Jesus as Elder Brother and the Case for Spirit Birth

Jesus Christ serves as a vital link between God the Father and man in many ways. One of the ways to make the case for mankind being literal spirit children of God the Father is to make a connection between mankind and Jesus Christ. Then the more obvious link between Christ and God the Father helps complete an understanding of the relationship between God and man.

The scriptures speak of Jesus being the firstborn of the Father. Paul wrote:

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (Col. 1:12-15)

The Doctrine and Covenants also teaches this:

And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn; (D&C 93:21)

Scriptures like these are used to establish Jesus Christ as being the first born spirit child of God the Father. The term firstborn is key to this connection. ‘First’ implies a sequence with Christ at the beginning. And while the mind, will, or ‘intelligence’ is eternal, the spirit body must have had a beginning in time or else being first makes little sense. The term ‘born’ is also significant as it implies the method of just such a beginning.

A scripture I use very frequently on this topic is this:

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Heb. 12:9)

This scripture draws an obvious parallel between fathers of flesh and Father of spirits, using the same word for both within the same sentence. The context is unmistakable.

Christ uses a beautiful and inclusive statement to Mary shortly after his resurrection when he says:

…Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)

This, along with the Lord’s Prayer, offer a very pleasing link between Jesus Christ and all mankind. The scriptures let us know that Christ is the firstborn spirit child of God the Father, and that God is also the Father of our spirits. Christ seemed to go out of his way to establish his brotherhood with us, as spirit children of the same God.

Jesus Christ as ‘Elder brother’ is an important relationship that helps establish the idea of man as the literal spirit child of God.

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59 Responses to “Jesus as Elder Brother and the Case for Spirit Birth”


  1. 1 Matt W. March 28, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Spirit Birth is fine by me, just not the vivaporous kind. You’ve really been focused on this for quite some time.

    anyway, I thought I’d throw you some bones to chew on

    From the Truth the Way and the Life

    We shall be like Him–conformed to the divine image. That is the end, then, for the spiritually born man–he will be conformed into the image of God–conformed to the type of the Spirit-life that has taken up his abode in him. How long shall it take? Who knows? And what shall it matter? The important thing is that it shall be done. The important things for us men is that the spirit-birth takes place; that union with God be formed; the ages may wait upon a man, longer to make Super-man; but the eternal years are his who is born of the Spirit; and again I say the important thing for us men is to have that Spirit-birth and then are we sons of God; and while it doth not appear what we shall be, for the height and glory of that is beyond our human vision, ultimately we shall be like him, and see him as he is, and be conformed to the Christ image, that is to say, to the divine nature–unless one shall sin against the Holy Ghost.
    (The Meaning of Christ–the Truth, the Way, the Life: an Analysis of B. H. Roberts’ Unpublished Masterwork by Truman G. Madsen, BYU Studies, vol. 15 (1974-1975), Number 2 – Winter 1975 291.)

    As you see, it is an example of a post mortal spirit birth… Interesting?

    Here’s one more up your alley though:

    Early LDS literature generally reflects contemporary attitudes toward God as a father figure, exemplified in a Messenger and Advocate editorial dated August 1837, which observed, “the great God is called our Father, as well as our preserver and bountiful benefactor: what fond endearments, what tender ties are not associated with the expression our Father.” For the Saints, however, the concept of God’s fatherhood grew to be more than just a sentimental metaphor. The Saints were taught to believe that “that which is temporal [is] in the likeness of that which is spiritual” (D&C 77:2), so that everything on earth, including the birth process, has its likeness in heaven. Furthermore, they were instructed that God is an exalted man who once experienced mortality, and that righteous couples are to become Gods themselves, receiving “their exaltation in the eternal words, that they may bear the souls of men.”
    The belief that man may become as God in bearing the souls of men certainly would have been sufficient to establish the corollary belief that man himself is the offspring of God. It is quite possible in fact that the revealed destiny of man became the key which unlocked for many of the Saints the mystery of man’s origin. In addition to scriptural inferences of spirit birth, there is evidence that the Prophet privately taught the doctrine to others. An isolated incident related secondhand some seventy years after its occurrence purports that Zina D. Young, who lost her mother when she was eighteen, was consoled by the Prophet, who told her she would see not only her earthly mother again, but also her Heavenly Mother. Several of the Prophet’s associates did not hesitate later to attribute their knowledge of premortal spirit birth to his teachings. Parley P. Pratt, for instance, later recollected that in the latter part of 1839 he spent several days with Joseph Smith in which he learned “many great and glorious principles concerning God and the heavenly order of eternity.” Reflecting back on his impressions received during these conversations with the Prophet, Pratt wrote, “I felt that God was my Heavenly Father indeed, that Jesus was my brother.” Benjamin F. Johnson wrote late in life of Joseph Smith, “He taught us that God was the great head of human procreation–was really and truly the father of both our spirits and our bodies.” The fact that Joseph’s associates attributed their knowledge of spirit birth to Joseph Smith coupled with the unequivocal way in which they proclaimed the idea of spirit birth beginning near the time of his death strongly suggest that the doctrine originated with the Prophet. At the very least, Joseph Smith must be credited with having provided the impetus that led to an awareness of spirit birth.

    (The Development of the Doctrine of Preexistence, 1830-1844 by Charles R. Harrell Fn, BYU Studies, vol. 28 (1988), Number 2 – Spring 1988 90.)

  2. 2 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 7:27 am

    Wow. Great quotes Matt! Where do you find these things?!

    I feel this doctrine is vital to our understanding of who we are, who God is, what we can become, etc. Once we lose a sense of a divine heritage it seems we create an opportunity to slip away from these imporant things.

  3. 3 Matt W. March 29, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Eric, I have Gospellink 2001. If you can find a copy, it is a dang good reference.

    Steven R. Covey in his Six events says the most core event of the gospel is Knowing we are God’s children and that he loves us. I agree with this, I just have reservations when in comes to the manner this is “literally” accomplished.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 11:30 am

    I might have to try to obtain a gospelink program and install it.

    I agree with Covey. I am not all that convinced of viviparous spirit birth, but I desperately do not want to lose anything regarding the parent/child relationship. How far away from some type of ‘real’ birth can we get before this relationship gets lost?

  5. 5 J. Stapley March 29, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    I think desperate is the operative word. You already know that I think your exegesis in tenuous and fairly baseless. That said, I was delighted to find an instance in the Church Archives recently that Joseph F. Smith preached that Spirits were never created and had always existed.

    Matt, I’m not sure why you quote Harrell. We have discussed already how his analysis is crappy.

  6. 6 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Yes, tenuous and baseless is probably a pretty apt description of my talent. And I can certainly see were one would not want to base any belief on clear and unambiguous scriptural passages that are consistent with the tenor of the scriptures as a whole and the general teachings and doctrines of the church. I am REALY out on a limb on this one.

  7. 7 J. Stapley March 29, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Eric, the thing is that I completely agree that Jesus was “the Firstborn.” Joseph Smith went so far as to say that he was God’s heir because of it (this idea is reflected by Paul as well in his heirs and joint-heirs language). We also have that whole idea about the “Church of the Firstborn.” I also completely agree that God is our Father in every sense that those scriptures state. It is just the extrapolations that you try to pull from them that are shaky…but perhaps I am reading to much into this post from your other posts. If so, my apologies.

  8. 8 Matt W. March 29, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    J. I hadn’t reacalled that Eric was along for the ride there, and I was trying to be generous in throwing him a bone to his favour.

    Anyway, even under a Joseph model of pre-existance, there is a point where we go through a “spirit birth”, even if it is nothing more that when we said “Yes” in the Council in Heaven and agreed to the plan and the relationship. I hope we all can atleast agree on that point.

    The one thing Eric has going for his point of view, as far as I am concerned, is that it maintains a role for a Mother in Heaven, which I am very definitely in murky waters when it comes to that. Of all the things I agree with Blake on, that is one where I can’t say I am 100% on board.

  9. 9 J. Stapley March 29, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    OK, I see that, Matt. One interesting thing about Jesus being the “Firstborn” is that it pushes us to ask questions about what that means. Jesus was God pre-mortally. It would seem that his role was part of being the first born. Was it just luck that we have a God (something we demonstrably weren’t) as the first born? I think not. Viviparous spirit birth would seem to suggest that this is some sort of grand cosmic coincidence.

  10. 10 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    J:

    I completely agree that something about us is immortal, whether it is termed intelligence, mind, element, spirit, soul, whatever you will. It is just the extrapolations that you try to pull from them that are shaky…but perhaps I am reading to much into your previous posts.

    Matt:

    The whole eternal family concept and what exaltation is like is going for my point of view. This has implications of our eternal past and futures all over it. The Proclamation on the Family is consistent with this which is the closest thing to scripture we probably have from our current prophet.

  11. 11 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    J:

    You bring up a terribly interesting point about the coincidence of Christ being the firstborn.

  12. 12 Matt W. March 29, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    J. I agree this is a problem for, say, the BY model, but I do not know that this is as much of a problem for the Roberts model(or Widtsoe model, for that matter). After all, there could definitely have been some form of selection in the process or some requirement of self-effort which Christ was first at the level of progression to undergo.

    Eric: It des seem to work nicely in your model, however, I think there are definitely other models where it works just as well. I guess this depends on whether you feel Heavenly Father had a Heavenly Father or not… I am just as uncomfortable committing to a position on Heavenly Grampa as I am on Heavenly Mother though, I’m afraid…

  13. 13 m&m March 29, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    J,
    Or maybe the whole birthright thing in the scriptures might suggests that the firstborn spirit has a special birthright. After all, all things testify of Christ, right?

  14. 14 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I sometimes wonder if there may have been other nobel and great ones in the pre-existence that might have been able to succesfully take on the role of Savior. I am not sure what to think of that possibility.

  15. 15 J. Stapley March 29, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    m&m and Eric, I’m pretty sure that in light of Joseph Smith’s teachings, Jesus did have the birthright. But it also says the he was “greater than them all.” Jesus was God before pre-mortally, nobody else was. To even suggest that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that anybody else could have done the job equally well is quite heretical (and contra-doctrinal/scriptural).

  16. 16 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    I thought I might throw out a quote from the standard repository of all wisdom and knowledge (True to the Faith). Under the heading of ‘The Father of Our Spirits’ it says:

    One of life’s great questions is ‘Who am I?’ A beloved Primary song helps even little children answer this question…The knowledge that we are children of God provides strength, comfort, and hope.

    You are a literal child of God, spiritually begotten in the premortal life. As His child, you can be assured that you have divine, eternal potential and that He will help you in your sincere efforts to reach that potential. (TTTF p. 74)

    And J., I was thinking way out of the box on my last comment. I am not sure you can lump Michelle in there as well. But, one of the results from our thinking this all out has to do with how much of a gap there is between God and man. And can man really become like God? My impressions are that you have a very large, possibly unbridgeable, gap. Perhaps an eternal ontological difference. Perhaps not even the same type, or kind, or species. Feel free to correct me.

    My sense is that the gap is much smaller. And that exaltation and eternal life like God is within our grasp through the atonement of Christ. That we are of the same type, kind, and species as God. Because we are literal children.

    The one loaded word in the quote from TTTF is begotten. You see this word all the time on this topic. The word can mean two things, either to father or sire, or to cause as in violence begets violence.

  17. 17 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Oh, and I certainly am not suggesting that anybody could have done it! Not even close! I was just wondering out loud if there may have been some other nobel and great one who might have been able to do it. An Abraham perhaps. My exaggerated thought is bad enough without adding to it!

  18. 18 J. Stapley March 29, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    What would you say begotten means in DC 76:24?

    Eric, I believe everything Joseph Smith ever taught on the topic of our nature and immortality.

  19. 19 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    As far as the verse, off the top I would say that ‘God’ in this verse refers to Elohim and that begotten sons and daughters refers to us as his spirit children.

    And your answer seems less direct to me than it may sound to someone else. I might give you a chance to clarify yourself – what of the scriptures? What of subsequent prophets? What of what may be considered common teachings and doctrines of the church? I still think that with what some may consider generous interpretations, that all of these sources are in general agreement.

  20. 20 J. Stapley March 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I think perhaps things started of on the wrong foot by considering this post a continuation of some of our other conversation. I am sorry for that and for my aggressive tone I have a firm testimony of the restoration and living Church. Maybe we’ll bump into each other in the future.

  21. 21 Geoff J March 29, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    I think that you are right that we are spirit children of God the Father Eric. The problem with your extrapolations is that we re also spirit children of God the Son, or the spirit children of Christ. The scriptures make that abundantly clear I think.

    See these references as just a few examples:

    Isa. 53: 10.
    10 ¶ Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

    Mosiah 5: 7.
    7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

    Mosiah 27: 25.
    25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

    Moro. 7: 19.
    19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

    Plus see here.

  22. 22 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    J:

    I’m sorry that my feathers got ruffled a bit. I am not used to being called desparate, tenuous and baseless. When I first came to the blogs the doctrine of being a child of God didn’t particularly mean much to me. Now it means a great deal. Of course I can’t explain it all, and I am not much good at debates. But for me this really is not an excuse to debate. It is a search for truth, for more light and knowledge. For the past few weeks I have felt like pushing my beliefs in this farther that I ordinarily would to see what happens to them. I appreciate your help in providing feedback about them.

    In mechanical design engineering we sometimes push the limits of our knowledge, experience and technology. The is an older, very experienced engineer at my work. He is good at pointing out the flaws in designs and concepts. He always plays devils advocate. He always says, ‘you can’t do that’. And then tells you why. He rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But whenever I know I am out on a limb, and searching for a clever way to solve a problem, I go to him. Not because he will smile and say ‘that looks fine Eric’. But because he will say -‘you can’t do that’ and then tell me why. I always go to him.

    When I write on these topics I often hope old Stapely will come by. Thank you for not ignoring me and for telling me where you think I am going wrong. I am not pretending to know any special answers, I am testing some assumptions.

  23. 23 Eric Nielson March 29, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Interesting thoughts Geoff. I wonder how literally to take some of these things. It becomes anteresting balance – which scriptures to take literally and which to take symbolically. The scriptures I list seem to obviously point out that Christ and we are children of the same God.

    Because of this I am prone to take these scriptures as a more symbolic adoption. The Mosiah 5:7 verse in particular doesn’t just use the term begotten, but spiritually begotten. This makes me wonder if in that case that apiritually may be synonamous with symbolically.

    In the scriptures you list and link to (thanks by the way) is not this being a child of Christ a conditional thing? Where not everyone is a child of Christ but only those who make a covenant of some type. This adds to my leaning to take this as a symbolic thing. To me the sense that we are the children of God the Father is not conditional, but universal. Regardless of whether we have made any earthly covenants or not.

  24. 24 C Jones March 30, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Nice can of worms, Eric! :-) I have to admit that maybe I cling to a similar understanding of spirit birth as you do because anything else seems to have no real need for a female contribution. If all that is necessary to become a spirit child of God is to raise the arm and make a covenant, women are superfluous.

  25. 25 m&m March 30, 2007 at 12:43 am

    To even suggest that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that anybody else could have done the job equally well is quite heretical (and contra-doctrinal/scriptural).

    Yah, Eric was right. You ought not lump me in that comment. :) I believe in the Savior’s premortal pre-eminence. We had faith in Him back then, too. He was defintely different.

  26. 26 m&m March 30, 2007 at 12:56 am

    In my mind, sometimes we can look at Primary and see what is taught.
    The first manual is entitled “I am a Child of God” and the first lesson says this:
    Show picture 1-1, The World. Explain that before we were born on earth we lived in heaven with Heavenly Father. We were spirits there. A spirit is what is inside of us that makes us alive. When we were spirits, we didn’t have flesh and bones like our bodies have now, but we looked the same.
    Explain that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits, and we are his spirit children. We don’t remember living with Heavenly Father before we came to earth, but we know we are his spirit children because we read it in the scriptures.

    What more really needs to be said? :) Sometimes I think we adults make things too complicated. :)

    The first song my children ever learned, almost before they could talk, was “I am a Child of God.” I don’t feel the need to make a clarification to that, especially when the doctrine is taught repeatedly. At some point, all the quotes along the way don’t mean as much to me as what I am taught now by prophets and what I feel to teach my children, which is simple, clear and wonderful. I am a daughter of God. We are spirit sons and daughters. Even as we can be spiritually begotten while in the flesh as we accept Christ, we never address Him as Father per se. He is the One who makes it possible for us to return Home to our Heavenly Father, the Father of us all (whereas Christ can only be the spiritual Father of those who accept Him)!

    All of what matters most in life (the fact that we bear and rear children, are organized in families, etc.) seems to testify to me that we are indeed His children. How that all came to be matters less to me than the fact that He is my/our Father. And if that is the title He most prefers, I think we should embrace that relationship without hesitation.

    Sometimes I think we adults want to make things more complicated than they need to be…. :)

  27. 27 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 7:06 am

    CJones:

    Thanks for listening in, and for the smile. I think you make an excellent point here. Maybe I am not the only renegade Mormon in the world that believes that we are children of God. It stuns me that on a Mormon blog that this topic would be a can of worms. Before I came to the ‘nacle I would have guessed that this would be a boring topic.

    m&m:

    as to your first comment, my thought about some other nobel and great spirit maybe being able to be the savior was blurting out a thought. It really doesn’t sound right or feel right. Probably a dumb idea, and I have dismissed it.

    As to your second comment, I agree completely. Thanks for providing it. Once again this is evidence that I am not really all alone in this.

  28. 28 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 7:10 am

    I would also say that I am a little floored and stunned that this line of thinking has been attributed to my personal extrapolations. I would particularly point to the quote from TTTF that I listed above. TTTF is the current, official, church correlated, safe, simple, basic statement of doctrines and beliefs. Not my extrapolations. And the only loaded term in the statement is begotten that by dictionary definition is to either father/sire or to cause/create.

    I should also say that my original post is simply a short version of the scriptures and line of reasoning that BH Roberts uses in The Truth, The Way, The Life chapter 26.

  29. 29 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Eric: I am not the only renegade Mormon in the world that believes that we are children of God.

    Come on Eric — everyone here believes we are spirit children of God. The disagreement is over what that means. You seem to think it has to mean something along the lines of heavenly parents having intercourse and our spirits gestating in a heavenly womb. Some of us dispute that version of spirit parentage is all.

    There is no question that we are all spirit children of God the Father. There is no question that some of us are also spirit children of Christ. We know how we become spirit children of Christ; we don’t know how we became spirit children of the Father before this world. But since we know how it happens in one instance (by our freely entering a covenant with Christ) I think there is a strong argument that such is the eternal pattern of becoming spirit children of deity.

    Suggesting that the Father’s body works just like the body of any mammal here in our fallen world sounds to me like what Brigham Young called “baby stories”.

  30. 30 C Jones March 30, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Then why gender at all? If the purpose of women is only as baby factories for a short mortal period, why not just hatch out mortal men from the mud like Uruk-hai? :-)

    And it’s pretty obvious that the Father’s body doesn’t work “just like the body of any mammal here” and I don’t think that is what Eric is arguing at all.

  31. 31 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    C Jones,

    I get the feeling that the two paragraphs in your last comment contradict each other. In one you ask (implicitly) what is the role of female deity if not to viviparously bear spirit children just like women do here, then in paragraph two you deny that God’s body works like a standard mammal body when it comes to procreation. Which is it?

    Now in answer to your first question (which is a good one): I think we are just thinking too narrowly on this. I personally lean toward the idea that has been taught for many thousands of years that that deity is the literal fusion of male and female. Thus Michael/Adam had to be separated into Adam and Eve before entering the garden. I plan to post on that soon.

  32. 32 C Jones March 30, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Geoff J,
    According to Joseph’s account of the First Vision, there was a column of light and two personages descending in it, but not to the point of actually standing on the ground. So we have two persons with visible bodies, arms and legs, eyes, ears, mouths. So in some ways they are similar to standard mammals. Yet we are told that their bodies have no blood, and they sure don’t travel like standard mammals. Yet they travel. And see, hear, etc.
    You say “having intercourse and our spirits gestating in a heavenly womb” like it’s a bad thing! Why can’t it happen in a similar, yet maybe on a (faster, easier perhaps) higher level in the same way that the way God sees, hears, and travels is on a higher level compared to ours?

    Of course, if what you say about deity being a literal fusion of male and female is true, I guess it’s all moot.

    “Thus Michael/Adam had to be separated into Adam and Eve before entering the garden.”
    Do you mean to say that all deity are male? Where has this been taught for many of thousands of years? I look forward to reading your thoughts on this.

  33. 33 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    C Jones,

    To avoid a threadjack–

    Your objection was that accepting the idea that we are children of God the Father in the same manner that we are children of God the Son makes Divine Females superfluous. I am mostly saying that there are other ways to explain the existence and necessity of the Divine Feminine that do not require them to be the bearers of Spirit eggs that must be fertilized by Divine Male sperm in the manner of earthly mammals.

    I’ll take up the idea of the alternative I suggested in a post at the Thang.

    But back to this post: I think the pattern of how one becomes the child of God is clearly established in our scriptures: It is through freely entered covenants. This notion works perfectly with the notion that Joseph Smith taught that our spirits are without beginning.

  34. 34 m&m March 30, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    But since we know how it happens in one instance (by our freely entering a covenant with Christ) I think there is a strong argument that such is the eternal pattern of becoming spirit children of deity.

    I know this has gone round and round before, but I have to say that it seems a LOT more likely to me to look to our mortal experiences as parents and children to understand what it means to be a child of God than to spiritual begottenness in the covenant (which only applies to some and is really only a vehicle-type relationship to return us Home to our heavenly parents. I think we are missing something if we look at the relationship with Christ as the end point or type of eternity). What relationship we have with Christ is, IMO, a lot different as a type than my relationship with my earthly father. I don’t get the above thinking at all, to be honest.

  35. 35 m&m March 30, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    OK, I’ll soften that last comment and say that I guess I can understand why some may think relationship with Christ is more a type than earthly parenthood, but I still think the case is stronger for the latter, especially since our relationship with Christ is a means to an end as He points us to Father. He has been allowed to be the Mediator, but I don’t see that as being comparable to who Father is or was for us.

  36. 36 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    What relationship we have with Christ is, IMO, a lot different as a type than my relationship with my earthly father.

    Well obviously — you can’t see Jesus but you can see (and touch and smell and hear) your earthly Father. The question is whether the relationship we have with Christ is a lot different than our relationship with God the Father. The scriptures do not indicate it is as far as I can tell.

    I suspect that what you are apparently pushing for (viviparous spirit birth) is probably a cultural overbelief. I also happen to think it make no sense for myriads of reasons we have discussed here and elsewhere over the last several months.

  37. 37 m&m March 30, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    You know, Geoff, I’m OK not knowing all the details of how we came to be spirits, but I think it’s a bit of a jump to take the “other” approach, too.

    I would be interested in your answer to C. Jones, though, because I can’t remember all the details of your point of view, and I think the idea of Heavenly Parents is an important one, especially for women. :)

  38. 38 m&m March 30, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    And I really think “cultural overbelief” is a bit strong, friend.

  39. 39 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Ok Geoff. I no longer feel like a renegade. Thanks :)

    I guess viviparous birth in specific is not near as important to me as the more general reproductive birth – whatever that may be.

  40. 40 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    that should be spirit birth in both cases.

  41. 41 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    And I really think “cultural overbelief” is a bit strong, friend.

    Really? What about that term seems strong to you? What phrase would you prefer (but which conveys the same message)? I thought it was pretty gentle when compared to some of the other truly strong possibilities like “false doctrine” or something… (Plus I tried to soften my opinion by using phrases like “I suspect” and “probably” so I am surprised by this comment of yours.)

  42. 42 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    the more general reproductive birth – whatever that may be.

    I don’t think I know what you mean by this Eric. Are you saying that there need not be a literal womb but as long as a Celestial egg and sperm are involved you are ok with it or something? I don’t think that would really solve any problems is all…

  43. 43 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I really only want to maintain a status as offspring of God (with all the benefits that go with it), not just beings (of who knows what kind) who made a covenant with some other being (of possibly some different kind). Personally I lean toward viviparous birth but admit this may be wrong.

  44. 44 m&m March 30, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    OK, then, Geoff, my bad. Thanks for softening your wording. Sorry for saying anything. :)

    But you still haven’t answered C. Jones’ question. Are you avoiding it? :)

    I’d also be interested in what you think about the following:

    Why is the physical body so important? How does it relate to your happiness here and hereafter? What are its divine purposes? There are at least three.

    1. Sacred power of creation. The first divine purpose has to do with the sacred power of creation. The body contains the seeds of creation, which allows us to have children and begin an eternal family. In mortality this power is given for a limited period of time. If we are faithful and abide by the commandments pertaining to its use, that power of creation is restored in the Resurrection. The scriptures indicate that “a fulness of joy” comes when the body and spirit are inseparably connected (D&C 93:33). However, a “fulness of joy” requires more than the Resurrection. In the Doctrine and Covenants we are taught that those who enter into “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage” and are faithful enter into the highest degree of the celestial kingdom and there receive a “fulness” of glory and “a continuation of the seeds forever” (D&C 131:2; 132:19). It is the eternal marriage relationship and the power to create life that produces happiness in mortality and a “fulness of joy” in the life to come.

    from Elder Bateman

    What do you make of “continuation of the seeds” for example? When I heard this talk from Elder Bateman, it really clicked with me. Why would the Lord want to protect the power of procreation (as well as connect it with some of the most potentially sublime and other-worldly experiences of life) if it were only for this life alone? To me, these things are types. I can’t think of them being anything different, even if we don’t know exactly what procreation will look like in the next life.

    If I’m only going to rehash here, could you send me somewhere where you outline your thoughts?

  45. 45 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Oh, and Geoff, cultural overbelief is not so bad. Michelle doesn’t have much room to whine. I have been called desparate (which was originally my term), baseless, tenuous, heretical, and contra-doctrinal all on the same thread! It must be some kind of record :) Does the MA keep stats on that sort of thing.

  46. 46 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Eric: I really only want to maintain a status as offspring of God (with all the benefits that go with it), not just beings (of who knows what kind) who made a covenant with some other being (of possibly some different kind).

    I insist on this too. Seeing as how Stapley does indeed reject the idea that we are the same kind/species as God I can see how you might conflate the two notions. However, I think Staply is dead wrong in assuming an ontological gap between us and God (he goes for what we have dubbed the 2-track model) but I do think that spirit birth as most commonly assumed is incorrect. What I mean is, one can reject spirit birth as being incompatible with the teachings of Joseph Smith (as well as making very little sense IMO) and still cling to us being the same type and kind as God. That is where I stand on the subject. In other words I firmly believe we are the same type/kind/species as God but because our spirits are co-eternal with God I lean toward the idea that we became the children on God the Father in the same general way that we become the spirit children of Christ.

  47. 47 Geoff J March 30, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    M&M,

    As I mentioned to C Jones earlier, I’ll work up a post soon on the subject of “One Flesh” that I alluded to. There is not nearly enough room to cover that subject here.

    What do you make of “continuation of the seeds” for example?

    The scriptures I quoted above make it clear that we are the seed of Christ through our covenants with him. I take that to mean that if we become as Christ is we will have seed forever as he will. A major problem with spirit birth as commonly conceived is it assumes spirits have as beginning. But Joseph Smith specifically and emphatically taught that spirits have no beginning and are co-eternal with God.

  48. 48 Eric Nielson March 30, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Geoff:

    I think you have expressed you idea quite well. I disagree but can see the reasoning behind your thoughts.

  49. 49 m&m March 30, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Geoff,
    Thanks for explaining. I disagree, too, but that’s OK. I still like you. :) Hope I haven’t worn out my welcome in this conversation.

  50. 50 Matt W. April 2, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Geoff: Huh? :)

    Anyway, since you are going to do a post on the “One Flesh” model you’ve alluded to be prepared to deal with the obvious problem of “spouse destiny” invovled in the idea of two halves being seperate for life on earth… Oh, and of course there is the problem of identity and trinity…

  51. 51 Geoff J April 2, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Don’t worry Matt — I am not implying you and I are split from a spouse before coming here. Rather, that there might be more to that symbolism than we might realize. I am procrastinating that post though — I fear it will freak too many people out.

  52. 52 Matt W. April 2, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Geoff, are you only saying post mortaly we are one flesh, wouldn’t this go contrary to your interpretation of the ring analogy?

  53. 53 Matt W. April 2, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Oh, by the way, if you’re love of MMP hasn’t freaked us out, I’m not sure that any other concept is going to tear us at our seams…

  54. 54 Eric Nielson April 2, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    I can’t help but mention that the choir sang ‘I am a Child of God’, and ‘Oh My Father’ in the Sunday morning session. Coincidence? :)

  55. 55 Matt W. April 2, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Eric, If I were you I’d stick to Widtsoe.

  56. 56 m&m April 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Eric,
    I’ve got a comment here and at the Thang that is stuck in moderation for some reason. Lil’ help?

  57. 57 Eric Nielson April 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    I do not see any comments being held up. Wanna try again?

  58. 58 Steve Swartz August 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Galatians 1:6-9

    Anathema to all of this teaching!


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