Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is There Equality in the Heavens?

Frank asked, “So which matters more, inequality or poverty?” Russell seized on one phrase of my answer: “Let’s face it. Equality is not a value of the heavens.” Citing several proof-texts, he said I was “totally, spectacularly, and ridiculously wrong.” I’ll admit my response was a bit flippant, but if I’m going to be that wrong, let’s not hold back! For the sake of argument, in the venerable spirit of Bible-bashing I’ll cite a couple of other scriptures in response—if only to dig myself in deeper, and maybe learn something in the process.

In eternity, capacities and opportunities to build kingdoms will be exercised, and this requires ‘capital’ in some broad sense, for which the scriptures do not guarantee ‘equality’ as this term is often conceptualized. My original statement referred not to one’s relationship to God—which, as Russell pointed out, would be irrelevant—but instead to “degrees of glory,” as I said in my original answer. I was thinking along the lines of “an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory” not available to all; and even beyond that, highlighting ‘inequalities’ even among those who are “true and faithful,” the parable of the talents. Note that even the profitable servants did not at either the beginning or end of the parable have the same amount, but each received and produced according to their capacity. (I suppose a philosophy of eternal beings that are 'uncreated unequal' underpins this, cf. Abraham 3).

What did equality come to mean with Joseph and Brigham in practice? They had by far the most ‘capital’ (wealth, lands, wives, authority, etc.). Presumably this was because they were most capacitated to do something worthwhile with it. In this light, the scriptures Russell cited might be interpreted in a couple of different ways. (1) They might involve early conceptions of a young, naive, immature Joseph, idealistic in a manner simply not consistent with reality. The latest scripture Russell cited was recorded in 1832. (2) The scriptural sense of ‘equality’ might mean not that everyone has the same amount of ‘stuff’ or ‘capital,’ but instead a condition in which the various grades of intelligences have access to the resources necessary to reach their full potential, and therefore maximize the benefit they can be to others, and therefore maximize the general welfare and prosperity.

7 Comments:

http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=2718#comment-108132

And, does the world lie in sin? 

Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) | 11/19/2005 11:03:00 PM  

Yeah, I guess that parable of the laborers kinda contradicts the parable of the talents, doesn't it? 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 11/20/2005 12:00:00 AM  

I think the doctrine is that exalted beings are joint heirs/ co-equal/ share all power/ all glory/ have all power/ all things jointly among them... No such equality for beings who are not exalted. 

Comment by LisaB | 11/20/2005 06:48:00 PM  

LisaB,  that we will be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ is certainly a scriptural phrase. However, it's not obvious to me that this should be interpreted to mean that all power and glory will be held and shared and exercised "jointly" by all the exalted.

For example, in the implementation of the law of consecration, having 'all things in common' did not mean all property was jointly used; instead individual stewardships were allocated and husbanded on an individual family basis. The community of the exalted could be similar. All the exalted (including Jesus Christ), while heirs of the Father, might exercise exclusive dominion over individual inheritances (kingdoms, newly created worlds, etc.). It is not clear that all such inheritances would necessarily be of the same initial size or grow at the same rate. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 11/20/2005 08:18:00 PM  

Ultimately, an understanding of what equality among the exalted would mean requires a concrete model of the exercise of power in eternity.

At present the only 'doctrine' we have on the nature of exaltation is D&C 132, which defines it as "a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (verse 19 ), and explains further that a man's wives are "for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men" (verse 63). This is not a model accorded universal acclaim these days, but for now at least it's the only one in the canon.

In this model, then, all the exalted would be equal in the sense of having procreative capacity in eternity; but since under current doctrine and practice not all are sealed to the same number of spouses, some are more equal than others (to paraphrase Orwell's Animal Farm ).

Moreover, in this model, most would consider the exercise of this authority jointly among all the exalted somewhat awkward. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 11/20/2005 08:53:00 PM  

Consecration, in theory, also meant that everyone had according to their needs *and* wants, a pretty good indication that the "joint-heir" idea is correct. 

Comment by Pete D. | 11/21/2005 06:00:00 PM  

Pete,  I don't know if consecration was supposed to allow everyone to have their desires. Maybe so, eventually. Of course we would hope and expect heaven to be completely fulfilling. On the other hand, perhaps we would have to continue to exercise self-control in eternity, or there would be no point in making such a test of it here.

We have to be careful with the word "want ." Check out the first definitions of both the verb and the noun; it's not 'desire,' but instead need or lack. Perhaps that is the older (and scriptural) sense.  

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 11/21/2005 07:10:00 PM  

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