Two Sundays ago, the stake president pulled me aside for a brief one-on-one. I was pretty forthright about our current situation. During this conversation, I said one thing that has had me thinking: “I have born again at least twice in my life. I am now trying to be born again-again-again.” Most of the implications went unstated, though I continued by saying that “I am attempting to tear down all of my false beliefs, false traditions, and rebuild from the essentials with Christ as the foundation.” It was an amiable meeting.
As part of that tear down, today while I was out walking, I was pondering/praying about the preexistence and the grand council of heaven. If one takes the “traditional LDS” perspective of a single mortality, then we are all spirit-peers of Christ, who was elected by virtue of his intelligence (and perhaps glory and other traits), came to mortality, lived a perfect life, atoned, resurrected, and ascended to His throne.
If one accepts the concept of multiple mortalities, one allows for an entirely different kind of savior, one that is as different from the Christ above as is the Christ of the one-God-literalization. Lest I trouble your sensitivities, let me introduce this indirectly.
If we presume multiple mortalities, and we presume that Christ’s promise in John that his disciples would accomplish greater things than He had [up to that point, at least], one quickly allows for the possibility that in a “future generation of time,” or “future creative cycle (etc),” one such as the chief apostle, Peter, might find himself firmly ensconced in Christ’s path and taking on that Christ’s role with our Christ as his role model (i.e., Father). Yes, Peter. The person who went through a painful repentance process brought on by his thrice denial of the Savior. Now, imagine that we are living in that very cycle of creation. We hope to become one of his (Peter’s) children as he works out the atonement/resurrection/ascension for that generation of time. Do you feel the cognitive dissonance? If such an imperfect being can become a perfect being, then is it not possible that a currently perfect being was once an imperfect being? Is it possible that one of the reasons why Christ understands sin/repentance/forgiveness/purification/sanctification is because…. Dare we even think it? And yet, if possible, if true, then perhaps there is more hope for us than we could otherwise allow.
Is all of this implied in the following quote from the Lectures on Faith (highlights added)?
As all the visible creation is an effect of faith, so is salvation, also. (We mean salvation in its most extensive latitude of interpretation, whether it is temporal or spiritual.) In order to have this subject clearly set before the mind, let us ask what situation must a person be in, in order to be saved? or what is the difference between a saved man and one who is not saved? We answer from what we have before seen of the heavenly worlds, they must be persons who can work by faith, and who are able, by faith to be ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation. And they must have faith to enable them to act in the presence of the Lord, otherwise they can not be saved. And what constitutes the real difference between a saved person and one not saved, is the difference in the degree of their faith: one’s faith has become perfeet [perfect] enough to lay hold upon eternal life, and the other’s has not. But to be a little more particular, let us ask, where shall we find a prototype into whose likeness we may be assimulated, in order that we may be made partakers of life and salvation? or in other words, where shall we find a saved being? for if we can find a saved being, we may ascertain, without much difficulty, what all others must be, in order to be saved— they must be like that individual or they cannot be saved: we think, that it will not be a matter of dispute, that two beings, who are unlike each other, cannot both be saved; for whatever constitutes the salvation of one, will constitute the salvation of every creature which will be saved: and if we find one saved being in all existance, we may see what all others must be, or else not be saved. We ask, then, where is the prototype? or where is the saved being? We conclude as to the answer of this question there will be no dispute among those who believe the bible, that it is Christ: all will agree in this that he is the prototype or standard of salvation, or in other words, that he is a saved being. And if we should continue our inter[r]ogation, and ask how it is that he is saved, the answer would be, because he [Christ] is a just and holy being; and if he were any thing different from what he is he would not be saved; for his salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else; for if it were possible for him to change in the least degree, so sure he would fail of salvation and lose all his dominion, power, authority and glory, which constitutes salvation; for salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power and dominion which Jehovah possesses, and in no thing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him: Thus says John, in his first epistle, 3:2 and 3: Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And any man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.— Why purify himself as he is pure? because, if they do not they cannot be like him. (Lectures on Faith, Section VII, 9).