Thoughts on the Nature of Christ

June 22, 2005 | 71 comments
By

We are encouraged to study and ponder the nature of God. Spencer W. Kimball wrote that “to know God, one must be aware of the person and attributes, power and glory of God the Father and God the Christ.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle at 86). Along those lines, this post proposes a theory on the nature of Christ.

We know from the teachings of Joseph Smith that God the Father was once a mortal being like us. Lorenzo Snow stated that “as man is God once was, as God is man may be.” Joseph Smith wrote that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man.” (TPJS at 345).

An eternal marriage and family is required for exaltation. We can reason that if God followed the same path to exaltation that we are expected to follow, then He had children during His mortal life, and was sealed to them, and remains connected to them for all eternity. They are our elder siblings, so to speak, because we are God’s spirit children, while they were God’s physical children while He was completing His mortal journey.

Might Jesus be one of these original, elder siblings?

A few thoughts that come to mind:

1. This theory may find support in the numerous statements about the unique, “only begotten” nature of Christ. Does Jesus’s “only begotten” state derive solely from His physical birth on the Earth? Or could it refer to a prior parentage — that Jesus was the “only begotten” among us because His origin actually came prior to ours, during God the Father’s mortal life? There are several things to think about.

a. It is not entirely clear from scripture what “only begotten” means. But the modifier “only” is intriguing. After all, the scriptures confirm that we are all “begotten sons and daughters unto God.” How then does Christ’s “only begotten” nature differ from the “begotten” nature of all humankind? Perhaps it is an indicator of a different kind of begotten-ness.

b. In addition, we see repetition of a curious phrase that the Only Begotten was “with [God] from the beginning.” We see variations of this language in D & C 76:13, Moses 2:26, Moses 4:1, Moses 5:9. It’s not entirely clear what “the beginning” means, but one possibility is that it means the time prior to God’s attainment of Godhood. (But cf. D & C 93:23-29).

c. We find Christ referred to throughout the Book of Moses, and throughout the early Book of Mormon, as the “only begotten.” Yet at that point in time, Christ had not yet attained His status as being the only physically begotten child of God in this world (which is, according to the standard explanation, the triggering event for the title Only Begotten) because He had not yet been born of Mary. Is this an indication that His Only Begotten nature was already effective at that time? (Of course, perhaps the title was being used presciently or omnisciently).

d. A curious phrase which is sometimes used by church leaders is that Jesus is “the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh.” Previously, I had assumed that “in the flesh” referred to Jesus. But this phrase could refer to Jesus as being the only begotten of “the Father in the flesh” — that is, God during His mortal tenure.

e. Finally on this prong, let me ask — if Christ were actually an “original” child of God, how would He be described? How exactly would He be set apart from the rest of us? It would probably be through mention of His divine parentage. Isn’t that exactly what the repetition of “Only Begotten” does?

2. Jesus speaks of following the example that He has seen the Father do.

Thus, we read in John 5:19 that: “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

This statement was elaborated by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith taught that “the Son doeth what He hath seen the Father do: then the Father hath some day laid down His life and taken it again.” (TPJS 312). This is a curious description, by John and confirmed by Joseph Smith. Jesus is doing what He has seen the Father do. Not heard about. Not been told of. Seen.

And how would Jesus see the atonement performed by God the Father — unless He was one of the physical children 0f God the Father, who was present at that time of that atonement?

3. In order to be exalted, we must be married for eternity. It’s a requirement. And of course, we know that Jesus Himself has been exalted. Given these two premises, the elephant in the middle of the room — one which has long been a problem for the idea that marriage is required for exaltation — is that there is absolutely no scriptural discussion of Jesus’s marriage.

There has been speculation, including some by church leaders, that Mary Magdalene may have been Jesus’s wife. (Dan Brown thinks the same). This speculation has never attained the level of doctrine, but it sorta-kinda helps fill the uncomfortable scriptural silence about Jesus’s wife.

But another possible explanation could be this original-child theory. Perhaps Jesus didn’t marry in this life because He didn’t need to at all. He had already been married, sealed, and exalted, during His previous mortal life.

4. Jesus seems in so many ways to be substantively different than the rest of us. Jesus’s worldmaking powers and His extreme power as Jehovah, prior to His earthly ministry, are intriguing, and unlike the powers which other non-exalted beings seem to have. Might this difference in power be evidence of His having already reached His exaltation, as an exalted mortal child of God the Father?

5. Christ’s sinlessness suddenly seems much more understandable. Perhaps He was truly able to put away Satan because He was a fully exalted being.

All in all, it seems that a number of questions relating to the Gospel could be answered by this theory.

Also, this theory potentially adds another dimension to God’s sacrifice for us. When John writes that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” maybe he is doing more than casually mentioning Jesus’s physical parentage in this world. Perhaps he is writing of a Father who gave us the only Child He ever actually physically held in His arms, cuddled as a parent, rocked to sleep with a lullaby. Perhaps John is talking about giving up a flesh-and-blood child, for a mass of spirit children who God the Father has never been able to touch. That adds a touching new dimension to God’s love for us.

Despite the possible strengths of this theory, it also has to overcome some serious obstacles. Here are a few of them:

1. Virgin birth.

There are a number of statements made in the scriptures about the paternity of Jesus, and all of them seem to indicate that He first received His mortal body when He was born of Mary. Can these be explained?

Well, what do we know? Mary was pregnant with Jesus. The Holy Ghost conceived the child. She “brought [him] forth” (Matthew, Luke). She is called Christ’s mother, in various locations. However, the word “born” is only used twice directly — Alma 7:10 and Matthew 1:16. Alma 7:10 already has one other broad generalization that is wrong on the specifics (Christ’s birthplace), and Matthew 1:16 uses the term in the context of a genealogy. So there is not a strong direct statement that “Jesus was born of Mary.” Nevertheless, the inference is certainly present. Thus, any explanation would have to hinge on giving a non-traditional reading to the word “born.”

How might Jesus enter mortal life, a “born” being, after having lived previously and been exalted? Here are a few thoughts:

a. We know that heavenly beings are able to disguise their true nature. Perhaps Christ concealed His nature as an exalted being. This is a little tricky. How would Mary have appeared pregnant, if Christ was merely concealing His true nature? I don’t know.

But hey, the alternative is virgin birth. So either way, we’re dealing with strange phenomena. :)

b. Upping the ante on strangeness, it seems like a theoretical possibility that a fully exalted Christ could have used His omnipotent powers to shrink Himself back to embryonic stage, and place Himself in Mary’s womb. If Jesus is a fully exalted, resurrected being prior to our entire cycle of existence, then His taking on the form of a human might simply be the act of an all-powerful God, who can take on whatever form He pleases.

This option is decidedly weird, and definitely triggers the ick factor. This also smacks of reincarnation. (Just what we need — the anti’s already accuse us of polytheism, now we’re reincarnationists.) But it does seem like one possibility for an omnipotent being.

c. Alternatively — and this is even higher up on the weird scale, though substantially less on the ick scale and the reincarnation scale — Jesus could be a child of God who, for some reason, never tasted death while He was a mortal in God’s mortal world. This could lead to a status not of fully exaltation but of some kind of quasi-exaltation.

That is, in God’s original world, perhaps Jesus was the equivalent of one of the Three Nephites, or of John. In that role, He never tasted death. He was transformed and exalted (or at least quasi-exalted). But because He had not actually died, He remains a spirit — able to enter into a body in this world, and taste of death here.

This is intriguing because it suggests that, in future worlds (where Jesus is the creator-God), the Three Nephites and/or John and/or other “taken” people (e.g., Elijah) could perform similar atoning acts. In particular, note the fact that Jesus said that he had “seen” the Father perform His atonement — and the disciple John was present at both Gethsemane and Golgotha. John saw Christ’s atonement. If the pattern is being followed, then perhaps John will be a Messiah in a world over which Jesus presides.

-

Do any of those three possibilities get around the virgin birth problem? Maybe. Recalling the relatively weak textual evidence explicitly affirming birth, it seems possible that one of these options is viable. Or perhaps I’m missing other workarounds.

2. This theory does explain Jesus’s lack of a wife; it does not, however, explain Jesus’s participation in a few key ordinances on earth. Why be baptized here, if He’s already been baptized before? Doesn’t the “to show an example” rationale apply equally to marriage? (Unless perhaps there is some good reason that Jesus, being a different kind of being, can be baptized but cannot be married).

3. There are various statements made by prophets in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon about Christ’s lack of a body. I don’t know that any of them are particularly insurmountable. Like most scriptural statements, they contain a fair amount of wiggle room and could accommodate this theory. (Or perhaps not). We may view some of them as indication that Christ was a spirit prior to His birth. I don’t know that they aren’t amenable to this reading as well.

-

In the end, I don’t know if I’m convinced by my own theory. I think that I would like to be convinced, however. The idea intrigues me. And it seems to me that this theory, if correct, could add some great depth and richness to our understanding of Christ.

*****************************

Special note about pre-comments:

I floated an early draft of this among the bloggers, mostly because I was worried that I was going too far in speculation. I got some great comments back. Some of them related to areas that I was further fleshing out, and have become less relevant as a result, or look kind of dated. But many of them remain very useful critiques, and they’ve all got interesting observations. Also, they were incredibly helpful to me, forcing me to think about how I was explaining this idea.

I tried not to use the pre-comments as a “must respond to this” template — I don’t want to leech off of my co-bloggers’ intellectual horsepower — but in some cases, the comments touched on revisions that I had already planned to make. Also, if you look carefully, I’m sure that you can see some amount of interaction between the pre-comments and my finished post.

Here are some relevant pre-post comments:

Greg:
It doesn’t make much sense to me. I think our doctrine is fairly clear that before he was born of Mary, Jesus did not have a physical body (the brother of Jared story, for example). And I don’t think any of the things you point to really support your speculation. Heresy? Nah. Out in left field? Probably.

Jim:
It seems to me, in any case, that you yourself make a very strong case against the speculation. We do, after all, believe that he was born of the virgin Mary.

Melissa:

Whenever I attend the Temple I am struck by Jehovah’s role as creator. We think of creation as being a task of the gods. Yet, according to LDS theology, in order for us to become gods and godesses and emulate God in this role we must become like him, which requires us to receive a body. It has long been a curiosity to me that Jesus seems to be an exception to this. Jesus was a god (Jehovah of the Old Testament) before he ever received a body.

But, my flights of imaginative speculation to explain this are not quite as theologically problematic as I think yours is. At the end you write, ” If Jesus is a fully exalted, resurrected being prior to our entire cycle of existence, then His taking on the form of a human might simply be the act of an all-powerful God, who can take on whatever form he pleases.” There are all sorts of difficulties with this. First, we don’t actually believe that God is omnipotent in the way that this suggests. There are many things that an embodied being, existing in time and space cannot actually do. We also know that God is bound by eternal laws. There are things that were God to do, He would cease to be God (incidentally I think this is one of the most fascinating of all LDS doctrines).

Second, there is a more logical problem. Are you seriously suggesting that God’s only begotten son’s spirit would have been housed in two different bodies? Since a resurrected being cannot die, where would Jehovah’s body have been while his spirit was embodied in Jesus of Nazareth? Do you mean to imply that the body of Jehovah would have been as though dead during Jesus’ mortal ministry? That seems to be the only option if its life force (his spirit) were somewhere else. But, since an immortal body cannot be as though dead, you’ve got a problem. [Editor's note: The prior draft I e-mailed was really unclear on this point, and Melissa's e-mail was key in forcing me to clarify a few things.]

Finally, I’ve always thought that the only reason why God, our Father, wouldn’t have performed the sacrifice of the Atonement for us was the fact that He could not die as a resurrected immortal being. Since the death of the sacrificer was necessary for the Atonement, the Father could not do it. Someone else had to volunteer on our behalf. If Jesus already had a glorified, immortal body, why would he have been the best choice for the Atonement? It seems to me that if Jehovah were already immortal someone still unembodied would have made more sense. However, if immortality could somehow be overridden in the way you suggest, it seems to me that the Father would have performed the Atonement for us Himself.

Melissa:
If you are arguing for “shrinkage and reentry,” into Mary’s womb (which really does sound crazy) then you must be arguing that Jehovah not only had a body in the pre-mortal world (which scripture contradicts) but also that that body was mortal since it was that body that bled and succumbed to death. At the same time you are trying to suggest that God, the Son as Jehovah (for lack of a clear way to discuss this) was already glorified and immortal and omnipotent such that He could do such an amazing feat. This is either an absurd contradiction or you lost me somewhere.

Tags: ,

71 Responses to Thoughts on the Nature of Christ

  1. Ben H on June 22, 2005 at 1:35 am

    Bizarre though it be, your point about John makes me almost want to seriously consider this theory! Ether 3:7-16 seems pretty much über explicit, though, about Christ’s having a spiritual body rather than a body of flesh prior to his birth by Mary. I’ll save my more philosophical objections for tomorrow : )

  2. RoastedTomatoes on June 22, 2005 at 10:04 am

    I really enjoyed this. Thanks, Kaimi.

    I’m not convinced at all. But there’s something refreshing in seeing a Latter-day Saint revive the notion of fully-exalted beings coming back to Earth for another spin on the merry-go-round as part of the plan of salvation. As you probably know, this was a major element of Brigham Young’s Adam-God material. It also played a frighteningly complex central part in the Toscano’s theology-of-paradox stuff.

    Anyway, a fun post.

  3. annegb on June 22, 2005 at 10:48 am

    45 paragraphs, if I counted right. This will take me days to get through. I will let you know how many words I don’t understand. Although I will look them up. Sometimes that doesn’t even help. And I have a five pound hard cover dictionary.

  4. Steve Evans on June 22, 2005 at 10:53 am

    Fun stuff, Kaimi. I think that for your introduction talk in San Diego you should just read this from the pulpit, and voila! No calling!

  5. Daniel on June 22, 2005 at 11:09 am

    Kaimi,
    Thanks for articulating things that I’ve wondered about for some time, and for putting them all in one place. As a side note, there are some questions here that are just as easily explained by Brigham’s Adam-God theory as well. Multiple mortalities is really a theory that has intrigued me.

    My wife would probably chime in here with an admonition to “stay close to the trunk of the tree and don’t get out into the branches” as Joseph Smith cautioned, but then, I really do think that we are required to think in the gospel, accepting the fundamental truths of the gospel and having a testimony of them (i.e., Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God, BoM is true, this is Christ’s only True Church, and Jesus is the Savior), while all the while thinking about the doctrines and ideas that aren’t on the foundation level. Wasn’t the whole problem of the Jews in Jerusalem during Lehi’s time there that they had reduced the Mosaic Law to performances and weren’t thinking about the commandments — and therefore failed to see the types of Christ that were so obvious?

    Again, thanks, Kaimi. Excellent thinking and deduction. For reasons I think I only partially understand, discussion of a marriage of Christ is discouraged in the Church. When someone asked a General Authority on my mission, he very pointedly told us not to worry about those things. I suspect that this is because no one would enter a discussion on those subjects wisely when the audience is composed of a variety of members, both those accustomed only to milk, as well as those seeking meat.

  6. annegb on June 22, 2005 at 11:34 am

    Well. I understood every word. Hmmm…food for thought.

    One thing: spirits can feel each other. They can hug. They are matter and tangible. God got to hug us all.

  7. Katie on June 22, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    Very interesting Kaimi. And very convincing, despite a number of hurdles.

    The main obstacle to acceptance is that I had always accepted the concept that Christ had to be exacty like us-exactly human-for Him to be our Savior. That is, Christ came to be an example, He calls us to follow him and be perfect like Him. If He had an inborn advantage, ie., that He had already been exalted, and gained all his power, then he could not truly be our example. We would then always have the loophole-”Well I would like to be like Christ, but no one can really be like Him, He was already an exalted God-that is why it was so much easier for him.” We must believe He was in every way as human as we, to believe that the possibility, however infintesimal, exists that we can be perfect like Him. If He was already something different, this hope could not exist. It would be as if Spiderman came and said to me, “Come follow me.” I would have to answer, “Well I can wear the cool outfit, and I will definetly find time to kiss upside down, but as far as the whole swinging from building via webs shooting from my hands, well, I can’t do that part.”

  8. Katherine on June 22, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    What do you make of scriptures that say Jesus grew from grace to grace during his life here in the context of the possibility of him already being exalted to some degree? Also, if the Father was a savior, does this mean we will all have to at some time become a savior to become gods?

  9. Kevin Barney on June 22, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    Kaimi, you should be aware that “only begotten” is a mistranslation. Here’s a little explanatory essay I wrote on this topic:

    Footnotes: Only Begotten Son

    The expression “only begotten” with reference to Jesus Christ as the Son of God occurs six times in the KJV New Testament (John 1:14 and 18, 3:16 and 18, Hebrews 11:17 and 1 John 4:9), nine times in the Book of Mormon (beginning with 2 Nephi 25:12), 13 times in the Doctrine & Covenants (beginning with D&C 20:21), and a remarkable 25 times in the Book of Moses. (Joseph also added the expression to 1 Timothy 2:4 in the JST: “who is the Only Begotten Son of God.”)

    This expression in the KJV is a mistranslation of monogenes, which derives from monos “only” and genos “type.” Thus, monogenes properly means “only,” “unique” or “one of a kind.” If the word meant “only begotten,” it would be monogennetos, from the verb gennao “to beget.” The fact that monogenes has only one “n” in the second half of the word and not two is a clear indication that it is not derived from gennao.

    The Old Latin manuscripts had translated monogenes correctly into Latin with unicus, meaning “only,” but Jerome in the Vulgate generally changed this translation to unigenitus, “only begotten.” This appears to have been influenced by the Orations of Gregory of Nazianzus, who, in discussing the eternal relation between the Father and the Son, spoke of the Father as gennetor “begetter” and the Son as gennema “begotten.” This was a response to the Arian argument that Jesus was not begotten, but rather made.

    William Tyndale, the first to translate the New Testament from Greek into English, corrected this in some (but not all) passages with “only sonne.” The KJV, however, showing the strong influence of the Vulgate, reverted to “only begotten son,” which became the normative English rendering until the rise of modern translations.

    John did not refer to Jesus as God’s “only begotten” son, because he designated all who received Jesus as being spiritually begotten of God. See, for example, John 1:12-13:

    “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born [i.e., begotten], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

    I have always found the expression of this concept in 1 John 3:9 quite striking:

    “Whosoever is born [begotten] of God doth not commit sin; for his seed [Greek sperma] remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born [begotten] of God.”

    As Latter-day Saints, we not only acknowledge John’s imagery of spiritual begetting, we also believe that all of our spirits were begotten of God in the preexistence. (That is, there is both a literal begetting of our spirits and a spiritual begetting of the believer.) Therefore, just as John did not call Jesus the “only begotten,” we cannot properly use that terminology either unless we append the qualifier “in the flesh,” because we believe that we all are begotten sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. (So the Primary children’s opus “I am a child of God.”) Thus, in our theology it would actually be more correct (in a sense, at least) to use John’s expression. Jesus was God’s only son in a unique way that does not apply to the rest of us (that is, he was begotten in the flesh). (It is not my intention here to say anything of the controversial question of the mechanics of that begetting.)

    The use of “only begotten” in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Book of Moses is simply a reflection of the English translational tradition. We are not particularly concerned with the theological battle that gave rise to this translation many centuries ago. Although it is a mistranslation, it is not that far removed from the correct meaning, as the suggestion of being begotten is to some extent inherent in the designation “son” (huios) itself.

  10. Jack on June 22, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Kaimi. (maybe because it was after midnight when I read it. :>)

    I’ve always kinda supposed that the Savior saw the things his Father did because He possessed His Father’s “mind” (for lack of a better way of putting it). And His Father’s mind would have a perfect brightness of understanding thereby allowing all who may tap into it access to a sort of “virtual” knowledge of all things past present and future–as fast as they are able to receive it. If so, the Savior was the only one to receive of the Father’s “fullness” (or, perhaps, complete access) while in the flesh. Yeah, I know–way to metaphysical. And maybe even more wacky than Kaimi’s ideas!

  11. Ty on June 22, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    What if the Father had 2 or more children while a mortal? Would they each have to go through the cycle as a christ? Would the H.G. be the other child?

    I think the main purpose in parents & children being sealed to each other is so that we can each be sealed to Christ.

    Unlike Kaimi, I don’t want to be convinced. I don’t want to have to go through mortality again…

  12. Kevin Barney on June 22, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    Melissa raises an interesting theological glitch (if that is not too strong a word for it) in our doctrine about God. I was taught as a boy that we came to earth to gain a physical body, that such was necessary for exaltation. But in contemporary Mormon thought, Jehovah was the preexistent Christ, and he didn’t have a physical body, so that seems to be counter the idea of the necessity of a physical body.

    Further, I remember as a young missionary using OT prooftexts for an embodied God, but of course, in current LDS thought those texts would apply to the preexistent Christ, who was not embodied.

    I think what happened is that when James Talmage worked out our modern conception of God circa 1916, equating Jehovah not with the Father (as had been common in the 19th century) but with the preexistent Son, several unanticipated seams developed. Traditional arguments for the necessity of a body and for an embodied god no longer worked so well as they once did.

    But I suppose these seams were a small price to pay to inter the Adam-God theory.

  13. Ivan Wolfe on June 22, 2005 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t buy the “seen” argument.

    It seems to me more plausible that that could refer to the equvialent of Celestial home videos – or God using his omnipotent power to call forth images from the past for Jesus to view.

    that’s the strongest part of the argument, and upon reflection, it falls apart. Unless we assume God does not have to power to show people images from the past.

  14. Jack on June 22, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    Kevin,

    Does Ether chapter 3 (as Ben points out) have any bearing on Melissa’s glitch?

  15. J. Stapley on June 22, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    Kaimi:

    Interesting thesis. I think it would be a lot more interesting and had you referenced 19th century doctrines like Multiple Mortal Probation and Adam God. You seem to be borrowing heavily from these and they add precedent to your speculation. I also would go for the original accounts of the KFD, which are less tempered in their description of the relationship of Jesus and the Father.

    As for Christ’s OT reign as God un-resurrected, one can account for this by his eternal Divinity, but this is about Kaimi’s speculations and not mine :)

  16. Kevin Barney on June 22, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Jack,

    David Paulsen in his BYU Studies articles on the embodiment of God argues that embodiment may entail a more “spirit matter” type of body than we often think about, so I suspect that the answer to your question is “yes.”

  17. Lisa B. on June 22, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    re: multiple mortal bodies

    Has anyone else heard the prophetic reassurances to parents that lose infants or children in this life that they will have opportunity to raise them (in the flesh) during the millenium? I know that’s not strictly “doctrinal”–but it is from latter-day prophets. I’ll see if I can find some quotes. Might have bearing on the multiple mortal bodies question if true. And if true, does that mean the same exact flesh is resurrected and then grows from that point onto adulthood? Or do the parents start all over again/new conception (new egg and sperm) but same spirit? Or does it depend on the age of the child (miscarriage vs stillborn baby vs live born baby who dies as an infant vs older child)?

    Also, does anyone really think they get the same exact cellular material back when resurrected to our glorified bodies? We’re regenerating all the time physiologically. I tend to think that our exalted bodies will actually be all new, and be generated bit by bit–bone to bone, flesh to flesh (rather than instantaneously) yet become “ours” and appropriate to our particular level of glory because of habitation by the matter of our spirits–a sort of rebirth (after all, it is spoken of in that fashion).

  18. Jillaine on June 22, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    I think it’s just something leaders made up to make grieving mothers feel better

  19. Lisa B. on June 22, 2005 at 3:30 pm

    or I guess the question might be about the dna being the same, since that is want makes each physical conception unique.

  20. J. Stapley on June 22, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    Joseph F. Smith was the main champion of the doctrine, though he drew it from accounts of the Prophet Joseph:

    Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: “You will have the joy, the pleasure and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.” There is restitution, there is growth, there is development after the resurrection from death. I love this truth. It speaks volumes of happiness, of joy and gratitude to my soul. Thank the Lord he has revealed these principles to us.

    This was included in the recent Teachings of Presidents of the Church
    Joseph F. Smith
    . It is an exceprt of a long pronouncement on the topic, the entire text of which is available in The Improvement Era (1918-February) vol. 21 pg. 567-574 and Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints vol. 5 pg. 90-98.

  21. Silus Grok on June 22, 2005 at 3:46 pm

    I wish I could have spent more time perusing the comments which preceeded me, but I’m at work… I don’t however, think my point has been made just yet:

    Kaimi: in addition to all the other points of concern which have already been raised, I would suggest that a fundemental flaw in the theory is that it misstates or misunderstands what it means to be children. Our Father in Heaven is the Father of our spirits… when I am born, my parents on earth become parents of my body but are — for lack of a better term — only foster parents of my spirit during this probationary state. Assuming that the plan didn’t change between Heavenly Father’s sojourn and ours, any of His children from His mortality would have been His FATHER’s spirit children — His spirit brothers and sisters.

    It’s hard to remember, given all this “families are forever” stuff, that the family model disolves into peer groups in the post-mortal world, and “family” thus becomes an organizing unit that bears little resemblance to our mortal experience.

    At any rate, given this understanding, Christ would then be God’s brother and not his son, and the only hierarchy in place would be due to an accident of timing.

    ( Man, I hope that makes sense… I don’t have time to re-parse it! )

    Also, a note to Ty’s comment (#11)… I personally believe that Holy Ghost is an office and not a single person. I won’t be surprised when that’s proven wrong, but it does resonate with me. FWIW.

  22. Kaimi on June 22, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    Well, I’m happy to see lots of comments from lots of people. A few thoughts –

    Ben,

    I’m glad that I almost got you with the John angle. :) I await your philosophical analysis.

    Melissa,

    Your comments were great. I particularly liked your discussion of Jehovah, and the very good question of “how is He so powerful before receiving a body, anyway?” That lends support to alternate theories, such as this one.

    However, your point about God the Father atoning if He could is a nice counter-point.

    Ben and Greg,

    I’m not sure that Ether 3 is not reconcilable with this theory.

    Verse 8 is almost supportive of this idea: “And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.”

    Verse 9 — “I shall take upon me flesh and blood” doesn’t preclude the possibility of already having a body. It could be a statement that Christ would take additional flesh in this world.

    Verse 16 is the tough one: “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.”

    Is it reconcilable? Maybe. Don’t we all have existing physical bodies that are the “bodies of our spirits”? i.e., the body that houses our spirit.

    The second half of the verse isn’t entirely clear. But contrast the statement “I appear unto thee to be in the spirit” to the earlier statement of the Brother of Jared’s, ” I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.” The implication is strong that actual flesh and blodd appeared to the Brother of Jared. Perhaps the Lord’s statement about being “in the spirit” refers to appearing in exalted, rather than mortal, form.

    Katie,

    Good question.

    Katherine,

    Also a good question. I don’t know if each of us will be required to be a Savior. If not, do we really expect to attain the same level of exaltation as Christ?

    J., Kevin,

    I know that this approach could have a lot in common with Adam-God, depending on how it is developed. I consciously tried to stay away from that angle, at least for this post. I engage only in orthodox speculation around here, none of that discredited stuff! :P

    Silus,

    Interesting point.

  23. Liesl Buskirk on June 22, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    I don’t see Christ’s lack of embodiment as the OT Jehovah as a problem because God’s time and Earth’s time are not the same. While he may not have been “born” in this world yet, that he would be and that he would be the Savior was known. He was also already the Christ in the Garden of Eden and Creation as well. . . .

  24. Greg Call on June 22, 2005 at 5:03 pm

    Kaimi,

    That is nonsense upon stilts. I think it’s pretty clear that when BOJ says “Gee, I didn’t know the Lord had a physical body,” the Lord’s answer is: “I don’t. This is my spirit body. I won’t have a physical body until I’m born.” Verse 8 (along with everything else in all of holy writ ; ) ) provides no support for your idea at all.

  25. Jeffrey Giliam on June 22, 2005 at 6:08 pm

    Kiami,

    I have actually believed this very thing for years now. You might find a nifty proof text in this statement by Orson Pratt:

    “I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body, flesh and bones, before he came, he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given.”
    -Minutes of meeting on April 5, 1860, BY Papers

    Using Ether 3 as an argument against it isn’t very persuasive for a number of reasons. What, exactly, is meant by the use of the term “spiritual body”? Is it pre mortal? Vivified by the spirit like Adam was supposed to have been pre fall? Is it a resurrected body? Combine this with the account of Jesus touching the stones in an apparently physical way. So similar was this spirt body to a mortal body that the brother of Jared thought that it WAS a regular mortal body. Combine this with Joseph’s view regarding spirit birth (or the absence of it) and we could have quite the confusing account.

    I also answer yes to Katherine’s questions as well, for I have believed that for a few years now as well. (I have a hard time making any sense of the temple ceremony without this doctrine of all exalted being becoming saviors.) This does, however, make things a bit more interesting. If Jesus was a son of God in the flesh, then God must not have been a savior at the time like Joseph Smith said he was (at least not like the somewhat celebate one we worship). This would suggest that God lived on an earth not once, but twice! I personally don’t have a problem with this, but I can see how some people might.

    I’m not sure that we want to use
    “Jesus is doing what He has seen the Father do. Not heard about. Not been told of. Seen.”
    too much since it requires that Jesus be the son of a savior in mortality. As far as we can tell, the savior of this mortality didn’t have too many sons worth mentioning.

  26. Hippo on June 22, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    On my mission, one of the 70s would go out to lunch with us and blow our minds with cosmic doctrine that he said “is true, but nobody has authority to officially teach this here on earth, so take it or leave it…”

    He said that we are all eternal, meaning we have all existed forever–and eternal progression means we’ve all had many mortal experiences, learning each time.

    He said reincarnation was kind of true…but also false, because while we are born again and again, we never come back to this earth, we go to another one.

    He said Jesus and Satan both had bodies before.

    He said when we are resurrected from this life, with our gospel, we can become “Abraham type” gods, having eternal posterity, and the option to continue in that state forever.

    However, if we want to progress even farther, we have to “condescend”, give up immortality to go down and become a Savior on another planet.

    I remember laying on my back on my bed after some of these talks and having my mind completely blown.

    Not your Seminary version of LDS theology, for sure!

    However, it is kinda fun to think about, especially in light of the D&C 130:10 teaching that there are kingdoms higher than the Celestial Kingdom. Who knows what we’ll be eligible for after we (hopefully) make it to the CK. If there really is eternal progression…it would be kinda silly to think there might be limits.

  27. Richard T on June 22, 2005 at 6:54 pm

    Kiami:

    Interesting ideas, and I enjoyed your approach to the subject.

    Two thoughts:

    (1) In describing those who become gods, DC 76 says, “Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death . . . all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s,” (DC 76:59). That language seems to suggest that gods have power over life and death, including their own.

    Alma states that those who are resurrected “cannot die” (Alma 11:45; 12:18), but is he really saying that gods don’t have power over the state of their own bodies? He was speaking to Zeezrom in both cases and his statements about the permanancy of a resurrected state don’t seem to be so much a categorical statement of fact as much as a warning to Zeezrom that once he’s resurrected, he’s going to be in that state for a looooooooonnnnnnnngggg time. He seems to be trying to inspire within Zeezrom some concern over what state he’s in when that day comes, more than anything else.

    In this vein, Alma may have been using “mysterious” language when he said “cannot die,” as the Lord did in DC 19. “Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory,” (DC 19:6-7). Translation: I call it endless torment, although it’s not really endless. And I do this because saying it that way makes you more penitent, which is a more important issue than that of specifying the precise amount of time that will be spent in torment.”

    Point is, the Lord and the prophets have been known before to sacrifice detail, precision, and in using language that is borderline inaccurate–”endless” kind of sounds like “without end” to me–regarding life after death in the interests of getting us to repent and come to Jesus.

    (2) I don’t agree with your inference that the only way Jesus could have “seen” the Father do what he did was by being with him while he did it. You wrote, “And how would Jesus see the atonement performed by God the Father – unless He was one of the physical children 0f God the Father, who was present at that time of that atonement?”

    Nephi “saw” Christ’s life play out before his eyes, (1ne11:26-34). Remember the angel repeatedly saying “Look!” Jesus could have seen his Father’s experience the same way.

    Great post.

  28. costanza on June 22, 2005 at 6:57 pm

    I’m still working on faith and repentance. When I get those down, maybe I will have time to think about Kaimi’s incredible shrinking Jesus…

  29. Steve Evans on June 22, 2005 at 7:18 pm

    I can’t believe this many people are agreeing with your craziness! I feel like I’ve been taking crazy pills!

    Shrinking Jesus. Good grief.

  30. Daniel on June 22, 2005 at 7:27 pm

    Hippo,
    Thanks. Super interesting.

  31. Eric James Stone on June 22, 2005 at 7:36 pm

    A few years ago when I attended a ward in Provo, a man disrupted a Sunday School class over some issue (I forget exactly what) and was asked by the bishop to leave. Later, I ran into the man in the hallway, and he proceeded to explain that he had been excommunicated years earlier for teaching the “true doctrine” that Christ had a physical body from before the creation of the world. He claimed to have come to our ward because Hugh Nibley (a member of the ward) agreed with him, and he wanted to have Nibley confirm it publicly.

    I remain unconvinced.

  32. Jack on June 22, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    Well,

    A little speculation is one thing, but to establish it as doctrine is quite another.

  33. Kaimi on June 22, 2005 at 7:49 pm

    Pull up a chair, Steve, and let me pour you a glass of this delicious kool-aid!

  34. Hippo on June 22, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    Eric, the 70 in our mission told us that he had asked Hugh Nibley if Satan had ever had a body and Hugh reportedly replied “of course”!

    Not that Hugh’s the ultimate authority on everything…but the 70 did say that GAs would often ask Hugh Nibley their deep doctrinal questions, just like we were then asking the 70.

    Richard T, it’s also possible that Alma might not have known all there is to know about the final state of our resurrected bodies…he was learning, as we all are.

    Steve Evans, Amen about the Shrinking Jesus part…that just doesn’t seem right to me either.

    But then again, what do we really know about God and the Eternities? We don’t know exactly how his realm intersects with ours, if he lives on a planet in our Galaxy, is in an entirely different universe, or just another part of our 12 dimensional universe–and how we might move between these realms. When you read Ezekiel’s vision of the throne of God, it all seems pretty freaky–the whole thing must be pretty hard to comprehend from our own mortal position.

    costanza, Amen tambien. I’m off for a good bout of repenting for all this bloggin’ when I coulda been off helping the poor and sick!

  35. Kevin Barney on June 22, 2005 at 9:17 pm

    Eric (no. 31),

    This was actually a fairly common occurrence. People would approach Nibley with their pet theory and come away convinced that he agreed with them. In reality it was just his personality. He was not confrontational, and would often nod his head mindlessly to whatever blather his visitor was spewing, waiting for him to leave so he could go back to work.

  36. Kaimi on June 22, 2005 at 10:09 pm

    Re: no. 35.

    (nod)

    Very interesting idea, Kevin.

    (nod)

    Yes, I see.

    (nod)

    Well, that was sure interesting. Anyway, thanks for the discussion, Kevin. I’ve got some work to do right now, but I’d love to chat more with you about this some other time . . .

    :)

  37. annegb on June 22, 2005 at 10:09 pm

    I’m going to remember that. Just nod encouragingly and people will think I agree. Easier than fighting. Keeps them guessing.

  38. Jack on June 22, 2005 at 10:16 pm

    Kevin Barney,

    That’s classic. Nothing like a good laugh to get the discussion back into realm of reason.

    What about the idea of spirit and matter inseparably connected receiving a fulness of joy? Can we assume that if they’re NOT inseparable that a fulness of joy cannot be received? If so, is it wrong to assume that exalted beings–having received a fullness of joy–have bodies whose spirits and flesh are inseparably connected?

    Then again, we can use Section 19 as an escape hatch for anything.

  39. Ben H on June 22, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    Katie (comment #7) pretty much nailed my main philosophical objection to this theory, Kaimi : )
    It seems to me the whole point of the atonement is nullified if Christ didn’t fully become like us, in flesh.

  40. Jim F. on June 22, 2005 at 11:13 pm

    Besides what seems to me to be the wackiness of this theory and in addition to Katie and Ben’s very good objection and added on to some of the other objections that have been made, it seems to me that this way of doing theology goes exactly backwards. It asks a question, notices that an unusual answer to that question is logically possible, then works to see if it can force scripture and prophetic utterance to coincide with the logically possible answer. But to do that is to use the scriptures only as proof texts. Such an approach puts speculation above revelation. But surely real theology isn’t just speculation for which we can produce proof texts, and surely LDS theology doesn’t give speculation priority over revelation.

  41. Jack on June 23, 2005 at 1:02 am

    I don’t think Katie’s objection really works, though I agree with the direction she’s headed in. I think we have to acknowledge that there are some differences between us and the mortal Savior. His mortal parentage is, in a sense, infinitely different than ours. For some reason, which we really don’t understand, because of His unique lineage, the Savior had power over death. And I would venture to say that He had other (dare I say) “advantages” as a mortal that we do not. I think what is so striking about His character is that He would, despite His infinite potential even as a mortal, choose to suffer every pain that may be endured in the flesh. And so His “becoming like us” is really a matter of His willing condescension rather than His sharing our limitations.

  42. Geoff J on June 23, 2005 at 2:02 am

    I think the idea that Kaimi proposes that Christ lived one mortal life before as the son of the Father has far too many holes to float. It seems to me that there either are multiple mortal probations (as in “one eternal round”) or there is only one. After some consideration I tend to side with Heber C. Kimball and friends and go with the many probations model. (I’ve gingerly posted on this at the Thang here, here, and here. Perhaps I’ll do that again tonight.) So that means I am also apparently agreeing with Hippo, Jeffrey, Richard T, and Daniel.

    Anyway, rather than extol that virtues of that model here I will shoot holes in Kaimi;s theory (always a lot easier).

    The problem is that the there is no room for a pattern with your model and I am obsessed with patternism. If the Father got his body (first body?) and was a savior then the pattern on that world was that the Savior of the world has children and those children witness the atonement and then at least one of them goes to the next world to do it again. So if that is the case who will be the savior on the next world? Why did Jesus fail to have his son come with him to the garden with him?

    I know the idea of multiple probations gets tied in with Adam-God but they are not the same. One can believe in multiple probations and reject Adam as the Father of Jesus. Obviously it is speculative doctrine but it is not refuted doctrine…

  43. Eric James Stone on June 23, 2005 at 9:09 am

    > The problem is that the there is no room for a pattern with your model and I am obsessed with patternism.

    I guess that makes you patternal.

  44. comet on June 23, 2005 at 10:18 am

    I kinda like it. Speculation can knock us from our stilted ways. Frankly it may just be that some of the “doctrine” (along with our models of understanding) that we take as a matter of course now will prove to be equally speculative down the road in later generations, or in some distant time and place in the next world(s). To 19th-century saints an eternal family meant being sealed to some great leader of the church; today it means a a three-generation chain of nuclear families. What’s next? Kaimi mentioned reincarnation. Why not? Is our knowledge of the afterlife so complete and detailed that we can rule it or something like it out? I happen to study Buddhist (and sometimes Hindu) texts as an adjunct part of my profession. Some teachings in the tradition speak of multiple bodies of various kinds that the Buddhas assume in appearing and ministering to individuals on the path. If we as mormons believe that the assumption of a mortal body in this life is to extend our capacity for experience beyond what was possible before, and that our assumption of yet another body in the resurrection, one that is glorified, will open yet more fields of experience, then why not assume that this constitutes an ongoing journey, even for a spirit body and glorified body permanently united (just like the hand in the glove gig, except that it’s gloves all the way up)?

  45. Lisa B. on June 23, 2005 at 10:38 am

    Like crabs or snakes molting? :-)

    Ben and others–I don’t see why being mortal more than once would annul the atonement. Jesus is also not female, and yet my femaleness is an important part of my eternal physical/glorified state according to the Proclamation. So does that mean Jesus can’t be my personal Savior on account of gender?

    I was taught that Jesus’ atonement was not only for the inhabitants of this world, but for others as well (?)

  46. Jeffrey Giliam on June 23, 2005 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for those comments Hippo.

  47. Hippo on June 23, 2005 at 11:38 am

    The 70 in our mission said that you only get one mortal shot each Eternity–there are multiple Eternities. Jesus was the Savior for all the worlds in this Eternity or Eternal Round.

  48. Daniel on June 23, 2005 at 1:44 pm

    Hippo,
    The 70 said it “is true, but nobody has authority to officially teach this here on earth, so take it or leave it…”

    Hmmm . . . why was he teaching something he did not have authority to teach then? Or I guess you’re saying that he was just positing it as his opinion. But by saying it was true, wasn’t he teaching it? Seems sort of circular to me. He had to know his position as a general authority would give his words extra weight.

    This thread is interesting, but it reminds me of a something President Hinckley once said in response to a similar question that had been answered by a presumably well-intentioned scholar: “Oh, those must be specific authorities. We’re just General Authorities.”

  49. Jeffrey Giliam on June 23, 2005 at 4:43 pm

    Hippo,

    That’s interesting. Madsen mentioned that JS spoke of “Eternities” as well. This might have a lot to do with our interpretation of phrases like “through out all eternity.” If fact, I maintain that sec. 19 is talking not about a release from spirit prison (there was no spirit prison in Mormonism yet) but a release from one’s “final” destination, what we now call telestial and terrestrial kingdoms.

    Now Daniel, I don’t think that the GA was trying to establish any kind of authority for his statements. Hence the “so take it or leave it…” part. He’s simply throwing out ideas that he believes to be true and asking that his listeners accept his claims on their own merits, not the authority of the source. If only more authorities would be more willing to stop hiding behind their authority. Sure, it would be more dangerous, especially with missionaries who are VERY concerned with authority claims, but it sure would be a lot more fun.

  50. Hippo on June 23, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    The 70 said nobody had authority to teach this because it might make some people procrastinate the day of their repentence…for another eternity. However, he said that we had all come so far, over so many eternities, and that we were so close to making it to the Celestial Kingdom, that if we really knew how much we had to lose, we wouldn’t procrastinate our repentence, but would do much more to make sure we didn’t slip up and blow a whole eternity.

    He was very clear that GAs don’t really have enough time to really think about most of this stuff, since they are so busy with Church administration. That’s when he said that GAs liked to sit down with Hugh Nibley and ask him their questions, just like we were asking him.

    As missionaries, we would just sit there soaking it all up. Our lunch conversations are still one of the highlights of my life in the Church. We just don’t normally get to be in situations where a GA will be so candid. Pity…I agree with Jeffrey that it would be much more fun otherwise!

  51. Richard T on June 23, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    Jeffrey, Daniel:

    In the absence of clear revelation, Alma speculated . . .

    “Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven,” (Alma 40:20).

    Among other things, the entire chapter of Alma 40 exemplifies a good way to go about developing theories to explain the unknowns in the gospel. Far from chucking any such discussion, Alma seemed to embrace it, in all its ambiguity, stating knowns and unknowns and trying ti fill gaps with candid discussion of possibilities, not unlike what Kaimi did here. .

  52. Jack on June 23, 2005 at 9:52 pm

    But then again,

    If Alma had been way, way off on his speculation, Mormon probably would have excluded it from his abridgement.

  53. Ben H on June 23, 2005 at 11:22 pm

    True, Jack. Luckily this is just a blog, not scripture in the making!

  54. Katie on June 24, 2005 at 10:33 am

    Jack, you argue that the parentage of Christ was “infinitely different than ours.“ We are born of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, and Christ was born of a Heavenly Father and Mother. And then we are born of an earthly mother and father, while Christ was born of an earthly mother and an Heavenly Father. While this is a significant difference, it is not an “infinite” one. Since we are all children of Heavenly Father, one can really see this as a lack of something (an earthly father), and not an advantage of some sort. Christ just skipped a step on the way to mortality. I do not think being sired by Heavenly Father gave Him divine powers It was only necessary to give Him a special kind of mortality in the which He would be able to have power to lay down His life when He chose and thus withstand the press of the Atonement.

    In order to become like us and be our true Savior He needed to do more than just condescend to our position, but had to really be in our position. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; be he took on him the seed of Abraham (Heb 2:16).” The scriptures testify that he took on Himself all of our temptations and infirmities and pains in order to know how to succor us. If he had inborn advantages this knowledge could not be learned. He could get tantalizing close to understanding mortality but not enough to know exactly how we feel. It reminds me of people like Barbara Ehrenreich who go “undercover” to work as a minimum wage worker and try to survive. They surely get a taste of the poverty experience, but with the knowledge that they have a full bank account to fall back on if something truly bad happened, they can never experience the terror of knowing there is no safety net.

    This growing from grace to grace business brings up the interesting question: did Christ have a veil? Was He made of such righteous material and had so proven Himself in the preexistence, that when He was sent to earth Heavenly Father knew it would only be a matter of time before he pierced the veil? And what would that experience be like?

  55. Jeffrey Giliam on June 24, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Good reference Richard. That is one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture, not because of the content as much as because of Alma’s willingness to state what his source is on every idea that he presents.

    “I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know…”

    “Now when this time cometh no one knows…”

    “it sufficeth me to know…”

    “Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not…”

    “I have inquired diligently of the Lord to know; and this is the thing of which I do know…”

    “Now, we do not suppose…”

    “Now, whether … I do not say; let it suffice, that I say…”

    “I do not say that … but behold, I give it as my opinion…”

    “But whether it be … I do not say; but this much I say…”

    Would that all authorities were so willing to say when something is a revelation, how the revelation was received (angel or feeling?), when they are simply speaking “officially” or merely offering their own interpretations or opinions.

  56. Daniel on June 24, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    Richard T,
    I agree that this stuff is interesting and has actually been weighing on my mind for some time. I agree that we are to be thinking about the doctrine for the doctrine to have its intended effect. See #5.

    However, I am reminded of a passage in one of my favorite books, Les Miserables. In describing the good Bishop who starts the whole wonderful saga by his act of kindness to Jean Valjean, Victor Hugo remarks to the effect that while others were ascending to incredible heights and the deepest depths while pondering the Divine, the Bishop took the short route: the Gospels.

    In discussing this with my wife last night, she remarked that we haven’t mastered the basics like charity, so worrying about this stuff and intellectualizing can become a substitute for true spirituality. Her words were, “We can get to know God without getting to know God.” Ouch.

    These aren’t mutually exclusive, I recognize, but they can sometimes take our time away from other places where our efforts might more profitably be expended.

  57. Jack on June 24, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    Katie,

    You make a good point with the Barbara Ehrenreich example–a point that I’ve struggled over in trying to get a fix on what the Savior’s condescencion really means. Remember that I argue that the Savior’s parentage was “in a sense” infinitely different than ours. I think being sired by One who is Infinite might make a world of difference. In fact, it does make a world of difference by virtue of the Savior’s power over death.

    However, regardless of what “advantages” He may have had, it seems to me that He still chose to suffer in the flesh inspite of his exalted qualities. He can put himself in the position of experiencing the full wait of temptation and refused to yield to it by virtue of His moral agency inspite of his power to deliver himself and others from sin. In this sense, I think his condescencion was his greatest temptation. The adversary appealed to the Savior’s godly powers when he tempted Him–which temptations would have been null had the Savior had no such powers. Thus we get a glimps of the Savior’s awesome character–His abiltiy to walk in a continuous state of humility without abusing His power and authority.

    That said, the big question for me is, was his power over death contingent upon His remaining sinless? Would he have experienced a “fall” of sorts from that power had He fallen into sin? If so, then the weight of his continuing in a state of “condescencion” becomes even more enormous as He, by virtue of His own moral agency, chooses to walk day after day bearing the full burden of mortality.

  58. Jack on June 24, 2005 at 2:29 pm

    Oops.

    He [...] put himself in the position…

  59. Richard T on June 24, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    Jack:

    I’m a little stuck on your “way, way off” remark and could use some clarification. Are you suggesting Alma 40–or most of the other prophet’s writings, for that matter–remain within some generally accepted and understood norms? I don’t feel that way at all, and I regularly find things in the Book of Mormon that shatter the assumptions I bring to the scriptures.

    I think the uniqueness, oddity, wackiness, etc. of an idea, particularly a scriptural one, shouldn’t have any disqualifying effect. I’ve actually been surprised to see so many people dismiss Kaimi’s thoughts on that basis, particularly here at T&S, the Mormon intellectual equivalent of Muscle Beach.

    Daniel:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your wife. And yet even with subjects like Charity (see here: http://bookofmormonthemes.blogspot.com/2005/05/charity-in-moroni-7.html) I find myself needing to engage in a very rigorous thought process.

  60. Jack on June 24, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Richard T,

    I certainly don’t believe the scriptures to have a perfect doctrinal continuity, but there’s got be SOME kind of criteria for determining what should be included in the canon–and by extention, what should be excluded. Otherwise the scriptures would be totally unreliable. I’m sure you’re just as grateful as I am that most utterances from inspired leaders are NOT canonized!

  61. Richard T on June 24, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    Jack:

    And yet God says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8). And Paul says “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him,” (1 Cor 2:14).

    So, in our natural state–which I don’t think I’ve fully transcended yet; do you?–the things of God strike us as foolishness.

    And God flatly tells us that our thoughts, and our ways (and, it then follows, the “ways” we develop our “thoughts”) are not like his.

    All of this makes me resistant to the idea that there’s some universal intuition, some natural instinct we can rely on–”SOME criteria,” as you put it–to determine if something is right or wrong.

    The only external guides I’m aware of are witnesses (scripture and prophets), which God uses to prove “all his words,” (2ne11:3; Jim F wrote a terrific piece on 2ne11 about what Nephi means when he says prove [much more than just citing another source], but I don’t know where to find it, perhaps he’d be good enough to share if he’s still reading this thread). Of course, Kaimi is dealing with a subject here that falls outside the bounds of what God has seen fit to reveal, so we’re lacking witnesses in this case, and for many–perhaps Jim F?–proceeding down a path without these guides constitutes doing theology “exactly backwards.”

    We aren’t left, of course, without internal guides. Jim F mentions revelation, and Alma, describing a type of revelation, says we can plant a word in our hearts and see if it sprouts and begins to grow, expanding our minds, enlightening our understandings, enlarging our souls, becoming delicious to us, etc., (Alma 32). This only happens, of course, if the seed is good AND if we actually desire to believe. And this latter point (if we actually desire to believe) provides, in my opinion, the primary rationale for why we should be so resistant to chucking an idea just because it’s weird, particularly one that has some logical merit. If we don’t “give place” for a thought, if we judge it hastily and cast it out before it’s had a chance to grow, I think we dramatically diminish our opportunities to discover more truth.

    That’s not to say discussions like these are appropriate for Gospel Doctrine class, which T&S clearly isn’t.

  62. Jack on June 24, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    Richard: “All of this makes me resistant to the idea that there’s some universal intuition, some natural instinct we can rely on–”SOME criteria,” as you put it–to determine if something is right or wrong.”

    Perhaps the word “criteria” is misplaced since the determining factors are always in flux. (i.e., our willness to receive more light and truth, our capacity to live in ways that may be radically different from our cultural experience, etc.) And yet, even in my attempt to explain why it is misplaced a criteria begins to emerge. Even you say: “Kaimi is dealing with a subject here that falls outside the bounds of what God has seen fit to reveal”.

    So, perhaps the only real “criteria” is simply (as you say) “what God has seen fit to reveal”. I agree that we shouldn’t automatically suppose something to be false because it’s not found in the scriptures–unless, of course, it’s false. And I’m one of those who believes that some things are just plain false. And off I go! Running in a circular argument!

  63. Harold B. Curtis on June 25, 2005 at 1:47 am

    When we for doctrine do expound
    Do heavens shake in great resound
    Do rivers rush and lions roar
    Do sages wise ask for more

    Do twinkling stars grow brighter yet
    Do sunsets brazen as they set
    Do mothers coddle, children cuddle
    Because of all our fiddle faddle

    As I pray in my repose
    Do I render what God knows
    In this mighty war of will
    Do I hear His voice so still

    When I ponder sweet divine
    Is His voice the voice of mine
    Do I dare to interject
    Some great truth as I suspect

    I call it Harold chapter one
    And just as quick, I am done
    For should I set a jot and tiddle
    My jot will jiggle my tiddle little

    Beware my friend for truth divine
    Is nested in the Great sublime
    And wrenching angst may not unfold
    What God may choose to gently hold

    But time as measured not by men
    Will loose a drop now and then
    To water thirsting lips of hope
    And moisten eyes with greater scope.

    Till then, hang on, for God is here
    And angels stand so very near
    And mercy under priesthood hand
    Will nurture all who kneel and stand

    A Son, A Son is born this day
    In Fathers own appointed way
    And I will leave it best alone
    What he has not yet to me shown

    To others he may verify
    To strengthen and to sanctify
    But keep it close its yours to keep
    And let him tell this one lost sheep.

    Harold B. Curtis

  64. Jack on June 25, 2005 at 3:08 am

    To drill this thought into your head
    I share what Brother Nibley said:
    If we dare tell t’will only show
    That we most surely do not know

  65. Jack on June 25, 2005 at 3:22 am

    Alas, I’m no poet. No.
    But you already knew that–Doh!
    Know it. Oh, I give up…

  66. Larry on June 25, 2005 at 8:27 am

    Quick question.
    Of what value are ordinances, covenants, the atonement, the scriptures, or living prophets, if what has been speculated here has any merit?

  67. Jack on June 25, 2005 at 12:22 pm

    “Of what value are ordinances, covenants, the atonement, the scriptures, or living prophets…?”

    Larry, that depends on which pill you take. The blue pill, or the red pill. ;>)

  68. Larry on June 25, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    I must have missed mine today! :)

  69. Kelly on June 26, 2005 at 9:18 pm

    Okay, so I will ask the same question here that I ask of my Christian apologists who somehow claim that the trinity is one being in three different manifestations: When Jesus, who was clearly resurrected, needs to be the Holy Spirit, where does he hang his outer clothing (body)?

    If Jehovah had a physical body as the son of God the Father in an existence prior to “pre-mortal life”, died, and was resurrected, as was the Father, where did he stow that resurrected body when he came to this earth as “the only begotten” born of the virgin Mary?

    Is there some kind of celestial locker room where one takes off one’s “street clothes” in exchange for one’s “earthly body”?

    Personally, I find this line of thought most troubling. Abraham makes it clear that we were intelligences prior to our mortal existence, and that some, including Jehovah and apparently the Holy Spirit, attained to perfection over ions of time in that existence.

    It has obviously taken the rest of us a lot longer to reach even a small inkling of intelligence.

  70. Jonathan Neville on June 27, 2005 at 2:15 am

    Re: #9

    Kevin, I’m not persuaded by your analysis of the Greek word monogenes. The other times it is used in the NT, it refers to the only child of the parents in the stories; e.g., Luke 7:12, 8:32, 9:38. These only children were not “unique” in the sense you are describing. In fact, I don’t think there are any examples of Greek usage of this term outside of familial relationships. Do you know of any?

    Based on the Greek, it seems that “Only Begotten” is a good translation. Perhaps “Only Child” would me a more literal translation, but it still has the sense of a single child as opposed to the more generic uniqueness you seem to advocate.

  71. Brian McCauley on November 2, 2005 at 5:07 pm

    Kaimi-
    With regards to your comment about Christ not being married, you might find the following talk interesting:

    THE MARRIAGE RELATIONS– A Lecture by President Orson Hyde, delivered at the General Conference, in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1854.

    It is found in the Journal of Discourses, vol 2. Note it was given as a General Conference address, Brigham Young listening in. President Hyde clearly shared that Christ was indeed married to at least Mary and Martha, maybe even more, and Christ did in fact have literal children that he beheld before he died. He went on to share that the miracle of water into wine took place at his (Christ’s) own wedding. Interesting thoughts anyway. If you gon on to read the following discourse, it is by Brigham Young who apparently endorses that which was taught by President Hyde.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.