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Wednesday, September 21, 2005 

Foreordination and Agency Don't Mix

Not only is foreordination completely unfair, it's also completely ridiculous.

I'm going to be honest here--I never bought into foreordination. I never could resolve the issues of foreordination vs. choice. Either God was omnipotent and foreordained certain people for certain things, knowing what they would do, thereby taking the choice away from someone, or we really did have a choice.

That was so convoluted. Let me boil it down.

Say God has foreordained Johnny to become a great leader of the church... a general authority, even. Johnny doesn't know this, but God does because he knows everything, right? So, does Johnny have the agency NOT to be a general authority? According to the doctrines of the Church he does... but does he REALLY? Maybe theoretically, but not really.

Likewise, can someone be foreordained to do evil? Was Satan foreordained to start the big war in heaven? I'm sure God wouldn't want to pick someone out to do bad things, but if he knows what's going to happen (as an omnipotent being should), then he knows. Maybe he knows, but he just doesn't bring it up. If he did, the same thing would apply... someone would have to be the bad guy and not have any choice about it.

Which brings me to a great flaw in this whole design... God's great plan for everyone to try out life on their own on earth... it required a bad guy, right? So wasn't he just setting up the stage for someone to be the ultimate evil? I mean, his creation of the plan was dependent on people learning to choose and being responsible for thier choices, right? Well, there had to be a choice and that's where Satan came in. So was Satan foreordained to hold that position? Someone had to do it or the plan wouldn't have worked. It's pretty messed up to have a plan where someone has to become the ultimate evil.

You see where I get skeptical about foreordination? If it does exist, I don't want to believe in God.

You know, I don't buy it, either, unless I think about it in terms of my purpose. Is it possible that what we call foreordination is simply something we were sent here to accomplish and we choose whether we accomplish it?

Who knows who could have been the prophet if Gordon B. Hinckley didn't step up?

And if Johnny was foreordained to be a G.A., does God take away someone else's agency to murder Johnny or accidently cause him fatal harm?

You actualy bring up a great point. I don't think evil originated with Satan. I think that God has his opposite and it has existed from the beginning beginning beginning as well. Yes, there probably needed to be a bad guy, but Satan CHOSE to be that bad guy. He wasn't forced or sacraciced or coerced. The endowment gives us a little more info on this subject...it's not pertinent info, I'm guessing, but we're given just a glimpse...

BUT...I have often thought it would be the most awesome twist EVER if Satan ended up to be like Slugworth in the original "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"...he was in on the plan the whole time!

I don't see a logical disconnect between foreordination and free agency. Your behaviour in the pre-existence was such that you'd make a good General Authority, just for an example. So you are blessed and ordained to be one in mortal life and perhaps given blessings that would assist you. But then you live your life in such a way that you would not make a good General Authority. So you don't "get the job." There are plenty of people who were hot stuff in university but who, because of carelessness, arrogance, pride, over-ambition and etc., don't make it to the top of the corporate ladder.

"Many are called but few are chosen."


The logical disconnect is that if God is omnipotent, then he already knows whether you're going to end up a general authority or not.

When an omnipotent God foreordains something, it's pretty much got to happen or he's not omnipotent.

So, by foreordaining, the possibility of choosing another path is gone.

Very good comments. I would say that I do believe in both. It's just like the scripture says. "Many are called but few are chosen". It's all aobut being a parent. There a times when I give my kids a choice and yet I know exactly what they will choose or do. Somtimes it is very disappointing and sometimes not but I like to give them a chance on their own. It's all about persoanl responsibility. I think it is for us, not God. It makes us resposible for our own choices instead of us always blaming God for how hard life is.

Ideas of foreordination and predestination have been mixed up in this post. Predestination supposes that a person has no choice pertaining in this life and if they are "chosen" by God they will know it and do what they are supposed to do (i.e. be a good Christian). If they are not chosen by God then it doesn't matter if they come to Christ or not. Agency has no place in such a belief system, and I agree Kaycee, I would not want to believe in or have such a God.

Foreordination is different. When you look in the index of the Book of Mormon for Foreordination you will find a few key words: "Calling, Election, Pre-Existence."

First, I think it is important to realize that our Earth life is only one stop on a long journey. We already exercised our agency as spirit children in the pre-existence. We have always been "free spirits" and it was our choice to follow Christ then as it is now. We worked in communion with God and the angels to decide how our Earth experience would be. And because we kept our first estate and followed Christ, we are all here now.

Much like the idea of Karma, we looked at the Earth experience as a way of strengthening our weaknesses and continuing to polish our spiritual gifts and talents that we had been working on in our life before this one. I think we did receive and make certain "callings" or spiritual contracts with others. We wanted this experience because we knew working with a material body was the pathway to eternal progression, our way to attain the same level as God (or "the Gods" if you really want to get into it).

So I think we chose to come here and we actually were "called" (just like a missionary) to certain parts of a world and to certain families (sorry Sarah, but I disagree that Lex was so off the mark in Saturday's Warrior. I do know that some people are meant to be together. I know this through my patriarchal blessing and my own marriage).

I think we decided on a lot of our "crises" and problems in this life because we knew it would be a way to strengthen us and help us along the pathway to exaltation and we did this in partnership with God and the Holy Ghost.

So in this sense we started this earth life with our agency fully intact.

Of course we can't stop the agency of others, and if we choose to murder or hurt others, our mission is most definitely curtailed. Just because God knows this doesn't mean that he stops us from choosing to do these things.

He does intervene, but only to help us to understand who we are and what our purpose is. In a way he is like a benevolent mentor or teacher- He IS a loving God because he wants us to live into our pre-existent promises and he will give us guidance and help when we seek it (through personal revelation, the gift and experience of the Holy Ghost, Light of Christ, prayer, other people, scriptures, etc) so we can do that. But it is ultimately ME who decides if I am ready and willing to live into that purpose. That is freedom. That is agency. I will still decide if I live into the future that I designed for myself in the pre-existence (and I bet we took into account obstacles that others would present for and to us. Christ will also take the enormity of the obstacles and the way others interfered with our personal plans into account when he judges us).

Daylan has an interesting comment and I think that God will intervene if our mission has not been fulfilled (i.e. maybe someone trys to murder the G.A. but God lets him live because he has more to accomplish here that would affect generations of lives). I see nothing upsetting or wrong in this idea. I do not see how this interferes with agency when God is only trying to help us complete the plan that we designed for ourself in the pre-existence.

Of course there is a lot I don't yet comprehend concerning this topic, but despite my ignorance I do not see any reason why God is not allowing us to have agency because of foreordination.

A quick anecdote to this super long post:

Before I was born my Grandmother found out she had cancer. My grandmother was a very spiritual woman and had many experiences with the spiritual world. She received more than one priesthood prayer that said she would overcome the cancer and live. My grandmother began to get better and her cancer seemed to be subsiding after the blessing.

But one night, after prayin, my grandmother left her bed and went into another room. A spirit was there and told her that because someone had not fulfilled a promise they had made, my grandmother was needed on the other side.

A few months later she died. This brings up a lot of questions. Why? Why would the Lord say she would live and then tell her that she wouldn't? Why would an all-knowing creator give someone a false hope like that? I've thought about this story a lot and I am convinced that there could be many reasons, one could be that my grandfather needed to gain a testimony of foreordination. Another could be that my Grandmother needed that hope to get her through a difficult time in her family. I don't know. But I do know that God's purposes are not always easily apparent to my veiled eyes.

agree with the last post....don't confuse foreordination and predestination. We know from the scriptures that many of us were foreordained to do many great things on this world. But because of agency, many who were foreordained to hold callings or do things will not because they have chosen the wrong path. Hence the scripture "Many are called but few are chosen..."

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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