Friday, February 26, 2021

D&C 37: Little Contradictions

We have another very short revelation here.

Due to Personal Reasons
God offers some non-illuminating illumination of his grand plans in verse 1:

Behold, I say unto you that it is not expedient in me that ye should translate any more until ye shall go to the Ohio, and this because of the enemy and for your sakes.
I'm not sure why God feels the need to explain himself in this situation but not in others.   But as vague and non-illustrative as this explanation is (What about the enemy, exactly?  Is this for the sake of my life?  My reputation?  What is it this action will keep the enemy from doing?), it's still miles better than some of God's other actions that more urgently demand explanations.  We still don't know why God permitted racist policies in his church for more than a century, but at least we know that when God told Joseph Smith not to translate for a while that one time it was because of the enemy and for his sake.

Good to know.

God is Just, Just not Always Just
At the end of this section, we venture into some very murky Millennialist territory (verse 4):
Behold, here is wisdom, and let every man choose for himself until I come. Even so. Amen.

God is giving us a lot of latitude for self-determination here.  It should be a little concerning that this implies we will either not be able to choose for ourselves after his coming or not need to choose for ourselves after his coming.  Concerning, but not surprising, because, after all:

The Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace on the earth. The Lord has revealed that “in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:26; see also Isaiah 11:6–9). Satan will be “bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of the children of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:55; see also Revelation 20:1–3).
During the Millennium, all people on the earth will be good and just, but many will not have received the fulness of the gospel. Consequently, members of the Church will participate in missionary work.
...Complete righteousness and peace will continue until the end of the 1,000 years, when Satan “shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies.”

It seems pretty clear that, after Jesus's Second Coming, we will not choose evil.  Everyone will be righteous.  Satan will have no power to tempt us.  This brings up several contradictions that I think need to be addressed.

First, apparently there's no need for an opposition in all things for a thousand years, even though 2 Nephi 2:11 is pretty clear about this supposed necessity.  And it also means none of us is going to do any good during the Millennium, because we won't have any experience with sin (2 Nephi 2:23).

Second, the universal righteousness during the Millennium indicates that the natural man is not actually an enemy of God, despite what King Benjamin taught (Mosiah 3:19).  If all that's needed for mankind to be uniformly good is for the devil to be bound, that means the natural man is absolutely aligned with God until the devil makes mankind behave unnaturally.  The other explanation is that the natural man is an enemy to God but that God will remove our free agency during the Millennium so that we cannot choose to sin.  But that would be very Luciferian of him, wouldn't it?

Which brings me to the third contradiction.  If, according to this scripture, every man can choose for himself until Christ comes, the most reasonable conclusion I can draw from this verse within the context of the overarching Mormon doctrines about the Millennium is that God will take the Luciferian route after the Second Coming.  He's letting us choose until he comes, at which point he will no longer let us choose.  Which means that God—the guy who damned billions of people to outer darkness for eternity because they dared support a plan that did not involve free agency—is a colossal hypocrite.

And the forced righteousness of the Millennial era makes the Plan of Salvation even less fair.  Because if—going off of the statement in Doctrine and Covenants 77:6—the earth only exists for seven thousand years, that means that free will is going to be suspended for roughly one seventh of humanity's total existence in our second estate.  How many billions of souls will be born during the Millennium into a world in which they can commit no sin?  Imagine the leg up they'll have toward a positive final judgment that isn't available to the poor schmucks like us who were born during the first six thousand years.

How can we possibly pretend that our god is just when he judges us according to our works and our faith but he flagrantly throws so many variables into our existence?  Each of us starts on such wildly different footing that equality and objective judgment have become hopelessly useless concepts.

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