The Law of Eternal Progression

As a Mormon most of us are acquainted with the Law of Eternal Progression, although we may not call it that. The basic concept is that we can continue to learn after the death of this mortal body; that in fact even the gods themselves are still growing in knowledge and wisdom. There is also a corollary concept that we are always either growing in knowledge or shrinking in knowledge. There is no middle ground or neutral zone.

Reading from the book of Alma we find the following:

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
(Alma 12:9-11)

This opened my eyes to something I’d been pondering about in a podcast I’d listened to earlier this week. The podcast is titled “An Objective Approach to Adam-God Teachings” and can be found here. In it, the mormonchronicle producers interview an LDS man who recently wrote a book about the Adam/God theory. He is a lawyer by trade and so took a very objective approach in his research on the topic. His conclusion is that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught that Adam was God. It was a teaching, not a theory. He states that it was removed from LDS teachings nearly a century ago because of its controversial nature. It was creating a divide in the church so the leadership decided it was best to just ignore it and hope it would go away. That policy worked fairly well for many years, however, with the advent of the internet, it has become impossible to ignore all the evidence. He stated that this is a doctrine that the Church as a body rejected at that time.

If it’s true that the Church rejected this doctrine, could that have started them down the road of rejecting other truths? As Alma states, “they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries.” If this is the case, could that mean the Church is even further off the path of truth now and not even realize it? Given the number of years since this doctrine was abandoned, you can only wonder how far off track they might be today.

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2 Comments on “The Law of Eternal Progression”

  1. iamse7en says:

    The people of the Church (from Adam’s day til now) have had a history of stubbornness, disobedience, and rejection of the mysteries. Due to the decisions of the Children of Israel during Moses’ day, generations and generations would only have the lesser law and lesser priesthood. Would to God Joseph could tell us everything he knew. But we would have called it blasphemy. Would to God he could have unveiled more mysteries. But we do not keep secrets. Unfortunately, teaching the Saints was sometimes “like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge.”

    It isn’t Moses’ fault that the Saints in his day rejected the higher law and had then live by just the “lesser portions of the word.” It isn’t Brigham’s fault that many Saints rejected his sacred mysteries concerning the origin of man on this earth.

    “Some years ago, I advanced a doctrine with regard to Adam being our Father and God. That will be a curse to many of the Elders of Israel, because of their folly with regard to it. They yet grovel in darkness – and will. It is one of the most glorious revelations [concerning] the economy of heaven, yet the world hold it [in] derision.” (Brigham Young Papers, 10/8/1861)

    “How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God – I do not know, I do not inquire, I care nothing about it.” (Deseret News, 6/18/1873)

    Joseph did teach Brigham this principle in private.

    “Joseph said that Adam was our Father and God” (Journal History, 5/14/1876).

    “President Young said Adam was Michael the Archangel, & he was the Father of Jesus Christ & was our God & that Joseph taught this principle” (Journal of Wilford Woodruff, 12/16/1876).

    As the doctrine was causing so much discord, successive Presidents referred to it as a mystery, then as Brigham’s speculation, then a theory, etc. Now, Brigham’s statements are for anyone with an internet connection to read. They are out in the open. But it is only those who carefully study, pray, and seek the Spirit, who can truly understand the sacred and glorious doctrine that Joseph and Brigham knew. And the world (including many Saints) will “hold it in derision.”

  2. Neldon Johnson says:

    It is certainly wise to obtain all the knowledge that is available on any given subject. Especially those that have eternal consequences. However, it is not wise to conclude that one has received that understanding without the Holy Ghost bearing witness that the understanding is correct.

    I personally believe that BY taught exactly what he said he taught however I also know that what he said and what we understand what he meant by what he said is most likely incorrect. I do not believe that it is wrong to speculate on any subject and delve into any mystery. It is only dangerous to our salvation when we assume to have arrived at a conclusion before we’ve received confirmation.

    I believe that the most important knowledge that we can receive is that JS was a prophet, Church is true and that Pres. Monson holds the priesthood keys and is the current prophet. I believe that once that has been confirmed and we have that as our foundation then we will receive all the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom as promised. I also believe that without that confirmation we cannot receive that knowledge.


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