Thursday, February 03, 2005

Eternal Regression

The concept of eternal progression is well established in Mormonism. While the nitty gritty details are still among the “mysteries”, the basic idea of man having the potential to progress to be like God is a fundamental doctrine of the Restoration. But what about moving backwards? If in this life we can progress to attain more light and intelligence and thus be more like God, can we regress by losing light and intelligence and thus become less like God than we started? Logic and the scriptures seem to say yes.

First I appeal to the teaching of Lehi:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (2 Nep. 2:11)

Alma agreed:
Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. (Alma 42:16)

The basic idea is that there is a potential mirror image to our progression in this life. For all the heights we can attain there are mirroring depths we can attain.

The concept progressing and increasing in light and intelligence is taught in the D&C:
For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. (D&C 88:40)

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:24)

In the Book of Mormon we are taught the idea of light and truth being taken away if we reject it:
For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.(2 Nep. 28:30)

And now behold, I tell you by the spirit of prophecy, that if ye transgress the commandments of God, behold, these things which are sacred shall be taken away from you by the power of God, and ye shall be delivered up unto Satan, that he may sift you as chaff before the wind. (Alma 37: 15)

The possibility of eternal regression seems pretty obvious to me. Am I missing something? If not, does the idea never seem to be taught in the church?


I personally have a different perspective than what you allude to, though there are some similarities. However, there is no question that Satan is now worse off than he was pre council. That is to say, that he regressed. Moreover, in consideration of the primacy of agency in our theology, no one can make us progress. I surmise that everyone in the celestial kingdom will have the right intentions and consequently progress. I don’t know about the volition outside that kingdom.

B. Young did speculated once on the fate of Perdition that would tie in well with you’re take on things. 

Posted by J. Stapley

2/03/2005 04:21:00 PM  

I'm curious about what your different perspective is on this. Considering your apparent leaning toward the parts that make up our spirits being eternal rather than our spirits as they now exist being eternal, I would think this would be right up your alley, J.

I'm finding myself agreeing with Brother Brigham on a lot of theological and doctrinal things (but not all). Since he personally knew Joseph so well that is somewhat comforting. 

Posted by Geoff Johnston

2/03/2005 05:11:00 PM  



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