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Smart Mormons?

By Mike Jensen – Tuesday, January 22, 2013 – reprinted with permission

Mormons have intrigued me ever since Mike Huckabee back in 2007 claimed that Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers. With the recent election over, I decided to check out Mormons a bit more.

My hope in doing this was to explain to readers who Mormons are and whether or not 22 percent of the people were justified in opposing having a Mormon president.

But instead I’m going to share an intriguing bit of Mormon theology I learned that I think makes them perhaps the most politically wise human beings on the planet. Ironically, this story stems from that Huckabee quote about the relationship between Jesus and the devil, but the lesson to be learned is one that, regardless of our political or religious views, we would all be wise to consider.

So here’s what I learned: Mormons, unlike most other Christian sects, believe that all humans lived a life before mortality. They call this the pre-existence or pre-earth life. At birth a veil is placed over our minds so that we don’t remember it (you’ll see why in a minute). 

In this pre-earth life, we were all in the presence of God as His spirit children. Jesus was there—the first-born of God’s spirit children, and a leader in the councils in Heaven. Lucifer was also there, and was another leader among the children of God. He was called a “son of the morning.”

At some point in this existence, the Father called all of His children together to explain how things worked. All of His children would have to leave His presence and come to earth for a period of testing. The goal was to see if we would live a righteous life even when we had to live by faith, as we would no longer be able to remember God or heaven (that’s the reason for the veil).

If we would live a righteous life, we would be given the opportunity to return and live with God forever. Otherwise we would forfeit that chance, because no unclean thing can live in God’s presence. However, God knew that we would all make mistakes, so he would provide a Savior for the world. This Savior would live a sinless life, and because of that, he would qualify to pay for the sins of the world through what would be called the “Atonement.” If people would sincerely repent of their sins, then the Atonement would essentially erase their sins, and they could still return and live with God. The Father called for volunteers to be this savior, and two stepped forward: Jesus and Lucifer.

Lucifer said that he would be the savior and he would force everybody to live righteously, thus guaranteeing that all of God’s spirit children would return to Him in heaven. Jesus said that He would follow the Father’s plan and allow God’s children their free agency. They could choose for themselves whether to live righteously and take advantage of the Atonement or whether to live in sin and forfeit the opportunity to return and live with God.

God rejected Lucifer’s plan, causing Lucifer to rebel and declare war on God. One-third of God’s spirit children joined Lucifer in this rebellion. In the end, the rebellion failed and Lucifer and his followers were cast out of heaven. They came to earth without bodies and now, continuing the war they started in heaven, they tempt men to do evil to one another and lose out on the chance to return to God.

PAY ATTENTION HERE; THIS IS THE GOOD PART

Now, any traditional Christians reading this will see similarities to their own belief system. Most traditional Christians believe that Lucifer lived in heaven as an angel, but then declared war on God and was cast out. However, the causes for that war are not necessarily clear in traditional Christian theology.

That is where Mormon theology is so intriguing. For Mormons, the greatest of all battles, the war in heaven, was fought over liberty—or as they call it, “free agency.” Lucifer wanted to take it away, while God demanded that humans have it.

Although a Mormon might balk at my making comparisons between their religious beliefs and modern politics (and as I said earlier, every Mormon I’ve ever known was a very good person, so I apologize to any I offend), I see a direct correlation here. For a Mormon, the battle for liberty is not unique to this life; it is the core battle of the ages. Lucifer lost the war in heaven (he really thought he could beat God?), but the war continues on earth. So seeing the government become more and more tyrannical is not just a political concern; it’s a fundamental, eternal concern.

I’m inspired by this Mormon theological idea: God intended for humans to be free to make our own choices and live with the consequences of those choices. The Founding Fathers of this country said essentially the same thing in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evidence, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

My study of Mormonism has not only given me newfound respect for this people and their religion; it has also made me evaluate my own attitude towards the liberty that seems to be slipping through all of our fingers. Is this just something that is nice to have, and for which I thank the Founding Fathers? Or is it really something that is endowed by God, and that He expects me to fight for. According to Mormon theology, I already fought for this once. The fact that I’m here says that I was on God’s side in the war in heaven, and fought for liberty.

A Mormon might ask, why should any of us be less willing to fight for it here than we were there?

[Note from Alison: When I saw this posted on Facebook, I asked to reprint it because I thought it was profound, not just for it’s content, but for the fact that the author — unlike so many — was willing to do research and represent our faith accurately. Thank you!]

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Amy Lockhart April 5, 2013, 2:01 pm

    “So seeing the government become more and more tyrannical is not just a political concern; it’s a fundamental, eternal concern.”

    Bingo!

    Thank you Mike for thoughtful and true post and Alison for posting it here.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Its All Your FaultMy Profile

  • partone April 6, 2013, 12:27 am

    Great post. Thank you!

  • partone April 6, 2013, 12:27 am

    This is great. Thank you for posting!

  • jennycherie April 6, 2013, 2:17 pm

    great article – I think this might be the first time I have heard our doctrine explained so well by a non-member!
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • Colin April 10, 2013, 1:36 pm

    How anybody can believe that utter garbage is beyond me. I truly think I am slightly more stupid for having read it. Maybe if I stare into a big black hat for long enough, I will get my brain back. That second “m” really should be silent.

    • Alison Moore Smith April 11, 2013, 9:28 am

      Colin, I’m afraid retrieval of your brain function may be a lost cause. If you’d like to have an actual discussion, giving particulars about your disagreement might better lead to that than just randomly spewing invective. You decide (if you can, given your lack of cerebral capacity, that is). That “i” should really be an “o.” (Wow, it’s super satisfying to pretend I’m on the playground in third grade again! Woot!)
      Alison Moore Smith recently posted…On Women and PriesthoodMy Profile

  • Susan April 11, 2013, 8:16 am

    Thank you for re-posting this- and to the original author for researching and writing it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this explained better!

    • Alison Moore Smith April 11, 2013, 9:30 am

      Susan, welcome and thanks for your comment. I agree. It’s rare to see such an accurate description outside the church. I appreciate the authors diligence in looking for the truth about our beliefs.
      Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Ministry Without MiraclesMy Profile

  • Colin April 11, 2013, 11:32 am

    Where to start? Well, first, we know that all life on earth evolved over a period of approximately 3,500,000,000 years. We know that human beings gradually evolved from a widely disprersed hominid called homo Erecuts about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. Homo Erectus had itself evolved from an earlier hominid called homo Habilis, which itself evolved from the Australopithecus line. All these hominids can trace their ancestry back to the early mammals, which preceeded the extinction of thhe dinosaurs (about 65,000,000 years ago).

    We know this because of DNA mapping and the fossil record. The evidence for the slow evolution of human beings on Earth over a very, very long timescale is overwhelming. Alternative creation myths, like the one in the Bible, as expanded upon by the LDS, is just that – a simple myth. It is not even original.

    Both Genesis accounts in the Bible (thereare two and they are inconsistent) appear to be largely a compilation of four earlier pieces of Middle Eastern mythology; (i) the Enuma Elish, in which a Bablyonian god creates the world in six days, then rests on the seventh, creating light, then earth, then the plants, animals and man ; (ii) the Epic of Gilgamesh – another Babylonian myth in which a flood wipes out the entire planet, except Gilgamesh and his family, who survive by building an ark; (iii) the saga of Adapa and the South Wind – a myth involving two central characters, Adapa and Ea, in which Ea tells Adapa not to eat food while in heaven and Adapa thus loses immortality; and (iv) the story of Atrahasis, an earlier Sumerian myth involving a great flood and mankind being made from a mixture of clay and blood of the gods.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh is often cited as the first book ever written. Typical of literature of that region and epoch, it is more in the nature of an epic poem and was originally written on twelve stone tablets. Tablet 11 recounts how the god Ea warns one of the characters, Utnapishtim, that a great flood is coming. She tells him to build an ark of very precise dimensions and seal it with pitch and bitumen. Utnapishtim’s family and workers go board the ark, along with “all the animals of the field”. Once they are safely inside, a violent storm arises that lasts six days and seven nights and destroys all of humanity, except the people and creatures on the ark. The ark eventually comes to rest on a mountain and, after seven more days, Utnapishtim releases a dove, a swallow and a raven. When the latter fails to return, he opens the ark and releases its inhabitants to repopulate the planet.

    Two contributors to the Jewish Tanaka (which would ultimately become the Old Testament of the Bible) tried their hand at telling a tale about creation, the Elhoist Source and the Yahwist source. The first version is in Chapter 1 of Genesis and the second is in Chapter 2. In the first version, God creates man and woman together, but in the second version, he creates man first, but Adam becomes lonely and he creates Eve out of Adam’s rib. In the first version he creates man and woman after all the animals, but in the second version, he creates man, then the trees and beasts and then woman. The creation of the birds also precedes or follows the creation of Adam, depending on which version of the myth one reads. It is in the second version that we get the appearance of the snake and the temptation of Eve.

    In short, the LDS myth abpout a veil conveniently placed to erase all memory of a former life is itself built on another myth. It beggers belief that we still give this mythology and superstition any time today, given that we know the real story of the origins of life on Earth and the Univers in increasing detail.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 11, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Colin, let me tell you something about real scientists. (As opposed, you know, to those playing one on the internet.) They don’t claim to know anything that isn’t demonstrably reproducible. Like, say, macro-evolution. And even then, the claimed scientific “fact” is clearly and narrowly defined based on the actual research.

    The theory of evolution is called “The Theory of Evolution” — even by the most profound and ardent disciples of evolution (assuming they understand the scientific method and what scientific words mean) — because it’s…wait for it…a theory.

    The theory of evolution has changed and morphed quite dramatically and, in fact, has an enormous number of unknowns. Yes, it’s become politicized, but that doesn’t impact the actual theory itself — except that it makes it very costly for scientists to research or promote anything that doesn’t support the prevailing ideas.

    Strangely enough, the theory of evolution is not even one Mormons generally refute and it is taught at all church owned universities. Let me repeat that. The universities that the church owns systematically teach the currently acknowledged theory of evolution (and all other generally accepted scientific theories) as part of it’s regular curriculum. Not as an apologist matter — and not as a straw man or as an “ungodly theory” — but as reputable scientific theory.

    The theory of evolution doesn’t remotlely exclude intelligent design, even if you’re confused about that. And having a God — as Mormons do — who isn’t some unknowable mystical being, but rather a very evolved (don’t you love that word?), ethical, deified human is an incredibly elegant solution. That belief that we hold to doesn’t deny the possibility of evolution, but neither does it depend on it.

    Now, let me be clear about something. I’m happy to allow contrary points of view and have meaningful discussion. But if you just want to snark up the blog with disrespectful blathering, move on. I’ll just mod you.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 99: The Pursuit of FreedomMy Profile

  • Amy Lockhart April 11, 2013, 2:16 pm

    Alison: “But if you just want to snark up the blog with disrespectful blathering, move on. I’ll just mod you.”

    Oh, but that was so much more fun don’t you think Alison! I’d say if every 3rd grade playground had this type of play we’d be in a far better state in general. Superb, thanks!
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Diapers and Golden CalvesMy Profile

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