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Speculations on Condescension of God and the Fall


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I just noticed a line from @JLHPROF  's siggy that really fits in this thread

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Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. - Joseph Smith

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Well for me I would say that it makes it more logical to make human empathy and love the center of the gospel,  rather than a bloody sacrifice that I don't think we understand very well.  In the past the world was very imbued with the idea of "crime and punishment"- that if a crime was done that someone somehow had to "pay for it".  I think that works in a small community where an actual damage has been done- you kill my cow, you either pay for it one way or another.   

If children misbehaved they expected to get spanked, or physically punished.  If you do the crime, you do the time.  Somehow I guess a certain amount of pain is supposed to "make it even" even if the person punished is not the person who did the crime.

Interesting that you talked this through. During my parenting, I started off spanking my children but moved away from that by choice.  This is all related, if you can bear with me:

There seems to be, and I mean historically and in my own personal observation, a strong relationship between a level of violent responses to threatening behavior and our sense of safety. When we feel safer, we tend to respond less violently. Thus, when we feel safer, we are able to respond in a more moral and compassionate manner. I can see how, for hunter-gathering clans, a threatening tribe may be perceived as a constant plague, and they might be more prone to annihilate that enemy. Nowadays, on a day-to-day basis in countries like the USA and the UK, a roving violent gang would be sought out by law enforcement, taken into custody, and given due process where they would possibly be incarcerated. 

Killing on the spot is not deemed moral or necessary. However, I can understand how it would have seemed necessary in other times and circumstances.

I think it is underappreciated that the ability to be moral now is largely contingent of technological and social advancement coordinating together in our communal development.

Some animals eat their young. Parents spanking children is much better progress than cannibalism😬 And parents not spanking but finding other mindful approaches to caring for their children is even better progress.

13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

And so we developed the custom of killing an animal to pay for our sins.   I realize that is a very simple way of putting it but I think it shows how mysterious a concept that is.

So Christ had to die to balance justice with mercy.   I have never quite gotten how that is supposed to work.

But to me, the idea that God wanting to teach us love by using his infinite wisdom, love and infinite empathy does make sense.

This is an interesting dichotomy, and I relate to the first implied question: how does Christ's sacrifice "pay?" Is there a sentient scale of justice beyond God that demands payment? I lean toward this being more effective symbologically, with a figure representing the cost of safety, the safety which makes the more moral and compassionate responses possible. That cost is paid by us collectively but also by individuals like soldiers, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, prison guards, teachers, and parents, who are on the front lines at the ready, prepared for absorbing violence and suffering.  

Otherwise, we get to develop more and make compassion the first response, because we are safe. And as a consequence, that development can make the jobs less heartwrending for those on the front lines.

13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

So often, we go to our savior in times of grief and strife just for comfort, because we believe that he knows exactly what it feels like to have whatever wrong that has been done to us, because he has undergone it all.

The general notion that we are all part of the "circle of life" of course is a popular one even in our secular society today.  Lately the theme of "social justice" has been perhaps stronger than ever before in history, perhaps partially lined to ideas produced by the photos of the earth from the moon, and the ecology movement that we are "all one" together on this ship called earth and had better learn how to get along better.  The idea that we are "all one" in the circle of human experience also I think toward the idea that "what goes around comes around".

More than being able to see the earth from space, or being able to understand the fragility of our shared ecosystem, we've also expanded our ability to engage with human beings everywhere. When I started this reply I was waiting to teach a student English. He's five years old and he lives in China! I taught him and about five more students after him today, from my office in the UK. At my school, where I'm taking classes, there are students from all over the world. Many of the international students bond over their shared experience of living abroad and being new to this country. Upstairs, my 13-year-old is playing on his computer where he often plays with or against players all over the world. Some in these games develop bonds and lasting friendships. 

Aside from those direct connections, we're also able to see news in real time, photography and video of life experiences in places we'll never be and information at a volume exponentially higher than ever before in human history. 

Nowadays, if there is a problem that ails you, whatever it is, if you look enough, you are likely to find others who also experience it, hear their stories, and tell yours. We can find others who "get" us. We can even create ritualisations of these bonds. I wouldn't be surprised if internet use mimics a religious ritual with some pattern that includes gathering, conflict generation, "singing" the common agreement, and resolution. Modern life does provide ways where people seem to be doing what they've hitherto done with religion and God. They're connecting outside themselves, acknowledging the implicit value of external entities, and assigning personalised values to them as well with deliberate relationships.

Like Anne of Green Gables said to Marilla, sometimes she'll go outside to the open sky and "just feel a prayer." I think that human beings are doing a whole lot of "praying," in many forms, and such connection and awareness anywhere is something to be appreciated.

So that would mean, atleast for me, that a more intimate God is better engaged with us. I see that the Father having a Father develops a potential for this intimacy. On the other hand, Joseph Smith also spoke of the coeternality with God. This, in my opinion, solves the infinite-nesting paradox and also establishes enormous potential for that more intimate engagement with the Divine.

13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

The idea that perhaps "Adam" was not a single human being but a ROLE that many in humanity have played at various times in history, reminds me of the idea that Christ was the "second Adam" which is quite scriptural, found in 1 Cor 15 with a number of other "circular" references commonly understood in the church.

And so you ask "Do you think that Adam-God adds more to this concept of divine engagement of God with Man and Man with Man?"

I think that, thinking symbolically, it kind of puts this whole circle together in a neat little story about where we came from and where we are going.  I think the BELIEF is useful in our lives to give us a sense of purpose in our lives, and the idea that we all have our place and are all connected.

And what is ironic is that I think that we could use this idea to tap into and help others understand the strength of our religious position in a secular society.

But notice that word "could".

It would take a lot to make it happen. 

 

Neat circles are comforting. In my experience, they are definitely a part of that sense of personal safety. This can be quite good when this safety allows us to move and experience in growing paths. I remember a wedding when the officiant looked at the nervous groom and reassured that it was okay to be nervous: he said, "If you're not nervous, you're not paying attention." There is insight in that. Paradoxically then, we need a measure of safety and also discomfort to grow, because we need knowledge to grow, and knowledge makes us uncomfortable. I'd say that the knowledge that makes us uncomfortable is sometimes the thing we need to know.

So I like circles, but I think they need to be dimensional and adaptable. They must be if we are to increase in light and knowledge. 

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On 11/22/2019 at 12:24 PM, mfbukowski said:

Good points, but of course we still have the question of who is the "I" - the speaker, the narrator is, and then there is the question of titles- like "The Second Adam" etc.  And who was the FIRST "Adam"? ;)   "The First Man"?  To me it pretty much just means "human".

Could go back a ways....  ;)

 

Adama in Hebrew means from the earth or land. So Adam being created from the dust is a word play lost in the English translations. I believe the word may have origins in the Sumerian, but I have not personally made that connection yet other than in the word isa/ish. Being the first "man" I do not really take as the first "human" in the sense of the first homo sapien. I believe he was the first God spoke to as a "man." He was the first human of the law and/or covenant. In other words the name has legal ramifications. Yeshua was the second man of the law or covenant in Paul's analogy, although Abraham, Noah, etc came before. Abraham wasn't the father of all at the time.

In other words my interpretation leaves room for Adam not being the first homo sapien - a "blasphemous" concept... He was the first man to introduce the covenant of God to homo sapiens, and in that way is the spiritual father of all - a "job" Yeshua fulfilled later as the second Adam.

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On 11/24/2019 at 6:32 AM, Meadowchik said:

Interesting that you talked this through. During my parenting, I started off spanking my children but moved away from that by choice.  This is all related, if you can bear with me:

There seems to be, and I mean historically and in my own personal observation, a strong relationship between a level of violent responses to threatening behavior and our sense of safety. When we feel safer, we tend to respond less violently. Thus, when we feel safer, we are able to respond in a more moral and compassionate manner. I can see how, for hunter-gathering clans, a threatening tribe may be perceived as a constant plague, and they might be more prone to annihilate that enemy. Nowadays, on a day-to-day basis in countries like the USA and the UK, a roving violent gang would be sought out by law enforcement, taken into custody, and given due process where they would possibly be incarcerated. 

Killing on the spot is not deemed moral or necessary. However, I can understand how it would have seemed necessary in other times and circumstances.

I think it is underappreciated that the ability to be moral now is largely contingent of technological and social advancement coordinating together in our communal development.

Some animals eat their young. Parents spanking children is much better progress than cannibalism😬 And parents not spanking but finding other mindful approaches to caring for their children is even better progress.

 

 

This is an interesting dichotomy, and I relate to the first implied question: how does Christ's sacrifice "pay?" Is there a sentient scale of justice beyond God that demands payment? I lean toward this being more effective symbologically, with a figure representing the cost of safety, the safety which makes the more moral and compassionate responses possible. That cost is paid by us collectively but also by individuals like soldiers, law enforcement, doctors, nurses, prison guards, teachers, and parents, who are on the front lines at the ready, prepared for absorbing violence and suffering.  

Otherwise, we get to develop more and make compassion the first response, because we are safe. And as a consequence, that development can make the jobs less heartwrending for those on the front lines.

More than being able to see the earth from space, or being able to understand the fragility of our shared ecosystem, we've also expanded our ability to engage with human beings everywhere. When I started this reply I was waiting to teach a student English. He's five years old and he lives in China! I taught him and about five more students after him today, from my office in the UK. At my school, where I'm taking classes, there are students from all over the world. Many of the international students bond over their shared experience of living abroad and being new to this country. Upstairs, my 13-year-old is playing on his computer where he often plays with or against players all over the world. Some in these games develop bonds and lasting friendships. 

Aside from those direct connections, we're also able to see news in real time, photography and video of life experiences in places we'll never be and information at a volume exponentially higher than ever before in human history. 

Nowadays, if there is a problem that ails you, whatever it is, if you look enough, you are likely to find others who also experience it, hear their stories, and tell yours. We can find others who "get" us. We can even create ritualisations of these bonds. I wouldn't be surprised if internet use mimics a religious ritual with some pattern that includes gathering, conflict generation, "singing" the common agreement, and resolution. Modern life does provide ways where people seem to be doing what they've hitherto done with religion and God. They're connecting outside themselves, acknowledging the implicit value of external entities, and assigning personalised values to them as well with deliberate relationships.

Like Anne of Green Gables said to Marilla, sometimes she'll go outside to the open sky and "just feel a prayer." I think that human beings are doing a whole lot of "praying," in many forms, and such connection and awareness anywhere is something to be appreciated.

So that would mean, atleast for me, that a more intimate God is better engaged with us. I see that the Father having a Father develops a potential for this intimacy. On the other hand, Joseph Smith also spoke of the coeternality with God. This, in my opinion, solves the infinite-nesting paradox and also establishes enormous potential for that more intimate engagement with the Divine.

 

Neat circles are comforting. In my experience, they are definitely a part of that sense of personal safety. This can be quite good when this safety allows us to move and experience in growing paths. I remember a wedding when the officiant looked at the nervous groom and reassured that it was okay to be nervous: he said, "If you're not nervous, you're not paying attention." There is insight in that. Paradoxically then, we need a measure of safety and also discomfort to grow, because we need knowledge to grow, and knowledge makes us uncomfortable. I'd say that the knowledge that makes us uncomfortable is sometimes the thing we need to know.

So I like circles, but I think they need to be dimensional and adaptable. They must be if we are to increase in light and knowledge. 

The notion of safety is hugely important. Even looking at the story from a strictly secular point of view, it might be argued that safety is the way that the Commandments and rules evolved and morality itself, for that matter. Otherwise who knows.?

Be good to your neighbor and he will be good to you. And maybe he will help you when somebody else threatens.

Don't covet your neighbor's spouse or your neighbor might come after you.

Honor your parents and they will spank you less

Take one day a week just to contemplate the importance of these rules, and how they make you happier.

Don't have sex with everyone you see or you could get a disease and also disrupt societal order.

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 11/28/2019 at 7:46 AM, RevTestament said:

Adama in Hebrew means from the earth or land. So Adam being created from the dust is a word play lost in the English translations. I believe the word may have origins in the Sumerian, but I have not personally made that connection yet other than in the word isa/ish. Being the first "man" I do not really take as the first "human" in the sense of the first homo sapien. I believe he was the first God spoke to as a "man." He was the first human of the law and/or covenant. In other words the name has legal ramifications. Yeshua was the second man of the law or covenant in Paul's analogy, although Abraham, Noah, etc came before. Abraham wasn't the father of all at the time.

In other words my interpretation leaves room for Adam not being the first homo sapien - a "blasphemous" concept... He was the first man to introduce the covenant of God to homo sapiens, and in that way is the spiritual father of all - a "job" Yeshua fulfilled later as the second Adam.

I think that this is a good way of looking at it but of course only one way of looking at it. It could be that Adam was the first and therefore father,  of what we now call The Covenant people, as Christ was the father of salvation.

Since we can never know these things in a way that can be communicated since knowing them relies upon private testimony, I think we must be willing to accept that others may have quite different views which are no less valid from their perspective.

The choice is to thump on the table and keep repeating "No! I am right and you are wrong!", which is essentially what we have been doing for two thousand years, or recognize their positions as one of many that could be "valid".

I believe that since this is the situation we are in we can also look at the idea of notion of Adam as a person, as opposed to being an allegory, being completely allegorical as also a valid position.

Which way you choose makes little difference in the role Adam in the way we think and believe about our spiritual situation, I think. Either way,  as a allegory about Humanity, or as an individual person, Adam fell, and the ability we have to distinguish between Good and Evil and its role in choosing our own path is unchanged.

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On 11/22/2019 at 6:05 PM, mfbukowski said:

Several times now I have reminded you that we do not believe in prophetic infallibility.  Discussing an arcane topic like the Name of God doesn't "mislead" anyone.  It appears you do not apply questions already answered to new instances of the same observation.  Perhaps you could remember that we do not believe in prophetic infallibility so you could stop asking questions about it?   Incidentally it seems that whenever I answer you, I never get a response. Responding would be helpful in letting me know if the answer was satisfactory or not.

Thanks.

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On 11/22/2019 at 6:18 PM, InCognitus said:

People can be "misled" by anyone and anything based on their own interpretations on what was said.

Do you believe then that people who heard what Brigham Young spoke at the General Conference
didn't really understand what he was saying and tried to re-interpret it?  And would this mean that
Spencer was in error for calling Adam-God a false doctrine?

Thanks,
Jim

 

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4 hours ago, theplains said:

Do you believe then that people who heard what Brigham Young spoke at the General Conference
didn't really understand what he was saying and tried to re-interpret it?  And would this mean that
Spencer was in error for calling Adam-God a false doctrine?

Thanks,
Jim

 

I believe that most (or perhaps all?) of people at the time of Brigham Young didn't understand his meaning.  And it's even worse today since we don't have the full context of his life and teachings.  If you read all of the sermons of Brigham Young as they have come down to us, you'll find explicit distinctions in his teachings between Elohim (God the Father) and Michael (Adam), even in the same talks where he taught the so called Adam-God "theory". So it's hard to tell exactly what Brigham Young intended, and given that we don't have his full explanation it is not something the church has ever adopted as its doctrine.  I think that's basically why President Kimball said to leave it alone. 

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17 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

I believe that most (or perhaps all?) of people at the time of Brigham Young didn't understand his meaning.  And it's even worse today since we don't have the full context of his life and teachings.  If you read all of the sermons of Brigham Young as they have come down to us, you'll find explicit distinctions in his teachings between Elohim (God the Father) and Michael (Adam), even in the same talks where he taught the so called Adam-God "theory". So it's hard to tell exactly what Brigham Young intended, and given that we don't have his full explanation it is not something the church has ever adopted as its doctrine.  I think that's basically why President Kimball said to leave it alone. 

Not to mention all the symbolic interpretations possible. Christ is said to be the "second Adam". If taken literally, what could that possibly mean? How many Adam's were there??

That of course makes it clear I think that one does not take any of that literally.

Our core Doctrine is that we come to earth once,and then there is the judgment. Clearly we do not believe in reincarnation, so some of these meanings must be symbolic. It's fairly impossible to take them literally.

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On 11/29/2019 at 1:57 PM, mfbukowski said:

I think that this is a good way of looking at it but of course only one way of looking at it. It could be that Adam was the first and therefore father,  of what we now call The Covenant people, as Christ was the father of salvation.

Since we can never know these things in a way that can be communicated since knowing them relies upon private testimony, I think we must be willing to accept that others may have quite different views which are no less valid from their perspective.

The choice is to thump on the table and keep repeating "No! I am right and you are wrong!", which is essentially what we have been doing for two thousand years, or recognize their positions as one of many that could be "valid".

I believe that since this is the situation we are in we can also look at the idea of notion of Adam as a person, as opposed to being an allegory, being completely allegorical as also a valid position.

Which way you choose makes little difference in the role Adam in the way we think and believe about our spiritual situation, I think. Either way,  as a allegory about Humanity, or as an individual person, Adam fell, and the ability we have to distinguish between Good and Evil and its role in choosing our own path is unchanged.

3 Nephi  Chapters 11 and 12 seem to provide a scaffolding that allows the attachment of just about any belief to the "fundamental principles" taught therein, just as long as we do not "dispute (11:28-30)" over the (relatively few) points of doctrine as He taught them.

This is consistent with Joseph Smith’s saying, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it…” This part of the quote is the gospel as defined by the Lord in 3 Nephi 27:13.

Joseph Smith follows with a reference to doctrine, “But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth,” which is covered in 3 Nephi as mentioned above.

So yes, I think some/many things make little difference, and things such as a few fundamentals as delineated by the Lord do.

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5 hours ago, CV75 said:

3 Nephi  Chapters 11 and 12 seem to provide a scaffolding that allows the attachment of just about any belief to the "fundamental principles" taught therein, just as long as we do not "dispute (11:28-30)" over the (relatively few) points of doctrine as He taught them.

This is consistent with Joseph Smith’s saying, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it…” This part of the quote is the gospel as defined by the Lord in 3 Nephi 27:13.

Joseph Smith follows with a reference to doctrine, “But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth,” which is covered in 3 Nephi as mentioned above.

So yes, I think some/many things make little difference, and things such as a few fundamentals as delineated by the Lord do.

3rd Nephi 27

Quote

""13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
            14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
            15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
            16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.""

THIS is the gospel, that He was lifted up, to draw all unto him, to be judged for their works. And why would he draw people unto him?

For the solace he can provide in his promise, and the grace he provides in its fulfillment. We know that after all we can do his grace makes up the difference. And that is what brings the solace.

Edited by mfbukowski
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39 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

3rd Nephi 27

""13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
            14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
            15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
            16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.""

THIS is the gospel, that He was lifted up, to draw all unto him, to be judged for their works. And why would he draw people unto him?

For the solace he can provide in his promise, and the grace he provides in its fulfillment. We know that after all we can do his grace makes up the difference. And that is what brings the solace.

Yes, which hearkens back to 3 Nephi 11: 10-17.

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3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel and the God of the whole earth and have been slain for the sins of the world.

…Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

3 Nephi 11:15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth and thrust their hands into his side and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet. And this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands and did know of a surety and did bear record that it was he—of whom it was written by the prophets—that should come.

3 Nephi 11:16 And it came to pass that when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:

3 Nephi 11:17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus and did worship him.

 

 

3 hours ago, CV75 said:

Yes, which hearkens back to 3 Nephi 11: 10-17.

 Do we see the connection with Hebrews 10?

Quote

 

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

 

They both happen daily.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Do we see the connection with Hebrews 10?

They both happen daily.

Yes, and so I think daily or once or eternally then becomes a matter of starting points. All things are spiritual, and spiritual before getting a temporal application, so conceptually God saved His children before He actually did so in the flesh, as our scriptures teach.

I misspoke when I used the word “scaffolding” (which is temporary). I meant “framework” (which is permanent). From a latter-day scripture perspective, the gospel as defined in 3 Nephi (chapters 11 and 27) seems to be the framework for the actions and teachings in various estates and mortal dispensations, attended by various personal, individual beliefs about what that exactly means

So I think whether one at the moment believes that framework to be literal or symbolic; a simplified three-character story to describe the indeterminable acts of a single Character; a salvation carried out by dual/multiple personas of the same Character; or the Character’s personal assurance and testament of what He did with His life, makes little difference since 1) He will judge us only after we have permanently chosen and set our course with real intent (for better or worse); 2) charity is blind to belief and that is what really covers us!; and 3) He will lead the charitable and the pure in heart or intent to “see” as well as “believe” (Matthew 5:8).

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53 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Yes, and so I think daily or once or eternally then becomes a matter of starting points. All things are spiritual, and spiritual before getting a temporal application, so conceptually God saved His children before He actually did so in the flesh, as our scriptures teach.

I misspoke when I used the word “scaffolding” (which is temporary). I meant “framework” (which is permanent). From a latter-day scripture perspective, the gospel as defined in 3 Nephi (chapters 11 and 27) seems to be the framework for the actions and teachings in various estates and mortal dispensations, attended by various personal, individual beliefs about what that exactly means

So I think whether one at the moment believes that framework to be literal or symbolic; a simplified three-character story to describe the indeterminable acts of a single Character; a salvation carried out by dual/multiple personas of the same Character; or the Character’s personal assurance and testament of what He did with His life, makes little difference since 1) He will judge us only after we have permanently chosen and set our course with real intent (for better or worse); 2) charity is blind to belief and that is what really covers us!; and 3) He will lead the charitable and the pure in heart or intent to “see” as well as “believe” (Matthew 5:8).

Well given the "epistemological problems" in knowing the character of God, if He/She is benevolent, I agree that "framework" is a good word to use and with that, the presumption of charity I think is a good one.

On the other alternative, if He/She is not benevolent we are all in a mess anyway. ;)

But my invisible Friend with whom I have regular conversations is clearly the Source of Love itself, so I am not too worried.  ;)

And that Friend whom I know and love, just happens to be about as close to the image that the Church of Jesus Christ makes of our Father, that I am most definitely not even a little bit worried about His and Her level of charity.  :)

I think if we are earnestly doing our very  best to get into the in crowd, we will end up just fine.

 

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