William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On Temple Sealing Guaranteeing Salvation Of The Children Of Sealed Parents

I commented (August 2007):

"I recently spoke with a TBM whose son left the church and is living with his girlfriend. The TBM mother told me that, although she was extremely disappointed, she had done some research on the subject and determined that at least four modern day LDS prophets have said something to the effect that, the temple sealing power is "so strong," that all wayward children sealed to their sealed parents, will eventually come back to the fold and embrace the Gospel.

With all sympathy for the heartache any parent feels when they perceive their children to be going astray, I think that doctrine is hogwash, regardless of whether any prophet has stated it. That doctrine flies in the face of my conviction that every individual alone has stewardship over their own salvation. This is so, even though I believe that the overwhelming majority of people will eventually be "saved" and experience eternal happiness, and that few if any souls will be damned to hell or an eternity in the Terrestrial Kingdom. I suppose this TBM's belief could be reconciled with my own if you consider that, in my view, nearly everyone will end up coming to a knowledge of the truth and being saved anyway, but it wouldn't be as a result of the "sealing power" helping the sealed wayward children but not the unsealed wayward children.
Two questions:
1) Do you tend to agree or disagree with this woman?
2) Does anyone know of any prophetic quotes that would support her doctrinal position?"

To which one person responded:

"I think she is referring to Orson F. Whitney's talk in conference in 1929:

Paraphrasing the Prophet Joseph Smith, Elder Orson F. Whitney said that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. â?¦ They will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving fatherâ??s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God (in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).

Quoted in John K. Carmack, When Our Children Go Astray, Ensign, Feb 1997, 7"

To which I responded:

I'll gladly concede the following: It is by no means a free ride for someone to obtain salvation/exhaltation only after their sincere repentance and suffering for their sins.

However, "free rides" are not the issue here; what is at issue is whether a person has any greater assurance/opportunity/likelihood of exhaltation than another based upon circumstances not relating to his own merit (i.e., that his parents happen to be sealed).

Let's get a few things straight. First, God is perfectly just. He is no respecter of persons. Therefore, he would not allow for person A (whose parents are sealed) to have any greater assurance of salvation/exhaltation than person B (whose parents are not sealed). Now it may ultimately turn out that A and B (or rather, all people in the world who fall into either category) will all be saved/exhalted (a very real possibility in my opinion). But the minute we believe that B, equally as sinful and undeserving as A, has no assurance that he will ultimately be saved/exhalted because God will at some point give up on B because B keeps rejecting God, but that God never gives up on A no matter how many times A turns away from God (on account of A's parents being sealed, and thus guaranteeing that at some point throughout eternity, A will repent), then God is unjust and becomes a respecter of persons.

I can live with the idea that other people's actions will affect (1) our experiences in life; and (2) the speed and timing of our eternal progression. Those are inevitable consequences of agency. But what would be highly unjust would be for God to allow any person's eternal and final predicament to depend upon circumstances beyond the individual's control.

And another person commented:

"But what would be highly unjust would be for God to allow any person's eternal and final predicament to depend upon circumstances beyond the individual's control."

To which I responded:

Like somebody atoning for their sins?

The answer that resolves this issue has been given in this thread but people seem to have completely overlooked it. Strange that everyone here wants to throw out all the prophetic statements on this issue. Even if there's a question over what Joseph Smith said the Lorenzo Snow quote doesn't say it's based on anything Joseph Smith said. It's the prophet Lorenzo Snow teaching the gospel and the same principle has been reiterated recently in conference. But that means nothing to the board members here.

BTW, there's another huge point that seems to be missed: none of these statements say that a person can only be exalted if their parents had been sealed in the temple. Reading such a concept into the statements then arguing against your inaccurate perception of the statements only confuses the issue.

This post has been edited by CMZ: Today, 12:45 PM[quote]

CMZ, first point:
With respect to Christ's atonement, since it is universally available to all mankind "through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel," God's deciding to exhalt a person based upon their being covered by the atonement does not make God a respecter of persons since acceptance of Christ is ultimately the effort and merit of the individual; the atonement is available to all.

Second point: I never claimed or implied that the advocates of this faulty doctrine are saying that "a person can only be exalted if their parents had been sealed in the temple." I totally realize that you and others who believe this doctrine are not saying that. Of course all people who accept and live the Gospel will be saved. The instant question concerns the wayward ones who turn away from God and righteousness. What happens to them? It makes no sense whatsoever to console sealed parents by telling them that, on account of the sealing, their wayward children will eventually return to God because of the promises God has made to the parents. Doesn't that necessarily imply that unsealed parents have no such assurance?

Third point: I realize that TBMs tend to focus on whether particular doctrines were actually taught by prophets, rather than whether the doctrines themselves appear sound. I am not making a stink about whether Joseph Smith, Lorenzo Snow, or anyone else taught the doctrine. I think the doctrine is simply unsound, period, no matter who preached it. Even prophets err, and we need look no further than the Church's present official stance with regard to things Brigham Young said to establish that concession. The doctrine that more of God's attention (i.e., "the eye of the Shepherd") is given to some people than to others depending upon whose parents are sealed is simply ridiculous and contradicts the justness and fairness of God. Give me one good reason why I, as a child of unsealed parents, should have any less blessing, promise, or God-given advantage than my neighbor whose parents are sealed (apart from natural consequences in effect during mortality, i.e., being raised in the faith, etc.).

To which one person responded:

"Your misunderstanding is clouding everything. Instead of saying, "I think I'll put this on the shelf until I understand it better," your reaction is, "That's totally false!!!!!!"

And in specific reaction to my challenge to, "Give me one good reason why I, as a child of unsealed parents, should have any less blessing, promise, or God-given advantage than my neighbor whose parents are sealed", the person commented:

"I never said that. Exaltation is freely available to you. There's a big point that's still being missed here. Once it's understood everything will clear up."

To which I responded:

1. I take your response of, "I never said that" to mean that you agree that: There IS NO GOOD REASON why I, as a child of unsealed parents, should have any less blessing, promise, or God-given advantage than my neighbor whose parents are sealed.
2. Therefore, I take it you are conceding that: Someone whose parents ARE sealed doesn't get anything extra thereby from God.
3. Therefore: Parents who are sealed cannot take comfort in feeling that THEIR children will get any extra attention or help from God than the children of unsealed parents.
Now, please spare me the riddles, and help me figure out the "big point" I'm missing. Thanks.

To which the person responded:

"The issue is not about comparing or saying that somebody has an advantage over somebody else. None of the quotes in question say, "And those people whose parents haven't been sealed in the temple are without hope." When you bring that into it it muddies everything.
The problem here is that we are looking at one quote in isolation. If it seems to contradict another gospel principle then we say it must be false instead of saying that we will withhold judgment unless and until we get further information. Joseph Smith taught that "the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137). In our gospel teaching experiences, I wonder how deeply we go. Do we plumb the depths of the gospel with our students, or do we quickly skim over the high points?"

To which I responded:

For everyone believing in the above quote as being entirely accurate, do you also therefore believe that a person who is not eventually saved might fairly be told the following?:

"Sorry, buddy, your parents were not eternally saved, and the 'eye of the Shepherd' was therefore not on you as much as it was upon your neighbor, who went equally astray, but who, through no merit of his own, had the fortune of his parents having been eternally sealed; therefore, God made 'divine promises' to his parents for 'valiant service in the Cause of Truth,' which saved not only themselves, but their son. Though your neighbor wandered, the tentacles of Divine Providence reached out to him and drew him back into the fold."

If you believe this, then I submit that you believe God is a respecter of persons. How unfair this would be to anyone not born to sealed parents!! Inasmuch as Article of Faith #2 provides that man will be punished for their own sins and not Adam's transgression, a logical extension must follow that man will be saved through his OWN obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, and not by someone else's obedience, such as his parents. Otherwise, aren't we in effect saying that all of the children of unsealed parents might be denied extra repentance opportunities because of their parents' unfaithfulness in not living the Gospel and being sealed?

Comforting as the doctrine may be to the parents of wayward children, it is a gross error. (likewise is the doctrine of automatic salvation for children who die before the age of accountability)

Another person commented:

"I have a hypothetical situation that I would be interested in getting comments on. Suppose that twin brothers, together, leave the Church in their teen years. They move out and room together and live a less than moral life, openly criticizing the Church, even going to the point of trying to get others to leave the Church. They are dishonest, abusive and generally vile characters.
Now, suppose that one evening, at the age of twenty-three, while out in an evening of riotous living, they are involved in a car accident, in which one of them is killed. The surviving brother goes on to see things differently and goes to great lengths to repent and eventually is welcomed into the Church in full fellowship, is endowed, married in the temple and lives an exemplary and faithful life.
Will the brother who was killed be denied the opportunities of his brother, simply for not having had the same amount of time as the other, or will he get the same opportunity in the spirit world?"

To which I responded:

In my opinion, complete justice demands that the killed brother have the same opportunity for enlightenment. Your hypo is one example of why I believe nearly everybody or everybody will eventually be saved, and that when people go astray, it is almost always due in part to their not being fully enlightened.

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