God's Plan Simplified
by Don R. Hender
"For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." ~ Moses 1:39
God has a plan for man. It is the Plan of Eternal Progression and it is that very Eternal Plan which always has been.
On this page a simplified version (according to me) of God's Eternal Plan will be presented and then also compared to such as the rest of the Christian world may in part present and teach. While I do not speak for any such organization officially, perhaps this comparison will answer some questions of mind pertaining to my LDS faith and such others religions of Christianity which do exist.
First I would like to present a comparative graphic from which I'll speak. It will present a view of God's Plan 'simplified' as I understand it to be. Then it will present a general representation of what 'traditional Christians' seem to tend to believe from my perspective. And finally I will also present what 'traditional Christianity' deems to be non-Christian in nature, often labeled are the Arian concept though many who hold to that concept still do believe themselves to be 'Christians' and do believe in Jesus Christ.
In our belief, we consider that God's Plan of Eternal Progress, also called variously The Plan of Salvation, The Gospel Plan, The Plan of Redemption, and The Plan of Happiness; is such which applies to all mankind. And not only that, we consider it such as God's Eternal Plan which applies to everyone. Perhaps that last stipulation may be made clearer by an often quoted 'couplet' of the prophet Lorenzo Snow. Now be forewarned, often in a short couplet things are quite simplified and can often be misinterpreted and thus be misunderstood.
"As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." ~ Lorenzo Snow
Some have derided President and Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley for hedging upon the simplified couplet when asked in public if Mormons believe that God was once a man.* In answer President Hinckley's brief answer was, "I wouldn't say that." He then quoted the couplet and the said, "Now that's more of a couplet than anything else." In such a public limited interview there is not time or reason to explain what 'might' be the whole of the matter. What bends upon the question might and would a flat 'YES' answer provide the ever meddling mis-quoter been allowed who consistantly take out of context and interpret for their own means of criticism have been given? One may readily elaborate upon the depravity of man, pointing to the worst of man and then state that Mormon's believe that God was once a man such as these. The concept that man 'MAY' become as God is, is not new. Many scriptures point to it as they state such as that we are the sons of God as Jesus was once critizied for stating him self for being the Son of God. And does not Jesus teach for us to become perfect even as Our Father who is in heaven is perfect?
The non-Mormon, but well recognized Christian author C. S. Lewis has stated: "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare." (C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory) Lewis continues in that vain but the point is that man of this world is in testing and 'MAY' of his own determined course rise or fall to the best and godhood or to the worst and become even as the devil.
This was more likely what President Hinckley was hedging about. Jesus has said, 'If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.' Also he has stated such as, "I do what I have seen my Father do." The type of man which 'God once was' would most certainly be that type of man which Jesus was. And is not Jesus God? Of course we all have hope to become even as the Gods, to be like them. And even as Jesus has said, 'to become one with God even as he the Son of God and God the Father are one.' That is the course of the Eternal Plan of Salvation and the work of God. Of that high calaber of 'Man' certainly God once was and still is, for God is a man. He is not a woman. And for us who fade with little hope, we must remember that Jesus' life was not for nothing. Repentance goes a long way and being man from the depths of the carnal nature to the hights and potential of becoming as God is.
Now that said, lets get back to the matter at hand, that is the simplification of God's Plan to our understanding. And that is just it. God's plans does apply to all men who have come to live on this earth. We all have come from that 'divine intelligence' and as Joseph Smith has pointed out, are therefore 'potentially' 'co-eternal' with God. Now don't go reading things into that which I am not saying! I am simplifying here. The intelligence and even the spirit of man is immortal. From our eternal state of Intelligence we all have been spirit born of God the Father, our Heavenly Father Who Is in Heaven. Jesus himself as Jehovah being the firstborn of the Father in the spirit. (Colossians 1:15). Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea had stated that concept in his original inaugural Nicene formula upon which they say the Nicene Creed was based upon. 'They' took that out. They took the fact that Jesus Christ was not only the spirit son of God the Father, but that he was the 'firstborn' of God the Father in the preexistence before the world was. He certainly was not the 'firstborn' man in the flesh. But they could not continue to assert that the Father and Son were the same being if the Father had begat the Son first in the preexistence. So they took that out of their 'inovated creed'. And you wonder why 'Mormons' do not want to adhere to a creed which robs God the Father of his Fatherhood of all the spirits of men including even that of his 'Firstborn' Son Jehovah, who is the same as Jesus Christ?
Anyway, back to the point at hand. God's plan is the Eternal Plan for bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, his spirit children. We were all once and still are in our inner 'self' intelligences or that divine intelligence, which is eternal in its nature and of a spirit in itself. Then we were also born to God the Eternal Father, and our mother there, which added to or increased our intelligence to being a 'being' of spirit, with head, shoulders, knees and toes; eyes, ears, mouth and nose. In fact the temporal tabernacle is but a physical housing for our heavenly spirit as spirit children of God. Jesus as Jehovah pointed that out to the prophet Mahonri Moriancumr, better known as the bother of Jared in the Book of Mormon (Ether 3:16 (8-16)). Yes the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah was and is still now a God of Spirit. Only now he is a completed being of Intelligence, of spirit and of a resurrected celestial glorified body of flesh and bone which houses the whole of who he is. And much of Traditional Christianity have in the Nicene Creed a design to reduce him back to being a being of but divine intelligence essense? We believe not. The Resurrection has in it a purpose and ends of permanence.
Jesus just did not reasume his body to prove that he had lived again. And he certainly did not intend to put it off again to so unit himself in trinity with his Father and Holy Ghost. We believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus and of all men, that we will all live again even as Jesus did and does. In death we put this mortal by and become for a time but a spirit body and of intelligence. And then we look forward to the resurrection when that spirit body and intelligence will once again raise from the elements a glorified resurrected body of flesh and bone having received such reward as we have worked and earned in degree relative to our second estate probation.
To progress from Intelligence, to being spirit born, then to temporal mortal birth, then to death and resurrection, is all part of the eternal plan of God for man. The details of which I have omitted for the sake of this simplification. That is the work and the Plan of God in a simplified form according to me as I understand it. Don't read in what is not there and mis-quote me out of context. I am not the 'official word' of the church on the matter anyway.
With a simplified version of 'The Plan', we now turn to Jesus Christ who is the same as Jehovah of the Old Testament, though not the same as God the Father of Spirits, whom we call by the name of Elohim. According to the Catholic terminology, the Godhead is made up of three 'persons', God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Ghost. But these are not 'persons' as one would think of them in any common or traditional sense, for the three are but one God. Now having removed the scriptural basis for the Spirit Birth of Jehovah/Jesus in the preexistence from the original proposed creed of Bishop Eusebius, Traditional Christianity either positions themself with the understanding that that Spirit Birth never occured but occured more in a mind set spirit manner than is an actual Spirit Birth. Let them explain.
As for God's or Jehovah's birth as Jesus Christ, Traditional Christianity have a word 'Incarnate' or 'Incarnation', which they use for God taking upon himself a body of flesh, blood and bones via the virgin Mary. In some cases they explain this was not as a common birth of man, but of an 'incarnate' nature of God being so born or incarnate but still being the separate person of God the Father as well. Let them explain.
Did God/Jesus/Jehovah really die? In that the body of flesh and bone did remain in the tomb, yes he did. But God was not dead. In LDS belief the spirit of man is immortal and eternal by its nature and the spirit does not 'die', but merely had laid the body by to be raised again. We believe that Jesus' spirit did go to the 'Spirit World' where they who had previously died were at and he did organize he gospel there that the dead could be preached to concerning the Gospel Plan now that he have fulfilled his atonement. This is why we perform temple ordiances, including baptism, for the dead that once hearing what they have not had the chance of hearing before, they might be able to accept or reject for themselves and be judged according to men in the flesh.
The question, 'Was Jesus Resurrected' has been answered variously. Some same yes, other say no or not exactly for it was but a to but a temporary purpose in God and God really does not permanently house himself in flesh and bone but 'reverts' (for the want of a better word to their purposes) to being but a spirit or intelligent essense which they consider to be the highest form of God to be in. It seems that in most of their minds God, being God, is above such as Spirit Birth, Mortal Temporal Birth, Mortal Temporal Death, and even Resurrection. And thus with those things all removed, Bod is but a Divine Essense or Being of Eternal Intelligence and need not be anything more. Thus I suppose that all such elements of the plan of God for man are removed from God and not a part of his own eternal being and/or eternal essense. Let them explain.
Now finally a place for 'you Arians'. Arius is accused for the spread of the heresy doctrine that not only is Jesus separate from God, but that at one time he did not exist at all. Now Arius is not here to defend himself as to whether this was exactly what he was saying or not. He may have been taken out of context and misrepresented by the 'history winners'. Now as to when Jesus never was may vary as to whether Jesus was first spirit born and later mortal born and begotten. Arius is not here to explain but such as the Jehovah Witnesses would state that Jehovah is God and Father, and Jesus was but a 'created son'.
Now, as stated, Arius is not here to tell. What exactly did he mean by the concept that 'There as a time when he was not'? Jesus was but eternal intelligence to begin with, as were we all, whatever that might be. But that is the mystery. Jesus was not the Son of God before he was born of God, though he had existed eternally before. Did Arius understand this or not? Is Arius exactly as he is represented to be? Or is he a victim of not being here to defend himself?
This brings us to one of the concepts commonly so associated, which is that Jesus, according to those who speak of Arius, WAS NOT, he was nothing before he was created and made by God the Father. This is back to the 'magic' of creation of making something out of nothing. That concept Joseph Smith the prophet stated to be false as he states that there is not such thing as 'immaterial matter'. But at any rate, their point is, is that Jesus was son and son only and Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament is different from Jesus. When I was a missionary, I had a Jehovah Witness Bible which I had marked and prepared to show them even using their own scriptures that Jesus and Jehovah was one and the same person and the same God, and not as they consider him. But I never did use it on my mission, didn't need to.
Well what have I done? I've presented a simplified Plan of Eternal progression. And I have compared it to such as the thoughts of Traditional Christianity of the Trinity and the Arian Christianity of the historically identified group who opposed the Trinity doctrine. Hopefully what can also be seen is what become missing from God's Eternal Plan in either respect. As for Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea he is variously treated to being deamonized as being in arms with Arius and the Arians, which any thinking person ought to see that he was not. 'Our' current pope has spoken of Bishop Eusebius as the father of Church history and such, but often in the histories, the Catholic ones included, Eusebius is put down as having either opposed the Trinity concept or is explained away as to what he 'really' meant as opposed to what he clearly wrote. Mostly Bishop Eusebius is positioned as an enemy of the Universal Church with his Eusebian associates if not out right included as being Arian himself. He has not been made a modern day Saint by the Catholic Church for all of his work and scholarship in those writings and works that he did.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." ~ 1 John 3:2
"When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves." D&C 130:1
In a picky sense perhaps it ought to have been said, 'he is a man and we are like him'. God made man in his own image, so is this of any wonder? As to understanding the relationships between God the father and Jesus Christ, perhaps this next short 'video' will aid in that cause.
Now in summary, eternity has no beginning nor has it an end. Only those portions which are cut out from it have duration as the ages of time. Our God Jehovah stand from the beginning to the end of one such allotment. He is its Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, from all eternity to all eternity at the portals of transition into and out of that segment of eternity so marked out by God as the ages of time, the generation of Christ, the time of the Plan of exaltation to take place according the the times of man—eternity itself has no such beginning or end upon which thresholds our Savior and Lord might stand. And during that duration of 'His Generation' he has been placed as our God and King. Beyond that and back into eternity, he, Jesus/Jehovah, returns all glory to the Father, God our Heavenly Father Who art in Heaven. That the Celestial Father did so appoint Jehovah to be our Ministering God of this duration is understandable for 'only those who pertain to this creation may minister directly unto it'. (D&C 130:5) As Chrsitians we worship Jesus who is Jehovah and as he taught us to do we pray to Our Father Who art in Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus/Jehovah is our link to eternity, our one true God by and through whom we may return to eternity. He stands as Advocate, Mediator and Intercessor between God the Father and Man. He is the way, the truth and the light. No man comes unto the God of Heaven but by him. He has provided us the way that we may follow by all that he has done. "What you have seen me do, do ye likewise", so let us do so.
* [We don't know the exact realm of the Second Estate which our Heavenly Father passed through. Our condition may not be so easily compared to that which was that of our Heavenly Father. It is said of our world, that it is the only one of all the worlds Jesus/Jehovah created that was wicked enough to have crucified their Lord. Our world is the one to which Lucifer, the Devil, was cast down to and is such as that battle ground between the very extremes of evil and good. We know not what other worlds of past eternity were like and certainly we don't even know for sure what the other ones of our own age are like. It is possible, but unknown, that any of the rest of the world are like this unique one where Satan and Christ have met head on. We just don't know all of that. And as for Our Father in Heaven once being a man as we are upon this unique world of such conflict, we do not know that. Further, God the Father, our Father in Heaven, still is and always will be a man. Thus merely agreeing to such a simple couplet to be representative of our Father in Heaven's past and such deep doctrines and understandings envolved, 'I don't know that he was man as we are', seems to be a most appropreate answer. It is likely that life in a second estate environment without Satan's presence is not really like life is here for us. We more readily know that the simple couplet seems to be more likely true of Jesus, as he was 'man among us' who is now God glorified, but even Jesus Christ is a unique case in that he was an 'empowered' God of Spirit before he lived on earth. So even in respect to Jesus the generality of the simple couplet has its quirks.]
Important Notice: Here I might and should make note that such as the details of these matters need not be fully understood and comprehended in order for man to obtain salvation through the Gospel and/or Doctrine of Christ as explained in the scriptures. That Doctrine of Jesus Christ is in the form of the simpleness of the way and includes such as 1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 2) Repentance from sin and wrong as one comes to know and understand the ways and commandments of God, 3) Baptism by emersion by those in authority as the symbolic act for the remission of sin and newness of life in Christ, and 4) the Gift of the Holy Ghost to the end of his constant companionship to show and lead men in the ways and truths of God. Beyond that one is to 5) have a hope in Christ unto the obtaining of eternal life through him and 6) the Love of God which is charity as explained in the first two and great commandments. In their attempt of going beyond this, the ancient Christians 'Fathers' of the Nicene Creed did error in going beyond the mark and into the mysteries of God, requiring a concensus upon such deep things as they could only in their mind's imagination innovate according to their own prideful exbounding concerning the detailed nature of God. As the Emperor Constantine did point out in his harsh rebuke of both Bishop Alexander and Arius, such as what they had began in dispute with each other ought not to have even began, as it was more of an intellectual exercise than of a direct benefit to the gaining of personal salvation (Life of Constantine by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, chapter 69). Yet today, since the early 'Christian Fathers' did embark upon this persuit, many a 'Traditional Christian' has become ensnared by the result of their folly to the extent of blocking their own way to the truth of God being trapped by the false doctrines so innovated by men in the forms of those required creeds. Concerning this Jesus Christ stated in 1820 in answer to the prayer of a 14 year old farm boy concerning the religions of his day, 'They are all wrong. Their creeds are an abomination in my sight. Those professors are all corrupt. They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.' (Pearl of Great Price, JSH 1:19) Thus I suppose I justify my own writing of such matters to the end that it might aid someone either to avoid such entrapment or to be able to release themselves from the snare they are caught in.