Thursday, May 12, 2011

"I will choose the first..."

The Pearl of Great Price in the LDS canon gives important information about the details surrounding the grand council that took place in heaven when the Plan of Salvation ® was decided on by God the Father in relation to what course our salvation would take. In Abraham Chapter 3 verse 4 we read that Abraham was given the following by way of revelation:

"And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob."

From this verse we learn that the Lord is pretty specific that one revolution of the planet Kolob is equal to a thousand years of reckoning based on our earth's rotation. This seems pretty specific and is stating in pretty clear terms that one day to God (on his planet) is 1,000 years to man on earth. Which would seem to indicate that each one of the creative periods (as outlined in Genesis in the Bible and Moses/Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price) was each roughly a 1,000 year time span. This is one point on which science does not agree.

To say that the earth was created in 7,000 earth years (1,000 years X 7 creative periods plus, at most, 6,000 years since man supposedly appeared on the scene, as outlined in the Bible - placing the total time of earth's existence at around 13,000 years), is a belief that, while common a few hundred years ago, is considered just plain ridiculous now. In case you are wondering, scientists say that the earth began to form 4.54 billion years ago. Liquid ocean appeared on the scene about 200 million years later. Life appeared on the scene some 3.5 billion years ago and the evolutionary path that led to the existence of man began about 2.5 million years ago. All of which seem to be a far cry from 13,000 years.

However, on a more positive note, what we may have in the Bible is a starting point for man's written history after verbal and written language begins to be developed to a point where it is passed down through history. Experts say that the oldest written record (Jiahu script) is from 6600 BCE - which is about 8,600 years ago. This may be the real legacy of the Bible that we have today. The Bible, it could be argued, is one of the oldest texts that we still have in wide use today - having originated some 6,000 years ago.

While all of this is very interesting, it is just a side note to the point I want to make about what we find later in this chapter of Abraham.

We read further in Abraham starting in verse 22 of Chapter 4 additional revelations concerning this grand council in heaven:

"Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls
(I was always taught that this was you and I) that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Chosen for what exactly, we can only speculate)

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God,
(Not sure who this is, however, it sounds like it could be another god that is similar in glory to God the Father, hmmm? This would be consistent with the creation account in Abraham where it says "...the gods" instead of God created the heavens and the earth...) and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who keep their first estate
(First estate meaning those who chose to follow Jesus in this large council meeting) shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Keeping the second estate meaning those that successfully complete all the tests administered during life on earth)

27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me.
(I was taught that this was Jesus/Jehovah) And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. (I was taught that this was Satan, Lucifer whatever you want to call him) And the Lord said: I will send the first. (Here we are to understand that God the Father chose Jesus' plan over Satan's)

28 And the second was angry,
(We presume this is Satan) and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

In D&C 29:36 we learn that it was 1/3 of God's children that followed Satan and did not keep their first estate...meaning they chose not to follow a plan that would result in a limited number of souls making it back to live with God the Father for all eternity.

So let me get this straight. God calls a big meeting. God solicits ideas on, presumably, how to allow his children to become like him. Jesus steps forward and presents a plan that says that we will all have a choice, but the downside will be that only a limited number of children will choose to accept Jesus' plan and subsequent sacrifice and end up returning to live with God the Father for all eternity. Another leader, Satan, steps forward to present his plan. Since his plan is not decided upon, the details of it are pretty sketchy, but the gist is that all of God's children will be able to return to live with him for eternity. It is always presumed that this plan would involve 1. Taking away our choice in the matter and 2. Somehow making us miserable since we would not have any say in the matter. Those two conditions sound about like how I was made to feel as a child when my parents forced me to do things I did not want to do.

My question is this; Is God the Father truly a loving father to us all? I would have to argue that the answer to that question is definitely not. Let me try to put it in simpler terms that even I can relate to;

If I am the parent of 10 children and I get up in front of all of them one day and say something to the effect of, "We need to come up with a plan so we can all be happy together as long as we all live in the same house." Child #1 steps up and says, I have an idea...everybody can choose whether or not they want to stay here and everyone that's left will be happy here because they have decided to stay here. Child #2 steps up and says, I have a better idea, why don't we make rules and say that everyone must stick by them in order to be able to stay here and be happy. However, nobody can leave...because family sticks together no matter what.

So which plan do I choose? If I choose the 1st child's plan, everyone that decides to stay may well be happy in the house, but how many will actually decide to stay?

If I am truly a loving parent how is it possible for me to choose a plan where it is known that I am going to lose 1/3rd of my children the minute I decide to go with that plan and likely another 50-75% (or more) of my children when it is all said and done. These kids, by the way, will never be coming back to stay with all of us. They will be gone forever. Is that the great plan of happiness? Happiness for who?

How many people, as a percentage of the overall population, I wonder, have prophets said will actually make it to the highest degree of heaven where God the Father will dwell and can be with Him for all eternity? We know it is for sure only 2/3rds of His children right off the bat. I realize that, aside from the 2/3rds we can establish scripturally, any other number is based on pure speculation, but I have heard some say that the number that will actually end up exalted in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom is somewhere around 10% of the world's population. I have heard through the rumor mill that some general authorities have admitted in private settings something to the effect that, "it is much less than we all might think." So could it be 1%?

Let's add some perspective. The current population (living) of our planet is about 6.8 billion (in 2009 according to the World Bank). The current number of members of the LDS church (put out by the church) stands at 14.1 million members. This puts the membership of the church as a percentage of the world population at less than .2%. Some have said that it may only be half of the members of the church that make it to the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, which would mean that less than .1% of the world's population will make it back to live with God our Heavenly Father. And this is just among the living. I imagine if we were able to count all those that have lived on this planet before us, we could probably come up with an extremely small number (compared to the total) of people who will end up living with God the Father in his presence forever. No wonder they will be encouraged to eternally increase their numbers through polygamous relations...their numbers will have been significantly diminished!

So, going back to my family with 10 children example, would you choose to go along with a plan that would mean that only 1 of your kids ends up choosing to be with you and, therefore, is privileged enough to live out your days together in your house? What parent that loves ALL of their children could go for such a plan? The only thing that makes sense, is that either A) God wants us to think for ourselves and therefore live in an independent sphere and maybe make it to be like Him independent of living with him (and this is what would truly make Him happy - but would make him sort of unnecessary really) or B) God only wants to live with a select few whom he will choose to bestow his ultimate knowledge and glory on forever. The rest can just go to hell, apparently, and never get any of the goods he has to offer. As a father myself, I simply cannot relate to this way of thinking. This mindset, of giving rewards to those who are the most obedient (often without any knowledge of why they are being asked to be such), and threatening those that are not with being cut off, sounds less like the work of a mature, loving father and more like the teaching of an outdated institution bent on controlling people who do not think for themselves.

Anyway, I hope I have made it clear that the teaching that God is our loving Father in Heaven cannot logically co-exist with the idea that He decided that only a limited number of his lovely child creations would be able to come back and live with Him forever. I hope to elaborate further thoughts on this at some future point.

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