I know what you’re thinking. “The Plan of Salvation comes from The Book of Abraham”. It’s a uniquely mormon doctrine. Why is that Lesson 2?
“A brief overview of the ‘plan of happiness’ … , if given at the very beginning and revisited occasionally, will be of immense value to your students” – Boyd K. Packer
Well you should be thinking that. If the Plan of Salvation was entirely obvious in the New Testament, then wouldn’t all Christianity have it? The answer is, this is a retcon. We are trying to rework continuity to make current constructs fit in previous episodes. Like when they ask Worf what happened to Klingon’s foreheads in Deep Space 9 when they travel back in time we are trying to make Christianity fit into the Mormon box. It would be good to be upfront about this; and perhaps discuss the lost plain and precious truths or how the bible is not translated correctly AFTER reviewing what most of the world thinks of as the New Testament; but hey, let’s do it all up front because a dead apostle said it was a good idea. No chance he was just speaking as a man or a product of his time, right?
Activity: Sing “I believe in Christ”. Nothing gets early morning students moving and ready to learn like singing a slow-paced hymn. Even if this is one of the most Christ-centered hymns and props for that, it seems an odd choice for early morning. It motivates some people so partial credit for that.
How would you respond if someone asked you why Dead-Door-Baby is important to you?
Addressed in my last lesson, I’m not sure why Dead-Door-Baby should be important to the modern student; but given this is a repeat of the question in the last lesson; this focus on relevance to them seems to be more about internal conversion (such as creating the false-consensus bias in the students) than actually asking the question.
Example to illustrate this is about creating bias instead of actual learning: Imagine a student saying “Nothing, I see no measurable impact to my day-to-day life; nor do I know how to build a control of days when Dead-Door-Baby doesn’t impact my life; how did you control for non-Jesus impactful days?” followed up by “If you have no control days, then you don’t know; you’re just guessing”.
It wouldn’t be received well, would it?
Jesus Christ is central to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation
I would include the graphic, but they copyrighted the images heavily so I don’t dare touch the three columns with headers “Premortal, mortal and Postmortal life”.
Next, note that they have a student read from the Preach My Gospel guide. We’re on day 2 of New Testament, and the New Testament hasn’t really even made an appearance yet. We’re quoting apostles and reading quotes written by people based on quotes of apostles.
What limitations did we experience in our premortal life?
I want to point out how bad this section is. Jesus is stated as the creator of Earth. He helped to form everything on the earth. And he did it all without a body.
Think about that. We can create worlds without number without needing a body, just like Jesus. The limitations in the Premortal life are completely incongruous with the rest of belief.
Couldn’t God create perfect bodies for His children? If not; He is not all-powerful. If He wouldn’t, then He’s not a kind god; because He wanted his children to suffer before being perfect… but He could have prevented suffering by simply creating them perfect (and creating them with an understanding of suffering; He’s all powerful, remember?).
Lucifer, one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, rebelled against Heavenly Father’s plan. He became known as Satan, a Hebrew term meaning “adversary.”
Lucifer is a fascinating guy. I spend a lot of time on him in my ABC’s of Science and Mormonism (D is for Devil) as his role and definition has shifted throughout the years. But let’s just focus on the claims here (Notice, also not in the New Testament). Lucifer points out that God could just make us perfect, and skip suffering. Maybe he even pointed out that the plan included Jesus making worlds without a body. And for that; he is condemned. And anyone who thought his argument sounded logical, with him. Clearly intelligence isn’t the Glory of God, because thinking through the plan gets one thrown out, just like if a student points out this flaw, they are likely to be thrown out of Seminary class.
Dead-Door-Baby Could not consent
Last time I compared Jesus dying for us and the need for a savior to a mob nailing a baby to a door. People may think my analogy incomplete because Jesus was a willing sacrifice, whereas a toddler being nailed was innocent, but couldn’t consent.
I really don’t think the LDS church understands consent, nor does anyone who gives that complaint. Jesus is told that everyone on earth is going to suffer unendingly if He doesn’t comply. Then he watches the next in line (the trusted Lieutenant, if you will) literally be damned to never have a body and be in outer darkness for eternity for daring to challenge the idea that we need to suffer.
If you hold a gun to someone’s head, and they comply; that is not consent. Elohim didn’t just hold a gun to Jesus’ head, he shot the next in line and made that gun be an “eternal pain” gun. Jesus made all His decisions under “duress”, and God admits that much in scripture (The link above states that proving duress is difficult and it doesn’t work as a defense unless the plaintiff admits to guilt… which Elohim does).
I think my Dead-Door-Baby is flawed, but if we make the baby a toddler who is told He must do it, then we suddenly get back to being accurate. I mean, Jesus; here is in infantile state, right? He’s agreeing to being tortured and killed having never had a body; with no concept of pain. Jesus is basically a spiritual toddler.
It’s all pretty dark when you take time to think about it. God is a father who would opt to kill and torture an innocent child under threat of damning all the other children. That’s hardly father-of-the-year material.
Finally, we reach the New Testament, and with all that prep work it’s just there to confirm that God speaks to prophets (notice past tense, that’s awkward) and that Jesus created worlds.
How does knowing that Jesus Christ created this earth, and millions of others like it, affect your feelings about Him?
I’d be upset that God had Dead-Door-Baby killed by a mob. I mean, Dead-Door-Baby created everything so I could do things like eat pizza and listen to iPods (which Dead-Door-Baby did not make either of those things, just the raw ingredients, but ya know; some credit) and God didn’t do anything to alter the plan.
Also I’m confused why Dead-Door-Baby is so special. Like, couldn’t we have distributed the pain out among multiple innocence? Why only one half-deity who had to suffer?
Of course, these questions would not be tolerated in class. The teacher is only being like God by tossing out people who question the plan.
God ignores consent in Jesus’ Birth
Explain that before Jesus was born on the earth, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream when he learned that Mary was expecting a child
Remember, consent is a key element in free will. Mary is told she’ll carry God’s baby having never had a child or even sex. She has no idea what she’s getting into, and a whole Torah filled with people being consumed by earthquakes or murdered when they disobey god to consider. She has a magical being appear to her and tell her she is to carry God’s baby. She cannot consent in such a situation.
Imagine a CEO sends a VP to a janitor girl telling her she’s been selected to carry the CEO’s child. Can the girl consent? Our law says “no”. Imagine it’s the CEO and the governor and the head of police and the girl’s priest. It’s more like that.
Ask students to think of someone who has passed away. After a few moments, ask:
According to your understanding of the plan of salvation, where are those who have passed away?
Now I get that according to Mormon belief, everyone gets their body back. I’m not sure how Jesus being resurrected impacted this, only they say it did. If Jesus had died from old age, would we still have gotten our bodies? If so, then I’d argue that this should be separated from the atonement entirely. If not, why not? Why was it necessary to nail Dead-Door-Baby to a door to get our bodies? Shouldn’t we celebrate the Mob that had the guts and moxie to nail the baby to the door? It’s not Jesus we should thank for the resurrection, but the mob (and ultimately Lucifer for suggesting the idea. That’s awkward).
I can’t help but point out that this isn’t New Testament study so much as Mormon Study using the New Testament. We’re not covering the gospel priority, or even the link between Old and New Testament, or why Mark really is focused on Demonic Posession. We’re cherry-picking verses to teach a Mormon concept of the Plan of Salvation.
What must we do to receive eternal life?
This lack of focus on what the book actually says perhaps matters most when we read this question and the following section. What one has to do to gain eternal life has been debated since… well at least since the early Christian Schisms. It is THE answer to what one religion offers vs. another, isn’t it… the method to achieve salvation? And we don’t find any discussion of why other faiths read the same bible and come up with very very different methods. We don’t find any understanding directly from the New Testament. The answer is given:
Explain that to believe in the Only Begotten Son means to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and live according to His gospel, which includes receiving temple ordinances.
You catch that, right there? “Live according to his gospel” is works; that’s a big protestant issue. And they tack on Temple Ordinances without a single New Testament reference.
They don’t read the text and then deduce what the text tells us… no they give the answer “The Mormon Church’s ideals” before even really delving into the text. This isn’t learning truth, this is indoctrination. And it doesn’t serve missionaries in the field very well who come away from classes like this believing that they understand the New Testament, only to be schooled by those who have actually read the book and thought about it instead of being spoon fed on what the book contains.
Another thing that they simply don’t cover is “What if Jesus hadn’t done it?”. Damnation for everyone, according to the Book of Mormon. That means that a large portion of our success was completely out of our control.
What a weird plan.