Ordinarily, a post written by me will not generate a single comment. I have been please to see not only comments coming from the recent posts, but thoughtful ones, full of charity, too. I was wrong to assume Pontius’s visionary text was naturally used by AVOWers, because it says what they happen to believe about the destruction of the world. It is a sign of the quality of Mormon readers, that they would not only point out what I missed, and do so kindly; but also that they could see the differences I passed over.
It seems that whatever the book by Pontius / Spencer is about, it can be read as both confirming and denouncing what AVOWers and tent people and Call Outers espouse, hope for, and would like to see happen to the majority of God’s children. And probably these terms, AVOWers and so on, are not really good characterizations, either, of the diversity and complexity “in” such groups.
I should’ve known this, as an anthropologist, but forgot my anthropology for a time.
Let me respond to the comments, too, in more detail.
Concerning the feeling of the spirit said to result from reading Pontius’s blog, or his books (or Denver’s, or mine):
This gets to the heart of the matter: what sort of God does he espouse? I said he was a devil-worshipper, and apparently folks get a little worked up when you call their recently deceased friend a worshipper of Satan (this is just a joke, making fun of myself).
I do think the God he preached about, in the posts I’ve read, is otherwise known to me as Satan, however.
Here’s why: In the Beginning, God comes among the Noble and Great Ones, and calls them “good.” He also comes among the spirits, and calls them “good.” He makes the NGOs the “rulers” for the spirits, but does not say what being a ruler really means. A great one, Like Unto God (LUG), adds his rules to the plan to take elements and form worlds for the spirits to inhabit. In his plan, there is a clear accounting and distribution of rewards, to those who exhibit the most obedience to the “lord their god.” What he seems to be attempting is to establish a rule which has a theory for what progresses and develops spirits. In his theory, it is obedience to superior beings, pure and simple. Such higher beings, moreover, are also bound by the rule, and should not go about giving things to lower order beings who don’t deserve them.
Now, when God came among them, he called them all good, and not really in need of tests of obedience, proving them herewith to see if they will do all things commanded. The elements do this, but we are dealing with spirits, not dirt. LUG seems to confuse these distinct orders of existence. So, why add the clause about obedience? LUG seems to have a notion about what makes the universe work, and he seems pretty well convinced that the Lord their God is probably what makes it all work. He is right, but also subtle. He uses a title, Lord their God, relative to those tested; rather than an absolute standard (God), and leaves open a way for him to take up that title. So, when the Lord asks whom he should send (now, not in the meridian of time), one says “here I am,” (the great I am, let’s say); another, the second, also offers his services, and is denied. Being angry with his rejection by God, he leaves.
Note a few important details. God did not command he leave, but the Second left by his own free will. Let’s say he had pronounced the rule about obedience to God, and by violating his own rule, he was bound to its consequences, and lost his estate. But that does not mean he won’t keep trying to put the rule into play, for everyone, everywhere. Should he prove that men are not Good, as God said, he would have reasons for saying God is not so omniscient, and perhaps is blinded. Perhaps we need a new God, you can hear him hinting: one more careful about what he does with his elements, and weighs all things to ensure he does not waste resources on those who, by his standard, do not deserve them.
Yet, what we see with Jesus is talk about a perfect father in heaven, who sends the rain on the just and the unjust, and blesses those who curse him. These statements can be found in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. Such a God seems not at all to be following the plan of LUG, who would not send rain on the unjust, nor bless those who curse him. We are beggars, not employees in this system, and no matter what, remain unprofitable servants. By LUG’s accounting, only he would get the estates.
When we preach obedience to God, this has a truth to it. It matters, though which God we are preaching about. We have the example of Jesus as a the right way for Gods to rule: longsuffering, patience, forbearance, hope, charity, and trusting beings before they have “earned” that trust. Why would he be crucified in the Meridian of time, if not as a sign of his hope and faith that those who came before, and after, would believe in him? Trust seems important here, and can be lost, but only because it was given to folks before they “earned” it, right?
With LUG we have a system of strict rewards for obedience, an endless hierarchy of toadyism, sycophancy, and so on, which looks a lot like what we’d otherwise find disgusting and dangerous, in other realities (e.g., Brigham Young’s Utah; the government; our workplace). There is no right or wrong, under LUG, except what LUG says. By contrast, Jesus seems to trust even LUG, originally, to rule in a manner good for good spirits. But, of course, LUG offered his plan for rulers and for the ruled, and it seems clear that such a plan does not work, for rulers or the ruled. D&C 121 gives us what the “one like unto the Son of Man” would’ve advocated, in that council in heaven.
LUG would like you to believe that “having the spirit” is the reward for righteousness, but in reality it seems that many people enjoy “the spirit” who probably are not so righteous. They may be entrusted with its gifts, for a time; for the edification of others, but in no way earned it. It is also the case that our terms are not entirely clear, here; by “the spirit” we seem to mean many things, and this too should mean that we can receive “it” for many reasons, such as a sign of mercy due to our being beguiled by the craftiness of men. What sort of inferences can we make, if we accept that God might send “the spirit” to sinners, to give them hope in his mercy? How would such a hope be corrupted, except by the principles of LUG: convincing us that what comes from mercy, is in fact a sign of our having earned it? Having received many gifts from generous beings, I still have to fight the pride that says, “you earned this, it is no gift or charity.” But that fight comes less often, now, although I remain in need of charity no less. I think I have been taught about mercy by merciful beings, doing merciful things. I would like to think I have progressed, as a result. Had the LUG plan been implemented, I would have no insight into mercy, nor into the LUG plan itself: it would seem natural that the world was so constructed. What possible conclusion could one come to, in that world, except that those who ruled it, earned their thrones, and ought to be obeyed in all things? Where is right and wrong, truth and untruth, in this world? By contrast, it was through mercy that I got some perspective.
Now, for sure I’m still trying to get Luggism out of my system, and it is good that if I post things which are more of Luggism than D&C121-ism, that readers of this blog hope I would do better, and even thought I could do better. I hope to make good on your trust.