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Post-Repentance Theosis


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D&C 132:7:

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Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.

Would it be correct to say that there is an ontological distinction between A) Heavently Father and Jesus Christ, who have never sinned, and B) those who, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were flawed/sinful persons made perfect through the Atonement and thus "entered into their exaltation" and "are gods?"  Is there a difference of kind, rather than degree?  It seems not, given that Romans 8:17 speaks of "children of God" as "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."  And D&C 84:38 states that "he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him."

Could anyone point out treatments of this issue by Latter-day Saint writers?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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16 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Heavently Father and Jesus Christ, who have never sinned

Do we know that God the Father never sinned? If we sinners can become gods is it possible that when he was mortal He had to repent of sins like we do?

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27 minutes ago, smac97 said:

D&C 132:7:

Would it be correct to say that there is an ontological distinction between A) Heavently Father and Jesus Christ, who have never sinned, and B) those who, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were flawed/sinful persons made perfect through the Atonement and thus "entered into their exaltation" and "are gods?"  Is there a difference of kind, rather than degree?  It seems not, given that Romans 8:17 speaks of "children of God" as "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."  And D&C 84:38 states that "he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him."

Could anyone point out treatments of this issue by Latter-day Saint writers?

Thanks,

-Smac

Sounds to me like what you are asking for is some latter day discourse on D&C 84, the oath and covenant of the priesthood.  Perhaps discourses like this one:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/duties-and-blessings-of-the-priesthood-basic-manual-for-priesthood-holders-part-b/priesthood-and-church-government/lesson-1-the-oath-and-covenant-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

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49 minutes ago, JAHS said:

Do we know that God the Father never sinned? If we sinners can become gods is it possible that when he was mortal He had to repent of sins like we do?

Do we know that Jesus Christ never sinned?  (I'll answer for you:  the answer is yes).  Do we know that Jesus said he only did what he saw his Father do?  (Again, the answer is yes).  So why would anyone imagine that God the Father ever sinned?

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

D&C 132:7:

Would it be correct to say that there is an ontological distinction between A) Heavently Father and Jesus Christ, who have never sinned, and B) those who, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were flawed/sinful persons made perfect through the Atonement and thus "entered into their exaltation" and "are gods?"  Is there a difference of kind, rather than degree?  It seems not, given that Romans 8:17 speaks of "children of God" as "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."  And D&C 84:38 states that "he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him."

Could anyone point out treatments of this issue by Latter-day Saint writers?

Thanks,

-Smac

Obtaining joy by passing through sorrow by exercising the powers of faith, hope and charity seems to be the common process for both (A) and (B).

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1 hour ago, strappinglad said:

I have looked at apocryphal writings about the early life of Christ. They seem to indicate that Christ had an " interesting "  youth. Can we agree that Christ ' could ' sin but didn't ? Is getting exasperated a sin? 

For clarification, perhaps we should clarify what we believe sin is.   What do you think sin is?  I believe it is to do something our Father doesn't want us to do, or to not do something he wants us to do, while knowing what he wants us to do or not do.

In fewer words, to act in any way contrary to the will of our Father while knowing what his will is.  To sin is to willfully rebel against him.  To be how our Father doesn't want us to be.

So, with that understood, no, I don't believe Jesus ever committed a sin or ever had any desire to sin.  Instead of being a rebel against our Father I think he always did what God his Father wanted him to do. So that our Father never saw him as a rebel.

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If I'm not mistaken, Blake Ostler rejects the belief (commonly held among Latter-day Saints due to a particular interpretation of the King Follett Sermon and Lorenzo Snow's couplet) that God the Father is Himself the Son of another Deity. Ostler instead maintains that God the Father is a different type of being, ontologically different from us and always endowed with the majesty and power of deity, who elected to take the intelligence around Him and fashion it into beings which could stand beside Him and be capable of what He is capable of. Based on an alternate interpretation of the KFS and John 5:19, Ostler thinks that God the Father obtained his flesh-and-bone body by condescending to Earth and living a perfect mortal life at some unknown point in the history of humanity. Basically, doing everything Jesus did except the public ministry and atoning sacrifice. If this is correct, then there is an inescapable ontological distinction between God the Father and us. As for Christ, I do not know the implications. 

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8 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

If I'm not mistaken, Blake Ostler rejects the belief (commonly held among Latter-day Saints due to a particular interpretation of the King Follett Sermon and Lorenzo Snow's couplet) that God the Father is Himself the Son of another Deity. Ostler instead maintains that God the Father is a different type of being, ontologically different from us and always endowed with the majesty and power of deity, who elected to take the intelligence around Him and fashion it into beings which could stand beside Him and be capable of what He is capable of. Based on an alternate interpretation of the KFS and John 5:19, Ostler thinks that God the Father obtained his flesh-and-bone body by condescending to Earth and living a perfect mortal life at some unknown point in the history of humanity. Basically, doing everything Jesus did except the public ministry and atoning sacrifice. If this is correct, then there is an inescapable ontological distinction between God the Father and us. As for Christ, I do not know the implications. 

I assume you are referencing this:

Quote
The following is from Blake T. Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought, vol. 2: The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006), 444-46, 451-52:
 
It may seem that Joseph is saying that the Father had a father and that there is another “Father above” the Father of Christ. Some have understood Joseph to teach that if the Father had a father, then that father also had a father and so on ad infinitum (28). If so, then his view that there is an “Eternal God of all other gods” seems to be in tension with the view that there was at one time a higher “god.” However, there are at least two ways to understand the statement that the Father of Christ had a father:
 
(X) When the Father condescended from a fulness of his divine state to become mortal, he was born into a world and had a father as a mortal.
 
(Y) Before he was a mortal, the Father was spiritually begotten by another Father above him.
 
It seem to me fairly clear that Joseph Smith had (X) in mind and not (Y). First, immediately after discussing the fact that generation of a son necessarily requires a father, he states: “I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying, Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before? He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before” (29). Thus, Joseph returns to the same explanatory principle that he had in the King Follett discourse. The Son as a mortal does “precisely” what the Father did before him. Both the Father and the Son were fully divine before they emptied themselves of this fulness to become mortal. The Father, like the Son, exercised a power that only a divine being has to lay down his life and take up again after death. Yet in becoming mortal, the Son left his exalted state to become mortal and to be begotten on this earth by the Father. When he refers to a father of God the Father, Joseph Smith seems to be asserting that the Father also let his divine state to become begotten of a father at the time he became mortal. Joseph is supporting (X) by asserting that the Father must have had a father when he became a mortal son.
 
Joseph does not give any information as to who this father of the Father’s earthly body might be. However, if the Father’s generation was like the Son’s, then His earthly mother was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost in a similar way and his generation was also by divine means. That can certainly be true without positing that the father of God the Father’s earthly body was a god above the Father, for there is no such god (30).
 
It is of extreme importance to note that in the George Laub’s journal notes of the Sermon in the Grove, Joseph Smith stated that: “the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take upon himself a body, as the Savior did or as god did” (31). Thus, Joseph Smith taught that already divine persons, including the Son and the Holy Ghost, take upon themselves bodies. Moreover, it is the same logic used in the King Follett discourse. The Holy Ghost will take upon himself a body just as the Son took upon himself as body, and the Son took upon himself a body just as the Father did—and it is clear that both the Son and Holy Ghost are divine before their mortal incarnation. We now see a familiar (or family) pattern: The Son was divine as the God of the Old Testament, yet left his exalted station and took upon himself a mortal body. The Holy Ghost is a divine person who shall leave his exalted station to take upon himself a mortal body. In the Sermon in the Grove, Joseph says that “God” (referring to the Father) also did the same thing. Thus, it seems to be explicitly taught that the Father was divine before he took upon himself a mortal body. We have overlooked Joseph Smith’s explicit statement that it is divine persons who condescend to become mortal, including the Father and eventually the Holy Ghost, because we have relied solely on the Thomas Bullock report of the Sermon in the Grove rather than incorporating George Laub’s journal entry on the sermon as well.
 
In addition, I believe that the reading of these statements which assumes the “Father of God the Father” refers to a more supreme deity, or one who spiritually begets the Father from intelligence to a spirit body, is likely anachronistic (32). Such a reading makes assumptions about spiritual birth and intelligences being begotten into spirit bodies that were absent from Joseph Smith’s views.
 
The fourth and final topic clinches the argument. The Prophet notes that Moses was made a “god” over Aaron and Israel. He then observes: “I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods to be sons of God, and all can cry, ‘Abba Father!’ Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for” (33).
 
Now it becomes clear that the other gods that Joseph Smith refers to in the Sermon in the Grove are not gods “above” the Father, but sons of the Most High God. They are all sons of God the Father. They are all engaged in the same process of leaving behind an immortal state to become mortal, die, and then be resurrected, just as both the Father and the Son have done. Thus, the eternal God of all other gods is the Father. As a conclusion to the Sermon in the Grove, Joseph Smith shouts in praise: “He hath made us kings and priests unto God, and His Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Oh Thou God of gods and King of kings and Lord of lords” (34). Joseph gives praise to the God of all other gods, who is the Father of God (the Son). Thus, Joseph Smith adopts the Old Testament teaching of a Most High God who maintains sovereignty over a council of gods.

Interesting stuff.

Thanks,

-Smac

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24 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

 Based on an alternate interpretation of the KFS and John 5:19, Ostler thinks that God the Father obtained his flesh-and-bone body by condescending to Earth and living a perfect mortal life at some unknown point in the history of humanity. 

Sounds suspiciously adjacent to Brigham's Adam-God teachings.

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12 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I assume you are referencing this:

Interesting stuff.

Thanks,

-Smac

Terribly interesting stuff. 

It seems to me that somewhere down the line there has to be a Figure that is ontologically different from the types of Gods that we might become, a God-Prime if you will. Perhaps it's just my poor mortal understanding of the "one eternal round" speaking, but it seems to me that an infinite regress of Gods is not feasible. Perhaps the buck does stop with our Father as Ostler suggests. 

On the other hand, I've nursed suspicion that any such ontologically-separate, buck-stopping, regress-halting Figure might be identified with the principles of Justice and Mercy which seem to constrain even God the Father per Alma. Samuel Morris Brown explores something related to this in his 2017 Dialogue article entitled "Mormons Probably Aren't Materialists." Beyond that, it's possible that traditional arguments from natural theology (cosmological arguments, ontological arguments, etc.) might indicate the existence of such a Being if they were to succeed. For me, the jury is still out on whether or not traditional arguments from natural theology are successful or not - I know LDS philosophers like David Paulsen, Truman Madsen, Blake Ostler, and Joseph Lawal have historically disagreed with them, but my mind is not yet made up - but if they do succeed, I think they might indicate that such an ontologically separate First-Cause-esque Being exists. I don't accept the identification of a First Cause Being with the biblical God because the biblical God and the God I've encountered seem too different from the First Cause Being which is accessible to natural theology. However, if the First Cause Being exists beyond the Being we call the Father, then it could effect a harmonization of natural theology and Biblical prophecy which only the Latter-day Saints are particularly poised to achieve. 

I should add that I have no intention of worshiping such a First Cause Being if it does, in fact, exist. I see worship as mediated by covenants, and when it comes to those, God the Father is the only Deity with whom I have to do. 

Tarik LaCour is giving a talk on natural theology at this upcoming FairMormon conference and I am excited. I've been hoping that we'd engage with this ponderous school of thought for a while. 

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If I understand the concept of multiple mortal probations correctly (a soul inherits a body, lives and dies, and eventually on the path to exaltation also lives another lifetime on an earth serving as an “Adam” and yet another lifetime on another earth serving as a “Savior” before finally becoming a “Heavenly Father”)—sure, both God the Father and Jesus may have sinned at some point during Their existence; but not while acting in their roles as Savior/Father.

But of course, the Church has sort of pooh-poohed the idea of multiple mortal probations since the turn of the 20th century at least.   Without a notion of multiple mortal probations, all we have is some nebulous concept that God, at some point in His eternal existence, lived as a mortal; in conjunction with not-particularly-strong extrapolations of John 5:19 to the effect that a) Jesus, during His lifetime, had actually seen everything that the Father Himself had done during His own mortality; and b) that Jesus’s statement that He only did what He had seen the Father do (b)(i) was not hyperbolic, and (b)(ii) works in reverse—that not only were all of Jesus’s mortal actions like the Father’s, but that all of the Father’s mortal actions were like Jesus’s.  Beyond that all we really know is that Jesus was sinless; and that it’s bad PR to tell other Christians that not only do we reject the Trinity, but we acknowledge the possibility that a sinless Son is subordinate to a cleansed-but-formerly-sinful Father.  

 

Edited by mgy401
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15 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Sounds suspiciously adjacent to Brigham's Adam-God teachings.

It is. I believe that Ostler believes that Adam-God came from a misunderstanding of these sorts of thoughts on Brigham's part. The backlash to Adam-God may have fueled the rise to dominance of the popular infinite-regress-of-Fathers model. 

I hasten to add that I don't necessarily endorse Ostler's model. I do, however, consider him to be our most formidable mind in all probability, and we ought to consider his arguments seriously. 

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2 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

It seems to me that somewhere down the line there has to be a Figure that is ontologically different from the types of Gods that we might become, a God-Prime if you will.

And yet where and why did God Prime appear?  Both have the same sort of issue, imo, what about the ‘beginning’?  One tries addressing by saying there was no beginning, but repetition eternally backwards and the other saying no beginning, but a First Cause that has always existed. A line of Gods that has always existed or one God that has always existed. Don’t see much difference myself. 
 

Of course very simplified. 
 

Are there other options?

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2 hours ago, Calm said:

And yet where and why did God Prime appear?  Both have the same sort of issue, imo, what about the ‘beginning’?  One tries addressing by saying there was no beginning, but repetition eternally backwards and the other saying no beginning, but a First Cause that has always existed. A line of Gods that has always existed or one God that has always existed. Don’t see much difference myself. 
 

Of course very simplified. 
 

Are there other options?

Honestly I don't know. My thought about God Prime is basically a go-to theory in the event that a cosmological or ontological argument proves successful. Honestly, my discomfort with the idea of an eternal regress is just that - discomfort. The idea of an infinite chain of Gods gives me the heebie-jeebies, as does the idea of something having existed with no beginning, or things just happening without a cause. I can't process it and it feels uncomfortable, but one or more of those must be true, so I must live with the discomfort. 

I will say that Joseph Smith's object lesson with the ring - he cuts the ring in half and says that anything with a beginning must have an end, thus eternity is one eternal round with neither - has never made any sense to me. Not saying it's wrong. But I can't make heads nor tails of it. Eternity is not mine to espy. 

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Just now, OGHoosier said:

I can't process it and it feels uncomfortable, but one or more of those must be true…

Or we just don’t understand time…

But yeah, get the discomfort, though for me I would describe it as more dissatisfaction. It is an unanswered question.  There are too many out there, I decided, to be uncomfortable that they exist, but I like my puzzles complete by the time I have used up all the puzzle pieces I have rather than having to wait to be given more.

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2 minutes ago, Calm said:

Or we just don’t understand time…

Probably this tbh. I read about singularities being points where space and time meld into one and I fail to get it so bad that my head doesn't even hurt. The point just doesn't go over my head, it soars over it like an SR-71. I'm not even in the same galaxy as understanding that and, if I'm honest, I don't have the time or sufficient inclination to get there. So I should probably just accept the great foible of mortality in this case. 

I sympathize with your analogy of the puzzle pieces, I have felt that way many times as well. 

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5 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Do we know that Jesus Christ never sinned?  (I'll answer for you:  the answer is yes).  Do we know that Jesus said he only did what he saw his Father do?  (Again, the answer is yes).  So why would anyone imagine that God the Father ever sinned?

Why would Jesus have seen his Father sin if his Father was already God? Why would anyone imagine that Jesus watched the Father in His mortality?

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2 minutes ago, katherine the great said:

Why would Jesus have seen his Father sin if his Father was already God? Why would anyone imagine that Jesus watched the Father in His mortality?

Why would the Son be sinless, and not the Father?  I think these ideas are linked to Abraham 3:19 and what I just posted in the other topic (here). 

"And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all."  (Abraham 3:19)

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20 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Why would the Son be sinless, and not the Father?  I think these ideas are linked to Abraham 3:19 and what I just posted in the other topic (here). 

"And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all."  (Abraham 3:19)

Being sinless isn’t the same as never having sinned. 

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1 hour ago, katherine the great said:

Why would Jesus have seen his Father sin if his Father was already God? Why would anyone imagine that Jesus watched the Father in His mortality?

Why not if we have existed eternally?  

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12 hours ago, bOObOO said:

For clarification, perhaps we should clarify what we believe sin is.   What do you think sin is?  I believe it is to do something our Father doesn't want us to do, or to not do something he wants us to do, while knowing what he wants us to do or not do.

In fewer words, to act in any way contrary to the will of our Father while knowing what his will is.  To sin is to willfully rebel against him.  To be how our Father doesn't want us to be.

So, with that understood, no, I don't believe Jesus ever committed a sin or ever had any desire to sin.  Instead of being a rebel against our Father I think he always did what God his Father wanted him to do. So that our Father never saw him as a rebel.

The one element that is almost always left out of such musings by members of the Church is that it was the power of the Father (not his own power) that enabled our Lord to be the Christ. Christ testified to the apostle Philip, “It is not I who have done these things but the Father who dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.” Jesus Christ was saved from the fallen nature by the power of God, and without constant infusions of the the power of God as as a great empowering and enlightening aid He could have done nothing for our benefit and salvation. This is why McConkie taught that Christ is the very prototype of a saved being

Christ is a saved being just as we all are, for he perfectly teaches us how to overcome the fallen nature and the temptations of the devil by the yielding of one’s heart to God. This is why Christ needed the gift of the Holy Ghost, just like the rest of us. It’s also important to note that although Christ was without sin that doesn’t mean he never made any mistakes (the prophet Joseph Smith taught one can make serious, heart rending mistakes that aren’t actually sins), the consequences of which enabled him to “learn obedience  by the things which he suffered” (Paul).

Doctrine and Covenants 93 makes it abundantly clear that throughout his life the Savior by constantly received greater and greater outpourings of divine grace until his own will as a Son was totally swallowed up in the will of the Father, and it is by this means that he was enabled to make a perfect infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice of God. Without these constant infusions of divine power and enlightenment from his Father Christ couldn’t have saved anyone. Remember, it wasn’t until the strengthening angel blessed Christ in Gethsemane that the he was finally able stop pleading with his Father to take away the bitter cup, and it wasn’t until after the same empowering angelic visitation that Christ began to shed his precious atoning blood. While the Son was still in the midst of pleading with his Father to take away the bitter cup, no atoning blood was

12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, UNTIL he received a fulness;
14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
15 And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
16 And I, John, bear record that he RECEIVED a fulness of the glory of the Father;
17 And he RECEIVED all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him. (Doctrine and Covenants 93)

Thus Christ teaches us how to overcome the fallen nature and be saved, not by mechanically “going through the motions” but by relying wholly on the redemptive power of God in order to overcome the fallen world and OBTAIN salvation.

Edited by teddyaware
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