Recent Comments

  • Jonathan Green on Faith crisis in Brandon Sanderson’s Sunlit Man: “ReTx, it’s a book I’m happy to recommend. And fortunately it comes in under 400 pages, so it’s not quite the time commitment of the Stormlight Archive. Chad, a long time ago Brandon Sanderson did an extensive Q&A right here on this blog, and it impressed me enough to start reading his books. As for the “god beyond,” I don’t know – both narratively and theologically (our theology, I mean), there’s a lot more speculation than knowledge. For Sanderson’s mythology, I see the god beyond as a reflection that even in a cosmos full of gods, demigods and divine beings, faith is still the evidence of things not seen.Jun 16, 07:45
  • Chad Nielsen on Faith crisis in Brandon Sanderson’s Sunlit Man: “I didn’t know that you were a Sanderson fan too, Jonathan! I hadn’t thought of Aux as a Christ-figure when I read this book, but that is an interesting thought. As a side note, I’ve been musing on the “god beyond” that comes up as a concept in the Cosmere books. Would the equivalent in a Mormon theology be the theoretical first God in the lineage of gods?Jun 15, 20:50
  • ReTx on Faith crisis in Brandon Sanderson’s Sunlit Man: “I’ll be back. I read your first couple of paragraphs and realized I *have* to read this book, and don’t want spoilers. Knowing Brandon, this may take a while. Huge thank you for the rec.Jun 15, 16:25
  • RLD on The Cosmological Grandeur of the Restored Gospel: Mining the Journal of Discourses: “Note that all these quotes presumably came well before the nature of other galaxies was understood. Some of them are pretty clearly talking about a universe that was much bigger than the science of the day had yet discovered. The quote about spirits traveling at the speed of light makes me smile. The first measurement of the distance to a star was made in 1838, so the speaker could have known that that is much too slow to “fly swiftly to other worlds on missions,” but I imagine an understanding of the implications was not yet widespread. On the other hand “If you could hie [travel] to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye, and then continue onward with that same speed to fly” apparently contemplates faster than light travel, and “do you think that you could ever, through all eternity, find out the generation where Gods began to be?” suggests doing so for a very long time for the purpose of observing the past. Contrary to myth, special relativity does not imply that if you could travel faster than light then time would flow backward (it would become imaginary, as in the square root of a negative number). But if you *could* somehow travel away from an object at a speed greater than the speed of light, you’d catch up with light that left the object further and further in the past. Thus you could, in theory, see events in the distant past by traveling away from wherever they took place, assuming you had a telescope as magical as your faster-than-light drive. That’s not something scientists were contemplating in the 1840s, just W.W. Phelps.Jun 13, 22:42
  • RLD on Theology in Alma: “I completely agree that Book of Mormon prophets were only using physical torment as an analogy for a guilty conscience. Alma’s story makes that clear: nothing was happening to him physically when he experienced what he described as “the pains of hell.” It’s also why they could change analogies at will. One way to reframe this question would be “How long does the pain of a guilty conscience last?” Some people read Alma’s teaching that everyone will be “raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil” and figure that the Celestial Kingdom is the endless happiness in the kingdom of God and everything else must be endless misery in the kingdom of the devil. But that doesn’t match the descriptions we have of the Terrestrial and Telestial kingdoms. An alternative reading would assume all the kingdoms of glory offer endless happiness, and endless misery in the kingdom of the devil only describes the fate of the sons of perdition. But Book of Mormon prophets seem to assume garden-variety wicked people will go to “the bad place.” (That interpretation might fit in some places, like Mosiah 2:38.) The interpretation I find most plausible is that Book of Mormon prophets never got a clear vision like D&C 76, and assumed that the state of things in the spirit world, where the unrepentant wicked will suffer for their sins, would endure forever. But even there they probably had some inkling that words like “endless” and “forever” in this context don’t necessarily mean what they normally mean. The important thing is that God did not create a plan that will leave most of his children miserable forever. That would contradict the goodness of God.Jun 13, 11:55
  • Raymond Dunn on The Cosmological Grandeur of the Restored Gospel: Mining the Journal of Discourses: “I really appreciate the ideas and thoughts to be found this post. Too bad that much of what I hear in normal life falls short.Jun 13, 10:54
  • ji on The Cosmological Grandeur of the Restored Gospel: Mining the Journal of Discourses: “I have written before on the grand tapestry of Mormon thought — it is grand, and yes, “the space of things we could believe is much larger than we expect.” I am glad for grand thoughts, and I even engage and speculate a little myself. But I regret when some among us take a thread of that thought and turn it into doctrine, and insist that all among us must believe the same way or else we are not good church members. I will grant that they are sincere, and yet I sometimes feel they might also be uncharitable in their insistence. But, hasn’t this always been so?Jun 13, 07:09
  • Jonathan Green on The Cosmological Grandeur of the Restored Gospel: Mining the Journal of Discourses: “That’s a great list of quotes (and maybe the most useful thing AI has done so far around here). It’s interesting for the same reason I think the GAEL is interesting: not because it’s precisely what we believe, but because it suggests that the space of things we could believe is much larger than we expect.Jun 13, 04:35
  • Jack on Theology in Alma: “RLD, I think that some of the Book of Mormon prophets may have understood the pains of hell in the way that Section 19 of the D&C speaks of it. Here are a couple of quotes from Jacob that seem to imply that understanding: 1 Nephi 8:26 “For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.” Jacob 6:10 “And according to the power of justice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment.” Jacob labels both descriptions of hell as “endless torment.” I recognize that endless is not capitalized–but even so, I can’t help but be suspicious of the usage. Also, King Benjamin explains that the torment of hell is in reality the pain of a guilty conscience. And so while he doesn’t mention anything about the duration of that pain he does uncover the fact that the wicked are not actually cast into a fiery furnace of sorts. Anyway, just a few thoughts on why I think at least some BoM prophets knew more than they actually revealed on the subject.Jun 11, 20:40
  • RLD on Theology in Alma: “Mormon saw plenty of death and misery, but as far as we know he never saw people burned alive. It’s seeing the metaphor of a lake of fire and brimstone turned into horrifying reality that seems to have prompted Alma and his successors to stop using it. It’s not surprising that, some 500 years later and without similar direct experience, Mormon didn’t have the same reaction. This does lead to the very interesting question of how to reconcile the assumptions of Book of Mormon prophets about our possible eternal destinies with D&C 76. But I guess I’ve given away my answer in how I framed the question.Jun 11, 12:49