom.
The church seems to hang on to the concept of three degrees within the Celestial Kingdom but there really isn't much known or taught about it, beyond the highest level. What do we know about the bottom 2 levels of the Celestial Kingdom?
By Five Solas
Another thread took an interesting twist on the oft-debated subject of “free agency.” Rather than risk thread derailment, I thought the topic merited its own. So here we go--
The quote (I’m sure Kenngo1969 won’t mind) was intended to refute the free part of free agency. He wrote: It's not "free": the Best Blood That Ever Lived was spilled for it.
For it. It being agency. Jesus spilled his blood & died for agency, what LDS (back when I was a kid) used to call "free agency."
I never heard this before and I admitted as much. Another poster jumped in and provided a number of passages from Joseph Smith’s Book of Abraham and Book of Moses to make the case that the LDS Jesus certainly did die for agency. He finished his post by excoriating me for what he takes to be my willful ignorance. Apparently every good LDS already knows this. You can find it here.
But is this really commonly understood by LDS - that their Jesus died for agency? What do you think? Did he die for something else? Or for a bunch of things? To tell the truth, it always seemed a little fuzzy, back when I was LDS.
By Five Solas
Okay, I'm not a huge fan of watching videos - but having gone through the YSA program back in the day, this caught my eye & I yielded to temptation (appreciation to Valentinus for his thread containing the link). Kind of funny, kind of sad, and to tell the truth, I was multi-tasking through some of it. But at about 26:16, it caught my attention: The speaker was talking about overlapping geographic jurisdictions between LDS stakes associated with different colleges/universities. These overlapping jurisdictions "increase choices for young single adults"--leading to "ward shopping" and other "conflicts."
His recommendation to address the LDS Church's declining retention of the Millennial generation is to eliminate ambiguity that might result in choice of ward. Choice is a bad thing--and where it exists it should be taken away.
Isn't that a bit ironic for a church that talks so much about "agency" (by which they mean free will)?
This morning I came across a notion expressed by an LDS member, positing that the poor have a better chance at learning wisdom and love because of their economic and social position.
I would like to respond to that idea here.
As much as the idea of the noble, happy poor is appealing to me and as much as I hope for the happiness of the vast majority of the world's population living in relative poverty, I think the idea that having no social or material capital helps us misses the fundamentals.
On the contrary, it is agency that opportunes us to choose wisdom and love, and in many cases poverty has a strong inverse relationship with agency.
Think about the majority of impoverished globally, who wash their own clothes by hand: what happens to the mother who can use a machine? She has more time, her family has more time. Maybe she can read and then change her world with what she reads.
Before she has a machine she has less choice and after she has a washing machine she has more choices. She now has to trade off less of material advantages and necessities if she chooses to spend time reading, to herself or anyone else.
Thus material advantages allow a person the chance to make more decisions, to exercise power in more ways, for good or bad. And the fruitful exercise of agency produced more opportunities for fruit-bearing agency.
In other words, without agency, the righteous exercise of power--or in other words, virtue--is impossible.
I believe that Christ expects us to love "the least" because, in part, He wants all of us to experience opportunities of power and thus develop virtuous personal qualities grown from righteous exercise of power, virtues by virtue of virtue.